Visiting Author Series: Karole Cozzo

We’re thrilled to welcome Karole Cozzo to Sixteen to Read’s Visiting Author Series. Karole’s debut novel, How to Say I Love You Out Loud, was recently named a Carolyn W. Field Honor Book by the PA Library Association. Her sophomore novel, How to Keep Rolling After a Fall, will be released next month. And, to top it off, her publisher, Macmillan’s Swoon Reads, just announced her third novel, The Truth About Happily Ever After, slated for a 2017 release.

Recently, Karole took some time away from her busy writing and editing schedule to chat with Jennifer DiGiovanni.

Jennifer: Congratulations on all your success, Karole! And thank you for stopping by to share your thoughts about the debut author experience with us. First of all, we’d love to know how you came up with the idea for your first novel.

Karole: At the time I was working in an Approved Private School for students with disabilities. The family members were so resilient and amazing, and a lot of times, siblings had to put up with a LOT in the name of meeting the needs of a brother or sister. I started thinking how difficult this must be at times, often having your needs put second, especially during adolescence, and I thought it would be interesting to write a story from the sibling’s perspective, which seemed like something new and different to me. And I will always want to include some element of romance in my stories, so I looked for a way to work in a little bit of love, too!

Jennifer: Your stories are always swoony and romantic! Thinking back to the debut of your first novel, what surprised you the most about the publishing process?

Karole: Two primary experiences come to mind – first, the way the editing process actually worked was a bit of a surprise. I went in thinking editors would mostly focus on rewording this or that exchange or maybe just cutting large chunks. I didn’t realize it was such a collaborative process that involved strengthening the book as a whole from its very core and how much rewriting/reworking is involved at times. At first, it was scary as anything – I didn’t know if I would rise to the occasion or end up destroying the original story. But over time, I’ve actually come to truly love the editing process and the product I end up with afterward.

Second, it took me some time to accept that realization that publication of a debut novel does not grant you direct access to some of the experiences we hope to have as published authors. As many of us know, the road to publication is so long and arduous, that when we reach the coveted holy grail, we want to feel like we’ve ‘made it.’ The truth is, there’s still a tall ladder to climb in terms of increasing readership and sales, developing a following, being asked to participate in larger book conferences, etc, etc. You definitely don’t become World Famous Author overnight. There’s a lot of ongoing development as an author, but after getting a grasp on this, I feel motivated and excited to keep trying to rise to new challenges.

Jennifer: Your publishing journey included crowd sourcing, which is an alternative many writers may not necessarily consider. Can you tell us why it worked for you?

Karole: At the time How to Say I Love You Out Loud was selected for publication, I was a full-time working mom of two children under four. I barely had time to write, let alone take on the daunting and overwhelming query process. The fact that the Swoon Reads community gave me direct access to editors at a large publishing house was so appealing to me! And in the meantime, it was a great opportunity to get to know other YA authors and receive feedback on my stories. It really felt like win-win to me.

Jennifer: I also love the fact that you’re a school psychologist. How have your work experiences shaped your novels and characters?

Karole: As far as How to Say I Love You Out Loud and How To Keep Rolling After a Fall were concerned, I was inspired to write these books because of ‘hot topics’ that were the focus of a lot of discussion and/or trainings (e.g., autism awareness/advocacy, cyberbullying, mean girls, etc.). I wanted to reach teens and provoke thought, reflection, and discussion in a manner that wouldn’t seem preachy or prescriptive. The idea of approaching these topics through fiction, especially with flawed/imperfect characters at the helm, was appealing to me and I hope appealing to readers as well. And just by nature, the part of me that was drawn to the field of psychology… I love thinking about motivation and development and personality. I always feel like the emotional aspects of my stories are stronger than my plots.

Jennifer: What’s your writing routine like? I know you’re a huge planner / outliner.

Karole: Yes, I am. I like to create tables that have a column for plot and a column for character development for each chapter. I also *try* to make myself write stories in sequential order. Sometimes there’s a chapter I’m just itching to write, but I try to think of it as a reward to getting that far! On the rare occasion, I cheat.

Jennifer: I’ve also been known to cheat, especially in the first draft! Are you working on anything else right now that you can talk about?

Karole: Right now my third Swoon Reads novel, The Truth About Happily Ever After, is in editing. This story’s really fun to work on, because it’s less of an “issues” book than my other two. I hope it pans out as a great summer read – it’s set in a theme park during the summer, and the main character, Alyssa, plays Cinderella at the park. I’m not quite sure what I’m working on after edits are done, but I have a few ideas churning around.

Jennifer: I can’t wait to see what you come up with next! We here at Sixteen to Read love our lightning round questions! I know you’re a coffee drinker, so we’ll start with …

Favorite Starbucks beverage?

Grande vanilla latte with a sprinkle of cinnamon
Favorite writing snack?
Haribo red licorice wheels
Favorite movie based on a book?
In Her Shoes, because this was the ONE instance I thought the movie was better than the book.
Last book you read?
I just finished No Love Allowed by fellow Swoon author, Kate Evangelista – fun summer read!
Favorite time / place to write?
Mornings during the summer, in my sunroom
Jennifer: Thank you so much for visiting with us, Karole. We can’t wait to read ALL of your books!
If you’d like to connect with Karole, she’s on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook! You can also visit her Goodreads page for more information.
Karole Cozzo

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!!

UK Release: THE GIRL WHO FELL

Today is the UK release for THE GIRL WHO FELL and we couldn’t be more excited that more people will be able to read this important book.

BookRiot calls this debut “a gripping story of manipulation…a shoo-in for one of the best reads this year.”

School Library Journal writes, “Parker’s powerful cautionary tale highlights a terrifying reality for many teens. Zephyr’s story outlines warning signs that may be a lifesaver to others in similar situations. VERDICT-An invaluable addition to any collection. (*STARRED REVIEW* January 1, 2016)

We know you’ll agree. Pick up your copy today wherever books are sold!
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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