Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hello guys! Today, I'm featuring a YA contemporary starring a half-Japanese, half-American heroine! It's an engrossing read that tackles various themes. Readers who like character growth and family dynamics would enjoy this. I'm interviewing Akemi Dawn, whose name is so gorgeous, all about her writing and Starfish. Stick around for a giveaway at the end!

How does your background in the social sciences and in the US Navy contribute to your writing?
I don’t feel like they play a role in the stories I write, but I do think they’ve had an effect on my work ethic. I’m really good with deadlines—they keep me focused and I tend to work faster when I’m on a time-limit. There was also a saying in the military that went, “Hurry up and wait.” And patience is one of the most important things you can learn in the publishing industry!

How would you best describe your writing style?
Lately everything I write seems to be moody and emotional, and I don’t know why that is. A few years ago, I wanted to write stories that entertained people. Now I have a bizarre need to make everyone cry!

How is your writing process? Could you share it with us?
I’ve got a three-year-old and a one-year-old, and my husband works off-shore. When he’s away, I usually only get to write in the evenings after the kids are in bed. But when he’s home, I write every free moment I can. So it’s less of a process, and more of a desperate attempt to get all the words down immediately. I also start with very minimal notes—I write down character names, and a rough idea of where the story is headed. And then I get to know my characters as I write, and let their personalities shape the scenes.

What or who inspired you to write Starfish?
My inspiration behind Starfish was basically my desire to write the book I needed most as a teen.

How did you craft Kiko's voice? What are the defining points and limitations in establishing her voice?
Kiko is more like me than any other character I’ve ever written, and probably ever will write. So a lot of her voice was remembering how I would’ve reacted at seventeen, and what I was feeling. But she’s also so much stronger than I was too. She spends so much of the book trying to navigate these feelings of being “not good enough,” while also having big hopes and dreams and wanting to heal. She goes through such a major journey, so as much as I could establish her voice at the beginning, I also had to let her grow.

Which was the hardest scene to write, if any?
The scene where Kiko is in the car on her way to California. I find travelling scenes so difficult to write. Maybe because I hate travelling in real life! I find them slow, and kind of a necessary evil. If I could, I’d just teleport all my characters from one place to the next. The driving could be all over in a sentence!

What is your favorite line from the book?
Almost every chapter ends in a line that describes what Kiko is drawing or painting. And I love so many of these, that it’s almost impossible for me to choose. But the one I think reflects the book the most reads, “I draw a very small fish swimming in the ocean and realizing it’s filled with planets and stars.” This is also in the same chapter where the reader will learn what a “starfish” is, so I think it’s really fitting for the book (and cover!).

If you could write something out of the YA contemporary genre, what genre would it be and what would it be about?
I’m actually working on a YA fantasy right now! But I don’t like to talk about projects this early in the drafting stage. I’m always a bit worried that the more I say, the more likely I am to feel burned out on a story. But I’m having a lot of fun with it, and will hopefully get to talk about it more in the future!

What's next for Akemi?
Book 2 was officially announced last week. It’s called SUMMER BIRD BLUE, and will be out in Fall 2018 with Simon Pulse. It’s about a teen songwriter who loses her sister in a tragic accident and is sent to live with her aunt in Hawaii while her mom deals with her own grief. It’s about loss, and family, and learning how to say goodbye to someone who is already gone. And one of the best parts is that I get to work with my incredible editor, Jen, for a second time. I’m thrilled, and can’t wait to share more soon!

Thank you, Akemi!

Photo by Rory Lewis Photography
About the Author:

Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of Starfish. She’s a proud Ravenclaw and Star Wars enthusiast, who served in the US Navy for five years and has a BA in social sciences from UNLV. Originally from Las Vegas, she currently lives in England with her husband, two children, and their Pekingese mix. Starfish will be published later this year (9/26/17, Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster), with a second YA contemporary to follow in Fall 2018. She is represented by Penny Moore of Empire Literary.

Find Akemi: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

Book Description:

Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: September 26th 2017 by Simon Pulse

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.


Thanks to Akemi for sponsoring this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Pre-order of Starfish
Scope: International

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Get your daily dose of YA and MG debut goodness in #CelebratingDebutantes2017
Click the button above to be redirected to the main page where you can browse the list of novels and authors that we are featuring.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Dear Martin by Nic Stone (Playlist + Giveaway)

Hi guys! Sorry for the silence - I've been swallowed up by work - but I'm now back full force! Today I'm featuring one of the most anticipated debuts for 2017 - Dear Martin by Nic Stone! Nic is going to share with us her playlist for her debut. Stick around for the music and the giveaway!

For seventeen year old Justyce McAllister—and many of the real life African American young men (and ladies) like him—life isn’t always easy. This playlist includes everything from songs that would get him and his best friend Manny feeling good about themselves (see: Classic Man and The Man) to heavier songs that highlight the need for change (Everything Must Change; Fight the Power) to songs that convey hope for a better future (A Change is Gonna Come; Glory) to even a couple of unexpected tracks you’d likely hear on one of Manny’s random playlists (Somethin Bad; A World Alone). Taken together, they represent the message of DEAR MARTIN to a tee: life and people are complex, and it’s perfectly fine to feel, but at the end of the day, it’s up to us to offer the world our very best.

Thank you, Nic!

About the Author:

Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.

Stone lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @getnicced or on her website

Find Nic: Website | Twitter | Instagram| Goodreads

Book Description:

Hardcover, 224 pages
Expected publication: October 17th 2017 by Crown Books for Young Readers

Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.

Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.


Thanks to Nic for sponsoring this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Signed Personalized Hardcover and bookmark
Scope: US only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get your daily dose of YA and MG debut goodness in #CelebratingDebutantes2017
Click the button above to be redirected to the main page where you can browse the list of novels and authors that we are featuring.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green (Character Interview + Giveaway)

Hi guys! We're finally entering the second month of #CelebratingDebutantes2017! Thanks to everyone who participated and helped us in coming up with these features, as well as to our readers who continue participating and supporting the event.

Today, I'm have a special treat for you guys. Scholastic is sponsoring the giveaway for our featured novel: Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green.
It's going to be open internationally! So stick around for that.

In the meantime, Noah is on the hot seat for an interview. Let's start with that, shall we?

Hello, Noah! Introduce yourself, please.
Noah Grimes. I am nearly 16, and am the star of so-called ‘novel’ Noah Can’t Even. It’s a monumentally terrible piece of writing, full of lies about my life, and I wouldn’t recommend you bother reading it. I am a boy, and live in a small town called Little Fobbing, situated in the county of Lincolnshire, England. My favourite things are Agatha Christie novels, Murder She Wrote and Skittles. Not bragging, but I’m probably going to be made a Prefect next year.

If you could change something about your story or your story world, what would it be? Why?
Well, for a start, I would be the wealthy son of an aristocrat because it is perfectly obvious to me, and most people who meet me, that I must have been accidentally swapped at birth, and should in fact be royalty or something. I have to suffer the daily indignity of my mother having no money and refusing to cook restaurant-quality food – but if I was rich, there would be staff to do this. Also, I would have more muscles and not be so skinny. Finally, I would never have to take part in a PE lesson ever again, thus removing a major source of humiliation for me.

If you could invite the author of your story, Simon, what would you two do together?
I am still very angry with Simon for writing this book, so this is unlikely to happen – unless we go for a cliff top walk and I ‘accidentally’ push him over the edge…

Harry or Sophie? Why?
Sophie for advice, Harry for cuddles.

What is your favorite Beyonce song, since your mom is a dedicated fan?
I am actually not a fan of popular music and it is especially hard for me to like Beyoncé when my mother has ruined most of her songs. My gran is a big fan of 80’s music, so sometimes I listen to those with her.

If you could attend Pride Parade, would you go? What would be your outfit and what would you do?
Yes, I always enjoy any sort of parade or carnival – especially if I am taking part. I recently enjoyed huge success and acclaim when I dressed up as a Pikachu for the town’s summer carnival parade. Many people pointed and laughed, so I would probably go to a Pride parade as that and hand out free Skittles as they are both rainbow coloured and my favourite type of confectionary.

What is the hardest problem you have faced in life? How did you deal with it?
It was pretty tough when I was overlooked for Dinner Monitor in Year 8. I was pretty confident they were going to elect me as Dinner Monitor, so it came as a blow when it didn’t happen. To deal with this, I mounted a smear campaign against two of the successful candidates, highlighting the fact I saw them fail to wash their hands properly after going to the bathroom. They were forced to resign and I took my rightful position.

What is your deepest, darkest secret?
I have a copy of Nancy Drew – The Clue of the Dancing Puppet, which belongs to the school library and is overdue by two years. I am too embarrassed to return it and anyway, the fine would be huge. I am devising a way to hack the school library computer system and remove all trace of my ever taking it out. But all this is obviously secret.

If you could read a book now, what would it be and why?
I am very interested in a book called ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie. The book promises to increase my popularity, help win people to my way of thinking and increase my influence and prestige. How fabulous! With this book, I feel I will be unstoppable and will definitely be elected Head Boy in the Sixth Form.

Is there something you would like to tell the audience/readers?
I would be delighted if you would follow me on Twitter, where I talk about important things - @noahgrimes12

Thank you, Noah and Simon for making this happen!

About the Author:

Simon is an author and screenwriter and he sometimes does a bit of directing too. He actually did a Law degree at Cambridge University, but decided he loved writing and directing too much to go and be a lawyer. He has worked on lots of West End shows including The Rocky Horror Show, Rent and West Side Story and he has also directed Hollyoaks for Lime Pictures / C4. He writes screenplays with his good friend Sarah Counsell, including Rules of Love, a feature-length musical rom-com for the BBC, which has since sold around the world. Noah Can’t Even was selected for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators ‘Undiscovered Voices’ competition in 2016 and it’s his first novel.

Find Simon: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

Book Description:

Paperback, 365 pages
Published May 4th 2017 by Scholastic

Poor Noah Grimes! His father disappeared years ago, his mother's Beyonce tribute act is an unacceptable embarrassment, and his beloved gran is no longer herself. He only has one friend, Harry, and school is...Well, it's pure HELL. Why can't Noah be normal, like everyone else at school? Maybe if he struck up a romantic relationship with someone - maybe Sophie, who is perfect and lovely - he'd be seen in a different light? But Noah's plans are derailed when Harry kisses him at a party. That's when things go from bad to utter chaos.


Big thanks to Scholastic for sponsoring this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Finished Copy of Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green!
Scope: International

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get your daily dose of YA and MG debut goodness in #CelebratingDebutantes2017
Click the button above to be redirected to the main page where you can browse the list of novels and authors that we are featuring.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Wishing Heart by JC Welker (Playlist + Giveaway)

Hi guys! I'm featuring another playlist for #CelebratingDebutantes2017. At this rate, I would have hundreds of songs to download before the event is over. Stick around for a special giveaway at the end - open internationally!

Jennifer is going to share her playlist for the Wishing Heart, a YA fantasy with LGBT theme. I hope you guys enjoy the music! Jennifer you can take it from here. :)

Music is like a seed, it heavily influences my writing, planting seeds for me to grow a rich, tangled world. It can transport me into the mind of the character and the vision of the scene I'm creating. And in writing The Wishing Heart music created many seeds in reflecting a girl looking for love through stories and magic.

While some songs on the playlist dramatically evoke feelings and hit to the heart of each character, others reflect the world that Rebel becomes immersed in and the dark things crawling within it. You’ll notice the songs fluctuate with the books chapters, starting from the hopeless world Rebel lives in, leading into the magical, the whimsical, and the macabre, and back again until you feel like a storm is building.

If I had to pick one song for the theme of TWH it would be TRUE COLORS by Zedd/Kesha because it hits to the core of both Rebel and Anjeline coming to truly see each other for who they are, and their hearts. At one point the last song on the playlist ‘Hero’ made me cry every time I listened to it, because it’s the song I played continually when I wrote the last few chapters of the book-of Rebel’s character Arc.

And I hope you’ll see why.

Thank you, Jennifer for sharing!

About the Author:

J.C. Welker is an author who's been, among other things, a fashion designer, a filmmaker and a kickboxer (seriously). Her short documentaries, which focused on homeless Iraq veterans and lgbtq+ issues in the military have been featured on CURRENT TV, and her debut novel won first place in the paranormal category of the 2016 YARWA Rosemary Awards. She continues to work towards giving a voice to stories that are needed, while facing magic and monsters along the way.

Find Jennifer: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Book Description:

Published May 1st 2017 by Entangled Teen

Winner of the 2016 YARWA Rosemary Awards for paranormal fiction that Mia Siegert (JERKBAIT) calls, “An exhilarating read.”

With a book in her bag and a switchblade in her pocket, Rebel's been thieving her way through life while hoping for a cure to fix her ailing heart.

But when the bejeweled vase she just tried to hawk turns out to be a jinni's vessel, Rebel gets lost to her world and dragged within another. Now every magical being in the city wants the vase for himself.

Thrust into a game of cat and mouse in a world she never knew existed, Rebel must use her uncanny skills to find a way to free Anjeline the Wishmaker.

But wishes have consequences. And contracts. Anjeline's freedom could unravel a love like Rebel has never known, or it could come at the cost of Rebel's heart...

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Entangled


Thanks, Jennifer, for sponsoring this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: The Wishing Heart (finished copy) from the Book depository!
Scope: International

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get your daily dose of YA and MG debut goodness in #CelebratingDebutantes2017
Click the button above to be redirected to the main page where you can browse the list of novels and authors that we are featuring.