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Young Adult

Exclusive Excerpt: "The Last Good Day of the Year"

This powerful thriller from Jessica Warman, acclaimed author of "Between" and "Beautiful Lies," is an arresting page-turner that questions whether the potential for evil lurks within us all. "The Last Good Day of the Year" is on sale now. 

ThelastgooddayoftheyearTen years ago, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor Remy watched helplessly as Sam's little sister was kidnapped. Later, Remy and Sam identified the man and he was sent to prison. Now, Sam's shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. But as long-buried memories begin to surface, she and Remy wonder—could they have been wrong about what they saw?

Excerpt:

From the moment I came unfrozen after Turtle was carried off into the cold night, I cried without stopping. Even when I was silent and otherwise seemed calm, the tears continued, and there didn’t seem to be any point in trying to hold them back— not that I wanted to. None of it felt real. It was like we all had been actors in a pleasant but uneventful long- running play—Childhood: Not a Musical— but to night we’d somehow wandered onto the wrong stage and picked up the wrong scripts. To night, the part of Terrified Mother Who Cannot Stop Screaming will be played by Sharon Myers. This is a big change for Ms. Myers, whose previous role as Pretty Suburban House wife did not require much screaming.

While our fathers searched, Susan Mitchell walked down the street to retrieve Gretchen from Abby Tickle’s house. My mother stayed by the front door and prayed the Rosary, which I’d never seen her do until that night. Remy and I sat at the kitchen table with a friendly cop— he told us to call him Officer Bert— who took notes on a small yellow legal pad as we talked.

“The man you saw tonight— can you tell me what he looked like?”

“He looked like Santa Claus, except he was skinny. I already told you.” Beside me, Remy nodded in silent agreement. I thought he’d been asleep while it happened, but now he insisted he’d been faking.

“Okay, we know that. But other than his costume, did you see what he looked like?”

“Oh. Well, yeah.” My voice was soft and hesitant. All I wanted was for my sister to come home. I didn’t want to get anybody in trouble. You have to understand that my world was so small and safe back then; the idea that someone whom Turtle knew and trusted would hurt my sister seemed impossible. “He looked like Steven.”

Officer Bert stopped taking notes and put down his pen. “Who’s Steven?”

“Gretchen’s boyfriend.”

“And who’s Gretchen?”

“My big sister.”

“I see.” A single strand of tinsel, probably from what ever party he’d been called away from, clung to the front of Officer Bert’s sweater. “Did he only look like Steven, or was it actually him?”

“It was him.”

Exclusive Excerpt: There Will Be Lies

From Nick Lake, Printz-winning author of In Darkness, comes an emotionally charged thriller that deftly exposes the lies we tell others—and the lies we tell ourselves. There Will Be Lies is available now on Kindle.

TherewillbeliesSummation: Shelby Jane Cooper’s sheltered life consists of weekly Ice Cream for Dinner Nights, hitting baseballs, and checking out “the Boy” at the library. But a sudden car accident forces her to confront the harsh truth: everything she knows about herself might just be a lie.

Excerpt:

I go out onto the sidewalk, and walk to the spot where the cab will pick me up. I glance at my watch— it’s about four minutes before she’s due to arrive, and she always arrives when she’s due.

I stand there for a moment, holding the book. I don’t know how I’m going to explain it to Mom. I guess I’ll just say it’s from the library and hope she doesn’t look inside and see that it doesn’t have a stamp.

I look at my watch again. Three more minutes, and then Mom will be there to take me home.

But no.

That doesn’t happen.

What happens instead is:

A car, which is actually a Humvee, and as it will turn out is being driven by a driver considerably under the influence, bounces up onto the sidewalk, takes out a trash can, slows just enough not to kill me instantly, then collides with my body hard enough to throw me ten feet through the air.

Lying there, on the concrete, I don’t feel any pain at first. I am on my side and there is a warm trickling feeling all over my leg which doesn’t seem to forebode anything good, though I can’t just now remember how I got to this position.

I am facing the library, or at least the gap between the library and the next building, which I think is a software company. In the cool dark shadow between the buildings, I see two eyes, gleaming.

A coyote steps out and toward me, right there in the dusk. I’ve never seen one before— I know people do at night, especially in North Scottsdale, but he’s my first. I sense that it’s a he.

He, the coyote, comes closer and sniffs at me. He’s beautiful—this wild thing, here in low- rise suburbia. Like walking into a bedroom and seeing a tree growing in there. His fur is red like sunset, his eyes are shining and telling me something that I don’t know how to read, but there’s a kind of light of intelligence in them.

I think: of course, it’s not a dog, Mark’s tattoo. It’s a coyote. I don’t know why I thought it was a dog.

I stare at the coyote. There’s a crackle about him, almost a halo, like his life is running at a voltage different from other living creatures. Like he’s magic. I could really believe that. Then I believe it even more, because the coyote speaks directly into my head, or that’s what it feels like.

There will be two lies, it says. Then there will be the truth. And that will be the hardest of all.

There’s something weird about the way the coyote says this, like the words are somehow inside my head,

echoing, but I can’t put my finger on it. It’s like grasping a slick frog—it squirts out of my hands.

Then something startles him and he backs away, turns skittishly, almost falling over, and runs back into the shadow where he disappears.

And it’s like he was never there, and I feel bummed about that. This is all wrong, anyway, I think, remembering the book in the library, the open one. You’re meant to see the coyote BEFORE the horrible

thing happens to you. Not after.

I roll a bit and look up and see the moon, pale in the still- light sky, looking down on me like a parent looking down at a sick child.

This is— I think.

And then blackness.

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Lex Dubois' Favorite Reads for Right Now

Vivi Barnes, author of Paper or Plastic, has asked her main character Lex to give a highlight of some of her favorite books on the shelves today:

Coverimage040615Hey there—Lex Dubois here. I’m working at SmartMart for the summer, and except for the nutty customers and the disgusting Code B (which I won’t even tell you about—you’re welcome), it’s not too bad of a place to work. Especially when I can hide in the book section and lose myself for a bit. My boss Noah caught me reading once, but being the sweet guy he is (sigh), he suggested I start a book review column for the store’s employee newsletter. So hit the vending machine and take your break—here are a few of the books I recommend.    

Excerpted from the February edition of SmartMart Today newsletter:

Pick up a store ad and newspaper just inside the entrance of SmartMart—not only are there some great coupons, but, as in the thrilling Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano, you never know what secret messages you’ll find in the personal ads. High school junior Nearly never knew her penchant for the personal ads would lead to clues to a serial killer’s trail—and if she doesn’t put the clues together soon, she’ll be next. Nothing is what it seems in this story—especially the one behind it all!

To be enjoyed with some gumbo and beignets (aisle six), Beware The Wild by Natalie Parker will pull you right in with its page-turning gothic mystery set deep in the Louisiana swamps. Sterling’s brother Phin disappears, and it’s up to Sterling to figure out what happened to him—and why no one remembers her brother, only a strange girl who wandered out from the swamp. Eerily beautiful—the story is one of my favorites this year!

Pick up some roses (floral department)—you’ll want these while reading Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, this love story has a twist—Nyx must seduce and destroy the evil lord Ignifex, thereby ridding the kingdom of the curse he put on it. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in love with him. With Greek mythology woven throughout, this book will hook you page after gorgeous page.

Stop in the makeup section (aisle 10) and create a whole new you as you read Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer. Young con artist Julep Dupree runs petty scams to help fund her dreams of Yale. But when her father disappears and Julep suspects foul play, she has to maneuver around stalkers, secrets and child services to find him. A fantastic tale full of intrigue, humor and a touch of romance—you’ll love it!

Then there’s The Girl Who Never Was by Skylar Dorset. Besides having a title that makes me want to add “shoplifting” to the end of it (stupid lipstick), I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a high-stakes fantasy—full of faeries, ogres, and romance! Selkie Stewart thinks she’s a normal teen growing up in Boston, but she soon finds out she’s a princess—half ogre, half faerie, and on the run from her mother. Not to be missed, this story will leave you breathless!

There you have it—my shopping list of must-read books this season. Now back to work before Mr. Hanson puts me on bathroom detail—again.

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Debut Novelist Melinda Salisbury on Becoming an Author

Melinda Salisbury, debut author of The Sin Eater’s Daughter, on writing a story about a girl discovering who she is against all odds, and how her own personal dream of becoming an author is now a reality.  

I never imagined I’d be an author. Not a real one, with a proper book with a cover, and an ISBN number, and a copyright warning inside. It seemed like the kind of thing you get to do if you study at Oxford or Cambridge, or if you have a favorite aunt who writes. I didn’t realize for the longest time that you could go to a normal school, have a normal life, and become an author.

And yet here I am.

As publication day approaches, lots of people are asking me how I feel—am I excited? Am I nervous? If I’m honest, I’m petrified. To me it feels unreal that this story (that began life as an idea I had whilst singing in the shower, of all places) will soon be in people’s hands. It’s simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating, that this tale, that started so small, has come so far. I never imagined it, not even in my wildest dreams. Who could?

When I began writing The Sin Eater’s Daughter, I knew that the world I was creating was a treacherous, merciless place to live, and I had no intention of toning it down or making it more palatable. Because to me, the most horrifying thing about Twylla’s life isn’t the world around her but how trapped inside it she is by things she cannot control, nor change—by her gender, her heritage, her abilities. I wanted to write a story about what it means to have very few choices, and little control over your life, and what a colossal undertaking it would be to try to overcome that, if it were even possible. I wanted to write about a girl discovering against all odds who she is, and what her hopes and desires are, in a world that’s never considered she may be anything more than what it chooses for her. I wanted to write about the importance of small rebellions and how sometimes bravery isn’t just rushing at a dragon with a sword, but facing up to the truth, and working alongside it.

And I did. I wrote that story, and in a short time people will be able to read it. So how does it feel to be a debut author? It feels as though I’ve woken up in time to see the sunrise, and made myself the perfect cup of tea to watch it with. It feels like I’ve looked up in time to see a shooting star, or a baby deer stand up for the first time. It feels like suddenly missing a friend so fiercely it ached, only to pick up the phone to call them at the exact moment they were calling you. Without using endless clichés, it’s impossible to explain how it feels, because it feels impossible to begin with. It feels like exactly what it is—a dream coming true. And I’m so happy and proud to be here.

Guest Post by Jennifer Nielsen, Author of "The Ascendance Trilogy"

Jennifer Nielsen, author of The Ascendance Trilogy and new series, Mark of the Thief, shares insight on writing her characters and how her readers identify with their heroic traits.

I love fan letters from young readers, and one of the most common phrases I get is, “I’m just like Sage”—the hero in The False Prince.

My reply to them? “Oh, for the sake of your sweet mother, I hope not.”

Sage would have been a difficult boy to raise. He is defiant, sarcastic, reckless, and brilliant enough to stay three steps ahead of everyone around him. He doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut, and can’t seem to stay out of trouble.

Of course, he also would have been an amazing boy to raise. He is compassionate, quick-witted, perceptive, and a natural leader. He does not suffer fools but will fight to the end for anyone he cares about.

So maybe he’s got something for young readers to emulate after all.

I always believe it’s a fantastic thing when a reader can identify traits in a heroic character and say, “That’s me, too.” Or, if it’s not, to believe that they could have those traits, one day.

In fact, several research studies have shown that children tend to read themselves into a story, to make themselves part of the adventure they are reading. Consequently, one of the great advantages of giving children books with heroic characters is that over time, they tend to become more like the characters they admire most.

Those are the characters I love to write. Boys and girls who stand out for their strength, integrity, and willingness to run in to life’s battles when everyone else backs out. Characters worth admiring, even if they are flawed, and even when life doesn’t go the way they want.

My next series, Mark of the Thief, features a boy named Nicolas Calva, who is a mining slave in Ancient Rome. When Nic steals an amulet belonging to the Gods, he is suddenly in possession of a magic he does not understand and cannot control. Now the Empire is after him.

Nic has some similarities to Sage. Because he remembers the taste of freedom before coming to the mines, Nic bristles at his new life of whips and chains, and often pays the price for his disobedience. He has a fierce love for his younger sister and fights hard to protect her. And he puts himself in jeopardy to do what he believes is right.

But I think he has his differences too. Although he is smart, Nic has little experience in the world and even less education about it. He feels the differences in the social classes of Rome, and well understands that he is below virtually anyone he meets. And Nic does not consider himself a warrior. If he could figure a peaceful way out of his predicament, he would choose that route and never look back.

I hope readers will grow to love Nic and maybe look up to him as a hero. Because the more I write of his story, the more I admire his clever ability to squeeze through troubles he should never have survived.

And this time, if I get fan letters from readers claiming to be like Nic, I will tell them, “Oh, for your own sake, I hope you are.”

However, I will also tell them that if they ever come across a magical amulet, it might be best just to leave it alone.

Heather Demetrios Writes the Book of Her Heart

Author Heather Demetrios talks about the inspiration behind her coming of age novel about the romance between a trailer-park girl with big dreams and the combat veteran she never expected to fall for. "I'll Meet You There" is available now on Kindle.   

Coverimage040215I didn’t want to write this book. Of all my reasons, it came down to this: who was I to write about the journey of a young Marine with PTSD, an amputee struggling with grief and memories that threaten to crush him all day, every day? How was I worthy to tell his story?

The thing is, sometimes we don’t choose the story we want to write; the stories choose us. I gave up on I’ll Meet You There more times than I can count. I didn’t want to write a throwaway summer romance. I wanted to write something that would break people’s hearts, then put them back together in ways they never expected. So I’d put the manuscript aside, then come back to it. Again and again and again. The root of my quitting was fear. I couldn’t bear the thought of not getting it right. But no matter how many times I walked away, my main characters, Josh and Skylar, wouldn’t let me go.

It’s nearly impossible to say what inspired me to write this novel, though it started with setting: a roadside motel off a highway I drove up and down so often in my childhood. But I can tell you why I stuck with it, why I stayed in the trenches with Sky and Josh while they waged their personal wars. For one, Josh’s struggle with PTSD and his life as a Marine is intensely personal to me. Both my parents were Marines, and my dad continues to suffer from PTSD. It wasn’t until I began my research that I realized how much my father’s PTSD had to do with his alcoholism and depression. The more I read, the more Marines and Soldiers I interviewed, and the more I got into Josh’s head and heart, the more I realized I care enormously about the topic of veterans’ affairs. I had to write this book—for Josh, for my dad, for the more than 2.6 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who have mental and physical wounds. The military is full of young adults like Josh who deserve to have their story told.

Another reason I was inspired to write the novel is that class diversity is simply not represented very much in YA. I was middle-class growing up, but I had a single mom for most of my life, and we struggled. My sister and I qualified for school lunches, and we were briefly on food stamps. Being poor sucked. Skylar has it much worse than I did, but it was important for me to show a kid who lives in a trailer park, whose mom works at a fast-food restaurant. There are so many teens like her, teens who deserve to feel known, to see their struggles and their fight to survive reflected in the novels of their time. As I mention in my acknowledgments, to these kids I say: love is medicine, and dreams are oxygen.

Whenever I talk about I’ll Meet You There, I call it the book of my heart. But I didn’t know that’s what it would become when I started writing it. I had no idea my two main characters would take me on a gut-wrenching journey to places that were painfully familiar, to landscapes so horrifying they drive grown men to helpless despair. I’ll Meet You There  is about teens outside the picket fence. It’s about love and war and art and healing. It’s about, as the Rumi poem the title comes from suggests, the meeting of two hearts: yours—and mine.

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An Exclusive Kindle Short Story from Ally Carter, Author of "Embassy Row" Novels

Author Ally Carter describes the evolution of her idea to build the world of Embassy Row and shares an exclusive Kindle short story, "Before the Fall: Arrival".

The story of Embassy Row is a long one. Not the book, of course. That clocks in at roughly 310 pages. But the origin story of the series itself goes all the way back to 2007.

At the time, I was starting the third Gallagher Girls novel and had just sold the first Heist Society. I was in no position to take on another series so, of course, that is when a great idea hit me. I was talking with my local librarian whose son had recently started college.

“What’s he majoring in?” I asked.

“He wants to work in the Foreign Service,” she said. “But I don’t know how I feel about that, because that means my grandchildren will grow up in embassies all around the world.”

Well, you can’t just say something like that to a YA thriller writer and not expect consequences. From that point on, I became obsessed with writing a series about kids who grow up in embassies, little micro-nations that stand all in a row. Different cultures. Different languages. Different stakes than any other street in the world.

Through the years, the idea evolved quite a lot, but by the time I was actually able to start writing (in 2013), I knew that Embassy Row was like no other place I’d ever read about, and Grace was different than any character I’ve ever known.

When Grace was thirteen she saw her mother murdered and, worse yet, nobody believes her. Not her grandfather, the ambassador or her father, the Army Ranger. Not even her brother, the West Point cadet. Only Grace believes in the “Scarred Man” who shot and killed her mother. So Grace alone is going to have to find him and make him pay.

Once I was finally able to start writing, it was wonderful to mentally “move in” to Embassy Row. It felt like taking a vacation that I’d been planning for years. I was finally there! And then, all too soon, it was over.

Of course, there are two more Embassy Row books coming, but that’s too long to wait, I’m afraid. Both for the readers and for myself. So when Amazon offered me the opportunity to return to Adria and Embassy Row even sooner—to get to introduce readers to Grace and to Adria in a whole new way—I jumped at the chance.

Some might think it strange to revisit a story after the book is already written, but in this case it felt like the most natural thing in the world. In Before The Fall: Arrival we literally get to arrive in Adria with Grace, to see her mother’s homeland for the first time since her mother’s death, to watch Grace lash out and challenge authority as only a girl who is constantly walking a tightrope can do.

It’s not a huge story, but I’m extremely proud of it. Hopefully, Kindle readers will take this opportunity to travel to Embassy Row and meet Grace for themselves.

And then I genuinely hope they, like me, will want to stay.

 

Guest Blog by Pam Muñoz Ryan, Author of "Echo"

           Sometimes the book I set out to write, ultimately becomes a tiny part of a much larger story that demands to be written. That's what happened with Echo.

          I thought I was going to write a novella about the nation's first successful desegregation case in 1931: Roberto Alvarez vs. the Lemon Grove School District. I was researching at a historical society in San Diego County, when I came across a peculiar photograph of a large group of children, including many Mexican-Americans, sitting on the steps of a country school. Each child held a harmonica. When I asked the docent about the photo, she told me it was the school's harmonica band and added, "during the big harmonica band movement in the United States."  Those intoxicating words were enough to send me on the long and winding  journey toward ECHO.

          Not only was there a harmonica band movement, at one time there were over two thousands school harmonica bands in the U.S. , including Alfred N. Hoxie's Philadelphia Harmonica Band of Wizards, a 60 member boy band. I began to wonder about the children in that country school band, who were later segregated, and the boys in Hoxie's band in Philadelphia, which was full of orphans. Two characters and their stories began to take shape: Mike, in Philadelphia; and Ivy Maria, a Mexican girl in California. I began to wonder if by some odd fate, my characters at different points in time might have played the same harmonica. And if they had, who had owned it before them?

          After more research and traveling to Germany to the largest and one of the oldest harmonica factories in the world, I learned about the young apprentices who had worked there before WWII. Another character's story, Friedrich's, began to unfold. I had the premises for three stories but I wanted more than just episodes in the life of one musical instrument. Given the years the novel spanned, 1933-1951,  I realized that my characters would live during some of the most dark and challenging times in history that included war, the Great Depression, and segregation. They would have to cope with circumstances far beyond their control. How would they have the courage to put one foot in front of the other? How would they find their way? What emotions and themes echoed from one story to the next?

          I wanted to give my characters beauty and light when they were afraid and their future seemed bleak. I wanted them to experience the universal language of music and the camaraderie of musicians. I wanted Friedrich, Mike and Ivy Maria to experience hope, and magic. That is why the harmonica is tied to a promise, tangled in a witch's curse, and is the vessel which carries the midwife's prophecy: Your fate is not yet sealed. Even in the darkest night, a star will shine, a bell will chime, a path will be revealed.

Teen & Young Adult, Mystery & Thriller Author Sara Larson

Guest Post by Sara Larson, author of Defy Series

Sara Larson shares insight on how the strength and courage of her favorite literary heroines inspired the development of the main character in her Defy series, Alexa Hollen.  

A lot of readers have written to tell me how much they love Alexa’s strength and courage in Defy and Ignite—and that spurred the idea to write about some of my favorite literary heroines. Bear in mind that there are definitely many more amazing heroines out there that I love, but here are some of my favorites.

One of my all-time favorite heroines of all time is Jane Eyre. She’s so quietly courageous. Her life was very hard, but she just made the best of it, no matter what got thrown at her. I also loved the dynamic between her and Mr. Rochester. I’ve had some readers tell me they thought the relationship between Alexa and Prince Damian in DEFY reminded them of theirs (but in a fantasy setting, of course)—which wasn’t on purpose, but I am highly flattered by the compliment!

Another favorite from the books I loved growing up is Beauty from BEAUTY by Robin McKinley. I always felt an affinity with Beauty, in all the retellings I’ve read and watched. I felt unattractive when I was growing up, and I was a voracious reader. I was so inspired by Beauty’s ability to see past the exterior and love someone for what was inside of them—for their heart and soul. And again, you might see unintentional echoes of that theme in the DEFY series, especially with what happens to Alexa at the end of DEFY and how that influences (or doesn’t) those around her for the rest of the series.

Another favorite is Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. Talk about a strong character! I love that Hermione is so smart and resourceful. Let’s be honest, without her, both Harry and Ron would have been toast many, many times. I adore a character that can use her brains and courage to be strong. Hermione made being a “nerd” cool—nerds can save the day, and often do in real life and fantasy.

Some more recent favorites include Karou from DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. Her story is heartbreaking but powerful. She is witty, smart, strong, and achingly broken, but still manages to keep going and going and going. How do you keep living when you keep losing all the people you love—whether to death or for other reasons? Karou will teach you how. There is a lot of loss and heartbreak in the DEFY series as well, and I only hope readers will think my characters can prove to be as resilient as Karou and those who fight alongside her for peace and freedom and happiness.

Finally, another recent favorite is Lilac LaRoux from THESE BROKEN STARS. You might think she’s just a spoiled, rich princess as the daughter of the richest man in the galaxy, but you’d be wrong. There’s much more to her than that, right from the start, but when the Icarus crashes and she is stranded on a deserted planet with the only other survivor, Tarver Merendsen, you find out just how deep her strength runs. She never gives up, no matter how bad things get (and trust me, in this book, they get pretty bad). I love this book and just how brave Lilac proves to be.

So those are some of my favorite heroines from books I’ve loved throughout my life. Perhaps someday, Alexa will make someone else’s list. Wouldn’t that be something?

Dogs, Pianos, and Names that Make You Smile

Authors Augusta Scattergood and Sarah Weeks discuss their new books and how they come up with names for their characters.

Sarah: Hey, Augusta Scattergood. You don’t mind if I call you by your full name, do you? It’s such a wonderful name! It makes me smile just to say it. Speaking of names, how did you choose the names for the characters in your new book The Way to Stay in Destiny?

Augusta: Names are so important, aren’t they? But I don't always get them right the first time. Occasionally I give a character a place-holder name until he tells me what to call him. Theo was Shelton for a while! But Theo’s name is such a part of him—the mystery of why he was named for Thelonious Monk and that now he’s “just plain Theo.” Miss Sister was actually named for a dance teacher in my hometown. Speaking of names that make you smile, I can just hear Honey being read aloud to kids. Teeny and Melody jump off the pages. And Bee-Bee Churchill. Great names, great characters.

Sarah: Thanks! Melody’s mother was a musician, so I chose a musical name for her. Even the dog in Honey is named after a famous composer. I was a singer-songwriter for many years before I became an author, so I have a deep love of music. I really enjoyed reading about Theo’s musical talent. I could hear that piano playing inside my head. Our new books have a number of things in common—pianos, bratty neighbors, dogs, and dance lessons—did I leave anything out?

Augusta: Let’s see, both of our books are set in small towns where kids have the freedom to get themselves in and out of escapades. Although I’ve lived in a lot of places, my heart is in the kind of place I grew up, a small southern town.

Sarah: I didn’t grow up in a small town, but I spend my summers in a little town in the Catskill Mountains. My dog loves to swim in our pond there. I wonder if Mo and Ginger would get along.

Augusta: My childhood was filled with animals. Rabbits, fish, parakeets, dogs, and cats. And those were the ones we had for pets. But I’m really a dog person. My book’s dog, Ginger Rogers, didn’t get quite the billing as your dog Mo. I love Mo’s voice and his sweet personality, but Ginger is the old and crotchety type. She did take a shine to Uncle Raymond, who’s a bit crotchety himself actually.

Sarah: You know what makes me crotchety? Doing research! I prefer to make things up. The things I am most interested in writing about are kids and animals, and of course things that make me laugh or cry—or better yet, laugh and then cry. 

Augusta: Since I write historical fiction, I’d better love the research part. Hey, I’m a librarian, what can I say? For my first novel, Glory Be, I did a ton of research about Freedom Summer. While writing The Way to Stay in Destiny, I spent a lot of time fact-checking dates, prices, and baseball records. 

Sarah: I love baseball—especially Little League games! Before we sign off I just want to mention that in addition to Honey, I have a new picture book out called Glamourpuss. It’s about a narcissistic cat who thinks so highly of herself that instead of saying meow, she shortens it to just “Me!” David Small illustrated—lucky me! Nice chatting with you, Augusta Scattergood.

Augusta: You too, Sarah Weeks!