You may have heard it here - the ARCs for Personal Demons are in hand.

And I have one copy to give away.

This is big. It's the first book I sold as an agent. An it's the best YA paranormal romance I've read, hands down.  Which means, it's going to take something special to win.

Here's what you've have to do.

Write a story, one hundred words or fewer, using these words:


Bonus points if you can include this phrase: "Release The Krokos."

Contest opens NOW, and runs through midnight Wednesday, June 30th. Post your entry in the comments section.
There's definitely something to be said about the awesomeness that is Juju.  I can only wish I could create fangirl photoshopped artwork like hers.

Check our her review of Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers.
My Deception Contest has now officially come to a close. I'm giving away the first book in Lee Nichol's Haunting Emma series. After using the Research Randomizer, the winner is...

Cleverly Inked! Check out her blog.

Congratulations. I've sent you an email. Send me your address so I can ship out your new book! :)
Earlier this week, on twitter I attempted to participate in one of the recent running hashtags: #booksthatchangedmyworld.  I've never claimed to be a hashtag or a twitter expert, and as a result I screwed up my hashtags (which @dankrokos, aka the hashtag police, happily pointed out to me).

But more to the point, I listed some of the books read to me when I was little (Lord of the Rings - and yes this was my dad's idea of a bedtime story), books I read in school (Cry, the Beloved Country and Pride & Prejudice - thank God for my sophomore English teacher Mrs. Hall.  I don't know who I'd be without her), books I read and taught to my students (The Great Gatsby, Freakonomics, The Burn Journals and The Glass Castle), books recommended to me by people I love and respect (Beat the Reaper, Ender's Game, How I Live Now and Jellicoe Road), books that I got as ARCs once I joined the publishing industry (Shiver and You) and reaffirmed why this job is perfect for me, and books that somehow found their way into my hands as if the universe knew I needed them (Lucky and The Unbearable Lightness of Being).

If I went into any kind of substantial detail about why or how these books changed my world, I would ramble on forever (and besides, that's a conversation better had over a soy chai latte while curled up on the bordello couch in the office). 

But it's fitting that the day I posted about #booksthatchangedmyWORLD was the same day I started reading another book - one vastly different from my usual day to day reading - that would do just that.

Change. My. World.


My best friend (we've been friends since we were fourteen and I used to get him in trouble with our Chemistry teacher, who knows how he's managed to put up with me this long) is in the Air Force.  He is the kind of person who woke up every day to a framed picture of an airplane across from his bed - and now that's the airplane he flies. He flies in and out of all kinds of locales, and he's flown into Iraq and Afghanistan more times than I can keep track of.

So when a copy of WAR by Sebastian Junger landed on my desk at the office, I was torn about the prospect of reading it.  I've heard war stories - good bad distressing emotional ridiculous frustrating - and I wasn't entirely sure what this book could really add to my perspective.  But I don't read as much non-fiction as I want to and it's published by the same imprint that did Columbine so I took it hope and planned to read a chapter before I went to bed.

I read almost 100 pages that night.  I read the other 200 the following night.  And for the past two days, it's been constantly in the back corners of my mind - a book I can't wait to pass around and then demand people talk about it with me.

In his breakout bestseller, The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger created “a wild ride that brilliantly captures the awesome power of the raging sea and the often futile attempts of humans to withstand it” (Los Angeles Times Book Review).

Now, Junger turns his brilliant and empathetic eye to the reality of combat—the fear, the honor, and the trust among men in an extreme situation whose survival depends on their absolute commitment to one another. His on-the-ground account follows a single platoon through a 15-month tour of duty in the most dangerous outpost in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. Through the experiences of these young men at war, he shows what it means to fight, to serve, and to face down mortal danger on a daily basis.


I have this habit of dog-earring the bottom corner of pages that have amazing and quotable insights, words and phrases or language that I feel I need to write down in my own handwriting and tape onto my wall (it's no wonder I taught rhetoric).  I used to actually write in all my books, but when people asked to borrow them, I felt like giving them a book with all my underlining and annotations would cheapen their own reading experience.

My copy of WAR is dog-earred now - to the point that it's sometimes two or three or four pages in a row.  The brutal honesty and the raw emotion has a haunting quality that makes this book one that will stay with you.  And it's an important book - especially right now - for people to read.

And here's my parting quote - a moment of insight that hit me and I have to share because it reflects the brilliance that is this book.

"...soldiers gravitate toward whatever works best with the least risk.  At that point combat stops being a grand chess game between generals and becomes a no-holds-barred experiment in pure killing.  As a result, much of modern military tactics is geared toward maneuvering the enemy into a position where they can essentially be massacred from safety.  It sounds dishonorable only if you imagine that modern war is about honor; it's not.  It's about winning, which means killing the enemy on the most unequal terms possible.  Anything less simply results in the loss of more of your own men." (140)
The incomparable Mer-Bear (also known as godsend Meredith Barnes) is one of our former FinePrint interns who graduated to literary assistant and godsend to The Janet Reid.


Suzie is awesome, gracious, and brave enough to tote me to some pretty cool things (and by tote, I mean really tote. There’s this bag with mesh on the sides so I can see and breathe. Suzie is very strong). The most recent awesome thing to which I was toted was this past Saturday, at the American Independent Writers Conference in Washington, D.C. It was great. There was breakfast, bottles of juice and hot tea everywhere you turned—completely unpoliced. Another item of which there was a plethora was the “YA” query.

Now, Mer-Bear, you might be thinking. Those quotation marks are completely gratuitous. There is a real thing that is referred to as the YA query. It’s real, so you need exactly zero quotation marks. Well. See, I’ve got you there. Because what Suzie and I encountered at the AIW Conference from time to time was a NOT-YA query. I simplify with the quotation marks. These queries were pitched as YA by authors who don’t know what YA means. And that’s not a jab at those authors. YA is a wily genre, as difficult to hogtie and get a good look at as a galloping crud.

Here are some questions we got right before or right after a “YA” query.

• “Do I need to dumb down the vocabulary?”
• *After relating the plot* “Do you think this is for a YA reader?”
• *After relating the themes, pre-relating-the-plot* “Is that appropriate for a YA reader?”
• (Most tellingly) “What does YA mean?”

Good questions. The answers: NO!, Of course, Of course, and…see below.

The basics: YA readers are technically 14-to-18-years-old (and, as Suzie lovingly puts it, “those of us who are still 15-years-old at heart). The protagonists are usually 16-to-18. Not older than 19. There is usually a romance. This romance often includes a physical relationship, as steamy as necessary—but sex scenes tend to be done off the page.

The not-so-basics: More and more, YA is a category, even moreso than adult, that deals with dark themes and dark emotions. Self-esteem, love, loss, fear. Is it “coming of age?” Well, yeah. Because as the characters deal with these problems, they grow and change. But it’s more than that.

YA explores these themes using characters who are on the verge of being or are already completely without moorings. They’re looking at leaving home for the first time, or taking up some sort of mantle or responsibility. Circumstances force them to act without the requisite skill sets fully formed. YA characters play emotional/psychological catch up.

That’s what makes them sympathetic not only for teens, who are themselves facing changes they might not be ready to make (going to college, falling in love, etc.), but also to adults. We’ve all been there. We know that feeling well. It’s gut-wrenching, with the repetition in one’s head of the following: “ohmigodohmigod no I’ve never done this before how do I do this?!”

When you talk about YA like that, it becomes clearer that everything is permissible and vocabulary is inconsequential. Sincere crises, dealt with for the first time and on-the-fly make YA what it is. Now. Do you have to know Facebook too? Probably. Someone who doesn’t know that “friend” is now a verb has no shot. Unless you’re writing Paranormal YA, of course, of which I hear there’s a dearth. ;)


So what to do if the YA genre still seems pretty opaque and you're thinking "Wait, am I writing YA?" - you need to read some YA books.  Check out some of Suzie & Mer-Bear's favorites.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Before I Fall  by Lauren Oliver
Beautiful by Amy Reed
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
One of the most sought after book's at BEA this year was The Passage by Justin Cronin.  It's a post apocalyptic thriller complete with a virus that turns people into vampire-like creatures.  According to a PW interview I read, Cronin's daughter asked him to write a story about a little girl who saves the world.  And he wrote The Passage in response.  The first of a trilogy, it's almost 800 pages.  But it lives up to the hype.

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

There have been some comparison's to Stephen King's The Stand and with good reason.  Cronin's put together a powerful and epic tale, and despite it's length, those middle 500 pages fly by in no time.  And when I finally closed the book yesterday, I couldn't wait to discuss a few details and wonder what will happen in the next installment.  In face, the only downside to The Passage is that I have to wait two years for the next book to come out.
Lee Nichols was born in Marblehead, Mass., raised in Santa Barbara, and now lives in Yarmouth, Maine. Which is probably why the four years she attended Hampshire College in Amherst, where she studied history and psychology, made her antsy. It was much too far from the ocean. She is the author of five novels for adults and the HAUNTING EMMA series for young adults. She is married to novelist Joel Naftali, who sometimes writes as Joel N. Ross, and they have one son.


Before writing DECEPTION, you wrote several adult novels. What made you want to write a YA novel and what was that transition like?

I originally conceived of DECEPTION as an adult novel, but the more I worked with it, the more I realized it was better suited for YA. I just kept making the character younger and younger. I love reading YA, and if I love reading something, I start to want to write it. It felt like a very natural transition for me.

Paranormal YA is of course very popular right now, are there any series out there that are your favorites?

I was lucky enough to get blurbs from some of my favorite authors: Carrie Jones, who’s writing the wonderful NEED series and Claudia Gray who’s EVERNIGHT series is so great. I also really enjoyed Cassandra Clare’s MORTAL INSTRUMENTS.

DECEPTION is the first book of the HAUNTING EMMA Series - can you give us any quick teasers about what's in store for Emma and Bennett in later books?

In book two, BETRAYAL (March 2011), Emma really lets loose with her powers and Bennett starts to turn into a serious bad boy. In POSSESSION (Fall 2011), ghosts start possessing kids at Emma’s school.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

After I co-wrote my first non-fiction book with my husband. I just thought, this is way better than my cruddy administrative assistant job.

What's your writing regimen like? Do you outline and plot everything out or does the story unfold as you write?

I’m a serious, scene-by-scene outliner. Not that I never surprise myself with what’s happening, or don’t allow things to unfold naturally, but my outline keeps me from having writer’s block and makes it easier for me to maintain a writing schedule.

How important is music to your writing? Do you have a soundtrack or are there any artists you want to give a shout out to?

I’m incapable of concentrating with music in the background, I can’t even listen to classical. And when I wrote DECEPTION, I had a three-year-old son, so I didn’t really want to be listening to the kind of music Emma would like with him around. I found myself playing CDs in the car on the way to pick him up from preschool that would inspire me. One song I really loved was Bob Schneider’s C’MON BABY. The video kind of sucks and so does the name, for that matter, but I love this song and I think it perfectly encapsulates Emma’s feelings about discovering how special and dangerous she is.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers out there?

One thing I do suggest, that most people don’t, is to start with non-fiction. A lot more non-fiction is published each year than fiction and it’s a much easier market to break into. And in between writing those books, you can pursue your dream in fiction.

If you had to have a different career, other than writing, what would you do?

If I hadn’t started writing, I probably would’ve gone back to music school and gotten a teaching degree. That cruddy administrative assistant job made me realize I had to do something creative. Either that, I would’ve become a librarian, because I love books.

What are you reading right now?

After a huge run of only reading YA novels, I’m back to adult fiction and just really enjoyed STAY, by Allie Larkin and SHELTER ME, by Juliette Fay.

1. In a perfect world, there would be no BP oil spill.
2. Most people would be surprised to find out that I don’t own a TV, even though I watch tons of it on Hulu.
3. Gollum is my favorite fictional character because I couldn’t think of anything else.
4. I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for my mother and husband.
5. When I'm not writing, I’m reading to myself or my son. Or I could be walking the dogs. Or eating. Sleep is good too.

Thanks Lee!  Check out her website.

I have one more copy of Deception for one lucky commenter!  Make sure to leave your email address so I know how to get you a copy of the book!
Sterling editor Alyssa Smith lost her home to a fire in Union City, NJ that consumed three buildings. Rose Fox has a page with information, also seeking donations or support!
I spent the weekend in Cody, Wyoming for the Wyoming Writers Conference, and had a fabulous time!  In addition to all the wonderful and friendly writers I met (can't wait to see a few of those projects!), I also saw real live cowboys (the rodeo was in town).

Despite all the fun, I was reminded that I am definitely a "city girl."  And it's nice to be back in New York.  Cody didn't have a Starbucks and since I have a soy chai latte problem, well that was a minor problem for me.  But they did have Bear Spray (which is one of the coolest things I've ever seen in a Walgreens).

And they had Billy the stuffed Buffalo who now resides in my office, mere feet away from the herpet American assistant.

Even better, there was this great sign at the Cody airport when I was leaving about how to deal with bears.  (I'm bummed I didn't get to see a bear...well sort of).

My Poseur Contest has now officially come to a close.  I'm giving away the first book in the Rachel Maude's series. After using the Research Randomizer,the winner is...

Jess!  Check out her blog.

Congratulations. I've sent you an email. Send me your address so I can ship out your new book! :)
Of course, I knew When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead would be fabulous - it did win the Newbery.  And then I read it.

Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

I'm not going to give anything about the story away.  Just know that it's fabulous.  When You Reach Me is now an instant favorite of mine.  I think it's even my favorite Middle Grade novel of all time now.
This is my car.

picture taken during cross country move #2

It's a 1999 Volkswagon Jetta.  At one time, both mirrors were duct taped on.

Now, it's just one.

And the front bumper.  (Volkswagon, if you're listening, would it really hurt for you to make these just a tad sturdier?)

Needless to say, of all the cars parked on my block, my car stands out as some of an, ahem, eye sore.  It also, in addition to it's structural problems, it has a few electrical problems is possessed by demons as well.  There's a demon in the sunroof who sometimes refuses to allow the sunroof to close all the way.  I can however use my physical prowess to overpower it and force it least some times.

There was a demon in the cupholders.  For three years! when you pressed the button for the cupholders to pop out as they're supposed to, the demon would refuse to release them.  Then one day, my mother somehow managed to exorcise it.

The worst demon, though, is the demon who is possessing the alarm system. When you lock the car, the alarm engages.  But when you unlock the car (manually....I uh dropped the key in a pool one summer and the buttons haven't worked right since), it physically unlocks but it doesn't disengage the alarm.  You can imagine what happens.  When the car starts, the alarm goes off and Just. Doesn't. Stop.

After several calls to mechanics, the best solution I could come up with was to just not lock the car.  After all, there's not much important in there - nothing worth stealing unless you want the Tums or Excedrin or that pesky Epi Pen in the glove box.  And who would actually steal the car.

Do you see where this story is going?


I took a writing class in my last year in college - a class I had to take to graduate.  I can't remember the exact name of the course, but it was essentially autobiographical writing.

This was a class I actually excelled at, and I managed to entertain my classmates weekly with episodic essays about my family (yeah, my Dad and a trip to Disney World might have starred in one of those) and the crazy little things that seemed to only happen to me.  Moments that gave people a You can't make that shit up type of look.  We joked that the title of my memoir would be ONLY IN MY LIFE.*

*Of course, I am fully able to admit, now that I'm in publishing, I am one of those people who should never write a memoir, since it doesn't have three acts.  


This morning Yesterday morning I woke up at 5 am, walked the dogs, and then went to the car to drive a friend to the airport.  And discovered, someone had broken into my car, by shattering my front passenger side window.  They had obviously rifled through the glove box - and found nothing of interest.  They didn't even steal my radio (though, that's a good thing - for them - because it doesn't work).

Of course, this made me the worst most pleasant airport chauffeur ever.  And even though life often makes no sense, this like this tend to drive me crazy for all the obvious reasons.

1. The car was unlocked.  Certainly, if someone wanted to rifle through the glove box, they could have just opened the door.


2. A ten year old car held together by duct tape?  Really?  Someone thought there'd be something worth stealing in that car?  I fail to see the logic there.

I've decided when the window is fixed I may affix a note to any would-be window smashers just to alert them that if they are suffering from heartburn or a migraine, the car is in fact unlocked.  Or wait...maybe that's not my best idea.

*And yes, I apologize to all those people out there who believe automobiles are sacred.  I am actually very aware that all of the demons inhabiting my vehicle have taken up residence due to neglect.  Poor car.
In case you missed The Janet Reid's post: we have a winner!  And the ARC is now signed by its brilliant author: Charles Benoit.
My Haunting Emma Contest has now officially come to a close.

I'm excited to be giving away a copy of Deception the first book in the new series by Lee Nichols. After using the Research Randomizer,the winner is...

Congratulations. I've sent you a message on your blog. Send me your address so I can ship out your new book! :)

Everyone else, I'll be giving away a second copy of Deception later this month to celebrate the release of her first YA novel.
The amazing and talented YA teen writer Kody Keplinger informed me before BEA that I had to help her get swag this year at BEA because she'd heard I was the person to go to. I'm not sure how that rumor got started but I did absolutely nothing to dissuade popular opinion that I was becoming the queen of swag at BEA. (There's even that ridiculous nickname Miss Keplinger gave me, which will remain unsaid).

(Meredith's and my Swag at 9:30 am on Wednesday, after the Swag Sweep)


And this is that moment where I've gotta fess up: I am apparently my father's daughter. And my Swagging skills were definitely inherited from him. Though you wouldn't find him running the halls at BEA and picking up books, his itinerized trips to Disney World when I was a kid, definitely inspired me last year when I was figuring out how to walk away with the best swag at BEA last year.

We were that family that planned everything we wanted to do at each park the night before and my dad wrote it down and allotted the correct amount of time for each ride, each show, each parade, or whatever.

We were that family that arrived at the gates at 7 am, lined up so we would be right up from when the gates to the park opened at 9 (oh yes, we waited in line for two hours). Then I ran to That-Year's-Big-Ride to get fast pass tickets, while the rest of the family ran That-Year's-Second-Biggest-Ride to get in line. After collecting fast passes, I ran to meet up with them, which often times included fighting to cut people in line. (This was the curse of being the oldest child in my family, er, well one of them. Having to help put up the Christmas tree was another).

We were that family that ran from one ride to the next, that spent 14 hours in each park, and that stopped to eat if and only if we had time in our schedule. Vacations in my family were more exhausting than the rest of the year.


So you see, I'm highly qualified to direct people on how to Swag at BEA, because I've done all of Disney World in a couple of days, survived to tell the tale - and go back and do it again several more times. And of course, there's the hard evidence. Last year I scored $1100 worth of books. This year I got more.

How to Swag

1. Be prepared. This includes being comfortable. Those 3 inch heels and business clothing - leave that in the office. Sneakers, jeans, layers (the temperature in the Javitz seems to fluctuate...or maybe it was all that running around). But it also includes planning ahead. Meredith, Juju, and I sat around the round table in the office before BEA opened on Wednesday and looked through the booklet, picking out every signing we wanted to see. After circling them, we made our own linear chart in Mer's handy notebook so we knew exactly what we needed to accomplish each hour - and where. And most importantly, bring a rolling suitcase and check it for $3 downstairs (more on this later). Then when those six tote bags are threatening to tear your arms off your shoulders, you can unload your books into your suitcase and head back out onto the Floor for more Swag.

2. Be early. The later you arrive, the harder you'll work and the less you'll get. On Wednesday morning Meredith and I got our tickets to the ticketed signings at 6:30. And we weren't the only ones. We ran into a pair of fabulous Tor editors - one of whom Swagged with me last year. (And last year, by the way, I got to Javitz at 7:15 and the woman in front of me got the last Suzanne Collins ticket for Catching Fire). Both days, I was lined up outside the Exhibit Floor at 8 am, waiting to get inside (us non-exhibitors are allowed in at 9 am) and since BEA isn't Disney World, when other members of my Swag Team showed up later, no one behind me complained about being cut in line.

3. Know the layout of the Floor. Both days, we chose the left entrance where the sign "Independent Publishers" hung in the entry way. (The right entrance was right in front of Harper Collins, but it had more crowds). Both days, we went through the entry way and immediately cut to the right. Then we swept up the Harper/Hyperion aisle, turned the corner, swept down the Macmillan aisle, turned the corner, swept up the Hachette aisle, etc.

4. Be assertive. People shove. It happens. (These are free books!) While I don't advocate shoving back, you can't just let someone roll their illegal rolling suitcase over your feet either. You also can't be tentative. On Thursday, I joked with Kody and SKendall and told them: "If you fall behind, we'll leave you behind." This was a joke, and I didn't leave them behind, but well, there's a little bit of truth in every just kidding. (Meredith and I did leave Juju behind on Wednesday, though we did pick up Swag for her - #sorryjuju!).

5. Swag with People who are Like-Minded. It's quite possible the paranormal trend in fiction rubbed off on Meredith and I on Wednesday. We had a sort of eerie telepathic communication going on when we swept through the aisles of the major publishing houses. I went left, she went right, we each grabbed ARCs and tote bags for each other when opportunity arose. The two of us (minus Juju, since we left her behind) swept the entire Exhibit Floor on Wednesday in 30 minutes. The Janet Reid on the other hand did not Swag with us, and while I love her am afraid of her, this was a good decision, she would not have wanted to run the aisle with me (she prefers to make me do the running and just bring her the Swag).

6. Have good Swag Karma. Those rolling suitcase. They're not allowed on the Floor. The signs are everywhere. Obviously anyone pushing and shoving for ARCs can read. (And yes, possibly one of the best moments of Thursday's Swag Sweep was the fabulous and fierce Diana Fox telling a woman who was racing us to the Swag that rolling suitcases were not in fact supposed to be on the Floor). But also there's the multiple copies of books faux pas. Don't pick up copies of books you won't read - or won't send to someone else for their reading pleasure. And don't pick up six copies of each book. The $1100 of Swag I got last year, yes I read them, yes if they were good, I promoted and talked about them. And I plan to do the same with the Swag I got this year.

(The Swag from Wednesday)

Some of the Best Swag I got my hands on:

Copies of all the Buzz books (except Plain Kate and Bad Science)

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

For the Win by Cory Doctrow

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Oogy by Larry Levin

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Ascendant by Diane Peterfreund

Virals by Kathy Reichs

Numb by Sean Ferrell

I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.