Friday, November 30, 2012

Brandy Colbert Takes the Truth

Digging through our options for Truth, I came across this question:

How did you reveal to your friends/family that you were an aspiring author?

I like this question because it’s strange to think how much has changed and how much has stayed exactly the same since I started writing for publication six (!) years ago.

I’ve always been a writer, but for most of my adulthood (I use this term very loosely) I’ve only been comfortable talking about the writing I did at a desk, Monday through Friday. I’ve worked as an editor at a few magazines and I never hesitated to tell people what I was editing or ideas of my own that I’d pitched at editorial meetings. It didn’t seem like a big deal; I was putting my writing out there, but it was journalism. I’d gone to school for it and I was getting paid for it.

Creative writing is different. Everyone knew I’d always written for fun, on the side, but to me, telling people I was pursuing publication was a Big Deal. I was very hesitant to show anyone my writing—even the people I’d asked to critique my work!—because I kept worrying someone would call me out. Tell me to give up because I wasn’t talented or because it’s incredibly difficult to get published or that agents don’t actually obtain clients from slush pile submissions, etc., etc., etc.

When I started querying my first novel, I told my family and a few friends who I knew would wonder why I was obsessively checking my email and receiving mysterious SASEs in the mail. But I never talked about it much because what if it never happened? I didn’t want to explain to everyone how I’d failed. It was easier to keep the disappointment to myself.

The more I improved as a writer, the more personal the rejections became and I could tell I was getting close. I still wasn’t quite there, but the more positive notes I received from agents, the more comfortable I was talking to my close, non-writer friends about the process and you know what? They were really supportive. Most of them had lots of questions, but it was generally about the inner workings of the publishing industry and they were amazed that I’d figured out everything from agent and author blogs and writer-centric message boards.

Several years later, it’s still not easy for me to talk about my writing. Even now, with an agent and a book under contract, I feel like a hack when people ask what I do and I say I write books. I’m so awkwardly bad at describing my book that I had to look up the (very succinct) blurb on Goodreads to describe it to someone the other day. The novel I wrote. True story. Maybe it’s because I know how incredibly lucky I am to do this or maybe it’s because it still doesn’t feel real. I don’t embarrass easily but a good way to get me stumbling over my words and answering questions with vague, stilted responses is to ask me about my book in a crowd of people.

Despite my utter lack of poise when it comes to discussing my writing with others, there were a few people I was especially ecstatic to tell that my book was going to be published—my childhood friends. They’d read some of my earliest writing (we’re talking elementary school here, guys), when I wasn’t so private about my unpublished work, when I was just writing for fun and wanted to share those stories with the people close to me. Their [happy] responses varied, but for the most part, the sentiment was, “Dude! Your dream totally came true.”

Dude. It totally did.


-->Brandy Colbert lives in Los Angeles. Her debut novel, A Point So Delicate, is forthcoming from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers/Penguin. She’d love to connect with you on Twitter, her blog, or Goodreads.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ryan Graudin Takes the Truth

We'd like to welcome guest Ryan Graudin to the blog today! Her book, ALL THAT GLOWS, comes out with HarperTeen in 2013. Check out the summary:

 Faery Emrys Leoflic has been guarding the British Royal Family for hundreds of years, protecting them from Green Women, Banshees and any other creatures that might want to prey on them for the special blood magic they carry in their veins. But something about Prince Richard is different from all of the others she’s protected, which forces her to make an impossible choice amidst a backdrop of a mysterious palace murder and paparazzi mayhem. 

Doesn't that sound great? And Ryan is pretty great herself (and adorable, I might add). She was brave enough to take on a truth. The truth was sent in by Kathryn (thanks, Kathryn).

See what I meant about adorable? I want her hair! :)

Thanks for playing, Ryan! Next up on the blog, our own, Brandy. So send her some truth or dares to choose from here.

When she’s not writing and drifting around the globe, Ryan Graudin enjoys hunting through thrift stores and taking pictures of her native Charleston, SC. Her novel ALL THAT GLOWS, the story of a Faery who falls in love with the prince she’s forced to guard, is due out with HarperTeen in Winter 2014. You can learn about all of these things and more at You can also follow her on Twitter at @ryangraudin 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

MADMAN'S DAUGHTER book trailer reveal on

Today, Entertainment Weekly's Shelf Life blog is hosting the exclusive reveal of our own Megan Shepherd's THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER. Here's what Entertainment Weekly has to say about it:

At EW, we’re always on the lookout for the next hot YA title and I can say without a doubt that Megan Shepherd’s gothic horror The Madman’s Daughter is one of the most promising offerings for 2013. That’s why we’re offering up an exclusive trailer to whet your appetite!

Are you dying to watch it, like we Thirteeners are? Click here to go to the article and watch the trailer!


To celebrate the trailer release, Megan is giving away a prize pack including an ARC of THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER, bookmarks, postcards, and a tin of "sweet madness" tea designed specifically for the book. To enter, all  you have to do is comment on the trailer release. Visit Megan's blog for details.

Friday, November 16, 2012

INSOMNIA cover reveal

We are thrilled to share our latest Thirteener cover, INSOMNIA by J. R. Johansson!

Is that cover just killer? It gives us goosebumps just looking at it. We Thirteeners love the shattered eye and the blood-red lettering. It captures the exact way we feel when we've been up three nights straight revising and haven't had coffee yet...okay, maybe not quite the same :)

Here's the book description:

It’s been four years since I slept, and I suspect it is killing me.

Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?

J.R. is doing a giveaway of an ARC & Prize Pack over on YA Books Central. Click here to go enter!

And a little more about J.R.:

J.R. JOHANSSON has a B.S. degree in public relations and a background in marketing. She credits her abnormal psychology minor with inspiring many of her characters. When she's not writing, she loves reading, playing board games, and sitting in her hot tub. Her dream is that someday she can do all three at the same time. She has two young sons and a wonderful husband. In fact, other than her cat, Cleo, she's nearly drowning in testosterone. J.R. lives in a valley between majestic mountains and a beautiful lake where the sun shines over 300 days per year. If you want to know more about J.R., you can follow her on TwitterGoodreadsFacebook, or check out her website.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

April Tucholke Takes the Dare

Okay, so Robin Weeks dared me to: Compose an open letter to the author(s) who wrote the books you are comparing or have compared your own book to. Talk about what you loved about his/her/their book(s) that inspired you to such blatant *ahem* emulation.

I'm going to take a twist on this dare. When I lived in Scotland, I wrote a series of letters to certain tourism offices in Britain, concerning authors/books/film adaptations that I love and that have inspired my writing. Below I've posted two. This is a longer post. Stick with it.

Letter 1:

November 24, 2009
Welcome to Yorkshire
Dry Sand Foundry Foundry Square Holbeck

Leeds, LS11 5WH 

Dear Office,

When I was offered the post of governess at an estate located in West Yorkshire, I was overjoyed. Having read certain works of classic literature set in your lovely moors, I had reasonably high expectations of what my new life would be like. Alas, nothing has fallen into place. My charge, rather than a misbegotten daughter of a French opera singer, was instead a very legitimate British girl of four whose favorite occupation was not dressing in fine clothes and singing lewd songs but playing boyishly out of doors (!) in pragmatic, waterproof attire. 

Then there is the matter of my employer. His name was Edward, but I always referred to him as Sir -- something I knew I would cease to do as soon as, after much Gothic confusion and struggle, we became engaged. But that's just it! I was prepared for him to already be married, of course, a predicament which would surface on the day of own wedding -- the rascal! But his wife was supposed to be mad, and locked away, not traipsing about with perfect sanity, planning vacations with Edward to the south of France, and scolding me for looking dreamy and not being about my work! 

Last, but not least, was the lack, the utter lack, of mystery about the manor 
where I worked. Were there labyrinth hallways? Yes. Were there dark chambers and ill-lit stairways? Yes. But there was no lunatic laughing in the middle of the night, no unexplainable fires, no bitten strangers, and not ONE mad woman locked in an attic. 

Not one. 

Please address my concerns.

Ms. A. Genevieve Tucholke
Spinster of St. Stephen’s Parish

Response: None, the humorless bastards.

Letter 2:

August 21, 2009 
Hampshire Office of Tourism 
Mottisfont Court High Street Wincester, Hampshire

Dear Office,

I have enjoyed your travel video series on BBC hosted by one Miss Marple. She aptly demonstrates both her sleuthing and traveling abilities as she solves murder cases throughout rural England, primarily, I am led to believe, in Hampshire. She serves as something of an inspiration to the rest of us spinsters. Her tip on catching the 4:50 from Paddington has been nothing short of life-altering.

On a recent motoring trip through England, however, I must admit to a great disappointment. While the villages of Hampshire were just as quaint and lovely as depicted in the travel video series, not a single murder occurred during my travels. For several weeks I motored through rural England, spending nights at village inns and listening closely to local gossip...but not once did I encounter dark family secrets or criminal plotting. And the greatest disappointment of all: I never encountered a single murder. Not one.

Now, much as I enjoyed your travel video series, I must inform you that it was misleading. (Please refer to the episodes “Murder at the Vicarage” or “The Moving Finger” for examples of what was reasonably expected). I shall not visit England again for several years. In the meantime, however, please consider expanding such attractions as poisoning, mistaken shotgun blasts, and vengeful stabbings to various villages as depicted in the non-fiction travel video series.

Ms. A. Genevieve Tucholke 
Spinster of St. Stephen’s Parish

Response: They totally sent me a letter. It was witty and dry and British and awesome, detailing their distress at the lack of murders and crime and corpses during my travels. They "completely sympathised with my disappointment about the lack of murders" but they wanted to focus their attention on "promoting Hampshire as a safe destination where visitors can relax...without fear of loss of life." 

I kept it on the fridge for months.


1. Any wild guesses as to the fictional inspirations for either letter?

2. What tourist office would you choose to annoy with your letters?


April Genevieve Tucholke is a full-time writer who digs classic movies, red-headed villains, big kitchens, and discussing murder at the dinner table.  
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea will be published August 15, 2013 by Penguin/Dial

Liz Fichera Takes the Dare!

We are very excited to have author Liz Fichera as our guest blogger today! Liz's debut novel HOOKED will be be published by Harlequin Teen on January 31st, 2013.

Here's a teaser blurb!

Sparks fly when a Native American girl with a killer golf swing joins the all boys’ golf team at her high school and takes on the boy with the killer smile.  It’s Perfect Chemistry meets Catching Jordan with a dash of West Side Story.

HOOKED sounds fantastic, and we're looking forward to seeing it hit the shelves. Today, Liz is tackling a dare via vlog--she's going to read out loud some prose she'd written as a kid. Thanks for signing up to play truth or dare, Liz!

HOOKED is currently available for pre-order at any bookstore.  However, anyone who purchases through her hometown bookstore, The Poisoned Pen, will receive an autographed copy.  The Poisoned Pen ships worldwide.  Additionally, there is a huge pre-order promotional contest beginning on November 1 that includes giveaways and prizes.  Check Liz’s web site for the details.

Come back to visit us on Friday because Alexa's up! Send her a Truth or Dare here

Liz Fichera is an American author who writes stories about ordinary teens who do extraordinary things.  Originally from Park Ridge, Illinois, she moved to the American Southwest after college never expecting to live more than one year among cactus and people who’d never seen snow. She was wrong.  To learn more, visit 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kristin Bailey Takes the Truth

Today we have a great guest truth from author Kristin Bailey, whose book Legacy of the Clockwork Key releases in March from Simon Pulse as the first in a steampunk-inspired trilogy. Our clockwork hearts are beating harder already!

Here's more about Legacy of the Clockwork Key:

When a fire consumes Meg's home, killing her parents and destroying both her fortune and her future, all she has left is the tarnished pocket watch she rescued from the ashes. But this is no ordinary timepiece. The clock turns out to be a mechanical key—a key only Meg can use— that unlocks a series of deadly secrets and intricate clues that Meg has no choice but to follow. She has uncovered evidence of an elite secret society and a dangerous invention that some will stop at nothing to protect, and that Meg alone can destroy. Together with the handsome stable hand she barely knows but hopes she can trust, Meg will be swept into a hidden world of deception, betrayal, and revenge. The clockwork key has unlocked her destiny.

Kristin took this question, submitted by Elodie: How did you reveal to your friends/family that you were an aspiring author?

I always loved the game Truth or Dare, but I will confess to being a bit of a chicken while playing, so I was usually a “Truth” girl.  In all fairness, this had a direct correlation to the nasty imaginations of some of my friends and their talent for thinking up truly humiliating dares.

So, how did I confess to my family that I was an aspiring writer?

The truth is, I didn’t.

I was outed.

To fully appreciate the delicacy of my dirty little writing secret and the furor that ensued, we need to travel back in time, oh, I won’t confess how many years exactly, but it was that weird and terrifying time in my life known as the day I graduated from college.

Suddenly, the pressure was on. I figured I’d get my teaching credential, settle down as a middle school Language Arts teacher and call it a life. But the further I went along that path, the more dangerously depressed I became. Eventually my roommate at the time, who happened to be writing a book, blithely suggested I should write a book, too.

I will never forget it, because in that moment I remember feeling this pull deep in my chest, like some cosmic strand of the universe had just threaded itself through my soul. That may be a little over the top, but sometimes it pays to listen to these sorts of things. So I followed that voice in my head that said “Yes! DO IT!!!” and I wrote a four hundred page novel.

Dear God, it was awful.

But I had accomplished something wonderful and for the first time in my life, I felt like I had a calling. So what did I do about it? I kept it my deepest most treasured secret. I had no intention of telling anyone, especially my Mom.

Now here is where I feel I need to interrupt our story for a little disclaimer in defense of my mother, whom I love very much. She had a rough time growing up due to her father falling deathly ill as a child. Consequently, my mom is a little bit of a personal financial security freak, and frankly, I can’t blame her. Unfortunately, my whimsical soul never followed her line of logic.  I wanted to be an animator for Disney! She talked me out of it. I wanted to be a veterinarian for a zoo! She talked me out of it. It didn’t matter what childhood dream I had, the first thing out of my mother’s mouth was always, “That’s great honey, but there are very few people who ever make it in that profession. You need a secure job that pays enough so you can support yourself.”  To this day, I’m not exactly sure what my Mom was trying to say to me, but I can tell you how my brain twisted it around (if those were even really her words). What I heard in a constant refrain from the youngest age of my childhood was, “That’s a nice dream, honey, but you’re not going to make it. I don’t want to see you fail, and that’s what’s going to happen. So, why don’t you just drop it before you get hurt and do something safe, like teaching.”

Once again, and louder this time.  Mom, if you are Googling me and this comes up. I know you didn’t mean it that way and I love you with my whole heart. You’ve been my biggest cheerleader, and I couldn’t have gotten to this point without your support. Thank you, Mom! Love you!

Okay, back to our story.

So, with my new found passion for writing, I decided I would be an author, and I knew exactly what I would hear if I told my Mom about it. Writing as a profession is not exactly known for its high success rate and steady paycheck. I decided that writing meant too much to me to let anyone, even people that I love, take it away from me by feeding my self-doubt. I needed to believe in myself, so for the first time in my life, I asserted my independence by keeping my dreams with the only person who could make them or break them, me.

Naturally, this didn’t last too long. Writing a book is exciting and I had to tell someone, so I told my future sister-in-law. Feel free to insert your own little strain of ominous music right here.
Sure enough, one evening, my Mom was lamenting to the rest of my family that I seemed so lost and I didn’t have passion for anything or any sort of direction for my life. That’s when my sis-in-law chimed in. “Well, she’s written a book.”

“I think I heard the “WHAT?” from my apartment ninety miles away.

The next morning, I answered the phone and found myself in the middle of one of the angriest phone calls I think I’ve ever received. It went something like this. (My memory might be slightly fuzzy, but you get the idea.)

Mom (angry voice): Your sister was over for dinner last night. She said you wrote a book!
Me (calm, but inside hearing the Scooby-Doo ‘Ruh-Oh, in my head): Yeah, I have.
Mom: And you’re going to send it publishers?
Me: That’s the idea.
Me (after a sigh and a pause where I gathered more courage than I’ve ever had to muster in my life.): Because I knew what you were going to say, Mom, and I didn’t want to hear it.

That is the moment where I became an adult. Very few people are lucky enough to know the exact moment they turned in their ticket to Neverland, but I do. With those words, I knew in my heart that I was responsible for my own successes and my own failures, and I wouldn’t be afraid of either. I knew in that moment I could choose the path of my own life and I could decide what I wanted to do with it even if that path was difficult and frightening. In that moment, I stood up to someone I loved and respected and told myself that I loved and respected my own wishes even more. That was the moment that my future became my own, and it was amazing.

My Mom was stunned into silence. I’m afraid I may have gut punched her. She confessed later that she was very afraid I would cut her out of my life, and that was the line in the sand. She decided to be supportive of my writing career and keep her fears to herself no matter what, so long as I was safe and happy. She’s been true to that promise ever since. That book never sold, (I told you it was awful) and my mother was right along with me through all of that frustration, but then she was just as big a part of the joy when I did sell, and now she couldn’t be more proud

So what’s the moral of this story? I don’t really know, but I’m pretty sure I’ll lose points with all my fellow Moms out there if I say it is, “Don’t listen to your mother.”  So, instead I’ll say this. Don’t listen to any voice that would doubt you. You are the only one who can decide what your fate will be and your own determination, persistence, and strength in the face of adversity is what will get you there. People can stand on the sidelines all they want and say, “You’ll never make it.” You are the only one who will determine if that is true or not.

The game is only over the moment we stop playing.

So, good luck in whatever your dreams may be.


Kristin Bailey likes adventure and pumpkin pie. She has also confessed to a weakness for Jelly Bellies. When she’s not writing, she stays busy as a military wife and mother of two young children. She also has a tendency to spoil her pets.  Her debut young adult novel, Legacy of the Clockwork Key will arrive on bookshelves on March 5, 2013. 

You can learn more about Kristin and her book on her website, Facebook and Twitter.