Monday, July 29, 2013

Awakenings Launch Party

I am SO SUPER EXCITED about this book! Awakenings, by J.E.Shannon, was picked out for Pitch Wars by our very own YAtopian, Fiona McLaren. It's a Pitch Wars success story as Entranced Publishing requested the manuscript in the #PitMad Twitter Party that followed the contest and then made an offer to publish. I love success stories like this!

The story concept is kick-arse: a reanimation revenge story! I get goosebumps just thinking about it. And to celebrate J.E.Shannon has awesome prizes - but you have to keep reading to find out what. So join in the party and celebrate. Make sure to let me know what you think of the book as I'm going to giveaway a copy. Just leave a comment before the end of the blog tour (include you're email) and you'll be in the draw.

Title: Awakenings
Author: J. E. Shannon  
Publisher: Entranced Publishing
Genre: YA paranormal romance
Release Date: July 29th 2013


Evie Shepard awakens to a nightmare. She's been buried alive and has no idea how or why. As she struggles to remember what happened, she beings to notice changes -- heightened senses, as well as increased speed, agility, and strength. And her heart no longer beats. She soon makes a disturbing discovery: she wasn't buried alive; she was murdered. Somehow, she has come back...and she wants revenge.

You can check out the Book trailer if you want to know more and Add to Goodreads if you want to read it.

If you're ready to buy it now it's available on  AmazonKobo | Smashwords


To celebrate her new release, JE Shannon is giving away a Kindle with an ecopy of Awakenings (US only). One runner-up will win an ecopy of Awakenings (open internationally). You can enter here.
About the Author: 

J. E. Shannon currently lives in Florida, but is a Missouri native. She spends most of her time reading, writing, and taking care of her small child and two crazy dogs. Visit her at

You can also find her on her blogTwitter and Facebook

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Who Do You Picture Reading What You Write?

Embedded in all the news this month about JK Rowling’s secret identity as a crime writer is the story of her previous submission rounds—with book one of Harry Potter’s saga.  Most of the articles make passing mention of the fact that, in 1996, the lightening bolt scarred protagonist failed to excite between six and twelve publishers (reports vary) before the book was purchased by Bloomsbury with an advance of £2,500.   

What the stories haven’t mention is the very best part of the Bloomsbury acquisition process. Rowling’s agent (who only signed her because his assistant liked Rowling’s illustrations and pulled her manuscript out of the trash) sent the partial ms to the chairman of Bloomsbury, trading on a personal favor.

Did he read it? Nope. But he did bring it home, where his eight year-old daughter slipped it off his desk, devoured it in one night and begged (BEGGED!) her dad to publish it so she could read more.

I would like to hug that little girl Alice (I have a feeling her dad since has. I hope he bought her a pony too.) For me, this story is a powerful reminder of who kidlit is for, first and foremost.  

It’s for kids.

Simple, right? Except it’s not so simple. Publisher’s Weekly published a study last September that claimed 55% of YA books were purchased and read by adults, with the largest segment aged 30-44 (a demographic I also fit within).

I write MG and I’m fairly clear on my target audience of tween girls. When I write, I imagine my reader as the amazingly self-confident, lanky, eleven-year-old girl who arrives at my kids’ bus stop every morning with her face in a book. Last year she worked her way through Meg Cabot’s entire catalog and I knew we were soul sisters (not surprisingly, she considers me “crazy bus stop mom who won’t stop squee-ing about book boyfriends”).  Aside from her, on occasion I’ll write a line or add a reference that I just know one of my CP’s will adore and I’ll imagine them reading and commenting (I have one who highlights favorite funny lines with a green highlighter and I admit the quest for more green highlights has upped my game big time.) But most of the time it’s Bus Stop Girl.

Now that I’m venturing into YA territory, I’m having a harder time picturing my intended reader. Is it my teenaged babysitter or is it my best friend? (Seriously, people, this is not the same person, especially since my babysitter really doesn’t get my obsession with ABC Family. Besides, my best friend is the girl at the bus stop. She just doesn’t know it yet.)

I’m curious: Do you picture your ultimate reader as you write?  If so, is it a kid? A Twitter friend? A CP? An editor? And how does that imaginary reader influence the words you write?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Guestopia: Rosanne Rivers

Why is Dystopian Fiction Still So Popular?
by: Rosanne Rivers

Early last year, I had just finished writing After the Fear, and, excited to get it out into the world, I spoke to a few literary agents and industry insiders about how to get it published. Predominantly, I was told that ‘dystopian fiction is on its way out’ and that readers had read enough about tyrannical governments and high-stake scenarios. A year and a half later, Allegiant by Veronica Roth is one of the most highly anticipated YA releases, and dystopian fiction still continues to dominate the YA bestsellers on the Amazon Kindle lists, (four out of five of the YA and teen bestsellers are dystopian). I think it is safe to say that readers have proven some publishers wrong.

But what is it about dystopian fiction that we love so much? Why is it still proving popular, long after the initial buzz of The Hunger Games is over?

There are a few ways of approaching this quandary. Many critics have talked about why dystopian fiction might be appealing to teens and young adults (living within the confines of so many rules is supposed to mirror a teen’s life ruled by adults), however, many of the readers of YA dystopian fiction are adults themselves, and not all of them ‘young’! So I want to look at why dystopian is so popular right now. What is it about our society that is driving us to these books time after time?

One of my theories is that the general public have been becoming more interested in politics over the past ten years. Young adults and teens are beginning to see the cracks in their governments or leaders due to the economic crises and various scandals that have come to light in the recent years. Take the UK for example, during the last UK government election, many young adults voted for a certain party because they promised lower university fees for the future. When they came into power via a coalition government, the fees were actually tripled.

I’m not suggesting, of course, that the UK are under the rule of a tyrannical government, but moments like that demonstrate to the public that, while we may be in control of our votes, we are certainly not in control of what the government do once they come into power. That lack of control we feel is mirrored within dystopian fiction, where the situation is augmented.

I wonder whether the rise in popularity in dystopian fiction coincides with moments of political or social unrest. It would certainly seem so, looking at the graph in this brilliant blog post by Patrick Brown at Goodreads: ( The moments when dystopian fiction is the most popular are during World War II and during the Cold War, and again in 2010. It’s difficult, however, to distinguish whether this is a result of the social climate or due to the rise in popularity of one particular book. For example, 1984 by George Orwell was published in 1949, just before the spike in popularity of dystopian fiction in 1950. The success of this book could have propelled success of other books in the same genre, regardless of the times, much like The Hunger Games has undoubtedly enhanced the success of other books within the same genre since 2008.

Moira Young, author of Blood Red Road (an amazing book, by the by) seems to believe that the rise in dystopian fiction is due to anxious adults. She writes in an article for The Guardian, ‘Adults write books for teenagers. So anxious adults – worried about the planet, the degradation of civil society and the bitter inheritance we're leaving for the young – write dystopian books.’ She also writes, ‘Those of us who write for young people are reluctant to leave our readers without hope.’ I agree to an extent; anyone who writes a good dystopian book has looked at the world in which we’re living in right now, and wondered about where it could go in the future. But I believe the audience (teens, young adults and other adults) has created this market, not the authors themselves.

For teens and young adults, the future is uncertain, but exciting and full of possibility. Dystopian fiction could be seen to mirror that; anything is possible within these new societies, whether that’s a bad or good thing for the characters involved. There are endless possibilities, and like Moira Young states, there is always hope. Hope for the future is something that humans all have in common, no matter what age we are, where in the world we are living or what is going on in our society at that moment. Perhaps it is that hope that keeps dystopian fiction so popular.

Whatever the reason, I have no doubt that dystopian fiction will keep on proving popular. Like all genres which withstand the test of time, I’m sure it will mould and develop, collide with other genres and be given many different names (‘light sci-fi’ etc), but let’s face it, the themes highlighted within dystopian fiction are here to stay.


Rosanne Rivers

Rosanne lives in Birmingham, UK and considers it one of her favourite cities, second only to Rome. She delights in writing for children and young adults and hopes to bring readers to an unfamiliar yet alluring setting. Rosanne was inspired to write when she read the Harry Potter books, and at age fourteen, she wrote romance fanfiction on just about every pairing you could dream up from the HP series. She currently lives with her partner and two bunny rabbits and is working on a post-apocalyptic adventure book for middle grade readers.

After the Fear blurb
You have not attended a Demonstration this month.

In Sola’s city, everyone obeys the rules. Stay away from the trigger cameras and regularly update your Debtbook, and you just might survive. But having to watch the way criminals are dealt with—murdered by Demonstrators in the Stadium—is a law Sola tries to avoid. When a charming Demonstrator kisses her at a party, however, she’s thrust into the Stadium and forced into the very role she despises.

Armed with only natural resourcefulness and a caring nature, Sola narrowly survives her first bout. Her small success means she’s whisked off to a training camp, where she discovers a world beyond the trigger cameras and monitoring—a world where falling in love with a killer doesn’t seem so terrible.

Yet life as a Demonstrator has no peace. Sola must train her way through twenty-five more Demonstrations before she can return home to her father. At the end of each battle, only one survivor remains.

Sola could face anyone in the Stadium . . . even a loved one.
Buy this book
Print Edition

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A checklist for your author website

Hey YAtopians! Your resident publicist, here. I've been spending a lot of time lately looking at writers' websites for my day job (Event Coordinator at my county library) and have been repeatedly frustrated by some of the same missing information.

So I though I'd share a checklist of all the things I'm looking for when I go to a writer's (unpublished or published!) website.

1) Contact Me

This should be noticeable somewhere on the screen as soon as the page loads (above the fold, if you will), with no scrolling or clicking on other pages necessary. If you want to be contacted by media and people who want to give you free publicity, this is not optional.

If you do not handle your own publicity or right negotiations, make sure these contact people are also listed clearly on this page - not at the bottom in 2.5 pt font.

On a side note: It's my personal preference to have an email address versus a contact form, because I can track who I've emailed in my "Sent" folder. ESPECIALLY if your pen name is Jane Doe and the name on your email address is Reignbow Moonblood and you don't mention the discrepancy and I'm like, "I've never heard of you, you crazy person?"

2) Social Media Links

Facebook and Twitter, at the least + anywhere else you want people to find you. They either need to be immediately visible or somewhere that makes sense to a four year old, like on your aforementioned "Contact Me" page, not on your "Writing Inspiration" page. (I wish I was joking.)

3) Your Books

For the love of Godiva almighty, if you have published books, don't make me go on a scavenger hunt to find info about them. As I say to clients, make it as easy as possible for people to give you money. This info should not be (only) in your sidebar or in your About Me page. You should either have an overall "Books" page or a page for each book.

On this/these page(s), you need:
  • your cover
  • your blurb
  • external buy links - this means Amazon and B&N at the very least. I know most of you get higher royalties if we buy from your publisher's website, but you don't get any if we don't buy it at all. We are comfortable with the stores we like and don't trust strange online stores in the age of identity theft.
  • if the book is not yet released, clearly indicate the release date!
  • optional: the name of your publisher (if it's a selling point)
  • optional: one or two short review quotes. NOT pages and pages of quotes.
  • optional: a link to the book's goodreads page
  • optional: ISBN
  • optional: if you have magazine/journal articles you'd like to highlight, the bottom of this page is a good place

The following things aren't what I would consider "necessary," but highly recommended:

4) Some Way to Subscribe to News

Whether it's an option to subscribe to your blog via email or a more official newsletter, make sure people who want to receive updates about your books can easily do so.

5) Meet Me / Meet Sarah

Don't do this. I don't know if this means "About Me," or "Contact Me" or "Meet me in person."

On a related note, if you're doing in-person events, make sure to have these somewhere clearly labeled on your site. If you just call it something like "Events" or "Appearances" you can post virtual appearances as well.

That's all I have for now, but I'm sure I'll think of more later today. Probably when I'm in the shower. :-)

If you'd like me to take a look at your author website and provide (very brief, very basic) feedback, feel free to leave your link below!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Thinking in themes: An exercise

For creative people, ideas are typically easy to come by. We can't really even function unless we're finagling a story out of something, right? Come across a bizarre looking place? That's a story idea! Bump into a kooky character at the supermarket? Story idea! Lid on the mayonnaise on so tight you need the Jaws of Life? Story idea right there. But I'm preaching to the choir here. We all know that as writers, our minds are treasure troves of ideas. Some golden nuggets, others lumps of coal. The problem we all share--the very bane of our existence--is of course, what the heck do you do with those ideas? How do you mine all those nuggets and lumps into great stories?

Now, once in a while that one idea comes along that basically just writes itself, but very few of us ever get so lucky. Those are diamonds in the rough. Nine times out of ten, an idea has to be worked at--cultivated. That, my fellow YAtopians, as we all know, is a pain-staking process. It is the root cause of many cases of the dreaded writer's block. It's caused me to turn my back on many ideas, as I'm sure it has you. So what can we do about it?

The answers are both numerous and few and far between. There are a gazillion writing exercises that you could try, but the ones that work for any given writer are much fewer. I was talking with a colleague of mine a few days ago, a wise sort of fellow who marveled me with his insight. He described to me the way he cultivates ideas in order to avoid writer's block. The way he does it is to take his original idea--at its most basic, whether an image or a situation or a concept--and to form a running theme out of it. How does he do that, you ask? Well, he thinks of various things that the idea might be represented by. In other words, he treats the idea like a living, breathing entity and goes about describing it in (seemingly) unconventional ways.

I'll try an example. Let's say we're writing a story about the trials and tribulations of writer's block. What we're going to do is figure out five representations of that idea. Like so:

What colour represents the idea?
I'm going to say grey. Nothing is happening. My mood is sombre.

What smell represents the idea?
Since I don't drink coffee, I'm going to say cookies-- sugar is my caffeine. Oh, and they gotta be from Tim Hortons.

What weather represents the idea?
Overcast. Gloomy, dark, dull and no end to it in sight. Little chance of rain, either. It's a lull.

What animal represents the idea?
Turtle. The process is painfully slow-moving and hard to crack. 

What landform represents the idea?
A canyon. Maybe even the Grand Canyon. When you've fallen in it, it feels like you're never going to get out.

So, there you have it! Fun, eh? You can obviously do more than five. In fact, you can probably go on and on until you've had enough. What this exercise does is gets you thinking about some unifying themes in your potential story. Of course you won't use them all; in fact, only a couple will likely see your final edit. But it does get the creative juices flowing, and best of all, it kickstarts the process of idea cultivation.

Let's see what I got for my writer's block story... well, from my answers, I have a story with the unifying theme of a slow, painful, inescapable, experience with dark, gloomy, dull imagery that may or may not be made worse by cookies.

Not bad! Give it a try in the comment section below!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

YAtopia: new recruits needed

We're looking for some new citizens at YAtopia as a couple of our regulars are leaving us *cues tears*

DJ, Aimee and Jaquira are all stepping down to focus on other projects. Everyone here at YAtopia wants to thank them for their contributions to the blog and we wish them all the best with their writing and future endeavours.

This leaves us with some spots to fill. If you think you've got what it takes to be a YAtopian then now is the time for you to apply. You need to commit to one blog post a month that looks at anything to do with reading, writing or publishing MG, YA or NA stories.

To apply please fill out this form and make sure you include links to at least one example blog post (either on your own blog or a guest blog post).

We're really excited to have new members and we hope to hear from you soon!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Introducing YA author Louise D Gornall

Louise D Gornall's YA gargoyle romance novel IN STONE has already received a dozen of rave reviews and it's only been out for two weeks! I invited Louise to YAtopia today to tell us all about the soundtrack for In Stone and how important music was to writing process.

Beau Bailey is suffering from a post-break-up meltdown when she 
happens across a knife in her local park and takes it home. Less than a week later, the new boy in school has her trapped in an alley; he’s sprouted horns and is going to kill Beau unless she hands over the knife. 

Until Eighteenth-century gargoyle, Jack, shows up to save her.

Jack has woken from a century-long slumber to tell Beau that she’s unwittingly been drafted into a power struggle between two 
immortal races: Demons and Gargoyles. The knife is the only one in existence capable of killing immortals and they’ll tear the world apart to get it back. To draw the warring immortals away from her home, Beau goes with Jack in search of the mind-bending realm known as the Underworld, a place where they’ll hopefully be able to destroy the knife and prevent all hell from breaking loose. That is, provided they can outrun the demons chasing them.

Amazon     B&N     Kobo

Take it away Louise...

The soundtrack to In Stone 
by Louise D Gornall

I don’t even know where to start with this post. I guess if you follow me on Twitter you already know that my music taste is eclectic. On account of my disability and the fear of being crushed to death, I’ve only ever been to one music concert in my life and that was a Jonas Brothers gig. It was awesome. Then just yesterday I was listening to -- and loving -- Korn beat the crap out of their instruments and scream maggot-rock down their that’s the sort of scope we’re dealing with here. Basically, I listen to everything when I write, except dance music. Nothing against dance music or the folks that listen to it, I just can’t get into it myself. 

There’s been a couple of times during my blog tour when I’ve been asked to name one song that best describes my book. This question is hard. Not just because I have to give it some serious thought, but because I wrote every new chapter to something different. So whereas Radioactive by Imagine Dragons might be the best song to describe a fight scene, it doesn’t represent a kissing scene in quite the same way, you know? And then, as well as having one song that represents each chapter -- often paragraph -- I gave my characters their own individual soundtracks too, so my book is basically defined by one giant music mash-up. 
As a teen of the 70s, my dad is a big time rock music enthusiast. Both my parents are. My house has always been filled with the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Queen, T-Rex, Bowie... The classic rock music list is limitless, really. But I can tell you that all these guys had a hand in creating In Stone at some point. 

If you’ve read the book you might have noticed that I’ve got a bit of a crush on metaphors. I’m not a fan of clich├ęs, and I like to play around with words. Some songs were awesome in helping me expand my vocab and offering imagery that you might say was a little outside the box. Anything by Alanis Morissette, Rolling Stones, Joan as Policewoman and Regina Spektor got me to think about words and how to twist them to paint vivid pictures. 

I’m not great at writing romance, better than I was, but still not brilliant. Credit for the feeling and atmosphere that went into any romantic clinches in this story has to go to, Christina Perri, Bon Iver, Ben Howard, Eva Cassidy, Evanescence, Paolo Nutini and A Fine Frenzy. My Immortal by Evanescence haunted me from chapter twenty-three to chapter twenty-five. And now, as I start work on the second book, it’s back! It’s such a chilling song and sets an amazing tone. Not quite rock, not quite classical...I love that!     
Let me see... bands that helped me increase the pace of a scene. When Beau or Jack were fighting or running I needed something fast to work to. Girl in a Coma, Ramones, Paramore, Mad Marge and the Stonecutters, The Smiths, Muse, Suzi Quatro and the Arctic Monkeys are all responsible for the pace I set in the angsty/ragged/intense scenes of my story.  
On the opposite scale, when I needed something calmer for transition scenes, Bach, Andrea Bocelli, Coldplay, Editors, Jimmy Eat World, Adele, Ellie Goulding and Snow Patrol helped me to slow the pace right down.

I think that’s everything. Maybe. If I’ve achieved nothing else here, I definitely win the award for most musicians mentioned in a blog post, right? I was going to write down individual song titles, but we’d have been here till Christmas. So this is my list. Let me know if I’ve not mentioned a band that no writer should write without. 

Massive thanks Suzanne for having me over to talk music! -absolute pleasure!

Louise is a graduate of Garstang Community Academy. She is currently studying for a BA (Hons) in English language and literature with special emphasis on creative writing. YA aficionado. Brit bird. Film nerd. Identical twin. Junk food enthusiast. Rumored pink Power Ranger. Zombie apocalypse 2012 survivor. She is also an avid collector of book boyfriends.

Author Social Media Links:

Facebook     Twitter     Website

If you're in the US, UK, Canada or Australia, feel free to enter the massive gargoyle themed giveaway below!

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Movie Block Busters 2013 and Read-A-Likes


I am going to switch gears from Davey “the Writer” to Davey “the YA/Teen Librarian.” I figured since we are in the middle of Summer, at least it feels like it where I am at, and all the BIG SUMMER BLOCK BUSTERS! I would give you some books you might like if you liked a certain movie. Now these are just subjective to what I have in the library in which I work at and would recommend as a librarian. If you have any suggestions about what might be a good read; please feel free to share in the comments below! Some of my suggestions will be novels, while others will be graphic novels/TPBs.

Iron Man 3 (#1)*

· Civil War** – Millar, Mark (Captain America verse Iron Man in superhero Civil War)
· Iron Man Extremis** – Ellis, Warren (this what the movie was heavily based off of)
· Iron Man: Extremis Prose Novel – Javins, Marie
· Iron Man: Season One** – Chaykin, Howard (a modern retelling of Iron Man’s origin)
· Iron Man – David, Peter (novelization of the first movie)

Man of Steel (#2)

· All Star Superman, Vol. 1** – Morrison, Grant (a very Silver Age sort of adventure for Superman)
· The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – Chabon, Michael (A brilliant fictionalized retelling of what the creators of Superman went through, though instead of this being Siegel and Shuster with Superman. It is Kavalier and Clay with the Escapeist)
· Superman: Birthright** – Waid, Mark (a modernized retelling of the Superman Origin)
· Superman: Earth One** – Staczynski, J. Michael (a modernized retelling of the Superman Origin set on an Earth where he is the first super hero)
· Superman For All Seasons** – Loeb, Jeph (a story set across four seasons and from different points in Clark Kent/Superman’s life)
· Was Superman a Spy?  – Cronin, Brian (a book with all sorts of cool stories and facts about all of your favorite heroes)

Fast & Furious 6 aka Furious 6 (#4)

· Initial D Vol. 1**– Shigeno, Shuichi (a manga story of Japanese street racing)
· Speed Racer & Racer X: The Origins Collection** – Yune, Tommy (the original speed thrill seeker when it came to fast cars)
· Saturday Night Dirt– Weaver, Will
· The Physics of NASCAR: How to Make Steel + Gas + Rubber = Speed – Leslie– Pelecky, Diandra

Oz the Great and Powerful (#5)

What else could I list but the original Oz series by Baum? Though there is Wicked, the Gregory Maguire series and I just wanted to Baunm to take center stage here. And Marvel Comics is doing an incredible graphic novel/comic series based on all of these books currently.

· The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Baum, L. Frank
· The Marvelous Land of OZ – Baum, L. Frank
· Ozma of OZ– Baum, L. Frank
· Dorothy and the Wizard in OZ – Baum, L. Frank
· The Road to OZ – Baum, L. Frank
· The Emerald City of OZ – Baum, L. Frank
· The Patchwork Girl of OZ – Baum, L. Frank
· Tik-Tok of OZ – Baum, L. Frank
· The Scarecrow of OZ – Baum, L. Frank
· Rinkitink of OZ – Baum, L. Frank
· The Lost Princess of OZ – Baum, L. Frank
· The Tin Woodman of OZ – Baum, L. Frank
· The Magic of OZ – Baum, L. Frank
· Glinda of OZ – Baum, L. Frank

World War Z (#9)

· World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War – Brooks, Max
· The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead – Brooks, Max
· Rotters – Kraus, Daniel
· Warm Bodies – Marion, Issac
· Zom-B – Shan, Darren

Pacific Rim (?)***

· The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories – Lovecraft, H.P.
· Evangelion** – Sadamoto, Yoshiyuki
· Godzilla Volume 1** Swierczynski, Duane
· Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters – Tsutsui, William
· Mobile Suit Gundam** (series) – Various
· Pacific Rim: The Official Movie Novelization – Irvine, Alexander
· Pacific Rim: Man, Machines, and Monsters – Cohen, David

*Current Box Office Rankings
** Graphic Novel/TPB
*** The Movie that got me thinking of this Blog Topic