Visiting Author Series: Stacey Lee

We’re delighted to welcome Stacey Lee to Sixteen to Read’s Visiting Author Series. Stacey published her debut novel, the critically acclaimed Under a Painted Sky, with Putnam in 2015. In May 2016, she followed it up with Outrun the Moon, which Kirkus has called “powerful, evocative, and thought-provoking.” Stacey’s third novel, The Secret of a Heart Note, is due out from Katherine Tegen Books on December 27.

Sixteen to Read’s Sonya Mukherjee recently chatted with Stacey about writing, publishing, and what she’s learned so far.

Stacey, thanks so much for taking the time to drop by. To begin, we’d love to hear about the earliest stages of your career. What was the querying process like for you with your first book, Under a Painted Sky?

I began querying when I was fifteen, and that was a very long time ago, before there were computers. All told, I queried about seven different projects at various stages of my life, from picture books to YA. Each project received more nibbles than the prior one, and so I knew I was moving in the right direction at least. Plus, with the advent of the Internet, it became easier to figure out what I was doing right or wrong through sites like Query Shark.

For more detailed information about perfecting a query letter, my agent Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency and I chatted about my original query for UAPS at Literary Rambles.

What aspect of the publishing experience was most surprising for you that first time around? And what was the most fun?

I was surprised by how many people it takes to make a book. There are so many people involved with getting a book on the shelf, marketing people, salespeople, publicists—I’m still not sure I met everyone who worked on UAPS! The most fun was meeting some great author friends along the way. I couldn’t have done it without their support!

Your first two novels were both historical, while The Secret of a Heart Note, which comes out next, is contemporary. What drew you to writing historical characters and settings? And after starting with historical, what appealed to you about contemporary?

As a fourth generation Californian, I always wondered about those Chinese ancestors of mine who first touched down on American soil. So that’s what led me to write UAPS, as well as my second historical, Outrun the Moon. But I also love writing in other genres, like contemporary with a little magic, which is how I describe The Secret of a Heart Note. That one arose from my odd synesthetic ability to ‘hear’ different scents and my interest in natural perfumery. It’s different animal than my historicals, but everyone who has read it says they can tell it’s me who wrote it.

What’s your writing process like? Has it changed over time?

I brainstorm on paper. I take lots of walks to develop those ideas, then plot out some emotional beats I’d like to hit. Then I start writing soon after I get a general outline going. It’s definitely an organic process for me, and often what and who I intend to write about changes along the way.

You’ve been quite prolific. Your first book just came out last year, and you have two out in 2016. How do you balance your writing time with all the other tasks related to publishing and promoting your work? Do you have set schedules or plans that help you divide your time?

I don’t watch TV! I just have to clip bits of time here and there and hope and pray it all gets done! With two kids, it’s definitely a challenge because I don’t start writing until around 9 or 10 pm. I stop around 1 or 2 am.

Can you share anything about what you’re working on next?

Another historical that might or might not involve stagecoaches. J

Lightning round:

Favorite writing beverage: iced coffee with almond milk

Favorite place to write: in my home office

Music to write by: I need quiet. I get too distracted by song lyrics.

Last book you read: I’m reading The Reader by Traci Chee.

Author from the past you’d most want to meet: LA Meyer, author of the Bloody Jack series, who passed away in 2015.

First thing you’d do if you could time travel to one of your novels’ settings: What a great question. I’d learn how to ride a horse.

Best thing about living in the 21st century when not time traveling: Anesthesia.

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THE GIRL WHO FELL Chosen as an Amazon Top 20 YA Book in 2016 So Far!

We are so thrilled to share that Amazon has chosen Shannon M. Parker’s YA debut, THE GIRL WHO FELL, as a Top 20 YA Book for their their mid-year list of 2016. There are so many incredible books on this list and it is such an honor to see a Sixteen to Read author among them!

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In this gripping debut novel, high school senior Zephyr Doyle is swept off her feet—and into an intense and volatile relationship—by the new boy in school.
His obsession. Her fall.

THE GIRL WHO FELL was also chosen as a Goodread’s Top 5 YA Book for March and named one of PASTE Magazine’s Top 10 New YA Books of March. You can pick it up wherever books are sold.

 

Happy Book Birthday to GENESIS GIRL!

Jennifer Bardsley’s GENESIS GIRL releases today and we couldn’t be happier! 

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Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet.

Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.

Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable.

By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online.

Some early reviews for GENESIS GIRL:

“Internet access is now a part of everyone’s life and it’s hard to determine what would happen if we were forced to give up our precious technology. For this reason, the concept of Genesis Girl fascinated me. I loved the way the author explores both the good and bad of technology and presents two extremes – the Vestals (who have no online presence) and the Viruses (whose lives revolve around technology). I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the series and finding out if there’s a middle ground for Blanca and Seth, as well as the entire imagined society.

Aside from the intriguing premise, this book was just plain fun to read. The pacing was extraordinary. Blanca’s voice was fascinating. She started out as someone who’d been brainwashed. But, out in the non-Vestal world, she needed to learn to rely on her own instincts in order to survive.

I’m also a huge fan of Jennifer Bardsley’s s writing style – her books are addictively readable. It was hard to put this book down and I found myself staying up late into the night to finish. Genesis Girl is a must read for 2016!” ~Jennifer DiGiovanni, author of MY SENIOR YEAR OF AWESOME

“Some days, I feel kind of horrified by the influence technology holds over my life. I’m joined at the hip with my phone. My fingers are glued to my tablet. My iPod is on full blast. So I was immediately intrigued by the premise for GENESIS GIRL, which is set in a future where the aftermath of a brain cancer epidemic brought on by cell phones scared parents though to entrust their children to a leader who would keep them safe and technology-free. These children would grow up to be Vestals, and would have no Internet footprint. This makes them extremely valuable. Companies want them to advertise their products, knowing there is no chance that a Vestal could have a sordid backstory traceable online.

The main character in GENESIS GIRL is Blanca, a Vestal who is auctioned off to the highest bidder. Except instead of being on billboards and magazine covers selling soap, Blanca’s buyer, Cal, has a different idea. He wants her to act as his daughter, and help him gain a relationship with his estranged son, Seth, who is the total opposite of Blanca—technology-addicted and the operator of an online blog intent on exposing Vestals. But even though she’s fundamentally opposed to everything he stands for, Blanca finds herself falling for Seth, although she’d never admit it. When she starts to learn more about the Vestal leader and the secrets of her past are brought to the surface, Blanca must tap into the courage to do what she’s never been able to—think for herself, and make her own decisions.

Fast-paced and action-packed, this was a book I had a hard time putting down. I desperately wanted Blanca to claim the life Cal wants her to have, complete with freedom and the ability to do the things she wants to do. As a main character, she’s very intriguing—because of how she was raised, she has no idea what she wants in life or how to achieve it. Her journey to find herself is, for me, the most fascinating part of the story.

I love how completely original the concept of the story is. Jennifer Bardsley has envisioned a future wherein technology isn’t just at one’s fingertips, but in them, in the form of finger-chips. Blanca is disgusted with how dependent people are on technology. Having never been online, she’s at the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s a commentary on our society today– how sometimes, it’s almost impossible to disconnect from our devices.

A thought-provoking, imaginative, and totally unique story—I’m looking forward to the sequel!” ~ Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of FIRSTS

We know you are looking forward to reading it as well and now you can pick up your copy. Welcome to the world, GENESIS GIRL!

Happy Book Birthday to Catherine Lo and HOW IT ENDS!

Break out the cupcakes and confetti because Catherine Lo’s beautiful HOW IT ENDS is officially in the world today! Yay!
HOW IT ENDS

There are two sides to every story.

It’s friends-at-first-sight for Jessie and Annie, proving the old adage that opposites attract. Shy, anxious Jessie would give anything to have Annie’s beauty and confidence. And Annie thinks Jessie has the perfect life, with her close-knit family and killer grades. They’re BFFs…until suddenly they’re not.

Told through alternating points of view, How It Ends is a wildly fast but deeply moving read about a friendship in crisis. Set against a tumultuous sophomore year of bullying, boys and backstabbing, the novel shows what can happen when friends choose assumptions and fear over each other.

Some early reviews for Catherine Lo’s debut:
Such a real, messy, brutal, and hopeful story about friendship, the hazards of simply being in high school, and figuring your shit out. Loved this book and can’t wait for the world to meet these girls!” – Ashley Herring Blake, author of SUFFER LOVE
An honest and gripping picture of anxiety that’s so prevalent among teens today. This story about how friendship is affected by secrets and past emotional trauma, including bullying, is a brave debut for author Catherine Lo.” -Jen DiGiovanni, author of MY SENIOR YEAR OF AWESOME
“This was such an emotional read that after I finished the last page, I could not bring myself to get up and throw away all the tissues that Catherine Lo had just made me go through; I just had to sit and recover for a few minutes instead. Lo’s portrayal of these two teen girls, their friendship, and all the complex emotions, insecurities, and rationalizations that lead to its breakdown, was utterly convincing and utterly compelling. I felt like I understood the choices that each girl was making, and yet I also understood how each felt completely betrayed by the other. Along with that, each one is going through separate, significant personal issues, which made me feel so much for each of them — and which made the importance of their friendship all the more intense. Meanwhile, the cruel social games and hierarchies surrounding them made my heart ache. I’m so glad I got a chance to borrow an advance copy of this book.” Sonya Mukherjee, author of GEMINI
CONGRATS CATHERINE LO!
WE’RE SO THRILLED TO SEE YOUR DEBUT IN THE WILD!!

Happy Book Birthday to “In the Shadow of the Dragon King”

Bring on the cupcakes and confetti because we’re celebrating the release of “In the Shadow of the Dragon King” by J. Keller Ford!2016-04-25 17.10.26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seventeen-year-old, Eric, is a kick-butt squire to the most revered knight in Fallhollow. Well he would be if Sir Trogsdill allowed him to do anything even remotely awesome. Determined to prove his worth, Eric sets out to find the mythical paladin summoned to protect the realm from the evil lurking nearby.
Sixteen-year-old, David, spends his days collecting school honors, winning archery tournaments, and trying not to fall in love with his scrappy best friend, Charlotte.  Right when things start to get interesting, he is whisked away to the magical realm of Fallhollow where everyone thinks he’s some sort of paladin destined to fulfill a two-hundred-year-old prophecy. He’s supposed to help kill a dragon with some sort of magic key. The same key that happens to adorn the neck of an annoying squire who’s too wrapped up in proving himself to be much help to anyone.
With egos as big as the dragon they need to destroy, Eric and David must get over themselves, or watch everything they know and love, burn.
Some early reviews for J. Keller Ford’s debut:
“IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING is a riveting read. It’s rich with details and has an ethereal quality that’s hard to describe, but as I was reading, I felt like I could escape into the words and be in the world Ford created. The main characters, Eric and David, feel so genuine and authentic. Eric lives in the enchanted realm of Falhallow, while David lives in the modern world—until he finds himself called to Falhallow. Further complicating the plot is David’s best friend, Charlotte, who he has more than friendly feelings for. To destroy the dragon, Eric and David have to learn to work together and trust each other, which is a bit more difficult in reality than it sounds in theory.” -Laurie E. Flynn, author of FIRSTS
“In the Shadow of the Dragon King skillfully weaves the tale of two very different boys with similar destinies. Eric lives in Fallhallow, an enchanted land riddled by war and destruction. David lives in the modern world until he and his friend Charlotte are called upon to travel to Fallhallow. David’s purpose is not immediately clear, but it’s obvious that everyone believes he’s somehow tied into the conflict surrounding the dragon king. The complexity of the plot kept me turning pages, trying to guess what would happen next. J. Keller Ford’s world building is both stellar and unique. The contrasting voices of Eric and David were so well crafted and I equally enjoyed both of their stories. And I loved Charlotte – she more than holds her own against the guys, plus she has principles about both love and war and she stands behind them. YA Fantasy fans, this is one for you!” -Jen DiGiovanni, author of MY SENIOR YEAR OF AWESOME
CONGRATS J. KELLER FORD! WE’RE SO THRILLED TO SEE YOUR DEBUT IN THE WILD!!

Janet B. Taylor Reviews HOW IT ENDS

HOW IT ENDSIs there anything more complex than sixteen year old best girlfriends? I don’t think so. Jealousy and love and competitiveness get all jumbled up, especially when one girl “rises in the social strata” of that hell called high school.

Debut novelist Catherine Lo’s brutally honest depiction of the end of a friendship tore at things inside me that I thought I’d long forgotten. No one ‘feels’ like high school girls. And boys-shmoys….Nothing hurts more than losing your best friend.

This is an incredible read that you’ll tear through, cause you won’t be able to stop until you find out “How It Ends”

HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!! GET THIS ONE ASAP!!

Janet Taylor

Janet Taylor

 

Jen DiGiovanni Reviews THE WAY BACK TO YOU

WayBackToYouHCThe Way Back to You is so much more than the story of two friends taking a spontaneous road trip. It’s an emotional journey for Cloudy and Kyle, who are both struggling to get over the loss of someone they loved. The writing in this book is a perfect mixture of humor and poignancy. So many times I was laughing through my tears. I loved the dual POV, plus the supporting cast, especially Matty and Kyle’s dad. I can’t wait to read the authors’ next collaboration! ~Jennifer DiGiovanni, author of MY SENIOR YEAR OF AWESOME

Erin L. Schneider Reviews SUFFER LOVE

SUFFER LOVEI don’t know if it’s possible to express how much I loved this book. Blake’s writing is beautiful, poetic, and her sense of humor had me trying to conceal laughter at 2am in the morning!

I loved every single character in SUFFER LOVE — Hadley, Sam, Kat, Livy, Ajay, and even both of Hadley’s parents…all of them will make you feel ALL THE FEELS, I promise. From Ajay’s fantastic one-liners, to Sam’s quick wit and charm, to Hadley’s dad…even though I wanted to hate this man so much, some of the moments Blake wrote around him absolutely broke my heart.

SUFFER LOVE was such a me book and I can’t wait to have a final hardback copy sitting on my bookshelf, come May 3rd! Add this one to your TBR — better yet, go on and pre-order it now…I promise you won’t regret it!

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Erin L. Schneider

 

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn Reviews SUMMER OF SLOANE

Summer of SloaneI started reading this on a frigid winter night here in Canada, and it was exactly the book I needed to transport me somewhere else. Precisely, to the beaches of Hawaii—and thanks to Erin Schneider’s gorgeous writing, I almost felt like I was reading on the beach with a fruity drink in my hand instead of in my pajamas bundled up with the wind howling outside.

Yes, SUMMER OF SLOANE is the kind of book with the power to take your mind somewhere warmer and more exotic. But don’t mistake this for an airy beach read. It’s a story that tackles so many things with grace, humor, and truth.

Sloane has just finished her junior year of high school and she and her twin brother, Penn, are off to visit their mom in Hawaii for the summer, like they do every year. Only this year is different. Because before she gets on the plane, Sloane suffers a devastating blow—she finds out that her lifelong best friend and her boyfriend, the two people she loves and trusts the most, hooked up behind her back. After expressing her anger through a well-thrown right hook (not going to lie, I loved that part!), Sloane boards the plane with a broken hand and a shattered heart.

But Hawaii might just be the change in setting Sloane needs. After vowing to make it her summer and leave the drama back in Seattle, Sloane meets handsome and charismatic Finn, who makes her believe she can move on from what has happened and learn to trust someone again. But Finn has demons of his own, and Sloane is torn between the undertow of her past and the new life she could have on the horizon.

Right away, I was pulled in to Erin Schneider’s writing style. It’s the perfect blend of heavy and light, serious and funny. Sloane was strong but vulnerable, sad yet hopeful—and the moments where she learned to put herself first made me want to cheer out loud. Her struggles were extremely realistic. Even though she’s thousands of miles from home and the people who betrayed her, the ties with her past aren’t easy to sever, and the good memories don’t just get blotted out because of the betrayal itself. The way Sloane grapples with her dueling feelings made my heart hurt.

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

On another note, all of the supporting characters here are so wonderfully fleshed out, with quirks and heartaches and hopes of their own. I found myself invested in what happened to all of them.

This is a book with a lot of depth. And if you’re reading it before bedtime, know that there’s a great chance you’ll stay up a lot later than you intended because you’ll need to know what happens next. SUMMER OF SLOANE is virtually unputdownable.

Happy Release Day! INTO THE DIM

Today is the release day for Janet B. Taylor’s time-travel YA, INTO THE DIM. We hope you’ve already pre-ordered your copy of this fantastic fantasy!!

INTO THE DIM

Some lovely things people have said about Janet B. Taylor’s debut:

“Debut author Taylor adeptly blends the fantastical and the historical as she sends her reluctant heroine back to the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine in order to save her mother. Taylor’s writing is bright with detail and her plot dense with action as Hope learns to be brave and resourceful when circumstances turn dire.”
Publishers Weekly

“Instantly engaging, constantly suspenseful, ultimately poignant and satisfying. Loved it!”–Diana Gabaldon, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Outlander series

“Janet B. Taylor’s absorbing novel keeps the action moving with well-timed revelations, deftly drawn historical events and personages, and a sparks-flying romance.”–School Library Journal

Into the Dim is a time-travel adventure that will leave readers breathless. Janet Taylor has woven a story that will capture action seekers and romance lovers and pull them along for the ride.”—Joelle CharbonneauNew York Times bestselling author of THE TESTING trilogy

“Janet B. Taylor’s Into the Dim shines bright.  This debut time travel novel captures the imagination and takes the reader on a fascinating journey to 12th century England, deftly weaving historical characters like Eleanor of Aquitaine and Thomas Becket into the drama.  Rich with period detail, and an intriguing lead character, this is YA science fiction at its best.” —Rysa Walker, author of The Chronos Files Series

“Janet B. Taylor’s Into the Dim is one truly enjoyable read. A fast-paced, time-travel adventure with rogue Tesla science and Middle Ages history, it will make you want to jump back into the English court, after a proper round of smallpox and typhoid vaccines, of course.” —Kendare Blake, author of Anna Dressed in Blood

“The perfect blend of mystery, sci-fi, action, cute guys, romance, history and gorgeous Scotland!” Justine magazine