Cover reveal for LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT!

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Man, I sure have been revealing a lot of covers lately, but I think they’ve all worked out pretty well, don’t you? Aaaand I think we all know the reason for that is the fabulously talented Maggie Hall. But of course, as gorgeous as BEHIND THE SCENES and UNDER THE LIGHTS are, for LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, we needed something completely different – it’s a completely different book, in a different category, with a different tone, and it needed a cover that would wholly reflect that.

Before you see the cover, here’s a little refresher on the book itself:

Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she’s acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she’ll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn’t exactly Lizzie’s biggest fan.

But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you’re ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks… and that she’d like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he’s not the kind of guy who’d ever reciprocate.

Until he does.

Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.

Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.

Aaaaand…. here’s the cover!

LastWillandTestamentCoverHighResSO MUCH LOVE to Maggie Hall for delivering for me yet again, with something completely different. I love that it totally says, “This is NA” (which it so very much is) without saying, “Here are two white people getting it on.” (Well, Lizzie is half-Filipina, so this was never actually an option for this book anyway, but…yeah.)

I also love that it’s Lizzie by herself. Yes, this is a Romance, but a lot of the book isn’t Lizzie and Connor – it’s Lizzie and her best friends, Cait and Frankie; it’s Lizzie and her little brothers, Max and Tyler; and, most importantly, it’s Lizzie on her own, learning how to balance that with learning how not to be.

Plus, she would so totally wear a sweatshirt and nothing else.

In honor of Lizzie’s solo cover, here’s a little snippet from the first scene in Last Will and Testament in which Lizzie is completely alone, hiding out from the crowds at her parents’ house on the day of their funeral:

I excuse myself to my dad’s old study. It smells like rich leather and musty books. He loved that smell, almost as much as he loved the smell of cigars. I close my eyes and inhale deeply, remembering the way I used to play with the globe in the corner while he would read in his chair and randomly announce facts, like, “Did you know the male seahorse carries the baby?” I can still hear ice cubes clanging in his highball, and when I open my eyes, they’re burning with tears, and I need to taste that scotch ASAP.

I don’t even bother filling a highball, just chug straight from the bottle. It burns like hell on the way down, but it feels purifying, like liquid fire. After a while, tears spring to my eyes and my stomach turns and finally I have no choice but to pull the bottle away from my lips. I’m not even sure how much I drink before I finally put it down, but my first thought when I see that the level has conspicuously lowered is Shit, Dad’s gonna kill me.

And then the laughter starts. Loud, hysterical laughter that brings footsteps running toward the study. I’ve locked the door, but someone knocks anyway, and says, “Honey, you all right in there?”

I have no idea who’s talking, only that it isn’t Nancy, Tyler, or Max, so I say, “Just peachy!” until I hear a deep sigh and then footsteps retreating.

I never was a favorite of the neighbors.

I take the bottle and wedge myself into the big leather seat. I expect it to be warm and somehow feel like a hug from my dad, but it doesn’t even mold to my body; it just kind of sticks. It’s so depressing, I take another drink. And another.

By the time Nancy comes to shake me awake, the house is empty.

I swear, the book isn’t that bleak the whole way through ;) Wanna see for yourself? Last Will and Testament is available for pre-order on Amazon!

BEHIND THE SCENES has a brand-new cover!

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So, remember that time I partially unveiled the cover for Under the Lights, and said that I’d share the beautiful new cover my brilliant designer Maggie Hall made for Behind the Scenes once UtL went up for preorder?

Guess what.

Oh, come on, seriously, be a better guesser than that. That’s pathetic.

No, that guess is just filthy. I mean, not entirely inaccurate, but still. Be appropriate. This is a book for children.

Getting warmer.

Warmer…

Hahaha okay this is the most annoying blog post I’ve ever written, and that’s saying a lot. But anyway, the point is:

which means you now get to see…

BtSLighterSunsetSo, yeah, it’s a liiiiittle different from the original, and I think it’s the perfect change and love the way it ties in to the cover for Under the Lights. Yes, they now share fonts and the “a Daylight Falls novel” series line, and BtS has the same LA skyline on the front cover that UtL has on the back, but most of all, I love the way light is a theme in both. Behind the Scenes is all about a couple who has to sneak around in the shadows, while Under the Lights is about a couple that refuses to. I love how everything about the way the covers contrast reflects that difference.

(For reference, and also because it remains my favorite thing ever:

UnderTheLightsDahliaAdlerCover-1So, there you have my lovely Daylight Falls duology, in all it’s Maggie-Hall-is-amazing-covered glory! If you haven’t yet bought the e-version of Behind the Scenes, this cover will be up for it soon! And of course, stay tuned for some brand-new swag, because really, isn’t that the whole point of new covers?

Don’t answer that.

*throws out one last reminder that Under the Lights is available for pre-order and then runs off into the wind*

Announcing my NA debut, LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT!

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Why, hello there! I’m Dahlia Adler, and you may remember me from such films as “this blog” and “other blogs” and maybe even “Twitter.” If I’m doing life right (and am I, really?), you also know me from my debut contemporary YA novel, Behind the Scenes, or at least because of the fabulous cover of its upcoming companion, Under the Lights. (Which is now available for pre-order in paperback on Amazon, by the way!) And maybe maybe maybe you’ve even noticed that I’m pretty into both NA and the whole publishing process thing.

So this announcement probably isn’t terribly shocking (especially because I’ve been really unsubtly talking about it for months), but let’s pretend it is:

I AM SELF-PUBLISHING A CONTEMPORARY NA ROMANCE!!! AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

Hahahahaha okay I can’t even all-caps that with a straight face, but I really am self-publishing a Contemporary NA Romance. It’s called Last Will and Testament, and I’m pretty damn in love with it. Contemporary NA Romance is kinda my jam, and I’ve been writing it since I was in college, and getting to put some out into the world is pretty much the best thing. I’d do the whole “Warning: there is sex and swearing and drinking!” thing, but, uh, if you’ve read my other stuff, that’s not new. There’s a whole lot more, and it’s a lot more explicit, but I think it’s pretty clear I’m not too shy about this stuff, and my books are not for your fourth-graders. (Though at least my books won’t teach kids that “her silken folds” is a thing real people say.)

So WTF is this book? Well, I’m glad you asked! Here’s the synopsis!

Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she’s acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she’ll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn’t exactly Lizzie’s biggest fan.

But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you’re ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks…and that she’d like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he’s not the kind of guy who’d ever reciprocate.

Until he does.

Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.

Until the relationship that helped put both their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.

Okay, but is it any good? I sure think so, though in fairness, I’m a little biased. But here are some things that real, intelligent writerly people who’ve read it have had to say!

“HOT HOT HOTHOTHOTHOTHOTHOT. That’s really all I can say about that. When he tells her he [spoiler] I was like OH MY GOD PLEASE JUMP OUT OF THIS BOOK AND DEMONSTRATE FOR ME.”

“I reeeeeally liked Connor (his sternness is so mrowr).”

“I thought this was going to be an XTREME ANGSTISTENTIAL story. I was so thrilled when it wasn’t.”

“I hate you a little and I cried.”

“I felt like kind of a perv like, dying of the hotness.”

“I’d totally put [Lizzie] on my Kickass Womyn Goodreads shelf.”

“Okay. Let’s discuss the feels. You owe me a heart and maybe a doughnut, okay?”

“DAMN GURL DAT SHIT IS HOTTTTT.”

And my personal favorite: “All-in-all, I think you should let me blurb your next book. Maybe your autobiography? “Dahlia writes sex scenes that are better than most chapters in the bible. Better than Shakespearean poetry.”

(They also said some things about the writing and story being good and stuff, but these lines felt more important.)

I’ll have news on the cover reveal and all of that soon, but the most important thing is that Last Will and Testament will be released on December 9, 2014! I’m pretty terrible at Pinterest, but for a little insider info on the book, I do have a board for the book, and there may be some hot Ian Harding pics on it. (Plus you can learn which two author friends lent their names to Lizzie’s best friends!) If you’re so inclined, you can even go ahead and add it on Goodreads ;)

So, that’s what’s up! Got questions? Lay ‘em on me! Otherwise, I’m looking forward to sharing Lizzie and Connor’s story with you, and writing obnoxiously long acknowledgments to everyone who’s been so awesome in the process!

UNDER THE LIGHTS cover reveal, Part I!

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IT’S HERE IT’S HERE IT’S HERE IT’S HERE IT’S HERE!!!!!

Sorry, I’m just really excited that my new cover is getting revealed today! There is so, so much I want to say about UNDER THE LIGHTS, and that’s why I’m starting the 4-part reveal here, on my blog, so I can babble a little, guilt-free!

First off, in case you need a refresher, here’s the blurb for UNDER THE LIGHTS, which comes out June 30, 2015, and is sort of a sequel-companion hybrid to BEHIND THE SCENES:

Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents’ wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls…opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he’s trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he’s in the spotlight—on everyone’s terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents’ disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she’s painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van’s life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she’ll have to choose between the one thing she’s always loved…and the person she never imagined she could.

And here are five more things to know about it:

1. I say sequel-companion hybrid because it takes place after BEHIND THE SCENES, but it does have completely different narration, and can be read without having read BtS. I’d still recommend reading BtS first (obviously!), but it isn’t necessary.

2. People seem confused about whether the Daylight Falls duology is YA or NA. The answer is that it’s YA, but UNDER THE LIGHTS in particular straddles that line pretty hard. The big reason I have loved writing about teen celebrities is because, fame aside, when it comes down it, these are teenagers who are earning their own living and growing up at a faster rate than most. They’re both YA and NA age, and they have both YA and NA problems in ways I definitely didn’t when I was 18. They didn’t go to high school, and they don’t go to college. So, make of that what you will!

3. There is a romance, and it isn’t between Van and Josh ;) Read the second paragraph of that blurb carefully, my loves! I’ve been told the cover copy could be clearer to indicate that this is f/f romance, and here’s the straight-up reason it isn’t: The blurb was released right around when BtS was, and I wanted to minimize the number of people who’d be reading BtS knowing Vanessa liked girls before she herself knew it. But trust me – the full version of the cover will make it plenty clear!

4. I get a lot of questions about whether Ally and Liam appear in UtL, and the answer is that they do, but it isn’t their story. That said, there’s a deleted scene or two that’ll make some fans of theirs pretty happy :)

Before I tell you #5, I’m gonna go ahead and reveal an important piece of the cover: ME. Sound good? Yeah, I thought so!

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LOOK, IT’S MY NAME:

Cover topVoila! And you’re probably noticing something right about now – that doesn’t look anything like the cover of BtS. And you are correct! Because:

5. UNDER THE LIGHTS had a brand-new cover designer (someone very near and dear to me, who you’ll hear from at the full reveal), and not only did she make me a kickass cover for this book, but she also made a brand-spankin’-new design for the cover of BEHIND THE SCENES. That cover will be e-only (*cough* unless you guys wanna push BtS over into a second printing *cough*), but I adore it, and as much as I hate mid-series redesigns, I promise you this one was worth it. You’ll see so yourself soon! (But not today. Today could only contain the awesome of one cover. BUT SOON.)

And now, I’m gonna shut up, and let Josh Chester do some of the talking in this first-ever excerpt from UNDER THE LIGHTS!

By the time I’m done getting ready, I’m already running late, but I look so damn good I highly doubt anyone will mind. Holly greets me at the studio and all but shoves me into a chair opposite Gavin Lawrence, Smarm to the Stars. A cute little blond chick runs over and powders my face; Gavin’s already wearing plenty. Then he smiles, and so do I, and it’s on.

“The elusive Josh Chester!” The smile grows even bigger. It’s like the fucking Hollywood sign of teeth. “You’ve been a busy man lately. First, those new Aspen ads—which look great, by the way. Then joining Liam Holloway and Vanessa Park for an arc on Daylight Falls, and now a family reality show…”

“I like to keep my fans guessing,” I say smoothly, using a line Holly fed me on the phone this morning. “I get bored easily; what better way to shake things up than by playing the field?” Aaaaand wink at the camera.

“And that you certainly are! Just when rumors seem confirmed that you and Shannah Barrett are back together, this story breaks about you and Vanessa Park—”

I cut him off with a forced laugh. “Oh, God, that. Trust me, there is zero truth to those rumors! To any of them,” I add firmly, because no chance I’m letting Shannah’s famewhoredom cockblock me. “I’m single, ladies! Come at me!”

Now Gavin forces a laugh, but he’s a lot more practiced than I am; I’m not sure he’s ever used a real one. “I don’t know if I’m buying this,” he says in what I think is an attempt to be playful but makes me want to punch him in the nuts. “There were a whole lot of pictures of the two you together, and I did hear she emerged from your house this morning after some serious partying last night…”

I take a deep, exasperated breath and think about K-drama, how distraught she seemed that morning, and how paranoid she is that this’ll be the end of her. It’s bad enough she has to bone Zander Wilson of all people; I can’t make it worse, even if I think it’s funny as hell.

And even if I kind of like the idea of people thinking we’re together.

“Vanessa Park is a good friend of mine, and she’s welcome to stay in my guest house—alone—as often as she wants, just like my other friends do. There is not, nor has there ever been, anything romantic between the two of us. Off set, that is,” I add with a smile. At least Mickey Davis will appreciate the bit of promo there, even if he hates me for sullying the good name of one of his stars.

“Then why was she staying at your place at all, and not with her boyfriend, Zander Wilson?” Gavin asks, all bullshit casual.

“You’d have to ask her that,” I say with a shrug. “I’m just here to talk about my favorite subject: Me.”

More fake laughter. “Fair enough. So, with all these rumors about you and his ex, is there tension between you and Liam?”

Seriously? I should’ve known coming here was a bad idea. I don’t know how Holly envisions this doing anything good for me, but all it’s really doing is pissing me off. “Dude,” I say flatly, “this is getting boring. We all know nothing happened, so no, no one gives a shit—not Liam, not Zander, and hopefully none of any of our fans. Do you have any actual questions, or can I get back to something that matters?”

“Like what?” he asks sweetly.

I’ve never been a guy with much self-control, but whatever of it I possess goes into stopping myself from punching Gavin in the face. The worst part is, he’s right. I don’t know where I’m going from here, what I’m doing next. Without this bullshit drama, I don’t even know why people would care to keep watching me on this stupid reality show. Because I’m rich? Because I’m hot? Because I party?

When I’m not the bad boy, I’m nothing.

Thanks for joining me for part I of the reveal! For part II, which will have an excerpt from Vanessa’s POV, drop by the fabulous DiversifYA at 10 a.m., EST!

Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

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Self-explanatory post, a la The Broke and the Bookish! Let’s proceed with my design-less thoughts.

Brandy Colbert – read and loved Pointe; need anything and everything else she writes immediately

Steve Brezenoff – adored Guy in Real Life; super, super need to read Brooklyn, Burning

Emery Lord – loved Open Road Summer, and have heard nothing but fabulousness about her next book, The Start of Me & You

Christina Lauren – have only read Beautiful Bastard but I must read everything these ladies write, ever, basically

Brenda St John Brown – Her debut NA, Swimming to Tokyo, was one of my faves this year, and I’ll definitely need to read more

Sarah SkiltonLoved Bruised; must read High and Dry

Shelley Coriell – I so enjoyed both the MC and the romance in Welcome Caller, This is Chloe that I’m dying to spend time with more of her characters

Katie ContugnoHow to Love was absolutely one of my favorite YAs of 2013, so I cannot waaaait for her next book, 99 Days

Julie MurphySide Effects May Vary down; Dumplin’ needs to be in my face yesterday

Tess Sharpe – Tough subjects and wonderfully drawn queer characters make her such an author to watch for me. Looking forward to seeing what comes after Far From You.

Who’s on your list?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Underrated Contemp YAs

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Oh, is there an opportunity to rec books? Ones that I don’t think get enough attention? I WILL TAKE THAT. (Thanks for the excuse, Broke and Bookish!)

MY BEST FRIEND, MAYBE by Caela Carter – love this book and the character evolution within, and really wish it got more airtime during discussions on diverse YA. I think the reason it doesn’t is because the main character is white, Christian, and straight, but make no mistake – this book is full of the conversations those looking for diversity in YA are looking for, thanks not only to the main LGBT storyline, but the love interest, a Haitian guy who was adopted into his white family.

SAVING FRANCESCA by Melina Marchetta – underrated would be the wrong word for this one, because anyone who’s read it knows what a freaking gem it is. Instead, I mention it here because I think often people know that JELLICOE ROAD is a major must-read, and this one gets overlooked. Don’t make that mistake. This book has a similarly deep and wonderful romance, fantastic friendships, and real, true family issues as well.

17 FIRST KISSES by Rachael Allen – This is pretty much the truest meaning of underrated right here, as in I literally think people rate it too low, and I can rant about this with a few blogger friends for hours, and oh right I’ve already done that.

ASK AGAIN LATER by Liz Czukas – Yeah, yeah, technically not contemp, but it may as well be. I think it probably went underread because of the whole “sliding doors” thing, but that part is so irrelevant, and this was one of the cutest, most fun, most voice-y books I read this year.

OVER YOU by Amy Reed – I’ve read so many toxic friendship books, and I couldn’t figure out what was missing from them until I read this one. In so many books of that ilk, the toxic friend remains this missing piece of the narrator, necessary to make her whole, even when the toxicity is plain for everyone to see. OVER YOU is about a girl who recognizes how much better she can be – how much more she can like herself – with her independence. (Bonus points, always, for the narrator being bisexual.

SISTER MISCHIEF by Laura Goode – This book got recommended to me a lot when I was compiling the QUILTBAG Compendium on this blog, so when I spotted it during my inaugural visit to Powell’s in Portland, I snatched it up, and then promptly devoured it in two sittings. It is most certainly not an Everyone kind of book – I have to admit that even though I loved it, I never got over the cringing feeling of reading a hop-hop book about white girls. (This is addressed in the book itself, and is a really interesting conversation, but ultimately, it reads a lot like many of the conversations I see about writing diversity – white people reassuring white people on matters of cultural appropriation.) But I do think there’s a ton that’s worthwhile, and different, and fascinating about this book, and I hope more people give it a shot.

LEFTOVERS by Laura Wiess – Laura Wiess is, in my opinion, one of the most criminally underread contemp YA authors out there, and this is my favorite of hers. This is the book I wish a billion people would’ve brought up during all the conversations of rape culture that sprang up around Steubenville. This is the book that taught me what it was. This is the book that still teaches me what it is.

BALLADS OF SUBURBIA by Stephanie Kuehnert – A dark and intense look at the power of addiction, both harmful substances and harmful people.

THE CHAPEL WARS by Lindsey Leavitt – In a year full of cute romances, Dax and Holly were probably my #1 most shippable. The combination of their realistic flaws and fabulous banter earned them a special place in my heart, and I think many other banter-lovers would appreciate them too.

BRUISED by Sarah Skilton – This was one of my favorites of 2013 (as you can see here). I loved the MC’s combination of physical toughness and emotional vulnerability, and her journey back to herself after witnessing a traumatic event and faulting herself for the role she played (or didn’t play) in it.

Any of my 10 on your list of faves? Leave me your lists in the comments either way!

 

Author Spotlight: Jennifer Brown

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Welcome to another Author Spotlight on the Daily Dahlia! Today we have none other than…

AuthorSpotlightJenniferBrownAnd of course, if you’d like to put a face to that name, here’s one the author herself has graciously shared :)

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So, who is Jennifer Brown? Here’s her official bio, and where you can find her:

Jennifer Brown is the author of acclaimed young adult novels, Hate List, Bitter End, Perfect Escape, and Thousand Words. Her debut novel, Hate List, received three starred reviews and was selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA “Perfect Ten,” and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Bitter End received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and VOYA and is listed on the YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list.

Jennifer’s debut middle grade novel, Life on Mars, will be released in 2014. She also writes women’s fiction under the name Jennifer Scott. Visit her at www.JenniferScottAuthor.com

Jennifer writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area, with her husband and three children.

Twitter: @JenniferBrownYA
Instagram: @JenBrownYA

Check out her women’s fiction at: www.JenniferScottAuthor.com

Why am I such a fan? Please see the following Dahliafied bio:

Jennifer Brown wrote one of my very first favorite YAs. Hate List was a great lesson in creating multifaceted “villains,” and from there, I went on to voraciously devour more of her books, which always seem to be right on target with issues that need to be discussed among teens and aren’t nearly enough. Her newest release is Torn Away, which I haven’t yet read, but a whole bunch of reviews have declared pretty freaking awesome.

Wanna learn a little more about these books? Check ‘em out here:

All of These Glorious Books Are Already Published

A Little-Known Fact About Hate List:, a book about the aftermath of a school shooting, from the perspective of the dead shooter’s girlfriend: Bea, the art teacher who supports Valerie, was inspired by my best friend’s mom, Gloria, who has always been there for me. Bea is such a source of peace and belonging for Valerie, she wasn’t even given a last name. She is just Bea…or “Just Be.”

A Sensory Image to Accompany it: The song “World Full of Hate” by The Dropkick Murphys

Buy HATE LIST here: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316041454

A Little-Known Fact About Bitter End, about an abusive relationship: The spillway where Cole takes Alex was inspired by the Prairie Lee Spillway in Lee’s Summit, MO, the town in which I grew up.

A Sensory Image to Accompany it: The song “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac (only I secretly like the Dixie Chicks’ version better)

Buy BITTER END here: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316086967

A Little-Known Fact About Perfect Escape, about a girl whose brother has OCD: We own a little jackalope toy just like the one Kendra and Grayson pick up at the gift shop in Wyoming. We got ours at Hoover Dam, and his name is “Jack.”

A Sensory Image to Accompany it: Mounds and mounds of rocks

Buy PERFECT ESCAPE here: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316185585

A Little-Known Fact About Thousand Words, about a girl suffering consequences of having a naked photo leaked: I am a dedicated thrift store shopper, and loved taking Ashleigh and Mack to the thrift store.

A Sensory Image to Accompany it: A wall covered with graffiti, maybe with this on it somewhere:

Buy THOUSAND WORDS here: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316209724

A Little-Known Fact About Torn Away, about the aftermath of a tornado: One of the characters’ names, and the town name, are the first and middle names of one of my nieces.

A Sensory Image to Accompany it: Broken shards of a porcelain cat figurine

Buy TORN AWAY here: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316245531

For the book pimping portion of our program, because this is my blog, after all:

3 other books in your genre (which, for Jennifer, is contemporary YA) you love:

CRASH INTO ME by Albert Borris

FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick

REALITY BOY by A.S. King

3 other books not in your genre that you love:

WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? by Maria Semple

THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion

GAME OF THRONES series by George R.R. Martin

Who are you repped by? (And/or who reps the books you’ve sold?)

Cori Deyoe at 3 Seas Literary Agency

As a published author, what was something you learned through the process that was so not worth the stress?

So many things! I stressed so much about what was the “perfect” query letter, following what I thought were the “rules” to a tee. Also, I stressed about “building a platform” or “building a readership” before I was published. And then, once published, I learned that having book trailers made was definitely not worth the stress and money.

What was something that actually was?

Well, I don’t know if hard-core stressing is ever worth it, but I think being mindful of a fresh story line and solid writing is a good thing. Lots of competition out there. You have to stand out!

What sorts of things do you shamelessly pass off as “research”?

Social media

A Troubleshooting Guide to Inevitable Publishing “Disasters”

“Man plans, God laughs.” I don’t know who originally said that, but I think it was about publishing. Being caught off guard blows, doesn’t it? WE HAVE PLANS. WE HAVE MARKETING. WE HAVE PUB DATES. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO US.

But, ya know, stuff happens. So, here are the four “disasters” I see the most, and how to handle them with your sanity relatively intact:

Your cover was revealed before your actual cover reveal. Stop. Breathe. I promise, in 99% of scenarios, no one cares. This isn’t a big deal. (If your cover is changing, okay, but even then…this is still kinda not a big deal. I have seen it happen enough times to be sure it has done nothing to ruin anything.) If you can bump up your actual cover reveal, great. If you can get that cover taken down, great. But otherwise, just move forward as planned. People are still gonna be excited by the big event, and most aren’t even gonna notice it’s on Edelweiss or Goodreads or wherever. You’re checking that stuff every day; your readers aren’t. And put yourself in reader shoes for a minute – does this affect anything for you when it happens to someone else? Have you ever actively not bought a book because you first saw the cover in a boring way? If so, let’s have a talk about how dumb you are.

I hate my cover/edits/whatever. This is hard. There isn’t always something you can do. No, wait, correction – there isn’t always something that will work. But there is always something you can do, and that’s communicate your feelings to your closest handholder. If you have an agent, tell your agent. If you don’t have an agent and are with a small press, tell your editor. There is no guarantee of having things changed, but there is a guarantee that nothing will change if you don’t ask for it.

Something somewhere has made it so that your book is not available in all places at the same time. This is really annoying; I’m not gonna lie. My launch party had to get moved to the night before my release and I was nervous I wouldn’t have books and I had to keep explaining it wasn’t my pub day to people who thought it was, and B&N for some reason had it way before Amazon, and yeah, it was annoying.

In a way, though, it actually ended up being kinda great, too. It took some of the massive amounts of pressure off The Day. Instead of June 24th being Everything, I got to be excited when I first saw my book in B&N the week before; I got to promote my launch party and the availability of signed copies at Books of Wonder on June 23rd; and then June 24th was people getting the ebook delivered, me actually having time to breathe to thank people for their congrats, and then getting to enjoy the night at a different bookish event.

So, basically, my strategy when this happens is to focus on the cool things the day they happen, and give the other stuff their days. (Basically, a multi-pronged release.) Yeah, it might require a little more work on your part to make every day of stuff feel like a relevant day, but…it really isn’t. Book is available at B&N but not Amazon? Use the B&N link in all your tweets, focus on it being at B&N, and then when it’s available at Amazon, do the same thing for “Amazon Release Day.” Etc. Etc.

Hosts bailed on my blog tour. Yeah, this happened to me, and honestly, I ended being grateful for it. I’ve said before I’m not a huge proponent of blog tours, and realizing this was an easy out of half the tour I had said up felt like someone had just given me the gift of time. If you really do want to make up the missing stops, put together a standard completely ready-to-go post and do some Twitter begging. If you’re going to be last minute, you better make it as effortless for the hosts that take pity on you as possible!

Got other disasters in mind? Had one you recovered from gracefully? Or gracelessly, even? Tell Aunt Dahlia all about ‘em!

Author Spotlight: Paula Stokes

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Welcome to another edition of Author Spotlight! Today we’ve got none other than the lovely…

AuthorSpotlightPaulaStokesOr, as you can picture her from now on:

mecrocShe was even good enough to caption her picture she’d never use as an author photo for us:

Worst crocodile wrastlin’ technique ever. Good thing he’s fake or I’d now be typing with my toes.

Here’s a little more about her, officially:

Paula Stokes writes stories about flawed characters with good hearts who sometimes make bad decisions. When she’s not writing, she’s kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. Paula loves interacting with readers. Find her online at www.authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.

Aaaaand here’s what I have to say about her:

Paula is freaking fabulous and you’ll be seeing a lot more of her to come in future years (Oh, yeah, she has like 30 books coming out in the next few years, just FYI.), in multiple genres, from multiple houses, because yes, that’s how cool she is. It’s gross.

And here’s a little bonus material, provided by Paula:

Here’s a post I did on handling bad reviews that I like a lot.

My FB page When I get 1000 likes, I’m giving away an ARC of LIARS, INC. (INT). Hook a sista up because It’ll be totes awkward if it takes me until release date to get there O_O

And now, most importantly of all, let’s talk those books!

The Published

Art of Lainey cover web resLittle-Known Fact About The Art of Lainey:

The celebrity actor/soccer player started out as just an actor in the first draft. I named him Paul Waters and he was basically an exact replica of Paul Walker. He was part of my “dream cast.” :(
 
A Sensory Image to Go With It:So Obvious” by Runner Runner

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * Indiebound

The Art of Lainey also has a brand-new accompanying e-novella, Infinite Repeat, available for Nook and Kindle.

 

The Upcoming

LiarsInc web res(1)

Liars, Inc. releases March 24, 2015!

Little-Known Fact About Liars, Inc.:

I pitched this idea to my agent at a conference back in 2010 before she was even my agent and she liked it. But then I let the plot marinate for over a year before I started writing because the character motivations weren’t clear to me.

A Sensory Image to Go with It:

“Never Meant To (Lie)” by Radio Iodine. (They were a 90s St. Louis band and that’s a hard song to find, but the whole album, Tiny Warnings, is brilliant.)

*

VICARIOUS (Tor Teen, Fall 2015/Winter 2016): This is far and away the most ambitious book I’ve ever attempted, requiring expert consults in psychology, technology, weapons, and Korean culture. It scares me, trying to write as an EFL speaker from a different culture who also has PTSD, because there are so many ways I could mess it up. Good thing I like a challenge :)

“Chop Suey” – System of a Down

And now, for the book pimping portion of our program, because this is my blog, after all:

Tell us about your critique partner(s)/co-author(s) and why their books are awesome! 

I’m super-excited for Marcy Beller Paul’s UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING (B&B, Fall 2015). Marcy writes lyrical yet economical prose, similar to Ally Condie or Gayle Foreman. Her book is a unique balance of literary and commercial that will appeal to both teens and adults.

I’m also very psyched for Philip Siegel’s second book. I’m not sure if I can say the title, but I’ve read the book and Siegel delivers a heartfelt and hilarious story, filled with his trademark witty prose.

1-3 other books in your genre(s) you love? 1-3 other books not in your genre(s) that you love?

I don’t really have a genre, per se, but I guess I’ll call myself a contemporary romance and mystery writer, at least until VICARIOUS comes out.

Contemp books I love:
 
GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray
ALONG FOR THE RIDE by Sarah Dessen
I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga
 
Spec books I love:
 
VICIOUS by Victoria Schwab
WHITE CAT by Holly Black
ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake

 

Who are you repped by?

I am repped by my dream agent, the fabulous Jennifer Laughran from Andrea Brown. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself when I think about that.

As a published author, what was something you learned through the process that was so not worth the stress?

Obsessively monitoring your rankings/ratings/reviews. Amz rankings change every hour and you can move up or down fifty thousand places from morning to afternoon. So then, what is that really telling you? On ratings and reviews–yeah, those first few skewerings hurt like hell, but the only way you’re not going to have bad reviews is if you’re not selling any books.

What was something that actually was?

Getting your manuscript the way you want it. I know people who are DONE after copy-edits–they don’t ever want to see their pages again. They don’t proofread master pages or read their manuscripts out loud because they just can’t bring themselves to read their stories one more time. I will nitpick until the last moment, tweaking word choice and even asking if I can add or delete whole paragraphs if it means improving the story. Once that book goes to the printer, that’s it. No matter how hard I try, there will always be something afterward I wish I had changed. But the more I put into it, the less of those instances there will be. Plus I feel like the public and publisher deserve my best effort.

What sorts of things do you shamelessly pass off as “research”?

*looks around for tax professionals* Several trips to the gun range, international travel, adventure sports, krav maga lessons. I’m still debating whether I can write off some personal training I needed in order to be fit enough for the krav maga lessons :) There may be some purely-for-research shark diving eventually. Here’s the secret to happy writing–write what you’re really passionate about, not what you think the trends are or what agents say they want. Then the research won’t even feel like work.

What do you always wish people would ask you in interviews?

Heh. If you could dedicate any one song to your most negative reviewers, what would that song be? IDK why no one has asked this yet ;-)

Author Spotlight: Kara Taylor

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Welcome to another edition of Author Spotlight on The Daily Dahlia! Today I’ve got Kara Taylor…and that’s all I’ll say here, because you’re about to learn everything else you need to know. AND ALSO BECAUSE I REALLY NEED TO GET TO THIS PICTURE NOW.

AuthorSpotlightKaraTaylor27191_1223936242539_6013650_nClearly you need an official bio on the chicken girl ASAP:

Kara has a BA in English/Secondary Education from Stony Brook University. She loves New Girl, sushi, and puppets that say rude things. It’s her dream to own a bakery someday.

Kara was inspired to start writing in part by her grandmother giving her Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and in part by her father’s bizarre antics, such as blow-drying his car. Her father looked like Borat in the 80’s.

Kara lives on Long Island with a Chihuahua named Izzy and a kitten named Felix. Her favorite authors are Gillian Flynn, Stephanie Perkins, and Nelson Demille. She writes full-time. She was the writer and co-executive producer of The Revengers, a dramedy developed for The CW, executive produced by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (Celeste & Jesse Forever).

Website: www.karamtaylor.com
IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/search/apachesolr_search?author_filter=Taylor%2C+Kara
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/karatwrites

Aaaaand the Dahliafied version:

Kara writes a freaking fantastic mystery series whose first book kept me up waaaaay too late, and which blissfully satisfies my Veronica Mars-y cravings. (See my  She also wrote for a TV show, and also, she’s basically young enough to be my daughter (it’s possible I am exaggerating slightly), so I am a little humbled.

Now, let’s talk about that aforementioned series of awesome, shall we?

The Published:

Little-known fact about Prep School Confidential: This was the third full manuscript I wrote, but the first one that was published.

A sensory image to accompany it: The smell of smoke

Buy It: Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

Little-known fact about Dirty Little Secrets: This is the book I consider the “easiest” to write. I finished it in four months, and it didn’t require that much revision. If only it always worked out like that!

A sensory image to accompany it: The woods at night, i.e.: https://www.flickr.com/photos/incatbirdcolors/6551956249/

Buy It: Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

 The Upcoming:

Deadly Little Sins releases August 5, 2014! 

Pre-order it: Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

And now, let’s get rec-ing ball on the mofo:

Tell us about your critique partners and why their books are awesome!

Debra Driza (author of MILA 2.0) writes action-packed sic-fi with an ass-kicking protagonist. (Think Nikita, if she were an android.)

Lindsey Culli writes contemporary that always leaves me feeling gutted in a good way, and my agent-sister Kathy Bradey has written some of the most imaginative fantasy books I’ve ever read.

1-3 other books in your genre (which for Kara, if you haven’t caught on, dear readers, is YA mystery) you love:

  1. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
  2. Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

1-3 books not in your genre that you love:

  1. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  2. Night Fall by Nelson DeMille

And, finally, let’s talk publishing:

Who are you repped by?

I’m represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary, a book-selling ninja. For my TV writing, I’m represented by United Talent Agency and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

As a published author, what’s something you’ve learned through the process was not worth the stress?

Self-promotion. You can peddle bookmarks and introduce yourself to librarians until you’re blue in the face, but self-promoting is like trying to fill a giant bucket one drop at a time. If I had to do it all over again, I’d focus on working on my next book instead of trying to promote the soon-to-be-published ones.

What’s something that actually was?

Gutting an entire manuscript based on my editor’s notes. Revising/re-writing is a really stressful part of the publication process, but I’m always happier with the end result.

What sorts of things do you shamelessly pass off as “research”?

Watching ID Discovery (A True Crime station). Unusual Suspects, My Deadly Secret, etc. Those shows are my catnip. Also watching documentaries; I recently watched WEST OF MEMPHIS.

What do you always wish people would ask you in interviews?

“Where do you get your story ideas from?” HAH! Just kidding. I wish people would ask what I would do if I couldn’t be a writer. I’d love to be a producer or network executive in the entertainment industry. If not, I’d maybe try to use my English teaching degree.

Leave some love for Kara in the comments, and check back here on/around the 1st and 15th of every month to meet some more awesome authors!

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