Rose Mannering’s Favorite Fairy Tale Retellings and GIVEAWAY!

Rose Mannering, author of Roses and Feathers, two unique and wonderful fairy tale retellings, shares her favorite fairy tale retellings. Check out her post below!


5 of My Favorite Fairy Tale Retellings

Growing up I loved fairy tales. I loved them cute and fluffy like Disney movies and I liked them dark and twisted in their original(ish), Brothers Grimm form.

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Writing a book about fairy tales therefore seemed like completely the right sort of thing to do. So I did it and it was great fun. I didn’t just do it once either—I rewrote and reworked my retellings of fairy tales over and over growing up; just loving the act of writing and not caring about much else. Never did I imagine that one day I would be celebrating the paperback release of one of those retellings… Roses is out in paperback today and I can’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it when it was released in hardback and I still can’t believe it today. It’s unreal—like a fairy tale (sorry, massive cliché and terrible pun).

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Roses is a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it is the first in a trilogy of retellings called The Tales Trilogy, all based around fairy tales (psst! Feathers, the sequel, will be out in hardback next month!). To celebrate its release in paperback, I’d like to pay homage to some of my favorite retellings of fairy tales in their different forms, so here are my top five:

  1. Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley (book)

Robin McKinley is such a fantastic writer and I love ALL of her books, but her fairy tale retellings are pretty special. I’ve re-read them several times and I’m always taken in by the lyrical beauty of her prose and the imaginative world she creates. Spindle’s End is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty and it is just wonderful. We have a beauty who is maybe not so beautiful and an unlikely romance. It is just the best! I would also highly recommend Deerskin, which is as gorgeous as it is harrowing—a very important novel and a formative text for me.

  1. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (book)

This is super creepy and super amazing! Carter gets to the root of the disturbing truths behind many fairy tales in this collection of short stories. I’ve read this many times and I’ve always enjoyed it in my own unsettled way. I went through a phase in secondary school where I was utterly obsessed with this book. It’s exquisitely written and wonderfully portrayed; I would highly recommend!

  1. Tangled (film)

We had to have some Disney in here! This is just pure delight in a movie—I love the songs, I love the characters. It’s all just fun and sometimes you need your fairy tales to have happy endings.

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  1. Swan Lake (ballet)

I love ballet and the way it can express so much through movement. It is only through watching ballet that I’ve learnt how expressive the body can be (and I think this has helped my writing in many ways). Swan Lake, based on Russian folklore, is one of my favorite ballets and the folklore is actually the basis for the second book in The Tales Trilogy Feathers.

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  1. Beastly by Alex Flinn (book)

This contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast in New York is a real treat from beginning to end. I haven’t seen or read many contemporary retellings, but this is pitched and written just perfectly. If you’re a B&B fan and you haven’t picked this one up—I would highly recommend. It gives you all the feels!


Roses by Rose Mannering—out now in paperback!

9781634501880-frontcoverShe bears no name. Her silvery appearance is freakish to the numerous inhabitants of Sago, the cosmopolitan capital of Pevorocco in the Western Realm. With her mother vanishing at the instance of her birth, she is sent to live with the cruel, rich Ma Dane, where she is punished daily for something, though she knows not what. Tauntingly named Beauty, she flees Sago in a violent uprising that sets out to massacre all Magics and journeys to the farthest point of the country.

But Beauty cannot hide in the grassy Hillands forever. Before long, the State officials find her and threaten to take her back to war-torn Sago where death surely awaits. In a midnight blizzard she escapes them, running into a deep, enchanted forest to a great and terrible beast who will bargain for her life.

But can Beauty accept Beast? Eternity is a long time. Now for the first time in paperback, Roses is sure to capture your heart as you fall in love with Beauty and her Beast all over again.

Feathers by Rose Mannering—out July 2016

9781634501651-frontcoverFeathers fell like rain from the sky.

Ode was never meant to be born. An outcast from birth, he discovered how to control his unique, remarkable gift entirely on his own. Unlike the other people of his tribe, Ode can fly. Sometimes his body will shudder and shift, and then Ode will transform. He becomes a great white bird with feathers as pale as the snow. He becomes a swan. He can fly above the tribe’s tepees and soar over the emerald forests of the Wild Lands.

But even with his gift, he cannot save his family from the oncoming war. The Magical Cleansing is spreading across the realm, and strangers arrive from foreign lands bringing with them bloodshed and fear. With the help of his gift, Ode flees to a distant island where answers, Magic, and a girl with golden hair await him. He must be brave, and he must be wise. And he must never turn back.

The exciting and much-anticipated second book in the Tales trilogy, Feathers is sure to keep fans of Marissa Meyer’s Cinder series turning the pages as they journey through the magic world of the Western Realm.


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Dear Teen Me with Stephanie Strohm, author of The Taming of the Drew

Author of The Taming of the Drew, Stephanie Strohm writes a Dear Teen Me letter. Check it out below!


Dear Teen Me,

Congratulations! You did it! You have found your people. I know you are so happy to be playing Lady Larkin in Once Upon a Mattress, and so happy to be spending all of your time with the other self-proclaimed drama dorks. You finally feel like you have a place you belong, and I know how much this means to you, because even when you are twenty-nine, you will still remember the choreography to “I’m in Love with a Girl Named Fred.” (You really didn’t need to hold onto that, Teen Stephanie.)

Enjoy it. This is the second-to-last musical you’ll ever do, because you’re about to decide you’re too “serious” of an actress for anything involving a time step. So for now, sing your little soprano heart out, produce the jazziest jazz hands ever, and relish every whispered bit of gossip backstage about who likes who. And take more pictures with Caitlin, because in about a decade, you’ll be her bridesmaid, and she’ll be yours, and those pictures of the two of you in medieval garb are hilarious. You’ve got one on your fridge in Chicago right now.

Also? Stop blotting the grease off the free pizza you get during tech week. Or throwing the crust away even though it’s your favorite part. I know you’re scared that you can never be a real actress. That you’re not pretty enough, good enough, thin enough. But you know what? No one but you cares how thin you looked or didn’t look in your costume. And you looked adorable, dummy.

yankees Stephanie in Damn Yankees

I’m glad you found an escape from the high school agony you’re constantly writing about in your diary, which can be summed up neatly into two categories: “I’m too fat to be a real actress” and “I’ve never had a boyfriend.” Most boyfriends are overrated, Teen Stephanie! But I’m sorry you feel like your life is only happening on stage. So what if your first kiss was with a gay Phantom of the Opera? So what if you’ve never kissed anyone offstage? I promise, it’s fine! Next year you’ll do a play at an all-boys’ school, and seriously, Teen Stephanie, you should have hit that up earlier. So stop worrying about when that first kiss will finally happen. It’s coming. I wish you could just enjoy being onstage with your friends now, instead of worrying about whether or not these guys you’ve barely talked to think you’re cute, or whether or not you can make it as an actress.

Because guess what—you did it. You’re a theater major in college, and you move to New York because you get cast in an off-Broadway show. People actually pay you to act. In twenty-two different states! It’s not always glamorous, and you end up playing way more amphibians than you ever thought you would, but you did it. You are a professional actor. And no, you didn’t get super skinny. Turns out, you can be a working actor even if you don’t have super prominent clavicles.

Here’s the plot twist, though—that unexpected Act V Hamlet never saw coming—you kind of . . . decide you don’t want to act anymore. There’s a moment, when you’ll be sitting backstage at a Chekhov show, when you realize that you’re actually having more fun in the dressing room than you were on stage. That’s the moment when you realize you’ve fallen totally, completely, head over heels in love, and no, it’s not with the man playing your husband in the show. (You broke that pesky castmate-smooching habit a long time ago when you fell for a guy working in the development office at a theater you performed at in Florida. And love is even better than it seems in musicals, even if he hates dancing. You’re getting married in September, and yes, your wedding is in a barn, but there will be no horses in attendance. Sorry, Teen Stephanie.)

Surprise—you’ve fallen in love with writing. Yeah, remember that thing you wanted to do when you were in fourth grade? Just like Jo March? Guess what? You did that too! You wrote a book! You wrote multiple books! And you realize more and more that you love writing, that you love creating your own worlds, and even thought it makes you feel bad to admit it, you like having a job where no one cares what you look like. Where most people don’t even know what you look like. And you are going to feel so bad about leaving theater. You are going to feel like you’ve given up on your dream, like you’re failing all of your acting teachers, like you’re just the same as every other wannabe actor who couldn’t make it. But you know what? You haven’t failed. Dreams change. You haven’t seen Tangled, because it doesn’t exist yet, but it’s going to be your favorite Disney movie. And when Rapunzel goes out and gets a new dream, you’ll know just how she feels. Because you have a new dream, too.

Oh, and you still put way too much stock in Disney movies. But you actually get to work as a Disney princess, so I think that’s okay.

Keep dreaming big, Teen Me. All those dreams are going to come true. And eat the damn pizza crust.

Love,

Stephanie


The Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Taming of the Drew_REVISEDCass McKay has been called stubborn, temperamental, difficult, and that word that rhymes with “witch” more times than she cares to count. But that’s all about to pay off. She has finally landed the role she was born to play—Kate, in The Taming of the Shrew—in the summer apprentice program of a renowned Shakespeare theater company in the forests of Vermont.

But Cass can barely lace up her corset before her troubles begin. Her leading man, Drew, is a complete troll, and he’s going to ruin Cass’s summer. Even worse, Cass’s bunkmate Amy has somehow fallen head over heels for Drew. Cass can’t let Amy throw herself at a total jerk, so she comes up with a genius plan to give Drew the personality makeover he so desperately needs: they’ll tame Drew just as Petruchio tames Kate! But as Shakespeare’s classic plays out offstage, Cass finds it harder and harder to resist falling for Drew herself.

The best kind of entertainment, The Taming of the Drew is smart, funny, fresh, and original. You’re going to love this badass heroine and her friends. You might even end up liking Drew, too.

 

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Stephanie Kate Strohm is the author of The Taming of the Drew, Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, Confederates Don’t Wear Couture and the upcoming It’s Not Me, It’s You and Prince in Disguise. She graduated from Middlebury College with a dual degree in theater and history and has acted her way around the United States, performing in more than twenty-five states. She currently lives in Chicago with her fiance and a dog named Lorelei Lee.  Visit her online at www.stephaniekatestrohm.com, follow her on Twitter @stephkatestrohm, and like her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stephaniekatestrohm.

 

 

 


This post was originally written for DearTeenMe.com. The site is currently on hold, so, with permission from DearTeenMe, we’re sharing our authors’ posts here instead!

 

 

 

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5 Sky Pony Protagonists As Cool As Black Widow

Captain America: Civil War hits theaters tomorrow! Most of us in the office are so excited to watch the feud between Cap and Iron Man unfold on the big screen but to celebrate the release of the film we’ve been excited to see ever since the credits rolled on The Avengers: Age of Ultron, we want to highlight one of our favorite female superheroes: Black Widow. Avenger, spy, friend, enemy—someone whose bad side you most definitely wouldn’t want to be on—Natasha Romanoff is quite the powerful female character. We imagine that when you’ve seen Civil War once or twice or three times, you’re going to need another source for your awesome female characters. Check out these Sky Pony books with some awesome female protagonists!


 

1. Itzy—Divah

Itzy Nash is the kind of hero who takes everything in stride. She isn’t phased by fallen angels swooping in or demons in her closet. And she doesn’t need a boy to rescue her.

“If Buffy the Vampire Slayer edited Vogue, Divah’s heroine Itzy Nash would be its first cover girl.” —Wendy N. Wagner, author of Skinwalkers

giphy941GkjrYv7pL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Eloise meets Rosemary’s Baby in New York City’s very own Carlyle hotel.

Seventeen-year-old Itzy Nash is spending the summer at the exclusive Carlyle hotel in New York City. But the hotel harbors more than the rich and privileged; it is host to a gorgeous fallen angel, reclusive movie stars, and—Itzy soon learns—demons of the worst sort. When the Queen of the Damned checks in, all Hell breaks loose. Itzy is called upon to save herself—and all of humanity—from the ravages of the Underworld. There’s only one problem: Itzy’s possessed.

Part gothic thriller, part historical fiction, the novel straddles the Upper East Side and the lush trappings of the Carlyle hotel, and Paris during the Reign of Terror in 1789. Marie Antoinette is the Queen of the Damned. Marilyn Monroe is an expert demon hunter. To kill a demon, Hermès scarves, Evian water, and a guillotine are the weapons of choice.

For anyone who loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone, this has an epic battle between angels and demons with a doomed love story at its core. But it’s also darkly funny, for fans of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, and more than anything it’s something original—dark, funny, clever, and glamorous.

2. Tal—Wandering Wild

Tal is a schemer. Faced with challenges that would force most to bend to expectations, she’s determined to make her own luck and write her own path. And it doesn’t always go well for her—especially when what she wants most clashes with what has long been decided for her. But a fierce loyalty, especially to her brother, is the force that always sees her through. After all, “Fortune favors the bold.”

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9781510704008-frontcover“I believe in possibility. Of magic, of omens, of compasses, of love. Some of it’s a little bit true.”

Sixteen-year-old Tal is a Wanderer—a grifter whose life is built around the sound of wheels on the road, the customs of her camp, and the artful scams that keep her fed. With her brother, Wen, by her side, it’s the only life she’s ever known. It’s the only one she’s ever needed.

Then in a sleepy Southern town, the queen of cons picks the wrong mark when she meets Spencer Sway—the clean-cut Socially Secured boy who ends up hustling her instead of the other way around. For the first time, she sees a reason to stay. As her obligations to the camp begin to feel like a prison sentence, the pull to leave tradition behind has never been so strong.

But the Wanderers live by signs, and all the signs all say that Tal and Spencer will end only in heartache and disaster. Is a chance at freedom worth almost certain destruction?

3. Riven—The Almost Girl

Riven is determined and resourceful. She is loyal and fierce and she will do anything to accomplish her goals.
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The Almost GirlSeventeen-year-old Riven comes from a world parallel to Earth, a world that has been ravaged by a devastating android war. As a Legion General, she is the right hand of Prince Cale, the young Prince of Neospes. In her world, she’s had everything: rank, responsibility, and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to rescue his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Armed with the mindset of a soldier and racing against time to bring Caden home, Riven must learn how to blend in as a girl in a realm that is the opposite of all she’s ever known. Will she be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

 

4. Kora—Beyond the Red

Kora is the first female ruler in generations and remains powerful on the throne though people think her younger brother should rule in her place. Kora is cunning and strong and fights for what she believes in.

giphy39781634506441-frontcoverAlien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

5. Flo—The Wanderers

Flo is a brave and strong character with a lot of sass. She discovers just how strong and brave she truly is on her journey. giphy4

9781634502016-frontcoverA Unique Twist on Shape-Shifters with Fast-Paced Action, Thrilling Adventure, Mystery, and a Bit of Romance

Flo lives an eccentric life—she travels with a popular circus in which the main acts star orphaned children with secret shape-shifting abilities. Once Flo turns sixteen, she must perform, but she’s not ready. While practicing jumping a flaming hurdle in a clearing beside the circus, she spots a dark figure in the trees and fears he saw her shift. The news sends the circus into a panic.

In Flo’s world, shifters are unknown to humans with the exception of a secret organization—the EOS, referred to as “hunters.” Hunters capture and kill. They send some shifters to labs for observation and testing—testing they don’t often survive—and deem others useless, a danger to society, and eliminate them. To avoid discovery, shifters travel in packs, constantly moving and keeping themselves hidden. Up until now, the circus was the perfect disguise.

Believing she has brought attention to the group, Flo feels dread and anxiety, causing her to make a mistake during her performance in front of the audience—a mistake that triggers a violent attack from the hunters.

Flo manages to flee the torched circus grounds with Jett, the bear shifter who loves her; the annoying elephant triplets; and a bratty tiger named Pru. Together they begin a new journey, alone in a world they don’t understand and don’t know how to navigate. On the run, they unravel secrets and lies that surround the circus and their lives—secrets and lies that all point to the unthinkable: Have they been betrayed by the people they trusted most?

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Writing a Sequel with Amalie Howard

What does it take to write a sequel? Amalie Howard shares her experience on writing a sequel. Check it out below! 


No one ever ever tells you that writing a sequel is hard. Like really, really hard.

First of all, I have to preface this post by saying that I loathe cliffhangers. I don’t mind small cliffhangers after all the major plot points have been resolved, you know, to whet your appetite for the next book in a series. However, I absolutely abhor those books that just end, and then you find yourself turning pages to the end, being confused, going back to re-read the last ten pages because you’re convinced you must have somehow missed the resolution, and then curling up in a corner with cushions rocking back and forth with a handful of cookies muttering to yourself about cursed cliffhangers.

So when the time came for me to write my own sequels, it was a daunting prospect. Because expectations. And those things weigh a ton. After all, with a sequel, you need to write a whole new story, roughly a hundred thousand words, with the same characters in the same world, and not repeat stuff you’ve written before. You don’t want to disappoint readers waiting breathlessly for that second book. Or worse, write a “filler book” that is meant to lead up to the last in a trilogy. That’s a total sell-out move. Fillers make me want to break things. I was lucky, I guess, because a few of my series were duologies. A relief on the one hand, and yet, so much added pressure to make that closure super satisfying.

Let’s address handling the same elements from book one to book two. Readers come back for a sequel because they want more—more of the same characters, more of the setting, more relationships, more challenges, MORE. And you, as an author, have to deliver. While making the story different. No one wants a remake. Unless it’s Star Wars. Then you can remake until the cows come home. But let’s pretend your book isn’t Star Wars, even though, inside, you hope it is. You have to work. And plan. And re-read Book One. And outline. And re-read again. And then write. A story board can help with keeping track of details. I use post-its or an excel spreadsheet, but many people like programs like Scrivener. Do what works for you.

Character growth is essential in a sequel, and that has to come from what your characters have accomplished or achieved in Book One. Unless your main character loses his or her memory (beaten to death trope), you have to work within the parameters you have built. Your readers went with you on a journey in Book One. Don’t devalue that by taking the easy route and erasing everything they’ve co-braved your hellfire for. Unless you’ve consulted with JJ Abrams and your memory loss hook is genius, brainstorm another route. Work with those brilliant, flawed characters you’ve created, and then ruthlessly throw your darlings to the wolves.

Let’s talk The Almost Girl and The Fallen Prince. In Book One, Riven was a soldier. By the end of her journey she learned to come to terms with what it meant to be human. In Book Two, I knew I had to springboard off that growth and take it a step further. To do this, I had to put her into situations that would test her mettle and push the limits of her newfound sense of self. In a similar fashion, I wanted to put Caden—the new king of Neospes and her love interest—into challenging situations of his own, forcing him to find a balance between his heart and his political strategy. My dependable hero from Book One is forced to face some serious issues. Growth has to push the character forward. Yes, there can be setbacks, but overall, everything should be moving your story to a new place.

Next, honor your rules. You’ve built an amazing world with structure and rules. Uphold those. They are still the cornerstones of your sequel. If you start breaking the rules you created down without good reason or undermining them, your readers will revolt. So change rules judiciously and with valid reasons, otherwise the world-building will start to unravel. In The Fallen Prince, I introduce a new pocket of civilization within the rules of the desert world I’ve built, however it’s an anomaly because said colony uses an extinct resource. Without giving away spoilers, I had to make the existence of this new society make sense within the established rules of the parallel universe. If Book One is set on a desert planet, you better be sure if Book Two is underwater, that they’re space explorers, or time jumpers, or something that you’ve already set up in the first book. Otherwise you risk alienating your readers.

Finally, your sequel has to make sense. If it’s not a sequential story, then it’s not a sequel. That’s a companion novel . . . which is a whole other beast. Give your readers what they are salivating for—characters they’ve connected with set in a world they love with a whole new adventure to look forward to. And write the end. You owe them that.

Here are a few pointers:

Do:

  • Write an outline
  • Brainstorm a different and fresh plot
  • Go for higher stakes
  • Flip things upside down
  • Introduce new characters
  • Deliver a great villain
  • Maintain consistency and style
  • Adhere to rules

Don’t:

  • Repeat the story you’ve already told
  • Be afraid to kill your darlings WITH VALID REASON (think George R. R. Martin)
  • Cliff hang (cliff teasers are okay)
  • Go off into left field (making it too difficult for readers to connect)
  • Make your sequel a set up for Book Three. Just don’t. Been there, done that, and it didn’t end well. Plan to write the end and make it a satisfying conclusion. Your readers will thank you.

 

Howard, Amalie - Alpha Goddess

Amalie Howard is the award-winning IndieNext author of Alpha Goddess, The Almost Girl, The Fallen Prince, the Aquarathi series, and the Cruentus Curse series. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was an Amazon bestseller and a Seventeen Summer Read. She is currently working on Dark Goddess, the sequel to Alpha Goddess, which will release from Sky Pony Press in Spring 2017. She lives with her husband and three children in Colorado.


Amalie Howard’s Books:

The Almost Girl

The Almost Girl

Seventeen-year-old Riven comes from a world parallel to Earth, a world that has been ravaged by a devastating android war. As a Legion General, she is the right hand of Prince Cale, the young Prince of Neospes. In her world, she’s had everything: rank, responsibility, and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to rescue his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Armed with the mindset of a soldier and racing against time to bring Caden home, Riven must learn how to blend in as a girl in a realm that is the opposite of all she’s ever known. Will she be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

 

 

The Fallen Prince

9781510701700-frontcoverRiven has fought for a hard-won peace in her world, and has come to shaky terms with who and what she is—a human with cyborg DNA. Now that the rightful ruler of Neospes has been reinstated, Riven is on the hunt for her father in the Otherworld to bring him to justice for his crimes against her people.

But when she receives an unwelcome visit from two former allies, she knows that trouble is brewing once again in Neospes. The army has been decimated and there are precious few left to fight this mysterious new threat.

To muster a first line of defense, her people need help from the one person Riven loathes most—her father. But what he wants in return is her complete surrender.

And now Riven must choose: save Neospes or save herself.

 

Alpha Goddess

  In Serjana Caelum’s world, gods exist. So do goddesses. Sera knows this because she is one of them. A secret long concealed by her parents, Sera is Lakshmi reborn, the human avatar of an immortal Indian goddess rumored to control all the planes of existence. Marked by the sigils of both heaven and hell, Sera’s avatar is meant to bring balance to the mortal world, but all she creates is chaos. A chaos that Azrath, the Asura Lord of Death, hopes to use to unleash hell on earth.

Torn between reconciling her past and present, Sera must figure out how to stop Azrath before the Mortal Realm is destroyed. But trust doesn’t come easy in a world fissured by lies and betrayal. Her best friend Kyle is hiding his own dark secrets, and her mysterious new neighbor, Devendra, seems to know a lot more than he’s telling. Struggling between her opposing halves and her attraction to the boys tied to each of them, Sera must become the goddess she was meant to be, or risk failing, which means sacrificing the world she was born to protect.

 

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Q & A with Olivia Rivers with Giveaway!

Olivia Rivers—author of Tone Deaf—takes on the Sky Pony Q & A. Tone Deaf pubs May 3rd!

“The portrayal of Ali as Deaf is authentic and modern. She loves rock concerts for the vibrations and sensory pull of the crowd. She prefers to sign but exasperatedly reads the lips of people who talk fast or turn away as they talk. As Ali, Jace, and the band tour amid Amber alerts, surprising emotional connections are painfully forged and will resonate with young survivors of abuse, especially as Ali takes small steps toward recovery. VERDICT This gripping tale of survival has great appeal due to the parallel boy/girl narrative structure, the portrayal of a Deaf character at home in the realm of music and songwriting, and the overall pop culture tenor.” School Library Journal


 

Q: Why did you gravitate to the genre that you write in?

I started writing YA because it’s for teens, and I’m a teen! Well, technically, I just turned 20, but for most of my writing career, I’ve been a teenager. I can naturally relate to my teen characters, so writing Contemporary YA was the perfect fit for me.

 

Q: What are you reading right now?

Right now, I’m reading The Unbound, which is the second book in a YA Fantasy series by Victoria Schwab. It’s all sorts of spooky and awesome!

I’m also reading The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, which is both ridiculously long and ridiculously good. I’ve always adored a good revenge tale, and Dumas is one of my favorite classic authors, so it’s a fabulous book all-around.

 

Q: If you could be a character in any children’s book, who would you be and why?

Hmm . . . I think I’d be Buck from Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. I don’t think it’s technically a children’s book, but I read and re-read that book probably a dozen times in grade school, and I continue to love the story. Buck always charmed me with how loyal and determined he acts, no matter how difficult things get for him. Plus, being a giant sled dog would just be pretty darn awesome!

 

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write? 

I’m lucky enough to have my own office nook at my house, so that’s where I do most of my writing. I have two bookshelves packed with books, but aside from that, not much decoration, since I kind of suck at the whole decoration thing. The room is an organized disaster zone, so it probably looks like a giant mess to most other people, but I know exactly where everything is. I just can’t function when things are neat and tidy! This is my desk, complete with my demonic chair-guardian, who is aptly named Diablo.

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Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

Okay, confession time: I’m really, really bad at watching movies. I get like fifteen minutes into them and my mind wanders and I find myself thinking about something entirely different. So I can’t claim to have a favorite classic movie, because I’m not sure I’ve ever sat through the entirety of one . . .

 

Q: If you could have any animal as a pet (current or extinct), what would it be?

I already own my dream pet! His name is Romeo, and he’s an Italian Mastiff and my BFF. He’s also the inspiration for Cuddles in Tone Deaf, who’s a giant, lovable pit bull mutt. Here’s a picture of Romeo posing with a copy of Tone Deaf.

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Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

All of them. Together. Now, please?

 

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

Christmas! My family celebrates with a giant feast and lots and lots of baking, so I spend a bunch of time around Christmas in the kitchen.

 

Q: What’s your favorite emoji? 

I have a thing for simple smiley face emojis. I use them probably way, way too much, but I find them strangely addicting. 🙂

 

Q: What did you want to grow up to be when you were Ali’s age?

I wanted to be a Sky Pony author! When I was 17, I’d just signed my contract with my agent and was about to go on sub with Tone Deaf. It was a crazy year—I was finishing up high school, starting college, and embarking on a writing career all at once!


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Tone Deaf_cover

Tone Deaf

His world is music. Her world is silent.

Ali Collins was a child prodigy destined to become one of the greatest musicians of the twenty-first century—until she was diagnosed with a life-changing brain tumor. Now, at seventeen, Ali lives in a soundless world where she gets by with American Sign Language and lip-reading. She’s a constant disappointment to her father, a retired cop fighting his own demons, and the bruises are getting harder to hide.

When Ali accidentally wins a backstage tour with the chart-topping band Tone Deaf, she’s swept back into the world of music. Jace Beckett, the nineteen-year-old lead singer of the band, has a reputation. He’s a jerk and a player, and Ali wants nothing to do with him. But there’s more to Jace than the tabloids let on. When Jace notices Ali’s bruises and offers to help her escape to New York, Ali can’t turn down the chance at freedom and a fresh start. Soon she’s traveling cross-country, hidden away in Jace’s RV as the band finishes their nationwide tour. With the help of Jace, Ali sets out to reboot her life and rediscover the music she once loved.

 

Rivers, Olivia - Tone Deaf

Olivia Rivers is a hybrid author with a passion for young adult fiction. As a certified geek, she enjoys experimenting with new publishing technologies, and her online serials have received more than one million hits on Wattpad.com. When she’s not writing, Rivers works as a freelance digital artist and assists at a literary agency. She resides in Northern California.

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Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!

While the exact birth date of English poet, actor, and playwright William Shakespeare is unknown, it is believed to be April 23rd (which is coincidentally also the date of his death). And 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death! The author of plays such as Romeo and JulietHamlet, and Macbeth, Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.  He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon.”

To celebrate this important anniversary, two of our wonderful authors, Stephanie Kate Strohm (The Taming of the Drew) and JoAnne Wetzel (Playing Juliet) are here to talk about their love of Shakespeare and why their books are perfect for young and teen readers that love him, his plays, and theater in general!


 

Stephanie Kate Strohm, author of YA novel The Taming of the Drew (on sale now!)

How did your love of Shakespeare start?
I was one of those kids who was firmly committed to spending her entire summer in the library. School was a pesky distraction from plowing my way through an enormous reading list; the minute the last bell of the year rang in June, I was firmly planted in the “Fables and Fairy Tales” aisle of the Fairfield Public Library. In between reading grisly accounts of Cinderella’s stepsisters slicing off bits of their feet, I stumbled across a volume entitled Tales from Shakespeare. I’d never heard of any of these stories, but they were just like fairy tales—or at least, the dark and disturbing German ones I’d been reading. There were fairies! Princesses! A true love’s kiss that didn’t totally work! (Sorry, Juliet) And plenty of stabbings! I was enthralled.

Soon after, my parents took me to see Twelfth Night at Shakespeare on the Sound, and to this day, I can vividly picture Malvolio’s yellow stockings, and remember how hard I laughed—even if I didn’t totally understand the language, it didn’t matter. The story transcended what I didn’t know. By the time I was eleven, I was playing Bianca in a production of The Taming of the Shrew that my family assures me was excruciating, and notable only for the obscene number of scene changes involving middle schoolers parading candlesticks on and off stage. They might have been in agony, but I was all bliss. I’d fallen head over heels in love with Shakespeare, and I’ve never looked back.

What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?
My favorite Shakespeare play is King Lear. (Remember how I said I love the grisly ones?) Edmund is my favorite villain, Cordelia is one of my favorite roles I’ve ever played, and I think the play has some of the most blisteringly beautiful lines in the English language. I like the comedies, too—I love Much Ado About Nothing—but I really like to leave a Shakespeare play sobbing and clutching my eye sockets in sympathy.

What’s your favorite Shakespeare movie adaptation?
When it comes to movies adaptations of Shakespeare plays, there is no contest, there is only 10 Things I Hate About You. Heath Ledger and Julia Styles have the kind of chemistry that crackles onscreen—just as the bard intended.

Why is your book great for young Shakespeare fans?
The Taming of the Drew is the book I would have wanted to read when I was in high school, back when my life’s ambition was to stab myself on stages around the country. The characters in The Taming of the Drew love Shakespeare the way that I did then, and still do. It may be the first YA novel that uses lines from Richard III as romantic banter—scratch that—it’s probably the first anything that uses lines from Richard III as romantic banter. I wanted to make Shakespeare’s plays feel the way they do to me—visceral, present, and alive. And if you don’t like Shakespeare . . . give him a try. He may surprise you. There’s a lot more to him than neck ruffs and the word “forsooth.”

Stephanie Kate Strohm is the author of Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink and Confederates Don’t Wear Couture. She graduated with a dual degree in theater and history and has acted her way around the United States, performing in more than twenty-five states. She currently lives in Chicago with her fiancé and a dog named Lorelei Lee.

 


 

JoAnne Wetzel, author of middle-grade novel Playing Juliet (on sale now!)

How did your love of Shakespeare start?
I fell in love with Shakespeare at a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was in the front row, watching the feuding fairies fight with flowers as their weapons. As leaves and blossoms flew everywhere, a trumpet flower landed in my lap. I inhaled its sweet scent and knew I was hooked. I had to see a production of every one of Shakespeare’s plays. How could I miss another experience that splendid?

There are 37 plays in The Complete Works of Shakespeare I’d used in college. Over the years, I checked off each play until King John was the only one left. It’s so rarely staged, I was lucky to find it opening in San Diego, only 450 miles away. It was the first time it had been produced in that city in 40 years. I flew there, checked King John off the list and congratulated myself. I’d seen all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays.

That week an email arrived from my daughter with HA! in the subject box. Shakespeare’s lost play Cardenio had been found and The Royal Shakespeare Company was putting it on as a rediscovered work. I flew to England to see it. Scholars have continued to add more plays to his canon. So far I’ve seen 39 plays by Shakespeare and will be seeing number 40 later this year, but this time I hope I’m not done. His plays are so good, wouldn’t it be wonderful if another one was discovered.

What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (and The Tempest)

What’s your favorite Shakespeare movie adaptation?
The 1935 Warner Brothers film, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A teen-age Mickey Rooney played Puck and his joyous screeching laugh was perfect for the mischievous fairy who created such chaos in the story.

Why is your book great for young Shakespeare fans?
Playing Juliet introduces the reader to the world of the theater. It starts out with the fact that William Shakespeare’s Scottish play is considered so unlucky, no actor will say its title out loud. While that play is never named in the book, one of the characters figures it out, and provides enough clues that the reader can too. Not only does each chapter start with an epigraph from Shakespeare that foreshadows the next plot twist, he also wrote part of the dialogue. When our heroine is grounded, she keeps quoting Juliet as she trudges back to her room after dinner every night, from “O, sweet my mother, cast me not away,” to “O, shut the door, and when thou hast done so, come weep with me; . . .” Sadly, even Shakespeare’s words don’t work on her parents.

And, as Jane Yolen said in her review of the book, “. . . there’s an extra bonus in the back for teachers introducing the Bard to middle schoolers.”

JoAnne Stewart Wetzel
is a self-proclaimed theater geek, and she recently completed a twenty-year quest to see at least one production of every play written by Shakespeare. She is also a published author of two previous books for children, including a nonfiction theater book, Onstage/Backstage (Carolrhoda). Her picture book, The Christmas Box (Knopf), was named a Noteworthy Book for Children by Bank Street College of Education. She lives in Palo Alto, California.

 


Shakespeare lovers, what’s your favorite play and movie adaptation? Let us know in the comments!

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Stephanie Kate Strohm on Writing and Acting

The Taming of the Drew author, Stephanie Kate Strohm, blogs about writing and acting. Check it out below!


When I was four years old, my parents took me to see Peter Pan on Broadway, and I knew from the moment that Wendy Darling thought her first lovely thought and flew up to the nursery ceiling, that I was going to be an actress when I grew up.  I had the sort-of-confused thought that actors could fly, but more importantly, I knew that theater was magic, and I wanted to be part of the magic.  Flying, turns out, was not all it was cracked up to be—my own turn about the stage in a flying harness, many years later, left me more nauseated than anything else—but I was absolutely right about theater being magic.  I spent the rest of my adolescence in various theater camps, classes, and after-school programs, confident that my destiny was on stage.

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I never planned on becoming a writer.  I studied theater and history in college (acting as a career goal; nineteenth century American history for fun), and was cast in a touring production fairly soon after I graduated.  My theater experience doesn’t just influence my writing—it was the reason I became a writer.  While on tour, I started writing a blog to keep my friends and family back home informed on all of my adventures.  As the grind of tour began to wear on me, I came to look forward to my time alone in the hotel lobby with my blog and my laptop as the highlight of my day.  It was an escape from directors who said I wasn’t pretty if I didn’t smile and from the monotony of having to repeat someone else’s lines day after day.  This was right in the height of Twilight mania, and one day, in the middle of Indiana, I decided to try writing my own YA story.  Just for fun. And much to my surprise, I fell in love with writing.  I wrote backstage, in our tour van, in the bathroom of every Comfort Inn while my roommate slept.  I loved coming up with my own ideas and creating my own worlds instead of always living in someone else’s.   Writing felt like freedom, and I couldn’t get enough.

I don’t act professionally anymore, but my theatrical past has been an invaluable tool in my writing process.  I hear each line of dialogue like it’s part of a play, and it all has to pass the “would I say this on stage?” test.  If it sounds awkward, it’s out.  I listen for where the emphasis would be, where the laugh lines would be, where a scene might need a dramatic pause.  I might be a writer now, but I write like an actor.  And Stephanie Kate Strohm, YA author, is a role I love.

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 Taming of the Drew_REVISEDThe Taming of the Drew

Cass McKay has been called stubborn, temperamental, difficult, and that word that rhymes with “witch” more times than she cares to count. But that’s all about to pay off. She has finally landed the role she was born to play—Kate, in The Taming of the Shrew—in the summer apprentice program of a renowned Shakespeare theater company in the forests of Vermont.

But Cass can barely lace up her corset before her troubles begin. Her leading man, Drew, is a complete troll, and he’s going to ruin Cass’s summer. Even worse, Cass’s bunkmate Amy has somehow fallen head over heels for Drew. Cass can’t let Amy throw herself at a total jerk, so she comes up with a genius plan to give Drew the personality makeover he so desperately needs: they’ll tame Drew just as Petruchio tames Kate! But as Shakespeare’s classic plays out offstage, Cass finds it harder and harder to resist falling for Drew herself.

The best kind of entertainment, The Taming of the Drew is smart, funny, fresh, and original. You’re going to love this badass heroine and her friends. You might even end up liking Drew, too.

 

strohmphotoStephanie Kate Strohm is the author of The Taming of the Drew, Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, Confederates Don’t Wear Couture and the upcoming It’s Not Me, It’s You and Prince in Disguise. She graduated from Middlebury College with a dual degree in theater and history and has acted her way around the United States, performing in more than twenty-five states. She currently lives in Chicago with her fiance and a dog named Lorelei Lee.  Visit her online at www.stephaniekatestrohm.com, follow her on Twitter @stephkatestrohm, and like her on Facebook.

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#tbt: Camp by Elaine Wolf

To celebrate #tbt today, we have the author of Sky Pony’s first YA novel sharing her experience publishing with Sky Pony Press! Check out Elaine Wolf’s post on Camp below!


When my agent called to tell me she had an offer from Sky Pony Press, I screamed so loudly you probably heard me all the way across the country. And when I first spoke with my Sky Pony editor, Julie Matysik, I was over the moon.

Although my husband and I were living in Massachusetts then, I raced down to New York to meet Julie over yummy doughnuts at a place very close to the Skyhorse offices. I knew right away that I would adore working with Julie, who made the publishing process a joyous experience.

When I walked Julie back to the office that day, I had a chance to say a quick hi to Brian Peterson, who designed the Camp jacket. Brian listened to my idea for the cover, and I love what he came up with. I loved, too, the bear hug he gave me that day. I knew right then that Camp was in great, caring hands with my Sky Pony team.

Camp was Sky Pony’s inaugural young adult novel, published in hardcover in 2012. It’s a coming-of-age novel about a high school girl who faces intense bullying at summer camp as she begins to discover the truth about her mother, who holds a dark secret. The tag line on the cover of Camp is Every secret has a price . . . 

Much to my delight, Sky Pony released Camp in paperback in 2015. I was thrilled to be in touch with Julie again as we worked on that edition.

Being a Sky Pony author is even better than I thought it would be. Whenever I pass a bookstore, I run in to see Camp on the shelves. I still can never resist taking a photo of my novel wherever I see it. (Yes, I know that’s nerdy!) And I love hearing from readers who want to bring Camp to their schools and book clubs.

I’m still excited that Camp appeals to readers from ages 12 to 92. (Really, it does.) I speak about Camp at middle schools and high schools, and I’ve been contacted by program directors at senior assisted living facilities who want to bring Camp to their residents. How amazing that my young adult novel has crossed into the adult (and much older adult) community.

What makes me especially happy, though—even more than the awards and accolades that Camp has garnered—is that Camp has given me a literal bully pulpit, a platform from which to keep anti-bullying conversations going so that, in concert with professionals, we’ll make our camps and schools kinder, gentler, more inclusive places for everyone.

I’m so grateful to Sky Pony Press for publishing Camp and for cheering me on. If you haven’t yet read Camp, I hope you’ll read it now. I hope, too, that you’ll visit my website: authorelainewolf.com.


Camp by Elaine Wolf

51Nj+rvctpL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Amy Becker’s mother holds a dark secret. In fact, her whole past is a secret. All Amy knows is that her mother came from Germany — and that her mother doesn’t love her. That icy voice. Those rigid rules of how to eat, dress, walk, talk, and think. No matter what Amy does, no matter how much she follows the rules, she just can’t earn her mother’s love.

But everything changes that summer of 1963, when fourteen-year-old Amy is sent to Camp Takawanda for Girls. Takawanda, where all the rules get broken. Takawanda, where mean girls practice bullying as if it were a sport. Takawanda, where Amy’s cousin unveils the truth about Amy’s mother, setting in motion a tragic event that changes Amy and her family forever.

Winner of the Forward National Literature Award and a book-of-the-month pick by the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County (New York), Camp is widely recommended by librarians, teachers, and book clubs (adult groups as well as teen). It’s an acutely sensitive and compelling novel about bullying, family relationships, and the collateral damage of secrets. The paperback edition includes discussion questions and a conversation with the author.

Elaine Wolf, an award-winning author, was a reading/language arts specialist and school district program administrator. As the daughter of a German immigrant, and as a former camper and camp counselor, she writes of a world she is passionate about and knows well. With an exceptional reputation as “the anti-bullying novelist,” she shows what happens behind the closed gates and doors of camps and schools. Learn more about Elaine at authorelainewolf.com.

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Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day is Friday, April 22nd! To celebrate, check out some of Sky Pony’s environment-related books below!


Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles by Kate Louise, illustrated by Bethany Straker

9781632204110-frontcoverLike most dogs, Pierre, a French bulldog, loves the excitement of digging things up. He hoards his treasures in a hole in the backyard and then makes space for more. One day Pierre tosses some old stuff into the trash can, but he forgets to recycle. Now, instead of being transformed into new things, that plastic bottle and newspaper will sit in a landfill forever! Well, not if Pierre has anything to do with it. He chases the garbage truck through town, but will he catch it in time, or will those treasures be trash forever?

From author Kate Louise comes Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles—a quirky and fun lesson about the importance of recycling. Bethany Straker’s expressive illustrations make this adorable pup come to life on every page and are sure to get kids thinking about the importance of saving the environment one small piece of trash at a time.

A Weird and Wild Beauty by Erin Peabody

9781634502047-frontcoverThe summer of 1871, a team of thirty-two men set out on the first scientific expedition across Yellowstone. Through uncharted territory, some of the day’s most renowned scientists and artists explored, sampled, sketched, and photographed the region’s breathtaking wonders—from its white-capped mountain vistas and thundering falls to its burping mud pots and cauldrons of molten magma. At the end of their adventure, the survey packed up their specimens and boarded trains headed east, determined to convince Congress that the country needed to preserve the land from commercial development. They returned with “stories of wonder hardly short of fairy tales,” to quote the New York Times.

With the support of conservationists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Law Olmsted, and John Muir, the importance of a national park was secured. On March 1, 1872, Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone Park Bill into law. It set aside over two million acres of one-of-a-kind wilderness as “a great national park for the benefit and enjoyment of people.” This important and fascinating book will introduce young adults to the astonishing adventure that led to “the best idea America ever had.” Today over 130 countries have copied the Yellowstone model, and billions of acres of critical habitat and spectacular scenery are being preserved for all of us to enjoy.

This book has a wonderful ecological and historical message for readers ages 12 and up. No book about Yellowstone’s founding has been written for this age group before, yet Yellowstone National Park is a major destination for many families, so many readers will likely have heard of Yellowstone or even have visited there. This is a great book for any school library or for history or science classrooms in middle and high school, where information can be used for research projects.

To Save the Earth by Jules Archer with Foreword by Erin Peabody

9781634501965-frontcoverWith today’s climate change, our environmental problems aren’t going away any time soon.

To Save the Earth looks at the lives of four extraordinary Americans who fought to save our earth. John Muir, a pioneer of conservationism, was the founder of our national park system. Rachel Carson, biologist and author, educated our country about the effects of pesticides and chemical waste. David McTaggart, the organizer of Greenpeace, introduced nonviolent protest into the struggle, while Dave Foreman, cofounder and former leader of the activist group Earth First!, shook up a movement that had grown complacent.

The biographies of each of these figures, as well as personal interviews with David McTaggart and Dave Foreman, help us to understand the environmental movement specific to the United States. With current issues of excessive pollution and climate change, this is an excellent resource for introducing young readers to the cause. Upon first publication, To Save the Earth was chosen as a Junior Library Guild Selection, and now, this fascinating and important book is back in print to teach a whole new generation of readers the importance of environmental conservation and preservation.

 

Stella and Steve Travel Through Space! by James Duffett-Smith

9781628738155-frontcoverDid you know that Jupiter is eleven times the size of Earth? The solar system is an incredible place that is still mostly unexplored. So, when Stella and her family move to a new town—where Stella has no friends except for her dog Steve—she goes exploring. In this educational book, travel across the solar system with Stella and Steve as Stella looks for a new home on another planet and imagines what life would be like on another world, from Mercury to Pluto. But along the way Stella learns that Venus has acid rain and Neptune is made mainly of gas, and she begins to wonder whether Earth might actually be the perfect home for her after all.

Featuring a fun and informational story from author James Duffett-Smith, and bold, comic book–style illustrations by Bethany Straker, Stella and Steve Travel through Space shows just how great the Earth is (while providing young children with an early science lesson) in a twist on “there’s no place like home.”

The Little Raindrop by Joanna Gray

9781628738216-frontcoverFrom cloud to puddle, and puddle to stream, the Little Raindrop is making its way on the remarkable journey that is Earth’s water cycle. In this inviting story—illustrated with pastels for a soft, full color—readers are taught about science and nature through a character-driven narrative that leads a little raindrop on a big adventure. With an easy-to-follow plot that teaches precipitation, water flow, and evaporation, The Little Raindrop offers a sweet story full of learning and discovery.

Featuring a heartwarming adventure from author Joanna Gray and beautiful pastel illustrations by Dubravka Kolanovic, The Little Raindrop takes readers on a fun and educational ride through the water cycle.

 

 

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Q & A with Jessica Taylor with Giveaway!

Author of Wandering Wild, Jessica Taylor takes on the Sky Pony Q & A! Check it out and don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!

Q: Why did you gravitate to the genre that you write in?

Speculative fiction was never really a draw for me—I just happened to want to write this story and I always saw it as magical realism. My next book is actually a contemporary story and I see myself writing mostly contemporary in the future.

 

Q: What are you reading right now?

Bone Gap! I think I’m the last person on earth to read it. I wanted to save it for when I had time. The voice and pacing are masterful, but the beauty of the story is the feminist message.

 

Q: If you could be a character in any children’s book, who would you be and why?

Winnie Foster from Tuck Everlasting. I love that she chooses to not live forever and instead faces the world on her own terms. She’s a great example of my favorite type of heroine—independent.

 

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write?

Honestly, I do my best writing in bed. If I have to write at a desk, I can, but when it comes to drafting, nothing beats propping myself against a heap of pillows.

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Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

I’ve always been a fan of Sabrina. Audrey Hepburn is the ultimate fashion icon.

 

Q: If you could have any animal as a pet (current or extinct), what would it be?

I already do have my absolute favorite animal, my dog, Lexi. She’s an 11 year-old Bichon Frise, and we’ve spent the most important years of my life together.

 

Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

Dark, but in small quantities. I’m not much of a chocolate fan.

 

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

Christmas. I love to (over)decorate, wrap gifts, and watch cheesy Christmas movies.

 

Q: What’s your favorite emoji? OR What’s your favorite GIF?

I’m a fan of this one, lately.

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Q: What did you want to grow up to be when you were [the age of their book’s main character]?

A writer. I always say, “I didn’t choose writing. Writing chose me.” It was literally the only profession that interested me—and I’m so grateful for that!


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Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor

“I believe in possibility. Of magic, of omens, of compasses, of love. Some of it’s a little bit true.”

Sixteen-year-old Tal is a Wanderer—a grifter whose life is built around the sound of wheels on the road, the customs of her camp, and the artful scams that keep her fed. With her brother, Wen, by her side, it’s the only life she’s ever known. It’s the only one she’s ever needed.Then in a sleepy Southern town, the queen of cons picks the wrong mark when she meets Spencer Sway—the clean-cut Socially Secured boy who ends up hustling her instead of the other way around. For the first time, she sees a reason to stay. As her obligations to the camp begin to feel like a prison sentence, the pull to leave tradition behind has never been so strong.But the Wanderers live by signs, and all the signs all say that Tal and Spencer will end only in heartache and disaster. Is a chance at freedom worth almost certain destruction?

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