Tag Archives: young adult books

THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS: The Book That Is!

Here’s the first thing I will tell you about this book:

It is far, far better than that awful pun in the title of this blog post.

Here in the Bookyard, we’re all sprinting around, screaming in glee, overcome with fits of uncontrollable fist-pumping — because today, Skylar Dorset’s book is OUT IN THE WORLD!

Chuck Taylors, a red rose, and a reflecting pool that breaks the laws of optics: what's not to love?
Chuck Taylors, a red rose, and a reflecting pool that breaks the laws of optics: what’s not to love?

“Romantic, suspenseful, and witty all at once — ALICE IN WONDERLAND meets NEVERWHERE.” — Claudia Gray, New York Times bestselling author of the EVERNIGHT series

This book features Boston, young love, AND faerie princesses. How, you may ask? Take a look at the jacket copy.

THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS is the story of Selkie Stewart, who thinks she’s a totally normal teenager growing up in Boston. Sure, her father is in an insane asylum, her mother left her on his doorstep—literally—when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by two ancient aunts who spend their time hunting gnomes in their Beacon Hill townhouse. But other than that her life is totally normal! She’s got an adventurous best friend who’s always got her back and an unrequited crush on an older boy named Ben. Just like any other teenager, right?

When Selkie goes in search of the mother she’s never known, she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that her mother is faerie royalty, which would make Selkie a faerie princess—except for the part where her father is an ogre, which makes her only half of anything. Even more confusing, there’s a prophecy that Selkie is going to destroy the tyrannical Seelie Court, which is why her mother actually wants to kill her. Selkie has been kept hidden all her life by her adoring aunts, with the help of a Salem wizard named Will. And Ben. Because the boy she thinks she’s in love with turns out to be a faerie whose enchantment has kept her alive, but also kept her in the dark about her own life.

Now, with enchantments dissolved and prophecies swinging into action, Selkie finds herself on a series of mad quests to save the people she’s always loved and a life she’s learning to love. But in a supernatural world of increasingly complex alliances and distressingly complicated deceptions, it’s so hard to know who to trust. Does her mother really wish to kill her? Would Will sacrifice her for the sake of the prophecy? And does Ben really love her or is it all an elaborate ruse? In order to survive, Selkie realizes that the key is learning—and accepting—who she really is.

And if you’re as hooked as I am, check out the excerpt on Amazon!

GIVE ME THIS BOOK, you say!

You can have it with a few clicks: Indiebound | B&N | Amazon

You see that head? There’s some weird stuff going on in here.

Who’s behind THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS? The brilliant Skylar Dorset, a born-and-bred New Englander who lives in Boston (mostly, it seems, due to her love for JOHNNY TREMAIN: our kind of woman!) with her cardboard Doctor Who cut-out and a head full of stories. You don’t want to miss her website, which includes lots of behind-the-scenes information about the book as well as a veritable smorgasbord of tastefully chosen GIFs.

What’s that you say? You want to hear more about why we’re so thrilled that June 3 has, at last, drawn nigh?

Well, if you twist my arm…

“Half-ogre and half-faerie? Gnome-hunting guardian aunts and a Salem wizard? There’s nothing I love more than a fantastical romp, whether it be through beautiful Boston or at the perils of a Seelie Court, and THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS has that in spades — plus enchantments, faery magic, and prophecy! What more can you ask for from a gorgeous new debut?” — Rin Chupeco, THE GIRL FROM THE WELL

“Faeries, secrets, and finding love while trying to survive? I cannot wait to dive into Skylar Dorset’s THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS!” — Sarah Bromley, A MURDER OF MAGPIES

“I had the luck to get my hands on an ARC of THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS, so I can tell you that you’re in for a treat! Imaginative, fun, and wonderfully written! The world of books is better for having Skylar Dorset in it!” — Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY

“I also got my greedy hands on an ARC of THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS, and it blew me away. The voice and writing are absolutely captivating, and the comparisons to ALICE IN WONDERLAND and Neil Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE are wonderfully apt. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up!” — AdriAnne Strickland, WORDLESS

“I’m such a fan of magic and fairy tales so this book is right up my alley. I love Dorset’s twist on selkies. THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS gives enchantments and hidden pasts a whole new meaning.” — Christina Farley, GILDED

“As a new mom of a three-month-old baby girl, trust me when I say that I need books to whisk me away from diaper duty and infant howling! That’s why I’m so looking forward to Skylar Dorset’s THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS. A story about a teenage girl who finds out she’s a half-faerie, half-ogre princess and who happens to have potentially murderous queen mother? Sign me right up!” — Caroline Richmond, THE ONLY THING TO FEAR

You had me at gnomes and Beacon Hill. Toss in a bat-ass crazy dad and hot Selkie, and what’s not to love? Cannot get my hands on this book fast enough!” — Trisha Leaver, CREED

Okay. I’m trembling, either from bookish excitement or the large quantity of coffee ingested while drafting this post. I’ll impute it to the former. Skylar, from all the Bookyard writers, a sincere congratulations — and HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!

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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

~

16037505SALT

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

FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS

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

The Power of Words + WORDLESS ARC Giveaway!

Today I’m giving away one of my few signed ARCs of WORDLESS, my debut book, so pardon me while I wax arm-chair-philosophical. (Or you can just scroll down and enter the giveaway.)

Since I’m writing books about the (super-) power of words—people with the ability to speak and have their words literally manifest in real life—and since I’m, you know, a writer, it’s always fun to think about words and why they fascinate me.

I think it boils down to this: words are powerful. From a simple sentence, a whole world of ideas can be born. And they can be used for good or evil: inspiration, lies, love, hate.

I’ll be frank with you—I started out on the evil sides of things, back when I was five years old. I was a habitual liar. It was a revelation that I could open my mouth, say something, and have people believe it was true when it was anything but. As a generally powerless kid (like most) who was told when to go to bed, take a bath or eat my vegetables, I suddenly discovered I had immense influence. Did I eat all of the candy in the cupboard? No. Was I sick and needing to stay home from school? Yes. Did I draw a treasure map on the couch in permanent marker? No sir-ee. Did I live on a farm populated with a ridiculous menagerie of animals? Why, yes I did.

I felt like a god. Of course, some people didn’t believe me, but they just exchanged knowing looks with a nearby adult. When you’re a kid, people let you get away with this stuff.

Except for my grandma, who, after she asked if I was trying to thieve a stuffed-animal from her house and I said no, called me out on it, made me take it out from under my shirt and put it back where I’d gotten it. Yes, yes, I tried to steal from my grandma. Evil five-year-old, remember? Still, I’ve never been so ashamed.

And good for her for humiliating the heck out of me and sending my little power trip crashing to the ground. Because lying might be somewhat funny when you’re five and can only inflict minor damage on gullible friends and siblings. Adults are mostly impervious and accept such childish behavior with an, “Oh, is that so, dear?” (…Unless you’ve been drawing on the couch in permanent marker. Then your mother gets PISSED.) But what happens when you’re in school later, and you tell someone they’re ugly? Stupid? Worthless? What happens when you’re an adult and you tell someone that you love them…and you don’t? What happens when you claim “she wanted it”? What happens when you tell an entire country that a certain race of people is lesser than yours?

Very bad things, that’s what happens. Evil, if you will. But words are like SCIENCE (cue darkly dramatic music). There’s not always a mad scientist cackling in the background over chemical weapons and atomic bombs. Cures for diseases are discovered, computers invented, washing machines gifted to the people of earth. (Seriously, have you ever had to wash all of your clothes by hand? It royally sucks and takes half of the day.)

Words are like that. So much potential. We can create worlds… or destroy someone else’s, all with words. And that kind of power is still fascinating to me. These days, I like creating worlds in the form of novels, which is essentially a glorified but a mostly harmless form of lying for other people’s entertainment—the difference is that I now call it fiction from the get-go. (Thanks Grandma, for not putting up with my sh*t.)

And so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that my first published book is about living Words: god-like people saying, “Flame,” and making things burn; people saying, “Die,” and watching someone topple over; people saying, “Live,” and letting them stand up again. And even less surprising is that there’s a kid without words at the heart of it all, feeling powerless and wondering how much better life would be if he only he had such power.

How, indeed? Because, while words are powerful, it’s all about how they’re used.

Now you can enter the giveaway!

-Adri out
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Wordless - small

“The Gods made their Words into flesh, giving privileged individuals the powers of creation…”

In Eden City, a member of the illiterate wordless class would never dream of meeting the all-powerful Words … much less of running away with one. So when a gorgeous girl literally falls into his lap during a routine trash run, seventeen-year-old Tavin Barnes isn’t sure if it’s the luckiest or worst day of his life. That girl is Khaya, the Word of Life, who can heal a wound or command an ivy bush to devour a city block with ease. And yet she needs Tavin’s help.

By aiding Khaya’s escape from the seemingly idyllic confines of Eden City, Tavin unwittingly throws himself into the heart of a conflict that is threatening to tear the world apart. Eden City’s elite will stop at nothing to protect the shocking secret Khaya hides, and they enlist the other Words, each with their own frightening powers, to bring her back.

adriannestricklandAdriAnne shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, but has spent two cumulative years living abroad in Africa, Asia, and Europe. While writing occupies most of her time, she commercial fishes every summer in Bristol Bay, because she can’t seem to stop. Her debut YA sci-fi/fantasy, WORDLESS, is coming August 8th, 2014 from Flux Books. You can follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

What I Really Mean…!

In the Elton John song “Your Song,” the composer of the romantic song admits that he’s forgotten if his lover’s eyes are green or blue, but anyway, what he really means is that they’re the most beautiful eyes he’s ever seen.

I was thinking about this song the other day as I read this really fascinating article about the “hidden messages” in children’s literature. 

Because, you see, at a certain point, our words are no longer entirely our words, and we can no longer control the messages that other people read into them. It’s entirely possible that the author of “The Little Engine That Could” didn’t intend it to be read as a feminist text, but does that really matter anymore? We can’t tell you what to think about the words we put on paper, because we can’t control your thoughts.

And, the more that I think about it, the more I don’t really want to. I want you to read my words and come up with your own spin, your own interpretation. I want my book to be about something personal for you. I don’t know you, but I want you to feel like I do, like I’m writing something completely and entirely for you. And, in all honesty, it might not be something I was even conscious of while I was writing it, but I don’t think that makes your reading of it any less valid. Books are a joint venture in the end: I give you words from my heart, and you take them into your heart, and on whatever level we have connected, we create our joint conversation: Our Unique Book. Because everyone reads a book differently, and that is the joy of books. They’re not black or white, they’re prisms

That said, what I do hope is that we do connect, somehow, someway. That is my greatest dream and fondest wish. We might disagree on whether the eyes I was writing about were green or blue. But I hope that what we do agree about is that what I meant was that they’re pretty gorgeous. 🙂

skylardorset

Skylar is a native Rhode Islander who fully believes that the best type of ice cream shake is called a cabinet (and she prefers a chocolate one). Boston gave her a degree in English (from Boston College), a degree in law (from Harvard), and the setting for her first novel, THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS, about a teenager who finds out she’s half-faerie-princess and half-ogre. Skylar loves tea (hot and iced), breakfast for dinner, and the Red Sox. You can find her wasting time on Twitter and Tumblr.

Writing with Emotional Inspiration by Monica Ropal

For me, the writing (and reading) experience has to be an emotional one. I want a story to push me, pull me and change me emotionally in some way. Writing from an emotional place is something we all have to do as writers and we use everything we have in our bag of tricks to achieve that authenticity of the moment. It may be that you have experienced first-hand the emotion that your character is feeling, or that you have emotional truths (similar feeling, but different circumstance) to draw on. But often we have to artificially recreate that emotion. Not just, I think, ponder it through or research it, but actually empathetically feel what they are feeling.

Many writers I know write to music–creating playlists for their characters or for their project as a whole. I do that too! But I often like to go farther than that. Add another sensory angle. For that we go to YouTube.

YouTube is a treasure trove (and wasteland) but for the purpose of opening you up to emotion, it has what you need–it has a way for you to use that same music in a deeper emotional experience just before settling into write.

Often, if I find a song I really like, that speaks to me emotionally. (Most of the time the feeling I’m chasing is angst. ANGST. I love angst. And angst is the perfect example because to me angst is the emotional embodiment of conflict. Angst is what brings young loves apart and makes it that much sweeter when they are together.) Where was I? Oh, yeah. I head to YouTube and search for an acoustic version. Because stripped down is where you will always get to the emotional core of that song. If the singer is also the songwriter, this can get you closer to the raw emotion. Even if, with this example, you close your eyes, a live acoustic experience is WAY better than the version you have on your iPod.

Do you have your good head phones on?  Good.

Examples: Ed Sheeran. Because . . .  Ed Sheeran. And Emeli Sande because . . . reasons.

But don’t stop there! Sometimes you need to get AWAY from the original. Check out the cover below. The singer is also an actor. Is this a thing? I don’t know, but it should be a thing because when I watch HIM sing the song, the headcanon explodes.

Fanvids: Danger Ahead. If you are still with me then let’s carry on. Shall we hold hands? Yes we should.

I think that we know each other well enough to let you know about my unabashed love for fanvids. You take 1. Amazing song that creates a story and emotion you are going for and 2. A pairing of a movie or show 3. All the delicious clips and BAM! you are INSIDE that story. Or it’s INSIDE of you.

(Sorry. More ANGST ahead.)

Let’s do Veronica/Logan and Ron/Hermione.

Lastly, I have discovered that music inspired DANCE can move me to feel a deeper level of the song. Come on now, you’ve come this far, let’s just try this. This one isn’t even angsty, it’s just all kinds of sweetness. Which is how I like to end things.

All right! Now off you go! Take all of those lovely feelings and give them to YOUR characters. Go on! Write it out!

Monica Ropal

@MonicaYAWriting

How do YOU get into the emotional of your story?