September 12, 2014

Casual Friday: Not Your Dad's Comic Con

Comic Cons have long been the refuge of the geek. Mecca, for all things nerd. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend my first, and I have to say, it both was and was not what I expected. Sure, the geekdom was there. And it was fabulous. I cosplayed. Got my photo taken with John Barrowman, and in the TARDIS. Stood in line for hours, and wandered the many, many booths on the exhibition floor.

What I didn't expect were all the writing panels.

In its second year, Salt Lake Comic Con is already rivaling SDCC as one of the biggest conventions in the nation. And if you saw the guest list, you'd believe it. But beyond the hype and the celebs and the cosplay were some hard-core writing panels. Honestly, I came out of the weekend feeling like I'd been at a writer's conference, not a comic con. And it was amazing. I talked to authors, connected, listened, live-tweeted...and it was beautiful. So here, my lovely Misfiteers, is the summary of my weekend, and all the writing advice I could glean from many, many professionals.

Thursday was a light day, only a half day, which was good, since I spent 2.5hrs waiting in line just to get in (despite the early entry). I ended up late to my first panel, with notable guests Brandon Sanderson, David Farland, and Larry Correia. Which was a shame, because they were talking rising action & plot, and I missed most of it. Oops. Next I caught 2 women-centric panels - Keeping the Feminine But Adding The -ism (geared more to film, but there was a lot of character creation discussion) and Women of Sci-Fi and Fantasy: More Than Just Strong. These were both amazing panels on characterization, and the basic message was this - write people first, gender/race/orientation/etc second. Don't fall into tropes, just write real people.

My last panel of the night was on Writing Suspense, with Larry Correia & Bree Despain (among others). They talked a lot about the generation of suspense with and without threat - using promise, surprise, anticipation all leading to a payoff, and that in its most basic form, suspense is found everywhere from picture books to thrillers. Good suspense, however, requires the reader to care about the characters, to feel invested. Your story should ask questions, or make the reader ask questions. Keep them partly in the dark, all while leading them forward. Drop hints, but hide the larger picture.

Friday was awesome. I cosplayed for the first time (yeah, FemShep, baby!), met up with a whole other group of Mass Effect cosplayers, and attended a ton more panels. Started out the morning with Fight Choreography, which was a lot of fun to watch. Next I headed into a panel questioning Is Epic Fantasy Still Relevant to the Genre? The answer, as I'm sure none of you are surprised to hear, is a resounding yes. Besides Brandon Sanderson (an undisputed king in this genre), we also got to hear from literary agent Michelle Witte. Sanderson broke down the 4 main types of high fantasy:
  1. Heroic Fantasy - the 1 vs. many, with low magic and big heroism, lots of fights. These kinds trace their lineage back to stories like Beowulf.
  2. Doorway-to-Fantasy - stories like the Narnia books, where the hero steps through a door & enters a magical world.
  3. Urban Fantasy - the more modern type, which has apparently grown to encompass horror as well. Tends to the darker, more gritty stories.
  4. Epic Fantasy - these are the Tolkein-esk stories, big quests in big worlds, often with groups of heroes, large character casts, lots of magic, and a big evil that must be defeated.
There was a lot of talk that honestly, went too fast for my notes, but touched on the differences in YA & Adult fantasy, prologues (the ever present prologue question!), etc. The answer to prologues, since this is the genre they're most found in, is that if the information is elsewhere in the book, you don't need it. If it doesn't move the plot forward, you don't need it. But if it presents information that you can't find anywhere else in the story, keep it. (There was also some discussion on how to hide your prologue as a first chapter, or a stage setting.) Sanderson also pointed out that good fantasy needs 2 things - an element of the strange, and of the familiar. Wordcounts: large word counts need to be extraordinary stories. If you can tell a more concise story, do it. Trilogies are still overdone. Series less so, but the phrase you want is Stand-Alone with Series Potential. In other words, have a complete story arc in bk1.

In the same vein, Magic, Myths, Legends, Archetypes and the Supernatural (also with Michelle Witte, and Jill Williamson of GoTeenWriters) also played with the spec fic wheelhouse. As far as market goes, PNR, Fairytale Retellings, and Dystopian are way over-saturated right now (and don't even mention vampires. Really). There are a lot of tropes and archetypes out there - put a new twist on an old version, or go back to the root. Myths and legends evolve, and what we know them as today is usually vastly different from where they started. Also, explore the lesser-known ones. The example of Red from Once Upon A Time was mentioned - Red Riding Hood, who is also the wolf.

Saturday was insane. Biggest day of the Con, with so many people you could hardly move. Started off the day with another female character-centric panel, discussing the different types of strong. Again, the point is to create a person, with assets and flaws. The rest is secondary. Flaws are necessary in every character, but at the same time, don't make them all flaw. Give them a strength to balance the weak. Redeeming qualities & redeeming circumstances. Character arcs are vastly important. Growth, conflict, failing, persevering, overcoming... We read for the emotional connection of the arc. What are you going to do to let your character earn the reader's trust? Don't wait until the end to do this. Characters need objectives. They can't just be there. Don't write characters that just sit there looking pretty. Also, remember that your villains have a backstory, too. Strong characters (female or otherwise) don't have to be the hero. Strong villains, strong secondaries. Write characters you respect.

Building A Move-In Ready World was all about worldbuilding. This panel again featured Jill Williamson, and also debut author Shallee McArthur (her novel The Unhappening of Genesis Lee releases in November). First major point was Don't info-dump your worldbuilding. Let it come out with the story. Your world isn't just about the facts. It's about the people, how they react & interact with their surroundings. Rituals, heroes, history, symbols, etc can all be part of a well thought out world. Consistency is key. Find a balance between your world & your story. Don't info-dump. Focus on what's important to the character, and remember that the little details make all the difference. Your world can & should be a character all its own, but remember not to overwhelm your readers. The world, like everything else, should always be in service to the story. (I met David Farland after this panel. He's a really nice guy.)

The Teen Hero was a fabulous panel on YA, with Jacob Gowans, Renee Collins, Michelle Witte, and Courtney Alameda (who recently guested here, and whose debut Shutter comes out in February. I got to meet her after, and she's fabulous). The question of why teens are so great to write, and why we find them so relatable, is huge. It's a fast-paced, frenetic, awkward time of life. We've all been there, a time where change is constant, everything is extreme, everything is emotional & bigger. But the best thing is how it's full of possibility. Teens aren't who they'll end up yet, everything is fluid, and anything can happen. When writing teens, remember that they screw up. We all did. They're anti-heroes, reactionary, immature - but they're also deep, sometimes older than their years, talented, and essentially walking contradictions. As capable as they are, there's also insecurity & hubris. Teen stories are all about change, firsts. They are flawed & complex - but not stupid. (No more than any of us are, anyway!)

My last panel was on the Whedonverse, and why we love Joss. Basically, it's his talent for story, for character, for making us care. But we all knew that.

And there you have it! My virgin Comic Con experience, boiled down into a not-so-short blog post. I had a ton of fun, met a lot of great writers, and came away with new friends and a new appreciation for my geekhood. So if you have a chance to go to a con, I highly recommend it, not just to geek out, but because you never know what you'll find.

Happy Friday!

September 8, 2014

Monday Pep Rally: Where Do You Discover New Books?


Since we've all gotten so used to getting our thoughts down in 140 characters - and it's fun to keep the conversation flowing - we've take the Pep Rally to twitter! Every Monday, we host a twitter chat and we'd love you to join in. Just keep an eye out for the #MisfitPepRally hashtag!

Morning, all! There's something that has long puzzled and intrigued me as both a writer and a reader, so today, I want to turn it to you. Where do you discover new books? 

Specifically, where do you find them online, besides from direct recommendations? I mean, I'll read anything Misfit Dahlia recommends, but I'll also see a pretty cover on a Goodreads list that leads me to check out a book, or I might run across people chatting on twitter about a book and look for it next time I'm in a bookstore, or if a blog I follow has an author interview and the book seems intriguing, I'll seek it out. But really, I'm not sure I could tell you what my number one source of new books it. So I'm wondering...besides personal recs, do you have a source that's always reliable?

Where online do you discover new books?

September 3, 2014

Writing Club Wednesday: Some Advice from Neil Gaiman

So, I have a Tumblr. Right before I sleep after a crazy day, just mindlessly scrolling through Tumblr is the perfect way to de-stress and unwind.*

Usually, all I find are funny gif-sets or cute dog photos. But recently, with awesome writers** like Maggie Stiefvater, Beth Revis, Lauren DeStefano, Melissa Marr, Sarah Rees Brennan, Tamora Pierce, and Neil Gaiman  all joining Tumblr, I also occasionally stumble upon really good writing advice that gets me all pumped up and inspired to write again.

And so this morning, I wanted to share with you a list of really good advice that I found on Neil Gaiman's Tumblr, which I recently discovered in this cool graphic form.

He says a lot of really wise things in the ten pieces of advice (which you should definitely check out if you haven't done so already) but I think what struck me the most were the first three things on his list: "Write," "Put one word after another," and "Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it."

This advice was critical for me since--especially when I first started writing--I sometimes had writer's block because I was afraid to suck/fail/write crap/etc and was stressing myself out too much about how to "write properly." I'd feel too overwhelmed because of my desire to make things (the plot, the character, the prose, what have you) "perfect" or sometimes because I had too many things I wanted to write about and couldn't commit myself to one project (and I didn't want to make the "mistake" of choosing the "wrong" one.)

Somehow, it totally escaped me that in the end, none of this mattered. Or at least, not as much as I thought it did, as long as I actually wrote things down. Even though things probably sucked now, they could always be improved on later, and if I didn't know which project to commit to, it was better to have two (or more) separate, unfinished projects than to have absolutely nothing.***

I especially love the simplicity in his #1 piece of writing advice, which is just the word "write."Of course, not everybody will find this advice helpful (it is a bit obvious, I know) but for over-thinkers like me, a reminder to just "write" and "put one word after another [and do] whatever you have to do to finish it" can go a long way.

I wish you a happy Wednesday and hope this was as helpful to you as it was to me.

Remember: WRITE.

* I tried writing/reading during this time but after spending the entire day writing/reading hundreds of pages for work-related things, my vision blurs when I see black text on white paper & my writing becomes something like: "and then he walked into the room...to get cake???" so I save these activities for the morning.

**And literary agents...like the New Leaf Literary Agency, Emily Keyes, Maria Vicente, and 
Pam van Hylckama Vlieg to name a few!

***After all, it's much easier to go back and fix (or add to) what's already there than to try to work with nothing at all.




August 27, 2014

Writing Club Wednesday: Writer's Block and Inspiration (or, Finding Balance)

Good morning, Misfiteers!

It's Wednesday, and I don't know about any of the rest of you, but here the weather has made that detour into autumn. School started last week, the air is crisper, and we've even had snow dust the higher peaks around us.

None of which has anything to do with my topic today. Or does it? I've talked about pushing past the block and getting yourself writing before, but I wanted to hit up the flip-side today, because I realized something recently. Sometimes you don't have writer's block because the words won't come. Sometimes, you get it because there are just too many words. Yeah, that's right. Too many ideas. It's not something I thought was possible, but it is. I've been struggling with it all summer.

I have too many stories in my head, and they're all fighting over who gets to come out. Which, for a pantser like me, is really not helpful. Really.

The trouble is inspiration. It's everywhere. People. Dreams. Shows. Books. Music. Everyday, inanimate objects. Family. Work. Oh, the inspiration I get from work. The ideas are out there, everywhere. So I'm learning new tricks. My notebooks have become invaluable. I have scenes scribbled that I have no idea what story they belong to. I've learned that even when I'm swamped with work, I have to make myself stop and write. Just for an hour. A half hour. Five minutes. Sketch out a scene. Do something. Otherwise, all those ideas will just keep piling up.

And it's tricky. Growing as a writer sometimes means that more than just our writing grows. Balancing life and words is never easy, but it seems the further we progress in our writing careers, sometimes the less time we have. Take the moments. Write every day. I know, some days it just isn't possible to sit down and write. Too much going on, too little energy. I know. So pull open that notepad, Evernote, phone app, napkin, whatever. Write a sentence. Write a word. Anything.

Your inspiration will thank you.

August 25, 2014

Monday Pep Rally: Favorite Books on the Craft of Writing?


Since we've all gotten so used to getting our thoughts down in 140 characters - and it's fun to keep the conversation flowing - we've take the Pep Rally to twitter! Every Monday, we host a twitter chat and we'd love you to join in. Just keep an eye out for the #MisfitPepRally hashtag!

I was in high school when my mom gave me a copy of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It was the first book I'd ever read about how to write fiction. Up until then, my writing had been shaped by a mixture of the novels I liked to read, whatever mood I happened to be in when I put words on the page, and a healthy dose of trial and error. I LOVED Bird by Bird. I still have that copy of the book, and I refer to it all the time. I love Lamott's reminder that the enormous task of writing a novel is much easier to tackle if you remember that it's done step by step.

Some other favorites that I keep on my desk at all times are The Elements of Style and Eats, Shoots & Leaves, both of which were given to me by my very first editor in my very first paid writing job. 

Since plotting and pacing is something I constantly struggle with, I'm always on the hunt for books that will help me get better at those things. I used to be really into Save the Cat!, but lately I've been rereading James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure

What about you guys? What are you some of your favorite books about writing?

Answer in the comments, or join the discussion on twitter - don't forget the hashtag, #MisfitPepRally!

August 21, 2014

Band Geek Thursday: HOW TO BE MANLY by Maureen O'Leary Wanket

All of my novels have playlists that I listen to while I write them. When I was a teenager I needed mixtapes to set a mood and I guess I still need them when I’m writing. 

Here is the playlist for my YA novel How to Be Manly, which will be released by Giant Squid Books on September 16, 2014.  My main character Matty Sullivan is a misfit if there ever was one.  He’s overweight, lives with his grandparents, and is hopelessly sprung on a girl named Cassie who rarely acknowledges him in public. One summer Matty follows the advice of a corny self-help book (entitled How to Be Manly, of course) he steals from a garage sale and decides to change his life. When his grandfather's health worsens, his roof falls in and his dad comes back to town to break up the family, Matty has to struggle to keep his family together, find love and become a good man despite a father who never grew up himself.

Here’s an excerpt:

I shoved the rest of the donut in my mouth and stuck around the books. They had a million books about sports.
 I brushed sugar off my hands and tried to find some science fiction. Then a title of one of the football books made me stop and pick it up.  It was called How To Be Manly.
 I looked around right quick to make sure that nobody saw me pick up a book called How To Be Manly.
 There was a picture of the author on the front. He was a football player from when I was a little kid. He clutched a ball to his chest and he was about to run through a big mob of other players.  I flipped through the pages. There were only a few pictures. The back said that he was an MVP for the Chargers.
 I used to be a fat kid.  A loser.  I started reading the first couple lines and I couldn’t stop.  It was like I was hypnotized.  Girls wouldn’t have anything to do with me.  I had nothing to show for myself.  The guy’s voice was right there in my head.
 My father was a good man.  He saw what was happening to me and he helped me become the person I am today. Through five simple steps, my father showed me how to be strong, successful and rich.  He showed me how to be a man.  I owe everything to him.  If you aren’t getting what you want out of life, let me share these five steps with you.  Let me share with you How To Be Manly. “You can have a whole bag full of books for a dollar.”
I jumped.  A lady with a visor leaned across the table and held out a plastic bag.  “I’m not reading this,” I said.
 “It looks like you are,” she said.
 “Well I’m not.” I dropped the book like it was hot.
 “That author grew up around here,” the lady said.  “He went to the high school.  Played ball in his senior year as I recall.”
 “I never heard of him,” I said.  That didn’t mean anything.  I never watched sports.
 “I think he died in a wreck or something like that,” the lady said. “Such a sad story.”  She picked How To Be Manly up off the pile and handed it back to me.  “Are you sure you don’t want it?”
 I scooted over to my grandmother.
 “Find anything you want to read?” she asked.  The black Santa statues clanked together in her arms.  They looked up at me like they were her babies.
        
“No way,” I said.  I took the Santas and carried them to the car while she paid the lady in the visor.  On my way past the book table, I swiped How To Be Manly and stuck it under my shirt.     
* * * *
So these are all Matty’s picks. Blame him if you don’t like them.  I had nothing to do with it.
Lose Yourself by Eminem
Matty plays this on his way to summer morning football practice. It keeps him from going back to bed.

Dear Mama by Tupac Shakur
Matty and Grandma. Ride or die.

Gunpowder by Wyclef Jean
Don't you know that we can't stop the violence. The song makes me cry every damn time. You’ll have to read the book to find out why.

We Dem Boyz by Wiz Khalifa
Matty tries this persona for about twenty-four hours.  It's about all he can take.

Revolution by Kirk Franklin
Grandma likes this song.  This is the only singer the two of them can agree on in the car.

Can You Stand the Rain by New Edition
A little old-school jam that Matty likes to wallow in when he is feeling sorry for himself over Cassie.

Who's That Lady by The Isley Brothers
Woah. His friend Jessica is a hot girl. A kind-hearted, smart, skateboard-riding, strong, loyal, smokin’ hot girl.  Some real old-school for if and when Matty finally realizes this very obvious fact.

* * * *



Maureen O’Leary Wanket is a writer and teacher living in Sacramento with her husband and two daughters. She writes a bunch of stuff all over the place.  How to Be Manly will be released by Giant Squid Books in mid-September 2014.

August 20, 2014

Writing Club Wednesday: The Class of 2k15

We're going to start doing something a little different with our Wednesdays here at YA Misfits. Since it sometimes feels as if we've exhausted every writing topic we can possibly talk about, we've decided to change our Wednesday focus to the books produced by all this wonderful writing.

And I get to kick off the change by shamelessly promoting the Class of 2k15!



What is the Class of 2k15, you ask? Every year, a small group of YA and MG writers gets together and helps promote each other's books, plan events, and reach out to booksellers, librarians, and teachers. There was a Class of 2k14, a Class of 2k13, etc. etc... Being part of the class is a great honor, and since I was fortunate enough to find a spot in 2k15, I wanted to hop on over here and share our twenty amazing books with you! SO HERE GOES (...in alphabetical order, of course).

COURTNEY ALAMEDA :: SHUTTER
YA Horror
Release date - February 3rd, 2015


Goodreads Synopsis: Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.


YA Fantasy
Release Date - Fall 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: The first of a duet, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN is a reimagining of The Arabian Nights, where the wits of one girl are the only thing standing between a vulnerable kingdom and its ruthless boy-king.














YA Psychological Thriller
Release Date - May 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: Chandler Baker’s debut ALIVE, pitched as in the vein of Gayle Foreman and Lauren Oliver, is about a girl recovering from a heart transplant, whose recovery (acclimating back to home and school life) also introduces disturbing side effects and hallucinations that haunt her every day, as she soon discovers the line between life and death is more fragile than even a girl with a replacement heart could imagine.











YA Contemporary 
Release Date - December 31st, 2014

Goodreads Synopsis: If you want more, you have to give less.


That’s the secret to dating in high school. By giving as little as they expect to get in return, seventeen-year-old Aubrey Housing and her three best friends have made it to the second semester of their senior year heartbreak-free. And it’s all thanks to a few simple rules: don’t commit, don’t be needy, and don’t give away your heart.

So when smoking-hot Nathan Diggs transfers to Lincoln High, it shouldn’t be a big deal. At least that’s what Aubrey tells herself. But Nathan’s new-boy charm, his kindness, and his disarming honesty throw Aubrey off her game and put her in danger of breaking the most important rule of all: Don’t fall in love.





YA Near-future half-verse
Release Date - May 12th, 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

Sudasa, though, doesn't want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kiran thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view-Sudasa's in verse and Kiran's in prose-allowing readers to experience both characters' pain and their brave struggle for hope.


YA Historical Fantasy
Release Date: June 1st, 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: THE WITCH HUNTER is set in an alternative 16th-century London. In the story, pitched as SHADOW AND BONE meets THE TUDORS, the only girl in the king's elite group of witch hunters is framed for being a witch herself, finding freedom at the hands of the world's most wanted wizard. 












YA Contemporary Romantic Fantasy
Release Date: April 28th, 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: High school senior Jonathan Aubrey creates worlds at will. In Kylie-Simms-is-my-girlfriend, he’s given himself everything he doesn’t have in real life-–the track team, passing grades, and his dream girl–-until one day he confuses his worlds and almost kisses the real Kylie Simms. Now his girlfriend Kylie and the real Kylie are changing, and Jonathan must solve the mystery of his own life to save his love from a gruesome fate.













SONA CHARAIPOTRA & DHONIELLE CLAYTON :: 
TINY PRETTY THINGS
YA Contemporary
Release Date: Summer 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: TINY PRETTY THINGS digs beneath the practiced poise of a cutthroat Manhattan ballet academy, where three young protagonists all fight for prima position while navigating secrets, lies, and the pressure that comes with being prodigies. 

Free-spirited new girl Giselle just wants to dance – but the very act might kill her. Upper East Side-bred Bette lives in the all-encompassing shadow of her ballet star sister, but the weight of family expectations brings out a dangerous edge in her. Perfectionist June forever stands in the wings as an understudy, but now she’s willing to do whatever it takes – even push someone out the way – to take the stage. 

In a world where every other dancer is both friend and foe, the girls have formed the tenuous bond that comes with being the best of the best. But when New York City Ballet Conservatory newbie Giselle is cast as the lead in The Nutcracker – opposite Bette’s longtime love Alec – the competition turns deadly.



MG Fantasy
Release Date: February 10th, 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: The city of Bryre suffers under the magic of an evil wizard. Because of his curse, girls sicken and disappear without a trace, and Bryre’s inhabitants live in fear. No one is allowed outside after dark.

Yet night is the only time that Kymera can enter this dangerous city, for she must not be seen by humans. Her father says they would not understand her wings, the bolts in her neck, or her spiky tail—they would kill her. They would not understand that she was created for a purpose: to rescue the girls of Bryre.

Despite her caution, a boy named Ren sees Kym and begins to leave a perfect red rose for her every evening. As they become friends, Kym learns that Ren knows about the missing girls, the wizard, and the evil magic that haunts Bryre. 

And what he knows will change Kym’s life. 

MG Humor
Release Date: February 24th, 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: It is 1895. Stan is on a mission to find his long-lost father in the logging camps of Michigan. And he's embellishing all of it in his stupendous scrapbook. 

There are many things that 11-year-old Stanley Slater would like to have in life, most of all, a father. But what if Stan's missing dad isn't "dearly departed" after all? Who better to find this absent hero/cowboy/outlaw than manly Stan himself? Unfortunately, Stan's fending off his impossible cousin Geri, evil Granny, and Mama's suitors like Cold-Blooded Killer Stinky Pete. If only he could join the River Drive, the most perilous adventure of all, where even a fellow's peavey is at risk.

It's a wild ride for Stan as he finds out about true manliness. But at least Stan has his scrapbook, full of 200 black-and-white 19th-century advertisements and photos, "augmented" with his commentary and doodles. 

Stan's tale will leave readers in stitches, but not the kind that require medical attention.

YA Contemporary
Release Date - Fall 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: It's hard enough being a teenage girl without having to deal with a Y-chromosome. 

Halfway through her senior year, track start Kristin Lattimer finds out that she’s intersex – neither girl nor boy, but something in between. When her best friend leaks the news to her high school, she’s forced to question the true definitions of loyalty, love, and what it really means to be a woman.










YA Contemporary
Release Date - Fall 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: For the Record is a glimpse into the modern music scene in which a girl unexpectedly becomes the lead singer of an indie darling band and captures the attention of a Hollywood it-boy.














YA Thriller/Drama
Release Date - February 3rd, 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: It’s been nearly two decades since the Red Allies first attacked New York, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp, ruled by Warden Rolladin and her brutal, impulsive warlords. For 17-year-old Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s 16-year-old sister, Phee, the P.O.W. camp is a dangerous playground of possibility, and the only home she’d ever want.

When Sky and Phee discover their mom’s hidden journal from the outbreak of the war, they both realize there’s more to Manhattan—and their mother—than either of them had ever imagined. And after a group of strangers arrives at the annual P.O.W. census, the girls begin to uncover the island’s long-kept secrets. The strangers hail from England, a country supposedly destroyed by the Red Allies, and Rolladin’s lies about Manhattan’s captivity begin to unravel.

Hungry for the truth, the sisters set a series of events in motion that ends in the death of one of Rolladin’s guards. Now they’re outlaws, forced to join the strange Englishmen on an escape mission through Manhattan. Their flight takes them into subways haunted by cannibals, into the arms of a sadistic cult in the city’s Meatpacking District, and, through the pages of their mom’s old journal, into the island’s dark and shocking past. Sky and Phee are dependent on each other, and their ragged posse, for survival, but as their feelings grow toward the handsome English boy Ryder, love and jealousy threaten to break them apart.

While primarily a thriller, Manhattan Savages is also a story about the many meanings of sisterhood, told across two generations of New York women—those who survived a terrible tragedy, and those who were raised to live in its aftermath.

YA Science Fiction
Release Date - April 8th, 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Carr “the Raptor” Luka is an athletic phenom, a rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing. Training and competing aboard the lunar orbiting city-station of Valtego (where It’s More Fun on the Dark Side TM), all he’s ever wanted is to win the championship title.

His talent and marketability don’t go unnoticed by the top brass of the Zero Gravity Fighting Association. They assign him a brandhelm; after all, anyone who wants to be anyone needs a dedicated personal marketing strategist. Beautiful and ambitious, Risha is one of the genetically engineered Martian colonists that Earth dwellers view with resentment and suspicion. It isn’t long before she’s made Carr into a popular celebrity, and stolen his heart along the way.

But success could be the worst thing that happens to them. As his fame grows, Carr must come to terms with the fact that he’s become an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet now angry at falling into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. When Carr learns of a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating personal secret. Not only will his choices place into jeopardy everything he holds dear, they may spill the violence from the sports arena out into the solar system.


YA Historical Fiction
Release Date - March 17th, 2015

Goodreads Summary: A powerful story of friendship and sacrifice, for fans of Code Name Verity 

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.
 
This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

YA Mystery/Thriller
Release Date - Spring 2015

Synopsis: On the tenth anniversary of her father's death, sixteen-year-old Claire Takata finds a letter which reveals that her stepfather knew her father. As she investigates into this family secret further, she learns that her father was once a member of the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia.














YA Contemporary
Release Date - March 17th, 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore. 

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

YA Contemporary
Release Date - February 10th, 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: 13 Reasons Why meets the poetry of Emily Dickinson in this gripping debut novel perfect for fans of Sara Zarr or Jennifer Brown.

A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.

YA Contemporary
Release Date - Summer 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: A teenage girl from a famous country music family, after a rough year at home, attends a boarding school in Korea only to get swept up in the K-pop fandom when she falls for a teen idol.















YA Contemporary
Release Date - Spring 2015

OH LOOK IT'S ME.

Goodreads Synopsis: MADE YOU UP  is about the ultimate unreliable narrator, a schizophrenic teenage girl unable to tell the difference between reality and delusion, who discovers -- thanks to her Magic 8-Ball, her little sister, and a boy she thought was imaginary -- that sometimes there really is someone out to get you.










As you can see, we don't all have official release dates, summaries, or even covers, but that'll change soon. I'll keep this post updated as new info comes in, but soon the Class of 2k15 will have a website where you'll be able to find info on the books as well as the authors, not to mention a ton of other fun and exciting things. This is an amazing group of books from some amazing writers, and I can't wait till everyone gets to read them next year.

 
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