First Happy Halloween!

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk books!

This is a little bit of a different kind of release day, but Stacey Kade's adult novel, Bitter Pill, is officially available on Amazon and B&N.

This is a novel that Stacey actually wrote several years ago.  It's a mystery with a little bit of romance and trust me, the main character, Rennie, she'll make you laugh too. It's like a grown-up Nancy Drew if Nancy didn't quite have her life together. 

I adored reading this book and I was so happy to be able to help Stacey make it widely available to more readers. 

To celebrate, I propose a contest!

How about another 100 word writing challenge. 

You need to write a short story using these five words:


Bonus points if it has a mystery element!

Post your story in the comments by 11:59 pm 11/3 EST

The winner will receive a paperback copy of Bitter Pill and my undying appreciation. 

Oh and a query or first page critique that you can use for yourself or give to a friend. 

Cora Carmack's next novel is out today. 

And guys, Finding It is my favorite so far.

I know you hear this from me a lot, but wow I love this book. Kelsey is such a great character and I have absolutely fallen in love with Jackson Hunt. If you're looking for a good book boyfriend, let me tell you, Look no further.

If you're a Cora Carmack fan (if you're not, you're clearly delusional), Target will have a special signed edition that also has an extra scene in it. 

For Suzie's wishlist, check out the New Leaf tumblr at

It was a little over a year ago that the super talented Natalie Lloyd first queried me. Now here's what's interesting. She knew one of my other super talented writers (the fabulous Sarah Wylie) who had referred her to me (and written me an email to tell me how much she loved Natalie and her novel).

But I read the query on a day when I had a lot of them and was cruising through and skipping ahead to the book description. So it actually wasn't until I knew I needed to request this, that I went back and read the first paragraph and realized this was a book I'd already been warned was good.

Here's the query:
Dear Ms. Townsend,

I adore your blog Confessions of a Wandering Heart. Your posts encourage me, challenge me, and frequently lead to impulse book purchases. (As an aside, I love that you kept the Reem Acra dress.) In researching your interests, I was excited to see that you are still acquiring middle-grade fiction. Your client, Sarah Wylie, suggested I query you with my manuscript, There’s Magic in Midnight Gulch.

When 12-year-old Felicity Pickle moves to Midnight Gulch, she’s certain this rainy mountain town will be as boring as every other city she’s kicked her sneakers through. But she’s wrong. Felicity soon discovers Midnight Gulch’s not-so-secret-secret: years ago, the people who lived in these hills had magic in their veins. They could churn memories into ice cream and trap shadows in books. They could sing up rainstorms and hide inside paintings. When Felicity hears the tale of The Brothers Threadbare, Midnight Gulch’s most notorious and most tragic family, she realizes this strange mountain magic might have everything to do with her own family’s misfortune.

With a little help from her new friends (including Jonah Pickett, an anonymous do-gooder who refers to himself as The Beedle), and a newfound confidence in her own peculiar ability, Felicity sets out to break a century-old curse, bring back the magic, and finally find a home for her wandering heart. There’s Magic in Midnight Gulch is complete at 55,000 words. I have also completed a middle-grade novel called Silverswift; about a grandmother, her granddaughter, a secret map and a feisty mermaid. Silverswift is complete at 50,000 words.

I have a degree in Journalism and currently work in non-fiction and freelance, writing mostly for a small (and incredible) readership of teen girls. I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee and am the proud owner of a highly excitable dog, a breezy southern drawl, and a room full of well-loved books.

Per your specifications, I have included the first five pages of my novel within this email. I would love to send you the rest if you are interested. Regardless, thank you for taking the time to review my query.

All the Best,

Here's what I love about it:

Um everything! No but really, if I had to go into specifics, the first one is that it's easy to tell just from the query that Natalie possesses a talent for stringing words together to make sentences.

I know that write from the first line of the book description (When 12-year-old Felicity Pickle moves to Midnight Gulch, she’s certain this rainy mountain town will be as boring as every other city she’s kicked her sneakers through.) From that line I have such a clear image of Felicity. The choice to use "kicked her sneakers through" is such a powerful but also original image. And of course, it's not the only great sentence in the query.

Another thing I really like about this query is the way that Natalie mentioned her other novel, Silverswift. It doesn't feel like she's pitching me two novels--instead it feels like she's just letting me know that she's got another book too. It's just a title and one line about it, but it implies she's serious about a career in writing, and of course, I like that.

I wasn't the only one to love Natalie, this book (or this pitch--which I tweaked when writing my pitch letter). This novel sold at auction over the summer and even the editors who were delirious enough to pass raved about how fabulous it was.

Now the title has changed to A Snicker of Magic and it will be released from Scholastic 2/25/2014.