Most of the books I’ve written are quite short. Some of them have been under 500 words and most of them are under 20,000 words. So when I set out to write two YAs at just under 50,000 words then two romance novels at 50,000 words they were very long books to me.
Then I decided to write an even longer book. A contemporary romance of 75k words. I thought I’d never finish it. There’s a lot involved in writing a long book. A lot more planning, revising, keeping an eye on time lines, sequencing, continuity, making sure your characters are consistent and that’s before you even get started on the plot, subplots, conflicts and resolutions. I used a lot of post its and note books.
I angsted a lot over that book, lost a lot of sleep, thought I’d never make it but somehow I did. And Accent Press liked it. And I got a contract. Then a contract for two more books. Two more long books of 75k words! I couldn’t believe it. I celebrated a bit, keep reading the contract to make sure. So here I go again, plotting and planning, angsting and worrying – what if they don’t like this book as much as the first? What if I can’t do it again? But every time I doubt myself I take a look at the cover for my first book and tell myself if I did it once I can do it again. It is a gorgeous cover, isn’t it?
New school. New friends. New reputation. High school sophomore Ainslie Avalon-Bennett works hard to hide her Crazy Girl past. But as long as her best friend’s disappearance remains unsolved, she can’t shake the depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder that once landed her in a mental ward.
Ainslie’s tenuous control over her life shatters when her warring parents ditch her at Christmas. While they take a cruise to “work things out,” Ainslie must spend the holiday in Palm Springs with her aunt and uncle, owners of a struggling Mystery School and occult store. Plunged into the world of fire fortunes, dragons, entity eaters, and an ailing spell book, Ainslie is well beyond her comfort zone. Then she meets a boy who spikes her pulse and calms her OCD. But will she lose him once he discovers her past? Or will his deadly secret, hidden in plain view, be their undoing?
A warm welcome today to Katy Newton Naas. Katy loves creating both realistic and futuristic stories about kids, tweens, and teens, and feels so fortunate to get to work with them every day as a teacher.
About Katy From the time she was old enough to talk, Katy Newton Naas has been creating characters and telling stories. As a child, they sometimes got her into trouble. She knew she wanted to write books when she won a Young Author's competition as a second-grader for her short story titled, "The Grape Pie." (Don't let its tasty title fool you - it was actually a sad little tale!)
Katy devoured books as a child and young adult, always doing chores and odd jobs in order to make enough money to buy more of them. Though she continues to age, her true literature love is and has always been children's and young adult fiction.
Katy currently teaches middle school reading and high school English in southern Illinois, as well as children's church. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a bachelor's degree in English Education and a master's degree in Reading and Language Studies. She enjoys her life out in the country with her husband, her two sweet and rowdy young sons, and all her other “kids”: four dogs, three cats, and eight ducks.
Katy has dropped by to tell us about her new release, The Deep End.
Tagline: Some things are even more terrifying than ghosts…
Back Cover Blurb:
When shy sophomore Kaci Lynn Richards moves to a small town, she is nervous about the change. That is, until she befriends the outgoing Jo and meets popular senior James Mitchell. Kaci quickly learns to love her new life…until she begins to see the ghost of a teen girl in her new home. The mystery girl haunts her, giving her visions that leave clues as to who she was and how she met her violent fate. But the more she learns about the girl, the more she finds that life in this sleepy town may not be what it seems.
As soon as I close the cabinet door, my whole body is chilled. I shiver, turning toward the microwave to find myself face-to-face with her. Her dark eyes gaze into mine, her cold breath so close I can feel it on my cheeks. My heart racing, I jump back, colliding with the counter behind me.
What happens next is a blur. I feel a sharp pain in the back of my head and I am on the floor. She stands over me, her tangled hair hanging down, covering parts of her face while she stares down at me, her eyes wide and intense. I am unable to look away from her, unable to scream or move or even breathe.
Suddenly, she is gone and the room spins. I can finally blink, and I try to steady myself as the room finally settles. I am still on the floor, still in my kitchen, except it looks…different. Mom’s mixer that sits on the counter is gone. Instead, a wine rack sits in its place, and I count nine glass bottles resting inside of it. The walls are a dark brown color, and the lights seem dimmer. “Aven?” I call out weakly, but the voice I hear is not my own. I try to use my hands to push myself up off the floor, but I can’t; they are behind my back, stuck on something.
I twist my neck around, trying to look at them so that I can figure out how to get them loose. That’s when I feel the shooting pain go up through my arms, and I realize it’s because my wrists are bound together with rope and it’s cutting off the circulation from my hands to the rest of my body. Desperately I try to pull them apart, but the fibers of the rope dig deeper into my wrists and the pain is unbearable, so I let them go limp behind me, giving up that fight.
Calm down, I order myself. Breathe. Don’t panic. I ignore the throbbing pain in my arms as I squirm, inch by inch until I am in a sitting position. Looking down, I see that the red long-sleeve shirt and jeans I had on have been replaced by a white nightgown. The blood stains around the collar and down my sides make my heart race faster – even more so when I realize that they’re mine.
“Help!” I cry out, again surprised when the voice I hear is a little deeper than mine. “Somebody please help me!”
“You’re wasting your breath,” a deep, masculine voice says from somewhere behind me. There is a hint of laughter in his words when he says, “There’s no one here but you and me.”
The voice is vaguely familiar, but I don’t have time to analyze it as a cold, pressing fear weighs down my body. It is then that I realize that he’s right; there’s no one here to help me and I am going to die.
If you'd like to read more of this gripping story you can buy the book here.
This week's trailer is for To Dance One More Day. A story of broken dreams, second chances and the power of love.
Click on the book cover to watch the trailer.
Desertion and death of her family leaves Jillian Russell alone in the world. A medical diagnosis takes away her performance career. Starting over in Charlotte, North Carolina, she opens a ballet company which takes all her resources and leaves no time to build new relationships.
Trauma surgeon, Alan Armstrong, is determined to fix Jillian’s life before he moves on to set up a rural community clinic that had been the top priority in his life, until he met Jillian.
Will their undeniable connection cause them to change their ambitions so they can be together? Or will they walk away from each other to continue on the paths they had chosen before they met?
Want to find out if Jillian puts her love of dancing above her feelings for Alan?
My guest author this week is Chris von Halle. Chris has dropped by to tell us all about his debut novel, The Fourth Generation.
Chris Von Halle says that has had many different lives in many different worlds—the near and distant future Earth, other planets, and even other dimensions—and his books recreate his childhood memories of such outlandish locations. In this world and life, he lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and enjoys such extraordinary activities as playing videogames, tennis, and basketball, and writing the occasional comic strip.
I asked Chris to tell us a bit about himself:
What was the first thing you had published?
The Fourth Generation is my debut novel, so this whole “being published” thing is all brand-new to me haha. I never tried my hand at poems or short stories—at least not with the goal of publication.
What do you like writing most?
That’s a tough question, because my experience so far has told me that it’s all about the specific story, so not necessarily a particular genre or age category. That being said, I’m starting to be suspect I love writing humor the most, but I only wrote one humorous novel, so it’s hard to be completely sure about that :)
What piece of writing/work are you most proud of?
Probably The Fourth Generation, since it’s published and was tough to write (I would imagine dystopians often are with all the fantastical, yet realistic world-building required), though I am personally most fond of a humorous superhero novel I wrote after that.
Are you ever disappointed when you see your work published?
This is my first published work, and I have to say I have been thoroughly overjoyed with seeing it published (it was amazing laying my eyes on the cover art—with my beloved characters and everything on it—for the very first time; I personally think the cover is gorgeous!).
It's an eye-catching cover, Chris.
What’s your favorite poem?
Although I wrote poems as a kid (typically humorous ones in the vein of Shel Silverstein), and took a poetry writing course in college, I haven’t written nor read one in years, so I honestly couldn’t tell you.
What do you like to do to relax?
Definitely hang out with friends and family—perhaps go out on the town with the former. I also enjoy playing videogames and watching tennis.
What do you like to read?
Anything so-called speculative, really, from urban fantasy to epic fantasy to light science fiction to dystopian, you name it. I also enjoy a tinge of horror tossed into the mix, too :).
In the future, no adults exist. Ever since the plague swept the world 100 years ago, no one has lived past seventeen.
Sixteen-year-old Gorin, a collector of curious artifacts left over from the pre-plague civilization, is on the verge of perishing from that deadly epidemic. And his last wish is to find a way to visit the rulers’ reputedly magnificent, off-limits mansion.
Up against the clock, he and his friend Stausha steal into the mansion and discover a secret more horrifying than they ever could’ve imagined—a secret that holds the key to the survival of the whole human race.
I raced up the stairwell pretty fast for someone in my awful condition. My empty backpack bounced on my shoulders, my feet landing just in front of the steps’ worn, chipped edges. Sunlight leaked through the dusty windows at the top of each landing, enough to light my way to the decaying apartment building’s eighth floor.
The rest of the Valuable Objects better still be there.
No way I was losing the Tournament of Prestige this year, and the VOs could be worth just enough prestige points to finally push my faction into the top spot. But if someone else found them while I was gone…
At last I made it to the eighth floor. My chest heaved as I sucked in breath, my burning legs threatening to crumple.
You’ve gotta be kidding me.
The second door on the right lay wide open. My heart banged against my ribs, making it tough to breathe, as I crept to the door as quietly as only I could.
I peeked inside the room. My gut clenched, even though I’d seen it coming.
A boy about my size—taller than average with good-size muscles—stood in front of the old wooden cabinets on the left side of the room. He had blotchy, dark gray skin, so was about sixteen years old like me. His back looked a little crooked, like his spine wasn’t quite aligned right. Mine was probably in similar shape.
Even from the doorway I could see through the cabinet doors’ inlaid glass. Empty, except for one measly glass bottle. Sure enough, the boy started to turn away from them. I jerked my head back into the hallway, then peered back in. He made his way to the right side of the room.
He stopped at the faded loveseat wedged against the wall. Patches of peeled leather formed large, complicated shapes that looked like continents on a globe.
Get away from there.
Then again, this room had been scoured countless times over the past fifty years by generations of supply hunters like us, and none of them had found the short, tiny closet behind the sofa. Chances were slim this kid would.
Please, Power, this is my last year, my last chance. Please don’t let him find the VOs.
He walked to the side of the loveseat and put his hands on it. He was about to push it!
I yanked my flashlight out of my pocket, snapped open the battery compartment as quickly and quietly as I could, and hurled a battery across the room. Wasn’t like I needed it. Our faction got fresh batteries every week from the mansion, and could probably get more if we asked.
The battery smacked the back wall by the open window—I felt a light breeze, even from where I stood by the door—and hit the floor with a thud. The boy stopped pushing the sofa. Thankfully, he’d only moved it a couple inches. Not enough to reveal any of the closet.
“What the…?” He watched the battery roll across the wooden floor a bit and stay still.
He walked toward it.
He picked it up and headed toward the window, his back to me. Probably thought someone had thrown the battery through it.
I crept toward the sofa as quietly as I could, so there was no chance the kid could hear me. Few people had feet as soundless as Gorin of Faction 235.
I navigated around the squeaky floorboards. Good thing I’d memorized them during my first two trips to this room, after I’d found the jackpot of a closet this morning. Could never be too careful or prepared for a situation like this. Every VO counted, especially ones worth as many prestige points as DVDs.
When I made it to the loveseat, I shoved it aside as hard as I could and burst into the closet.
“Hey!” the boy cried as I lifted the lid of the plastic blue bin inside and started to stuff the last of the whopping stash—a stack of plastic DVD cases coated in thick dust—into my backpack. Not sure exactly what they were or what they did in the Old World. Us supply hunters weren’t trained to know stuff like that, annoyingly enough, though I’d give all my limbs to be given one hint.
Feet shuffled toward me. “Get your filthy paws off those. They’re mine.”
I turned my head toward the boy. He towered over me, at least by a foot. Thick, muscled arms framed his sides. Okay, so I was wrong—he was bigger and stronger than me. He dug his gaze into mine with pebbles for eyes on his overly broad forehead. A large, beak-like nose jutted from his face.
“Sorry, you know the rules,” I said. “I got to all of these before you, fair and square.” Which meant I got to keep them. Actually, I’d gotten to them way before him, but I had no proof of that, so no use mentioning it.
He folded his meaty arms across his chest. “Sorry, punk, but I don’t play by the rules.”