Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

40th First Five Frenzy with Lana Popovic of ZSH Literary!! May 30, 2014

FFF SideWords



If you’re like me, you toil for hours editing and fine-tuning the first pages of your manuscript. You look at the first lines to make sure they are compelling and tight.  You examine the next few paragraphs, hoping your MC’s voice is already taking hold of the reader.


The First Five Frenzy is all about getting an agent’s perspective on what works, and what fails, in those first pages of a manuscript. By reading each agent’s comments, I hope you’ll learn how to make your manuscript a shining gem that will be requested time and time again.


Today, I am proud to share Literary Agent, Lana Popovic’s perspective on what’s important in those critical first pages.




Amy: Many writers have the impression that a great first line is imperative to drawing in the reader. How important is a first line to you as an agent?


Lana: While it’s not a deal-breaker by any means if the first line is not astonishing, it should at least be solid—and at best, it should be as spectacular as the writer can make it. This is the first real opportunity to showcase voice, and I put a lot of stock in the power of a beautifully crafted first line. It conveys to me that the writer has both the literary goods and the savvy when it comes to knowing how to draw the reader in. That said, I will always read the first five pages, so it’s definitely not a death knell if that first line isn’t blazingly brilliant. (I’m cool with alliteration, too.)




Amy: Many times a writer is told to stay away from common openings like dreams, eating breakfast, riding in a car, etc. What are some common openings you recommend writers stay away from?


Lana: Those are definitely my top three to avoid! I also don’t love bait-and-switch openings, where the reader is thrown into an action sequence that is presented as something with mortally dangerous consequences—but is in fact the protagonist playing a video game or hide-and-seek or imagining something while in class. Those always make me roll my eyes a bit. It’s like the opposite of the “gasp!” reaction that we want.


Also, it being someone’s birthday. Especially the seventeenth.




Amy: When you’ve responded to a writer to request a partial or full manuscript, what was it about their first pages that piqued your interest?


Lana: I actually don’t ask for sample pages, so I judge by query alone. I’ll request anything with a fresh, intriguing premise and a voice that shines through even in the query itself. Beautiful or punchy titles always help, too.




Amy: What are some common mistakes writers make in their first five pages?


Lana: Because they know their own protagonist so well, writers often assume that the reader will automatically care about her or him as well, and hurl us into action before we’ve developed any emotional connection, thereby lowering the stakes for us. If I don’t know the first thing about Deliria Twist (please don’t name your character that—another common mistake. Overly whimsical names make us cringe unless they dovetail immaculately with a generally outlandish but well-executed concept), I don’t care that she’s sprinting out of a burning building while demons rain hellfire at her. I know I should care, but I don’t. I’m just cold like that.


On the other side of the spectrum is opening with pages and pages of backstory. This bogs me down because again, I don’t know the character well enough to want to delve into the context of their life. Striking the perfect balance between exposition and action in those first pages is key.




Amy: What resonates with you most in those first pages? Voice? Pacing? Unique concept?


Lana: Oh, definitely voice! If I see that glimmer—my fellow agent and wonderful human Taylor Haggerty calls it “sparkle,” which is right on point—of a unique voice, it can cover a multitude of sins. I love unusual, distinctive, and/or edgy voices.




Many thanks to Lana for sharing her thoughts on what is critical in those first five pages. In celebration of this being the 40th post in the First Five Frenzy series, Lana has graciously offered to do a query critique for one lucky writer! If you’re interested in the query critique, please comment below with your contact info!





W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with David Arnold May 28, 2014




What struck me most about today’s W.O.W. with David Arnold was his comments about taking your time. In this fast-paced world we seem to want it all NOW, but in writing nothing ever comes quickly. You must draft, write and then revise (sometimes over and over) in order to get the best possible manuscript. I love that he shared he went through 9 drafts of his novel, MOSQUITOLAND, before finally querying. It proves if you take your time, and really hone your manuscript, you can have eventual success.



Many thanks to David for sharing his journey today…



Amy: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?


David: I’m not really sure how to answer that question, except to say that I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a reader. I discovered The Hardy Boys when I was seven and from that point on, I’ve never not been reading something. So it was a logical next step for me, I think – to go from story input to story output.



Amy: What inspires you to write Young Adult Fiction?


David: Why I write about young adults: I think there’s something special about the 15-17 year-old age range. You’re old enough to think you know everything, but too young to know you don’t. This sort of blind naivety lends itself to great characters in unique, and oftentimes broken, situations. Why I write for young adults: I vividly remember my own young adulthood, so for me, it’s the nearest well to draw from. Whatever “voice” is, mine naturally comes from this place.



Amy: I love the premise behind MOSQUITOLAND. Was there anything specific that inspired the story?


David: Thank you! I’m not sure it was any one incident that inspired me to tell this particular story, so much as a million tiny incidents joining forces to push me into it. Many of the settings in the book are places I’ve lived, but very little of what happens to Mim (the main character) ever happened to me. But for me, story begins with character. Keeping with the “well” analogy from earlier, I’ve found that my writing tends to follow these steps: Find the well from which my character drinks. Drink from that well. Let them tell the story.



Amy: How many manuscripts had you completed prior to MOSQUITOLAND?


David: Completed is a funny word. The short answer is… one? For years, I wrote middle grade, but there was no sense of urgency and it showed in the work. Then my wife and I found out we were (surprise!) pregnant, and I was faced with serious decisions. The next day, I shelved all those middle grade projects, and decided to start a book I’d been too scared to try. That book is Mosquitoland, and while I won’t say I wrote it for my son, I will say much of it is written to him. (Sorry. Tangent. Yes, only one finished manuscript prior to ML.)



Amy: If you had preliminary rejections, how did you deal with that process and continue to write?


David: If you think about writing as a sidecar, rather than the actual motorcycle, it becomes a lot easier. Don’t worry about making it the MAIN thing. Just make it a thing. As the pressure diminshes, so too will the weight of rejection.



Amy: How long did it take you to write the query for MOSQUITOLAND? Did it go through many drafts?


David: I probably spent close to two months on the query alone. And that was just on the front end (drafting, critiquing, revising, rinse, repeat). After that, the real work began: researching agents and tailoring your query to each of their specific guidelines and needs. I spent countless hours on twitter, Writers Digest, and Querytracker looking for agents that would be right for me.



Amy: How many agents did you query for MOSQUITOLAND?


David: Six



Amy: Did you receive instantaneous response or did you have to wait for requests/rejections?


David: It varied. Dan’s assistant (Torie) responded immediately, requesting a full. But Dan was on vacation in Europe, so she said it would probably be a while before he got back with me. And so began the twiddling of thumbs, the maniacal giggling, and the rousing rounds of Kumbayah. :/




Amy: What can you tell us about your “call” with your agent, Dan Lazar?  How did you know he was a good fit for you?


David: When you query an agent, you’re looking for certain qualities: track record, current clientele, what agency they’re with, etc. All of those qualities were important to me, but they were things I could find online. So when I got to speak to an agent on the phone, I set new parameters. The two most important qualities I looked for were enthusiasm and kindness. Dan proved he got my work by asking the right questions and making incredibly insightful comments (one of which, was in reference to a WIP, now my book 2). Before I ever signed with Dan, I knew he had an inherent understanding of my work, and of my career as an author. And of course, he was exceedingly kind.




Amy: As many writers know the publishing world is very hard to break into. What was the one thing you did to help garner agent attention?


David: I took my time. Not just in querying and researching agents, but in writing the manuscript. Above, I mentioned that I spent some time writing middle grade. The thing is, I never queried those manuscripts because I knew they weren’t my best foot forward. Even with Mosquitoland, every time I thought I was done (9 times, to be exact), I took at least 3 weeks away from the pages. And every time I came back, I found ways to make it better. All in all, I spent two years writing/critiquing/revising before sending it out; had I queried it the first time I thought it was done, I would have gotten a stack of rejections (and rightly so). It’s true that writers will be rejected. But I think the amount of rejections can be reduced by simply… taking your time.




Amy: What advice did you get early on in your writing career that you still use today?


David: COMMUNITY! Find one. I dove into the SCBWI MidSouth region and honestly don’t know where I’d be without them. (Lost. Completely lost.) Through SCBWI, I also found my brilliant critique group. Those guys save my life one manuscript at a time.





David ArnoldDavid Arnold is the author of MOSQUITOLAND (Viking/Penguin, 2015). Previous “jobs” include freelance film composer, stay-at-home dad, and preschool teacher. He is a fierce believer in the power of kindness and community. And chips. He believes fiercely in chips. David is represented by Dan Lazar at Writers House. You can find him at and on Twitter (@roofbeam).




Filed under: Blog,Publishing,YA Contemporary — chasingthecrazies @ 6:53 am
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A rare Tuesday post from me to celebrate two amazing events!


First, Happy Book Birthday to PLAYED by the incredibly talented Liz Fichera!







This Game Is Getting All Too Real



He said: I like to keep under the radar and mostly hang out with my friends from the rez. But when I saved Riley Berenger from falling off a mountain, that rich suburban princess decided to try to save me.


She said: If I can help Sam Tracy win the heart of the girl he can’t get over, I’ll pay him back for helping me. I promised him I would, no matter what it takes.


A companion novel to HOOKED, this fun read had me quickly turning the pages and rooting for Sam & Riley. If you’re looking for a great YA Contemporary novel, be sure to pick this one up!


Now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and many more retail outlets!



Second, and this is a little odd, but THANK YOU to the kind soul(s) who nominated this website for a YA Highway Web Award! I’m grateful you would think enough of the information provided on this website to nominate me for such an amazing honor! I get so much joy from bringing content to writers every week, and it is a privilege to share my thoughts and interviews with readers no matter where they are on the path to publication. I promise the writer and agents interviews, as well as the insightful guest posts, will keep on coming!




QUERY 101 SERIES: A Thoughtful Strategy Before You Hit “Send” May 23, 2014

Query 101B


Originally this post was written much differently. It was more of an outline on the dos and don’ts to think about when researching an agent or publisher. I was all ready to publish this post, but after a few days at the RT Convention last week I knew it needed to change.  Why? Because I had the opportunity to talk to dozens of writers about the querying experience and learned there are many ups and downs to the process everyone should consider. These include setting up meetings for “the call” that never happens. Or agents who sign you and then never return phone calls or emails. Even worse, relationships that fall apart after the first book doesn’t sell. Yes, these things all happened to writers I met and talked to, and it made me realize how critical it is to develop a thoughtful querying strategy.  So below is a revised version of this post. I hope it will strike a chord with every writer who is either getting ready to query or just starting to wade into the trenches.


It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of querying. You’ve got this precious baby of a manuscript that you’re ready to let loose on the world, and it’s easy to get caught up in that fervor. You enter a contest and suddenly you’re getting requests. It’s tempting to want to send your manuscript to everyone. But with any major project, I’d suggest taking a step back and thinking the process through. As many people advise, approach this as if you were looking for a long-term partner, which is what your agent is going to be if you connect with the right one.


Now let’s be honest, only YOU know who is the right fit for your project. An agent may say they want Middle Grade Fantasy, but do they have any clients who they’ve successfully sold a manuscript for in this category and genre? This is easily determined by checking the agent’s sales via Publishers Marketplace.  What if you’re interested in writing in different categories and genres? Maybe you’re querying a Young Adult Thriller, but are 10k into writing a New Adult Contemporary. Will the agent want to represent that manuscript as well? Think about your writing future. Who can you see wanting to support you even if you don’t sell that first manuscript? Or if you decide you want to be a hybrid author, being both traditionally and self-published? I’ve heard many people refer to the agent-writer relationship as a marriage and in many ways that is true. It is a life-long collaboration you want to be successful through good times and bad.


So where do you start determining what agent would be perfect for your project? As I’ve said before, check out AgentQuery and QueryTracker. Both sites will allow you to drill down by category and genre. There are also writing communities like AgentQuery Connect, Absolute Write and Preditors & Editors that have threads discussing writers’ experiences with agents and publishers.


Once you find agents interested in your type of manuscript, check out their website. Many times agents within one group work collaboratively, so make sure you read bios and credentials.  A lot of major agencies have people who have been in the business for years. This is a good sign they have already established relationships with many editors in publishing.


Next, I recommend using social media to help form your opinion. If the agent is on Twitter, check out their feed. What are they saying about publishing, their clients and books? You might also what to investigate who your friends are represented by. If they write in the same category and genre as you, check out their comments on the process and experience within publishing.


All of this also applies to submitting to a small press. I know it can be easy to get excited when a publisher requests your manuscript, but pull back on that thrill for a minute and make sure they would be a good fit for you. How long have they been in business? If they took your manuscript what would the terms be? Would they help with marketing and promotion? Be interested in your next story? All important things to consider before you polish up that manuscript.


Before hitting “send” think about how long you’ve spent planning, plotting, and writing your manuscript. Hours upon hours have been put into creating the best story possible. Use that same plotting and planning to research agents and publishers. Determine what your long-term goals are and who will help you achieve them.  In the end, you owe it to yourself, and your work, to do the research and connect with the best agent for you.


What type of strategy do you develop before querying? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.





A Publishing Path Q&A with Heather Marie May 19, 2014


What is amazing about publishing in the year 2014 is there are many avenues available to get your book into the hands of readers. Some writers choose to go the traditional route and work with big publishing houses. Other writers go with small presses or even self-publish. Whatever path a writer selects, it has to be a very personal choice and one that fits both their personal and professional goals.


Today I asked writer, Heather Marie to share her reasons why going with a small press, Curiosity Quills, was the right choice for her YA Horror novel, THE GATEWAY THROUGH WHICH THEY CAME.



Amy: Why did you choose to publish with Curiosity Quills?


Heather Marie: There are a few reasons. One, I had parted with my agent a few months before I got the offer with Curiosity Quills. Even though I was querying and had some interest, I was still a little hesitant about signing with an agent because my initial experience was a bit traumatic. Two, I knew that even if I’d signed with an agent, that anything supernatural, or even considered paranormal, was gonna be a tough sell. After taking a lot of time to think about it, and talking it over with the owner of Curiosity Quills, I knew they were the perfect home for Gateway.


Amy: Did you query and find it would be a better fit to go direct with a publisher?


Heather Marie: Basically. I can’t remember how many emails were sent, but it was a lot. Lisa Gus (co-owner of Curiosity Quills) was super understanding and incredibly patient. I had so many questions about how things worked, and what they had in mind for Gateway overall. She answered every single one. The things is, I’ve been involved in the industry for what feels like a while, just hearing stories and understanding how it all works, so I had/have a lot of expectations. I knew going with what’s considered a smaller publisher would be a bit more work on my part, but I felt confident that my social media backing would be a great help. So far that’s proven to be right, because my friends on social media have been absolutely phenomenal. Not to mention that Curiosity Quills from the beginning was open to all my thoughts and ideas, which is huge to me.


Amy: Was the contract process difficult?


Heather Marie: Thankfully, no. I was fortunate enough to have someone (who will remain anonymous) help me out. This person has been a huge part of publishing for a long time, and they were so, so amazing. They went over my contract and called me to discuss certain clauses and such that I could go without. I can’t even tell you how grateful I am to them. It’s not like the contract itself was super crazy, but there were little things I would never have otherwise thought much about.


Amy: How has the editing process been? Did they request a lot or few changes?


Heather Marie: At the beginning, there were a lot of changes needed before even signing. Lots of world building that solidified the book as a whole. They were things I didn’t notice were missing, or even needed. So that was a huge help. After that, I went through two rounds of edits. The first one was less than the initial revision, but still extensive. The second was easy peasy. When before I was a bit worried about Gateway not being completely finished, I can now look at it and say: Yes, everything is just right. I love it!


Amy: Did you have any input on your cover design?


Heather Marie: Oh, I was every bit a part of the cover design. This is why I love Curiosity Quills. They encourage you to share your ideas, because they really want you to be 100% happy with the finished product. Ricky Gunawan and I emailed back and forth, and he always had sketches to share. I watched it go from concept art to full blow cover awesomeness. It was incredible. He’s such a fantastic artist. I’m more than pleased and basically begged him to do any other covers I have with Curiosity Quills.


Amy: What about promotion/marketing? Will you handle on your own or does Curiosity Quills offer assistance?


Heather Marie: They offer assistance, but most of you already know that I kind of just jump in and go for it. Everyone says I should get a job doing promotions since I’m organized and have a general idea of what I’m doing. I love knowing that I can go to Curiosity Quills for help and pretty much anything I need for interviews, swag, etc. But I do love that they allow me to do whatever I feel is best for my book. I don’t feel suffocated or held back, and that’s super important to me to be allowed that freedom to branch out and make things happen. The Curiosity Quills team has been wonderful with backing me when I need it, and helping with setting up signings and everything else behind-the-scenes.


Seriously. If you haven’t considered submitting to them, you should. I’m so thankful to them for this opportunity, and hope they take on more of my projects in the future.







To seventeen-year-old Aiden Ortiz, letting the dead walk through his body to reach the other side comes with the territory. Being a Gateway isn’t an easy job, but someone’s gotta send Bleeders where they belong. Heaven. Salvation. Call it whatever you want. Dead is dead. But when his search for Koren Banks––the girl who went mysteriously missing seven months ago––leaves him with more questions than answers, he finds himself involved in something far more sinister and beyond his control.


With the threat of the Dark Priest’s resurrection, and his plan to summon his demon brothers from hell, Aiden is left to discover his identity before the Dark Priest’s curse infecting his blood consumes him, and before the world as he knows it succumbs to the darkness of hell on earth.




HeatherMarieHeather Marie lives in Northern California with her husband, and spends the majority of her time at home reading. Before she followed her dreams of becoming a writer, Heather worked as a hairstylist and makeup artist for several years. Although she enjoyed the artistic aspect of it all, nothing quite quenched her creative side like the telling of a good story. When the day had come for her to make a choice, she left behind her promising career to start another, and never looked back. For more on Heather Marie, follow her on Twitter or check out her website, Facebook or Goodreads page.









W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Melanie Conklin May 14, 2014



In today’s Writer Odyssey Wednesday, Melanie Conklin offers some key advice to writers: WALK AWAY. Now I know that may seem crazy when you’re trying to break into publishing, or on the cusp of writing something brilliant, but the words hold greater meeting than you think. Walk Away doesn’t mean give up, let go of your dream, it simply means give your brain time to rest. To process what seems like impossible edits or painful writer’s block. It’s an out. A way to give yourself time to figure out what you need to make your writing stronger. Personally, I’ve had to back away many times from a project just to get perspective on what’s not working. And that is OK.  As Melanie puts it so brilliantly, “listen when your heart is asking for a break, and let yourself have it.”


Many thanks to Melanie for sharing her writing journey today…



Amy: When did you first know you wanted to write a middle grade novel?


Melanie: Not long after I started writing, I began a serious study of literature and writing craft. As I studied, I realized the classic books from my formative years were all considered “middle grade” stories–books like Charlotte’s Web and Where the Red Fern Grows. I started reading modern middle grade offerings from authors like Rebecca Stead, Anne Ursu, and R.J. Palacio, and that’s when I knew that I, too, had something to say in the middle grade language.



Amy: What inspired you to write COUNTING THYME?


Melanie: I lived in Brooklyn for several years, in a neighborhood called Park Slope. There was a family in our neighborhood whose child suffered from neuroblastoma, and I began following his mother’s blog posts, even though they often left me in tears. I was overwhelmed by the pain and struggle that this family suffered through, even with cutting-edge treatment for their son. I also joined a local effort to raise funds for pediatric cancer research called Cookies for Kid’s Cancer, because I had to do something to help. Several years later, I began writing Counting Thyme, largely in response to this question: what was it like to be the sibling of a sick child? Naturally, neuroblastoma was the illness that came to mind for me as the cancerous villain that turns Thyme’s world upside down.



Amy: Was COUNTING THYME your first completed manuscript or do you have others you’ve shelved?


Melanie: I enjoy writing many different projects, often in different genres, but I don’t always complete every project. At the time, Counting Thyme was my third completed manuscript. The first, I shelved due to the typical (embarrassing) issues: a protagonist who awakens on the first page, proceeds to develop magical powers, and is good at everything in her life. That one will never see the light of day (although my agent says: never say never!). My second manuscript was a magical adventure story that I wrote specifically for my sons–they even starred in it! At the urging of a few writing friends, I did query this manuscript, but despite several requests and one generous R&R offer, it wasn’t THE ONE. In the meantime, I also wrote portions of a historical YA, a space opera, and lots of flash fiction…because I like to keep busy, and also because I believe in the old tenet that practice makes perfect (or at least better!).



Amy: Do you use beta readers or critique partners? If so, how instrumental are they to your writing process?


Melanie: I have a wonderful beta reader group called MGbetareaders. We have a private forum and email loop which I have used extensively to get feedback on everything, from queries to outlines to complete drafts. I’m a firm believer in the value of critique partners who give you professional feedback in a timely fashion, and with NO holds barred. There is no better way to see your work in a new light than through another reader’s eyes. Our critique group has become such a well-oiled machine that we even run our own group blog now, called, where we talk about all things kidlit.




Amy: How many agents did you query for COUNTING THYME? Did you receive immediate responses or did you have to wait a while for replies?



Melanie: The querying process for Counting Thyme went pretty quickly, even though I wasn’t the one who started it! One of my CPs was so excited about the manuscript that she goaded me into participating in a twitter pitch party. I tweeted about the book once, and ended up with three requests (note: don’t do this unless your MS is READY!). Luckily, I only had a few line edits left from my beta readers, so I wrapped up my revisions and responded to the requests. Then I queried the agents at the top of my list, including Peter Knapp, whom I’d noticed at WriteOnCon the summer before. He wrote such insightful comments on the forums at WOC that I knew I would be interested in working with him. Luckily, Pete requested my manuscript right away, read at the speed of light, and emailed me during the Super Bowl to schedule “the call,” which I’ll never forget.



Amy: What can you tell me about “the call” with your agent, Peter Knapp? How did you know he was the right choice for you?



Melanie: My call with Pete was scheduled for nine in the morning, which was a little crazy because my kids are barely out the door at that time. Luckily, they kept me busy, so by the time the phone rang I was only 99% nervous. I think I was anxious that Pete and I wouldn’t see eye to eye, and that once I heard his input on the manuscript, all of the excitement would fizzle out of his offer. Luckily, Pete not only “got” my manuscript, he also had great ideas about how to make it even better. I come from a background in product design, and teamwork has always been essential for me, so Pete’s comments made me so eager to get to work. As the week wore on, I spoke with other agents, and often found myself hoping that they wouldn’t be a match. That’s how I knew that Pete was the one for me–I literally couldn’t stand the idea of working with anyone else!




Amy: As many writers know the publishing world is very hard to break into. What was the one thing you did to help garner agent attention?


Melanie: When it comes to garnering agent attention, my answer might not be the inside scoop you’re looking for, but I believe it’s the truth: write great books. Study the craft of writing. Beta read as much as possible for other writers. Go back to your favorite novels and study them with your writer brain. Break down how books work by learning about three act structure, and conflict, and stakes, and character arcs. Write short stories and flash fiction to learn how to keep your prose compact and efficient. Try screenwriting to hone your dialogue skills. Even twitter is an opportunity to learn how to be economical with words. Do all of these things, and keep writing. Study the market, read a lot, and keep writing. I believe that this work leads to improvement, and to great writing, and that is how you grab an agent’s attention. It also doesn’t hurt to target the right agents with your query (based on what they are seeking), and to sprinkle a little fairy dust over your laptop before you hit send.




Amy: Was there ever a time you thought about giving up on your writing dream? If so, what motivated you to keep writing?


Melanie: I love this question, because it hits on a secret of mine: I quit writing all the time. Meaning, when I hit a wall (whether it be on a new draft, a revision, or a rewrite), I give myself permission to WALK AWAY. I’ve even announced it out loud to my husband. “I’m quitting,” I say, and he nods, and three days later I’m writing again. That may seem a little nutso, but I need to give myself permission to let go of a problem in order to find the solution. I need to give up every once in a while, even if that’s only for 3 days (or 3 weeks), because my subconscious needs time to process. My linear, analytical side cannot always take the forefront. That’s why shows like The Vampire Diaries exist–to give us writers time off, to process our troubles in our subconscious mind while enjoying the scenery. My advice is to listen when your heart is asking for a break, and to let yourself have it. Each day is a new day.


melanieC2Melanie Conklin is a writer, reader, and all-around lover of words and those who create them. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, Counting Thyme, will be published by Putnam & Sons in 2016. She lives in South Orange, New Jersey with her husband and two small maniacs. For more on Melanie, check out her website or follow her on Twitter.




COVER REVEAL: HOW WE FALL By Kate Brauning May 12, 2014

Filed under: Blog,Inspiration,Publishing,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 6:00 am
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2014 is the year for amazing releases. One I’m particularly looking forward to is Kate Brauning’s HOW WE FALL. Mystery and intrigue all tied together with a forbidden romance, COUNT ME IN. In anticipation of this release, I’m thrilled to share the cover reveal for what looks like a stunning debut.


So without further ado, here is the cover of HOW WE FALL…








He kissed her on a dare. She told him to do it again.


Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle’s sleepy farming town, she’s been flirting—a bit too much—with her cousin, Marcus. She pushes away the inevitable consequences of their friendship until her best friend, Ellie, disappears, and the police suspect foul play. Just when she needs him most, Marcus falls for the new girl in town—forcing Jackie to give a name to the secret summer hours she’s spent with him. As she watches the mystery around Ellie’s disappearance start to break, Jackie has to face that she’s fallen in love at an impossible time with an impossible boy. And she can’t let Marcus, or Ellie, go.



A sneak peek at Chapter One:


Last year, Ellie used to hang out at the vegetable stand with Marcus and me on Saturdays. This year, her face fluttered on a piece of paper tacked to the park’s bulletin board. Most weeks, I tried to ignore her eyes looking back at me. But today, Marcus had set the table up at a different angle, and she watched me the entire morning.


The day that photo was taken, she’d worn her Beauty and the Beast earrings. The teapot and the teacup were too small to see well in the grainy, blown-up photo, but that’s what they were. She’d insisted sixteen wasn’t too old for Disney.


The crunch of tires on gravel sounded, and a Buick slowed to a stop in front of the stand. I rearranged the bags of green beans to have something to do. Talking to people I didn’t know, making pointless small talk, wasn’t my thing. My breathing always sped up and I never knew what to do with my hands. It had been okay before, but now—surely people could see it on me. One look, and they’d know. Chills prickled up my arms in spite of the warm sun.


Marcus lifted a new crate of cucumbers from the truck and set it down by the table, his biceps stretching the sleeves of his T-shirt. Barely paying attention to the girl who got out of the car, he watched me instead. And not the way most people watched someone; I had his full attention. All of him, tuned toward me. He winked, the tanned skin around his eyes crinkling when he smiled. I bit my cheek to keep from grinning.


The girl walked over to the stand and I quit smiling.


Marcus looked away from me, his gaze drifting toward the girl. Each step of her strappy heels made my stomach sink a little further. Marcus tilted his head.


He didn’t tilt it much, but I knew what it meant. He did that when he saw my tan line or I wore a short skirt. I narrowed my eyes.


 “Hi,” she said. “I’d like a zucchini and four tomatoes.” Just like that. A zucchini and four tomatoes.


Marcus placed the tomatoes into a brown paper bag. “Are you from around here?”


Of course she wasn’t from around here. We’d know her if she were.


“We just moved. I’m Sylvia Young.” The breeze toyed with her blonde hair, tossing short wisps around her high cheekbones. Her smile seemed genuine and friendly. Of course. Pretty, friendly, and new to town, because disasters come in threes.


“Going to Manson High?” Marcus handed her the bags.


She nodded. “My dad’s teaching science.”


Finally, I said something. “Three bucks.”


“Hmm?” Sylvia turned from Marcus. “Oh. Right.” She handed me the cash and looked over the radishes. “Are you here every day?” Her eyes strayed back to Marcus.


“Three times a week,” he said.


“I’ll see you in a day or two, then.” She waved.


I was pretty damn sure she wouldn’t be coming back for the radishes.



HOW WE FALL, which releases on November 3, is now available for presale:



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Kate spent her childhood in rural Missouri raising Siberian huskies, running on gravel roads, and navigating life in a big family. Now living in Iowa, she is married to a videographer from the Dominican Republic, and still owns a husky. She loves bright colors, fall leaves, unusual people, and all kinds of music. Kate has written novels since she was a teen, but it wasn’t until she studied literature in college that she fell in love with young adult books.  Kate now works in publishing and pursues her lifelong dream of telling stories she’d want to read. Visit her online, on Facebook, or on Twitter.








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