Parched Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

Do we have a treat for you! Today we have Melanie Crowder, author of Parched, visiting! And more than that, we ‘re beyond excited to be sharing the cover of Parched with you for the very first time!

Can we go even further than that? YES WE CAN! Today we’re also featuring the very first giveaway of a PARCHED ARC!

What’s that? Permission to run in circles and squeal?

Permission granted, people. Permission granted.

Here we go!

Isn’t it outrageously beautiful? I mean, where do you start? The cover artist is the amazing Stephanie Dalton Cowan—just click her name to see more of her work. Don’t you want to frame her stuff and put it up on your walls? We do!

Here’s a little about Parched:

A mesmerizing debut about a girl, a boy, and a dog struggling to survive in a parched and barren land.

Sarel is a girl with secrets. She knows which tree roots reach down deep to pools of precious water. But now she must learn how to keep herself and her dogs alive. Nandi is the leader of those dogs. She knows they can’t last long without water—and she knows, too, that a boy is coming; a boy with the water song inside him.

Musa is that boy. His talent for finding water got him kidnapped by brutal men, yet he’s escaped, running away across the thirsty land that nearly claims his life. And so Sarel, Musa, and the dogs come together in what might be their last hope of survival.

And here’s what people are saying about it!

A thrilling, imaginative soul quencher. Crowder’s stunning debut is sure to become a modern classic.

—Rita Williams-Garcia, Newbery Honor winner

Spare, unflinching, and beautifully written, this novel walks the line between magic and reality.

—Franny Billingsley, National Book Award finalist

Brutally beautiful, this is a story of courage and heart.

—Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor winner

The story behind Parched is a fascinating one—the book was originally a part of Melanie’s MFA, and today she’s going to tell us about how it made the hop from college to published novel! At the bottom of this post, we’re giving away an ARC of Parched to one lucky reader! Here’s Melanie!

A few years ago, I made the decision to take my writing seriously. So I applied to the best MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and got to work. The experience was humbling and TOUGH and incredibly rewarding.

I emerged two years later with a degree, a draft of a middle grade novel and an award that put the first few chapters of Parched into the hands of the editorial department at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I received a request for the full manuscript and gleefully sent it in.

Please don’t laugh. It was 92 pages long (in Courier). In Times, the full novel was only 76 pages.

We all have our stylistic differences, but 76 pages? Really?

Fortunately for me, within that HMH team was an editor who believed in this story and wanted to see it grow.

You see, there was an excellent reason for Parched to be so short. The story is set in the near future, during a time of severe drought. It’s told by characters who are absolutely devastated by the brutality that surrounds them. The prose mirrors the setting: sparse, uncomplicated, raw. The cadence and tone of each sentence says more about the characters’ emotions than any amount of description could.

It made for a wonderful creative thesis—it worked in all I had learned about restraint and rhythm, symbolism, metaphor and story arcs. But it wasn’t incredibly…accessible. I had a choice to make. I could keep it the way it was—an artistic novel that few child readers would ever see. Or, I could allow the story to breathe, and trust that it could become even better.

I consider myself incredibly fortunate that I found an editor with the vision and experience to embrace the sparse quality of Parched, while at the same time patiently working with me to draw out the emotional depth and expository breadth that readers would need. She helped me find the middle ground where sparse could also be rich, where raw could also resonate. She helped this story become whole.

Like so many things in life, turning this academic project into the beautiful novel it is today was all about balance, and trusting that if you assemble the right players, a team can produce so much more than any individual. The result, happily, is a novel ready to be drawn into readers’ hearts.

A novel that I could not be more proud of.

Want to win your very own ARC of Parched? We know, we know! We do too! The ARC will be available in September, and this giveaway is US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

MELANIE CROWDER graduated in 2011 with an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. A West Coast girl at heart, Melanie now lives and writes in the beautiful (if dry) state of Colorado. She can be found on facebook, twitter, Goodreads and at


74 Responses to Parched Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

  1. Irene Latham Aug 15 2012 at 8:41 am #

    VERY excited to read this one! Congrats on a great premise and a great cover.

  2. Claire M. Caterer Aug 15 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Melanie, what a BEAUTIFUL cover, and what glorious blurbs! You must be so proud! I can’t wait to read PARCHED. A

    • Melanie Crowder Aug 15 2012 at 9:52 am #

      Thanks, Claire! Seriously, I still pinch myself when I read those blurbs. I’m a lucky girl!

  3. Erin Bowman Aug 15 2012 at 8:43 am #

    LOVE the cover! It has a watercolor-esque vibe to it that is stunning. And thanks for sharing how the story went from thesis to novel, Mel. So interesting! Can’t wait to read the final version 🙂

    • Melanie Crowder Aug 15 2012 at 9:54 am #

      Isn’t the artist fantastic? She also did the cover for JEFFERSON’S SONS. Really stunning work!

  4. Amie Aug 15 2012 at 8:48 am #

    It’s just so, so beautiful. It reminds me of the Australian Outback! I can’t wait to read Parched — and I’m only giggling a little bit at your 76 page novel. I just wish mine could be that short sometimes!

    • Melanie Crowder Aug 15 2012 at 10:08 am #

      Amie, I just may have to come visit this outback of yours…

  5. Peggy Eddleman Aug 15 2012 at 9:04 am #

    This book sounds SO INCREDIBLE! I can’t wait for it!

  6. Marilyn Aug 15 2012 at 9:14 am #

    This book sounds really interested. And I’m fascinated by the story of its origins. I think its wildly creative to have crafted the story in that way to reflect the setting. I look forward to seeing how it developed into the story it is now.

  7. Erin Hagar Aug 15 2012 at 9:51 am #

    What a breathtaking cover! Was it done in watercolor, I wonder? So excited for you, Melanie, and for everyone who will get to read this book.

    • Melanie Crowder Aug 15 2012 at 10:46 am #

      I agree Erin! It’s a digital collage–I love the layering effect!

  8. Rachel Aug 15 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Wow! Parched looks absolutely stunning – both from the cover & the content. Would absolutely love to read & share with students!

    • Melanie Crowder Aug 15 2012 at 10:49 am #

      That makes me so happy to hear, Rachel! I hope you and your students love it!

  9. Karen Harrington Aug 15 2012 at 9:54 am #

    What a gorgeous cover, Melanie. I’m so looking forward to reading this. I also liked reading about your writing journey and choices. Kudos to you!

  10. Ellen Reagan Aug 15 2012 at 10:09 am #

    What an evocative cover. My mouth goes dry just looking at it. And Rita’s “soul quenching” promise is a perfect complement to it. I’ve been waiting to read this book since I heard you read from it a year ago! Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Melanie Crowder Aug 15 2012 at 10:52 am #

      Thanks, Ellen! That Rita has a way with words, doesn’t she! I am so incredibly honored by those blurbs!

  11. Gina Rinelli Aug 15 2012 at 10:20 am #

    What a beautiful cover! I was really dreading a close-up photo of a girl with severely chapped lips. I’m so glad it wasn’t that! And PARCHED sounds great, I love stories that play with the language as much as they tell the story.

    • Melanie Crowder Aug 15 2012 at 10:56 am #

      So true, Gina! The HMH team did a fabulous job–somehow they got the cover to look foreboding AND appealing!

  12. Tara Sullivan Aug 15 2012 at 10:20 am #

    The cover is gorgeous and the theme is so timely! Congratulations, can’t wait to read it!

  13. Jen Bailey Aug 15 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Hey Melanie, can’t wait to read your book! Congratulations, it sounds fantastic!

  14. Ellie Moreton Aug 15 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Oh wow. This seems like a really deep book! And the cover is so beautiful!

  15. Wendy Aug 15 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Despite the old adage, I would have bought your book based on the cover (I always loved stories with dogs as a kid). I am so impressed by the literary approach you have taken, and cannot wait to read it!

    • Melanie Crowder Aug 15 2012 at 11:34 am #

      Wendy, I am totally a cover person, too! So glad you like it!

  16. Tara Dairman Aug 15 2012 at 10:40 am #

    Hooray for this gorgeous, gorgeous cover being out in the world! And what an incredible collection of blurbs. Even if it was still only 76 pages long, it sounds like this novel would be required reading. =)

    And it’s always great to get a glimpse behind the curtain at an author’s process. Congratulations on finding the perfect partners at HMH to turn your story into a beautiful book. I can’t wait to read it.

  17. Natalie Dias Lorenzi Aug 15 2012 at 10:52 am #

    This cover is GORgeous, Melanie! And the blurbs are equally enticing. Can’t wait to read this!

  18. Tamie Harkins Aug 15 2012 at 11:18 am #

    Melanie…I’m so proud of you! And I really want to read your book. Not to mention visit you one of these days. Way to go, friend!

    • Melanie Crowder Aug 15 2012 at 11:49 am #

      Thanks, Tamie! I have a feeling we’ll be signing each other’s books soon!

  19. Amanda Spaulding Aug 15 2012 at 11:32 am #

    I am so thrilled for you, Mel! How incredibly exciting! I can’t wait to read it.

  20. Jenna Aug 15 2012 at 11:38 am #

    This book sounds so interesting. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.


  21. Emma Pass Aug 15 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    Wow, what a gorgeous cover!! PARCHED sounds so good, I can’t wait to read it. Congrats, Melanie, and thanks for sharing it with us!

  22. Megan Benedict Aug 15 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    So excited for you, Melanie! I remember thinking it was amazing when I heard your reading at VCFA my first semester, and I can’t wait to read the whole thing. Great job!

  23. Maryanne Fantalis Aug 15 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Wow! This sounds like an instant classic – can’t wait to read it! Good luck with your book, Melanie, and thanks for sharing an ARC with us!

  24. stephanie dalton Aug 15 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    I love this story, and for those of you wondering, the cover is mixed media, some hand drawn pieces, some watercolor washes and painted backgrounds all scanned into the computer. Then with the help of Photoshop, compiled into an multi layered image that embraces a wonderful first YA Novel by Melanie ~ I must get a few signed copies from the author for my nieces and nephews! Warm Congratulation Melanie, ( the typo on your name at the rapp blog is being fixed as we speak!)

    Warmly, Stephanie

    PS. Thanks to all who complimented the book jacket cover, to see the full spread of Melanie’s cover, link here:

  25. Jeanne Ryan Aug 15 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    Gorgeous and evocative! I’m so looking forward to reading this–as will many others, undoubtedly! Congrats, Melanie!

  26. Lyn Miller-Lachmann Aug 15 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    I love the cover, and I can’t wait for the book to come out! I heard you read from it at your VCFA graduate reading, and I’m interested in what you said about how the book changed from your creative thesis to the published version.

    • Melanie Crowder Aug 15 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      Thanks, Lyn! I definitely felt the VCFA love that night–so proud of all of us!

  27. Lexie B. Aug 15 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    That is RIDICULOUSLY gorgeous. So haunting and lovely; it seems to capture the feeling of the book perfectly.

  28. Sarah Marie Aug 15 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    The cover is gorgeous! I love, love, love the colors and the imagery, the big, bright sun behind them and the way the dog’s tongue sticks out like it’s thirsting for a drink. They even have shadows!
    The description sounds wonderful, and I am so, so excited to read Parched in the future!

  29. Vivien Aug 15 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    I really do love the cover. It’s so unique and has such an artsy flair to it. Looking forward to reading this one.

  30. Laurie Aug 15 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    Oh my God, Melanie!!! I love the cover and I can’t wait to get my signed copy. I am so happy for you. I’m sure it’s just the first of many. Congratulations!!!

  31. Linda C. Aug 15 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    First semester VCFA’er here–Can’t wait for this!

    • Melanie Crowder Aug 15 2012 at 10:52 pm #

      Hi Linda! Enjoy every minute–you are going to learn so much!

  32. Laurisa White Reyes Aug 16 2012 at 2:25 am #

    I agree the cover is beautiful.

  33. Alyssa Aug 16 2012 at 11:23 am #

    A gorgeous cover for what sounds like a gorgeous book! I love the unique premise behind it. This is definitely going on my TBR list!

  34. Andrea Aug 16 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    What a brilliant story line!! The summary already had me hooked, but the process and artistic nature of the writing has made this into a gotta-have-it category book 😀 It helps that the author lives in the very same place I’m moving to in two weeks!
    I’m so glad you found the perfect editor! Long live agent/editor/publisher soul-book mates! 😀

  35. Anna J. Boll Aug 20 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Even your explanation of the book and your work is eloquent and uplifting. Many congratulations and joy to you, Dear Friend.

    • Melanie Crowder Aug 20 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      Thanks, Anna! What a fabulous friend (and beta reader) you are!

  36. Yahong Aug 20 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    Oh my God, this book sounds SO UP MY ALLEY. (Sorry for the over-the-top effusions to come!) A pack of dogs? A girl-meets-boy in a middle-grade story, not a YA? And a desert setting on top of that. Oh my good gracious, why is this being released almost a year away? *cry*

    Anyway. *ahem* Many congrats on the beautiful cover, Ms. Crowder! 🙂

  37. Judit_K Aug 21 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    Let’s see whether this “brutally beautiful story” can travel to Hungary 😉

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