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Nine Halloween Reading Recommendations!

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by Team PubCrawl

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, READERS! Some of the members of Team PubCrawl wanted to share our recent Halloween-esque favorites! I hope you’ll let us know what spooky reads you’ve discovered recently in the comments section.

ADAM SILVERA: Rooms by Lauren Oliver breathes new life into ghost stories. There’s an ensemble cast, and my favorite narrators were Alice and Sandra, two ghosts inhabiting the walls of this old house. There are family secrets, the sudden appearance of a new ghost, stunning prose, surprising humanity from the ghosts, and a glowing ending. It’s not a tale of vengeance or a typical journey toward redemption, but it’s definitely a unique kind of ghost story you should check out.

ERIN BOWMAN: Between the Spark and the Burn by April Tucholke, which just came out in August! It’s the sequel to Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and both are incredibly creepy, haunting and atmospheric. Perfect Halloween reads for anyone craving a little gothic horror.

SUSAN DENNARD: So…I might have devoured the entire Fever series by Karen Marie Moning recently. What with the brooding dudes, terrifying monsters like you can’t (and don’t want to) imagine, and the whole plot revolving around Samhain (a.k.a. Halloween), I cannot imagine a more atmospheric (and smexy!) read for Halloween.

JULIE ESHBAUGH: I recommend Susan Dennard’s Something Strange and Deadly trilogy for Halloween season! The series is set in a fantastic, alternate-history world with a thrilling gothic feel. I loved traveling from nineteenth-century Philadelphia to Paris to Egypt with the amazing Eleanor as she battled an evil necromancer (all with romance thrown in, of course!).

JORDAN HAMESSLEY: I recommend the Women Destroy Horror issue of Nightmare Magazine edited by Ellen Datlow featuring great horror short fiction and non-fiction discussing women in the genre. It’s totally badass.

S. JAE-JONES: I recommend Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan, the final book in the Lynburn Legacy trilogy. A spin on gothic tropes, it has a mixed-race Japanese heroine in a picturesque English town. The town, of course, has dark, dark secrets. Oh, and invest in some Kleenex stock because SARAH REES BRENNAN WILL WILL OUT YOUR HEART AND EAT IT. She thrives on the tears of her readers, like a YA Erzebet Bathory.
KAT ZHANG: I just finished The Madman’s Daughter, and it’s definitely Halloween creepy!
JANICE HARDY: Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson! Very creepy, wonderful demon-gothic setting in a post-Katrina-esque hurricane devastated Savannah. Demons cause natural disasters and steal people’s souls :) Fun! Good scary book for Halloween.
JOANNA VOLPE: The Dead Boys by Royce Buckingham. This middle grade book was a little slow to start, but it definitely got super creepy and it’s stuck with me. It’s about a giant sycamore tree that is sapping the life of boys it’s lured into its roots over the past 80 years. It keeps them just alive enough to continue feeding on them. TOTALLY CREEPY.
Hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween! Let us know what spooky books you’re reading!
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The Between Book

by Adam Silvera

I recently turned in two YA novels–one to my publisher, the other to my agent–and then I didn’t know what to do. It was the first time in all of 2014 I wasn’t on a deadline. I have plenty ideas for what I want to do next, which is great but also problematic. Do I try out one of these ideas with the November beast that is National Novel Writing Month? Do I take a couple weeks to reenergize? I can’t not write, but I also don’t feel 100% ready to throw myself into a new book just yet. I opened a new file and saved it as The Between Book.

The Between Book is my playground to keep my creative muscles flexed while I’m in-between books. The premise is whatever I want it to be. It can be a about a a boy with so many misfortunes that he thinks the gods of all religions must be in some sort of celestial court betting against him. Or it can be about a girl who is creating a coloring book for her one year anniversary with her girlfriend. ANYTHING! The only rule I have is that I must narrator-hop when one character touches another. This way, when it’s time for me to return to a contracted book it’ll also be easy for me to jump back into The Between Book in a way I wouldn’t be able to with a project I’m considering for publication. All I have to do is have the most recent character shake someone’s hand, kiss them, or punch them in the face. And boom, next character, next story.

There’s zero pressure to get the wording right. It allows me to experiment with style, different tenses, different POVs, whatever. And because I often feel like I have a waiting room of characters who want me to call on their names already and tell their stories, the other benefit of narrator-hopping is how it allows me to sort of “audition” their voices on this book’s stage.

I don’t know where The Between Book will take me, but I’m expecting many surprising and unconventional turns knowing it’s for my eyes only. Maybe something cool will come from it that I can share with readers. Maybe not. No pressure.

Is The Between Book something you can see yourself doing? Do you always throw yourself into a new book, even when on submission with agents and publishers? Or do you have your own method? 

adamfaceauthorAdam was born and raised in New York and is tall for no reason. In the past he worked as a marketing assistant for a literary development company. He’s currently a children’s bookseller and reviews children’s and young adult novels for Shelf Awareness. His debut novel, More Happy Than Notabout a boy who wants to undergo a memory-alteration procedure to forget he’s gay, will be coming out on June 16th, 2015 from Soho Teen. Go say stuff to him on Twitter.

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In the Afterlight releases today!

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Alexandra Bracken

in the afterlightI am so incredibly excited that the final installment in Alex Bracken’s Darkest Mind series releases today. These books are special and dark and moving in a way I (Sooz) can’t even begin to describe.

Commence the gushing.

And the freaking out because I’ve been waiting a YEAR for this last book! And finally–finally–it’s here!

That’s right: In the Afterlight hits stores TODAY. And oh my gosh, if you haven’t seen the trailer for it, then prepare for CHILLS.

Wow, right? If you haven’t read the series yet (and you SHOULD), then you can learn a bit more about it below.

The Darkest Minds

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader.

But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

Never FadeRuby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children”s League call Ruby ‘Leader’, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children”s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America”s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn”t recognize her. As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves.

But what if winning the war means losing herself?

in the afterlightRuby can’t look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America’s children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the “rehabilitation camps” housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

To celebrate the release of In the Afterlight (and the completion of a whole series! GO ALEX!), we’re giving away a copy of the book. You can choose from any book in the series, actually, and we’ll pick a winner in a week! (This giveaway is open internationally!)

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Alex lives in New York City where she writes like a fiend and lives in a charming apartment overflowing with books. She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Darkest Minds and Never Fade. You can visit her online at her website, Tumblr, or Twitter.

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Writing Out of Order

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Kat Zhang

Kat ZhangA lot of my writer friends look at me sideways when I say I write my books out of order. The horror on their faces only grows when I admit I even write scenes out of order, jumping around from time-point to time-point until it’s all filled in.

I never realized how odd this seemed to other people–I guess because I’ve always written this way. Way back when I first started writing stories as a pre-teen, a lot of it was fanfiction, and fanfiction is a marvelous medium for just writing the “juicy” parts of a story. In a lot of fanfiction, you don’t need to spend nearly as many words on things like setting up the characters, or the plot, because your readers already know the basics.

Want to write a one-shot about Katniss reminiscing about her and Prim growing up? No need to explain what the Hunger Games are, or why Katniss is worried about Prim’s safety, or what their world is like. You just dive right in to the “meat” of the story. The parts you really want to write.

Want to write about a romantic date Hermione and Ron sneak off to have in the middle of the search for the Horcruxes? No need to build up their relationship, or explain why they’re in danger, or any of that.

I haven’t written fanfic in ages, but I guess the same urge to “jump to the good bits” is still there. So I do. Those bits are often the easiest to write, anyway. And I often find that they’re the most fun for the reader to read, as well. After all, they tend to be the parts with the highest drama, or romance, or action and adventure. (Although, I also love writing quiet moments between characters, so there’s that!)

A number of my friends say they couldn’t write all these “fun” bits first, because the joy of writing them is what pulls them through the “not-so-fun” bits. It’s the carrot driving them forward, and the reward for getting through everything else. This makes total sense, but I’ve discovered that I personally tend to ramble in my writing when I don’t have a “goal” scene already written.

When I write out of order, I know “Okay, so I have Fun Scene A here and Fun Scene B here…now I just need to get my characters from Scene A to Scene B as quickly and efficiently as possible.” If the middle parts aren’t “Fun Scenes,” I should probably be either trying to get my readers through them as quickly as possible, or finding out some way to spice them up.

Of course, this method doesn’t always work. I write out of order much more commonly during early drafts, and stick to chronological writing during later drafts to make sure everything lines up correctly and makes sense. And there are shortfalls to my jumping around like this–a Fun Scene I wrote three weeks before I actually connect it to the rest of the story might end up needing to be heavily editing because Oops, Character B actually died three scenes back…

As with all writing techniques, there are pros and cons, and it certainly doesn’t work for everyone :)

Anyone else on the write-out-of-order bandwagon? Or are you strictly a chronological writer?

Kat Zhang loves traveling to places both real and fictional–the former allows for better souvenirs, but the latter allows for dragons, so it’s a tough pick. Her novel WHAT’S LEFT OF ME is about a girl struggling to survive in an alternate universe where people are born with two souls, and one is doomed to disappear. It is the first book in a trilogy and was published by HarperCollins in September of 2012.  Book 2, ONCE WE WERE, released September 2013, and Book 3, ECHOES OF US, released September 16, 2014. You can learn all about Kat at her site, or listen to her ramblings on twitter.


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Letters from your Characters

by Julie Eshbaugh


Julie(This post originally appeared in a slightly different form on my personal blog in October, 2010. I revisited it recently and decided to share it here.)

Wouldn’t it be great if, when you went to your mailbox today, you found a letter inside from the main character of your work-in-progress, telling you just how she feels about the central conflict of your story? Or maybe she wrote a love letter to another one of your characters, and somehow it was misdirected to you? Imagine what a resource a letter like that would be…

When I do my outlining for a new WIP, I write up a lot of backstory. I also do character sketches, to help me form a clear idea of each of my characters – not just hair color, eye color, and favorite movie, but what they would do on a perfect spring day, where they would go on vacation if money were no object, even how they feel about money, in general. I try to think of the most revealing questions possible. These sketches help me with the essentials of my characters, but they only get me so far.

That’s why I’ve taken to writing first-person narratives – letters to me, if you will – in the voice of each character. These narratives generally address the main conflict faced by that character in the story, and how she or he feels about it. Does she believe that the problem is insurmountable? Does she still have hope? Who is she counting on most to help her? Who does she expect to cause her the most trouble?

I also write first-person narratives by all the individuals involved in romantic relationships in my story. For each one, I ask the character to tell me:

What do you love most about this other person?

What would you miss the most if he or she were taken away?

When did you first feel an attraction and what triggered it?

And, well, I’m sure you can come up with a lot more questions along this line.

These letters are great tools to return to while drafting. They help me to maintain consistency within a character, but they also helped me see that, despite consistency, all well-rounded characters have internal conflicts they are dealing with. People are filled with contradictions. Your characters need to be, too, if they’re going to leap off the page as real people with real complexity.

When you ask your character to tell you how he feels about the central conflict, chances are his answer will be complicated. It won’t just be as simple as, “I hate my father and wish he were dead,” because where’s the true conflict in that? Nothing is ever that straightforward. If it were, in chapter one your character could pull out a shotgun and shoot his father and the story would be done. Instead, your character’s answer to how he feels about the central conflict will be layered, complex, and in some ways, contradictory.

For you, as the writer, the secret to your character’s arc lies hidden in these contradictions. Early in the story your character may respond most to the tug of one attitude toward the central conflict. But as the story moves along, he may feel the influence of another attitude toward that conflict, and he will begin to change. By the time he’s completed his character arc, he may find himself in a place of compromise between these two contradictory attitudes.

Do you think this method might work for you? Do you have any of your own unique methods of learning about your characters? Please share your thoughts in the comments!


Julie Eshbaugh writes fiction for young adults. She is the author of the upcoming Ivory & Bone (HarperCollins, 2016.) You can add Julie on Goodreads and follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

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