Archive for the ‘Young Adult (YA)’ Category




In JK Rowling’s Imagination

Filed under: Check-it-out, Family, Fun and Games, Stuff I Love, Vacation Madness, Writing for Children, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

This past week, my husband and kids spent two days laughing at me. Or rather, my childish delight at being in Universal’s Harry Potter Theme Park of Hogsmeade, Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and Gringotts. But they were pretty blown away by the awesomeness of the experience too.

We’re all HP fans. <3

But the thing that stuck with me the most was my husband wandering around, continually repeating how amazing it was to get to walk around in someone else’s imagination.

I can’t possibly agree more.

I wish you’d all been there with me too. Maybe we can have an SCBWI event there sometime, right??

But in the meantime, here’s a picture tour of JK Rowling’s imagination come to life…


The Hogwarts Express

IMG_3765 (1)

Hogsmeade at night






Honey Dukes for Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans


The Sorting Hat


Olivander’s Wand Shop…where the wand picks the Wizard.



I unexpectedly rounded a corner into Diagon Alley. My 12yo is still laughing about the squeal he heard me make before he got inside. <3




The Weasley Twin’s joke shop–Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes



And a fire breathing dragon atop of Gringotts



I applied for an account!


More butterbeer–because I could!


Even the toilets were just right!


There was also the Leaky Caldron


And Flourish & Blotts for school books too.


And there was so much more…

small diagon

It’s a tiny picture , but it’s all I could upload with a panoramic.


And don’t forget the Knight Bus…


For getting around on the Muggle streets of London LOL!


And King’s Cross Station–Next time I’m going to get to go in. Platform 9 and 3/4 is on my HP Bucket list. <3

Ahhh I miss it already. I can’t wait to go back. What about you?

Have you been inside JK Rowling’s imagination? What was your favorite part? Are you planning to go? What is on top of your HP Bucket List?

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The Boys in the Basement Found Their Groove

Filed under: Chasing Adaptation, Drafting, Pondering, Stuff I Love, Touching the Surface, Writing, Writing for Children, Writing Style, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

When I wrote my first book, TOUCHING THE SURFACE, I was obsessed with my musical playlist. I hardly ever wrote without it playing in the background. When I was brainstorming parts of the novel, I listened to certain songs over and over again. To this day, any of the songs on that list evoke very strong writing/book memories for me.

And then I stopped. Cold turkey.

I haven’t listened to a thing while writing since. And I’ve tried. I’ve made playlists for books I’ve worked on, but they never took on the life of that TTS playlist.

But… There’s always a BUT, isn’t there? Recently I found myself turning off my audiobooks while I’ve been running and listening to my workout music while giving the boys in the basement (my inner creative genius workhorses) time to day dream.


It’s been very helpful. I’ve had things I’ve been stuck on (for a thousand years) come bubbling to the surface. In excitement, I’ve done silly little dances of gratitude mid-run. Luckily I run on back mountain roads where there’s a limited amount of people witnessing my foolishness. Eek!

I’m not sure if these music fueled runs, or something else entirely, piqued my curiosity, but recently something possessed me to pull out the old, hardly been listened to playlist for my work in progress, CHASING ADAPTATION. Part of me wonders if it may have been morbid curiosity that caused me to dust it off. This novel has been written and rewritten so many times and with so many changes, I couldn’t even imagine the playlist being connected to my current scribbles.

But, as I listened, I found myself more than a little surprised at how perfect the songs were for the book I’m writing NOW. It seems a part of me has always known what I’ve been trying to say. The emotions, the questions, the feels and the wonder haven’t changed at all. Perhaps, the truly hard part is finding the RIGHT words to connect the dots between what’s always inside me and what gets printed on the page.

In honor of the boys in the basement, finally finding their groove, I thought I’d share one of the songs from the CHASING ADAPTATION playlist…


FIX YOU by Coldplay

When you try your best but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you’re too in love to let it go
But if you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
And I

Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face
And I

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Do you have a playlist for your writing or any of your creative ventures. How does it work for you? What ignites your bones?

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The YA Story Sisters-Back to School Giveaway

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Contests, Publishing, Reading, Stuff I Love, The Ladies Noir, Writing for Children, YA Books, YA Story Sisters, Young Adult (YA)

A couple weeks ago you may have heard me talking about The Ladies Noir, a group of YA writers who’ve banded together to help each other with the creation and marketing of our stories. Since then, the group realized The Ladies Noir wasn’t the right name to encompass the diverse writing styles of 30 different authors. So…drum roll please…we are now the YA Story Sisters (YASS) which I LOVE!


And to celebrate our, we are kicking off our new group with an epic back to school giveaway that includes 15 books from 11 of our authors…



You can enter the giveaway here…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We are so excited to have you follow us on the new YA Story Sisters FB page. Remember…every author has her story.

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Critique Partners, The Ladies Noir and PIXILATED by L.S. Murphy

Filed under: Blogging, Check-it-out, Community, Critique, Publishing, Stuff I Love, The Ladies Noir, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

I LOVE my critique partners. I have a very small group of friends who I’ve been working with for a very long time and they are amazing. I also have lots of critique support through my local Shop Talk. They never let me down. And then there’s my amazing buddies from the Class of 2k12 and the Apocs that I can ALWAYS call upon. But recently I’ve joined a new critique group I’m very excited about. We call ourselves The Ladies Noir and we’re a group of 30 YA authors supporting each other with critique and promo. I’m loving this diverse group already and I’m happy to begin sharing one of these great YA authors with you. PIXILATED by L.S Murphy is on TBR list but I wanted to be a part of her Book Blitz, so I’ll tell you about how awesome it was later. For now, here’s what you need to know to be excited…



by L.S. Murphy

Release Date: 06/30/15

Bloomsbury Spark


Summary from Goodreads:

Senior Year. 

Middle of nowhere. 

What’s the new girl to do?

For Piper Marks, the answer is simple. She’s determined to have her photography rock the cover of National Geographic someday, and moving to Clarkton, Iowa for her last year of high school is not going to stop her. Even if her usual subjects have changed from bright lights and skyscrapers to fields, cows…and more fields. 

But when photographer at the local paper quits in a huff, she steps into his spot. Her new job keeps Piper busy capturing tackles, and zooming in on first downs and end zone dances, not to mention putting her directly in the path of varsity football star Les Williams IV. Her new friends warn her off, but she can’t resist the pull she feels toward this mysterious country boy. But this small town is keeping a secret, and it’s one that could destroy any chance they have to be together. 

It’s up to Piper to decide what to do with the distorted truth. Can she risk exposing her heart? It might be worth it, ’cause Les is about to change her world from black and white to fully saturated color. 

Add to Goodreads

Buy Links:


 Praise for Pixelated:
“In Pixelated, L.S. Murphy weaves a complex web of secrets and lies with a ‘will they or won’t they’ romance that kept me turning pages and holding my breath!” ~ Julie Reece, author of The Artisans and Crux

“Beautifully written, with a full spectrum of emotion and complex characters, Pixelated will tug at all your heartstrings. I easily lost myself in the world L.S. Murphy created and couldn’t stop reading because I needed to see how the story ended.” ~ Kelly Oram, author of Cinder & Ella

“L.S. Murphy brings something for every reader with Pixelated: romance, secrets, mystery, and a main character torn between two choices. Murphy’s writing is sharp and steeped in emotions, deftly hooking her readers from the first sentence to the last.” ~ Sarah Bromley, author of A Murder Of Magpies 


About the Author
L.S. Murphy obsesses about St. Louis Cardinals baseball, fangirls over her favorite authors, and watches every episode of Doctor Who like it’s the first time. When she’s not doing those time-consuming things, the former farm-girl turned city slicker turned suburbanite writes sweet romances for teens and adults.

Author Links:



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blitz Organized by:


YA Bound Book Tours

I’m completely intrigued by a girl wanting her work to grace the cover of a National Geographic–what intrigues you the most about PIXILATED???

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The Flow State

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Stuff I Love, Writing, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)


Time keeps spinning out of control…



I’m losing track of blog posts, the laundry is piling up and no other “projects” in the house are getting done…much to my husband’s disappointment.

But I love it because it means I’m writing. To hell with unpacking the rest of my stuff from when I moved in just over a year ago. Piles of stuff everywhere aren’t disorganization for a creative person–they’re a fort!

Recently I read an article entitled 20 Things To Remember If You Love Highly Creative People. Quite a few of those 20 felt liked they were aimed directly at me, but #17 struck a cord at this moment…

17. They are addicted to creative flow.

Recent discoveries in neuroscience reveal that “the flow state” might be the most addictive experience on earth. The mental and emotional payoff is why highly creative people will suffer through the highs and lows of creativity. It’s the staying power. In a real sense, they are addicted to the thrill of creating.

This is why, the closer I get to the “end” of this manuscript, the harder it is to do anything else. As I inch along, the addiction to possibility becomes more intense, making me want to abandon the rest of the world so I can be holed up in my imaginary one for as long as I wish. It sounds so simple, but the reality of living with an addictive flow state is a mash-up of creativity, sanity and motherhood and it can be a bit painful to look at, kind of like an eclipse LOL! I just try to remind myself that soon enough I won’t be celebrating my creative flow because…

5. They create in cycles.

Creativity has a rhythm that flows between periods of high, sometimes manic, activity and slow times that can feel like slumps. Each period is necessary and can’t be skipped just like the natural seasons are interdependent and necessary.

So, I guess I’ll unpack stuff then. Or maybe not, I’m sure I can find better slump activities to do. *grin*

What other things on the list resonate with your creative soul? Or are you stuck living with one of us highly creative fools? If you are, which one of the 20 drives you bat shit bonkers?



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The YA Scavenger Hunt!

Filed under: Author Events, Blogging, Check-it-out, Community, Contests, Fun and Games, Reading, Touching the Surface, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This tri-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for a prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are EIGHT (yes, you heard me correctly!) contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GOLD TEAM!


But there is also RED, BLUE, GREEN, ORANGE, TEAL, PURPLE, & PINK teams. You can participate in all the hunts for a chance to win different sets of signed books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage.



Directions: Hidden somewhere below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number in GOLD. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the GOLD team, and then add them up. And don’t worry if you have to take off your socks and use your toes to keep track. A calculator works too.

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: This contest is open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by 04/5/15, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.



Alexandria Monir

Alexandra Monir is an author and recording artist in her twenties. SUSPICION is her third novel published by Random House. Her debut was the popular time-travel romance, TIMELESS, followed by the 2013 sequel, TIMEKEEPER. Alexandra currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is at work on her next novel, while also composing and recording original songs. Her music can be found on iTunes, and you can visit her website at Follow Alexandra @TimelessAlex.



“If Alfred Hitchcock had directed Downton Abbey, the result would have been this book. Alexandra Monir takes us on a gripping, nonstop thrill ride with just the right amount of supernatural and an ending that you definitely won’t suspect. I devoured it in one sitting.”–Jessica Brody, bestselling author of the UNREMEMBERED trilogy

“There’s something hidden in the maze.”

Seventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford has never forgotten the last words her father said to her, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family’s English country manor.

For seven years, images of her parents’ death have haunted Imogen’s dreams. In an effort to escape the past, she leaves Rockford Manor and moves to New York City with her new guardians. But some attachments prove impossible to shake—including her love for her handsome neighbor Sebastian Stanhope.

Then a life-altering letter arrives that forces Imogen to return to the manor in England, where she quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford’s aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself—and Sebastian, the boy she never stopped loving.

Combining spine-tingling mystery, romance, and unforgettable characters, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.


Hi Readers! Thank you for joining us on the YA Scavenger Hunt! For my bonus content, I’m excited to share the opening scene from my upcoming fourth novel for Delacorte Press, THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE!

I hope you enjoy this opening scene! While you’re waiting for GIRL IN THE PICTURE to come out next year, check out my current release, SUSPICION. I’ll be giving away 2 signed copies for the scavenger hunt- to enter, please follow me on Twitter @TimelessAlex and mention SUSPICION and YASH!

Love and Happy Reading!
Alexandra Monir

THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE by Alexandra Monir


 At first it’s no more than a blurry shape on the ground, large enough to beat me up, slow enough for me to get away. Then my focus clears, and I see why the body won’t move. Its limbs are tangled and twisted amongst the fallen leaves. Mud cakes the sleeves of a well-worn varsity jacket. A once-familiar face has turned an ashy gray, its mouth frozen on the last word spoken, a word now echoing in my ears. “You.”

   I take a step closer, bracing for the gut-wrenching pain of recognition. But as I stare at my maimed self lying in the woods behind the soccer field—my soccer field—there is no pain. No emotion at all, really. I guess I shouldn’t expect to feel anything. I’m dead.

   Still, there is a flicker of something, an image—no, images. They push to the forefront of my mind, growing stronger the more I stare at my rigid body. Lips on lips, the sound of her voice calling after me, a jagged rock hovering above my skull, the last face before it all went black.

   Footsteps. They’re coming, mere seconds away from finding my body. Soon this section of the woods will be roped off with yellow tape, newscasters and Oyster Bay students clamoring for a view of where I died, of what happened. Then the detectives will swarm, full of theories and names.

I think I know who the first two names will be.

I have somewhere to go, don’t I? Some afterlife waiting to check me in?

But I can’t go just yet.

I need a little longer.

One more glimpse of her.

I need the truth.

Thanks, Alexandra!!!!! And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Alexandra Monir, and at least 7 or maybe more than SEVEN fabulous authors! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is. Have you figured it out yet? Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the GOLD team and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!



To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next GOLD Team author, Katherine Longshore!!!
Spread the word by Tweeting #YASH

And before you go…BONUS CONTEST!!!!!!

Here’s a chance to win TWO signed copies of TOUCHING THE SURFACE–one copy for you and one copy for your favorite school or local library. Check out my Rafflecopter for the details on how to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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It’s Almost Time for the YA Scavenger Hunt!!!

Filed under: Author Events, Blogging, Book Reviews, Check-it-out, Community, Contests, Stuff I Love, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

It’s almost time for the YA Scavenger Hunt!!!


What is the YA Scavenger Hunt? Let me fill you in…

The YA Scavenger Hunt is a biannual online event that promotes collaboration between YA authors from different publishing houses, offering fans an opportunity to see the latest and greatest in young adult literature. During the hunt, we showcase exclusive bonus material, give readers access to top secret insider information, and offer fabulous prizes and giveaways for zealous YA fans.

Yup–totally awesome. And because I want you to be ready to play on April2-5th. I’m giving you a sneak peek of the participating authors and their books. I’ll start you off with my group–TEAM GOLD!

Team Gold (2)

A fabulous group! And here are all the rest of the teams…

Team Purple 1

Team Green

Team Orange

Team Red 1

Blue Team 1

Team Teal (2)

Pink Team

You can find out more about the YA Scavenger Hunt #YASH here.

What books and authors are you hunting for?

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The Best Things Happen When You Aren’t Looking

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Writing, Writing for Children, Writing Style, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Sorry I missed you on Tuesday. I was thawing out.



The whole family was away on a ski trip that was awesome but very, very cold. How cold you ask?

Yeah, about a -24 on the top of the mountain. It was a mighty breezy gondola ride LOL! I felt like I was frozen half the weekend. Thank the stars for hot tubs. But, when I did get home, I was rather occupied. I had a long lost puppy to hug.

IMG_0418 It was the first time the little fur baby stayed with someone else. He did great but once we had him back, there was lots of hugging going on. And don’t forget that when I arrived home, I had a whole different mountain to climb–Mt. Laundrious. I think I’m still out there on one of the permanent press peaks. Bleh!

But today, even though it was still cold, the kids went to school on time. There were no weather delays, which allowed me to do something fabulous called writing. *sigh* It was wonderful to have an UNINTERRUPTED chunk of time with my manuscript. I hammered out over a 1,000 words in a reasonable amount of time, but it isn’t the word count I’m writing about. (Although it makes me very happy.) Rather, what’s worthy of a blog post is the unexpected thing that happened…

BAM! One of my characters blindsided me right along with my MC.


We are both still reeling from the unexpected development. He did what??? I’m still baffled. I NEVER thought this character would do THAT. But he did. I knew it for absolute certain even though I don’t know exactly what that means for my MC at the moment. It has rattled my cage, but it also makes me content to be a pantster. The truth is that some days I panic, being a fly by the seat of my pants kind of a girl. When I hit a tough spot, I’m SURE  if I could just outline, my life would be complete. COMPLETE!

But then a moment like today happens and I bask in my creative process. This development could have never come from an outline. At least not my outlines. Those are nuttier than an peanut factory. The simplest way I can explain the joy of this thing that happened, is to say that it’s a small moment of confirmation. It reminds me that I’m not really crazy–not THAT crazy anyway. *shrugs* I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, y’all.

And of course, tomorrow or maybe next week, I’ll be back to wishing I had a road map for a book, instead of just headlights, hope and instinct to guide my way. Traveling in the dark can be hard and even kind of scary, but that’s why I wrote this post. It’s to remind me that sometimes the best things happen when you aren’t looking.


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How to Make an Author’s Day

Filed under: Book Auntie Braggery, Book Reviews, Check-it-out, Community, Critique, Fan Mail, In the Wild, Pondering, Publishing, Reading, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

I recently tagged a couple people in a Facebook post about a friend’s book trailer. I knew the subject matter of the book would highly resonate with them AND I know this author is an amazing writer. Win-Win for everyone! In less than ten minutes there were several people interested in ordering the book who never would have known about it before.

Initially, there was a little confusion because the book is available for pre-order but it won’t be out until 2/5.  But one of my friends jumped in and clarified the way a pre-order works and how it’s VERY helpful to the author to have pre-orders. Was it wrong that I wanted to kiss her on the lips? I forget not everyone eats, sleeps and breathes publishing. So, today I thought I’d give some simple tips about how you can make an author’s day.

Many books

*Buy their book. Pre-order it if it isn’t out yet.

*Buy the book as a gift for a friend or a donation to a school or library.

*If you loved the book, tell everyone who has ears they should read it ASAP! Nothing can compare to word of mouth for the success of a book.

*Write a review for Amazon, Barnes and Noble or any place that sells books. It does not have to be an insanely long and complicated essay. You can write one sentence and have the eternal gratitude of the author. Reviews make us feel good, but they also are important to the gods of Amazon and it’s algorithms.

*Help the author spread the word when they run contests or share information.

*Tell the author their books had in impact on you. You may not realize it, but fan letters make our hearts grow three sizes when we read them.


Now go forth and make an author’s day. And feel free to share any additional tips in the comments.


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Drafting Series: Chasing a Hot Mess in the Dark

Filed under: Drafting, Writing, Writing for Children, Writing Style, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

I’ve spent the last couple weeks digging back into my WIP. After the crazy holidays and the introduction of the puppy, I needed to take my printed copy and read it while making notes. I needed to be reminded of where I was going and what I’d been trying to do as I strung words together.

But in typical fashion, every time I curled up on the couch with my pen and highlighter in hand, I felt myself getting nervous. What was I going to find as I sorted through the pages? What would I discover when I read what I had from beginning to end? The truth is that I’m always expecting a hot mess. And why shouldn’t I? It is a rough draft after all. Those are always ugly.


Businessman overwhelmed by paper


I finished the detailed read through today and got what I expected–something that still needs a ton of work. But I was also pleasantly surprised by what is coming out of my head when I’m not really paying close attention to the big picture. There is great stuff in there and I’m super excited. In fact, it’s giving me the incentive to push forward with the draft because, I know that when I’m done, I’ll have something worth revising. There will be avenues to explore, threads to weave and countless possibilities. I WILL make it to revision with this book LOL! Sure, CHASING ADAPTATION has sent me on a merry chase, but suddenly it feels as if it’s unfolding the way TOUCHING THE SURFACE did when it started to come together in my head. And that makes me very optimistic about the future of this story. It makes my soul flutter.

So, for all of you writers out there in the same position, stop focusing so much on the draft and just write. Think of it like driving in the dark. You can still make the journey even if you can only see as far ahead as your headlights. You’ll get there if you just keep moving forward.



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