Young Adult

“Is It Summer Yet?” Blog Hop

Though I’ve always loved to read, as a middle schooler I became obsessed with a young adult fantasy novel that I read over and over again until I practically had the whole thing memorized: Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede. Though I moved on to the other books, I still reread my favorite parts of  Dealing with Dragons whenever I wanted to dip into the magical world of princesses, knights, and dragons (which was more often than was probably healthy).

This summer, for the first time in my entire life, I will be focusing on my writing full time. I will dedicate each morning to producing new material and every afternoon to promoting it, including finding venues to do readings, writing blog posts and interviews, and traveling to book fairs and writing conferences. But most importantly, I will focus on a big part of the writing process that I’ve neglected during my years of working full time and pursuing my master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University: reading. At the pool, at the library, on the train, I’ll be venturing into the worlds of my fellow writers like Lucy through the wardrobe, not only being entertained by their unique characters and plot lines but learning from them at the same time. Like the summers between elementary school years, when I’d hole up in my bedroom and read five books a day, I want to be as absorbed by these stories as I was by The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, The BFG by Roald Dahl, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (my idea of romance was ruined early), and so many more.

Below is a list of YA novels I plan on reading this summer. Leave me a comment including your email address (in the format jane.doe at gmail dot com so no one spams you) and your favorite YA novel recommendation, and you’ll automatically enter my contest to win one of three print copies of the first novel in my trilogy, Dreamweaver Road (Book One in The Zaniyah Trilogy). Look for the sequel, Two Dragons (Book Two in The Zaniyah Trilogy), later this year.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Happy reading!


To find the other sites participating in the summer blog hop, click here or visit

Fiction Novels Young Adult Young Adult

On Blurbs, to My Future Self

Once I signed my book contracts for Dreamweaver Road and Cairo in White this fall, I remember thinking to myself, “Now the rejection part of the process is over!” Dreamweaver Road had been picked up almost immediately after I wrote it, but Cairo in White had been a labor of love for almost five years before the complete overhaul this summer that led to its acceptance (perhaps my next post will involve the dreaded re-write).  I’d had more agent rejections over the years than I could keep track of, to the point where I had a whole folder of them; another form rejection was like a crushed up, dirty soda can in a landfill. And, of course, that’s not counting the rejections from poems and stories along the way, which have built up in my Submittable “Declined” folder like the ledger of a failing business. Thank goodness for all of the wonderful literary magazines that did publish my work along the way, or like many writers in the early stages of their careers, I might have given up.

So you can imagine my surprise when, after my first round of asks for blurbs for my two novels, I experienced much the same result. Many writers were too busy with their own writing to spend time on mine; some writers, even professors who were friends with my professors, just never answered. I got several who claimed they couldn’t blurb it because it wasn’t quite the same genre or age or  style of what they wrote, advising me to ask my friends at Hopkins (Note: These are friends who are in thesis with me, at work on novels that are obviously not published yet). 

What was it Blanche said in A Streetcar Named Desire? “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” I have learned over the past few months that writers I’ve met or known for years may not be kinder with their time than someone a friend has advised me to Facebook message. Someone I expected would be too busy writing beautiful poems in fields may actually be eager to read the work of a budding fiction writer. There is no shortcut to figuring out which connections fall into which categories; unfortunately, like the writing itself, you just have to get rejected. 

I am lucky to be blessed with several friends and mentors who, as opposed to those mentioned above, give and give and give. So a note to my future self: be generous with your time. Guide new writers, even if it takes up an hour you would have normally spent staring into that white screen. If you absolutely can’t blurb someone’s book, take the time to give the writer guidance about a better fit. After all, hopefully by then you will have a larger network of amazing friends and colleagues who will consider a recommendation from you important, and will take a chance on someone unknown. 


Kelly in October of 2013