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Happy Monday Everyone! Good luck to those of you doing NaNo.

I have a few winners to announce.

The winner of my Spooktacular Giveaway Hop is Rita who chose the Amazon Gift Card!

And the winners of our 4000 Follower Giveaway are:

Christina Rains who won the $40 Amazon Gift Card!

And Valentina B. who chose CRESS!

Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.

Today I’m thrilled to have Kimberley Griffiths Little here to share about her new YA multi-cultural historical YA FORBIDDEN that releases tomorrow. I loved the unique desert setting and the tribal world that Jayden lives in. It was fascinating. And I’m a total sucker for forbidden romances.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.

Hi Kimberley! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us where you got the idea for FORBIDDEN.

I’ve had a life-long fascination with belly dance and started taking some classes—and even performed—talk about scary! It was supposed to be a tribal dance with three of us and the other two gals dropped out and it suddenly became just me performing a solo—gulp! As a mother with 3 teenage boys it was . . . a little intimidating. But the dance was a blast to learn and I love the camaraderie of the belly dance world–all the dancers known each other and support one another. It’s a true sisterhood of friendship and cheering each other on. When I started researching the history of belly dance, its roots, traditions, music and purpose—it became more complicated and fascinating as its roots flung me thousands of years back into the recesses of time.

2. So awesome how your dancing inspired your story. I know you did a lot of research for this book, including traveling to the Middle East. Share about the research you did and how helpful you found it in getting a feel of life in the desert. 

A little over a year ago I was traveling the King’s Highway—the infamous road that was barely a trail
thousands of years ago as frankincense caravans followed the ancient water wells from Oman to Yemen and then north to Petra, the lost kingdom of the Nabataean’s from the 2nd and 3rd centuries BCE—but the Edomite kingdom in 1700 BCE.

It’s a land of vast desert sands, punctuated with towering, rugged mountains. To actually be there was surreal. Magnificent carvings cut directly into the sandstone soar hundreds of feet into the air with jaw-dropping sophistication and artistry.

When I finally got to take a trip over there, I’d been researching and reading about the ancient Middle East for more than 10 years. It was a dream come true—and incredibly gratifying to return home and discover that I ended up have to revise only a handful of sentences in the Forbidden manuscript. That was a testament to all my years of research about the locale, the people, their customs, climate, culture—and camels!

3. That’s true dedication to travel to the Middle East to experience your setting. I loved the contrasting worlds of the wandering tribes in the desert that was Jayden’s world and the temple life that her sister was drawn too. How much of this is based on history and how much was your creation?

This is very much based on history. Jayden’s tribe is actually one of the lesser known tribes of the 12 sons of Ishmael, Abraham’s son through Hagar the Egyptian. The cities mentioned as well as the other tribes are also based on facts. The tribal people today still live as their ancestors; traveling by camel, drinking camel’s milk, living in goat-hair tents. But they’re a shrinking population as more and more tribes move into the cities for education and the comforts of the modern world.

Our Jordanian guide is a descendant of the desert—his own grandfather lived as a nomad. I really picked his brain and it was fabulous talking to him.

Regarding ancient Goddess Temples, I was frankly shocked at what I learned about how they used the tribal women’s dance for prostitution worship purposes—and that gave me an instant, contrasting story to weave into my character’s lives and the plot.

4. That’s fascinating how your story is so based on history. And so sad about the women’s dance being used for prostitution. I really enjoyed the romance between Jayden and Kadesh. What challenges did you face in writing this part of the story and what advice do you have for the rest of us wanting to include YA romance in our stories?

I purposely tried to go back and remember those feelings when I was a teenager and had massive crushes on the elusive, handsome boy from school or church; the uncertainty, the longing, the nervousness being around them. The scenes between Jayden and Kadesh got more revisions, too. I tweaked them to death! I wanted those scenes to be filled with romantic tension and to infuse Jayden with that excited, butterfly feeling in her stomach.

5. You did a great job with that. You’ve written a number of middle grade stories, but this is your first YA novel. How was it different writing a YA vs. a MG story? 

I’ve been writing YA just as long as I’ve been writing MG – it just took longer to get it published! The voice between YA and MG is very different though, and after publishing so many MG titles I sometimes slip into it and have to watch myself.

6. Yes, the voices are very different. Your middle grade novels were published by Scholastic and FORBIDDEN is being published by HarperCollins. What was it like working with a new publisher? Were there any surprises?

Editors are unique people, of course, and can have very different styles so that was a little bit of an adjustment. Publishing houses also work on slightly different deadline schedules so the first year was a little confusing and I had a lot of questions, but my agent and editor are both very patient and generous people so it was never a big issue. I also attended Book Expo America in New York City this past May and was able to meet both my Harpercollins and Scholastic editors in person for the first time. A grand experience and I love them even more now. Children’s book people are truly the best.

7. So cool you got to go to BEA and meet your editors. I’d love to go to BEA some day. How are you finding marketing different for FORBIDDEN given that it is YA versus your MG novels? Share some of your marketing plans.

I think YA is tougher and filled with much more pressure. There are just so many BIG books out there. Publishing a Young adult trilogy is incredibly exciting, but much more time-consuming. I’m doing more guest blogs, tours, giveaways, contests—and Harper and Epic Reads has got a lot more marketing plans, advertisement, social media graphics, tasks for me, etc. I also helped found YASI: Young Adult Series Insider, a cross-promotional group that promotes ALL YA series books, which has been an enormous endeavor.

Marketing Plans: I’m thrilled to currently be out on a book tour along the East Coast for FORBIDDEN. 4 cities/events in the Arlington VA area, 4 cities in North Carolina and 3 cities in South Carolina—ending at the YALLFest Book Festival where we have a booth in the signing tent/area. See our schedule here:

8. I never thought about the additional pressure with YA books and more competition. I just focused on that it’s easier to find blogs to promote a YA book. I’ll have to keep this in mind. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Being in the trenches of writing book after book and trying to get published with those accompanying years of rejection can be very disheartening—and I’ve been there in spades. I tried all sorts of different kinds of books, but kept going back to the stories I was most fascinated by. The stories I loved the most. Write that book. It may take longer, and you may wonder if you’ll ever publish it in whatever the current market is, but in the end it’s worth it.

DO realize, too, that book topics/genres are cyclical. I was writing FORBIDDEN during the years of Twilight and Harry Potter, vampires, werewolves, fairies and mermaids—I could never have sold this book back then, and didn’t sell it, even though I tried. But I still feel that you must write the book of your heart. But get feedback, make it the best you can—and grow *Patience* on the tree in your backyard. Success will happen with the right story at the right time if you put the work into it and don’t give up.
I learned this the hard way: Keep writing new material. Don’t revise the same book over and over again over a period of years. Write a new manuscript every single year, even if you keep returning to your old manuscripts/ideas to rework them. You do get better with every single practice manuscript. I promise.

9. Great advice. I’ve finally realized I can’t keep editing my first manuscript and need to move on. What are you working on now?

I’m doing revisions with my editor on Book 2 of the FORBIDDEN trilogy: We have a title now: BANISHED. But I’m always working on something new, too: slowly revising a Victorian Gothic and forming ideas for proposals for some more MG with Scholastic. We’ll see what happens, there’s never any guarantees!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kimberley. You can find Kimberley at:

Pinterest (I have Boards with my fabulous Jordan/Petra trip pictures, and Middle East, Belly Dance, and FORBIDDEN boards w/gorgeous graphic teasers, too!)

My book trailer for FORBIDDEN is a *must-see*: Gorgeous *live* footage of a Middle Eastern actress in the desert with voice over—and camels—and pictures I took in the deserts of Jordan from my trip. :-)

Kimberley and her publisher Harper Collins have generously offered an ARC of FORBIDDEN for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through November 15th. I’ll announce the winner on November 17th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for US and Canada.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Next Monday I'm giving away an ARC of THE ELITES by Marie Lu. I've got one word for this book: Wow!

Next Friday I’m participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop.

And the following Monday I’ll have a guest post by debut author Jennifer Torres and giveaway of THE DISAPPEARING, her MG sci-fi mystery.

I’ll be off the Monday after that. I know it’ll be quiet with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Rachna Chhabria said...

I agree with Kimberley, writing MG and then switching to YA can be a bit difficult. I am going through that now, I slip into my MG mode every so often. Love the cover of Forbidden.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

How wonderful you got to travel to the Middle East.

I got to attend Book Expo one year and the experience is like no other.

Karen Lange said...

It's so nice to meet Kimberley and to hear about the book. The story sounds interesting, and the cover is wonderful! Thank you Natalie, for the intro. I'll pass on the giveaway this time. Have a great week!

Stephen Tremp said...

Good luck to Kimberly and her book Forbidden. And great that you could meet your editors. I've never met mine. He lives cross country. Met him in an online writers group. Maybe one day.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You have to write the book you want no matter what is happening in the market. If I'd listened to everyone saying science fiction was dead, I never would've written my first book.
Good luck with your tour!

Gwen Gardner said...

I'd love to grow patience on a tree in my backyard--got any seeds? LOL. Congratulations, Kimberly. So cool that you got to travel and research!

Hi Natalie!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Terrific interview, as always, Natalie. I'd love to read this book. It sounds both exotic and romantic. BEA is unlike any other convention. It can be a little overwhelming (and very noisy), but how wonderful for Kimberley that she finally got to meet her editors there.

Julie DeGuia said...

Great interview, and congratulations Kimberley on the release of your first YA novel! I am a follower and would love a copy of this book. Thanks for the chance to win!

Jessica Lawson said...

Love this interview! Congratulations on the book :)

Patchi said...

This sounds like a fascinating story!

Betsy Perez said...

Love your review, it would be wonderful if I could get my hands on a copy of this book. Thanks for the chance! I follow and tweeted here------------------------------ https://twitter.com/silentangel72/status/529348240349462531 and my email is pbetsy95@gmail.com

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Forbidden trailer has me quite intrigued. Congrats Kim!

Michael G-G said...

Kimberley's a fantastic writer. I love her middle grade. Am intrigued to venture into her YA world with her.

Jemi Fraser said...

YA is a whole different challenge from MG - it sounds like Kimberly's got it all working though!! :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

It's interesting that YA poses a greater challenge. Super exciting, though :)

Unknown said...

Congrats Rita, Christina, and Valentina!

I loved Kimberly's interview and her advice about writing "the book of your heart" really hit home. Following/fighting trends doesn't get you anywhere.

DMS said...

What a great post! It was fun to learn more about Kimberly. How cool that Forbidden is drawn from real experiences in her life (like dancing and visiting the Middle East!

I was at the BEA this past May too! I think it is cool that Kimberly got to meet her editors! I had lunch with my editor and it was exciting to meet her in person. :)

Wishing Kimberly the best of luck!

Suzanne Warr said...

Great advice, thank you so much, Natalie and Kimberly! I really appreciate that last bit, about writing what's in your heart and remembering that the biz is cyclical. :)

Kimberly I remember your sending swag out to my middle school writing club, a year ago, and have to say that those butterfly bookmarks remained well-loved and super popular throughout the year!


Jenni said...

What a beautiful cover! I loved reading about Kimberley's research and what she said about going on to a new book.
Thanks for a great interview, Natalie!

Stephanie Garber said...

This book sounds amazing--I thought it sounded great the first time I heard about it, but now I'm even more excited after reading how so much of it was inspired by real history. Great interview Kimberly and Natalie!

Christina Fiorelli said...

Her research is incredible!

I love how her personal love of a middle eastern dance inspired a spark for a romance! And her travels make the whole story completely authentic. Her research must've been exhilarating as well, as she immersed her characters in a real kind of cultural background.

LOVELY interview and it's a completely unique type of YA!! Awesome!!

thank you so very much :)

GFC follower Christina Kit.

email subscriber ccfioriole at gmail dot com

Christina Fiorelli said...

I tweeted https://twitter.com/christinafiorio/status/529560988417527808

GFC Christina Kit.

email subscriber ; ccfioriole at gmail dot com

Jana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jpetroroy said...

This looks fascinating!

Crystal Collier said...

Ooh! I love it. Books that transport you to another time... TBR for sure.

Unleashing the Dreamworld

erin said...

this looks and sounds awesome!!! Thank you for sharing!

Danielle said...

I've been hearing such good things - and I think it's fascinating that it's set in ancient Mesopotamia. Can't wait to check it out!

Anonymous said...

This book sounds absolutely gorgeous. I'll share this giveaway in my blog newsletter as well. =)

Rosi said...

Thanks for this great interview full of good tips and advice. The book sounds terrific. I hope I can get to it soon.

David P. King said...

This book is spreading like wildfire. Congratulations, Kimberley! :)

S.P. Bowers said...

This book sound so fascinating. I tried belly dancing a few times. It's a great workout. And BEA is a someday dream for me too. Someday.

Anonymous said...

I love the cover and the story behind it is fascinating. Belly dancing and traveling sound wonderful.

Stina said...

Great interview, and I love the trailer. I forget how different marketing is for YA compared to adult and NA fiction.

Unknown said...

Love the Trailer! I shared the giveaway on twitter!

Danielle H. said...

I've been seeing this book around blogs now and it sounds so exciting! I love the cover! I will post and share on Facebook.

Vivien said...

I've been looking forward to this book for months. It sounds fantastic!!! I cannot wait to read it. Love this genre!
GFC: Vivien

kellis_amberlee at yahoo dot com

Danielle H. said...

I forgot to add that I posted this on Facebook--so many great new books this year to tell everyone about.

Unknown said...

This sounds absolutely amazing and I LOVE the cover!!!!!! Thanks for the chance to win!!!!

Bri Wignall said...

This sounds like a brilliant book. I'd love to win and review it on my blog. Thank you for the write -up about it!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

A ***thousand*** thanks, Natalie and Casey, for featuring FORBIDDEN and for a great interview! I loved it, and I love sharing the behind-the-scenes research of a story of my heart.
I wish I could thank and respond to all the comments, too, they are simply terrific and I appreciate all the good wishes and kudos, everyone!! So very grateful. And enjoy FORBIDDEN! My editor had me end the first book on a heartbreaking note, but book 2, BANISHED, is nearly done for next year! More twists and turns and bad things - but good things, too!
I promise. :-)