SLJ TEEN LIVE virtual conference 2016

SLJTeenLIVE_2016_HeaderIt’s that time of the year again!

On August 10, I’m participating in School Library Journal’s TEEN LIVE virtual conference on YA literature. This is a FREE event, and it’s possible to pick up lots of goodies (posters, excerpts, arcs etc.) and not least interact with authors. The conference is from 10:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m. (EDT), and the content will be available to the (registered) audience for a time afterward too🙂

I’m scheduled to chat with you at the Harmony Ink Press booth from 01:30 to 02:00 p.m. (EDT). There are three other Harmony Ink authors also chatting that day: Julia Ember, Joanna Parkhurst, and Jo Ramsey. Two other HIP authors will participate on two of the conference panels: Nyrae Dawn is on the Mental Health in YA Lit panel, and Rachel Lou is on the Genre-Bending SFF panel.

See you there!

Summer Reading

School is out! I have all the time in the world to read and write! In theory, anyway – but let’s not get technical.

Summer is the time of year when I read the most. This year I have only a vague idea about what to read, but here’s a list of book I absolutely HAVE to read:

I LET YOU GO by Claire Macintosh. Because my students, who graduated this spring, gave it to me. The title is so appropriate for that occasion, it makes me want to sob. I’m also allowing myself a glass of Prosecco and a huge bag of candy to celebrate that I shepherded them safely through high school and that they all passed their Norwegian exams, which I have prepared them for – to the best of my ability –  for the past three years🙂 The class also gave me a book in Norwegian that I’ll be reading this summer: Miriam Kristensen’s JEG HAR VENTET PÅ DEG, which has a title that also makes me sob in this context: “I’ve been waiting for you”. By the time August arrives and school starts, I’ll be eagerly awaiting my new classes, and history will in many ways repeat itself.

THE DIARY OF PELLY D by L. J. Adlington. I’m participating in a Ph.D. student’s research project about using dystopian YA novels when teaching English, and I got to choose between a few titles. This was one that I hadn’t read already, so I’m looking forward to reading it & thinking about teaching at the same time – while on vacation! A teacher never stops thinking about work, you know!

HERE ARE THE YOUNG MEN by Rob Doyle. I have to read Irish authors regularly, and since I’m going back to Dublin (another happy sob story there) this summer, I’m building up to it by reading a gritty but likely realistic story about three Irish lads roaming through Dublin looking for trouble (I assume!).

THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY by Shaun David Hutchinson. It’s been waiting patiently on my Kindle for way too long.

THE STORY OF A NEW NAME by Elena Ferrante. I’ve read the first book in the series and I need more. Must get my hands on a copy first, though.

I also need my fill of feel-good, chick-lit and romance, but I’ll take those titles as I go.

#ReadProud

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I’m participating in Julia Ember’s Pride Month Challenge #ReadProud in June – and not just because she’s put FJORD BLUE on her list of suggested reads!

It’s not just a challenge – it’s also a chance to win Amazon gift cards, so do sign up on Julia’s blog and read along!

These are the LGBT titles I’m planning on reading in June:
Week 1 – Trans YA: IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo
Week 2 – Middle Grade YA: GEORGE by Alex Gino
Week 3 – POC authors: TREASURE by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Week 4- Gay YA: JERKBAIT by Mia Siegert

In The Media

Those who know me are aware that I’m not a fan of the limelight – so it may surprise some that I ended up being interviewed by a local newspaper last week. A colleague of mine* tipped them about me, and suddenly my writing career has been disclosed to thousands of people in my town.

The funny thing about the interview was that we did it right outside the library, and when the journalist asked me if I had any of the books with me, I went in to borrow a copy, and one of their copies were out on loan!

The published piece was nice and the details of the story weren’t too far outside my comfort zone. I might even feel slightly prepared if I’m ever asked about an interview again.

Those interested can find the piece here (it’s in Norwegian, of course), on page 5:
https://issuu.com/bydelsavisa-byasen/docs/bb-avis_nr3_2016_web

 

*I KNOW WHO YOU ARE… I’ll be plotting a fictional revenge😉

YA Scavenger Hunt 2016

Welcome to the YA Scavenger Hunt!
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There are nine puzzle contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! The contest is live between March 29 and April 3.
Read the exclusive content offered by all the contestants, add up the clues, and enter for our grand prize: one lucky winner will receive one book from each author in my team! 

I am part of the PINK TEAM.

If you want to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and the full list of prizes up for grabs, at the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

 
Directions: I’ve hidden my favorite number further down this page. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the PINK TEAM, and then add them up. Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the entry form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: 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 APRIL 3, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


SCAVENGER HUNT GUEST

I am excited to host MICHELLE K. PICKETT  for the YA Scavenger Hunt!

Michelle K Pickett

I’m an award-winning YA and NA author… but, really? I’m just a wife, mom, reader, writer, and bibliophile. I have an irrational fear of garden gnomes, and I love M&Ms (especially peanut butter).

Find out more by checking out the author website or find more about the author’s book further down in this post! Michelle also hosts a giveaway of her own, and you can win an ebook from her if you visit her website.

EXCLUSIVE #YASH CONTENT FROM MICHELLE! 
Do you ever wonder how covers are made? Read on to find out how the cover for her most recent novel came about – and read an exclusive excerpt from the book!

 

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A gritty but hopeful love story about two struggling teens—great for fans of The Spectacular Now, Willow, and Eleanor and Park.

Tyler has a football scholarship to Stanford, a hot girlfriend, and a reliable army of friends to party with. Then his mom kills herself. And Tyler lets it all go. Now he needs to dodge what his dad is offering (verbal tirades and abuse) and earn what his dad isn’t (money). Tyler finds a job that crashes him into Jordyn, his former childhood friend turned angry-loner goth-girl. She brings Tyler an unexpected reprieve from the never-ending pity party his life has become. How could he not fall for her? But with his dad more brutally unpredictable than ever, Tyler knows he can’t risk bringing Jordyn too deeply into the chaos. So when violence rocks his world again, will it be Jordyn who shows him the way to a hopeful future? Or after everything, will Tyler have to find it in himself?

The many faces of Milayna

If you’ve visited my blog, you probably already know that I get excited about cover art. I like searching for images that fit my story, laying out the cover, and experimenting with fonts. I often make mock-ups (although they tend to suck) of covers while I’m writing. I keep them by my desk as inspiration, because a good cover can evoke so many feelings.

So far I’ve been lucky to work with publishers that give the author a lot of input when it come to their covers. And because I often have readers ask me about cover art, I thought I’d take you through the process of selecting the final cover for Milayna.

I really liked the first cover for Milayna. It was cute and the model fit my idea of what Milayna looked like. The problem was, it was too cute. 100% of early polls regarding the cover showed that readers thought it was a sweet, teen romance.

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Well, yes and no.

There is a romance element, and yes, it plays a large role. But it isn’t just a romance. And it definitely wasn’t always a “sweet” or “cutesy” romance.

So we scratched the first cover and started again.

As I was looking through mock-ups looking for ideas for the second cover, I came across Covers by Robin on Deviantart.com (awesome site for ideas, by the way). And fell in love with one of the mock-ups she had in her portfolio. We worked together to come up with a similar cover for Milayna. We took out all the cutesy elements and tried to add in some mystery. And I love the cover that we came up with…

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There was only one problem. Everyone who saw that cover thought the book was sci/fi. I even had a few people ask if it was about aliens.

Back to the drawing board.

By this time, I had signed with Clean Teen Publishing to publish the Milayna trilogy. Their cover designer, Marya (pronounced Mariah) Heiman, had her own idea of how the cover should look. She and I started searching for a model that would fit the physical description of Milayna. She found one that would work for the cover of the first book… but there were also additional poses of the same model. So we could use her for the remaining books in the trilogy.

I’m pleased with how the final Milayna cover turned out…

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Look closely in the model’s eye. It’s hard to see, but Marya added a set of wings in her eye. It’s much easier to see on the paperback… and it’s awesome!

And here are the three covers of the trilogy side by side…

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Excerpt: Freak

Seven weeks, five days until my birthday…

I’m a freak. There’s no other explanation for what’s happening to me.

Lying on my back across my bed, looking up at the ceiling, I stared at the posters taped there. I’d gone home right after swim practice, not even waiting for Muriel like usual. Staying wasn’t an option, though. She’d ask questions about what happened with Miranda, and I didn’t know what to tell her. How could I explain what happened when I didn’t understand it myself?

I turned over and looked out of the window with a sigh. Part of me needed— wanted—to talk to someone. Muriel seemed like the logical choice. She was my best friend, after all. She was family. Or I could’ve talked with my parents. We’d always been open with each other. I got along with them fine, as far as parents go. But I didn’t want any of them to know.

I’m a freak. That’s all there is to it. And I want to keep my freakishness a secret.

The doorbell chimed, and I rolled off the bed. It was Muriel. I knew she’d come looking for me when I didn’t wait for her after swim practice. I walked down the hall toward the stairway but stopped short at the corner of the stairs, skidding on the hardwood floor. It wasn’t Muriel’s voice I heard but my aunt’s. And she was talking about me to my mother. I held my breath and strained to listen to their quiet voices.

“Muriel thinks it’s started. She says Milayna’s showing signs.”

“She hasn’t said anything to us,” my mom answered.

“It’s only been a few days, but Muriel is pretty sure. She’s almost positive Milayna’s had some sightings.”

Sightings? What does she mean? Visions?

I adjusted my weight to my other leg, and the floorboard creaked. They heard and changed the subject. My mom and aunt stopped talking and looked at me when I bounded down the stairs. A frown pulled at my mom’s lips, and the skin between her eyes wrinkled.

“What’s started?” I looked between them.

My mom wouldn’t look at me. “Oh, um, Mrs. Haggarty is complaining that Muriel’s dog is digging up her flower bulbs again. You know how she is.”

Yeah, and you’re lying to me.

“Oh.” I looked at my aunt and smiled. “Hi. Where’s Muriel?”

She smiled, but her lips quivered at the sides. She was so faking it. “She’s doing homework. She said to tell you she’d call later.”

“Okay.” I looked between them one more time before I wandered into the kitchen to help my dad make dinner. He was silent, and that put me even more on edge. He usually never shut up when we made dinner together. His silence was like a scream telling me that something was wrong. Whatever my mom and aunt were talking about, he was in on the secret.

And it definitely wasn’t about Muriel’s dog.

*****

Muriel called just after dinner. “Hey,” I mumbled.

“Whatcha doin’?” she chirped, and I cringed. I wasn’t in the mood for bubbly.

“I’m finishing my English homework.” I drummed my fingers and waited for the inevitable questioning to begin. It didn’t take long.

“What was up in swim practice today? You almost pushed that guy right into the pool.” She laughed. It was too high and too loud. So fake.

“Yeah, well, he deserved it.” The scene replayed in my head. “He was a tool who was going to undo Miranda’s swimsuit.”

Why did I just tell her that?

“Really? How’d ya know?” She sounded skeptical, and I knew I’d said too much.

“I heard one of the other guys dare him.” I doodled on my notebook and tried to sound bored.

“How? You weren’t close enough to hear him. Besides, if you heard them, Miranda would’ve heard it too.”

“Miranda was busy putting her swim cap on. She wasn’t paying attention,” I said with an exasperated sigh. “And what’s with all the questions and watching everything I do?”

I pushed too hard on my paper and broke my pencil lead. “Nothing.” The word hung between us like a brick.

Something was happening to me. Something very strange. Even more strange was that my family seemed to know what it was, but they didn’t want to tell me.

I’m a freak.

***

Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Michelle K. Pickett, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 13. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the PINK TEAM and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT
 
To keep going on your quest, you need to check out the next author, STEPHANIE KEYES!

Before you leave, don’t forget to enter my own Rafflecopter giveaway (opens in new window) where you can win a signed paperback of my most recent release, FJORD BLUE, plus book swag and LoveHearts!