JUST VISITING is Going to Be Ironically Permanent!

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So, you know how I sold three books to Patricia Riley at Spencer Hill Contemporary a couple of years ago, and one of them is out (“And you can buy it!” she said shamelessly), and one of them is coming out in June, (“And you can preorder it!” she said shamelessly), and the third is coming at some point in the future (“And can be added on Goodreads!” she said shamelessly)? And you know how I absolutely love Patricia Riley? And you see that blog post title?

(You have probably now figured out where I’m going with this.)

Just Visiting is going to be published by Spencer Hill Contemporary!

Guys, I am excited about this. I love this book. I don’t even know how to tell you how much. I can only tell you that this book freaking clawed its way out into the world, shredding my heart into a billion pieces in the process. I wrote this book because I felt like I kept seeing YAs about frenemies over and over and over (bear in mind this was 2012-3 and there have been some really fantastic friendships in YA books since then, but at the time, man, I was feeling really low on this front), and I just wanted to write something about two friends who wholly support and love each other, even if their pairing doesn’t make sense, even if they’re as different as people can be, even if they have secrets.

I sat on this book through over a year of hearing “We need books that show sex-positivity and consent and agency and contraception” and thought, “I have one I really, really wish I could show you.”

I sat on this book through over a year of hearing “We need diverse characters who aren’t cookie cutter, who aren’t stereotypes,” and thought, “I have one I really, really wish I could show you.”

I wrote a post called “The First Time I Didn’t Write a Me,” about the experience of finally pushing past my own insecurities and fears of writing diversity as a cis-het white lady to create Victoria, and thought, “I really, really want you to meet her.”

I listened to my CPs and Fabulous Agent Lana Popovic tell me how wonderful it was, to my husband walk in to our apartment the day he started reading and say, “I get it. I know you said that this feels like a different level than Behind the Scenes for you, and I didn’t really know what you meant. Then I started it and I got it immediately.”

A year later, it was really, really hard to think that Just Visiting might actually be…just visiting. But I’d already sold three books to Spencer Hill and I thought “Okay, that’s already a ton with one publisher; I should try something else.” But something else didn’t quite work, and somewhere along the way I gave it to Patricia to read, just for fun.

And because we are extremely professional, as we have proven, five minutes of texting turned “Here’s something for you to read when you’re bored this weekend” into “Lauren* and I both love this and need this and can this be an official sub?”

*Lauren being Associate Editor Lauren Meinhardt, who is utterly fantastic, just FYI.

So, that’s the long-winded story of how I secretly found a new Book of My Heart even after selling the older one, and now both are gonna be published, both by Spencer Hill, both edited by Lauren and Patricia, and basically, I’m just really damn excited about it.

And I’m really, really glad I get to show you. I hope you guys love this book as much as I do, and you’ll find out soon enough, because that November 17, 2015 pub date I’ve been leaving up on Goodreads for My Name is Everett? Has secretly belonged to Just Visiting for a while. (MNIE will still be published, but hopefully in the spring of 2016.)

P.S. Just Visiting also happens to have a beautiful cover already, compliments of none other than Maggie Hall, and I can’t wait to show you that either!

Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR

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Happy Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of the Broke and the Bookish! I’m not the most consistent poster of these, but I can never resist talking about my TBR. In this case, since my ARC shelf is pretty much full to bursting, I think it’s safe to that’ll be feeding my spring TBR pretty well! Without further ado, here is that TBR!

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – I have heard nothing but great things about this debut, and I’m endlessly amused by the “wedding” invitation I have pinned to the swag board over my desk.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen – I must cop to not having read nearly enough Dessen in my lifetime, but this book is one I’m really, really excited for, and the ARC’s been burning a whole my in my shelf for months. Definitely bringing this one on Passover vacation with me!

Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally – Yeah, I’ll pretty much read anything by Miranda Kenneally sight unseen, so I’m excited to have gotten this ARC! Especially since she and I will be paneling together in August, so if you’re in the DC area and you’re as big a Miranda fan as I am, come say hi on the 6th at One More Page in Arlington ;)

Immaculate by Katelyn Detweiler – That premise, man. How could I not? I’ve been fascinated by immaculate conception fiction ever since I read a James Patterson book with that theme a bajillion years ago, and I’m excited that this will be my first YA of the sort.

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton – LGBTQ YA is seriously on a roll this year, and this one looks completely adorable, plus I have it on good authority it quite nails the coming out experience. I know people are all “Let’s have some LGBTQ YA that isn’t about coming out!” buuuuut considering coming out is still pretty damn relevant, I’m excited to see good new stories in that vein get added to the canon too.

Brookyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff – this one’s not an ARC, but rather a published book I’m afraid Katie Locke will kill me if I don’t read. And speaking of Katie Locke:

Second Position by Katherine Locke – I mean…it’s Katie Locke. So.

Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes – And by similar logic, it’s Paula Stokes, and it’s a psychological thriller. Too much goodness to be ignored.

The Good Girls by Theresa Mummert – Uhhh, yeah, it’s f/f NA, which means it automatically jumps to the top of the queue when it releases on April 6!

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas – Another one I’ve heard great things about and been looking forward to for a while, and which I hear has excellent dual-POV.

Oh, and two bonus entries, just because bragging is my absolute favorite pastime:

Map of Fates by Maggie Hall and Cam Girl by Leah Raeder. Yeah, those are the books I’m beta-ing this spring. I know, I hate me too.

What’s on your spring TBR?

How to (Effectively) Show Support

Here’s something I’ve noticed a lot – people want to help. People have good intentions. People want to show support. But they don’t really know how. They don’t know why something matters, or how to get mileage out of it.

Here’s what else I’ve noticed a lot – people really love to rage. And that’s important; there are issues that require it. And raging does change things.

BUT.

There is a really big difference between being a person who only rages and a person who both rages and makes a real move for change. And maybe people don’t realize that. Maybe they don’t get how. But I’m tired of seeing raging with no support counterbalance, and I’m tired of people thinking raging is enough without backing it up in a meaningful way. I’m tired of people not realizing how limiting the effects are when all you do is talk about who and what is doing things wrong and not who and what is doing things right.

(That’s how this post came about, by the way. And yeah, I’m very proud of it.)

If you (rightfully) rage about a lack of racial diversity in the industry, talk about racially diverse books that are great. It’s how you get people reading racially diverse books. That’s how you get people buying racially diverse books. It’s how you actually effect change.

If you (rightfully) rage about the amount or quality of QUILTBAG books in the industry, talk about QUILTBAG books that are great. It’s how you get people reading QUILTBAG books. That’s how you get people buying QUILTBAG books. It’s how you actually effect change.

If you (rightfully) rage about poor depictions of mental health in books in the industry, talk about mental health books that are great. It’s how you get people finding the ones they need, and making sure the ones that do it right rise to the top.

(And, regarding the above, if, like me, you are lucky enough to be in a position to recommend such books loudly and widely on a major blog, don’t guess what you think is good – read the damn books and/or listen to what people in those marginalized groups are saying about those books. I never recommend a depiction of a marginalized person without a positive review from someone who shares that marginalization. It’s part of why blogging takes me a crap-ton of time, but as with anything else, if you’re not doing your research, you have no business doing this.)

If you (rightfully) rage about whitewashed covers, talk about non-whitewashed covers you think are great. And BUY NON-WHITEWASHED COVERS. If you don’t have the means to buy them, request them from your library or at least talk about how much you love them publicly. MAKE THOSE COVERS PROMINENT. Yelling without backup is yelling into a void. Does that suck? Yes. Should it really need to be explained why racially accurate and diverse representation on covers is necessary? No. But are you really going to make a difference if you cannot effectively prove that they sell? No. Your rage alone isn’t going to do that.

Another thing you can do, by the way, is support initiatives to increase the amount of diverse stock photography. As someone with a Korean-American lesbian MC in one book and a Filipina-American MC in another, both with covers that used stock photo because neither I nor my publisher was in a position to do a photo shoot, I cannot possibly express how freaking difficult it is to find the kinds of photos that do diverse characters justice. (Seriously, read the story of the creation of my cover of Under the Lights here. It was maddening.) Here’s one I supported on Kickstarter, and if you can’t kick in the money, just sharing it on social media helps. JUST MAKING PEOPLE AWARE THAT A HUGE PART OF THE ISSUE IS STOCK PHOTO SITES BECAUSE MOST COVERS DON’T GET A PHOTO SHOOT HELPS. Because that is something smaller that can change.

If you are (rightfully) upset that you feel like people devalue self-publishing when there are great self-published books out there, TAKE THE TIME TO RECOMMEND THOSE GREAT BOOKS. (And buy them, obviously.)

If you are (rightfully) upset that you feel like people devalue small presses when there are great small press books out there, TAKE THE TIME TO RECOMMEND THOSE GREAT BOOKS. (And buy them, obviously.)

It is important to talk about what the publishing industry does wrong, but it’s also important to talk about what it does right, not because people doing it well deserve a cookie but because examples of what to aim for are key. Visuals of what’s right to people who may not get it are key. Proving that these things can and do sell, and making a difference with numbers, is key. And yeah, you know what? Supporting the people doing it right is important too. It’s a tough-as-hell industry, and “Hey, you did this thing is really well” is a life-changing thing for an author. There is one fan letter and one review I cling to constantly when I’m having doubts about whether I should be doing this at all.

Also, it’s a cool and helpful thing to be vocal about diverse aspects that may not be glaringly obvious from a book’s cover, premise, or blurb. When Tess Sharpe’s fabulous Far From You came out, it wasn’t glaringly obvious that in addition to being a terrific depiction of chronic pain, it was also one of the best depictions of bisexuality in the history of YA, and also among the first YAs to actually use the word bisexual in a character’s self-ID. But fans spread that loud and clear to the people who needed to know it. I’m fascinated by how often I find people who still don’t know that I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson has a major gay romance, or Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld a major lesbian one. And did you know that both the MC and LI of Sarah Ockler’s The Book of Broken Hearts are Latin@? Or that the MC of Dirty Wings by Sarah McCarry is Vietnamese? Or that Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas, Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu, How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr, My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter, and All the Rage by Courtney Summers all have interracial central relationships?

I didn’t, until I read them. But if you didn’t know, now you do.

If this was a little tl;dr for you, here’s a cheat sheet:

1. Recommend the crap out of books doing things right.

2. Buy/library request/galley request obviously diverse covers. (If it helps, I’ve put in green books I read and loved.) Some examples: The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds, Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed, This Side of Home by Renee Watson, Pinned by Sharon G. Flake, Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz, Endangered by Lamar Giles, Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, About a Girl by Sarah McCarry, Of Metal and Wishes and Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine, Hollywood Witch Hunter by Valerie Tejeda, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler, Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham, The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell, The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, Most Likely to Succeed by Jennifer Echols, The Violet Hour by Whitney Miller, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, pretty much anything by Coe Booth, and, yeah, my Under the Lights, too.

3. Promote other people’s promotions. Some great things you could share include:

Also, some random ways to be supportive to authors in general you may not realize:

  • Leaving even a one-word review with your Goodreads rating makes a huge difference because it’s clear you’re rating based on having read the book. You might not realize quite how many people don’t.
  • Reviewing on your blog and/or Goodreads is great, but it all gets around to the same people in the YA/NA community. Crossposting that review (again, even just a few words!) to Amazon reaches a far huger audience. It also helps when bloggers take into account how many reviews you have on a published book before deciding to feature you. (Something I only recently learned happens!)
  • Tell them when you love their books! I promise, it is never annoying to send a tweet or an email that says “I loved your book.” They can’t always answer, but they always appreciate it. You have no idea the power it can have to turn an author’s day around, or make them keep going when they’re having a tough time.
  • Request books from the library. Seriously, if you can afford to buy them, this is still a huge help – libraries do buy them. Getting a book into a library system that wasn’t previously carrying it is noooo small thing, I promise.
  • Fan art. Oh my God, I cannot tell you anything that makes an author’s day more than fan art. Seriously.
  • Promote their events! Even if you can’t go, just RTing when author will be in a city in which you have Twitter followers is a great and helpful thing. But major bonus points if you do show up ;)

Sooo, hey, that post turned long. Clearly I have a lot of Thoughts. Shocking, I know. But if you made it this far, thanks for reading, and thank you in advance for supporting the good stuff.

NA Author Leah Raeder Talks Black Iris, Queerness, Neurodiversity, and Unlikable Heroines + a signed ARC Giveaway!

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Here are some things I love: Great books. Great writing. Psychological thrillers. Dark contemporary. Brutal honesty. Kissing. More-than-kissing. Romances between guys and girls. Romances between girls and girls. Characters who are real and flawed and struggling and maybe a little atypical. Books that make you think. Books that feel necessary. Books that fill a major hole in what already exists for that category.

So, today, I’m featuring a book that is every single one of those things. Black Iris by Leah Raeder is an intense and sexy (and intensely sexy) psychological thriller about a girl named Laney and her dark journey toward both revenge and self-acceptance. Leah has made no secret of the fact that this is a very personal book for her, and I know (and know reviews will show) that others are bound to feel the same way about it. As such, I pried deeply into the unicorn brain behind the book for about as personal an interview as you’ll ever see.

And, bonus: there’s a giveaway attached – someone will win a signed ARC of Black Iris, and I think it’s pretty obvious you alllllll want in on that. See details at the bottom of the post for how to enter, and I’ll pick a winner at noon EST on Friday, March 6!

But first, here’s the official info about the book:

11032-9781476786421It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn’t worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She’s not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it’s time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She’s going to show them all.

Pre-order it here: AmazonBarnes & Noble • Google PlayIndieBoundiTunes Powell’sSimon & Schuster

Sounds pretty freaking great, right? Spoiler alert: it is. Now, please welcome* to the blog author Leah Raeder.

*jk she already pretty much lives here

Let’s just address the obvious major question right off the bat. You’re pretty outspoken about – well, everything, but let’s go with the sad state of f/f lit. Why do you think it’s so lacking, both quantitatively and qualitatively?

God, I could write a book on this subject. I think the main factors in the dearth of f/f books out there are that romance fiction skews heavily heteronormative, and a majority of its readers are straight women who read mainly m/f and, sometimes, m/m. A lot of romance readers consume novels rapidly and seek out certain tropes/kinks (biker gangs, BDSM, 18th Century Scottish rapists, etc.), and so you have a situation analogous to the way men consume porn: select your kink, select your desired role-play, and get off. The audience consumes it fast, so it is mass-produced.

Obviously this raises interesting questions about the ways that romance novel consumption parallels porn consumption and the sorts of standards and expectations that sets up, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

Why does f/f fiction often suck? I think mainly because there’s so little of it. There isn’t a rich canon to draw inspiration from, learn from, aspire to, etc. And often those writing it, while well-meaning, are more interested in moralizing and ticking boxes than in honing their craft to razor sharpness. Maybe it’s the social pressure. Maybe those well-meaning f/f writers think, “There’s so little lesbian fiction out there, I have to speak for all of girl-loving-kind with this.” And the lower demand and smaller audience means there’s less attention falling on it and less criticism and, inevitably, less improvement across the genre. The bigger a genre, the more diamonds you find in the rough, and the higher the standards rise for all work in that genre. Being so tiny, f/f has a paucity of both books and great books, and its lack of great books keeps new readers away. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

On the more positive side, what f/f would you recommend, whether to first-timers or seasoned readers? Any you particularly wish you’d had around as a kid? And do you think Black Iris will be a gateway book for a lot of readers?

I have no idea what first-time f/f readers should be reading. I knew I liked girls since I was a child, so I don’t know what it’s like to approach that from the outside. As a kid I watched every single episode of Xena: Warrior Princess in the hopes that Xena and Gabrielle would kiss. That’s how desperate I was to see girl-on-girl action. You’re asking the wrong person here.

But a few standout f/f novels I’ve liked are Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body (f/unknown gender), Paula Boock’s Dare Truth or Promise, Amanda Grace’s No One Needs to Know, and Sylvia Brownrigg’s Pages for You. There’s also this weirdo named Dahlia Adler who wrote a pretty damn decent one called Under the Lights.

When I was a kid, I would’ve loved YA/NA by Boock, Grace, Adler, et al. I needed to see portrayals of girls like me, portrayals that weren’t painfully stereotypical and that captured the fluidity of sexuality and attraction. I didn’t relate to characters who were 100% gay and never hooked up with or had wayward thoughts about the opposite sex. It made me feel like a “bad gay” on top of already feeling like a freak for being queer. There are plenty of kids out there who benefit from those portrayals, but there are also lots and lots of kids who fall somewhere between 0 and 6 on the Kinsey scale, and there are far too few books serving them. Bisexuality is arguably more taboo than gayness now, FFS. How the the hell did THAT happen?

And I needed to read books by people whose voices I could trust. For example, the word “dyke” makes me want to curl up and die. “Dyke” was always an epithet to me and I’m still deeply uncomfortable with it, and its usage by older queer women who are comfortable with their sexuality is jarring and unsettling. I’m in my third decade on Earth, and I’m still not at a point in my life where “dyke” doesn’t make my stomach clench and my pulse race in a queasy way. My first thought is always: “Are they talking about me? Please, please don’t let them be talking about me.” Sometimes adult writers forget that what they’ve fought so hard to understand and accept about themselves is something that younger people are still struggling with. That some of us will always struggle with, no matter how old we are.

As for whether Black Iris will be a gateway f/f book…I doubt it. BI is brutal and dark. It’s about bullying, internalized homophobia, self-loathing, and overcoming the self-destructive thinking/behavior society codes into us. It’s intensely personal and my experience as a queer person obviously doesn’t represent every queer person’s experience. But I do think pain and hardship and fear are fairly universal experiences for anyone who’s not straight, and it’s important that we don’t let that get lost in our desperation to show a light at the end of the tunnel. It annoys me when people say, “I want to see more LGBT+ books that aren’t about coming out or queer angst!” Yeah, well, I’d fucking love to see a world where those weren’t issues anymore. But they are, and it’s a PRIVILEGE for some queer folk to not have to constantly worry about those issues. It’s vital that we keep telling stories about the hardship of being queer until shit actually changes. It’s not a zero-sum game. We can have more sunshine-and-rainbow queer books alongside our gritty realism.

It’s obvious there are a lot of ways in which Black Iris is different from your debut, Unteachable. In what ways, though, do you think they’re similar? 

This is tough. There’s a lot of geography porn? Unlikable heroines? Pretentious metaphors about the stars? In all seriousness, it’s the coming-of-age stuff. Laney’s already in college, but like Maise, she’s struggling to carve out a place in the world for herself. And while Maise is torn between two age groups, Laney is torn between two people, and the two different facets of herself that they represent.

Also, Hiyam is in both books.

We’ve had the conversation before about sex in NA (and you’ve had it with Heather of Flyleaf Review in this great interview), and I know we’re both on Team Yes Please. Why do you think people object to it, and why are you in particular pro?

At the risk of pissing off huge swathes of the book community, I think a lot of the moaning about sex in New Adult is sour grapes. It tends to come from authors who don’t write about sex, and from readers who have no interest in ever reading about sex. NA, even the worst of it, sells well because sex sells. YA is far chaster, and so it’s not uncommon for a good YA novel to sell fewer copies than a crappy NA novel. It sucks, but it’s like complaining that people buy porn instead of indie films. They’re not your audience in the first place. They’re not taking sales away from you. IMO, the real issue is that people who don’t want to write about sex want to sell as many books as if they had written about sex. And as for readers who want books about people in their 20s without graphic depictions of sex, there’s an entire section of the bookstore for you called “General Fiction.”

The whole thing recalls the resentment that writers of adult fiction had (and still have) toward YA writers, when YA became ultra-hot and started outselling adult. Ironically, now it’s (largely) YA authors turning their resentment against the new kids in publishing, NA authors. I suppose NA authors will eventually turn on whatever comes next. Dinorotica, probably.

I’m pro-sex-in-NA because sex is part of life, and I live in a society that both fetishizes and represses sexuality. America is absurdly puritanical. We can depict graphic, gruesome murder, but show a nipple on TV (or in public!) and everyone clutches their pearls. Think about that. A nipple is worse than murder. How warped are we?

I’m tired of YA shying away from depicting sex. Especially when it comes to sex that isn’t hetero. That’s not real life. In real life, teenagers have sex. Gasp! If we’d like them to understand what it’s like (and shouldn’t be like, and theoretically can be like), we have to show it. Fading to black doesn’t teach or enrich a reader. It cuts out one of the most normal and vital parts of human experience. Which isn’t to say that every YA novel has to graphically depict sex, but that not enough of them are showing enough, and that’s why there’s a demand for it in NA. (I think NA is also basically the under-40 generation’s take-back of romance, but that’s another tangent…)

“Karma is a bitch, but you can call her Laney.” So sayeth your website about the main character of Black Iris, and…yeah, I’d say Laney qualifies to be an unlikeable heroine IRL. Was she a tough character to write? Or did the fact that you yourself are horrible help a lot?

They say “write what you know” and I know I’m a total bitch, so. (Blogger’s note: truth.)

Laney was a blast to write for about 90% of the book because she’s completely unapologetic. Unapologetic girls enchant me, IRL and in fiction. Women are socialized to be people-pleasers, to efface ourselves, be polite, be nice, smile smile smile. To walk around constantly apologizing and feeling bad that we’re never enough: not thin enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not kinky enough, not happy enough. Writing a character who just says “fuck you” to all of that is incredibly liberating.

Until recently, women in fiction were rarely allowed to get revenge and be violent, ruthless assholes. Gone Girl heralded a sea change, and now we’re seeing tons of female characters with qualities that were typically reserved for males: angry, violent, spiteful, vengeful, methodical, relentless. Bad girls who are actually bad. It’s fucking glorious.

In addition to the hotness of having an Australian accent, Blythe in Black Iris also has some badass tattoos. If you got one in honor of the BI release, what would it be?

Man. YOU ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS, ADLER. I want to say a black iris because that symbolizes everything that is dark and sexy and queer about this book but…I’m also really drawn to the wolf imagery, and the way that Laney’s realization of her own power is symbolized by her identification with creatures who hunt. But wolves are so cliche. And so are flowers. So I’d get a tat of Teresa Palmer because hot Aussie girls are forever.

A lot of the discussion around Black Iris revolves around the hot f/f-ness, but it bears mentioning that it contains multiple characters – including Laney – who are not neuronormative. Can you share a little about that?

Confession time. As well as being queer, I’m bipolar. I have type II bipolar disorder, to be exact. My mental health history reads like a made-for-TV movie: meds, suicide attempts, hospitals. It’s pretty messed-up and sad. Like queerness, mental illness is something I hadn’t fully come to grips with until the past few years. I felt ashamed and, mostly, terrified of being looked down on or treated differently because of it. My books are really just me working through my own issues: Unteachable is about feeling young and old at the same time and figuring out what it means to be an adult; Black Iris is me coming to grips with being queer and bipolar, openly, in front of the whole world. I can’t say too much about this because of spoilers, and also self-consciousness, but yeah. There is a lot of stuff about mental illness in this book. Trigger warnings galore.

You have notoriously terrible taste in music. That’s not a question, but I guess if you wanted to talk about the awfulness you listened to while writing Black Iris, that would be okay.

I have “terrible taste” in music THAT SOMEHOW KEEPS ENDING UP ON YOUR PLAYLISTS. How…queer. (Blogger’s note: …shut up. *kicks dirt*) Also, anyone who calls 80s music “terrible” deserves to be locked in a room for all eternity with nothing to listen to but John Mayer.

Aside from the obligatory 80s stuff (Laney and Armin are both huge 80s nerds), I listened to all sorts of shit while writing BI: Chvrches, The Black Keys, The Naked and Famous, AWOLNATION, etc. My books usually form around the seed of one song, and for Black Iris it was Garbage’s “Vow.” Music is hugely important to my writing process, and I’ve got a playlist page on my site now. Also if you follow me on Twitter you WILL be regularly spammed with music vids (as recommended to me by my personal DJs/saviors, Allen and Cam).

As anyone who follows you on Twitter (or Facebook, or Instagram) knows, you are a mild fan of alcoholic beverages. What’s your writing drink of choice right now?

Lately I’ve been super into Knob Creek maple bourbon. Also your mom. (Blogger’s note: *extends middle finger*)

Most exciting thing and most terrifying thing about publishing Black Iris: GO.

Exciting: It’s a highly anticipated New Adult novel with lots of f/f in it!

Terrifying: It’s a highly anticipated New Adult novel with lots of f/f in it!

Seriously, I’m pretty much at exactly the same stage of horror/giddiness that I was when I first had this bright idea that went, “Hmmm, there aren’t any f/f New Adult novels…I should write one!”

You’re currently writing your third contemporary NA Romance, Cam Girl, about which, frankly, you’ve been pretty stingy when it comes to sharing information. What can you tell us about it, dammit?

According to Atria, it’s “a sexy romantic suspense novel about two best friends who are torn apart by a life-shattering accident…and the secrets left behind.”

Okay, you’ve seen the summary on Goodreads, right? Basically it’s like that, just add a bisexual physically disabled Latina heroine, gender dysphoria, hot redheads, and Cam Gigandet. Also, it takes place in Maine. Maine is pretty.

BTW, if you think Black Iris is gay, just wait till Cam Girl. Yes, there’s f/f in this one, too. Lots more. Also POC, trans, and gay supporting characters. And there will be more queerness, gender fluidity, people of color, disability representation, and general fuck-yous to the romance status quo in this and all of my future books. I’ve been given an incredible opportunity to tell stories about the types of characters you rarely see in NA romance, and I’m seizing it and running as fast and as far as I can.

You get to share one rainbow-themed picture right now. ONE. What is it? 

http://media.tumblr.com/e17edc1fee9e42305338ef5b35fb87bf/tumblr_inline_mjl10sIJgv1qz4rgp.gif

(Blogger’s note: I could not put it in the post itself for fear of losing every single one of my followers and also potentially killing any epileptic who laid eyes on it.)

What has no one asked you about Black Iris yet that you really wish they would?

“Your cover is totally a vagina, right?”

Just kidding, they ask that all the time. And yes, Virginia, it is.

Want to enter to win a signed ARC?

Haha just kidding, that was obviously the world’s most rhetorical question.

I’m not gonna do Rafflecopter because I hate that it doesn’t appear on this page (fun times with WordPress.com) so I’m just gonna tell you here:

  • Follow both Me and Leah on every social media site possible (I highly recommend then muting at least one of us on Twitter)
  • Obviously add Black Iris to your TBR
  • Most importantly (and mandatory) to enter, leave a comment below to tell us what has you the most excited for Black Iris! (And leave some contact method in your comment.)
  • Due to high international postage costs, giveaway is US only, though if you’re international and want to pay the difference in postage, you are more than welcome!

(Bonus points if you tweet us pictures of hot redheads)

Last List Bloghop: the Jaguar Stones series by P&J Voelkel!

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I’m thrilled to be taking part in the Last List Bloghop organized by the fabulous Kat Kennedy of Cuddlebuggery, highlighting the final Egmont titles before the US branch of the publisher closes its doors. I’m honored to have Pamela Voelkel on the blog today, talking about the research that went into their MG series Jaguar Stones, whose fourth book, The Lost City, released on February 10!

jag final layoutWith his parents in jail and his best friend ignoring him, fourteen-year-old Max Murphy was pretty sure things couldn’t get much worse. But that was before a parade of Maya monsters crashed through his house and the Queen of the Bats tried to sink her fangs into his neck…

Meanwhile, down in the Maya underworld, the evil Death Lords have realized they’ll never conquer the mortal world without conquering social media. So with the bad guys on a charm offensive, it’s up to Max and his Maya friend Lola to reveal the terrible truth before it’s too late.

This epic conclusion to the Jaguar Stones series takes Max and Lola on their wildest adventure yet, north from the teeming rainforest to the lost city at the heart of America’s past.

A TRAVELER’S TALES

Pamela Voelkel, co-author of the Jaguar Stones series with her husband Jon,
explains the impact of research on the books – and their lives.

You could say that Jon spent the first sixteen years of his life researching the Jaguar Stones books because he grew up in Latin America and the series was inspired by his wild childhood. But when we started exploring the Maya regions with our own three children, the story took a different turn. Of course, we were awestruck by the achievements of the ancient Maya, but we also became fascinated by the living Maya. The character of Lola, who is torn between respecting tradition and forging her own life, came out of conversations with modern Maya teenagers and their parents. I don’t think they would have talked to us so freely if we hadn’t been travelling with our own kids. There is so much misinformation about the Maya on the internet that we feel like we owe it to them, and to our middle-school readers, to be rigorous about research.For sure, I could never have described life in the rainforest for Book One, MIDDLEWORLD, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. The way different species work together to survive. The way the rainwater filters down through the limestone to a network of underground rivers and lakes. The way the howler monkeys send shivers down your spine with their terrifying growls. We’ve taken many trips to Belize, Guatemala and Mexico and every time we learn something new. I should stress at this point that I’m not an adventurous person. Like Max in the books, my idea of travel is room service and fluffy towels. I get vertigo every time I climb a Maya pyramid. Having fears of deep water, boats, darkness, bats and enclosed spaces, I thought I would die of terror when we canoed an underground river system. The only thing that made me do it was the need to be able to write about it – and the need to pretend to be brave in front of my kids.For Book two, THE END OF THE WORLD CLUB, we flew to Spain to research the true history of the Conquest and ended up in wild and windswept Galicia, the end of the known world to the Romans. Book Three, THE RIVER OF NO RETURN, is mostly set in the cold and watery Maya underworld. To capture its drippy, misty, bone-chilling malevolence, we explored the dank canals and spooky alleyways of Venice, Italy, in winter.

Publication of the first three Jaguar Stones books took us on book tours all over the States. So when we decided to set the fourth book in North America, we were inspired by our book tour travels. The story of the LOST CITY crosses the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans and up the Mississippi to the ruins of Cahokia in southern Illinois. Of course, the best guides to any place are local booksellers and librarians. So when we needed some very specific locations in New Orleans, we turned for help to Judith Lafitte and Tom Lowenburg of Octavia Books, and award-winning school librarian, Elizabeth Kahn. And so it was that a muggy June night saw the five of us scrambling up levees and inspecting old cemeteries in the dark. By 2am, Jon and I wanted to give up and just invent places, but Tom was outraged. “You have to make all the little lies as true as possible,” he said, “so readers can believe the big lie – which is your story.” After reading the first draft of the book, Elizabeth even took it upon herself to find the exact house and oak tree for our spooky inn in the French Quarter.

Travel has always been one of my passions.* But traveling to research the Jaguar Stones books has taken me to places I would never have dreamed of visiting and introduced me to amazing people that I never would have met. It’s not always easy to pluck up the courage to start a conversation with strangers. But I promise you that when people find out you write books, especially children’s books, everyone wants to help.

*Author’s note: As it happens, I’m traveling as I write this post and that particular sentence was tapped out this morning at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, as I happily waited for my flight home to Boston. Now, fourteen hours later, having got only as far as Dublin airport and being stranded here for the night, I’m feeling slightly less enthusiastic. Oh but wait, someone just pointed out that the Guinness bar is still open…

 Jon & family guatemala(1)Jon (with the buzz cut) with his brother and father at the market in Guatemala

Pamela and MariaPamela and a Maya woman who’s become a friend in Zinacantán, Mexico.

LL & Och a Lacandon Maya
Our daughter with a Lacandon Maya boy at Bonampak, Mexico
Plague DoctorA medieval Plague Doctor comes to life in Venice, Italy.

NOLAClimbing levees in the dark in New Orleans with Elizabeth Kahn, Judith Lafitte and Tom Lowenburg

Galicia coast of deathAnother stormy day at Finisterre – literally the end of the world – on the Coast of Death in Galicia, northern Spain

J&P at Calakmul biosphere, Mexico(1)

Jon and Pamela (J&P) Voelkel are the author-illustrators of the Jaguar Stones series; Pamela does most of the writing and Jon does most of the illustrating.
Their books tell the story of a city boy and a jungle girl – a mirror image of
Jon’s wild childhood in Latin America and Pamela’s altogether tamer
upbringing in an English seaside town. The Voelkels met in London, where
they both worked at the same advertising agency, and now live in Vermont.

To research the Jaguar Stones, they and their three adventure-loving children
have explored over forty Maya sites in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico;
canoed down underground rivers; tracked howler monkeys in the jungle; and
learned to make tortillas on an open fire. Jon’s most frightening experience
was being lost in a pitch-black labyrinth under a Maya pyramid. Pamela’s
most frightening experience was being interviewed by Al Roker on Today.

AUTHOR LINKS:

• Twitter: @pvoelkel @jaguarstones

Facebook

• Website: http://www.jaguarstones.com/

**All photos by J&P Voelkel

BtS Sale, Giveaways, Events, and More!

Hey, strangers! I’ve been pretty lousy at this blog lately because as you may have noticed, Barnes & Noble got a brand-new Teen Blog, and I’ve been blogging over there like a mofo. If you haven’t already checked it out and followed on Twitter, please do! It’s a pretty awesome place with great posts and major emphasis placed on diversity and indie titles, so, I’m psyched to be a part of that and get to keep pimping my favorites.

But, since a lot of cool stuff is coming up and I’m terrible at sending newsletters, here’s what’s up!

First, Behind the Scenes is on sale for .99, and it’s finally got its beautiful new e-cover! This is the cheapest it’s ever gonna get, so whether you were thinking about buying it or just wanna be wonderful and supportive in the best way for a dollar, now would be a fabulous time!

BTS_Button1Second, I’m moderating my very first panel this week and it is a seriously great group of authors and books. Like, I have never mentally RSVP’d YES to an event so fast in my life, and to then be asked to moderate was a huge honor, so here’s hoping I won’t screw that up with all my fangirling and drooling.

Third, I’m doing my very first workshop on Sunday, for SCBWI MG/YA Romance Day, and I’m really excited (and nervous, obviously) about it! It’s gonna be a great day, and I hope to see some of you there! (Registration is here.)

Fourth, you can enter to win an ARC of Under the Lights and fifteen other 2015 contemporary YAs by some seriously incredible authors. Check out this post for information; the contest ends on Valentine’s Day!

B9W3A37IQAAwNpEFifth, you can also enter to win an ARC of Under the Lights, as well as four amazing contemporaries by wonderful debuts, in our #YALoveFest giveaway! Check out this post for details.

And finally, 2015 NYC TEEN AUTHOR FESTIVAL. I cannot express to you how excited I am to be taking part in this week-long bookish event this year as an author, after attending the last two years as a major fan. This is the festival where I met and got books signed by Nova Ren Suma, A.S. King, and Julie Murphy. This is the festival where I first heard someone talk about having a different notebook for each manuscript and basically changing the way I write on the go. This is the festival where Alison Cherry convinced me to buy The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar and it promptly went on to become one of my favorite YAs of the year.

Basically, I have a lot of warm feelings about this week.

You can see the lineup for the entire week here, but here’s the info on both the panel I’ll be doing:

FireShot Screen Capture #085 - '2015 NYC Teen Author Festival I NYC Teen Author Festival' - nyctaf_com_2015-scheduleand my signing slot at Books of Wonder, if you don’t yet have a signed copy of Behind the Scenes!

FireShot Screen Capture #086 - '2015 NYC Teen Author Festival I NYC Teen Author Festival' - nyctaf_com_2015-schedule*glances at list of people she’s signing with* *realizes just how much money she’s going to be spending in that half hour alone* *cringes a little*

SO, that’s a whole lot of stuff going on, not to mention lots more coming this summer, and I’m busy writing Right of First Refusal and the still-unnamed book 3 in the Radleigh University series, plus Under the Lights ARCs should be coming this month, so, busy times! I’d love any help spreading the word about any of these things, and I hope to see a bunch of you this week!

Top Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read From Contemporary YA

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This is my most shameful of shame posts right here. THANKS, The Broke and the Bookish, for exposing my dark shortcomings! I try to be well read in contemporary YA but sometimes, you just fall behind, and things happen, and dogs eat your homework, and YOU KNOW HOW IT IS. So, here it is – my TTT of shame.

Clean by Amy Reed. In my defense, I finally actually bought this one, but I think I just don’t want to be done with her backlist, so I keep not reading it. Like, I’m saving it. Because I have issues. And it mocks me from my shelf. As it should.

Brooklyn Burning by Steve Brezenoff. “Uh, Dahlia,” you are saying, especially if you are Katie Locke, “this book has a genderless narrator, and you loved Guy in Real Life, and you just bought this one. WTF are you even waiting for?” And I shake my head sadly, because I don’t know. I don’t know.

Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia. Do you even know how long ago I bought this book? Me neither. Beautiful cover! Road trip! Why haven’t I read it? I don’t know, stop hounding me!

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. So, I bought this one a long time ago because Emery Lord and I have such similar taste in books that when she originally wrote her book recs post, this was the only one on it I hadn’t already read and loved. But, because I love to blog about lesser-known writers, I’m slow as hell when it comes to reading the Big Ones.

Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt. Honestly, this sounds like such a Dahlia book, and I bought it such a long time ago, and I have no excuse for why I haven’t read it yet. SOON.

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher. Same as above, except that I actually just bought it, so this is mildly less embarrassing.

Dare You To by Katie McGarry. I don’t know why I’m so slow to read these. They’re so my type of book, but I think they just remind me so much of the kind of NA I’m a little burned out on right now? But all things come back around, and I own this one too, so I’m sure I’ll be all over it once I’m back in the right mood.

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley. See: Uses for Boys.

Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald. This is actually one I am constantly tempted to pull off my shelf and then blogging gets in the way. In my mind, it’s the book I’m saving for when I’m in a bad enough mood to need something super fun and also to rage against the blogging machine and read whatever I damn please.

Golden by Jessi Kirby. I’m a little gun-shy about this one just because In Honor wasn’t as much my thing as I’d hoped/expected it to be, but this is the book that seems to be everyone’s favorite by Kirby and I’m anxious to try another one of hers. I actually jumped on it, like, the day it came out in paperback, and then promptly accidentally left it in my office and so never got a chance to read it. Actually, since I’m writing this right now, I am going to actually remember to bring it home! This was so useful! Thanks, TTT!

Top Ten ARCs for Which I’d Punch a Clown

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Look, if you give me a freebie Top Ten Tuesday, I’m going to choose something completely self-serving and that involves punching clowns. It’s just who I am. So! Bearing in mind this post makes me sound like a completely ungrateful brat, because I actually have a crazy number of incredible ARCs on hand right now, here are 10 more I am completely and totally dying for:

Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius. I don’t even know if ARCs exist for this one yet, honestly; I’m not even sure it has a pub date. (Though it does have a cover.) But ohhhh History Nerd Me wants this so bad, especially while I plow through my draft of my own historically inspired contemp YA…

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. OK, I actually do know ARCs don’t exist for this one yet, but I also know they will soon, and when they do, I am throwing myself on the altar of Balzer & Bray.

Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout. This one sounds so freaking cute and the cover is adorable and the concept is adorable and how can I not have this in my life until June?

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. I keep watching with envy as people read their ARCs of this one and I need my fix of dancers and manipulative girls and diversity and all things promised!

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn. Instabuy author to the maxxxxxx, and she recently posted a pic of her ARCs which means they exist which means my hands get grabby at the mere thought.

The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi. Want want waaaant. I’m pretty sure these ARCs already exist, but…I don’t have one? And I want one?

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway. Audrey, Wait! is forever one of my fave contemp reads, and in general, I love Robin Benway’s authorial voice. (I started another of hers – I forget which – and I put it down only because I had it in e-only form and I’ve found that doesn’t work for me well in YA, which is also why I haven’t downloaded even the books I have access to on Edelweiss.) Anyway, between that and the awesome-sounding premise, this is definitely on my 2015 Must List.

Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott. Teacher-student book? Nothing further need be said other than gimme gimme gimme. Don’t know if this book has ARCs yet but if it does… *goes clown hunting*

For the Record by Charlotte Huang. This book sounds like so much fun, and having enjoyed several celeb books last year for the first time in…maybe ever, I’m looking forward to some more in 2015, especially of the rock star-adjacent variety! Also love love love that adorable cover. Pretty sure ARCs aren’t available yet, since it’s a November title, but Random House, I know where you live…

And finally, slot number 10 is dedicated to those ARCs I’ve requested and hope are coming my way, namely The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne, Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud, Even After Everything by Michelle Levy, This Side of Home by Renee Watson, and The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. (And of course, Black Iris by Leah Raeder, with this lovely inscription.) A little cheat-y? I don’t care. THIS IS MY TOP TEN FREEBIE AND I DO WHAT I WANT.

What ARCs would you punch a clown for?

MARIEKE NIJKAMP HAS EVEN BETTER NEWS THAN LAST TIME!!!

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Yes, this is my personal blog, and that means that sometimes when someone is even dearer to me than myself, I give it up for a takeover for Very Important Reasons.

My glorious CP, Marieke Nijkamp, has Very Important Reasons. And no blog. So here she is on mine, with some VERY EXCITING NEWS THAT IS EVEN BETTER THAN HER LAST NEWS AND WHICH WE HAVE BEEN HOLDING IN FOR SO LONG WHICH WAS PROBABLY ALMOST AS HARD FOR HER AS IT WAS FOR ME. NOBODY KNOWS THE SELFISH PAIN I FEEL!

Soooo, voila! MARIEKE.

***

I’M SO EXCITED TO BE BACK HERE. Thank you, Dahl, the great and wonderful! <3

One Friday in Bath, not too long ago, you could’ve seen a writer wandering around town with a slightly frazzled, bewildered, deer-in-headlights look on her face. Her mission: find a quiet place for A Phone Call. Success rate: so far, zilch.

All week, the coffee shops had been relatively quiet and relatively empty. Which she knew because, after all, she spent much time caffeinating she investigated. That Friday afternoon however, every. single. coffee place was crowded, busy, and noisy as, well, a touristy place during weekends. But she had A Phone Call to make and also A Cold so she needed a quiet place.

As a last resort, we (featuring me as the slightly frazzled, bewildered, deer-in-headlights protagonist and Sarah as wonderful, amused CP) circled back to our starting place, an equally crowded, busy, and noisy coffee place only to discover that it was recently refurbished and there was more seating upstairs.

Even better, the stairs were hidden so well, no one could actually find them. Once we reached the second floor, there were only three other people there, and everything was beautiful.

Except.

We settled into two comfy chairs, I counted the seconds until the hour, and as soon as we reached the right time… my phone’s signal died completely.

No signal. Nothing. Noooooothing.

At this point, I was about ready to scream/run around/climb atop the nearest building to make sure the signal reappeared again. Instead, we performed a somewhat complicated version of musical chairs to the sound of my heart beating up a storm, and I folded myself halfway against the window and miraculously, my phone rang.

And then, everything really was beautiful.

The week before my spectacular agent sent me a DM late at night to ask if she could call (for the record, Jen, duh) and she said the magic words: an editor loved my book—loved it, completely got it—and wanted to offer and let’s set up a time for the two of us to chat.

That Friday, I did run around and scream. The next Friday, as I curled up in my chair in the corner of a half-abandoned coffee shop, I talked to the editor—my editor—for the first time, and I was blown away by just how well she understood the story and how much she shared my vision for it. I loved her approach of editing and publishing.

Afterwards I sent an email to my agent along the lines of ヽ(❤‿❤)ノ because I’m a professional, and we accepted the wondrous Annette Pollert’s offer.

Which means I’m honored and excited and absolutely delighted to announce that THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS—my school shooting book, former code name: Tragic Contemp Where A Lot Of People Die—will be published by Sourcebooks next year. Next year.

Deal

I have lots more to say about it, and no doubt I will over the coming months. But for now: I couldn’t have done this without the support of some amazing people. My critique partners and writing friends, who have been here every single day. My agent, who is as fierce about this story as I am. My editor, who’s pushed it to new heights. My WNDB team, who will change the world. My family and closest friends, who have put up with more than a decade of storytelling and continue to support me. Love you all.

And last but not least, this community. All of you dreamers, wishers, liars, hopers, prayers, magic-bean-buyers. Thank you for believing in and being passionate about stories. We will spin some flax golden tales together, and I can’t wait to share this story and the characters I love so with you all.

Guys. IT’S GOING TO BE A REAL BOOK!

(And if you want to add it on Goodreads, you can!)

Cover Reveal for Black Iris by Leah Raeder!

Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii party people! Welcome to the cover reveal for none other than the infamous Black Iris, by my fellow menace to sincerity, Leah Raeder.

So, unfortunately, this book didn’t suck. Like, at all. In fact, it’s actually pretty great. So great that I actually blurbed it and everything. Voila!

“Raeder masterfully weaves a dark, twisted, dangerously sexy quest for revenge with a raw, honest search for kinship and self-acceptance. Black Iris demands your attention, your heart, and an immediate reread.”

(Or, as it will gloriously appear on her blog, “Dark, Twisted, Dangerously Sexy” – Dahlia Adler, aka the world’s greatest personal ad.)

Those of you at all familiar with my archnemesis are probably aware that she’s written some pretty epic blog posts about queerness and sexual fluidity, including this newest one about whether Black Iris contains f/f. (Spoiler alert: it does. A lot. And it’s absurdly hot.) Those hoping to see more of that in BI (hehehehe) will not be disappointed. I love New Adult, but it’s impossible to ignore that it isn’t yet nearly as diverse as it both could be and should be, especially when it comes to romances between girls and examinations of the LGBTQ spectrum. The fact that Black Iris features both, as well as different kinds of mental illness, makes it stand out in so many ways.

And that’s before you even get to the gorgeous writing (duh – you’ve read Unteachable, right?) and gloriously twisted revenge plot.

Basically, buy it, read it, love it. Then read it again.

And for a glimpse into how good it is, here’s a little excerpt before we get to the cover…

FIRST CHAPTER EXCERPT:

BLACK IRIS by Leah Raeder

April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot said, and that’s because it kills. It’s the month with the highest suicide rate. You’d think December, or even January—the holidays and all that forced cheer and agonized smiling pushing fragile people to the edge—but actually it’s spring, when the world wakes from frostbound sleep and something cruel and final stirs inside those of us who are broken. Like Eliot said: mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain. In the deepest throes of depression, when sunlight is anguish and the sky throbs like one big raw migraine and you just want to sleep until you or everything else dies, you’re less likely to commit suicide than someone coming out of a depressive episode. Drug companies know this. That’s why antidepressants have to be marked with the warning MAY CAUSE SUICIDAL THOUGHTS.

Because what brings you back to life also gives you the means to destroy yourself.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn’t worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She’s not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it’s time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She’s going to show them all.

When I saw this cover, I immediately fell in love with it – I think it’s a perfect display of dark, feminine power, which is exactly the vibe that runs through the entirety of Black Iris. Also, yeah, it’s a little genital, which, you know, Black Iris.

For someone who started out with Rainbowface, this whole cover thing has actually gone pretty damn well.

BOOK DETAILS:

Atria Books | 384 pages | ISBN: 9781476786421 | On sale: April 28, 2015 | List price: $15.00 | eBook ISBN: 9781476786438 | eBook list price: $5.99

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Leah Raeder is a writer and unabashed nerd. Aside from reading her brains out, she enjoys graphic design, video games, fine whiskey, and the art of self-deprecation. She lives with her very own manic pixie dream boy in Chicago. Visit her at LeahRaeder.com.

Find Leah online:
http://www.leahraeder.com/
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

PRE-ORDER BLACK IRIS:
Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Books-a-Million * IndieBound

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