Category Archives: Group Blogs

Which BookYArd Character Are You Most Like?

We’ve created a fun personality quiz for you to determine which character from our books you may be most like. Although, you might find that you want to play this personality quiz more than once!

Tell us in the comments section which character popped up for you!

Click here to take the QUIZ.


YA Novels as Haiku – A Poetry Month Celebration

How could we let April pass without sending up a whoop-whoop to the great Poetic Muses in the Sky? So here, on that last day of National Poetry Month, we are celebrating all things poetic by writing synopses of our debut books in haiku form.

Enjoy, ye mortals and goddesses of inspiration alike!


girlfromthewellSpirits have no place
hunting these child murderers
– but she is hungry.

A tattooed boy has
poison underneath his skin
and she is the cure

How do you fight an
evil revenant, you ask?
Dead girls make good blades.

— Rin Chupeco


The-Girl-Who-Never-Was-Skylar-DorsetTurning seventeen
Means learning she’s a faerie.
Complicated? Yes.

Know what’s kind of hard?
Having a faerie-boyfriend
Who’s now imprisoned.

Poor Selkie’s got a
Mother who’d prefer she’s the
Girl who never was.

– Skylar Dorset



A powerless witch
Fighting some demons and then
Like magic, she wins!


A girl on the run
Through a dead world only forty days
To arrive or everyone dies.

The truth is a lie
There is death on both sides but
Only one is life.

– Danielle Ellison


Wordless - small

Near-future city
Where Words are used for power
One must flee or die

– AdriAnne Strickland


DREAM BOY by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg

Dream boy becomes real.
But when your dreams come to life
so can your nightmares.

– Mary Crockett

It’s Pet Owners’ Independence Day!

April 17 is Pet Owners Independence Day! To celebrate, here’s a look at some of the BookYArd writers’ beloved little pets!

Mary Crockett:

Mr. Smokey Paws (shown here in a babydoll tutu) is a reluctant participant in our many dress-up extravaganzas.

Daisy (in a babushka headscarf and my garden shoes) is all around a better sport.

Our other cat, Sweetie Pie, is far too neurotic to partake in dress-up, or even sit still long enough to have her picture taken.

Stefanie Gaither:

Name: Shakespeare (aka Shakey)
Breed: Shih-Tzu/Lhasa Apso mix
Quirky Trait: He likes to climb things and stretch out along the tops of chairs and couches…. And he likes to snuggle between my husband and me in our bed and lay his head on the pillow because he thinks he’s people.

My faithful writing buddy

He climbs things like a cat.

Must…jump…into…your lap…

Rin Chupeco

Name: Princess
Breed: chow-chow pedigree
Quirky Trait: has no real function other than to exist as an unwanted fur rug. Also fond of sneezing, then rubbing her nose against you like she’s being affectionate instead of using you as her portable napkin.

Name: Cookie
Breed: spitz / golden retriever mix
Quirky Trait: fierce little guard dog when strangers are around, yet has a habit of running away and hiding when the little chihuahua down the block comes a-barking.

A Celebration of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

Hooray! The lovely and funny Kate Hattemer is releasing her debut novel, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy out into the world tomorrow!


We here at the BookYArd are thrilled to sound its barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world! (Yep, this book has gotten me so excited that I’m quoting Whitman.)


We’re yawping, Steve, not yelling… and here’s why:


Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art’s Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art’s Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It’s up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they’ll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.

I bet now you want your very own copy of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy. Well, you’re in luck, here’s where you can get it:

Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

And as if that’s not enough, check out what KIRKUS REVIEW had to say about it:

Blending Ezra Pound, rhetoric and reality TV, this hilarious, subversive debut about a cadre of friends at an arts high school is a treat from cover to cover.

In seventh grade, popular, good-looking Luke rescued Ethan, Jackson and Elizabeth from misfit nerd-dom. Four years later, Luke still leads while Narrator Ethan is cheerfully resigned to a spot in the “Untalented caste” at Selwyn Academy. Disturbing the status quo, the school’s chosen to host a new reality TV show, a student talent competition with a $100,000 scholarship prize and a familiar format: interviews, clichéd romances and rivalries, and two smarmy hosts. The obsequious vice principal and most students are thrilled, but For Art’s Sake feels like an insult to Ethan and friends. Luke, the most offended, leads a counterattack, writing guerilla poetry inspired by Pound’s Cantos that ridicules the enterprise, which the conspirators secretly print at school. However, the masterminds behind reality TV are several steps ahead of them—money and fame are powerful currency, and they know how to use them. Maura, the beautiful, talented ballerina Ethan fancies, has been accepted at Juilliard, but without the scholarship, she can’t attend—participating is a no-brainer. Ethan struggles with ethical conundrums (Does Pound’s anti-Semitism invalidate his work? Are compromises the price of an arts career?) as he works out his own place in this world and among his friends, especially Elizabeth.

A sparkling, timely tour of the complicated intersection where life meets art. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Or, to translate for Andy Samberg fans:


So, just who is the woman who wrote this amazing book?  Here’s the nutshell version:

The oldest of eight siblings, Kate grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended Yale and taught high-school Latin in Virginia before returning to Cincinnati, where she now works at an independent bookstore. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, out in April 2014 from Knopf, is a contemporary YA novel about reality TV, an arts school, Ezra Pound, and a heroic gerbil. In spring 2015, Knopf will publish her second novel, The Land of Ten Thousand Madonnas.

For more about Kate, check out her website where she talks books, obscure grammatical rules, and life on a pogo-stick.

Finally, here are a few words from members of the BookYArd about why we’re so ding-dang excited to get this book in our hands.

“What an awesome, unique concept! Love the idea of getting a truly behind-the-scenes look at some of the people caught up in one of those crazy reality T.V. shows. And a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise? If I hadn’t already been sold on this book’s premise, that line would have clenched the deal.” — Stefanie Gaither, Falls the Shadow

“Who doesn’t want to read about vigilante poetry in action? This is like Victor Hugo and Maya Angelou’s artsy lovechild with a hamster sidekick. This is looking to be a great commentary on friendship, on standing up to one’s own principles at the cost of fame and money and, of course, on poking fun at the unrealness and strange dichotomy of reality shows!” — Rin Chupeco, The Girl from the Well

“Vigilante poets?! How could I not be looking forward to this? I love academy-type settings where students make clever mischief. I might be totally off, but this strikes me as a modernized cross between The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and Dead Poets Society, with a lot of humor thrown into the mix. I can’t wait!” — AdriAnne Strickland, Wordless

“This book has Ezra Pound poetry, reality television, and a heroic gerbil. ‘Nuff said. If that hasn’t convinced you, did I mention the gerbil is named Baconnaise? Yes, I *will* join you in your dance of delighted glee.” — Skylar Dorset, The Girl from the Well

“I don’t have to read past the title to know I want to eat this book whole. The fact that Kirkus calls it ‘hilarious’ and ‘subversive’ just makes me want to drink it too.” — Mary Crockett, coauthor Dream Boy

Our Lucky 13 Picks for St. Patrick’s Day!

Since March is all about pots of gold at the end of the rainbow and leprechauns–a.k.a. luck!–we thought it would be fitting to highlight our favorite Lucky 13 books this St. Patrick’s Day.

(And in case you don’t know, the Lucky 13s (the “Luckies”) are the debut group of authors from 2013, like OneFour KidLit this year.)

AdriAnne’s Lucky Pick:

The S-Word

THE S-WORD (Simon & Schuster/Gallery) by Chelsea Pitcher blew me away this past year. It’s a fresh, dark take on YA mystery, has crazy twists and turns, and fearlessly addresses issues like suicide, rape, and double-standards in a modern high-school setting. It also has one of the most unique love-interests of all time. Pick up a copy and meet Jessie, then you’ll see what I mean!

Sarah’s Lucky Pick: 

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between, #1)

BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by April Genevieve Tucholke was one of a few Lucky 13’s books that rocked my writing world. April’s writing is lush and flows like fog creeping in from the sea. The story sneaks up on you and pulls you in, and it’s dark and creepy and Gothic and all the things that make me hug a book to my chest. She also has one of the best naughty boys in YA in ages. Definitely one not to miss.

Trisha’s Lucky Pick:

Dear Life, You Suck

Scott Blagden’s DEAR LIFE, YOU SUCK, simply because he is as funny in real life as his MC is. That and it is male POV which I think the YA world needs more of :).

Rin’s Lucky Pick:

The Archived (The Archived, #1)

Victoria Schwab’s THE ARCHIVED: The idea of libraries as a dark and dangerous place has always been a strangely compelling idea for me, and The Archived hammers this home, using evocative imagery and an astonishing attention to detail – and let’s not forget the beautifully poetic writing. If the idea of dead people being stored on library shelves the way one would books appeals to you, or if you’re fascinated with beautifully plotted mysteries-within-mysteries like I am, then do not give this a miss!

Christina’s Lucky Pick:

Gated (Gated, #1)

Wow. This is a tough one. There are so many Lucky 13 books that I completely fell in love with. If I were to pick one, I’d pick Amy Christine Parker’s GATED. Parker does such a brilliant job in getting into the psyche of a teenage girl who would be a part of a cult. It’s beautifully written and completely addictive. You won’t want to put it down once you stop.

Mary’s Lucky Pick:

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets

DR. BIRD’S ADVICE FOR SAD POETS by Evan Roskos: I loved the voice in this funny-sad-serious-goofy meditation on what it means to be a young person alive in the messed-up world. Definitely something worth yawping about!

What were your favorite Lucky 13 reads? Please share in the comments!

What is love? ~ A Valentine to Young Adult Novels

Love is blind. It conquers all. And, apparently, it’s a many splendored thing. In short, love pretty much looks like this:

Thor in Sparkly Tutu
Thor cut-out by Sam Howzit, Flickr. Blinded and bedazzled by Mary Crockett.

Here, friends, is the reason we can’t depend on such time-tested sayings about love. Because we end up with Thor in an eye patch, wearing a many splendored tutu.

Then what, in these love-troubled times, can we depend on?

Young adult novels, of course!

In celebration of Valentines Day, writers from the BookYArd are looking to their novels to define the true meaning of luvvvvvvvvvv.

Now, petty, tiny humans, take heed–for here is our Valentine.

~  W H A T  I S  L O V E ?  ~

Tavin Barnes, 17-year-old illiterate trash boy and main character of WORDLESS by AdriAnne Strickland, answers:

wordless“Gods, I already feel like enough of an ignoramus without attempting to answer something like this. But here goes: Love is strange, intoxicating, wonderful… and utterly terrifying. It’s sort of like riding a roller coaster drunk. I want to laugh, scream and puke all at the same time.”


DREAM BOY by Mary Crockett and Madelyn RosenbergAnnabelle Manning, the main character of Mary Crockett’s DREAM BOY, is a small-town dreamer who comes to understand love as the ultimate acceptance of another person.

She might say love is the mirror that sees all your flaws and thinks you’re perfect anyway.


Ward Ravenscroft, one of the main characters in A MURDER OF MAGPIES, believes:

Love is knowing that the person you’re with could go to a dark place and still wanting to go with them. No matter how ugly it gets, you hang on because you can’t imagine letting go. You know you’re both gonna be all messed up and different than you were going in, and yet that doesn’t seem so bad. Life, love, whatever, none of it’s supposed to be perfect.


Jae Hwa, the main character of Christina Farley’s GILDED, would tell you that love isn’t simple. It’s full of layers and it requires great sacrifice. In the final scene of the novel, she must make the greatest sacrifice of all. Palk, the god of light, explains it the best when he speaks to Jae:

b2ap3_thumbnail_Gilded_final-cvr-comp_12-11-13“Bravery can only accomplish so much,” Palk says,apparently oblivious to Marc’s panic. “It was your sacrifice for the ones you loved that helped you succeed. That was the difference between you and the others before you.”


girlfromthewellRin Chupeco’s undead protagonist in THE GIRL FROM THE WELL has been a ghost for so long that the concept of love is almost alien to her. But as she relearns how to deal with humans, she also discovers that love means sacrifice, to give up what’s left of you for someone else. It’s a lesson she’s been living with for a long, long time, though she’s only beginning to understand this. She says it best – poignantly, if somewhat ambiguously:

“It is not in my nature, to be interested in the living. But there are many things, I have found, that defy nature.”


Caroline Richmond’s protagonist in ANOMALY, Zara St. James, has hardened herself to love. Growing up in Nazi-occupied America, she has lost so many friends and family to the Germans that she’s afraid to open her heart to anyone.

But if you really prodded Zara about what love means to her, she would tell you that love is her uncle’s laugh. Love is a warm hug from her friend Mrs. Talley. And love is the gentle eyes of Bastian Eckhart, a boy who should be her enemy but who surprises her at every turn.


b2ap3_thumbnail_FallsTheShadow_CVRfinalStefanie Gaither’s main character in FALLS THE SHADOW, Catelyn, struggles throughout the book with concepts of family love and loyalty–both of which are put to the test when her cloned sister turns out to be a lot different than the person she expected her to be (to say the least).

So if you asked her, she might tell you that sometimes love is readjusting expectations, understanding that just because someone isn’t showing love the way you wanted them to, it doesn’t mean they aren’t doing the best they can. And also that sometimes you can still love your sister even when she is annoying the absolute $#%@ out of you.


Danielle Ellison’s main character in FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS is trying to answer this exact question because love is at the core for what she’s fighting to save, and every decision or regret or question.

At first, Neely never questions love; she has a branding, a mark that all in her community are given, and her branding is connected to Thorne and allows them to feel each other’s emotions. So for her whole life love was always a solidity that she could literally feel.

But then a lot of stuff happens and she learns that her world is a facade…and that may include her feelings for Thorne. Then, her whole concept of love is tested and I think she’s still learning what exactly love is. She used to think that love was a person and solid belief in that person, in what you stood for together, and what you would do to be with that person. It was what she knew. But after, it changes.

Her doubt changes her definition of love and part of her story trying to determine if she loves Thorne because she loves him, or if she loves him because of the bond they share. It may be something else entirely that she’s still trying to define, and love can’t really be defined in miles or hours. It just is.

First Lines from First to Final Draft

I’m sure we all know the importance of first lines: they’re the first impression, the first chance to hook your reader, the first breath of the baby you’ve labored over for months.

start line

They’re the curtain whipping away from the stage, the gun shot signaling the start of the race, the … you get the idea.

We thought it would be interesting to reveal our first lines over here at the BookYard–from both the first AND final drafts of our debut books. Would our FIRST-first lines stay with us, surviving the firestorm of revision? Or would something completely different take their place?

Ready? Set? Go!

First line of SALT, by Danielle Ellison: 

First draft: “Gran always told us not to leave home without salt in our pocket.”

Final draft (That you can get right now ahh!): “Gran always told us not to leave home without salt in our pocket.”

Comments: Yes, it’s exactly the same! It’s the first/only book I’ve written where the first line/chapter has never changed. But it’s not the same with other stories.

First line of FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS, by Danielle Ellison:

First draft: “I freeze, listening for the echo of a footstep.”

Final draft: “All I’ve ever wanted is freedom, but I never imagined it would be like this.”

Comments: FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS had eight first lines. (One for each draft/rewrite/revision before I sold.) I had a really big problem trying to figure out where the story actually started, because it was such a huge story. I love the new first line now! It’s completely the tone and theme of the book. :)

First line of DREAM BOY, by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg:

First draft (or close to first draft): “It was the perfect June evening for the perfect June wedding and my cousin Heather, the perfect bride, was puffed up like a frosted pastry in her wedding gown. The vows had been said, the unity candle lit, and now we were scattered around the reception hall, stuffing our faces with sweet-and-sour chicken and bits of cheese molded into the shape of doves.” (Ok, I know that’s two sentences.)

Final draft: “Will found me by the river.”

Comments: Madelyn and I ended up cutting the first chapter of DREAM BOY in revisions. There are a ton of quirky details in that lost chapter–and we really didn’t want to cut it–but ultimately it was one of those darlings that just needed to die. But if I ever have to write a wedding scene for some future project, you can bet I’m going to try to work in cheese shaped like doves.

First line of GILDED, by Christina Farley:

First draft: “The concrete steps yawn before me and stretch all the way up to the museum.”

Final draft: “Stillness fills the empty stage as I press the horn bow to my body and notch an arrow.”

Comments: Basically, I deleted the whole scene of Jae Hwa walking into the museum with her parents and setting up to practice. For the final draft, not only did I start the story later, but I also ‘killed off’ the mom. The key was tightening so I was only keeping necessary scenes and necessary characters.

First line of WORDLESS, by AdriAnne Strickland:

First draft: “I’d heard the story when I was a kid—everyone had, even wordless nobodies like me.”

Final draft (+ second sentence): “I’d heard the story when I was a kid. Everyone had, even wordless nobodies like me, who had never set foot in any of Eden City’s cathedrals.”

Comments: You’ll notice that not much changed, other than my attempt to reign in some of my em dashes (I’m totally em dash-happy), which then left me room to add more detail in the (now) second sentence.

First line of THE GIRL FROM THE WELL, by Rin Chupeco:

First draft: “I am the paths dead girls travel.”

Final draft: “I am where dead children go.”

Comments: Not only did I decide to go for ambiguity to sound more profound, but also made my protagonist an equal opportunity avenger.

First line of A MURDER OF MAGPIES, by Sarah Bromley:

First draft: “A lone tuft of ash wanders through the air.”

Final draft: “I always swore Jonah would blow our cover, and today looked ideal for a catastrophe.”

Comments: Not only was A MURDER OF MAGPIES originally in present tense, it also had a prologue that took place two years before the bulk of the book. MAGPIES had been put away for a while before I brought it back out after I signed with my agent, and when I ngave it to Miriam, I’d already nixed that prologue and changes tenses from present to past. In the final draft, Vayda’s troubles are more immediate, and she’s not at all happy with her brother, Jonah. But if you look hard enough, you’ll see a version of that first original line somewhere in the book.

First line of BETWEEN SISTERS, by Trisha Leaver: 

First draft: “My phone buzzed across my nightstand, jarring me from the sketch pad I had open across my lap.”

Final draft: “I don’t remember her room being so cold. Even snuggled into her sweater the chill seeps in, settling into my bones like a whisper from beyond.”

Comments: Technically the first sentence of chapter one hasn’t changed. However, a prologue was added, hence changing the first line the reader will see!

First line of CREED, by Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver:

First draft: The car rolled to a stop on the side of the dirt road. I swore, frustrated that I opted to leave my jacket at home rather than cover up my new shirt.

Final copy: The car rolled to a stop on the side of the dirt road. I swore, frustrated that I’d left my jacket at home rather than cover up my new shirt.

Comments: It didn’t change much at all!

First line of ANOMALY, by Caroline Richmond: 

First draft: “The Nazis always arrived on schedule.”

Final draft: “At four o’clock sharp, I spot a Third Reich cadet flying over the farm.”

Comments: Oh goodness, ANOMALY! The book that nearly broke me. When I first started drafting it in 2011, it was written in first person, present tense. But that wasn’t quite working so my agent suggested a switch to third person past. Through the years, the manuscript has been scrapped and re-written multiple times, including the first line; but I’m pleased with how everything has turned out!

First line of THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS, by Skylar Dorset:

First draft: “One day, my father walked into his Back Bay apartment to find a blond woman asleep on his couch.”

Final draft: “One day, my father walked into his Back Bay apartment to find a blond woman asleep on his couch.”

Comments: Yup, exactly the same. 🙂 The first sentence of this book was the first image of the book that ever came to me, and it stayed the same the whole time. One of the few things that did!

First line of FALLS THE SHADOW, by Stefanie Gaither:

First draft: “I took some of the flowers from my sister’s funeral, because I thought her replacement might like them as a welcome-to-the-family present. ”

Final draft: “I took some of the flowers from my sister’s funeral, because I thought her replacement might like them as a welcome-to-the-family present.”

Comments: This was the first line that came to me when I started brainstorming the book, and it managed to survive all fifty billion rounds of revision!

First line of THE MERCILESS, by Danielle Vega:

First draft: “A crescent of blood appears below my cuticle and oozes into the cracks surrounding my thumbnail.”

Final draft: “I snag my thumb on the lunch tray’s metal edge and a crescent of blood appears beneath my cuticle.”

Comments: THE MERCILESS is a horror novel, so I knew I wanted to start with blood. As time went on, I honed the sentence to include a little context, but the overall intent is still the same.

First line of THE VIGILANTE POETS OF SELWYN ACADEMY, by Kate Hattemer:

First draft: “We were back to school after the holidays, back to the routine. The school year had settled itself like a fat person into an airplane seat: it wasn’t entirely comfortable, but it would do.”

Final draft: “A Preface-Slash-Disclaimer from Ethan Andrezejczak: Just call me Ethan.”

Comments: I am extremely grateful to my agent and editor. These two lines demonstrate why.