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Exclusive Excerpt: "The Iron Warrior"

Sometimes we see things from the corners of our eyes…but when we look, nothing’s there. Find out why in Julie Kagawa’s upcoming book The Iron Warrior, the epic conclusion to the New York Times and internationally bestselling Iron Fey series, on shelves October 27. And meanwhile, please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from the book!

51o0zLhimPL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_“Guro,” I said, as he glanced at me sharply, “the Forgotten are here. Er, faeries that are after
Kenzie and me. Do you have a back door? If we leave now, we might be able to lead them away.”
His eyes narrowed. “How many?” he asked in a lethal voice.
“Uh…” I glanced at the window. Three Forgotten pressed against the glass, now, and another
two scuttled past the window beside it. “I don’t know, exactly. At least five, maybe more.”
A high-pitched screech interrupted us, setting my teeth on edge. A Forgotten glaring in the
window raked its claws down the glass, leaving four long, thin gashes behind. Razor screeched
in return, baring his fangs, and Kenzie cringed back in fear. Guro shot a look at the window, at
the white scratches made by invisible claws, and whirled from the room.
“This way,” he ordered. “Follow me.”
We followed Guro through the kitchen and paused as he opened a single wooden door on the
opposite wall. A set of stairs led down into what I assumed was a basement, and Guro motioned
us through. “In here, quickly.”
I went down the steps, Kenzie close behind. The bottom of the stairwell opened into a large
room with cement walls and floors. It was dark down here, the shadows clinging to the walls
and hiding everything from view, until Guro flipped on the light.
My eyes widened. The space in the center of the floor was clear, but the walls were covered
with weapons. Crossed swords, knives, clubs, wooden rattan sticks, a couple machetes and
tomahawks, all hung in pairs around the room, glimmering wickedly in the florescent lights. A
tire dummy sat in one corner of the room, a heavy bag in the other, and a couple wooden stands
with padded coats and helmets stood at the back. One entire wall had pairs of traditional
Filipino short swords—the kris, gayang and kalis were a few I knew by name—hanging
beneath a crest that read Weapons of Moroland.
“Okay,” I almost gasped, “I’ll admit it. I’m a little terrified.”
Guro stalked to the back wall, where a pair of swords hung, isolated from everything else. I
recognized them as his personal blades, his family’s swords, passed down from his father and
grandfather before him. They were shorter than mine but no less lethal, a pair of razor-edged
barong that were probably several decades older than I was.
Kenzie’s frightened cry rang behind me. I whirled to see a solid flood of Forgotten stream
through the door and scuttle down the stairs, climbing along the walls and ceiling like huge
black spiders.
“Guro!” I called, as one spindly shadow dropped from the ceiling and lunged at me. “They’re
I dodged back as the faery’s long, thin claws barely missed my shirt, and lashed out with one
of my blades. It struck the thing’s neck, biting deep, and the Forgotten didn’t make a sound as it
writhed into tendrils of darkness and disappeared. Another leaped in, slashing at me, and I
hacked through its arm before backing away.
The Forgotten hissed and drew back, melting into a crowd of its brethren. As I raised my
swords, a chill crawled up my spine. The Forgotten had surrounded three sides of the room.
Guro, Kenzie and I stood near the back wall, a semicircle of solid black glaring at us with baleful
yellow eyes.
“Kenzie,” I panted, “get back. Try to stay between me and Guro.” Though I didn’t know how
my mentor was going to fight them. There were an awful lot of Forgotten down here, and they
were invisible to normal eyes. Unless Guro had somehow gotten the Sight, which I doubted,
most of the fighting was going to be up to me. “If you see an opening,” I continued, not daring to
look back at the girl, “run. Get out however you can, and don’t wait for me. I’ll catch up.”
“Screw that,” Kenzie snapped, and I heard the frantic zip of her bag opening. “I’m sure as hell
not leaving you, Ethan. you should know that by now. Just keep them back for a few seconds.”
The Forgotten edged forward, silent and deadly, preparing to attack. Guro stood next to me,
the barongs held loosely at his sides. I snuck a glance at him and saw that his eyes were closed.
Like a flood of black water, the Forgotten surged forward.

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Q&A with "The Half-Life of Planets" writers Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin

FranklinHeplanInterviewThe Half-Life of Planets switches between two points of view: Liana, a scientific girl studying the planets who is determined to live down her reputation, and Hank, a talented guitarist who happens to have Asperger syndrome along with an encyclopedic knowledge of music.

Here, coauthors Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin interview each other:

Brendan Halpin (BH): What’s the biggest challenge in collaborating on a novel?

Emily Franklin (EF): The plusses far outweigh the challenges. That said, two minds work differently, so pacing was a challenge—get too far ahead with one plot and the other lags. Waiting is also a challenge. Brendan and I are both fast writers, but it was exciting to write this story and waiting for his next chapter to arrive was tricky sometimes.

BH: Where do you think Liana is now? 

EF: She's a scientist, I think, maybe living with Hank back in the States after a stint in Sweden or Argentina studying and working. Wherever she is, I bet she can't hear KISS without smiling. I know I can't.

BH: Which writers, (other than me, obviously) do you most admire?

EF: Flannery O'Connor, Ben Lerner, Kate Atkinson.

BH: From your point of view, what are some of the highlights of the tour we did for The Half-Life of Planets?

EF: Where to begin? Stranded on a tiny plane in Kansas? 4:00 a.m. flight… Probably that night of incredible Cuban food in Miami with you, Daniel Waters, and Elizabeth Rudnick.

BH: When are you going to write a YA novel that involves your encyclopedic knowledge of great spots to eat? 

EF: I am happy to pitch Literary Appetites: Writers and Their Favorite Food Haunts to any book or magazine editor who is interested.

BH: What's your favorite beach town?

EF: Any place with a sad, days-gone-by boardwalk that reeks of 1970s music and has a faded-glory pulse—a kind of cotton candy creepy feeling (but only for an afternoon because—creepy).

BH: Name 3 albums that got you through high school.


The Smiths: Louder Than Bombs

Cat Stevens: Tea for the Tillerman

(really tempted to put Milli Vanilli or something here but won't)

The Pixies: Surfer Rosa (Boston band!)

EF: Brendan, have you ever serenaded anyone? If so, name the circumstance and song, please.

BH: I used to sing to my daughter when she was a baby a lot. A mix of Elvis and Beatles tunes. But in terms of like, romantically, outside someone's window or Great idea, though. Probably would have worked like magic. I wrote a song for my friend once and played it at his birthday party. It was about his love of baggy sweaters. But I was not romantically interested in him. 

EF: Name a song that sums up:

a) your first relationship

b) your worst breakup  

c) your best date

BH: I'm gonna cheat on a) and use Billy Bragg's "The Saturday Boy," which captures the agony of unrequited middle school love perfectly. So perfectly that it's almost painful. At least for me.

b) Well, I suppose the good thing about having had far fewer romantic relationships than most people, and certainly fewer than I wanted in high school and college, is that I never really had any bad breakups. Just like, amicably parting when life took us in different directions. Or, you know, one partner dying. Is that too dark? Probably. Um. Let's see...I think pretty much every straight guy of a certain age has listened to "Under My Thumb" after a breakup, but that's more of a revenge fantasy. I'll go with that one.

c) On my way to my first date with my wife, I was listening to Belle & Sebastian's "I'm a Cuckoo," and even though that song doesn't lyrically connect in any way, I always associate it with the excitement and thrilling terror of new love.

EF: What is your go-to for mopey music?

BH: I like that first R.E.M. record for a rainy day. And the Smiths of course, although the older I get, the more I just find myself giggling at the cleverness of the lyrics. You really can't beat some symphonic black metal for a really dark mood. I enjoy Dimmu Borgir's “Death Cult Armageddon”.

EF: Do you write in silence or with a soundtrack? Do you vary your music

depending on what you are writing?

 BH: I almost always have music on when I'm writing. And I totally choose the music
based on what I'm writing. So for some big heart-rending moment, I'm not playing

"Walking on Sunshine." Actually, I never listen to that song. Although

Kimberley Rew, who is a man, wrote both that song and "Going Down to Liverpool,"

which is also on the first Bangles album. Did I mention that I did almost no research

when writing Hank’s obsessive musical tangents? Kimberley Rew was also a member

of the Soft Boys, who did the original version of "I Wanna Destroy You," which has been

covered a lot of times, most memorably, for me, by the Circle Jerks featuring Debbie


EF: What’s your favorite penny candy?

BH: Blecch. Penny candy is gross. I mean, unless something like Tootsie Rolls count. My candy rule is: If it's not chocolate, I'm not interested. So those candy sticks with the stripes that spiral up the sides, the gross sugar dots on pieces of paper... No, thank you. 

EF: What are some movies that The Half-Life of Planets would be friends with?

BH: I think our book would be friends with some mopey dystopia, and that our book would be like the happy friend that balances the mopey friend out. Hopefully it would be a dystopia with a nice car and excellent snacks in the fridge. Like The Hunger Games. You know The Hunger Games has a pantry full of awesome chips and cookies. 

EF: Do you think Hank thinks back on Liana as his first big love—or that they are

together still?

BH: I’d like to think they stayed together. We plotted out a sequel that had them breaking up for college, but then maybe getting back together at the end. So yeah, that's what I think happened: brief breakup in college that led them to realize what a terrible mistake they'd made in breaking up. 

EF: What is one outstanding memory from the colossal cross-country book tour we did?

BH:  Well, I got to see Graceland, which was a fantastic life goal achieved. I remember a great dinner at that Cuban restaurant in Miami that you found for us. I gorged myself on fried yucca. And fried plantains. And fried something else I can't remember. And people coming in to eat dinner with their kids at 10:00 p.m. You also found us that great breakfast spot in Miami. And when we did the event at Books and Books in Coral Gables and that band of teenagers played Fleetwood Mac covers and we were all sitting outside listening to them play— that was pretty awesome.  

So, yeah. Miami, I guess was the big highlight. Also I saw Salman Rushdie on the street in Washington, DC. Not a huge fan, but still, he's kind of a big deal.

EF: In honor of The Half-Life of Planets—and Hank and Liana—will you go see Squeeze with me this


BH: Heck, yeah. I would very much enjoy hearing a whole bunch of their songs live. I just hope they don't play "Hourglass." I hate that song. 

Emily Franklin is the author of Liner Notes and a story collection The Girls’ Almanac. Her most recent YA book, Last Night at the Circle Cinema, is a Junior Library Guild Selection. She has also authored or coauthored ore than a dozen young adult books, including Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom (named to the 2013 Rainbow List) and The Half-Life of Planets (nominated for YALSA’s Best Book of the Year).

Brendan Halpin is a teacher and the author of books for adults and young adults, including the Alex Award–winning Donorboy, Forever Changes, and the Junior Library Guild Selection Shutout. He is also the coauthor, with Emily Franklin, of Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom.

Saying Goodbye to the Gilded Series

Teen and YA author Christina Farley discusses her thoughts and emotions as she wraps up the Gilded series. The final book in the trilogy, "Brazen," is available on Kindle September 29.

BrazenI think back to when I was sitting on the floor in a library in Seoul, Korea reading the myth of Haemosu and Princess Yuhwa for the first time. That myth took hold of my imagination and started me on this fantastic journey to write the Gilded series.

When I wrote Gilded (book 1), I hadn’t expected there to be two more books. But during revisions with my editor, she asked me questions that got me thinking. I realized that there was so much more to Jae Hwa’s story and the world of the Guardians of Shinshi than I first realized.

The moment I turned in my edits, I frantically began writing Silvern (book 2) because though each book has its own storyline, I realized there was a much bigger story here and the characters were screaming at me to write it.

At this point in writing the series, I was completed invested. The world of Gilded was real to me. I could smell the blossoms, hear the wind cut across the mountains, and feel pain cut into my characters to the point that I found myself crying as I wrote some of the scenes.

By the time I wrote Brazen (book 3), the characters in my books had become my best friends, my family, my world. So when I wrote the final chapter of the book, it was one of the hardest moments I’ve had as a writer because it was time to say goodbye. Jae Hwa’s story had come to an end. Even still, I know that through writing her story, it’s challenged me as a person to be stronger, tougher, and not afraid to stand up for what I believe in.

As I was completing the Gilded series, I thought back to the trilogies that captured my imagination and heart. These authors created amazing worlds and real characters that I wanted to hang out with so much so that I wish the authors hadn’t stopped at three books!

A few of my favorites are:

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien- Absolutely brilliant. This is a world that I desperately wish I could go visit. I was actually in New Zealand when they were shooting the movie. My husband and I took our rental off-road to try to sneak onto the set. I’m sad to say I wasn’t successful.

The Ascendance trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen- This series has humor, incredible world building, and memorable characters. It was painful to wait for Nielsen to release each book. 

The Song of Albion trilogy by Stephen R. Lawhead- I love how Lawhead melds ancient Celtic lore with modern day life. Someday I’m going to visit Scotland and search its misty glens for the secret gateway of the time-between-times.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins- How could I not mention this trilogy? It’s a series that you literally can’t put down. These books delve into the deeper issues of our society while giving the reader nonstop action. Although I’m not so sure I want to live in Katniss’ world!

It’s my hope that when readers of the Gilded series finish Brazen, they’ll be left with the sense of magic, mystery, and love that I have for Jae Hwa’s world. And if they ever find themselves wandering the streets of Seoul, perhaps they’ll catch a glimpse of Haechi standing on an ancient wall, scales glimmering in the sunset.


End-of-Summer Playlist from Sarah Dessen

Before the warmth of the summer sun completely leaves us until next year, romance author Sarah Dessen shares her favorite songs to signify the season. Her latest book, "Saint Anything" is available now on Kindle.

I believe there is no faster way to get back to a certain time in your life than hearing a song that reminds you of it. This is especially true to me when it comes to summer. Here are five summer songs that will always be playing on the soundtrack of my heart.

  1. The Tide Is High,” Blondie. I was ten years old when this was released, but it’s one of those songs that no matter how old I get will always mean summer to me. It’s the one playing at the roller rink we went to escape those North Carolina hundred-degree July days. It always seemed to be on when I was at an outdoor café. Even now, in my forties, I hear it regularly on beach trips on the boardwalk and it takes me right back. I cannot imagine a time when I will be able to NOT sing along.
  2. Road to Nowhere,” The Talking Heads. When I was fourteen, my cousin Lucy got her driver’s license. She was the first of us to achieve this, and immediately our entire summers changed irrevocably. No longer did we have to beg for rides from our older siblings, or, worse, our mothers. Lucy had this beat up, diesel Volkswagen Rabbit and we needed no reason whatsoever to all pile in, turn up the radio and just go….anywhere. Little Creatures, the album this song was on, stayed in her tape deck (!) pretty much the entire summer. But it was this song---cranked up loud, windows down---that was our anthem.
  3. Sweet Child of Mine,” Guns and Roses. Class of 1988, baby! (Yes: I am that old.) This song hit number one the summer after I graduated from high school. We listened to it so much we got into that cycle: I love this song! Okay, I’m tired of this song. I hate this song. Wait, remember this song? And repeat. Just cuing it up on iTunes just now caused me to get hit with such a wave of nostalgia I almost got knocked out of my chair. It ‘s like it was just yesterday I was eighteen, wearing a tie-dyed bikini and had my whole life ahead of me. Ah, memories.
  4. Free Fallin,” Tom Petty. The summer after college, when I was writing what would become my first novel That Summer, I waited at a restaurant called The Flying Burrito. My boss, Phil, loved all kinds of music from dirty blues to classic country and everything in between. It feels like this song was always playing in that slow first hour of my shift when I was rolling silverware or wiping down tables. Whenever it came on, I’d think, “I won’t be here forever. I’m going to be a writer someday.” It was just a dream, then. But now when I hear it, it feels like a wish, one that came true.
  5. Love Me Like the World is Ending,” Ben Lee. The summer after my daughter was born, I was having a bit of a breakdown. I’d had some health issues, I was exhausted from the Lock and Key tour, all that new mom stuff. So on the spur of the moment , I packed up the baby and one of my sitters and headed to Emerald Isle, the North Carolina beach I’d always gone to in summer as a kid. We rented this sticky condo right on the ocean and settled in for a week. Every morning my daughter would wake up around 5am, crying, and I’d have to get her out of the house. So I’d pack her in the stroller or the car and just go…anywhere. Breakfast. The park. The beach. Wherever we went, I had Ben Lee’s album Ripe on repeat on the car stereo or my ear buds. Later, this experience would become the basis for my book Along for the Ride. But at the time, I was just trying to hang in there. Just me, Sasha and Ben Lee, that summer, together.

Strong Heroines and Our Hunger to Hear Their Stories

Mary E. Pearson, author of The Kiss of Deception and The Heart of Betrayal discusses the inspiration behind Lia, the heroine of the Remnant Chronicles trilogy. 

512CO-MfFYL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_Since The Kiss of Deception and The Heart of Betrayal have come out, I’ve been asked many times about my inspiration for the spirited Lia.

The truth is, I’ve seen every quality Lia has in the strong women in my world and yours—women who face challenges and obstacles every day and are heroes in the truest sense. They wield their swords in infinite ways, which is exactly what Lia is called to do.

Let me tell you a little about her situation:

Lia is a pawn. Even though she appears to be in a position of influence, she is essentially powerless, and important decisions are taken from her. Lia is perceptive and has strong opinions, but her voice is suppressed; it is made abundantly clear that her opinion doesn’t matter. She is simply supposed to play nice, with her hands in her lap, and “listen.”

Then a day comes when she’s pushed too far—she’s betrothed to a prince she has never met. Under false pretenses. (Her kingdom has claimed she has the gift of sight.) Instead of submitting to a loveless sham of a marriage, Lia bolts.

This time her voice is loud and clear: she will choose her own destiny. But Lia is also caught in the middle of a deadly power struggle between three kingdoms. And while she can’t escape it, a new destiny emerges—one that she tries to confront on her own terms.

Most of us don’t live in a world of princesses and battling kingdoms like Lia, but the qualities of strong women are timeless. Qualities like . . .

Voice – A strong woman makes her presence known. She will not be silenced, even at great risk to herself. She has something to say.

Determination – A strong woman doesn’t give up, even when she has doubts. Even when she is knocked down or ridiculed. She remembers her quest.

Agency – A strong woman acts. It may take her some time to hone her skills and sharpen her knives, but at some point she gathers her superpowers around her like a cloak and goes in for the kill. So to speak.

Sense of self – A strong woman is not a doormat. A strong woman may sacrifice, yes. But never blindly.

Flaws – A strong woman embodies the full suite of human complexity, which includes flaws. If every woman waited until she were perfect, she would never act. In fact, it is her flaws that make her strength shine. We recognize her. She is us.

So there you have it. You already know Lia.

In your world, she goes by a different name. But she saved you once. She stood up for you. She took a risk for you. It may have been something small, but you didn’t forget. Maybe you watched her from afar, confronting someone who said her voice didn’t matter, and that moment of courage is burned in your memory. She was your mother, your sister, your friend, maybe even a stranger. And she was unstoppable.

These are the reasons I love writing about a strong heroine, just as I am inspired by reading about them—like Attolia of the Thief series, and Katniss of the Hunger Games, and the heroines of the His Fair Assassin series, and so many others.

When we read stories with strong heroines, we see all that we are and all that we can be. We see women and girls who are stepping up and changing their world. Their stories are thrilling, adventurous, often harrowing—and always fascinating.

Exclusive Excerpt: "A Mad Zombie Party"

Fall is in the air…which means Halloween is coming…which means zombies soon will rise! What better way to celebrate the season than with an exclusive excerpt from book 4 of Gena Showalter’s New York Times best-selling White Rabbit Chronicles series, A Mad Zombie Party? Read on!

MadzombiepartyAnother finger pokes through the dirt…soon an entire hand. There’s a dull gray tint to the
skin, and my heart leaps with excitement.

The creature sits up and shakes her head, clumps of dirt falling from her tangled salt-andpepper
hair. I smile with anticipation, until I note the open wounds on her forehead and
cheeks, each revealing the rotted muscle and splintered bone underneath. First time risers
usually appear human, their only visual tells red eyes and graying skin. Why the change?
She locks on me, her lips curling up, showcasing yellowed teeth and thick black saliva.
Kill now, ask questions later.

She swipes a hand at me and snaps her teeth.

“Sorry, honey, but I’m not on the menu.” I leap off the tombstone and end up where I want
to be—in the circle of her arms. Mindless with hunger, she latches on to my waist to yank
me closer, but I’m already swinging my swords. The blades crisscross at her neck before I’m
in any danger, and her head falls backward, black goo spraying from her severed artery.
The civilians continue playing their silly game.

Despite the decapitation, both the zombie head and body remain animated, arms clawing
at me, teeth snapping at me. Time to finish her off for good. I’ve been fighting the undead
for so long, summoning my fire—my dýnamis—is as easy as breathing. By the time I sheath
one of my swords and flatten my hand over her chest, flames are crackling all the way to my
wrist. One minute passes, two… Dýnamis sinks past her skin, into her veins, traveling
through her entire body. Then, suddenly, she explodes, dark ash floating through the air.

I move on to her head, making sure her teeth are firmly planted in the ground before I
perform the same “fire up and wait” routine. When a second round of ash floats away on a
cool spring breeze, I sheath my other sword and slap my hands together in a job well done.
I have to walk through the circle of civilians to get to the next name on my list of AS
victims. Each boy has paired off with a girl, the couples making out on top of blankets,
uncaring about the potential audience. Longing mixes with envy, cutting at me. I haven’t had
a “boyfriend” in forever. River is so protective—was so protective, I correct with a twist in
my gut. Anyone interested in me quickly decided I wasn’t worth the hassle…but usually only
after I’d given up the goods. At least, I like to tell myself River is the reason I’ve been
rejected so many times, and not my mountain of personality flaws.

Now River wouldn’t care if I decided to screw anything breathing…or hey, anything not

I never should have betrayed his trust in me, never should have tried to save his life by
signing the death warrant of Ali Bell, the girlfriend of a rival crew’s leader. But trading one
life for another had seemed acceptable at the time. If only that’s how things had gone down.
Ali survived, but two innocents had not. Kat Parker and Dr. Richard Ankh. I’m not sure I’ll
ever be able to forgive myself for the part I played in their deaths.
Scratch that. I will never forgive myself.

A grunt sounds at my left, and I whip around to discover two other zombies have risen.
Two zombies not from graves/names on my list. Well, hell. As I once again unsheathe my
short swords, my heart slamming against my ribs, I study my newest opponents. Two
males. One is morbidly obese, while the other is short and squat. Both have a grayish tint,
like the female, the same advanced stage of rot.

They race toward me without stumbling, their bones not yet brittle enough to break.
I dart to the right, their gazes alert enough to follow me. Good. I keep going, drawing the
two farther away from the civilians…but I don’t realize until too late that there’s a small
headstone in my path. I trip, land on my ass and lose my breath. I’m laid flat for only a
second, maybe two, but it’s enough. The pair dive for me. I somersault backward, coming up
with my swords extended, ripping through each creature’s torso. Multiple organs plop to
the ground, but neither Z seems to notice or care that they’ve been disemboweled. They
just keep advancing.

I kick one in the groin, sending him stumbling to the side, at the same time removing the
head of the other with a single swipe of my sword. The headless wonder, now behind me,
manages to clench his fingers in my hair and yank me closer. Idiot! All he can do is paw at
me. I elbow his chest and kick back. As he, too, stumbles to the side, I hack at his left arm,
spin and hack at his right. Both limbs hit the ground with a thud.

Pressure on my boot draws my gaze. The severed head is attempting to chew through my
leather soles. I jerk my leg away and slam my sword into his ear canal, and if we were in an
episode of The Walking Dead, my favorite show despite the inaccuracies, he would be dead.
Again. But we aren’t, and he isn’t; he just keeps chomping at me. Now, at least, he’s trapped
in place. He can do no real damage while I fight the other—
A stone wall knocks me to the ground. The other zombie, back for more. I lose my grip on
my swords, air exploding from my lungs and stars winking in front of my eyes. But I manage
to hold him off, the heel of my palm planted firmly on his forehead. His legs are move
between mine, both of his hands wrapping around my neck, which he clearly hopes to use
as a snack pack.

If he were human, all I’d have to do is clasp my hands together at my midsection and
shoot them up, between his arms, at the same time placing my feet behind his ankles and
applying enough pressure to spread his legs. He would struggle for purchase and lose his
grip on me. I would then place one of my hands behind his head and smash the other
underneath his chin to close his mouth, pushing with one and pulling with the other to
create a counterforce, turning his body and allowing me to roll on top of him. I would
balance my weight on one knee, slam the heel of a hand into his nose, breaking the cartilage
and, while he writhed in pain, I would stand and stomp on his stupid face. Game over. But
he isn’t human, so I can do none of those things; his teeth would be too close to my
vulnerable skin, and he would feel no pain.

All I can do is wiggle my free hand between our bodies. There’s a dagger sheathed at my
waist…there! Once the weapon is free, I wrench it up and jab it into his neck, again and
again. Black goo sprays my flesh, burning me, blistering. Steam curls through the air. When
his spine is the only thing holding his head in place, I drop the blade and rearrange my
hands, placing one behind his head while smashing the other under his chin, careful to
avoid his teeth—looks like I can use one of my moves, after all. With a push and a pull, the
counterforce snaps his stupid head from his stupid body.

Panting, I toss the brand-new boxing bag several yards away and fight my way from
beneath his heavy weight. Dizziness sweeps over me, but this is not the time for a break. I
summon dýnamis and place my palm over the zombie’s back. In my weakened state, my fire
is not as potent and the zombie’s metamorphosis from rot to ash takes longer than usual,
but it does happen.

I push up onto shaky legs and stumble forward, relieved, searching for the head I threw.
Gotta rinse and repeat. Only, I come face-to-face with more than a dozen pairs of red,
glowing eyes—and every single set is locked on me.

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Book-to-Movie Magic with Julie Kagawa

Julie Kagawa, New York Times bestselling author of Talon and Rogue talks about her favorite books turned movies and her hopes for her own series, The Talon Saga.

What makes a great book and what makes a great movie are not always the same thing, but sometimes a book translates so perfectly to film it is pure magic. These are a few of my very favorite books that became incredible films and why they worked so well.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien: I love fantasy, and everything about this series was magical—the Shire, Helm's Deep, Minas Tirith, Mordor (one does not simply walk into Mordor). Everything in the books came to life on screen in beautiful and spectacular detail. The characters were well done, the graphics were well done…everything was well done. You felt for Frodo and Sam in their endless trek to Mount Doom with Gollum. You cheered on Gimli and Legolas as they fought through waves of enemies while bantering at each other the whole time. You really, really wanted Aragorn and Arwen to be together in the end (or I did, anyway). The characters, settings, action scenes, graphics and storyline all tied together perfectly to make this trilogy my absolute favorite book-to-film series.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner: The author’s storytelling is so cinematic it was easy to visualize the story unfolding as I read the book, so I was not surprised when it did become a movie. This one also has a large ensemble cast with characters for everyone to love and hate, and the way the filmmakers created the maze world and its frightening creatures felt very real. The Grievers were especially well done—dangerous and terrifying—and just like the book, the body count is fairly high so you’re constantly on edge. The action and effects are balanced by character development and twists that never stop, and I loved both the book and the film.

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling: The Lord of the Rings trilogy might be my favorite book-to-film series, but for pure magic, nothing can rival the world of Harry Potter. From owls to house elves, flying broomsticks, hippogriffs, wands, dragons, magic mirrors, potions, invisibility cloaks, kindly yet powerful wizards and evil dark lords, Rowling has captured the imagination of both kids and grownups worldwide, and the filmmakers did a wonderful job of capturing some of that magic, as well. The graphics were spectacular, and the creatures, be it a dragon or house elf, seemed completely real. But the real magic was, of course, with Harry and his two companions. You literally watch the characters grow and change throughout the series, and by the time the final battle with Voldemort rolls around, you have invested so much in Harry, Ron, Hermione and everyone, that every death and loss affects you on a personal level. (Who else shed a tear when Dobby died?) It was an amazing series, both in print and film, and it won't be forgotten.

The scope of what can be done in movie format has grown so much even over my lifetime and I am so excited to have my modern-fantasy dragon series, The Talon Saga, under option by Universal Pictures. Seeing my dragons come to life onscreen would be a dream come true, and I hope that viewers will feel the same magic I did when watching some of my favorite books perfectly captured on the big screen.

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Moïra Fowley-Doyle's Inspiration for "The Accident Season"

Teen and Young Adult author Moïra Fowley-Doyle shares her inspiration for her popular novel, "The Accident Season," on sale now.

51O7bHCF5XL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Sometimes you’re a teenage girl wading fully-clothed across a lake in summer while your friends pretend to duck you under. Sometimes you’re a teenage girl at twilight, drinking whiskey on a derelict water tower. Sometimes you’re a teenage girl walking alone along a beach at 5am, tears in your eyes. Sometimes you’re a teenage girl in a deserted park in the middle of the night. You think you’d drown or fall, you think you’d get kidnapped or swept away to sea, and plenty do, but most of the time they don’t. It’s enough to make you half-believe that there might be something out there looking out for teenage girls.

The first time I broke a bone I was seventeen and it was one o’clock in the morning. I was tipsy on honeyed mead and climbing into the dungeon of the ruins of a medieval castle. The second time I broke a bone I was nineteen and strapped to a zipline between two trees. Flying to a halt I was too short to slow down with my feet so I slammed face-first into the metal and broke my nose. The third and fourth bones I broke were two toes. I was twenty-one and two weeks away from a ballet exam. I landed badly from a pirouette on pointe and felt the crack. The fifth time I broke a bone was last year, midway through the final revisions for The Accident Season. I was onstage at the Rocky Horror Picture Show in a corset and heels and I slipped on spilled rice and broke my wrist.

I didn’t write The Accident Season because I’m accident-prone (although I am) or because I did a lot of stupid stuff as a teenager (although I did), I wrote it because it’s exactly the kind of book my stupid-stuff-doing accident-prone teenage self would have relished. It has tarot cards and family secrets, antique typewriters and forbidden love, masquerade masks and abandoned houses, plenty of whiskey and magic realism. It’s dark and it’s dreamy and writing it reminded me of the slightly surreal and sometimes dangerous feeling of being a teenage girl.

In The Accident Season, seventeen-year-old Cara and her family of misfits become mysteriously accident prone for one month of every year. Cara’s mother believes it’s a family curse but her sister Alice thinks it’s just coincidence. Whether she truly believes in it herself or not, Cara still scales gates to break into abandoned houses or hangs out on the banks of the river with her wild and witchy best friend. Whether it’s a curse or just coincidence, even a few broken bones won’t cure her of occasionally doing stupid stuff.

Alongside this month of misfortunes there is a possibly-missing girl from school who appears in all of Cara’s photographs; the beautiful anxiety of a first and forbidden love; friendship and jealousy; and a masked Halloween ball in an abandoned house in which the accidents – whether curse, coincidence or the result of recklessness – reveal the secrets Cara and her family members hide from each other and from themselves.

Sometimes you’re a teenage girl keeping secrets. Sometimes you’re a teenage girl in love. Sometimes (if rarely) you’re a teenage girl planning a masked Halloween ball in an abandoned house on the last day of the accident season, when the truth will leave marks like a bruise – whether you’re ready to face it or not.

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Huntley Fitzpatrick's Writing Process

Teen and Young Adult author Huntley Fitzpatrick discusses the process of writing her popular novels. Her latest, "The Boy Most Likely To," is available now on Kindle.

510ReKsH0eL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_My writing process? Yeah, I should get around to having one someday soon.

My husband said “Tell them stress is your muse.” My kids’ advice boiled down to “Make stuff up.”**

**the older ones didn’t say “stuff”

Here’s the truth. If I’ve got a process—and for the sake of argument and this blog, let’s assume I do--it’s, er, fluid. One thing I’ve learned from writing several books, as with parenting a few more than several children—is that a lot of times how it plays out has more to do with that particular one than  any cleverness on your own part.

My first book, My Life Next Door, poured out.  From the start I knew where to go, as if I were following one of the winding, looping strings my parents used to tie for me to lead to Christmas presents. The characters—all of them—spoke in my head, loud, clear, even articulate—though usually at 2 a.m..  I would spring up from bed to tap the dialogue onto the computer before the words faded. I scribbled down descriptions of the ocean, the smell of river water in my home town, the sweet weight of someone you love’s arm draped around your waist on any bit of paper I found anywhere. I combed my journals for that moment when you “just knew”—that you were in love,  that your parents didn’t have all the answers, that you had wandered from your best self, that your losses were restored. Out of all this came My Life Next Door—a book I began writing for the sometimes lonely teenager I was, which became a book about the family—and the self—you find once you go looking for where you really belong.

Just in case I’d thought I had the process down—or an actual process at all--What I Thought was True had a different trajectory. The string I followed led out into the forest.: I often doubled back or cut it and followed an entirely different path. The hero switched personality—name, hair color, backstory, everything-- four times. The heroine’s history transformed and reformed again. The incident which led to conflict between them changed so many times I lost count.  Only the story I set out to tell—that the path you are on—and the one you’ve already walked—can change depending on how how you see it—remained true to the original idea. Whoa. I’m just now seeing that the writing process echoed the theme. Cool. Note to self: Be more conscious of this…er, someday.

The Boy Most Likely To, like its characters (got a theme going here. Excellent!)  trudged through wrong directions and road blocks and no trespassing signs (I didn’t think YA could hold a few of the things I wanted to cover) before it made its way to the end. But I lifted my fingers from typing “the end” with a sigh of satisfaction, relief, and actual accomplishment.

Even better, ready to face whatever winding road Book Four involves. I don’t have a process, I don’t have a map. But I’m coming to know I do have at least a compass…the book I set out to find…and I’ll get there.


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Photos from Sarah J. Maas' Book Tour

To celebrate the launch of "Queen of Shadows," the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, Teen and YA author Sarah J. Maas shares photos with us from her last book tour for "A Court of Thorns and Roses." Both books are avaiable now on Kindle.


Sarah signs A Court of Thorns and Roses for fans Parnassus Books in Nashville (Photo credit Elizabeth Mason)


Sarah answers fans’ questions at the Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem, PA blogger and moderator Jamie Miller from Perpetual Page Turner. Check out the awesome A Court of Thorns and Roses  wall behind her! (Photo credit Elizabeth Mason)


An excited fan meets Sarah Maas and has A Court of Thorns and Roses signed at Octavia Books in New Orleans (credit Tom Lowenburg)


Sarah (middle) in conversation with moderator Christina Franke from the blog A Reader of Fictions (left) and Susan Dennard, author of Something Strange and Deadly (right) at the DeKalb County Library, Decatur, GA (Photo credit Elizabeth Mason)

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