Review of Tess Wakefield’s Purple Hearts


I picked up Tess Wakefield’s debut novel Purple Hearts in a bookstore in Wisconsin, in part because she was a Minnesota author, just like I am, and in part because I loved the cover with the converse shoes and work boots underneath a teal background with a white title (as much as it is frowned upon to judge books by covers as a metaphor, I firmly believe there’s a reason the metaphor exists, especially when there’s not much else that can be considered when choosing a book).

The other reason I bought Purple Hearts was because I was intrigued by the blurb. I spend a long time picking up book after book, carefully setting it back because the backs promised a Girl who meets A Boy who is Not Like Any Other Boy or stories that seemed similarly cliché. Purple Hearts, on the other hand, is about a girl, Cassie, who marries a soldier for his health insurance and they must “set aside their differences to make it look like a real marriage… unless, somewhere along the way, it becomes one…”

Although it’s easy to see where the story might go, the way in which the story unfolds and the choices the characters make are not cut-and-dry, creating a book that is hard to put down. The dilemmas are realistic, as are the solutions, and the plot is character-driven, as it should be.

One of the first things that pulled me into this book was the writing style. Part of me kept reading because the plot was compelling for sure, but an equally large part of me kept reading because I wanted to keep experiencing the wonder that is Tess Wakefield’s writing. The dialogue is realistic. The characters are complex. The figurative language is beautiful. If her writing contained nutritional value, I would happily eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the week.

This was also a book with one of the most successful uses of multiple points of view, where the narrator switches each chapter. Part of this is due to Wakefield having created strong characters that are not too much alike and both have similar, although maybe not exactly equal, narrating power. The chapters are short, keeping the pace of the book fast, and the switch between the points of view is amazingly effortless for the reader.

(Spoilers): In terms of what I would have changed in the book, I had a little trouble believing Luke wouldn’t have any more problems with his drug dealer just having beaten him up, especially since I’m sure Johnno has other people he could recruit to help get back at Luke. I’m okay with it, especially since I can’t think of a better solution except maybe calling the cops, but it made me have less faith in his decision-making abilities.

Also, I loved the ending, but I also think it could’ve been longer, at least so I (selfishly) could’ve experienced just a little more of Wakefield’s writing. It did feel make the story feel complete and cohesive, which I loved. Also, the ending was realistic and fitting without being too predictable, a feat for which I thoroughly commend Wakefield.

All in all, I think adults and young adults alike would love this book, especially those who like romance that isn’t too cliché or cheesy and who like rounded characters, great writing, and a unique premise. I can’t wait to read what Wakefield writes next.

If you liked this post, check out my book, INSOMNUS, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Read Smile, My Published Short Story

My latest short story, Smile, was just published in the literary journal The Blue Route. View it below by scrolling to page 14 of the journal (page 22 on the PDF) and learn more about The Blue Route at

If you enjoyed this story, share it. If you have comments or questions, contact me.

How to Run an Effective Kindle Promotion (For Free)

Free ebook giveaways on Amazon are a great way to jumpstart sales, increase reviews, and expand your book’s exposure. So how do you make the most of a free ebook giveaway? Here are 5 easy tips. 

1. Take advantage of each enrollment period. Amazon only lets you put your kindle book for free once per enrollment period, or every 90 days. Take advantage of each one, even if it means setting alerts on your phone or putting it in your calendar to remind you.
2. Make your book free. I personally have had way more success making the book free than doing a countdown deal (where the book is gradually discounted over a certain period of time). Plus, there are a lot of sites that will allow you to advertise free ebooks, for free. This means more people will download and read your book without you having to spend money to promote it. 
3. Sign up on promotion websites. The best part about these websites is that they’re easy (less than five minutes to sign up), reach a large number of people, and most are free. (I don’t recommend paying for any of them, especially because you don’t have to to get exposure).
Two sites I use almost every time I do a giveaway, and love, are and They list plenty of sites you can sign up with that are verified, with links to each. The first one even lets you sort by type of promotion (including free!)
4. Post about your promotion on social media, not just on the first day of the promotion. People are going to forget to download your book, even if they really want to read it, if you don’t keep reminding them that it’s available. That being said, post about other things, too (perhaps celebrate another author’s success or post something inspirational). Just be sure not to inundate your followers with posts about your book promotion.
5. Have an author website, even if its only a free version on WordPress. You’ll need it for some promotion websites. Also, its great to have as a link on social media posts so you can tell readers more about the book than what fits in a tweet.
6. Tell family and friends. Especially if you know people who are interested in your book, but never enough to pay the full price, now is a great time for them to get it. Even though you won’t directly benefit from the sale, word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool.

Be sure to check out my YA science fiction book, INSOMNUS, on Amazon. It’ll be free July 1st-July 5th!  

Guest Post: Alex Stargazer’s Review of Vivaldi in the Dark

This post was written by author Alex Stargazer, blogger at

Vivaldi in the Dark was a book I hoped to enjoy greatly; alas, I found it somewhat disappointing. Although the character-building was excellent, a number of other things held it back.

Vivaldi in the Dark, as the title may suggest, is about a certain reluctant violinist known as Darren. The meat of the story centres around his relationship with Jayden—a cute, rather effeminate young man with a penchant for writing plays. The author has also woven in a little additional detail: Jayden is a working-class boy suffering in a comprehensive, whilst Darren is a posh boy in a private school. I admit I am a fan of class differences in relationships; they make things that much more layered.

Anyway, back to the main plot. Vivaldi certainly has plenty to recommend it: the character portrayal is adroit, sensitive, and convincing. It’s a proper romance novel, unlike too much of the sad drivel bearing the moniker ‘LGBT’. It is also, in fact, quintessentially British; I suspect many American readers will be left in quite a fuddle.

Nonetheless, despite these strengths, several aspects of the book fell short.

To begin with: the sex. I know it’s politically incorrect, and somewhat offensive, to say this—but the interests of reviewer honesty compel to say it as it is. An a-sexual transgender man doesn’t get what it’s like to be a horny gay male teenager.

This I could overlook, if the book also didn’t suffer from some technical issues. The pacing is not well done: the story seemed to stutter towards the middle, while the ending felt a little rushed. The writing is problematic; there were, simply, too many occasions in which I was wondering who was doing the speaking. The copious use of italics began to annoy after a while.

The biggest technical problem, though, is point of view. Though written in third-person, the book actually feels like it’s been written in first person. Point of view transitions are clumsy and confuse the reader.

In short: this book could have been better had it been stronger technically (a little more editing might have helped with that). As it is, despite enjoying the story, I still struggled to finish this book. The pacing and points of view errors jarred too much.

Rating: 3/5.

The Role of Genre: Guest Post By Alex Stargazer

 This is a guest post by Alex Stargazer—teen writer, author of the Necromancer, maintainer of the Magical Realm and enterprising journalist.

Today I want to talk to you about a topic that comes up often in the publishing world, and though casually used, it is rarely discussed in detail. I am of course referring to genre—the simple labels such as ‘romance,’ ‘fantasy’ and ‘thriller’ that are used to categorise novels of broad and (oftentimes) interlinked subject matter. I intend to answer the following questions. What is genre? And, to what extent is it useful?

Defining the Vague

The trouble with defining novels—or pretty much any artistic work—is that there are rarely any hard and fast rules, and this is because art is, by nature, fluid and complex. That said, in the writing world, one does find that many books do in fact share particular traits, clichés, and traditions.

Fantasy—my preferred genre—is often attributed to the works of JRR Tolkien, who defined the modern genre. I believe this is, to some degree, untrue; there have been many stories, especially in the oral tradition, that contained supernatural or fantastical elements, and these preceded The Hobbit by quite some time. (Indeed, Tolkien even based much of his world on Anglo-Saxon and Norse mythopoeia.)

In any case, fantasy is a genre that is usually clearly defined. Firstly, there is magic of a sort—be it in the form of mages, dragons, undead, or any of the other multitudinous creations of fantasy authors’ minds. This is not quite the same thing as the supernatural or the paranormal: ghost stories and Molly’s own In Somnus are better examples of that.

On top of that, fantasy is usually set in a particular kind of world. Usually, this is a mediaeval or quasi-mediaeval European world; but the subgenre known as contemporary fantasy is set in a modern or futuristic world. There are abundant examples of both subgenres in the literature. My own novel is one of the former; and currently I am writing one of the latter. Well known examples I could cite would include Eragon or the Garthsea Quartet in the high fantasy genre, and the Mortal Instruments as contemporary fantasy.

Paranormal is a related genre, and it is defined by the existence of supernatural (though quasi-scientific) powers that characters possess. This genre is always set in a modern or futuristic world.

There are many other genres. Thrillers usually describe fast-paced, action-orientated crime novels: Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code is the archetypal example. But, thrillers are not detective or mystery novels, which are much more slow-paced and feature quite different kinds of conflict and plot set-up. To confuse matters further, there are also so-called ‘historical thrillers’—a genre that I consider an oxymoron, since historical novels focus on complex social conflicts that are distinct from the kind found in thrillers.

There also exists a whole subset of romance genres. Young adult romance operates quite differently to novels that are aimed at adult readers; while your average swooning western is a rather different beast from hardcore erotica.

So we’ve established that clear differences exist. But surely there is also a lot of overlap? Both my novels and Molly’s include romance as part of a broader paranormal or high fantasy plot. Many thrillers (again I refer to the quintessential Dan Brown) also include romance. And one can find historical fantasy novels, or paranormal thrillers.

To Genre or not to Genre
Despite these overlaps, I believe genre remains a useful concept. For one, it is immensely useful in marketing: genres tend to appeal to certain readers, and this makes it much easier to target them with promotional material, review requests, ads, and what have you. This is the main practical justification of genre.

But there is also another justification, which is more contentious. Do genres improve writing? The argument goes like this: genres have a strong set of conventions, or perhaps ‘tradition’ would be the better word. They give writers something to work with. And, furthermore, they give readers something to work with, too. Experienced readers of fantasy are connoisseurs of a vast repertoire of ideas; this allows writers to create extremely complex and detailed worlds that would otherwise be difficult to carry across to a virgin audience.

The counterargument (and one that is especially made by proponents of ‘literary’ fiction) is that genre is stifling and limits creativity. I would argue that this is a misguided view, however; for the purpose of genre is not to act as a rigid, rule-bound straightjacket, but rather as a kind of literary tradition. And of course these traditions are not mutually exclusive—they can be combined in ‘cross-genre’ books. The novel I am working on right now, Fallen Love, is one such example. There are others.

Genre is a complex phenomenon with a varied history. Some genres have existed for a long time (see: 19th century romance, proto-fantasy fairytales) while others are much more recent (see: the paranormal genre, urban fantasy). Nonetheless, they all have one thing in common: they are a means by which readers can discover authors that write what they want, and by which authors can target readers who are interested in what they write. Genre also has a tradition, sometimes a long standing tradition, and this can provide additional depth to a novel.

As for the future of genre, that is a question which we cannot authoritatively answer in the present. But if there’s one thing I’m confident of, it’s that the future—in ten, one hundred, or a thousand years from now—will have genred fiction.

If you enjoyed reading this piece, head over to to read more.



Melissa Clark: My Publishing Mistakes


This is a guest post by Melissa Clark (@melissaclark), teen writer and founder of Teen Authors Journal.

Ever since I was little, publishing a book has been my dream. My first time experiencing this feeling was at the age of seven. I was browsing through a local bookstore and realized that I didn’t want to be the shopper anymore. I knew instantly that my dream was for people to browse my books.

So I embarked on a journey down the publishing path. I finished my very first manuscript (only 100 pages long) when I was nine years old. I gave it a silly title and self-published it through

Now, I didn’t exactly share it on Amazon or anything complicated like that. I was a highly inexperienced author at the time, so let’s simply say it wasn’t good enough to share to the public. However, it was something my close friends and family could enjoy.

Soon enough, I grew embarrassed of my novel. From the age of nine to ten, my class was given various English assignments as a foundation of writing. Since my first book was published, my writing had improved by miles.

From then on, every look at my book made me cringe. Hearing people calling my awful work good felt like mockery, as I knew my old skills could not compare to my current ones.

My parents bought a copy of my book for me to gift to the principal. Pretty soon, everyone in my school knew I had written a novel. I was embarrassed, and I wanted to prove them all that I could write something better.

I wrote two more novels after that. Neither of them were published. They were so pathetic I didn’t bother editing them. I threw them in the trash and started my next one.

Throughout fifth grade, I plotted the story every day when I had spare time. Two years later, I was finished with 300 pages, and I was proud.

But I made one awful, horrible move.

I spent so much time thinking about publishing my novel that I grew impatient. I must have only edited for about two months before I decided to publish it to Amazon (through CreateSpace) for the world to see.

I remember holding those 300 pages in my hands and feeling like I had hiked Mount Everest. But when I opened the book, I was hit in the head with a scrambled mess. Typos. Plot holes. Wrong names. Too many characters. Did it just change from present to past tense?

So I hit delete. Again. And this wasn’t because of embarrassment. Sure, that was part of it, but the real reason was because no one was buying my book besides friends and family. I waited days. Weeks. Months.


This happened due to four of my mistakes:


  • Rushing through the editing process. My book had potential. (Every book has potential.) However, I didn’t put enough effort into proofreading, checking for plot holes, etc.
  • Not finding beta readers. I believe it’s important to have at least one dependable person read through your book before publishing it.
  • Not spending enough time on the cover and book blurb. These are important because they are the first impression of your book. When I was editing mine, I grew impatient and simply created a mess. The cover was sloppy; my book blurb included a few typos.
  • Not enough promotion. In self-publishing, you have to promote the book yourself. This means whipping out your phone and hopping onto a social media app is a must. Without putting your book out there, no one is going to read it. If you’re optimistic and think that someone will magically land upon your book on Amazon, stop. The chance is rare until you get more people to buy it and write reviews.

This time, I’m doing my best to write a book that I can truly be proud of. Although my self-publishing experiences were discouraging, I’ve learned a lot from them and realized that my true goal is to be traditionally published.

So if you are a teen hoping to share your novel with others, whether through self-publishing or traditional, please enjoy every bit of the process. If you skip steps, you’re only creating air bubbles. Slow down, take a deep breath, and tackle one piece at a time.



Review of Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys


I’ve wanted to read this book since it came out on a list for “books to look forward to most in 2016”. The story sounded intriguing and I loved the cover, but I didn’t get around to reading it until recently, but it was well worth the wait. 

Here’s what it’s about:

“World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people—adults and children alike—aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Told in alternating points of view and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein’s Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloffthe greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity and love can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.”


My Review

No Spoilers

5/5 stars. This was a brutally honest, emotionally gripping, and informative in the best ways. I really appreciated the short chapters and the fast pace to the book as well as the overall unpredictability, especially given we know the ship sinks. Sepetys is excellent at creating characters who are easy to root for and who have both clear motivations and realistic responses to the (equally well-crafted) plot and setting. The cover is as haunting and beautiful as the text it contains.

The whole story was the right balance of suspenseful- enough so it was hard to put down but not too much so it was painful to read or utterly hopeless.

Sepetys also excelled at characterization. I loved the truthfulness in the shoe maker’s comments and how this also helped characterize the others. Furthermore, it was impressive that all four characters could have distinct personalities given the story switches so much (but thankfully is still easy to follow).


While I appreciated the fact that Joana, Florian, and the baby survive, it did seem a little unrealistic, but I suppose this is better than utterly depressing. I’m glad we got to see Alfred’s side of the story, especially since it helps shed light on his motives. Also, most books focus on the persecuted, so I appreciated getting both perspectives. I’m relieved Alfred didn’t hurt Emilia or survive when she didn’t (although I was initially confused as to her fate, so this could have been made clearer). Additionally, I’m glad we didn’t know the backstory to her pregnancy until later. The way she coped with it seemed accurate in a way that made it more relatable, powerful, and sickening.


Speaking of book reviews, if you’ve read my book INSOMNUS, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. (I still have free bookmarks I’d love to give you if you do). 


Review of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler


I bought Twenty Boy Summer because of the great reviews and the intriguing blurb:

“”Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it.”
“Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?”
“Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?”

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie—she’s already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.”


My Review

No Spoilers:

5/5 Stars. Since this was a book about summer and relationships, I was pleasantly surprised as to how well it was written, given summer reads aren’t often good at writing so lyrically. The descriptions were so spot-on and well-crafted– I think Sarah Ockler is one of the most talented authors I have read. Furthermore, Twenty Boy Summer no way cliche and was emotionally touching, but in a hopeful way. The book address a lot of important issues surrounding relationships, loss, and moving forward, and does so in a way that causes one to reflect and leaves one feeling optimistic. Read this book.




I really liked that Anna not only had realistic emotions, especially with the journal, but then was able to figure out what those emotions were and meant. It was easy to connect with her in that way, because I think a lot of people have experienced similar situations, and it brought a new level of meaning to what she had lost and then what she discovered about herself in California.

I didn’t like that Frankie lied about her relationships and that this became the motivating factor for Anna to be with Sam, more than her liking him, although she did. I think it was a truthful reflection in that people often lie about their relationships, but I just wish Anna had put less emphasis on being “experienced” like Frankie and more emphasis on being driven by liking Sam.

Some people had mentioned they hated the fact that this was called Twenty Boy Summer when there ends up being less than ten, but I think its reflective of the fact that the girls were looking for a lot of superficial relationships instead of what they needed, which were a few deep ones. Part of the beauty of this book was that the girls didn’t meet their goal and were better off for it. Also, Twenty Boy Summer sounds better than Ten Boy Summer. It just does.


Speaking of book reviews, if you’ve read my book INSOMNUS, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. (As a bonus, I’ll send you a free bookmark if you do). 

Best Teen Books to Gift

It’s hard enough to find a book for yourself to read. It’s even harder to find a good book to give your teenager friend/relative/etc, especially if you don’t read the genre. Here are some of my favorite books that would be great as gifts (either for them, or for you). Bonus: most of them are not popular enough where everyone has read them, but good enough that I think everyone should.


1. INSOMNUS by Molly Fennig


Summary: “Bryony “Bryn” Winters can harm people by dreaming. With no control over whom she hurts, a condition called Somnus, Bryn can’t even be sure she won’t kill her own family. Protecting them means running away and trusting a mysterious company that possesses as much authority as amorality. And when Bryn meets Cedar Blackthorne, a Somnus with captivating eyes, she can feel he’s hiding something. So why can’t Bryn help trusting him? And what if she’s making a deadly mistake?”

Why I like it: It’s “A well written, suspenseful, young adult novel. Witty, with insightful descriptions and well developed characters.” See more reasons at Praise for InSomnus.

Get it here:

2. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer 

Summary: “Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?” -Goodreads

Why I like it: I know what you’re thinking- ugh another werewolf novel. This is not the typical werewolf book, though. It’s one of my favorites, hard to put down, and if you love it there are more books in the series.

Buy it here:

3. The Selection by Kiera Cass

Summary: “For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to… live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.” -Amazon

Why I liked it: I absolutely loved the first three books in this Bachelor-meets-royalty series. The protagonist, America Singer, is easy to relate to, and is wonderfully rebellious.

Also see my review of the last book in the series (no spoilers) here.

Buy it here:

4. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

img_3916Summary: “They were never meant to be together. As a general’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Kestrel enjoys an extravagant and privileged life. Arin has nothing but the clothes on his back. Then Kestrel makes an impulsive decision that binds Arin to her. Though they try to fight it, they can’t help but fall in love. In order to be together, they must betray their people . . . but to be loyal to their country, they must betray each other.

Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of rebellion, duels, ballroom dances, wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.” -Amazon

Why I like it: This was one of the best written books and the descriptions were great. Also, I had never read a book about the daughter of a general (even in another world) nor about one where winning something results in loss.(Hence the title, The Winner’s Curse.)

Buy it here:

5. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Summary: “For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. At least, not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and probing eyes, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure who to trust—she can’t decide whether she should fall into Patch’s arms or run and hide from him. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth more unsettling than any feeling Patch evokes. For Nora stands amid an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen—and choosing the wrong side will cost her life.” -Amazon

Why I liked it: I loved that this book was easy to read and was definitely a page-turner. Hush, Hush also has compelling characters and an interesting premise.

Buy it here:

6. The Ryn by Serena Chase

51nyjo6c8nlSummary: “The Ryn begins an epic re-imagining of the classic Grimm fairy tale, Snow White & Rose Red. Centuries ago, an oracle foretold of the young woman who would defeat E’veria’s most ancient enemy, the Cobelds…Finally, a child is born who matches the oracle’s description, but a Cobeld curse accompanies her birth. Led to believe they succeeded in killing the prophesied child, the Cobelds emerge from hiding with plans to overtake the Kingdom. But the child survived.”

Why I liked it: The dialogue was realistic and in a perfect ratio with description. I liked the plot and found it hard to put the book down. Serena Chase is a talented author.

Get it here:


1. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

img_3918Summary: “Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital… There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.” -Goodreads

Why I liked it: It was completely honest and was one of the first (and only) books I’ve read that show what it’s like to have mental illnesses and what it takes to overcome them. As a bonus, it doesn’t leave the reader feeling depressed. Double bonus, Ned Vizzini published his first novel as a teenager.

Speaking of teen authors, check out my post, 10 Tips for Teen Writers, here. 

Buy it here:

2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

img_3919Summary: “Anna can’t wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Etienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home. Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?” -Amazon

Why I liked it: This was a sweet story and I loved that it was set in a foreign boarding school. It’s hard to not like Anna and even harder to not like the novel.

Buy it here:

3. Book Thief by Markus Zusak

img_3920Summary: “It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.” -Amazon

Why I liked it: This was another book I read for school that I absolutely loved. There’s a lot of symbolism and imagery. It’s a great story about courage and empowerment and so much more. (Also, yes, there is a movie. And, yes, you should read the book first.)

Buy it here:

4. Airhead by Meg Cabot

img_3921Summary: “Emerson Watts didn’t even want to go to the new SoHo Stark Megastore grand opening. But someone needed to look out for her sister, Frida, whose crush, British heartthrob Gabriel Luna, would be singing and signing autographs there—along with the newly appointed Face of Stark, teen supermodel sensation Nikki Howard.

How was Em to know that disaster would strike, changing her,and life as she’d known it, forever?” -Amazon

Why I liked it: This was another easy read that was captivating. (It’s one of the few that I have liked enough to reread.) It was really well written and gave an interesting, but unique look, into modeling and brain transplants. (Yes, that’s a thing in this book. Transplanting brains into other bodies, or bodies around other brains, however you want to look at it.)

Buy it here:

5. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen


Summary: “Ruby is used to taking care of herself. But now that she’s living with her sister, she’s got her own room, she’s going to a good school, and her future looks bright.

Plus there’s the adorable boy next door. Can Ruby learn to open her heart and let him in?” -Amazon

Why I liked it: Lock and Key is a great chick-flick or summer read (or winter read or anytime read, actually). It’s also my favorite of all of Sarah Dessen’s books.

Buy it here:

6. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

51homutkavl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Summary: “What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though–she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he’s also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?”

Why I liked it: While most realistic fiction can seem cliche or monotonous, I loved the premise and the characters of this book that helped make it anything but.

Buy it here:

If you found this list helpful, share it on social media. Happy Holidays!

How to Help the Writer in Your Life

So you have a friend/sibling/great aunt Bertha who just wrote a book. But what can you really do to help them be successful, especially if you know nothing about the publishing industry? A lot, actually.

  1. Buy their book. This is simple and means more to them than the ten dollars means to you.
  2. Read their book. Since you have the book, you might as well read it! Also, its a lot easier to pitch the book to other people when you actually know what it’s about.
  3. Review their book!!! When you look for a book to buy, you likely look at its reviews. Other readers do the same. Its hard for authors to get reviews, but they can make the biggest difference in the success of a book.
  4. Ask other people to review their book. (see #3. Its really important).
  5. Tell other people about their book. Word of mouth is a powerful tool and you really don’t have anything to lose by telling people about it.
  6. Share social media posts about their book. Whether you have millions of followers or just a few, people won’t buy a book they never learn about.
  7. Encourage them to write… One of the main reasons most people don’t write a book is that its hard, even when you’ve done it once. Support them. Remind them to write. Be ready with copious amounts of chocolate if/when bad reviews come out.
  8. …but be sure they get out of the house. It’s easy to sit in front of the computer (either writing or just starting morosely at the blank page) for much longer than they should. Plan events to get them out of the house, interacting with people again, and maybe find the inspiration they were looking for.
  9. Ask what you can do. Different authors have different marketing strategies, so ask what they need from you (and respect what they ask you not to do).

What else have you done or wish someone had done for you? Comment below.

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