Category Archives: Blog tour

Firebug by Lish McBride Blog Tour Guest Post & Contest: Why Write Paranormal

Firebug BlogTour
Today, I am pleased to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Firebug by Lish McBride — which is in stores TODAY, and is one of my favorite books of the year.

Today, we have an exclusive guest blog from Lish, as well as your chance to win a copy of Firebug. So check out Lish’s post below, then keep reading for more on the contest!

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Why Write Paranormal
By Lish McBride

firebugMy thesis advisor asked me a similar question when I was in graduate school. Oh, it was phrased differently and her question was laced with concern, but it was there. She couldn’t understand why I wanted to write fantasy and horror and whatever and not literary fiction. Why else would I be in such a program? Why wouldn’t I see that anything less than literary fiction would be a waste of my time and talent? She was—and is—a wonderful teacher, and very straight forward, which I appreciated. To her the literary novel was the pinnacle, the brass ring, that thing that we should all grasp for. She loves it, and she couldn’t quite understand why I didn’t.

I think, and this is purely speculation, that genre fiction is all the same to her. It doesn’t fire her passion like literary fiction does. What she didn’t get was that was how I felt about literary fiction. I’m not saying it’s terrible or anything. I have no problems with it, just that when I sit down to write, those aren’t the kinds of stories I want to tell. Often, when I read, it’s the same thing. If you give me two stories, and one has a sea monster or a cyborg in it and the other is a coming of age tale with no magic whatsoever, guess which one I’m going to pick? I didn’t read Jane Austen until after I read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters. Usually I need the lure of magic to spark my interest. Only when I read those stories did the source material intrigue me. Regular fiction just doesn’t interest me. So when I wrote “serious” stories in class, I often wrote them as straight and kept the paranormal elements to myself. “This story appears to be about three women who killed an abusive husband, but they’re all secretly witches.”

I write paranormal because those are the stories that come out when I reach for my laptop and when I reach inside my mind for characters. Those are the stories my brain likes to create. Those are also the stories I like to read. I have always loved mythology and fairy tales. Why wouldn’t my writing reflect that? Stories are often sparked by our interests and what we absorb of the outside world. What we read, see, eat, smell—the people we meet, the relationships we have, all of this blends together and becomes fodder for the worlds we create.

I love the way magical worlds can interweave with the everyday, how sometimes it takes seeing something through the eyes of a monster to really understand it, to process it. Frankenstein is an excellent example of this. Mary Shelley used the monster to reveal truth and beauty, to expose certain unsavory things about humanity. Good writing—paranormal or literary or whatever the flavor may be—can do this. I just seem to like my truth with a little bit of magic.

This is not to say that I don’t ever read anything that isn’t paranormal. I read all kinds of things. Fantasy is just the most common genre I read. I have written stories without any magical elements in them. So I know it’s possible for me to do so, but to be honest, they don’t feel finished to me. They don’t feel full. I guess magic, or the paranormal, is the catalyst I need to bring a story to life. And I’m okay with that. There are a lot of writers out there to handle all the other kinds of books. People who really like literary fiction. People who are great at writing it. More power to them. They will spin their tales while I spend my time with gnomes, werewolves, faeries and other beasties. Nothing would make me happier.

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More Firebug Goodies:

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Want to win a copy of Firebug? Just tell us in the comments below why you want to read it, and then fill out the Rafflecopter form here.

Contest is open to mailing addresses in the U.S. or Canada only. Contest ends at midnight (PT) on Tuesday, September 30th.

Blog Tour & Contest: The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato

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Today, we’re excited to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato. Keep reading to learn more & your chance to enter a pretty awesome contest!

clockwork daggerAbout The Clockwork Dagger:

An extremely fun and very commercial fantasy debut, in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger. THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER is an enchanting fantasy debut about a young healer with incredible powers setting off on her first mission, when a series of strange occurrences (including murder) rock the airship she is traveling on. But the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Dagger assassins, her cabin-mate hides secrets, and the conspiracy may reach the crown itself.

Published by: Harper Voyager
Released on: September 16th, 2014
Add it to Goodreads
Get it From: Amazon | B&N

Praise for The Clockwork Dagger:

“The Clockwork Dagger was just what I needed: A steampunk adventure with an uncommon heroine, a fascinating magic system, and a young gremlin! I’m hooked and can’t wait for more Octavia and Leaf!”
—New York Times bestselling author Kevin Hearne

About the Author:

beth catoBeth Cato resides in the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ. Her husband Jason, son Nicholas, and crazy cat keep her busy, but she still manages to squeeze in time for writing and other activities that help preserve her sanity. She is originally from Hanford, CA, a lovely city often pungent with cow manure.

clockwork dagger parasolGiveaway:

Enter to win a copy of The Clockwork Dager, complete with a gorgeous black-and-gold paper parasol, for your very own steampunk adventures and cosplays!

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE!

Book Birthday Blog Tour: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Today is the release day for I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson — and we’re celebrating with our book birthday stop on the official blog tour! Plus, be sure to scroll down for more goodies & a chance to win a copy of Jandy’s first book, The Sky is Everywhere.

The theme of today’s post is a BOOK BIRTHDAY! So to celebrate, we whipped up some I’ll Give You the Sun-themed CUPCAKES! But first, here’s more about the book:

i'll give you the sunA brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

For this occasion, I put my own spin to the ever-popular and always-delicious “sprinkle cupcakes.” I thought the colorful cupcake was a perfect combination with the bright cover for I’ll Give You the Sun.

sun10I started with my favorite white cake recipe from the good ol’ Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook — then mixed multi-colored sprinkles into my batter. (You can also use a boxed cake mix, too … some even come with the sprinkles already mixed in). Once mixed, I poured the batter into paper cupcake liners and baked according to the recipe’s instructions.

Once out of the oven, it’s time to let the cupcakes cool … frosting warm cupcakes is a big no-no. Once cooled completely, I pulled out a tub of my favorite vanilla frosting (yes, here’s where I cheat … I hate making frosting from scratch, and I think the store-bought kind is just fine).

sun7I spread an even layer of frosting on each cupcake using a butter knife. If you have an actual frosting knife, even better — if not, a regular butter knife works just fine. Be sure to smooth the frosting on in an even layer here — you don’t want a fancy, swirled frosting like you often see in cupcake shops.

sun5That’s because … to decorate, you’re going to want several tubes of frosting gel in assorted colors (red, orange, yellow, lime green, blue, purple, and pink).

Once my cupcakes were frosted in white, I arranged them on a circular tray — and then began adding colorful “rays” using the gel frosting, mimicking the artwork on the cover of I’ll Give You the Sun.

Now, I also like my sprinkle cupcakes with extra sprinkles on top — so I went ahead and scattered some more on top of the frosted cupcakes. Adds just a nice little extra dash of “sunshine,” no?

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And the final step: curl up with your copy of I’ll Give You the Sun (in stores today) and EAT CUPCAKES while you read!!!


Photo by Sonya Sones

Photo by Sonya Sones

Jandy Nelson, like her characters in I’ll Give You the Sun, comes from a superstitious lot. She was tutored from a young age in the art of the four-leaf clover hunt; she knocks wood, throws salt, and carries charms in her pockets. Her debut novel, The Sky Is Everywhere, was on multiple Best Books of the Year lists, was a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, earned numerous starred reviews, has been translated widely, and continues to enjoy great international success. Currently a full-time writer, Jandy lives and writes in San Francisco, California—not far from the settings of The Sky Is Everywhere and I’ll Give You the Sun. Visit her online at or find her on twitter at @jandynelson.

Got a question for Jandy? @PenguinTeen is hosting a Twitter chat with Jandy Nelson, Stephanie Perkins, and Gayle Forman, tonight, Sept. 16th, at 7:00 PM ET!

I’ll Give You the Sun is on shelves now! Signed / personalized copies are available from Books Inc.

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Enter the Rafflecopter form HERE for your chance to win a paperback copy of The Sky is Everywhere. U.S. only.


Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour, featuring guest posts, interviews, giveaways, and more!


Exclusive Q&A with Salt & Storm author Kendall Kulper + Blog Tour Contest

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Today’s post is serving double-duty — both as our Book of the Month Q&A with Salt & Storm author Kendall Kulper … and as an official stop on the blog tour!

In addition to our Q&A with Kendall, you’ll also find a blog tour giveaway and more information about the book, so be sure to scroll all the way down.

Salt&Storm blog tour

In the author’s note for SALT & STORM, you mention having little knowledge about whaling before writing this book. So why did you write a book about 19th century whaling?

I really didn’t set out to! I wanted to write about islands, and since the only island I know much of anything about is Martha’s Vineyard, I decided to set the book in New England. When I started thinking about the story, I looked into New England folklore and found stories of women who would make good luck charms for sailors. I thought that was so fascinating, especially combined with the history and culture of whaling in the area, so despite my lack of knowledge, I dove right in!

Kulper_Headshot_Small2I love the beautiful blending of historical fiction with fantasy in SALT & STORM. How did the two elements come together for you as you were working on the book?

I knew I wanted there to be a fantasy element in the book because I wanted to write about those women. I love books that treat magic as something real, accepted, and integrated into society—I think it’s so fascinating how most people assume having magic would make life so much easier, when it probably would just make life more complicated.

As for blending historical fiction and fantasy, sailing has always had a close relationship with magic and superstition. A lot of the magic described in the book (like the idea that sailors can buy winds or that tattoos offer protection) came from real-life accounts that I found in my research. It’s not surprising, given how wild and unpredictable the sea is, that you’d want to try to put some faith into charms and magic.

Kulper_Salt&Storm_HCTell us a bit about your decision to write a prequel to SALT & STORM. What can readers expect, and why not a sequel? (Or is a sequel still a possibility?)

I have to give the credit to my editor, Bethany Strout, for suggesting writing another book in this world. I don’t think there will ever be a sequel—I always knew that Avery’s story would begin and end with SALT & STORM—but I had been kicking around a couple of ideas for a prequel, focusing on some of the other Roe witches. Writing SALT & STORM, I had to come up with a lot of backstory that ended up not being used in the book, so this was a great opportunity to delve into some of that.

The prequel was also a chance to see this world beyond just the island where SALT & STORM takes place. Avery mentions other magical people out in the world, and with the prequel, I’m able to show more of those people and how the rest of the world treats them.

What’s the most interesting tid-bit of information you learned while researching SALT & STORM?

I learned so much, but one of the things I found most fascinating was how these island communities dealt with the reality of a huge population of men being gone for several years at a time. Whaling trips took, on average, two to three years, and in that time the women back at home were expected to act as the heads of their households. They created these really tight-knit communities of mothers and wives, working together and supporting each other during the years their husbands were gone.

When the men came back, they would sometimes be on leave for only a few weeks or months before heading out again. I can only imagine how difficult and lonely that would be on both sides, especially given whaling’s extremely high mortality rate and the very likely possibility that married couples would never see each other again. But there was still real love and affection within these families; so many of the little things sailors made to pass the time were presents for their wives and sweethearts.

A lot of the history of whaling focuses on the men, but the struggles and successes of the women they left behind are just as deserving of attention.

You’re about to become a mother (congrats!). We know there are plenty of big differences between the two, but what is one similiarity between having a BOOK baby and having an ACTUAL baby?

Thank you! The real baby arrived August 21st, and she is wonderful J. I would say there are lots of similarities between birthing a book baby and real baby! Sleepless nights, needing lots of help, the long long wait for them to get here, and then that moment when you’ve got them in your arms (baby) or on the shelf (book) and think about how all that work and time and expectations led you to this moment—it’s just an indescribably wonderful, happy feeling!


Favorite decade?

Well, I married the love of my life in 2011, sold my book and adopted my beautiful pup in 2013, and published that book and had a baby girl in 2014, so the 2010s are looking pretty good so far!

Must-have writing snack?

I always start the day with a cup of tea served in my fine porcelain tea set, which was a wedding present. It always looks so pretty, and it’s such a nice, relaxing way to ease into things.

Favorite Disney movie? 

Oh man. I’m going to have to say Newsies, because even though I haven’t watched it in years, between the ages of 13 and 18 I was pretty much obSESSED with it. I had a website devoted to it (~*~kENDALL’S nEWSIES pAGE~*~), wrote massive amounts of fan-fiction, watched the movie literally daily with my friends. A few years ago I saw the show on Broadway and it was like a full-on nostalgia bomb.

The beach or the mountains? 

Mountains, definitely. Which I realize is probably surprising, given SALT & STORM, but I actually don’t really like the water. Beaches can be lovely, but I am a huge hiker, and there’s something about climbing a mountain that gives you such a different perspective on life.

Song that can always get you dancing? 

Right now it’s Happy by Pharrell. But I’m biased because it’s also baby girl’s favorite song!

Name 5 things currently on your desk (or in your writing space), and share a photo, if possible 

A menagerie of origami animals (which will eventually become my daughter’s mobile), a teeeeeny red LeCrueset pot that I use to store paperclips and odds and ends, my grandmother’s old makeup compact, my personalized beer stein from my college dorm, and lots of cards from friends and family about the new baby.


About the Book 

Author: Kendall Kulper
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: September 23, 2014
Find it: Goodreads|Amazon|Barnes& Noble

A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder–and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she’s to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane–a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

Kendall Kulper writes historical fiction with a fantasy twist for teen readers and knows more about nineteenth century whaling than she ever imagined. Her debut YA novel, SALT & STORM will be published by Little, Brown September 23, 2014. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in history and literature in 2008 and spent several years as a journalist before deciding to write full-time. She grew up in the wilds of New Jersey and now lives in Boston with her husband and chronically-anxious Australian Shepherd mix, Abby.


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And now it’s time for your chance to win a copy of Salt & Storm. Two U.S. winners will each receive a hardcover copy of the book. Enter the Rafflecopter form HERE. (Be sure to check out our Seaside Writing Contest for another chance to win, too!)

Salt&Storm blog tour
Salt & Storm
Blog Tour Schedule:

Week One:

Week Two:

Blog Tour: The Language of Silence by Tiffany Truitt

Today, I’m excited to share with you some information & an excerpt from The Language of Silence by Tiffany Truitt, a YA contemporary romantic suspense now available from Evernight Teen. For those of you who don’t know, Tiffany and I go way back … before Novel Novice was born, back to our original sister sister, Novel Novice Twilight — which she created, and inspired me to eventually launch THIS site. Without Tiffany, Novel Novice wouldn’t be here!

It also doesn’t hurt that Tiffany is a pretty bad-ass writer. Here’s more about her latest book (and keep reading for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card):

The Language of Silence coverBrett is certain that someone is responsible for her brother’s death.  He wouldn’t just leave her and his best friend, Ed, behind.  Although Tristan’s death is ruled an accident, Brett and Ed know there is something more sinister happening. They are looking for the secret that no one in this small Georgia town of Wendall wants to acknowledge, the truth that may rock the town establishment and particularly one of its most upstanding families.Together, Brett and Ed must discover the hidden truth behind Tristan’s death and deal with their feelings for each other, or they might just discover the darkest secrets are the ones they are keeping themselves.

Purchase your copy of The Language of Silence: Amazon   Evernight Teen


“How’d your mom tell you?” Brett offers a short, bitter laugh in response. I scratch my chin and shake my head. “That good, eh?”

“You would think she was auditioning for a Lifetime movie or something.”

For some reason, I laugh. Brett smiles. An actual smile. The kind of smile that transforms a face. If she was beautiful before, she’s luminescent now. These sorts of moments are so rare, so precious, I feel both a need to forever stay in this place and flee it as soon as possible.

I’ve always had a crush on Brett Jensen. I’ve just been smart enough to know that I’m too messed up to ever be with her. And now, with Tristan gone, I’m pretty sure I’m damn near done. Ruined. And maybe that’s what I deserve for not convincing him to stay with us.

“Maybe she thinks Julia Roberts will play her,” she continues, pulling at the grass growing up between the cement base of the bridge. “I mean, this has movie written all over it. All-American boy dies under mysterious conditions.”

Oh, Brett. There is no mystery about it. He left us.

“More likely some has-been from one of those medical shows,” I say instead.

Brett nods. Suddenly, her hand is on mine. I feel the tension she is holding within herself by the pressure she exerts onto my skin. My cheeks burn, and I am ashamed by my body’s quick reaction to this small movement.

“You can be whatever you want now, Ed,” she whispers.

I try to pull my hand from her grasp, but she merely holds on tighter. “What are you talking about?” I manage.

“You have a get out of jail free card thanks to Tristan. You could skip school for a week or flunk the whole year, and no one could say anything. You are…were the best friend of the dead kid. Who would give you grief? You could become anyone.”

She’s holding on so tightly to my hand that I begin to lose feeling. I let her words sink in. Settle. And the funny thing is—they make sense. Perfect sense. I know how I am going to deal with all of this.

About the Author:

Tiffany TruittTiffany Truitt was born in Peoria, Illinois. A self-proclaimed Navy brat, Tiffany spent most of her childhood living in Virginia, but don’t call her a Southerner. She also spent a few years living in Cuba. Since her time on the island of one McDonalds and Banana Rats (don’t ask), she has been obsessed with traveling. Tiffany recently added China to her list of travels (hello inspiration for a new book).

Besides traveling, Tiffany has always been an avid reader. The earliest books she remembers reading belong to The Little House on the Prairie Series. First book she read in one day? Little Woman (5th grade). First author she fell in love with? Jane Austen in middle school. Tiffany spent most of her high school and college career as a literary snob. Sherefused to read anything considered “low brow” or outside the “classics.”

Tiffany began teaching middle school in 2006. Her students introduced her to the wide, wonderful world of Young Adult literature. Today, Tiffany embraces popular Young Adult literature and uses it in her classroom.

Visit Tiffany’s website to learn more about her books!


Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway HERE for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming: Blog Tour Q&A + Giveaway

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Today, I am pleased to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming – an exciting new non-fiction book for teen readers.

family romanovYep, non-fiction. We don’t see a lot of YA non-fiction, so I’m really excited about this. Plus, a book about the Romanovs? You KNOW it’s gonna be good. Check out our Q&A with the author, then keep reading for your chance to win a copy of The Family Romanov!

Most YA readers tend to veer towards fiction. What about THE FAMILY ROMANOV will entice fiction readers?

It’s such a compelling, heartbreaking and, at times, downright weird story.  Imagine this: The Russian royal family is living a fairy-tale existence. The richest man on the planet, Tsar Nicholas II owns one-sixth of the world’s land, thirty palaces, five yachts, an endless collection of priceless painting and sculpture, two private trains, countless horses, carriage and cars, and vaults overflowing with precious jewels. The Romanovs have it all! But Nicholas is a man of limited political ability. He’s simply not suited to rule Russia. And a charismatic, self-proclaimed holy man named Rasputin spellbinds his wife, Alexandra. She believes Rasputin can save her hemophiliac son, Alexei, from bleeding to death. Desperate, she will do anything – anything — including handing over the reins of power to the evil monk.  Meanwhile, in the palace there also lives four, beautiful grand duchesses – Olga, Tatiana, Marie and Anastasia. But they are kept isolated from the world by their paranoid and overprotective parents. They don’t attend balls or banquets. They don’t have any friends their own age, or suitors, as they grow older. The have only each other. Living in this bubble stunts them emotionally. Even at age twenty, Olga giggles like a schoolgirl and blushes when she sees an onscreen kiss. With all this craziness going on inside the palace gates, no one is paying any attention to the dark clouds gathering outside them. Starving, war-weary Russians are tired of Nicholas and Alexandra’s inept rule. They revolt, and the Romanov’s fairy tale lives come crashing down, leading to ninety days in captivity, a horrific and bloody mass murder, hidden bodies and rumors of escaped princesses. Wow, if that’s not a great story, I don’t know what is!

Photo by Michael Lionstar

Photo by Michael Lionstar

The sort of research involved in a book like this seems so daunting to me. Where did you even begin your work?.

The research for this book followed four paths. The first, of course, was primary research.   After all, the heart of all research is the firsthand accounts and eyewitness testimonies of those who lived through an historical event. And so I read reminiscences written by the children’s’ tutors, and Alexandra’s ladies-in-waiting and Nicholas’ courtiers. I delved into the royal family’s letters and diaries and other personal papers. I read Yakov Yurovsky’s chilling account of the murders; statements from the guards; depositions from the priests and cleaning women who visited the Romanovs in their last hours. All of it was so personal, so intimate. If you think about it, it really is the height of nosiness… and probably the reason I love this sort of research so much. I get to be part detective, piecing together testimony from all that conflicting testimony, and part gossip, reporting on all the juicy details I uncover.

My second path? Secondary source material. There are hundreds of books about the Romanovs and the Russian Revolution (although very few for young readers). Dozens of scholars have made the rigorous examination of Russia’s past their life’s work. They’ve written insightful, enlightening histories. And I read dozens of them. For months every night I curled up with books with titles like The Russian Revolution of February 1917 or The Fall of the Romanovs. There’s no denying that my book stands on the shoulders of these works.

My third research path leads to experts – scholars, historians, and other writers. They are, I’ve learned, incredibly generous. All my nonfiction titles have been immeasurably improved by their time and effort. But perhaps no one was more helpful than Dr. Mark Steinberg, professor or Russian, East European and Eurasian studies at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. While doing research, I came to rely on Dr. Steinberg’s work – his accessible histories of Russia, his impeccable translations of documents recently released from the Russian archives, his re-examination of Nicholas’ leadership abilities, his new and brilliant scholarship on Lenin, his admiration for Maxim Gorky. Can you tell I am a fan? So as the first draft of the book neared completion I approached him tentatively. More than anything, I wanted him to read what I’d written. I wanted his opinion, his knowledge. I wrote him, explaining my purpose and my readership.   Then I crossed my fingers and hoped he’d answer. He did… enthusiastically.   Over the course of the next six months, he read my draft, made suggestions, pointed out errors, suggested more appropriate source material and forced me to look at the evidence in different ways. He sent along books and articles he believed would help in my work.   He re-read portions of the book I’d reworked based on his comments, and patiently answered what must have felt like a tireless stream of questions throughout the entire publication process. That’s generosity!

Last, but certainly not least, my fourth research path leads to travel. I believe it’s imperative to visit the places where the story happened. Landscapes speak and houses hold memories and secrets. This was especially true when writing The Family Romanov. In August 2012 I traveled to Russia where I followed in the Romanov’s footsteps, wandering the shady paths of Tsarskoe Selo and traipsing through the hallways of the Alexander Palace; visiting Rasputin’s apartment; exploring worker’s neighborhoods, Lenin’s headquarters and the dark, dank jail cells of the Peter and Paul Fortress.   Just walking the streets and feeling the air brings my biographical subjects closer.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned about the Romanovs and the uprising against them during your research?

Probably the most surprising and important discovery I made during my research for The Family Romanov came while visiting the Alexander Palace. In none of my sources had anyone mentioned how close the palace sat to the front gate. I’d assumed it was somewhere in the middle of the park, away from prying eyes. Not so. The tall, main gate with its golden, double headed eagle opens directly onto the palace’s circular driveway. Every day the family could look through its iron grillwork to the town of Tsarskoe Selo just on the other side. It gave me pause. The family was so close to it’s people. They were right there, just on the other side of the gate. The Romanovs could look out their windows and see them. They could hear their people’s voices from the palace balcony. They could smell their cooking. They really weren’t as physically removed from the people as sources led me to believe. It gave me pause. Why, I wondered, didn’t the Romanovs feel more attachment to their subjects? I mean, they were right there. The question led me down entirely new paths of thought.   And it eventually led to the book’s inclusion of first hand worker and peasant accounts under the title, “Beyond the Palace Gates.”

This is one of several nonfiction books you’ve written for teen readers. Any idea on what subjects you might be tackling next?

I’m tackling William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody next. Actually, I’m in the throes of writing it now. After that, who knows? I’m challenged and intrigued by the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. I recently read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s account of those terrible, terrible days when she waited for news of her son. And I’m filled with questions. For me, that’s the first sign that a new piece of nonfiction is brewing.


Favorite decade?

The 80’s – I was a carefree, college student back then. Believe it or not, I even had purple hair!

Must-have writing snack?

Skinny Pop Popcorn – love that “no artificial anything.”

Favorite Disney movie?

It’s a toss up between The Ugly Dachshund (does anyone remember that one… Dean Jones!) and 101 Dalmatians. I’m a sucker for dog movies.

The beach or the mountains?

The beach along Lake Michigan’s southern rim. There’s nothing I love more than escaping to those endless, sandy shores for an afternoon. I pick up beach glass, hum in my head, and let the world fade away. Ahhh!

Song that can always get you dancing?

“What I Like About You” by the Romantics. Embarrassing, but I pogo to it. The 80’s again, you know?

Name 5 things currently on your desk (or in your writing space), and share a photo, if possible

  1. A gold bust of Nicholas II I purchased at the Alexander Palace.
  2. A shadow box of objects and fancies collected by my partner, Eric Rohmann and I, on our many travels. If you look closely you’ll see things like an iguana claw from Costa Rica, an antique glass bead from Venice, Italy, and an animal cracker from the National Zoo in Washington D.C.
  3. A crystal ball. So far it has not foretold my future.
  4. A Henry VIII eggcup for holding my paper clips. It also serves as a reminder to stick to the Skinny Pop.
  5. A two-headed rubber ducky – it’s just weird.


Now here’s your chance to win! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form here and you’ll be entered to win a copy of The Family Romanov, courtesy of Random House.

U.S. or Canada only. Contest ends at midnight (PT) on Wednesday, July 23rd.

family romanovHere’s more about the book:

New from Candace Fleming, THE FAMILY ROMANOV: MURDER, REBELLION, AND THE FALL OF IMPERIAL RUSSIA (Schwartz & Wade / On sale July 8, 2014 / Ages 12 up) offers up non-fiction at its very best. From the acclaimed author of Amelia Lost and The Lincolns comes a probing look at Russia’s last tsar, his family, and their crumbling dynasty.

When Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, inherited the throne in 1894, he was unprepared. With their four daughters (including Anastasia) and only son, a hemophiliac, Nicholas and his reclusive wife, Alexandra, buried their heads in the sand, living a life of opulence as World War I raged outside their door and political unrest grew.

Deftly maneuvering between the lives of the Romanovs and the plight of Russia’s peasants—and their eventual uprising—Fleming offers up a fascinating portrait, complete with inserts featuring period photographs and compelling primary-source material that brings it all to life. Tragedy, melodrama, and I-can’t-believe-it moments make this a read that both kids and Romanov aficionados will devour. History doesn’t get more interesting than the story of the Romanovs.

For the comments: What intrigues you about the Romanov family?

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe: Summer Blog Tour – Hitting the Road

TSLOG blog tour
After our week of guest blogs from The Sound of Letting Go author Stasia Ward Kehoe, it’s time for this summer blog tour to hit the road! Here’s Stasia with more:

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swknovelnoviceroadtrippicTAKING IT ON THE ROAD…Like a summer road trip, a blog tour is nothing without fun stops along the way. Sara at Novel Novice has lined up some awesome destinations for THE SOUND OF LETTING GO adventures. But the other essential part of road tripping, like writing life, is THE PEOPLE YOU BRING ON THE JOURNEY. The book business is scary and full of heartbreak. Lots of things are out of your control. And, frankly, the money ain’t great. But, if you’re looking for incredible friends—folks who are really your tribe, who love books and writing and reading and the whole crazy world of it—then you’re exactly where you need to be and every stop along the way is kind of amazing.

So, as summer swelters along, you can find follow THE SOUND OF LETTING GO blog tour to…

July 14th – Hypable

July 21st – Reading Teen

July 28th – Page Turners

August 4th – Novels, News & Notes

August 11th – Icey Books

August 18th – Book Chic

August 25th – Candace’s Book Blog

At each stop, I’ll be interviewing a writer friend (Who, you ask? It’s a surprise!) about the business and the their lives beyond the pages. I hope you’ll follow along!

And, oh yeah, don’t forget to enter for THE PRIZE of PRIZEY GOODNESS! Enter the Rafflecopter HERE!


The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe: Summer Blog Tour – My Pinterest Problem

TSLOG blog tour
Today, we continue our summer-long blog tour with The Sound of Letting Go author Stasia Ward Kehoe.

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I’m a word person. Not super visual. In fact, I’ve tried using index cards and other visual methods for plotting my novels and have, well, failed. Here’s an example of one failed attempt for my current work in progresss:


That said, I LOVE PINTEREST! While visual aids don’t help me plot novels, I’ve had great luck finding inspiring images such as the perfect-looking dog for my new main character (a brindle Great Dane) and I’ve had lots of fun doing things like decorating rooms for my characters and imagining who might play them on the big screen (hey, a girl can dream, right?).

Check out DAISY’S MUSIC ROOM and my FANTASY CAST boards for THE SOUND OF LETTING GO. Or give me some feedback on my style choices at the DRESSING LIKE AN AUTHOR board.


For more ways to win my books and summer swag, visit

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe: Summer Blog Tour – YA with Great Shape

TSLOG blog tour
Today, we continue our summer-long blog tour with The Sound of Letting Go author Stasia Ward Kehoe.

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Who needs a perfect beach body when you have these YA novels with great shapes?

I started seriously reading YA in my twenties as newly-employed as a Library Marketing Associate at Random House Books for Young Readers. My job gave me access to a remarkable library, including two particularly memorable YA’s: Philip Pullman’s GOLDEN COMPASS and Suzanne Fisher Staples SHABANU: DAUGHTER OF THE WIND. Those were the books that started me wanting not just to read but to write teen fiction.

Over the next decades, my marketing career took me from publishing house to publishing house and I kept reading. Sarah Dessen, M. T. Anderson, Pete Hautman, Libba Bray, Judy Blundell, Holly Black, J.K. Rowling…I devoured thousands of pages. But I still hadn’t found my own voice as a writer. Who finally led me there? Ellen Hopkins, Sharon Creech and Karen Hesse. In their verse novels, I first saw the synthesis of my love for poetry, the cadence of dance (my first creative love), and the emotional immediacy of verse. Their work changed way I read, the way I think about creating a novel…it set me free.

Since then, I’ve realized that I have a particular taste for prose and poem-based novels that break the mold by taking unusual approaches to shaping language into a narrative form. Here are a few uniquely structured novels that, to me, FEEL LIKE POETRY, inspiring readers and writers alike to realize the power of form in storytelling.

wintergirlsWINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson

The story: Lia did not answer one of the 33 calls her estranged best friend Cassie made the night she died. Cassie was her “secret sister” in the shadow community of girls with eating disorders. Now, Lia is alone in the wake of Cassie’s death, battling guilt, struggling to stay thin, and risking her own death as loved ones around her try to help her heal herself.

The shape: Dark, intense, present-tense narrative is peppered with overstrikes, italics, numbers, varying fonts, repetitions, and even stretches of blank page that make the experience of Lia’s anxiety, grief and illness palpable to the reader. The novel is a breathless and terrifying emotional journey, its fearless form taking it to a place of utter realism far beyond the reach of standard paragraphs.

graveyard bookTHE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman

The story: Toddler Nobody Owens (“Bod”) escapes being murdered with the rest of his family by wandering into a graveyard where he is raised and protected by the dead until reaching young adulthood and eagerly stepping out into the “real” world to live his life.

The shape: Names and naming are critical to this novel’s unique structure. Gaiman’s protagonist, “Nobody” is also “Bod”–the only living, embodied denizen of his graveyard home. Bod’s many dead friends are identified by both name and headstone inscription (this is actually quite amusing at times) which both date and characterize them. Bod’s enemy is “the man Jack.” Elegant, organic interweaving of illustrations into the book’s format and design complete Gaiman’s rendering of a fantastical world through which the reader, and Bod, journey, realizing beauty in wounds that can’t be healed and hope in places that will never be perfect.

flora and ulyssesFLORA & ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo

The story: A lonely girl name Flora Belle Buckman meets a remarkable, magical squirrel (who is also a poet) who helps her on her journey to rediscover love and family.

The shape: An elegant amalgam of short, uniquely titled chapters, paper-and-pencil style cartoon storyboard illustrations, GIANT vocabulary words, multiple references to a comic book series featuring THE AMAZING INCANDESTO and snips of poetry. On so many levels—the text, the titles, the cadence of the chapters, and the poignant final poem itself-DiCamillo creates an unforgettable exploration of the parent-child bond, the glory of hope, and the redemptive power of words.

book thiefTHE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak

The story: In the dark, book-burning, Nazi-overrun world of 1939 Germany, Liesel Meminger lives with her foster family near Munich. Overcome by her yearning for books, Liesel steals, learns to read, and finds herself helping to hide a wounded Jewish man.

The shape: First, the novel is narrated by Death. But don’t let that put you off. This musing on life found, preserved and lost features chapter titles made of imagistic word collages, bullet-point lists, bold-faced musings, translations, transcriptions and definitions. This book is a modern classic: An homage to language, words, communication and what is most human inside all of us.

For more ways to win my books and summer swag, visit

Book Review & Blog Tour Giveaway: Idols by Margaret Stohl

idols blog tour
Today’s book review is part of the official blog tour for Idols by Margaret Stohl, the second book in her Icons series. Be sure to keep reading for your chance to win a copy of Idols and check out links to the rest of the blog tour!

idols final book coverThe Icons came from the sky. They belong to an inhuman enemy. They ended our civilization, and they can kill us.

Most of us.

Dol, Ro, Tima, and Lucas are the four Icon Children, the only humans immune to the Icon’s power to stop a human heart. Now that Los Angeles has been saved, things are more complicated – and not just because Dol has to choose between Lucas and Ro, the two great loves of her life. As she flees to a resistance outpost hidden beneath a mountain, Dol makes contact with a fifth Icon Child, if only through her visions. When Dol and the others escape to Southeast Asia in search of this missing child, Dol’s dreams, feelings and fears collide in an epic showdown that will change more than just four lives — and stop one heart forever.

In this riveting sequel to Icons, filled with nonstop action and compelling romance, bestselling author Margaret Stohl explores what it means to be human and how our greatest weakness can be humanity’s strongest chance at survival.

I confess, as much as I enjoyed Icons, I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to commit to the rest of the series. But after reading Idols, I’m all-in. This sequel had me hooked — and in many ways, I think it far surpasses the first book.

In Idols, Stohl takes readers on a globe-trotting adventure, as the four teens search for a way to save their planet and their lives. New faces, surprising twists, and unexpected revelations about within the pages, making for a delightful, edge-of-your-seat reading experience.

The stakes are higher than ever, as the Icon Children race to find answers, all while struggling with their own relationships, their pasts, and their unknowable futures. Iconsis in stores now.

About the Book:
Published by: Little Brown
To Be Released on: July 8, 2014
Series: Icons #2
Add it to GoodReads
Purchase it From: Find A Retailer/Book Store near you!
About The Author:
Margaret Stohl is a lifelong science fiction fan, former video game designer, coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Beautiful Creatures series, and author of Icons. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her family.
Find Margie via: her Website TwitterFacebook | Tumblr | Goodreads
The Giveaway:

Thank you to Margaret Stohl and Little Brown, fans will have a chance to enter to win a copy of IDOLS at each stop during the blog tour (1 winner per book). Please be sure to fill out the form HERE to enter to win!  Please be sure to read the giveaway rules listed at the bottom of the form before entering.
*US residents only
Good luck!