NaNoWriMo 2014: Actual Writing Advice from Actual Authors!

Hello everyone!

I am so so so so SO excited to be sharing in this post today.

I talk about writing and writing advice a lot when it comes to the blog and my aspiring career as a writer. I am lucky enough that I get to interact with authors on a daily basis, side effects whether over the internet or in person, buy more about and I’ve met SO many inspiring ones that have given me such amazing advice. The advice and guidance that I’ve received over the past two years as whatanerdgirlsays has been so helpful in my journey to becoming a better writer.

Now, I have a goal of 45K words for NaNoWriMo but my biggest goal is to really nail down my character and her development over the course of the story. Evie is my main character and Untitled (it will have a title one day, I promise…) is her story. Its her story in the past, when she’s 15 years old, and its her story in the present, at 19 years old. Both important, and it takes a lot of development. She’s going to develop in both stories and its a little overwhelming but I believe in her and my story.

So when I started planning my NaNoWriMo schedule on the blog, I knew that I wanted a post about writing and writing advice and I wanted to reach out to the authors that I’ve met over the past two years and ask for their assistance in creating and developing characters.

I hope you enjoy. Every single piece of advice of below is unique to this post. Each author was contacted individually and responded individually. There’s seriously awesome, quality advice down there, and I am so grateful for each and every single one of these authors for participating and helping out!

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Jessica Brody, author of The Unremembered Trilogy

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When first fleshing out a new main character, I like to start by asking myself one question: What motivates this person. Is it power? Ambition? Love? Idealism? Reason? This helps me begin to narrow down who this person is and how they think/respond to situations. Someone who is motivated by power is going to react very differently in a crisis than someone who is motivated by feeling loved. The second question I ask myself is “What does this character want?” And I don’t mean after the book has started. What do they want BEFORE the first page even begins. It always needs to be something tangible and concrete. Like to win a sports championship. To make it onto a team. To graduate valedictorian. This immediately focuses the story around a central goal. It gives the story direction and purpose before the plot has even begun. When your character’s goals are clear, the reader is more likely to come along for the ride.

Elana K. Arnold, author of the Sacred duology and Burning

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When I was a younger writer, I used to disbelieve it when I’d hear people talk about their characters surprising them, their characters heading off in directions they hadn’t planned. Impossible, I’d think. Your characters ARE YOU. They can’t disobey you… they aren’t REAL. For me, characters were like dolls that I bounced around from situation to situation.

I think that’s why I had a hard time completing a project, or even falling deeply in love with one. There was no RISK if I walked away from a story, no real LOSS. Honestly, I don’t know what changed. I think I got older. (Actually, I know I got older.) But over time, I started to become surprised when a plotted-out scene or chapter took a turn away from my outline. Pleasantly surprised.

With INFANDOUS, which will be published in March 2015, plot took a backseat to following around Sephora Golding, my main character, and seeing what she would do. Try this–give your character a secret, and then see where it takes you.

Livia Blackburne, author of Midnight Thief

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I’ve found it useful to have all my characters tell their life story and narrate the events of the novel itself in their own voice, with their own commentary.

Katherine Ewell, author of Dear Killer

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My main tip in character development is this: make your main character at least a little bit unlikeable. However, no matter how unlikeable said main character is, your reader has to root for them anyway. The easiest way to make a reader like an unlikeable character is to show said character’s weakness and humanity right off the bat: their fears, their likes, their dislikes, what makes them cry, what comforts them, etc. And you can go pretty far with how unlikeable they are at the surface level, take it from someone who knows! Some of the most vivid, fun characters out there are severely messed up. (Take a look at Game of Thrones for tons of great examples.) I feel as if the worst thing you could do in character creation is make a character that has no flaws, or has too few flaws: it is in their flaws that characters and their stories come alive.

Cora Carmack, author of the Losing It series and Rusk University series 

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When it comes to characterization, I rely pretty heavily on the idea that my main character’s desire should shape the plot, instead of the plot shaping my main character. I don’t want my MC to be just a cog in the bigger mechanism of the story. I want them being the one *making* the machine move, rather than just being a component of it. When I was studying theatre in college, we took a lot of time talking about our character’s objectives and motivations – asking “What does this character want? How will they get it?” and things like that – and that has continued to inform the way I shape my characters.

Tonya Kuper, author of Anomaly

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Every character, especially the main character, has to have a GMC – Goal, Motivation, & Conflict – in relation to the plot. I usually have a pretty good picture of my characters before I start plotting, but after the GMC is decided, I know what matters to them, which, in my mind, is the most important thing to know about her main character.

Victoria Scott, author of Fire and Flood and The Collector

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I often use friends and family members when creating characters. I note people’s real life quirks and incorporate them into my fictional world. For example, my husband points to what he wants on a menu when ordering. It doesn’t matter if it’s a difficult-to-pronounce dish, or french fires…that man is holding up the menu for the waitress to see, and pointing to his selection. As if she needs to see the item to understand. No matter how many times I call this to his attention, he still does it. That quirk will probably show up in one of my characters to make them more memorable. My advice is to watch the people around you, and keep notes on your phone.

Sara Benincasa, author of Great

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You have to love your main character. Even if you hate your main character sometimes, you have to love her. Because if you don’t love her, you won’t want to spend the time it takes to churn out 50,000 or more words centered around her. You don’t need to love her choices. You don’t need to love her attitude. But you do need to love her, somehow, in some corner of your soul

Catherine Linka, author of A Girl Called Fearless

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Getting a handle on a character can be pretty haphazard, because we might start out not really knowing them at all. One thing that helps me is finding an object that captures my character. I knew Yates wore tee shirts with quotes, but when I found Thoreau’s quote– “Let your life be the counter friction to stop the machine”–it hit me that was exactly what Yates believed and who he was at heart. In the sequel to A Girl Called Fearless, it was a scary religious tattoo that nailed the character of a new antagonist and suggested his unbalanced righteousness.

CJ Redwine, author of the Defiance trilogy

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If YOU aren’t connected to your characters, no one else will be connected either. Characters aren’t scenery to populate your world. This includes secondary characters. Characters aren’t pawns to use in playing out your conflict. Characters CREATE conflict. Connection takes time and effort, just like it does in real life. Take the time to get to know your characters on an intimate level. Find out what their deepest fear is, what they most regret, what they truly want more than anything, and the secret they hope no one discovers.

Lauren Oliver, author of the Delirium Trilogy, Before I Fall and Panic

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Do some work to understand what your character wants, and what your character needs, and how these might be different. Think about your character’s formative memories. How does he/she react under pressure? When frightened? What does she like to do for fun? What are her nervous habits? Where does she go to recharge? You have to know your character the way you know your best friend.

Gretchen McNeil, author of Ten, Possess, 3:59 and Get Even

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I start with the plot, actually, and the role of my main character in the story. What part does she need to play? What type of person does she need to be so that all of her choices are realistically motivated? Her personality is shaped by the plot, and once I know the core of that, I can begin to layer in the idiosyncracies of character: how she dresses, what she likes to eat, what songs on Pandora make her want to sing along or change the channel, and how she feels about everyone around her. Voila! Character!

Lindsay Cummings, author of The Murder Complex

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Characters are my favorite part of a book. Everyone is different…but I always start with a character, and build my world around him/her. For me, the best way to develop my characters and get to know them is to interview them–as if they were real people. I find that, even the silliest questions will give you a glimpse into who each character is, and what motivates them.

Bethany Hagen, author of Landry Park

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One of my favorite tricks for developing a character is to make a character sheet before I get started. I use these sheets to help me keep track of a character’s physical attributes (and I might even attach a picture of an actor or model to help me visualize the character.) And I also use these sheets to develop a character’s personality traits: their likes and dislikes, their hopes and dreams, their past mistakes. Not only is it a useful tool for conceiving of a character, but it makes a handy reference to come back to during the drafting process.

Beth Revis, author of the Across the Universe trilogy and The Body Electric

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When coming up with your main character, don’t be afraid to go into your own personality to find traits. He or she doesn’t need to be an exact replica of you, but if you have a strong emotion—a fear, a desire, a love or hate—build off that emotion to influence your characters. I was never stuck on a space ship alone, but I made Amy of Across the Universe feel alone the same way I felt alone when I had to go to college, 200 miles from home, with no one I knew near me. I never had my memories messed with like Ella in The Body Electric, but I have had relatives who were affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. Build on these real feelings you have to create realistic characters.

Mindy McGinnis, author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust

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I just let my characters go, be real people within the world that I built and let them react naturally, however they want. To me, this is the most organic way of building a “real” fake person.

Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles

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After I’ve determined the basics of who my protagonist is (name, age, gender, job, etc.), I like to ask myself two important questions. 1: What does this character want? Giving them a goal from page one will immediately give your story somewhere to go. (Although it’s normal for that goal or desire to change over the course of the story.) And 2: What is this character afraid of? Whatever they’re most afraid of is something that they should have to face (possibly multiple times), and will therefore give them somewhere to grow.

Tamora Pierce, author of The Song of Lioness, The Immortals, and the Protector of the Small quartets and more

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The way I write a character is–usually–to start with a person I know or admire (actor, musician, professional wrestler, the character played by an actor). The look has to grab me for the vague outline of the character I need–teacher/mentor, law enforcement in a very loose era, street kid, Then I go through my baby name books till I find the right name. Once I have the right name and the right look, I generally know the character: intellectual, absent-minded, can be very sexy when he wants to be, but easily distractible, and very dangerous when crossed–that was one. Then I needed the slacker daughter of two famous over-achievers who ended up as a spy in a foreign country. I looked through my files of pictures of girls until I had three or four I thought interesting, then I waited for one to grow on me–the one with her head tipped to the side and the knowing smile. I knew she was a smart-alec, really good at flirting and dancing and being silly while taking in everything around her, a daddy’s girl who lived to make mom nuts, but underneath she needs something to fight for.

Sarah Skilton, author of High and Dry and Bruised

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In my latest book High & Dry, a Young Adult novel written in the style of a hardboiled detective mystery, Palm Valley high school students “traffic in labels.” As a result, it’s very difficult for my main character, Charlie, to break free from his perceived identity, that of a varsity soccer star with a reputation for playing rough. The problem is, Charlie’s identity is a front he projects to the world in order to survive. I needed to show both sides of his personality: that of a tough guy jock accepted by his peers, and that of a heart-broken sci-fi nerd–a trait he keeps hidden. For example, Charlie tries to win back his ex-girlfriend, Ellie, by suggesting they both take Ellie’s little brother to a sci-fi movie. In this way, he gets to show Ellie he’s a “nice guy” while also indulging his own secret hope of seeing the movie. When constructing a main character, ask yourself, “Who is this person really, and who does he/she pretend to be?” The answers may surprise you!

Cinda Williams Chima, author of The Heir Chronicles and the Seven Realms series

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After publishing nine books and writing several more, I still haven’t settled on the best way to develop character. Everything goes much more smoothly if I know the character very well from the beginning. And yet, that process of filling out a character questionnaire or deciding what he has in his pockets or dresser drawer doesn’t really work for me.

With the Seven Realms series, I knew the main characters, Han Alister, Raisa ana’Marrianna, and Micah sul’Bayar very well, because I had already written extensively about them as adults. So all I had to do was think about what they would have been like at sixteen and seventeen. Because I had their characters well in hand, story flowed more or less effortlessly.

But writing three hundred thousand words about a character before you get started on a novel isn’t really efficient, is it? So mostly, I get to know characters in the same way as we get to know people in real life–by spending time with them. In other words, I get to know them while writing my first draft. And once I decide who they are, in revision, I go back and strengthen those elements of character and make them more consistent all the way along.

That’s my process—but it may not be yours. There is more than one way to craft characters and craft story. One of the first jobs a writer must do is find out what works for them.

Crystal Perkins, author of The Griffin Brothers series

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I try to have a cover idea when I start writing. When I look at the girl and guy-I write in dual POV-I think of how they’ll speak and act. It’s nice to have something, even just a picture to look at. Then when I think of them in my head, they already have a distinct personality.

Ann Stampler, author of Where It Began and Afterparty

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You know all those cheesy drama-class moments in B movies where the teacher starts panting that the kids need to beeeeee the wind in the trees (or whatever)?  That actually has a lot in common with the way I develop main characters : method writing.  I try to see the story through the eyes of the character in a very literal way.  While I’m writing, I don’t observe the character from the outside, but I try to see what she sees.  I think this helps me to stay with the character’s feelings and emotional reactions, and to remain in her point of view.

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Tuesday Top Ten-Most Anticipated Summer Releases

It has been so epicly long since I last did a Tuesday Top Ten. I was doing them for the Mortal Instruments re-read and then I get SUPER lazy with the re-read and I just stopped doing them. I apologize. I know a lot of you guys enjoy reading them so I’m going to try VERY hard to be back on top of it, viagra order I promise!

Today we are talking about the books that I am looking forward to hitting shelves this summer. There are so many but I managed to narrow it down to ten. Let’s dive in!

10. The Kiss of Deception by shop d.cGU” target=”_blank”>Mary E. Pearson 

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In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.9. Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne. 

I had an e-ARC of this, and got halfway through and then it expired and now I’m DYING to find out what happens next so I can’t WAIT until it hits bookshelves. It already has me panting to find out who is who, and I have no idea who I should be rooting for!

Releases: July 15th 2014

9. Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

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Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

I met Livia at the Ontario Teen Book Fest and she was SO awesome, so smart and thoughtful, and she mentioned Tamora Pierce as an influence and that was enough for me to be completely sold by her. I just recently read her debut ebook novella and it was incredible. She has a real grasp of character and story, and of weaving things together beautifully. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with in Midnight Thief.

Releases: July 8th, 2014

8. Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

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Katy knows the world changed the night the Luxen came.

She can’t believe Daemon welcomed his race or stood by as his kind threatened to obliterate every last human and hybrid on Earth. But the lines between good and bad have blurred, and love has become an emotion that could destroy her—could destroy them all.

Daemon will do anything to save those he loves, even if it means betrayal.

They must team with an unlikely enemy if there is any chance of surviving the invasion. But when it quickly becomes impossible to tell friend from foe, and the world is crumbling around them, they may lose everything— even what they cherish most—to ensure the survival of their friends…and mankind.

War has come to Earth. And no matter the outcome, the future will never be the same for those left standing.

Its the last book of the Lux series. I am DYING to see what happens next especially since JLA is an artful master at the cliffhanger and Origin ended so beautifully in a very frustrating cliffhanger and I need to know how this all wraps up. After reading Sentinel, the end of her Covenant series, I’m excited to see how Katy and Daemon and the rest end their story.

Releases: August 5th, 2014

7. The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings 

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An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

I’ve been following Lindsay on Instagram and Twitter for ages, and she’s been following me back, and she’s SO cool, and really laidback, and she’s been getting her name out there long before this book releases (The prequel novella, The Fear Trials, has been released in ebook TODAY!), and I’m so  proud of her. She’s a fangirl like the rest of us, and I’ve already read this book, so I’m just ready to have it in all its published glory on my shelf.

Releases: June 10th 2014

6. Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

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Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth comes a companion volume to the worldwide bestselling divergent series, told from the per-spective of the immensely popular character Tobias. The four pieces included here—The Transfer, The Initiate, The Son, and The Traitor—plus three additional exclusive scenes, give readers an electrifying glimpse into the history and heart of Tobias, and set the stage for the epic saga of the Divergent trilogy.

Its Four. I mean, I don’t think I need to say more than that. I’ve read part of this, and then they decided not to release the rest of the novellas in ebook before the book. Probably a smart marketing move, but still. Its Four. Sign me up. A thousand times.

Releases: July 8th 2014

5. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

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From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

I absolutely loved the first two books of this companion series, but I am really looking forward to this because I feel like its really going to tackle the realities of romances and how they’re not always easy and how achieving that happily ever after can be a lot harder than some books and movies make it seem.

Releases: August 14th, 2014

4. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

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Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Rainbow Rowell is a beautiful writer, and I have literally loved every single thing I’ve read by her so far, and I have yet to be disappointed. I’ve heard such amazing things about her second adult release, so I’m literally dying for this book to come out. I know that I’m just going to devour it.

Releases: July 8th 2014

3. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

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Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. 

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

Sarah J Maas is brilliant and the first two novels of the Throne of Glass series and I know that things are just going to get even wilder in this book. I actually just got an e-ARC today so I’m really excited to make time for it in my schedule, so that I can read it. Sarah has incredible world building skills and I just know that her world is going to get even bigger and better than it was before.

Releases: September 2nd, 2014

2. Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

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In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive. 

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

Its so incredible that in such a short amount of time, I have completely fallen in love with the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series. I would have never believed that I could love vampire books so much but I do. Its like…Richelle writes such beautiful stories and such amazing characters that sometimes you ever forget they are vampires. I have fallen so in love with all the characters and the cliffhanger that leaves us practically heartbroken in The Fiery Heart makes me wish for Silver Shadows every. Single. Day.

Releases: July 29th, 2014

1. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

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The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

I can’t even begin to explain how excited I am for this novel. Leigh Bardugo is an incredible person, and I am so grateful that I’ve been able to meet her and that I’ve been able to get to know her. Its wonderful. She’s a brilliant writer and an inspiration and I can’t wait to read this book. I just re-read Shadow and Bone and was reminded how fantastic it is, and I’m planning on re-reading Siege and Storm before this releases. I just know that its going to be an epic conclusion and I can’t wait to dive in.

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What are some books that you’re looking forward to this summer? Share them in the comments! 

Ontario Teen Book Fest 2014!

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I know. I know. I know.

I’m awful! This was almost two weeks ago and I’ve just been SO incredibly busy and I kept meaning to vlog about it, sildenafil but that never happened so I’m just going to write about it quickly because all I have to say about this awesome event is that it was awesome.

Last year’s Ontario Teen Book Fest introduced to me to a multitude of amazing authors, a lot of whom I’ve since then become friends with. Which is incredible to me, both as a book blogger and as a writer. It means the world to me.

So I was most definitely looking forward to this year’s fest. I organized the blog tour, held a giveaway and did all kinds of promotion for it, because I love this event SO much.

I was asked back again as an official blogger, with my best fangirl friend, Sylvia from Fangirl Feeels, and we attended the official Author Breakfast, and started meeting the authors, getting to know them, and interviewing them for our vlog, which you can check out now!

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It was a blast, like always, and I really enjoyed meeting all the authors and talking about fictional crushes and great teen books they wish they’d had as teens. I feel like I made a lot of connections and a lot of friends that day.

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There was the opening keynote speeches from Jessica Brody (LOVE her), Lauren Kate (seriously, she was so pregnant and IN HEELS, much props!) and John Corey Whaley (who seriously should be my best friend). They all had wonderful things to say about life and writing. They made me laugh, and they made me think, and they all made me feel a lot better about being a struggling writer. Lauren talk a lot about the struggles of getting through a book, and it felt good to hear that even a published, seasoned author can feel that sort of despair where you want to throw your computer across the room. Jessica and Corey both talked about finding the right path to writing, and emphasizing that it can take time, and it can take making the wrong choices and making mistakes to get to where you need to be.

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We then split up to go to our first panel, and I made sure to attend the debut author panel with Katherine Ewell, Livia Blackburne, Ava Dellaira and Catherine Linka. They had so much to say about writing and reading and getting into the world of publishing and writing. What struck me as super awesome is that they all had very different backgrounds (high school student turned Stanford student, neuroscientist, screenwriter, bookseller), and were obviously different ages, but they had all accomplished the same goal and that was great. They all had wonderful things to say.

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We broke for lunch after that, which was cool, because we were back in the room with the authors again! Yay! We sat near Katherine Ewell, Ava Dellaira and Livia Blackburne and talked about writing and books and Disneyland and all sorts of fun stuff, and that was just an awesome experience to have.

After lunch, we headed to the newest addition to the Teen Book Fest schedule: author speed dating. Basically there were tables for all the readers to sit at, and every 8 minutes or so, the authors would switch to another table. You basically got some personal time with about…six or seven authors and it was SO great. Sylvia and I, along with my sister Jessica, sat a table together and had some great conversations with Lauren Miller, Catherine Linka, Jessi Kirby, Jessica Brody, Ava Dellaira and Katherine Ewell and it was awesome. A GREAT addition to the Fest, for sure!

Photo Credit to: Sylvia from Fangirl Feeels

Photo Credit to: Sylvia from Fangirl Feeels

After that, we had the final panel for the day, and we headed to a panel with Jessi Kirby, Elana K Arnold, Ava Dellaira and John Corey Whaley, all about relationships and I’ve read most of their books so that was cool. Talking about the dynamic of relationships, whether family or friends or love interests, is important and the title of the panel was “It’s Complicated” so the authors tried to insert “complicated” into as many answers as possible!

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After the last panel of the day, all the authors gathered at their tables to sign their books, and we finished gathering interviews for the vlog above, and got all our books signed. It was awesome meeting ALL of the authors, and getting to know them. I am glad I’ve read some of their books and can’t wait to get my hands on the others!


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I have to throw out MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR props to Courtney Saldana, the Youth Services librarian, for putting on another fantastic event and for letting me be a part of it. Much thanks to her partner in crime, Aly, and all her volunteers as well, and the Mrs. Nelson’s Book Fair Company. You guys ROCK.

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I canNOT wait until next year, to meet all kinds of awesome authors and to be a part of it once again. Plus I heard from an inside source that my darling Andrew Smith will be there, so I’m ready for it!

Remember, you can check out all the pictures from the Ontario Teen Book Fest (at least the ones I took), on the official What A Nerd Girl Says facebook page here.

Lastly, congrats to Peyton, Jasmine and Stephanie for winning the prizes in the official Ontario Teen Book Fest blog tour giveaway!

OH! And it felt SO awesome being in the program. I felt important, and helpful!

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Happy Reading!

Vlog: Ontario Teen Book Fest Authors!

So as some of you may have known, view this past weekend was the Ontario Teen Book Fest. You probably know because I promoted it like crazy and it was an event that I was SO highly looking forward to!

Sylvia from Fangirl Feeels and I were the official bloggers for the event which meant that we did a lot of promotion and really got to spend some awesome time with the authors.

We asked all fifteen awesome YA authors two questions and got it all on video for you guys. The answers were all super awesome, generic and we are so glad to share this vlog with you!

A recap video of the actual event is coming VERY soon, but for now, enjoy learning about all the authors from the Fest!

Ontario Teen Book Fest Tomorrow + Giveaway!

Well, recipe we’ve reached the end of the Ontario Teen Book Fest blog tour and I am SO happy and excited that it went SO well. Thanks to each and every single blogger that participated and to all the authors that ROCKED their spotlights.

If you’d like to check out all the spotlights and interviews, they are all linked in this schedule so definitely check them out!

May 2nd: Spotlight on Jessica Brody — What A Nerd Girl Says
May 3rd: Spotlight on Elana K. Arnold — Nite Lite Book Reviews
May 4th: Spotlight on Catherine Linka — Fangirl Feeels
May 5th: Spotlight on Livia Blackburne – The Thousand Lives
May 6th: Spotlight on Lauren Kate — She Reads She Blogs
May 7th: Spotlight on Katie Alender — Movies, Shows and Books
May 8th: Spotlight on Lauren Miller — A Bookish Escape
May 9th: Spotlight on Sarah Skilton — Read Now Sleep Later
May 10th: Spotlight on Lissa Price — Recently Acquired Obsessions 
May 11th: Spotlight on Jessi Kirby — What A Nerd Girl Says
May 12th: Spotlight on Katherine Ewell — iFandoms Collide
May 13th: Spotlight on Mary Pearson — The Windy Pages
May 14th: Spotlight on John Corey Whaley — Read Now Sleep Later
May 15th: Spotlight on Robin Benway — Adventures of a Book Junkie
May 16th: Spotlight on Ava Dellaira — Fangirl Feeels

Don’t forget as well, to enter the Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog tour giveaway! There will be three winners of three really great prizes. The giveaway is going on until May 20th, so make sure to get your entry in!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But most importantly, is the AMAZING event that is taking place tomorrow! This is what we’ve spent two weeks promoting and I hope to see all of you Southern California readers there to meet these fantastic authors.

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Where: 

Colony High School
3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario CA

What: 

15 incredible young adult authors gathering together to talk about their books and sign them as well! There are some keynote speakers, several panels to choose from AND a speed dating game with the authors as well!

For the full schedule of events, please visit the official Ontario Teen Book Fest website here.

Books and Stuff: 

Mrs. Nelson’s Bookfair Company will be onsite, selling books for all authors! You most definitely will be able to bring books from home, in fact, we hope that you do!

We also encourage you to purchase a book or two from Mrs. Nelson’s, to show support for them. They are the main sponsor of the event and its because of sponsors like them that events like this can happen! Mrs. Nelson’s will be accepting both cash and cards!

There will also be official posters ($5) and official t-shirts ($10) on sale, through the Ontario Library. The profits from these sales will go towards TBF 2015! Please note that these will only be available for purchase using CASH!

Social Media: 

Don’t forget to RSVP “yes” if you’re attending on the official Facebook event here.

Also! If you are there, make sure to tweet and instagram your experience and use the hashtag #OntarioTBF!

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I hope to see all of you there!

If you have ANY questions, any at all about the event, feel free to comment below or to tweet me at @anerdgirlsays and I will get back to as soon as possible!

And don’t be afraid to say hello! I’ll be running around all day in an official Ontario Teen Book Fest t-shirt and am looking forward to hanging out with the authors and meeting all of you!

Happy Friday everyone!

Ontario Teen Book Fest-Author Spotlight on Jessica Brody

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I am so so so incredibly excited to be kicking off the official Ontario Teen Book Fest blog tour! The Ontario Teen Book Fest is SUCH an important event to me, buy and I’m happy to be putting this tour to bring as much attention to the event possible.

Last year’s event brought so many amazing authors into my life. I went to the event, side effects only having been familiar with Morgan Matson, Jessica Brody, Marie Lu, and Stephen Chbosky. I left the Fest with a gigantic bag stuffed full with books and friendships with authors like Ann Stampler and Leigh Bardugo and the duo of Lex Thomas and ANDREW SMITH and Gretchen McNeil and Carrie Arcos and Jennifer Bosworth. It was an incredible experience and I can’t wait to experience that again!

But first, the blog tour!

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When: May 17th, 9 am to 5 pm

Where: Colony High School
3850 E. Riverside Drive
Ontario, CA 91761

This event is a completely free and un-ticketed event! Priority seating WILL be given to teens, but come one, come all! There will also be giveaways and raffles at the Fest, also free!

You can visit the website, to see the full schedule of the day by visiting the official Ontario Teen Book Fest website.

Books WILL be available for purchase at the event, available from Mrs. Nelson’s Book Fair Company :) They are an amazing company so definitely bring your books from home, but try and support Mrs. Nelson’s by purchasing a book!

Its going to be an incredible event and I’m honestly counting down the days! I hope you can come along for the ride, in the days leading up to the event. I’ve got some great bloggers helping me out to profile these amazing authors. Check out the full blog tour here!

May 2nd: Spotlight on Jessica BrodyWhat A Nerd Girl Says
May 3rd: Spotlight on Elana K. ArnoldNite Lite Book Reviews
May 4th: Spotlight on Lauren MillerA Bookish Escape
May 5th: Spotlight on Livia Blackburne The Thousand Lives
May 6th: Spotlight on Lauren KateShe Reads She Blogs
May 7th: Spotlight on Katie AlenderMovies, Shows and Books
May 8th: Spotlight on Catherine LinkaFangirl Feeels
May 9th: Spotlight on Sarah SkiltonRead Now Sleep Later
May 10th: Spotlight on Lissa PriceRecently Acquired Obsessions 
May 11th: Spotlight on Jessi KirbyWhat A Nerd Girl Says
May 12th: Spotlight on Katherine EwelliFandoms Collide
May 13th: Spotlight on Mary PearsonThe Windy Pages
May 14th: Spotlight on John Corey WhaleyRead Now Sleep Later
May 15th: Spotlight on Robin BenwayAdventures of a Book Junkie
May 16th: Spotlight on Ava DellairaFangirl Feeels

So today’s kick off spotlight of the tour is on the one and only:

Jessica Brody! 

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Jessica Brody is the author of several adult and young adult novels including The Fidelity Files, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, My Life Undecided and her young adult science fiction trilogy, Unremembered, Unforgotten and the yet to be released, Unchanged. Unremembered has just recently been optioned for film by Reliance Entertainment and Kintop Pictures. Her books can be found not only here in the U.S. but also in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Norway, Denmark, China, Russia, Brazil and more! She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Colorado. You can find her at:

Her Website / Her Facebook / Her GoodReads / Her Twitter / Her Instagram / Her Tumblr / Her YouTube

Her Books

In all honestly, she has kind of a lot of books and you should definitely check her out at the many links above so that you can read them ALL. For this, I’m just going to profile two.

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Being America’s favorite heiress is a dirty job…but someone’s gotta do it.

Lexington Larrabee has never had to work a day in her life. After all, she’s the heiress to the multi-billion-dollar Larrabee Media empire. And heiresses are not supposed to workBut then again, they’re not supposed to crash brand-new Mercedes convertibles into convenience stores on Sunset Boulevard either.

Which is why, on Lexi’s eighteenth birthday, her ever-absent, tycoon father decides to take a more proactive approach to her wayward life. Every week for the next year, she will have to take on a different low-wage job if she ever wants to receive her beloved trust fund. But if there’s anything worse than working as a maid, a dishwasher, and a fast-food restaurant employee, it’s dealing with Luke, the arrogant, albeit moderately attractive, college intern her father has assigned to keep tabs on her.

In Jessica Brody’s hilarious “comedy of heiress” about family, forgiveness, good intentions, and best of all, second chances, Lexi learns that love can be unconditional, money can be immaterial, and regardless of age, everyone needs a little saving. And although she might have fifty-two reasons to hate her father, she only needs one reason to love him.

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When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

From popular young adult author Jessica Brody comes a compelling and suspenseful new sci-fi series, set in a world where science knows no boundaries, memories are manipulated, and true love can never be forgotten.

Interview!

Nerd Girl: Okay, first off: tell us, how absolutely excited are you for the Unremembered movie, and what do you hope they capture from the book to the screen: 

Jessica: GAH! I’m SO super excited for this movie! My books always feel like movies when I’m writing them and when they’re developing in my head so this is a huge dream come true for me! I have full faith in these producers to adapt the book to the big screen. But one thing I really hope they’re able to capture is the waging war between nature and science that runs through all three books of the trilogy. What really makes us human? And when science starts messing with human nature (as it often does even today!), what are the consequences? Does it make us any less human? These are the questions I sought to answer in the book and I hope they translate to the screen as well.

Nerd Girl: Sera is an extraordinary main character and, because of that, sometimes it might be hard to remember that she is a teenager. However, she goes through very “teenage” things like first love and discovery. Was it important to you to make sure she experienced that to make her familiar to the reader?

Jessica: Well, thank you so much for saying so!

At first, I thought it would be difficult to make Seraphina relatable. Being that she’s a genetically modified super human with no memories (not your every day teen to say the least!) But as I started to write the book, it became apparent that Seraphina went through the same struggles as all my other teen contemporary characters. Like most young people, she’s trying to figure out who she is, how she fits into her world, who to trust, what she wants her legacy to be. These similarities surprised me as I wrote but now that I look back, it makes me so much sense. Being a teen is being a teen. Regardless of how beautiful you are, how fast you can run, how much you remember. It’s a transitional period in your life. A time of discovery. And it was a discovery process for me to realize this but in the end, I’m happy with the message that’s portrayed in the book.

Nerd Girl: Both Unremembered and Unforgotten have cliffhangers that make any reader want to throw their book across the room. What is the trick to creating a really good cliffhanger? 

Jessica: I think the trick to ending any book with a cliffhanger is making sure you wrap up all the BIG loose ends of the current story. There’s a difference between making the reader want to know what happens next and completely frustrating the reader because you, the author, didn’t do your job and finish the story. In both Unremembered and Unforgotten, I was very careful to make sure the major conflicts and storylines were resolved. THEN and only then, did I introduce the next major conflict to come in the form of a cliffhanger.

Nerd Girl: You can switch places with one person for a day: who would you pick and why?

Jessica: Taylor Swift. I’m such a nerd fan of hers! I just think she’s so dang adorable and talented. I would love to be in her shoes for a day. I’m sure it’s not all it’s cracked up to be (a theme I plan to explore in a future book one day), but it’s still something I’d love to experience.

Nerd Girl: In Unforgotten, the characters bounce back and forth between various time periods. What is the hardest part about writing a book in different time periods? 

Jessica: Probably the research. In Unforgotten, the book takes place in three time periods: 1609, 2032, and 2115. These are all very different settings. And two of them haven’t even happened yet. So after I finished researching life in the 17th century, I would then have to crack open a book about what we can expect in the future. It was like changing college majors in the middle of the semester, from a history major to some kind of speculative technology major!

Nerd Girl: Have you ever had a ‘fangirl moment’ and who was it with? 

Jessica: I had a  major fangirl moment the first time I read Rainbow Rowell. I had just read Eleanor and Park and I went to one of her signings in LA. I waited until her long line of fans had died down before getting my book signed and introducing myself. We spoke for a little while and she asked what I had written. Then she asked if they carried it in the store. They did. And she actually BOUGHT Unremembered while I stood there and watched. And she asked me to sign it. I was so speechless and beside myself. To this day, I can’t believe Rainbow bought my book! GAH!

Nerd Girl: Because this is for the Ontario Teen Book Fest, all about the teens, what is your favorite memories from when you were a teen? 

Jessica: Okay, this is super JUVENILE, but one of my favorite moments was when I was thirteen and the guy I’d been crushing on for weeks asked my best friend if she thought I would go out with him, if he asked me. I still remember the giddiness I felt when she passed on the message. The whole delivery was SO middle school but I don’t care. I was ecstatic!

Nerd Girl: Last question: who is your fictional crush?

Jessica: Gosh, it changes by the day. Today, I’ll go with Sky from LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD. I just read it and it was amazing! I’m excited to meet the author, Ava Dellaira, at the festival this month!

Giveaway!

Oh yes! There is a giveaway! With three prizes. It starts today, and ends May 20th, three days after the actual fest.

The prizes include: 

Grand Prize: Ontario Teen Book Fest Poster Signed by All Attending Authors and a Swag Pack!

Of course, its not signed yet but it will be!

Of course, its not signed yet but it will be!

First Prize: Ontario Teen Book Fest Signed by All Attending Authors!

Second Prize: Ontario Teen Book Fest Shirt Signed by All Attending Authors!

The shirt will also be signed at the Fest as well!

The shirt will also be signed at the Fest as well!

And its easy to enter, in the rafflecopter below! Sorry, no international this time around!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Ontario Teen Book Fest Authors Announced!

If you live in Southern California, approved this an event NOT to be missed.

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The Ontario Teen Book Fest is in its…fourth or fifth year, though this will be MY second year attending it.

Last year’s event was easily one of the best events of the year, and it really changed my life as a blogger and a writer. I met a ton of authors that have become so important to me, and who have become friends like Jessica Brody and Andrew Smith, Leigh Bardugo and Ann Stampler and Morgan Matson and Marie Lu. Incredible authors. It was an experience that definitely changed my life and so I’m DYING to be part of it again, especially as a blogger. Courtney Saldana, the teen librarian, is an angel and she’s sure to have another great event this year.

And NOW the authors have been announced. I’m excited because I see some familiar names in there but also a TON of names of authors I’ve yet to read. This is very familiar to last year and I’m excited to start discovering these new authors. Check out the list below!

Click on each author’s name to check out their website, and the full list of their books :)

Katie Alender

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Elana Arnold

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Robin Benway

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Livia Blackburne

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Jessica Brody

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Ava Dellaria

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Katherine Ewell

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Lauren Kate

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Jessi Kirby

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Catherine Linka

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Lauren Miller

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Mary Pearson

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Lissa Price

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Sarah Skilton

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John Corey Whaley

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SO many exciting authors. I’m literally adding so many books to my TBR list on GoodReads right now.

This event is taking place in Ontario on May 17th, and you’d be a fool to miss it. Its absolutely FREE, and the first 150 attendees get a free Ontario TBF book bag! Yay!

For full details, check out on the Facebook event page here.

Oh, did you miss that? Its…

HERE

AND don’t forget to RSVP “yes” for the event. Its going to be a blast, and you’ll be able to discover amazing authors. I can’t wait for it, and I’ll be happy to meet the authors and YOU!

Can’t wait!

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