Happy Monday Everyone! Hope all you mothers had a great Mother's Day! Anna Li and I went out to dinner at a restaurant we really like and she got me some lovely flowers.

Follower News

Erin Fanning's new adult urban fantasy novella, BLOOD STITCHES,  is being released tomorrow. Here's a blurb: Blood Stitches is about a family who can knit magic, creating tapestries capable of apocalyptic disasters, and what happens when the younger sister must destroy the tapestries. It touches on the classic themes of good vs. evil, family relationships, and why some people seem to be attracted to darkness. And here are a few, , 

Also, Lee Wind has started a series with in-depth agent interviews on diversity in books for #WeNeedDiverseBooks. The interviews are on the first Monday of the month. The last one was with Sarah Davies.

I have a winner to announce.

The winner of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is Laine Cunningham!

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 excited to have debut author Jenny Martin here to share about her new YA science fiction book, TRACKED. It sounds like a fantastic story about a girl who is a racer and turns into a revolutionary. How cool is that?

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

On corporately controlled Castra, rally racing is a high-stakes game that seventeen-year-old Phoebe Van Zant knows all too well. Phee’s legendary racer father disappeared mysteriously, but that hasn't stopped her from speeding headlong into trouble. When she and her best friend, Bear, attract the attention of Charles Benroyal, they are blackmailed into racing for Benroyal Corp, a company that represents everything Phee detests. Worse, Phee risks losing Bear as she falls for Cash, her daring new teammate. But when she discovers that Benroyal is controlling more than a corporation, Phee realizes she has a much bigger role in Castra’s future than she could ever have imagined. It's up to Phee to take Benroyal down. But even with the help of her team, can a street-rat destroy an empire?

Hi Jenny! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

My twitter bio reads...Author, Librarian, Beatle-maniac, and that's a pretty fitting description. By night, I'm a novelist, and by day, I'm a school librarian in Northwest ISD, in the Dallas Fort-Worth area. And when I'm not reading, writing or recommending books, I'm either binge-watching science fiction, superhero or fantasy movies/tv shows, or I'm listening to music...usually rock. And yes, I really do love the Beatles.

How did I become a writer? I think it was always in the cards, because I've always, always been a voracious reader. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in the Children's section, in the basement of the Woodward Public Library, reading and daydreaming. As a kid, and even as a teen, I wrote short stories and (bad) poetry. But somewhere along way to adulthood, I got it in my head that I'd never be a real writer. And it wasn't until I was finishing up my Masters' Degree, in Library Science, that I had the courage to reclaim the dream. I realized I was tired of only writing academic papers. I wanted to write fiction...something for me. So I did!

2. That's awesome you came to writing form your love of reading. I'd love to work at a library. Where did you get the idea for TRACKED?

The short answer is that I was inspired after watching a documentary called Hot Coffee and an action movie called Death Race: 2000, the remake starring Jason Statham. The long(ish) answer is that Tracked was probably sleeping in my subconscious for much, much longer. I've spent a lifetime loving adventure novels and science fiction epics like Star Wars. Growing up, I always wanted to be the rogue, like Han Solo or the smart-mouthed hero, like Princess Leia. For me, Phee is a little bit of both, and she's the character I've always wanted to write...I just didn’t know it, until she popped into my head. ;)

3. I think many of us have fantasies of being characters in movies or books we love. Phoebe is a racer. Did you already know a lot about racing or did you have to research it for your story?

When I first got the idea for Tracked, I knew very little about racing, and I’m way too much of a scaredy
cat to race in real life. I did a lot research, and read up a lot on Nascar, Formula One, street and rally racing. I checked out books and devoured articles in extreme sports magazines like Red Bulletin (So interesting and so much inspiration...I highly recommend a subscription, if you're a novelist.). I even interviewed an amateur stock car racer! But at the end of the day, I had to create my own sport, and use my imagination. Circuit racing isn't NASCAR, and it's not traditional endurance racing, either. It's a combination of the two, with a little twist of its own.

4. Wow! You did a lot of research. Share about your world building process and the corporate controlled world of Castra. Do youhave any tips for other authors needing to create a new world?

I think the most important thing is to get under the skin of your character (or narrator) and see everything their eyes, and sense everything through the lens of his or her experience. When world-building doesn't work...when there's too much of it, or it's too's usually because the author failed to do that. In Tracked, you only see what Phee notices, the way she notices it. The planet's climate, history, politics, architecture and's all filtered through her, in her own voice.

I will say that throughout the process of drafting and revising, I thought about the world of Tracked a LOT. I wrote a complete Intersteller Geo-political Timeline, a series of interoffice memos from Benroyal Corp. and don't laugh...even a Circuit Racing Manual for Corporate Cup Professionals. But all of that was just for me, to help me have a deeper understanding. The more I know about the world, the better prepared I am to access it through my character's perspective.

5. That's amazing how you wrote those memos and manual. It shows true dedication. Share about a writing challenge you faced working with your editor or something you learned from working with your editor.

I've had the pleasure of working with two editors at Penguin. My first editor was Heather Alexander, and she taught me how to revise. Before working with her, I only knew how to tinker with a draft and cheat with band-aid fixes. She taught me how to really dig deep and take my drafts apart, and analyze them, in order to tell the best story possible. I really learned a lot from her. After Heather left to become an agent, I began working with Stacey Friedberg, who is equally amazing! I've learned so much from her about writing within my genre; she has such a great eye for science fiction, and has great instincts, too. In addition, Stacey's really helped me to evolve and add dimension and depth to my drafts.

I think this just shows how important editors are. It's great to love writing, and to have a story to tell, but everyone needs someone to be an advocate for the reader. We authors have blind spots. We can't always see what's not on the page, because it's all in our head. We need great editors to help us to realize our vision and spur us on, to grow in our craft.

6. That's so cool that you got to work with two editors although it may have been stressful when you first found out your first editor was leaving. Sara Crowe is your agent. Tell us how she became your agent and your road to publication.

Sara is simply the best. I really mean that; I've never known such a dedicated, tireless, understanding agent. I simply would not be here, still writing, without her. Originally, I'd signed with another agent, but we parted ways, because I just wasn't mature enough yet. It wasn't her fault; I just wasn't ready to level up as a writer. There's also something to be said for finding the perfect fit. You don't want to work with any agent. You don't even want to work with any good agent. You want the right agent, who can help you build a career. And for me, Sara Crowe is that ideal partner. I had a long road to publication, with plenty of obstacles and setbacks, but Sara never gave up. She always had faith in me, and always knew just what to say or do, no mattered what was happening behind the scenes.

And how did I sign with this amazing lady? I reached out to her the old fashioned way, with an unsolicited, no referral, cold query. ;)

7. Good to know querying works. You’re also a librarian. Has that helped you at all in letting other librarians know about your book? Do you have any advice for other authors on how to effectively connect with librarians regarding their books?

I count myself incredibly luck to have so many friends and supportive colleagues in the Texas book community. I do think being a librarian has helped me understand how to put my best foot forward. I've been on the other side of the desk, reading review journals, and booking authors for visits.

With that in mind, I'd say the best way is to connect with librarians to be kind, genuine and above all, professional. Visit your local library. Get to know the librarians, book sellers and book lovers in your community. Volunteer your time and share your enthusiasm for great books! The best connections are the most sincere connections--the relationships you've cultivated over time, not in order to get ahead, but in order to help and show support for each other. Cherish those relationships…it’s a lot more fun to celebrate with a group of great friends.

8. That's great advice. How are you planning to market your book?

*cue the desperate laughter*

But seriously. For me, this is one of the most difficult and daunting parts about being published. I know how to write a book. I know how to cheer for someone, and talk up her book, when it’s first out in the world. But do I know the magic formula for selling my own novel? Nope. So thank goodness, I get to work with the world's best publicist. Jennifer is amazing, and has already helped me brainstorm a million promotional ideas, plan a tour, pitch essays and schedule appearances.

And the end of the day, there's only so much I can control. I can't control whether or not my book is a lead title. I can't control how prominently my novel is listed in the sales catalog. I can't control the cover, or the publishers' marketing strategies, or which media outlets will agree to feature my debut. (Pssst...if you figure out a surefire way to get a book reviewed in my favorite, EW, let me know?) You just can't beat yourself up about these things. You have to accept that some thing are out of your hands.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of things you can do. You can work your tail off, with enthusiasm, and treat every single person who has a hand in bringing your book into the world, with the utmost respect. You can work hard for them, and for yourself. You can make every effort to put yourself out there, in a positive way, and cultivate every opportunity that’s available to you. But remember, it’s important to know your limits. Do what you can, but don’t lose focus on what really matters...the words on the page. Finding the right balance between marketing and writing is really hard, but I'm trying. ;)

9. What are you working on now?

I'm currently working on edits for book two, and honestly, I could not be more excited about it. Phee still has a quite a journey ahead, and can't wait for readers to see what happens next! No spoilers, but I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

Sequel aside, I'm also working on a dark, twisty, heartbreaking, horror-slash-love story. I love this main character so much, and I hope to share him with readers' someday.

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

Jenny has generous offered a copy of TRACKED for a giveaway. To enter, you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through May 23rd. I’ll announce the winner on May 27th. 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 only.

Here's what's coming up:

On Wednesday, I have a guest post by debut author Sharon Huss Roat and a giveaway of her YA contemporary, BETWEEN THE NOTES.

Next Monday, I have a guest post by debut author Holly Bodger and her agent Lauren MacLeod and a query critique giveaway and a giveaway of Holly's YA futurist, multicultural story 5 to 1.

I'll be off the following Monday for Memorial Day.

Wednesday that week I have a guest post by Elizabeth Varden and a giveaway of her new MG mystery IMOGENE AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING PEARLS.

I'll be off on Monday June 1st to get ready for my daughter's graduation.

Monday, June 8th, I'll have an interview with debut author Sarah McGuire and a giveaway of her MG fantasy,

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


  1. Thanks, Natalie, for the mention--much appreciated! As always, a wonderful interview with Jenny Martin, and happy graduation to your daughter!

  2. I liked how Jenny did all that research just to invent her own kind of racing! Very cool.

    Congratulations to Erin!

  3. A great interview! I'm glad to hear that old-fashioned querying still works too. And Phee sounds like an outstanding character. Good luck, Jenny!

    And congrats to Erin! Love that cover.

  4. And right agent and publicist can make all the difference. Congrats to Jenny.

  5. Isn't it fascinating to find out how a writer works from research to story? I think so, and this was really interesting.

    Lee Wind is really a whirlwind. He's always doing something new.

  6. Congrats, Jenny! I like what you said about the importance of editors and how they helped you to grown your craft and deepen your story. And congrats to Erin on your NA novella release!

  7. Great interview and this sounds like a really exciting novel. I've worked at two school libraries and I must say, librarians are the best!

  8. Hello, Jenny!! And yes, Sara is the BEST!
    I had two editors for one of my recent books, and as stressful as it was to make the switch (knowing the second one did not fall in love with and CHOOSE my book), each editor brought something crucial to the table, and just as you mentioned, I learned from both of them. (And I do believe the second editor loves it now.)

    Congratulations on your debut!

  9. Inspired by Death Race 2000! Cool to hear someone else is inspired by science fiction and adventure movies.

  10. Nice to meet Jenny! Always enjoy hearing where authors get their story ideas. Wishing her well.

    I'll pass on the giveaway. Have a great week! :)

  11. Oooh, TRACKED looks right up my alley. I can't wait till it comes out! Also, I think it's super cool how in depth Jenny's world building got. Even though she never used them in the book, I'm sure writing the memos and the manual was a fun and educational experience. Also, I've always thought the author/editor relationship is super special and super neat, so I was excited to read a bit more about it. Thanks for sharing! (Also, I tweeted about the giveaway @adelethelaptop).

  12. Great advice about world building. What a character notices says a lot about their character!

  13. Great advice about world building. What a character notices says a lot about their character!

  14. Jenny is awesome and I can't wait to read this one! I have a few students in mind who'll enjoy my copy after I'm done :)

  15. looks and sounds awesome :) thanks for sharin :) and gfc:erin

  16. I've read about Tracked on other blogs and the amount of research is inspiring. This is a must read for me. I tweeted:

  17. This was an enjoyable interview. Congrats to Jenny and Erin for their releases!

  18. Thanks very much for the interview. I'm in awe of people who go to so much work to write and publish books for our enjoyment. Thanks!
    I follow your blog by email:
    +1 - I tweeted a link to this post:

  19. Thanks for another fascinating interview. Please let someone else win, though. I am buried in books right now.

  20. I've seen this book all over the place!

  21. Hey:)
    I follow on Bloglovin, im josy15love.
    email: josy15love(at)gmail(dot)com
    i shared this on twitter:

  22. This sounds really good! Thanks for the chance to win!!!

  23. Great intervew! Love all of the research she put into creating her own racing type for this story. meredithfl at gmail dot com

  24. Yay for a no referral, cold query. Feel happy that there is hope for all of us who go through this process.