All posts by mstruitt


It’s here…the day all authors simultaneously look forward to and sort of freak out about….book release day. I’m not sure how many readers know about the life cycle of a book, but it’s a long and tedious one. Something akin to actually giving birth. And, yes, before you ask, writing a book can be that bloody. Trust me.

This book took about a year and a half to come into this world. And while that’s not that long really in the grand scheme of publishing, it took about thirty years for me to become brave enough to write it. I was a lot like my main character, Annabel, for most of my life. I liked to have fun, sure, but I wasn’t really a risk taker. Ironically, it was that failure to take risks that often led me to make bad decisions.  Some things happened in my life (things I’m not quite ready to talk about with the whole world…heck, maybe, I will write a book about it all one day) that changed who I was as a person. And I think this book is about that. A letter to my former self, screaming: Just do it. Don’t be afraid. Go to China for ten days. Leave that relationship you’re unhappy with. Go to those music festivals and dance in the mud. Choose the wrong guy…cause it’s better than choosing a guy you don’t feel anything for. Don’t say no. Saying no doesn’t save you from anything (except jumping off the cliff cause your friends are…hell, just get a parachute).

I’m not saying this new life philosophy has brought me nothing but happiness. It has brought me some serious pain. But at least I’m feeling something. I don’t think most people do. Not truly.

That’s what this book is. It’s about saying yes to the unknown. There’s this quote I think sums it all up: “When I write, I make my memories tangible, and in this way I can get rid of them.” —Jorge Semprun  So, yeah, this book is pretty personal. Which is a scary thing, especially in a New Adult book where things gets…well, adult. So, before any friends or, God forbid, any ex boyfriends wonder if such and such is about them…don’t worry, it’s not some big tell all about the exploits of its author. It’s just a book that needed to be told by this author at this point in her life…and it’s fun and sad and hopeful. It’s about what life means to me.








Cover Reveal: Seven Ways to Lose Your Heart

Happy Friday, Friends. I am excited to share with you today the cover for my first New Adult book, SEVEN WAYS TO LOSE YOUR HEART, which is being published by Entangled 7/18/16. I am so thrilled (and a bit nervous) to be stepping out of the world of YA for the first time. SEVEN WAYS TO LOSE YOUR HEART is fun, daring, and a little hot…ok  A LOT HOT…like I don’t want my parents to know it exists kind of hot.

Below you will find a summary and cover. And because I am so happy to share this with you, a little contest. I will be giving away three ARCS of SEVEN WAYS TO LOSE YOUR HEART with three ten dollar Amazon gift cards. Contest ends Monday!

Enter to win an Arc of SEVEN WAYS TO LOSE YOUR HEART and an Amazon gifted card!




What They Don’t Tell You About Education: It’s Alright to Hate the First Weeks of School.

I like to be busy. Almost too busy. Currently, I am teaching, running the school’s Beta Club, taking courses in order to get my gifted endorsement, helping to raise two children, AND writing my sixth novel (which is due to my editor November 1st…no pressure…perhaps, I should be working on that and not blogging, but I felt this needed to be discussed). I am one of those CRAZY teachers who after about three weeks of vacation is ready to go back. I don’t like being unproductive. I like knowing my minutes and hours and days and weeks are worth something other than binge-watching Outlander and Project Runway. I was utterly changed by great teachers, and I feel it’s my duty to do the same. So, about mid-July, I’m ready to go back and implement the billions of ideas that have to come to me in between martinis and twitter chats with my professional learning network.

I forget just how much I HATE the first few weeks of school.

Really, I hate them. For a few brief weeks in July, I forget about how hard you have to work those first few weeks. How much of  a struggle it is. How defeated you come home feeling. How, suddenly, it fefhels like you have forgotten how to be a teacher, or maybe you never knew how to be a good one in the first place. I forget about all those things, and I WANT, NEED to go back. Maybe that’s why the reality of the first few weeks stings so much; I expected them to be awesome. The first few weeks are like that boy (we all had one in college)…the one who always treats you like a Catherine instead of a Dominique (yeah, I made a Fountainhead ref there)….the one that you keep thinking will get it together, treat you right, cause sometimes he can just be so darn good, but, in the end, you’re nothing more than an umbrella in a drought…and then the drought breaks, and you forget about how long it lasted cause for just a brief moment there is hope. That extended metaphor, my friends, is the first few weeks of school.

You think…I got this…it’s going to be awesome…I have so many cool ideas…and just like every other first week…it sucks. You want to cry. You want to quit. You want to give up. You think maybe I’m not cut out for this, and then you remember all your other first weeks, and you wonder why no one talks about this. Maybe it’s because with the arrival of standardized testing and intense evaluation tools, we have become super afraid of appearing to fail. It’s always about: what are YOU doing to help your students succeed? We preach the growth mindset, the idea it’s okay to fail because it’s about the struggle, to our students, but do we really value it in ourselves? Are we allowed to? When scores are the first thing discussed in pre-service ( let’s compare your scores to your co-worker’s, let’s compare our school’s scores to the other schools in our district, let’s compare our district’s scores to other district’s) are we really embracing the growth mindset? Suddenly, my failure to get my students to walk in a straight line the very first day without incident becomes devastating: I don’t have time to teach you how to meet my expectations…you should just know them…I have so much content to get to…they are going to show my scores to everyone next August…just do what I want you to do).

And then, about the third week, you realize why you struggled. You do have high expectations, and not every teacher does. It’s not about the scores but about you wanting to see growth in your children. You forget that not every child is born with the drive you have; some of them need to be guided towards that, shown their own self-worth. That takes time. The content. That will come. The first few weeks are about building a community, a new civilization…and Rome wasn’t built in a day. Any good community will struggle to define what it looks like, sounds like, feels like. It WILL be a struggle. And if it isn’t…maybe you aren’t doing it right. Maybe you aren’t challenging them and yourself to be the best you can be. mke it work

The first few weeks can suck…and that’s okay.  In the words of Tim Gunn: Make It Work

What They Don’t Tell You About Education: Leaving Your First School

This July, after nine years of educational service, I made the decision to leave my school. My first school. My only school. And I’m not feeling what I think I’m supposed to be feeling. I’m up; I’m down. I’m frightened; I’m ready. It’s everything wonderful and terrible about the prospect of something new. It’s basically emotional whiplash, and the only thing I can equate it to is losing your first love. Because let’s be honest, if you remain a teacher for more than five years, some part of you loves it. And if you stick it out at one school for almost a decade, some part of you must love the school too. So, yeah, that’s the best metaphor I can think of. And it makes sense. It was in that building I learned how much I loved being an educator. Heck, it’s in that building I learned HOW to be an educator. So, yeah, a lot like leaving your first love.

Like the end of most first loves, it has proven to be both overwhelmingly, soul-crushingly sad and  jitterbug inducing exciting.  Like the demise of any other relationship, I’ve lost sleep over it. I’ve cried over it. I’ve tried to talk myself out of walking away….like a million times. But sometimes the end just has to be the end. And that has to be alright, educators. Like a good friend said to me: you can’t just stay cause you’re afraid to leave. Early Years

I had plenty of reasons to stay: I had the MOST amazing work family. And there’s no guarantee, I will ever meet another work family like them. Heck, I know I won’t. I was with these people for the most formative years of my life. These people were there to wish me so much joy for my  marriage and offered no judgement during my divorce. Were with me for the birth of my nephew (who is more son than nephew in most ways…never growing tired of the stories I told or the billion pictures I flashed in their faces). Helped me when I struggled to get him the services and therapies he needed. Helped me break down his IEP and prep me for multiple special education meetings. They were there to encourage my scribbling, becoming my biggest cheerleaders as I signed my first publishing deal. They were there to make me laugh every single day, even when I was struggling with depression that I didn’t speak of. They were there to let me know it was okay to cry; it didn’t mean you were weak. They are the wives and mothers I want to be one day, and the teachers I strive to emulate. They helped me become me, and until you discover who you are, you don’t realize how long you’ve gone pretending to be someone else. They helped me with this, helped me to know what I want from life and love and my career.

Amazing, right? Why leave? Because it was time. Some people stay with their first loves forever,and there is nothing wrong with that. But I’m not done  as an educator. I need new experiences. I crave the thrills and challenges of walking into something I’m not immediately comfortable with. I need to see what I can dpic 1o. I need to learn from new people. If my time at my first school taught me who I was as a woman, these new experiences will teach me who I can be as an educator. I’ll be the new kid with something to prove. And that’s what makes it so exciting.

Some will see my leaving as commentary of the place I left, but I like to think it says more about me. I’m not done. I’m not done molding and re-molding my instructional practices. I’m not done sharing my knowledge and learning from others.

I will always love my first school. Cause a part of you always loves your first love. Because they help make you. But it doesn’t mean you should stay with them. Stay at the same school forever or don’t, that’s your choice, educators. But don’t stay because you’re afraid.

As I drove by my old school today, and a darn Mountain Goats song came on, I cried. It’s okay to be sad. And scared. It let’s me know how much my first school and the people in it meant to me. pic 3

But fear is no reason to do anything.

Leaving your first school…something they don’t teach you about in your educational classes. Now, if only John Hughes made a movie about that.

Because You Exist (YA / Time Travel) Released Today!

Today’s the day…the day my fifth book, Because You Exist, is released into the world. I return to the world of Sci-fi for a fun, dark venture into the sub-genre of time-travel. Come on, I am a huge J.J Abrams fan, so we all knew this would happen some day.

You can buy both the print and ebook versions of the book below: BecauseYouExist_Amazon


Barnes and Noble

Limitless Publishing


Life is good for LOGAN MIDDLETON.

He’s quarterback of the Shepherd High football team, nephew of the town’s most successful lawyer, and boyfriend of Jenna Maples, a girl who has finally agreed to take their relationship to the next level. But nothing good lasts forever.

With only a few minutes of last period English left between him and a weekend alone with Jenna, Logan blacks out. When he awakens, he finds himself in a future where Shepherd High lies in ruins, nothing is what it seems, and everyone he loves is dead.

Logan is a shifter.

Chosen to travel through time, it’s up to him to figure out how to stop the terrible events that claimed his once perfect life. Of course, all of this might be easier if he wasn’t paired with the one girl who’d rather see him dead than help him, JOSEPHINE.

A girl he tormented during childhood. Strong-willed with biting wit, who lives in the shadows. Tough and dark, Jo is Shepherd High’s most notorious outcast and Logan’s opposite in every way.

Together the two must overcome their many differences to figure out why they’ve been selected for such an overwhelming task, and who selected them in the first place.

Before it’s too late…


Sample 1:

“Hey. Where you at?” Jenna asked, tapping me on the chin. I had wasted time I could be spending with her thinking on all the crappiness of the day. I wouldn’t make that mistake again. I needed to live in my present.

I placed my hand against her smooth, flushed cheek. “I’m right here,” I whispered. I was where I wished I could be forever.

Jenna rocked forward so she was up on her knees. She bit on her lip. “You gonna make me do all the work here?”

I couldn’t help but grin. “I don’t want anyone to say I’m controlling. Though I do have to comment on our lack of creativity. We have the whole house to ourselves. We could do this on the couch, or on top of the dinning room table…”

Jenna covered my mouth with her hand. “On the table that came with my great-grandmother from Germany?”

I laughed. “You’re right. Don’t want to get too crazy.”

There was something comforting about being with a girl who knew you. I know by most of my friends’ standards losing my virginity at seventeen was considered pathetic. I was QB1, and my so very supportive friends often reminded me that I could easily have lost the v-card anytime I wanted to lose it. But I had wanted it to be with Jenna. The whole idea of sex while alluring, and damn was it alluring, was kinda scary. There was no way I would be good at it at first. That wasn’t possible. I liked the fact we stumbled through it together. We were probably both bad, but with each other it felt good. Really good. I didn’t worry about making a mistake. I just wanted to be with her, and she wanted to be with me.

“I love you,” I said.

“I love you too.”

We always said this beforehand. Not because we had to say it, but because this was an act of utter trust. I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. Sure, down the road maybe my thought process would change, but I only had the present.

I pressed my lips against Jenna’s, and I felt her lean into me. I shifted down so my head was against the pillow, pulling Jenna fully on top of me. I ran my hands up her back. Jenna pulled away. “I love you,” she said again. As always, her face flashed fear. This fear only lasted a moment, but it was always there. I never quite understood it. Maybe this meant something different to girls.

Sample 2

“How long did it take you to find me?” Carrie asked, pulling out one of her earplugs.

“What are you listening to?” I countered. I didn’t want to answer her question. I didn’t want to explain how it took me four hours to find someone who knew anything about Scary Carrie besides the fact that she loved hoodies and had zero friends. It involved one of those things where you call a friend who knows a friend who knows a friend whose mom also works at the public library. I used the JV football team as my slew of detectives. They were always eager to please me.

Carrie laughed quietly to herself, no doubt fully aware of the fact that I was avoiding her question. She turned her iPod so I could read the screen.

“Sia. Hmmm. Jenna likes her.”

“Wow,” she said shaking her head. “Why do you sound so surprised there, QB1? What were you expecting to see?”

Um. I don’t know. Maybe some screamo, emo band singing songs about death or how the world sucks, or maybe how conforming to nonconformity is rad. I mean if she was going to wear the hoodie and play out the loner routine, she might as well really commit to the performance. Soundtrack and all.

It was then I noticed how her hood was off her head. Her curly, red hair was pulled into a ponytail that lay in front of her shoulder. Her face was flushed. She almost looked like breathing wasn’t the most painful thing asked of her. She was almost…


Don’t go there.

“Listen. Um. Can we talk?”

She laughed again. “Sort of late to ask me that, Mr. All-American. Since you know…we’re already talking.”


Carrie didn’t wait for me to continue. Instead, she pushed her cart of books further down the aisle and began to place the books on the self.

“So, I was thinking we could talk about…you know…that thing…that happened to us.”

“You want to talk about that thing that happened to us!” Carried exclaimed in a louder than needed voice, waggling her eyebrows.

I felt the blood rush to my cheeks. “Very funny,” I muttered.

“Oh, calm down, Die Hard. It’s not like any of your friends spend their Saturday afternoons at the public library.”

“Loving the nicknames,” I replied dryly.

She didn’t respond.

“So. Um. How long have you been working here at the library?”

Why was I so nervous?

I had talked to like a million girls before. Granted, never about the end of the world though.

“Don’t,” she warned.

“Don’t what?”

“Play the I want to get to know you act.”

“I wasn’t—”

“You were.”

Count to ten.





Why does she have to be such a bit…

She lifted a book from the cart, but I grabbed it out of her hand. “Enough.”

Sample 3

I was down on the ground before I even had a chance to make sense of what was going on. The side of my head was bleeding. Someone had punched me. One of the survivors was sitting on my back as I struggled to lift my head to see what was going on.

Our new friend stepped towards Josephine. She didn’t make a noise, her face remaining emotionless. It was as if something snapped into place within her, like a shield or force field. If she was feeling scared you couldn’t tell. The only sign of any emotion at all was her breathing. Her chest rose quickly up and down.

“Let’s see what’s under the pretty wrapping paper,” the leader said, stepping even closer to Josephine. He grabbed her by the pocket of her hoodie and pulled her close to him. He reached up and forcefully yanked down the zipper. Still Josephine didn’t protest. I continued to struggle to get up, but the man on top of me only laughed and pushed me back down. For every second that Josephine sat there still and quiet, I thrashed around more violently and cursed louder. The leader of the group grabbed underneath the shoulders of her jacket and pulled it off like a magician would when revealing his great trick.

“Hot damn,” he sang.

I stopped thrashing about. Under the hoodie, Josephine was wearing a tight-fitting, sleeveless tank top sporting the Shepherd High emblem, no doubt part of her track uniform. I couldn’t stop myself from looking. The girl had a body. Her arms were slightly defined, the arms of an athlete but not in a scary way. She also had a great pair of boobs. Yes, I noticed. I only looked for a second because I knew she didn’t wanted me to look at her.

“It’s been so long since we’ve had a girl,” the man said, slithering closer to Josephine. He reached out his palm, running it down the side of her face until he reached her neck. He wrapped his hand around her neck. Josephine still didn’t react.

“Don’t touch her,” I yelled out. Maybe we weren’t friends, but she was all I had in this world. I wasn’t going to sit back and let anything happen to her.

“I wonder if you’re the dark one?” he asked her, choosing to ignore me entirely. “I hope you’re the dark one. I’ve only ever had me a light girl before. They say it’s bad luck to mess with you shifters, but I figure we already have had our share of bad luck.”

“I remember the light one. I remember the light one. I remember the light one,” the third man began to chant.

“She didn’t even fight back. Fighting back is what lets a man know he’s alive. You know what I mean. Don’t you kid?” he said finally turning to me.

“Go to hell,” I replied.

This caused the men to begin to laugh. “Hell doesn’t want me, kid. Neither did God. If God wanted me I’d be dead like the rest of them. At least that’s how I look at it. You’re the hell and you’re the heaven. We’re just what’s left.”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but the longer I kept him talking the more time I had to think of a way of getting out of this. Why couldn’t I shift at will?

“What did you mean about a conductor?” I asked, trying to stay focused even though the blood that was seeping out of my head wound was beginning to run into my mouth.

“You had your chance to get your questions. I said give me the girl, and I would give you the answers. Sorry.”

“Let’s make a new deal,” I replied. I just needed more time. I could think of a way to get us out of this. I had to think of a way. I was still pretty sure that whatever happened to us in this present would follow us to our normal present.

And maybe there were things worse than death. These weren’t civilized men. I didn’t know if I could buy all his heaven and hell talk, but I did wonder how they survived. Was it purely because of their predator sensibilities—some eff-ed-up version of Darwin’s theory? Or had they been allowed to survive, chosen by the same people or thing that allowed us to be shifters?

“No deal. But I do want to play a game. Can’t say we get much in terms of entertainment around here anymore,” the leader replied, pushing Josephine next to me on the ground. Her eyes met mine and I saw fear for the first time since the men had showed up. I wanted to find her hoodie and enclose her in it. I wanted to protect her.

“Here’s how it will work,” the man continued as he circled around us. His friend still held me down, and while Josephine was free to move, I knew she wouldn’t leave me. “I will give you a five minute head start. You hear me? Five minutes. After that, game on. But you should know that we love to play rough. We don’t care if you’re shifters. As far as we’re concerned, why save the world when they didn’t want us around in the first place?”

The man holding me down must have received some signal from the leader because he let me up. I scrambled to my feet and held out my hand for Josephine, but she didn’t take it. She pulled herself to her feet and looked at me. I looked back.

We were screwed.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Five minutes started thirty seconds ago.”

Sample 4

“I know why they sent us here. Why this memory is important.”


“So, I could know you. So, you could trust me. We’re partners. Maybe the people who are controlling this aren’t doing it to play with us. Maybe they’re trying to make us strong. Ready for what’s to come.”

Just as quick as the emotions left Jo, they returned. Her chin wrinkled up and her eyes slammed shut. She dropped the rope and brought both hands up to cover her face. Her fingertips pressed into her forehead, her knuckles turning white.

She was fighting it.


She curled her fingers into fists. “Don’t try to justify them,” she spat out between her arms, her face impossible to see.

“I wasn’t trying—”

She yanked her hands from her face and looked straight at me. Enraged. “You were. You like things to have explanations. You need answers. Sometimes evil is just evil. Sometimes people just like making other people feel pain.”

I opened my mouth to speak, but she cut me off again. “I’ll never be normal. Never! I’ll always be this way. I am so thankful you saved me, but I can’t be happy to have to live this again. I live it every day. I’ll always be this freak. Stuck.”

“That’s not true.” Maybe it was. I didn’t know.

Her anger was soon replaced by defeat. She walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. She didn’t speak. She pulled her hands inside the sleeves of the robe. When she looked back at me, I was startled to see her look scared. Truly frightened.

“What is it, Jo?”

“I think I like him. Ben. I think he likes me too,” she said quietly, turning her face from me again.

I swallowed hard.

“I’ll never have what you and Jenna have.”

“You don’t want what we have. Remember? It’s not honest or something.”

Jo shook her head slowly. “What would I know? I’ve never been in a relationship. I watch people in relationships and read books. That’s all I can base my conclusions on. But I don’t want to be alone. I wish this wasn’t another thing my father could take from me.”

It killed me to say this. I didn’t like Bentham. He was cocky. He didn’t deserve her. But she liked him. And I would watch out for her. “Why don’t you tell Bentham? Be daring. Try an actual date before you ship yourself off to a nunnery. I’m sure he’d say yes. You two do talk like every minute of every day. Right?”

“It won’t ever mean anything. I can’t even wear a damn short sleeve shirt without panicking. Eventually, things will get…intimate.”

“If he’s worth anything, he won’t push you.”

“I know he won’t. But maybe I need to push myself. I’ve never told him about these things. I never told you, and you’re pretty much the only friend I have. If I can’t trust you, the person destined to my partner, how can I ever even hope to kiss a boy without wanting to throw up?”

“You’re talking now,” I offered.

And she was.

And I felt honored.

Honesty was tough, but it was also a gift.

#OneVoice Against Bullying

Entangled Teen, as part of the international #OneVoice Against Bullying campaign, asked me to write a Dear Teen Me letter on the subject of, well, you guessed it, bullying. If you are not familiar with Dear Teen Me, it’s a website / project where authors write letters to their teen selves, discussing some of the hardships they faced growing up, sharing with readers some of their painful life moments in hopes that they can help readers through their own difficult times.

This post was, by far, one of the most difficult things I ever had to write. I hope you take some meaning from it….

Dear Teen Tiffany,

The true horror of discovering the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you,” is a pile of crap designed by bullies who try to excuse their caveman-like behavior is pretty much the hardest of life’s many, many painful lessons. Words lead to war, peace, love, hate, so, of course, they have the power to hurt. They have the power to do a great many things. Duh.

You’ve already had it rough. You’ve always remembered the names of the two boys who made elementary and middle school hell, boys who tormented you because your teeth were just too big. You still get uneasy when you reflect back on the time when Eric from elementary school called you a bucked tooth beaver in line at the grocery store, jutting out his upper row of teeth and making his eyes go big, leering at you with his air of superiority (you wondering how someone so young could be filled with so much hate)…right in front of your mom. Your mother, who you can still count on one hand the number of times you’ve heard her raise her voice, berates the child and his mother (who stood by while her son belittled you, saying nothing). And you aren’t angry at the boy or your mother but yourself. All you can feel is like you embarrassed your mother. Somehow, it’s your fault. Or the time, the same boy and two girls, who were supposed to be your friends, invited you to a birthday party only to make you stand in the middle of the circle, calling you names. Having to call your parents to come pick you up. The shame returning.

You moved. You thought things were going to be different. And at first, they were. Until Brady the Bold starting in on you. The same jokes. The same leers…as if him and Eric went to the same finishing school for assholes. You try to build a shield (it’s not your first time fighting the battle), but his words injure you. You win Best Personality in the 5th grade Superlatives. Instead of enjoying the fact that your peers like you, love hanging around you, all you can think of is that old truth…well at least she has a good personality. He had to power to ruin that moment for you and he didn’t even have to say a word. Brady the Bold continues to bully you in 6th and 7th grade. He harasses you in the hallway. And you don’t tell anyone. Not your friends. Not your parents. Not your teachers. Because somehow, this is your fault. This is your shame. And you can’t bear to see it reflected on your mother’s face. Not even for a second.

High school’s been better for you. Brady has disappeared. Maybe he moved, or maybe he fell away when you took the honors and AP route. Somehow, there isn’t an AP course on being a complete dick, so he probably stuck to the remedial courses. And as you look back on those moments, it’s alright to feel angry. You don’t have to accept it under some guise that bullies are probably just insecure. You don’t have to forgive cause it’s the right thing to do. It’s not. It never will be. And you won’t ever stand for it again. You’re going to do great things, kid. You’re gonna be a kickass teacher. President of your Sorority. Travel the world. Write in more than one. You’re going to fall in love and be loved…more than once. And you’re going to keep that anger. Because that anger drives you. It makes you. You won’t let anyone, ANYONE, treat you like that again. You don’t have to forgive and you, certainly, don’t have to forget. Because, Eric and Brady, probably have. They’re kind of dickheads like that.

Not you. You’ll be the voice for those who feel embarrassed to speak out. You’ll let them know, they’re not alone. They never have been.

I pledge to take a stand against bullying each and every day. #OneVoice


Today’s the day…the last day of #YAReaderWeek. And I couldn’t be more thrilled than to save my last post for the crazy-talented Kate Jarvik Birch. Check out what she’s working on next, and don’t forget to enter the raffle to win a ton of cool prizes.

I’m guessing that, like most writers, I’ve got a few too many projects going on at once. Right now, I’m busily working on the sequel to my novel, PERFECTED. The second book in the series has been a really fun chance to expand the world that I built in book one. The readers are going to get a much broader look at the world of engineered human pets as well as a frightening glimpse into the black market, where used pets are bought and sold.

As if that didn’t keep me busy enough, I’m also in the middle of revising a MG novel that I co-wrote with a friend. It’s about two unlikely friends and the very human desire for magic to be real.

I’ve always got a million ideas simmering in the back of my head and I’m dying to try my hand at writing and illustrating a picture book. Also, this might just be the year that I attempt to write a screenplay.

KateJarvikBirchbiopicKate Jarvik Birch is a visual artist, author, playwright, daydreamer, and professional procrastinator. As a child, she wanted to grow up to be either a unicorn or mermaid. Luckily, being a writer turned out to be just as magical. Her essays and short stories have been published in literary journals including Indiana Review and Saint Anns Review. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and three kids. To learn more visit

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Website | Facebook  |Twitter 

#YAReaderWeek Throwback Thursday with Shannon Lee Alexander

Today, I am thrilled to host Shannon Lee Alexander. I am so excited to read her book Love and Other Unknown Variables. It’s getting amazing buzz!! And don’t forget to enter the raffle for a chance to win a ton of free books!

 Throwback Thursday

Love and Other Unknown Variables is a heartbreaking story of first love. Reviewers repeatedly mention the need for tissues. While I didn’t set out to write a tearjerker, I guess it makes some sense, since my favorite books have always been the books that make me both laugh and cry.

For Throwback Thursday, I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at the top 10 books that have made me ugly cry over the years (listed in the order I read them).


1. Bridge to Terabithia
2. Where the Red Fern Grows
3. To Kill a Mockingbird
4. The Color Purple
5. Harry Potter (I started crying in book three and never really stopped)
6. The Book Thief (Not pictured because my husband loaned it to someone and it never came back. What’s the saying? If you love something, set it free…Come back, Book! I love you!)
7. A Monster Calls
8. Me Before You
9. Eleanor & Park
10. Wonder

I’d love to see your top 10 picks for the Ugly Cry awards! Post them on Instagram, tag me at WandertheWords, and use the #LoveandOtherUnknownVariables hashtag. I’ll pick a winner at random to win an Ugly Cry care package (complete with $5 Amazon gift card to buy another heartbreaking book)!

Love and Other Unknown Variables releases from Entangled Publishing October 7, 2014.

Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover the solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswerable problems. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s Love and Other Uknown Variables 1600x2400

The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy pawing at her until she learns he’s a student at Brighton, where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. And in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.

By the time he learns Charlotte is ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull on Charlie is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on, or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second).

To preorder Love and Other Unknown Variables, click here.

Shannon Lee Alexander is a wife and mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter). She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. Math makes her break out in a sweat. Love and Other Unknown Variables is her debut novel. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family.

#YAReaderWeek Woman Crush Wednesday with D. R. Graham

Brampton Cover 4

Introducing : Derian Marie Lafleur

High School student. Plans to study architecture.
Born and raised in Brampton Beach. Lives and works in the historical Brampton Beach Inn that her grandfather owns.
She looks similar to the actress/singer Victoria Justice


Excerpt from Book 1 of The Brampton Beach Series: PUT IT OUT THERE

“Do you want me to drive?”

Trevor laughed. “No. I want to make it home alive.”

“Ha ha. I’m not that bad of a driver.”

“I just need to warm up some more. Get in quick and close the door.” He rolled up the window.

I opened the back door, but I didn’t get in because I had an impulse to take a risk that might officially end my 365-day challenge. I took my coat off and threw it into the backseat. I stripped off my sweater, then my T-shirt, then my thermal underwear top. I took my boots off one foot at a time to shimmy out of my jeans then threw all the layers into the back before closing the door. I stood outside his door in just my underwear and boots. My turquoise push up bra actually matched the turquoise and white striped boy shorts that I was wearing. It wasn’t a super sexy look, but it wasn’t shabby either. He stared at me through the window and his expression looked as if he wasn’t sure what to think. I reached my arm forward and pulled the handle.

“What are you doing?” he asked as the door swung open.

“Saving your life.” I moved his arms to open the blanket and climbed into the truck to sit sideways on his lap. I crammed my legs in tightly until I could shut the door. He wrapped the blanket around my body to cover us both and he hugged me. I ran my hands across his chest and down his abs. “You feel like ice.”

“Mmm.” He blinked slowly. “Who taught you to strip down to save someone from freezing to death?”

“You did. Are you glad you did that?”

He bit his lip as if he was trying to prevent himself from answering. After a very sexy pause, he smiled and ran his hand over the curve of my waist. “Well, we wouldn’t want me to die of hypothermia, would we?”

“No, we wouldn’t want that.” I kept moving my hands over his skin and it got warmer inside our blanket tent. I moved to rest my cheek against his and I let my lips linger close to his neck so he would feel the warmth of my breath. I arched my back a little to press my chest snugly against his. He tensed his arms and pulled me even tighter. It made my heart alternate between racing and missing beats as if it was malfunctioning.

When I slipped the fingers of my right hand through his wet hair, he closed his eyes and his hand slid down my thigh towards my knee. His skin felt warmer as I ran my other hand up his arm, over his muscular bicep, and back across his chest. He opened his eyes and stared at me. His lips parted slightly and he leaned in as if he was going to kiss me.

“Are you guys going to kiss?” Kailyn asked abruptly from the passenger seat.

I smiled and waited. Our faces were literally centimetres apart.

He leaned his forehead against mine and inhaled slowly. “No, Kiki, we’re not going to kiss,” he finally said. “She’s just keeping me warm.”

Author: D.R. Graham

D.R. Graham is the author of Young Adult and New Adult novels. She worked as a social worker with at-risk youth for seven years before becoming a therapist in private practice. The clients she works with are children and teenagers. Her novels deal with issues relevant to young and new adults in love, transition, or crisis. She is also an award winning columnist for the Richmond News. She currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband.

Bonus Giveaway: Everyone who joins the Graham Crackers Street Team during the Young Adult Reader Appreciation Week September 22-26th, 2014 will be entered into a draw to win a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card

Graham Crackers
Click to Join the Graham Crackers Street Team

Check out the books that I will be giving away all this week on Twitter and in the raffle:

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#YAReaderWeek Transformation Tuesday with Sasha Hibbs

In celebration of all things YA, today is Transformation Tuesday. I am excited to be hosting a fellow Evernight Teen sister, Sasha Hibbs. Enjoy and don’t forget to enter the raffle:

Transformation Tuesday: My novels road to publication.

Thanks so much for having me! My first novel, Black Amaranth, was published August 16, 2013. I signed the contract in April 2013. It took 5 years to get my MS published. During the time leading up to publication, I had queried several agents. I had a handful of agents request fulls but ultimately I received the dreaded rejection letter from them all. After going through several agents, I decided to try a different route. I decided to query publishers instead of agents. At the time, I had no hope of obtaining an actual publisher thinking if my MS wasn’t up to par for the literary agents I queried, but after narrowing my list of publishers who would accept unsolicited queries down to a few, I sent my MS out and had offers from three different publishers within a month, and a fourth who actually made an offer an entire year after I queried them. In the end I was able to pick my publisher which was so exciting. My second novel, Black Abaddon, was published 6 months after the first and receiving the acceptance email was just as thrilling as the first J Now having 2 titles under my belt, my third, Black Atonement, is slated for release on the 26th of this month.

The road to publication is not an easy path and not for the faint-hearted. The road is full of twists, turns, ups, downs, pot-holes, trolls and pretty much everything that can make you want to tuck your tail and run for cover. But if you’re brave enough and persistent, there is light at the end of that road.

You need to have thick skin, the ability to take constructive criticism, and know that regardless of how many rejections you receive, it’s the “one” acceptance that matters…the only one that matters.

Here’s me receiving the news that my book was picked up by a publisher:a me

It’s scary, I know. So here I am trying to look a bit more professional

Final 1  (1)Looks aside (although picture A would’ve made a funny book bio author pic, the publisher’s did not share my vision), you must keep your chin up. And in the words of mighty Joe Dirt, “You gotta keep on keepin’ on.”