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Monthly Archives: February 2013

ME, HIM, THEM, AND IT Release Day!

Yesterday was the release day for ME, HIM, THEM AND IT and easily one of the best days of my life! I celebrated by gazing at it lovingly on New York City bookshelves and drinking cans of champagne with family and friends.

Here’s me celebrating:

And here’s the book:
When Evelyn decided to piss off her parents with a bad reputation, she wasn’t planning to ruin her valedictorian status. She also wasn’t planning to fall for Todd—the guy she was just using for sex. And she definitely wasn’t planning on getting pregnant. When Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn’s not sure where to go. Can a distant mother, a cheating father, an angry best friend, and a (thankfully) loving aunt with adopted daughters of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?
Publishers Weekly says: “In this introspective first novel, Carter persuasively traces the vacillating emotions and opinions of a distraught pregnant teenager.”
Romantic Times says: “Breathtaking, brutal and beautifully real, Carter’s debut is stunning. She unflinchingly explores the intricate, difficult choices a pregnant teen must face. This is not the first book to tackle this tough topic, but there is something about this story that will keep you hooked.”
Join the celebration! ME, HIM, THEM, AND IT is available in bookstores everywhere!

Mindy’s Playlist for NOT A DROP TO DRINK

We’ve been talking music this month on our book blog, and while I don’t listen to music while I write, I definitely find inspiration in certain tunes.

Very often I’ll hear a song and think that it fits a certain character’s personality, or that it stands as a good mood setter for the book in general. If a song resonates deeply with me it can even serve as a tool to help fill in backstory for a character.

NOT A DROP TO DRINK has a rather varied playlist. The first example will help illuminate a character that some readers might find hard to connect with. Mother is the only human Lynn has even spoken to, and Mother’s entire life revolves around teaching her daughter to survive – no matter what. She’s a feral mother, a no-holds-barred guardian of her young. The song Rocks & Water by Deb Talan set me back the first time I caught it on Pandora. The refrain particularly applies to Mother:

I will be rocks, I will be water
I will leave this to my daughter:
Lift your head up in the wind
When you feel yourself grow colder
Wrap the night around your shoulders
And I will be with you even then
Even when I cannot see your face anymore.

Another song I want to mention in connection with NOT A DROP TO DRINK is Thistle & Weeds by Mumford & Sons. So much about this song fits my story. The imagery is bleak, there’s a not-so-subtle plea for rain throughout, along with the allusion to bullets falling from the sky- something Lynn herself has been the source of for more than a few thirsty travelers over the years. But hope is also threaded throughout the song, a feeling that redemption might be out of reach right now, but won’t be forever. These lyrics in particular grabbed me the first time I heard it:

Look over your hills and be still
The sky above us shoots to kill
Rain down, rain down on me

But I will hold on, I will hold on…

And lastly I want to mention a song that fellow 2k13 member Lydia Kang associates with her book as well. Waiting For The End by Linkin Park has a very defiant feel to it, something that Lynn understands perfectly. She spends everyday assuming that she could die any minute. She controls every element of her life that she can, but her world is a violent one, and no one knows what the next day will bring.

Waiting for the end to come
Wishing I had strength to stand
This is not what I had planned
It’s out of my control.

These three songs together do a great job of painting both the setting for my book and the personalities of two of the main female characters, Lynn & Mother. I hope that hearing them gets you geared up for the release of NOT A DROP TO DRINK on September 10, 2013!


The playlist for ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE was a work-in-progress that I constantly added to as I wrote the book. The reason is that it took me a while to figure out what ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE was going to be about.

When I first started it was going to be about zombies. (SPOILER ALERT: My book is NOT about zombies.) Of course, I immediately thought of the Cranberries song that had ruled my high school days.

Music playing in the background, I then did a little research (ie: Googled zombie and found the Wikipedia page) and learned about voodoo zombies. As soon as the word Voodoo was in my head so was the Godsmack song of the same name. It went on the playlist too.

Then I started writing and the zombie/voodoo combo wasn’t clicking. That’s when I added a little Evanescence to the mix. “Bring Me To Life” and “My Immortal” were along the same undead lines, but took me in a slightly different direction. At this point I changed the name of my first draft from “Voodoo” to “Immortally Wounded” (improvement or laughably bad – you decide).

The further I got away from the voodoo concept – the closer I moved to a girl with missing pieces that needed to be found – the more songs I added to the mix.

“Bells For Her” – Tori Amos

“Bleeding Love” – Leona Lewis

“First Day of My Life” – Bright Eyes

“Born to Die” – Lana Del Rey

“Tymps (The Sick in The Head Song)” – Fiona Apple

“Whataya Want From Me” – Delilah (From the Sing-Off)

“Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen (This song even makes a short appearance in the actual book!)

Those songs are mostly about Annaliese, so then I needed more songs to get into the other character’s heads.

For Annaliese’s mom – a little bit of Dumbo’s mom singing “Baby Mine”.

And for the boys in Annaliese’s life:

“Sydney (I’ll Come Running)” – Brett Dennen

“I Will Follow You Into The Dark” – Death Cab for Cutie

“The Blower’s Daughter” – Damien Rice

At this point I had a much better grasp on ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE – which I’d since retitled once again to Remnants. That title, though, still wasn’t working for me. It would take one more song for me to find that last bit that had been eluding me. And then I found it.

“(Take A Little) Piece of My Heart” – I chose a cover by Emma Wilkinson for my playlist but you probably know the Janis Joplin version better.

So that’s my playlist. I’ve thrown all the songs up on Spotify so anyone who wants to listen can listen along with me!

Kate karyus quinn nameplate


This month’s theme is about music and creating playlists for our books…but IN THE AFTER is all about flesh-eating creatures that hunt by sound so I decided to instead write my blog post about silence.

I want you all to do a little experiment. It would be best during nighttime because my creatures are more active during the day, but any time will do.

Turn off all the electronics. No TV. No music. No Computer. Anything that makes a noise, off.

Now turn off all the lights. The creatures in my book have poor eyesight, so will focus on any little light they see and go to it like a moth to a flame.

Listen. What do you hear? If you live in a city you’ll hear traffic and voices and it won’t even be that dark because of light pollution. Tune all of that out. Imagine a world where you are the only person left and your survival depends on your absolute silence.

Now walk across the room. (Please try not to walk into anything…I won’t be responsible for any bruised shins.) How quiet are you actually? Does the floor creak? Is your breath louder than you thought?

How noisy are you actually, and what if any little noise meant your death?

This is the world that my MC, Amy lives in. Silence.

In the after cover

IN THE AFTER releases June 25th from Harper Teen.


Playlist for 45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS)

This playlist was originally posted on Stacked on December 26, 2012.

A novel set in the summertime with parties and dance lessons and a wedding, 45 Pounds (more or less) has a playlist. These songs either play a part in the novel itself or might play in the background.

Listen along here: 45 Pounds (more or less) 

Ann’s aunt Jackie wants all the women she loves to dance together at her wedding, so she forces everyone to take dance lessons. The main dance they want to learn is:

“Thriller” by Michael Jackson

Ann is less than thrilled.

The Knees’ annual Fourth of July bash is a major event, and anyone who’s anyone is there. Ann’s never been invited before, but this year is different. These two songs kick off the festivities:

“Get the Party Started” by Pink

“Let’s Get It Started” by The Black Eyed Peas

Aunt Jackie and Chris have their first dance at the wedding to:

“Marry Me” by Train

 These songs bring everyone to the dance floor, dancing like nobody’s watching, or taking pictures:

 “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge

“Cupid Shuffle” by Cupid

45 Pounds is not just about Ann’s weight loss and fitting into the perfect dress. It’s also about family, and understanding that people aren’t always as they seem. One of the moments that Ann realizes this is when she’s dancing with her step-father to this song:

“Daughters” by John Mayer

 Ann is really insecure, but a certain cute guy sees beyond that. Whenever he hears these songs on the radio, he thinks of her:

 “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars

“What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction

Yes, 45 Pounds has an element of romance.  However, for Ann, falling for a guy involves more embarrassing moments that would fit better on YouTube than in a cheesy, falling-in-love movie montage.

Everyone dreams of being beautiful, but few feel like they really are. This last song is for readers. May you always feel as beautiful as I think you are, regardless of size.

“Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera

ka barson nameplate

Rocking Out, Elizabethan Style

Unlike some authors, I’m one of those people who CANNOT listen to music while I write. I completely get distracted by the lyrics of music with lyrics, and I’m not cool enough to listen to music without lyrics, unless it’s meditation music or astral projection music, which is NOT cool to listen to for a book about Elizabethan England. 🙂

However, I do listen to music BEFORE I write, to get in the mood. The Foo Fighter song I list below for Meg is one that was on auto play for far more times than I’d care to admit!

Now that I’m hip-deep in revisions on MAID OF DECEPTION, book 2 in the Maids of Honor series, I have a new song for Beatrice… I still have a fond spot in my heart for Material Girl, which works for her character in Book 1.

But in book 2, Beatrice and the Queen square off in a constant clash of wills that is, well, best exemplified by this song:


Enemies – Shinedown. (So. Much. Win.)

That said, voila the working playlist of Maid of Secrets! And may you find tremendous inspiration for your work today, whatever that inspiration is!



Meg’s song: The Pretender – Foo Fighters

Meg Fellowes, the heroine of MAID OF SECRETS, has been living a role her whole life… first as a thief, then as an unofficial actress for her traveling acting troupe, and now as a spy to the Queen. But who is Meg really?


Rafe’s song: Way Cool Jr. – Ratt

Meg gets some unexpected (and unwanted) help from a mysterious Spanish spy, Count Rafe de Martine. Rafe is the original bad boy, and definitely not someone you can trust… which is why we’re throwing him back to the Hair Band rockers of the 80s to find his song.


Beatrice’s song: Material Girl – Madonna

This one will also take you way (way) back to the 80s, but no one captures Beatrice’s confidence and style like Madonna. As the darling of the Queen’s court, Beatrice knows everyone’s secrets. But there’s also a secret of her own that she’s desperate to hide.

Anna’s song: Firework – Katy Perry

Anna is the smartest girl in the room—even when she doesn’t want to be. Lost in her world of intricate puzzles and mysteries to solve, she sometimes feels on the outside looking in when it comes to being a part of a group. Her inner light, however, is just beginning to shine.

Sophia’s song: She’s a Mystery to Me – U2//Bono

The youngest spy, Sophia is rumored to have the Sight… only her powers haven’t manifested yet. Despite that, she’s already up to her ears in danger that lurks just beyond the shadows.

Jane’s song: All that I’m Living For – Evanescence

Jane hasn’t had it easy. As the assassin of the spy group, she’s seen her share of tragedy, beginning with a deadly attack on her village that haunts her still. Now she must fight the demons in her memory… even as she defends the Queen.


Queen Elizabeth’s song: Super Girl – Hillary Duff

Speaking of the Queen: in MAID OF SECRETS we find an Elizabeth I who’s just come to power… at only 25 years old. With half the kingdom praising her and half wanting her dead, it’s going to take a Super Girl to stay on top.

What’s Not to Love?

I’m a big fan of lists. I use them for work, for shopping and for planning all the other stuff that needs to get done on a regular basis. Even my debut YA novel, BRIANNA ON THE BRINK, begins with a list. So, it’s in honor of lists (and also in honor of a certain February day of hearts and flowers and declarations of lurve to shmookums everywhere) that I offer the following. It’s a list of things to love, and it’s my Valentine to readers of young adult and middle grade books everywhere.

❤ Bookstores. I walked into my local bookstore yesterday, and the shelves were stocked with young adult and middle grade books, many of which weren’t there a few weeks ago. In my opinion, this is a great sign, despite the messages of gloom and doom readers and writers sometimes hear about the publishing industry. Great books are being published all the time!

❤ Social media. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinerest, etc. readers can connect with their favorite authors more easily than ever. Judy Blume may as well have lived on the moon when I was a kid. I could read her books, but there was no way I was ever going to hear her take on random daily events. Now she’s in my Twitter feed! The same goes for other superstar authors who once probably seemed inaccessible to readers even when they didn’t wish to seem so.

❤ Book blogs. Not only are fans of MG and YA reading (by all accounts) more than ever, but readers who are also bloggers are getting the word out about what they’ve read. Online conversations abound—not just about books that are currently hot or the next big thing, but about books that have been around for years, decades…even centuries!

❤ Libraries. I’ve read quite a bit about the demise of the sacred space known as the public library over the past few years, predictions about the certain demise of libraries due to lack of funding  or the fact that “ebooks are going to take over, and real books are going to disappear!” Well, you know what? I paid a visit to my local library the other day to check out a book and peruse the ongoing sale of discards and donations. The place was PACKED – especially the youth section, where teens were doing homework, parents and toddlers were waiting for storytime and people were browsing the shelves or looking up titles on the computers. It was an awesome thing to witness.

❤ Your favorite reading spot. Whether it’s under a shade tree in summer or in a corner of your room where the slanted sunlight falls just right in winter or wherever, I encourage you to take a moment to think about your all-time favorite place to read. Mine is a corner of the big couch in my livingroom  with my back to the front window so the light coming in can illuminate what I’m reading. If it’s nighttime, the same spot works if I just turn on my favorite overhead lamp.

I may just head there right now, in fact, to think about my to-do list for the day.

nicole mcinnes nameplate

Rockin’ Out Under the Sea with THE NEPTUNE PROJECT

What would be part of a playlist inspired by THE NEPTUNE PROJECT? My first reaction is: “Under the Sea,” from THE LITTLE MERMAID. Hey, I work for Disney now, and the lyrics, “Darling, it’s better down where it’s wetter, take it from me,” fits the future of my young characters. Nere and her friends are forced to give up their lives on land to survive in the sea. Eventually they do adapt and begin to build a community under the waves.

But it’s not an easy or safe task, so now I’m imagining the low, ominous notes to JAWS playing. My characters do have some very scary battles with sharks and giant squid.

great white shark

Finally, “Never Let Me Go,” by Florence and the Machine sounds like sea music to me, and the lyrics, “And I’m going under, but I’m not giving up! I’m just giving in…” make me think of a harrowing moment in the story when her mother forces Nere under the surface to make her breathe water into her lungs for the first time.

But the very best playlist for THE NEPTUNE PROJECT would be composed of real sea music. If you go to my website,, you can click on links to sites where you can hear dolphins whistle and saw, and humpback whales sing!

polly holyoke nameplate

Playlist Excerpts for CONTROL by Lydia Kang

Hey guys!

I always listen to music while I write.  With CONTROL, the playlist changed and morphed, but a few pieces stayed and had a lasting impact on the feel of my story. Needless to say, Chester Bennington was a huge, HUGE inspiration. I tried to refrain from having nothing but LP on this list, so here goes!

Leave Out All The Rest, by Linkin Park

These lyrics made me think of Zelia’s father:

When my time comes

Forget the wrong that I’ve done

Help me leave behind some

Reasons to be missed


Feel, by the House of Love

This is an old college favorite of mine, but that aching feeling of impending loss is incredible. Also, the opening lines are so ominous!

You see a sign

It comes to you

And whatever you say

It was in his eyes


Time, by Sarah McLachlan

Okay, so I *think* this song is really about divorce, but these lyrics made me think of the relationship between Zel and her Dad:

But you send your thieves to me

Silently stalking me

Dragging me into your war


Other Side of the World, by KT Tunstall

These lyrics kind of kill me:

Can you help me?

Can you let me go?

And can you still love me

When you can’t see me anymore?


And finally, more LP!

Waiting for the End, by Linkin Park

An instrumental decision that Zelia has to make is reflected in these lyrics:

I know what it takes to move on

I know how it feels to lie

Thanks for listening! I hope you play some of these songs if you read the book someday!

lydia kang nameplate

In Defense of Fantasy

Sometimes fantasy is written off as the unwanted step-child of “real” literature. Practical persons may consider fantasy as merely escapism, a way to ignore reality and its inconvenient laws of nature, and therefore a waste of time. However, the best fantasy, and any fiction, is not so much about escapisms as offering a lense in which to view the real world, so that when they return from the pretend world they’ve occupied for however many hours and days, they have greater understanding of their own world. Comparisons and metaphors are powerful tools in revealing truth.

Take Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland…


It is not only about a girl having adventures in a bizarre world that defies logic, but also about that hazy line between childhood and adulthood, work and play, and the difficulty of making decisions and choosing paths in a world that makes no sense, particularly to children who have not yet been conditioned or resigned to social expectations. I think our world is more bizarre and fantastical than most adults are consciously aware of, even outside of social structures. Giraffes anyone?



Fantasy jolts us into new ways of thinking, so we can reconsider our own world and various social, political, familial, or personal issues. While a child may read the book for entertainment, at some point they make comparisons to their everyday experience, and perhaps discover certain truths or conflict that they might not otherwise had they not slipped into another world. If the fantasy makes us dissatisfied with our real world, hopefully we can endeavor to change it for the better. I for one am dissatisfied with current modes of transportation and would really like to learn how to apparate.

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