Author Spotlight: E. C. Meyers


If you’re a fan of Mr. Robot or just love anything tech related you’ll love E. C. Meyers’ YA novel, The Silence of Six, which goes on sale everywhere on December 6. I got the chance to chat with him about the book, his knowledge about hacking, and more! You can read the full interview below and make sure to grab a copy of The Silence of Six when it’s released.

If you had to summarize The Silence of the Six in three words how would you summarize it?

Hacktivists versus government.

The Silence of the Six deals a lot with hacking and computer programming. Did you have any background in computer programming before you wrote this novel?

Aside from a basic class in high school, I have no computer programming experience. I’m not even particularly adept at maintaining or modifying computers, but I’ve always been comfortable with looking up whatever information I need to accomplish something and unafraid to roll up my sleeves and try it for myself. I’m familiar with much of the technology in the book, but not even remotely an expert on any of it!

What made you first start writing?

I’ve been writing since I was very young. I love stories in every form, especially books, and I’ve always enjoyed creating stories of my own and sharing them with others.

What is your writing process like?

My process is always changing, and every project is different. I usually have at least a rough idea of where things are going and I just start typing. I write wherever and whenever I have to, as long as I have a keyboard.

Are you working on any other YA novels for the future?

I have a completed YA novel I would still like to publish, but right now I’m focusing on a few short stories I’ve promised to various YA anthologies. My next long-form project will actually be a middle grade fantasy.

Who are some of your favorite authors right now?

It’s hard not to gush about so many authors! I’m a big fan of Jaclyn Moriarty’s Colors of Madeleine trilogy, though I haven’t had a chance to read the last book yet. I’m always a fan of Philip Reeve, whose fabulous book Mortal Engines is being adapted into a film by Peter Jackson, so I hope more people will discover his work. I am loving Gwenda Bond’s YA Lois Lane series, and Kelly Barnhill’s middle grade novels are enchanting; her book The Girl Who Drank the Moon is also being adapted into an animated feature.

Besides writing, what other hobbies are you interested in?

Besides writing and parenting and work, I don’t have a lot of time for other things, but I enjoy photography and playing video games. I used to collect old 8-bit Nintendo games, and lately I’ve gotten back into retro gaming. I just started streaming live sessions of me playing [Nintendo Entertainment System] games when I can. I am also actively exploring podcasting.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read a lot, and read everything! When you start writing, don’t get caught up in worrying about whether it’s any good until you finish a draft — you must finish it, and almost everything can be fixed in revision. Set manageable, realistic goals: “I will finish writing a novel in three months” instead of “I will get a publishing deal this year.” Try to have fun and don’t lose sight of why you’re writing in the first place.


Trish Cook

Author Spotlight: Trish Cook


I had the wonderful opportunity to interview YA author Trish Cook about her writing and her new novel, Outward Blonde, which will be released on Oct. 18, exclusively at Barnes and Noble. Check out the interview below and make sure to grab a copy of her new book.

What made you first start writing?

I’ve always loved reading and have a super-active imagination. Those two qualities seem to lend themselves really well to the writing life. In grade school, I was always writing short stories. In high school, angst poetry. In college, personal essays. From there, I really wanted to tackle a novel. It’s all a journey but long story short: I’ve always loved to write and have always done it for enjoyment.

What is your writing process like?

My process is that an idea captures my imagination, whether it’s a wild story I heard that happened to someone or something in the news or just a snippet that comes to me organically. I use whatever idea has sparked my interest as a jumping off point and the story starts to shape around that. Once I have a general idea of the plot—maybe I’ve let the idea run around my brain for a good week or so—I sit down at my computer in my neon green, hot pink, and orange office and start to write. I don’t outline or try to get too down and dirty with details in the beginning, because I like to see what turns the story takes naturally as it goes along. My characters often surprise me and I love it. That’s one of the most exciting and interesting parts about writing for me.

Your latest novel, Outward Blonde, is about a teen sent to a kind of rehab camp. How did you come up with that idea?

My publisher, Adaptive Studios, has a really unique way of approaching YA books: They take unmade film projects and ask YA writers to create novels based on them. Outward Blonde was originally a movie set to star Hilary Duff!  Adaptive came to me with what they call a “spark page”—just the most basic outline of what the story is: A spoiled, rich New York girl gets in trouble and gets sent to wilderness camp. I never read the script for the movie that was never made. I just developed the story based off the spark page and had so much fun doing it.

If you had to summarize Outward Blonde in three words how would you summarize it?

Funny, fierce, and deep.

You’re currently writing a memoir. How is writing that different than writing YA novels?

Writing a memoir is actually pretty similar to writing a YA novel. For both, you have to create a definitive story arc, complex characters, interesting dialogue. Where they differ, though, is that you have to try and recreate moments exactly as they happened in a memoir, as closely as you can—you are going for total truthfulness. In YA, you can let your imagination run wild and make up whatever you want to. But they are both fun in different ways!

You also co-wrote A Really Awesome Mess with Brendan Halpin. How was co-writing with someone different than just writing by yourself?

Writing with Brendan was awesome. He is married to my best friend from junior high school! We live in different cities, halfway across the country from each other, so we did it all over email. We wrote in alternating chapters, with him writing the guy’s part and me writing the girl’s part. It was like improv. I would hand him off a chapter and wait. I never knew what was going to happen next and it was always such a surprise because all sorts of things I never expected happened. I loved having to be flexible and just go with whatever he’d thrown out there, and vice versa.

I thought collaborating would be this easy and fun no matter who your writing partner is but as it turns out, no. I’ve tried co-writing with other people and it’s never matched the experience/vibe/flow I have with Brendan.

Are you working on any other YA novels right now?

I am! I have this big idea I’m just starting to put on paper that was sparked by a crazy news story. It’s still very much at the fledgling idea stage so we’ll see if it works out!

Who are some of your favorite authors right now?

In YA, favorites right now are Joelle Charbonneau, Christa Desir, and John Green. If we’re going old school, Judy Blume. My favorite book in high school was The Cheerleader by Ruth Doan MacDougall, which no one has ever heard of but it was thrilling to me, to think teens back in the 1950s were the same as teens when I was growing up, which are the same as teens now. The milestones you have to go through are universal, no matter what generation you grow up in. Also, the best book I’ve read lately, while not strictly YA, is a memoir called Look at You Now by Liz Pryor. It’s about a pregnant teen sent to a lock-up facility to have her baby, and it is beautifully written and so compelling.

Besides writing, what other hobbies are you interested in?

My biggest hobby outside of writing is that I row with a master’s crew. Right now, we’re training for the Head of the Charles regatta in Boston. I also love traveling, going to concerts, watching the Chicago Blackhawks and high school/college field hockey, [eating] sushi, and hanging with my family.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

OMG YES. Write. And keep on writing. And don’t let anyone make you stop. Share your writing with friends you trust, or find an online community. Writing is a lonely sport, but we do it to connect with others through words. So let someone see what you’re doing. You’ll get better because of it and find a sense of camaraderie too. Join clubs at school, like the newspaper or literary magazine, and share your talents with others. Be brave and submit your writing to contests. There are even summer programs and literary conferences that are like writing camps where you can go and bond with other creative people. Dream big. Why not? You never know what you can do unless you try. Trust that you know yourself well enough that you’re probably not going to grow out of whatever it is you dream of doing. If you’re scared—even more reason to give it a shot. That just means you’re stepping out of your comfort zone and that’s okay. Be brave. Start now.

Author Interview with Anne Heltzel, author of "Charlie, Presumed Dead"

Author Spotlight: Anne Heltzel

It’s been a while since I got to interview an author and I’m super excited about this one. I got to work with Anne a bit when I interned at Abrams Books for Young Readers in the spring and she’s amazing. Check out our interview below and make sure to check out her book, Charlie, Presumed Dead, which is out now!

 Interview with Anne Heltzel, author of "Charlie, Presumed Dead"

How did you first get interested in writing?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t enjoy writing. An obsessive (not just avid!) reader as a kid, writing seemed like an obvious extension of my interests. I filled a new journal each year in school, was gifted blank books for holidays, and added fictional elements to my academic essays to liven things up. For fun, I took fiction writing and journalism classes and competed in writing competitions. I was the type to cry at the end of a book because it was over. A true nerd.

How did you come up with the idea for Charlie, Presumed Dead?

The genesis of that idea came from a conversation I had with a friend in my teeny-tiny room when she was visiting me in Paris. She knew a guy who had passed away, and his two girlfriends had discovered one another at his funeral. I’d had some experience with a cheating boyfriend and lots of experience traveling, and it seemed a natural opening scene for a book that would meld those two themes.

Are you working on any other projects right now?

I’m ghostwriting an adult novel right now, but I’m not allowed to talk about it. =)

What is your writing process like?

I often write in my bed, surrounded by snacks. When writing commissioned content, I am usually given a concept or an outline. When writing original content, I like to develop a “one page” pitch before I begin, to show my agent. Then he either shoots it down or says he loves it. If he loves it, I write a few initial scenes. Many of these don’t wind up in the book; it’s just me playing with my characters in different scenarios to get a feel for who I want them to be. When I know my characters very well, I tend to have a beginning and end in mind. Then it’s a matter of connecting the dots. I almost always write out of order.

What’s it like being an editor and an author?

Really, really hard. Exhausting and frustrating. You’re only in this business if you love it; and luckily I do. But editorial work carries over into nights and weekends—and nights and weekends are my only opportunities to write. It’s a very tricky juggling act, and often it requires some tough sacrifices (vacation time, a social life).

Do you enjoy editing or writing more?

It changes every day. I truly love both and can’t pick between them. During my interview for my first editorial job nearly a decade ago, my soon-to-be boss asked, “What do you see yourself doing in five years? Editing or writing?” I answered, “Both!” And I was being very honest. I really enjoy the collaboration and craft of editing, but I need the creative outlet writing offers me.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I don’t have a stable of go-to favorite authors; but here are some books I’ve read lately and enjoyed:

Besides writing and editing, what are your other hobbies?

I always sort of chuckle when I hear that phrase, “free time.” What’s that? Seriously. I usually do let myself have weekend nights off, and I like to spend it with my friends—at dinner parties, movies, plays, concerts, beer gardens….I also travel internationally quite a bit, probably more than average. This is because I often have a free place to stay—I’m fortunate to have lived in both Europe and Asia, and usually have a couch to crash on. If I ever take afternoons off, I love reading in the park with my dog, or just taking him to the dog run. My favorite place to get away from everything is the Catskills—near water, with my dog and some friends. I’m a big fan of simplicity.

What was it like being a mentor for Girls Write Now? How can people get involved?

That was awesome, but I had to stop because it became too time-consuming. You can reach out directly to the organization—both mentors and mentees need to complete an application process. Then aspiring writers (usually in high school) are paired with professional writers, and you meet weekly to work on writing. It can be fun writing or academic writing, whatever the mentee wants. There are also monthly workshops on topics like screenwriting and comedy writing. It’s a really great program and I can’t recommend it enough. My former mentee, Shirleyka, and I still keep in touch. She’s starting college this coming fall and got a full ride, because she’s awesome.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Do the work. That’s my best advice. And do it without an agenda—just for the love of it. There is never a guarantee of publication; but finishing a draft is something to be incredibly proud of. It’s fulfilling—as rewarding (in my opinion) as running a marathon.

Any advice for aspiring editors?

Make connections in the industry! Reach out and be proactive. Forming relationships is a large part of the job, and it’s never too soon to start. Find editors whose work you admire on LinkedIn or on their websites, and shoot them an email. See if they’re available to grab coffee or schedule a brief call. The worst anyone can ever say is “no.”

If you’re an author that would like to be featured on To Borrow or Buy please shoot me an email at Thanks!

Author Spotlight: Cate Cameron

This week I had the chance to interview undercover author, Cate Cameron, who’s new book, Playing Defense (Corrigan Falls Raiders Series), will be released on March 7. Check out her amazing writing history and her tips for aspiring writers below.


When did you first start writing?

I started writing about… wow, probably seven years ago? It doesn’t seem that long, but we’re coming up on the six-year anniversary of my first book being published, (Dark Horse, under my Kate Sherwood pen name), and I think I started writing about a year before that.

What made you decide to write romance novels?

I started writing with fanfiction, and romance is a BIG part of that style of writing, so–it just seemed natural, I guess. I don’t remember ever really deciding. I just wrote, and–romance!

Do you think you’ll switch genres or stick with romance?

I’ve tried to switch – actually, the first version of Center Ice [the first book in the Corrigan Falls Raiders series] wasn’t really a romance – it was Karen’s story about coming to the new town and dealing with her family and all that, and there was no Tyler at all, as I recall. And a couple years ago people were saying that the [New Adult] genre was about to bust out of its erotic romance boundaries and I got all excited about that and wrote a NA kind of urban adventure about this girl who is lured into the world of jewel thievery and has her loyalties tested, etc… but as soon as it was done, people backed off from NA being non-romance, so now it’s really hard to sell without building up the romance elements!

So, yes, I’d love to switch genres a bit – but nobody else seems to want me to!

Who are some of your favorite writers?

As a kid, I loved SE Hinton and Anne McCaffrey [for] distraction, and I still have a soft spot in my heart for both of them, although I’m aware that McCaffrey, especially, can be a bit problematic.

As an adult, I have a tendency to overdose on authors when I find one I like. The first book is good, so I read more and more and then I hit one I don’t like as much and my expectations have gotten so high that “don’t like as much” feels like “absolutely hate” and then I give up on the author. I’m not saying I’m proud of this pattern, but… you asked! So I don’t really have a favorite author, these days, and I’m trying to keep it that way so I won’t start the whole stupid cycle over again.

What is your new novel, Playing Defense about?

Playing Defense is about Claudia, a shy, serious student, whose life is turned upside down when she’s assigned to tutor Chris Winslow, a hockey player who doesn’t really care about school. Claudia finds herself swept up into his hockey player life, and she also finds herself swept off her feet. But for someone like Claudia, that’s more frightening than exciting, so she has to really struggle to accept the relationship. Chris, on the other hand, isn’t sure he has much to offer someone like Claudia–and Claudia’s parents really don’t help make him feel any more secure about that!

Will Karen and Tyler from Center Ice play a big role in this novel?

Karen has a bigger role than Tyler. They’re both there, but Claudia and Karen really bond, and form a sort of club [that] they call the Sisterhood of Awesomeness, dedicated to trying to challenge members to live their most awesome lives and get over their fears. It’s a bit hokey, but I like it anyway!

Are there any other projects you’re working on right now? Will there be another Corrigan Falls book?

There’s a third Corrigan Falls book, this one [is] (hopefully) just about done with editing – there’s been talk of it coming out as early as May, but I’m not really sure if that’s going to happen.

It’s a fun one because this time the female lead is a hockey player, one who grew up playing with the boys (including the male lead) and kind of resents them for having their NHL dreams, leaving her behind.

Do you have any advice for young/aspiring writers?

Mostly I’d just suggest that writers focus on having fun and on telling the kinds of stories they want to read. Enthusiasm goes a long way, and as a reader, I feel like I can tell when a writer is just phoning it in because [they’ve] heard that something sells. Writing is fun – enjoy yourselves!

Author Spotlight: Lauren Marsh

Author Pic.jpg
Photo Credit: Kristin Gillis Photography

Lauren Marsh, also known as L. S. Kilroy, is the author of a new YA dystopian novel, The Vitruvian Heir, her debut novel.The story follows Lorelei “Lore” Fetherston, an aristocrat with a rebellious streak and a penchant for writing – something forbidden among her sex – as she tries to carve out her own destiny despite the oppressive regime. I got the chance to talk to Marsh about her writing and The Virtuvian Heir recently. Check out the interview below and make sure to check out her new novel.

Why did you start writing?

Growing up an asthmatic only child in a neighborhood of [elderly people], I made friends with books at a young age, both out of necessity and genuine enjoyment. Early exposure to the classics fueled my own writing. I began making up stories and would stay up until all hours feverishly writing summaries and illustrating book jackets for ideas as they came to me. These I kept in an old Snoopy and Woodstock suitcase under my bed. At age fifteen a man in a bookstore asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I replied, “Writer,” without hesitation. Being a writer is the one thing in my life I’ve never doubted.

Why did you choose to self-publish The Virtuvian Heir?

I [wanted] to attempt to be “traditionally published,” because I felt like and still feel that there’s a stigma around doing it yourself. However, I’m starting to change my thinking as more authors are publishing their own high quality works. When it came down to it, I wanted to get my story into the hands of readers before it became irrelevant and without waiting for an agent to decide my work is good enough for them to represent. I think it’s good enough and readers are mirroring that sentiment so that’s all that matters.

Is The Vitruvian Heir your first novel? 

It’s my first published novel, but it’s the third that I’ve completed.

How did you come up with the idea for this book?

When I was a sophomore in high school, my history teacher [told] us about the time when Catherine de’ Medici ruled the French court. She had a group of beautiful female spies called the Flying Squadron (L’escadron Volant), whom she recruited to seduce important men in court and then report back to her. My 15-year-old self took this fascinating lesson and formed an idea for a new story. What if a future version of the United States had somehow come under the control of an emperor who commanded that everything be returned to the Victorian and Edwardian periods – women were stripped of rights, had to wear corsets, were forced into arranged marriages, etc.?

And what if, there was a woman who was running this underground circle of female spies trained to extract information from powerful men? What if she was planning a coup? What if she sent her best girl in to charm the emperor himself? But then the girl falls in love with him…That was my teenage sensibility. That story was eventually discarded along with its bedfellows somewhere between high school and college. Then, a couple of years ago, when women’s rights issues were heavy in the media, the germ of this idea resurfaced and became The Vitruvian Heir.

How long did it take for you to write this novel and publish it?

I worked on it for about two years sporadically, but the most concentrated work – the bulk of the writing and the design, etc., spanned about six months.

How do you think your novel compares to the other dystopian novels out right now?

Someone recently said it’s like “Downton Abbey and The Hunger Games had a baby,” and I think that’s pretty accurate. It’s also been compared to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Orwell’s 1984, which are, of course, enormous compliments. When I was reminded of this idea again by the news surrounding contraception and our reproductive rights that was such a hot media topic back in 2011, I kept hearing women say “I fought this battle thirty years ago. I never thought I would be fighting it again,” and that stuck with me while I was writing. Because I think yes, any idea of a dystopian future with new and unimaginable challenges (like The Hunger Games) is quite jarring, [but] I think what’s more frightening is the idea that as a society, we continue to repeat our mistakes and the idea that such a regression is possible.

It’s happened to women in other countries already. So, I think my book – even though it’s set far in the future – is more about the danger of repeating the past, which is why I thought the Neo-Victorian, steampunk backdrop was the most appropriate for it to unfold over. As for readers, there’s something for everyone – there’s almost unstoppable action, romance, rebellion, and strong social commentary.

Will there be a sequel to this novel?

I have an idea for two other potential books in the series to make a trilogy, but I’m not committing to that just yet.

What authors have inspired you and/or your writing? 

I’m a huge throwback to the classics so anything Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Aldous Huxley, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Edith Wharton, [Fyodor] Dostoevsky, [F. Scott] Fitzgerald, Harper Lee. But my favorite book of all time is Michael Cunningham’s The Hours. I re-read it this past summer and it’s just pure joy. I’m pretty sure the meaning of life is in that book.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

This advice may sound unconventional, but it’s worked for me. It’s true that practice makes perfect and you should try to get into a routine to hone your craft – take a class, workshop with fellow writers, and do the thing. Stephen King said “Writers write,” and that’s true. If you want to be good at something, you need to work at it. However, that isn’t always easy. Sometimes with schedules and what not, especially if you work full-time at a job that sucks away your energy, if you have a relationship that you need to devote time to, or a child, you can’t carve out a determined amount of time every day to write. I would go weeks without writing a word even when I was in the middle of working on a book. Sometimes it wasn’t even because of other factors in my life, it was just because I didn’t feel like it. If I’m not inspired and I’m not feeling it, I can’t write. And I think that’s okay. Because every time I’ve tried to force it, the product is crap.

So my advice is: Write, but only when you feel it. Even though I don’t write creatively every single day, I’ve still managed to produce three books and a slew of short stories in spite of being a high school teacher at one point and having a very stressful corporate job at another. When you feel it and when you’re enjoying it, pushing yourself to work when you go home at night isn’t as hard as you might think.

Are you working on any other projects right now?

Yes, I’m halfway through another novel called The Clothes That Make You. It’s the polar opposite of The Vitruvian Heir. Set in 1967 New England suburbia it follows Sally, a quiet misfit dealing with the fresh grief of losing her father and her unlikely friendship with the new girl at school – a feisty civil rights activist who identifies as a boy. I have a self-imposed goal of completing a draft by year end. We’ll see how that goes.

To find out more about Marsh, check out her website and purchase The Vitruvian Heir here.


Author Spotlight: Keira Gillett

Hi everyone, welcome. Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Keira Gillett about the second book in her middle grade fantasy adventure trilogy set in Norway. Keira is self-published, and this is not only her second book, but the second book she’s published this year. Let’s get started!

Keira: Hi Zakiya, thanks for having me! I’m glad to be here.

cover reveal

Q: How do you write? Do you know everything before you start a book?

Keira: Just the opposite actually. I found that boxing myself in blocked creativity and kept me from putting words on the page. When I write a book, or a trilogy, as is the case with Zaria Fierce, I focus on the big picture and the large landmarks that mark the way along the journey. Starting Zaria Fierce I knew a handful of things which I would build the story around. For instance, I knew how book one and book two would end, but I also knew how the final confrontation would resolve at the end of the trilogy, and since that was the destination I was flexible even on where and how to end the first two books. For Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword I knew we’d visit giants, fairies, and dwarves to get to the sword, but how each group would interact with our adventurers I couldn’t have told you until I was in the midst of writing those scenes. It made writing as fun for me as I hope reading is for fans.

Q: What is your favorite scene in Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword?

Keira: So I asked my mom this question, right, and she said (as moms will do), “I don’t know. I liked all of it.” That was super unhelpful because I felt the same way. I still do, but I’m going to be good and pick a couple of scenes that are just magical to me.

  • I loved how Zaria and her friends enter and leave the high court of Jötunheim. I loved their time with the giants. Coming up with giant names is a blast. They make me giggle.
  • I also get excited by how Hector takes everyone into Niffleheim (the fairy realm). At first, it was just a super cool entrance and sequence into the next movement of the book, but then it became even cooler to me because it meant something to the fey (which, when I started the scene, wasn’t even on my mind).
  • Lastly, I am super pleased with how the end sequence came out with Zaria and the sword. It is exactly what I wanted. I wouldn’t change anything. And, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

stack of books

Q: Where did you experience writer’s block in Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword?

Keira: The first block came right after Zaria and her friends left the giants. I kept thinking, what next? How do we get to the fairies? I also had to figure out how Aleks as a changeling would react going there, because he was abandoned by them in the human world, and his grandmother had told him stories all his life about magical Norway. What would she have said?

While I thought about this, I was working on edits and revisions for Zaria’s first adventure in Norway, so I was able to keep my focus on the world, and not dwell too much on the problematic aspect of advancing the storyline in the second book. By the time I was finished with edits, I’d become so immersed in the first book that I had to reread everything in the second book, which took some time as I was naughty and edited as I went.

When I caught up to where I had been before, Aleks’ dilemma was obvious, and how they would travel into the realm of the fairies, and what would happen while they were there. It all fell into place as easy as plopping down on a couch; the support/structure was there, ready and waiting for me to pick up where I left off. I just had to start writing.

Q: Do you do anything to keep you focused while writing?

Keira: I listen to music… generally without lyrics while writing and generally with lyrics while editing. I also like to be isolated from people while I write/edit. You can check out more about my listening habits and hear the playlist for the book at my friend, Emily’s, blog.

Q: Is there any advice you would give to young writers?

Keira: You are capable of writing a book and you’re capable of self-publishing it you want to go that route. Take every step one at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be a published author. Just be sure to finish writing the book!!!

Thank you again, Zakiya. I loved being here and talking about the book. If you have any questions for me – share in a comment and I’ll take the time to answer them!

Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland SwordBook Two in the Zaria Fierce Trilogy

Summary: If Zaria Fierce had her say, being a princess would mean you’d never have to wait for news. In the eight months since Olaf tricked her, Zaria has felt a near constant mixture of restlessness, listlessness, and hopelessness. When the time comes to fix past mistakes, she is more than ready to climb aboard the ship sailing towards the giants. Summertime in Norway promises many more adventures, but also many more perils… something sinister lurks beneath the surface following her every move, haunting her, disturbing her dreams, and stealing her peace. Can Zaria figure out what it is and stop it before it’s too late?

Release Date: November 6, 2015

Available in E-book, Paperback, and Audiobook (Coming Soon)

Praise for Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest (Book 1):

“Are you in the mood for an old fashioned magical jaunt? Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett is a classic “perilous adventure” book for middle grade readers.” Jennifer Bardsley, The YA Gal

“A captivating blending of fantasy storytelling with today’s technology. At the base of this tale is deep, abiding friendship that stands the tests of time, adventure and even danger.” Kathy Haw, Goodreads Review

“A great book with a lovely story and amazing characters. It’s a fantasy and adventure book that will be the delight of Narnia fans and those looking for a bit of Norwegian folklore thrown into it.” Ner, A Cup of Coffee and a Book

“If you’re looking for an action-packed adventure dipped in fantasy, look no further. This book kept me on my toes with its many cliffhangers and plot twists; it was quite hard to put down at times.” Meredith, All ‘Bout Them Books and Stuff

“I love when a story jumps right in and hooks me like this one did. I highly recommend you look into it if you are in the mood for a fun adventure. I also recommend that you get it for any book loving middle schooler you know.” Emily, Midwestern Book Nerd


Filip slung his window open and tossed out his backpack. It landed in a thump in the hedgerow. Aleks pulled it out and slung it over his shoulder with his own bag.

“How’re you getting down?”

“Hopefully with your stargazer.”

“Then why toss down your bag?” Aleks asked, exasperated.

“Just in case,” Filip said with a wink at Zaria.

She suppressed a smile. She looked to the others, “Does anybody have rope?”

Aleks and Geirr both nodded. Then Geirr unzipped his bag and pulled out a neat coil from on top. He tossed it to Filip, who snatched it up as it sailed by the window. He disappeared into his bedroom and reappeared moments later slinging the coil out the window. It unraveled to the ground.

“Good,” Filip said briskly. “It’s long enough. Now let’s see if it holds.”

Filip quickly scaled the side of the house and they gathered their belongings preparing to dash. Without warning, Mrs. Storstrand stuck her head out of a bottom window and shrieked at the sight of them.

“Just what do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.

“Run!” Filip shouted, grabbing his friends’ sleeves and rushing for the street.

Aleks cursed and threw Filip his backpack while slinging his own around to the front and unzipping a pocket. He looked frazzled as he dug inside the opening. Mrs. Storstrand was quick. She was already out of the house and chasing after them. She threatened life and limb and the most terrible of all – letting Filip’s father know what he was about.

At last Aleks found the stargazer – a shiny purplish egg-shaped object perforated with stars – and almost dropped it in his haste. After a brief fumble, Aleks located the largest star, and hastily jabbed his finger into the hole. Just like that, Mrs. Storstrand froze mid-run. But so too did Christoffer, Filip, and Geirr.

Aleks looked at Zaria and to the others. “Damn,” he hissed. “Wait! How are you not frozen too?”


Keira Gillett author pictureAuthor Bio: Keira Gillett is a technical publications librarian, book blogger, world traveler, artist, and now author. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting. From an early age her mother instilled a love of the written word, as such she has always been a big reader. Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, is about a young girl who must complete a quest to save her friend from a nasty river-troll.


Social Media: Twitter (keiragillett), Facebook (zariafiercetrilogy), Pinterest (zariafierce)

Author Spotlight: Katie Sise

Source: Twitter

Katie Sise is multitalented. She makes and sells her own jewelry, been on TV, and has written both nonfiction and fiction books. I had the pleasure of talking to her and learning about her writing, her newest books, her jewelry making, and much more.

What first inspired you to start writing?

“I’ve always loved to write. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing, even as early as seven and eight-years-old. Writing [is] how I understand the world. I always loved stories as a little kid, and still do today. That need to tell a story is what inspires me to write.”

What was the transition from writing a nonfiction book (Creative Girl) to a fiction novel (The Boyfriend App) like?

“Writing fiction is so different from writing nonfiction, which I learned the hard way. I practiced writing fiction for years before The Boyfriend App clicked. Writing fiction every day was how I learned what worked plot-wise, how to create characters, and how to pace a story. I’m still making mistakes and learning with each new book.”

What was the inspiration behind The Boyfriend App?

“I wanted to create an intelligent heroine whose smarts get her into trouble, and then gets her out of it. I also love exploring the effects that technology has on our lives, and this was a fun way to do it.”

What is the sequel to The Boyfriend App about?

The Pretty App is a companion novel told from Blake Dawkin’s perspective. Blake is Audrey’s sort-of nemesis in The Boyfriend App, so it was a lot of fun to get inside her head and write from her POV. The Pretty App is the story of Blake’s wild and crazy journey to a reality television show in LA based on the premise of The Pretty App, which is another out-of-control app that makes users their most beautiful selves but in a controversial way.”

Are you working on any other novels right now?

“I’m working on a brand new series – I can’t share too much about that one yet, but I’m hoping readers who liked The Boyfriend App will like this one, too.”

Besides writing you also make jewelry. What first got you interested in that profession?

“I’ve always loved creative projects, and when I was in my early twenties I especially loved fashion. I was working in a clothing boutique, and a customer asked how much the necklace I was wearing cost. I’d made the necklace myself but she still wanted to buy it so I quoted a price, she bought it, and the rest was history. The owner of the boutique was very supportive; she cleared a shelf for me and allowed me to start selling my pieces there. Being in her store (Dernier Cri) led to all kinds of fun creative work: I started doing television hosting for style segments, then wrote Creative Girl because of the combination of jewelry and television work, which really then led to writing fiction. I owe a lot to that boutique owner, who I’m still close friends with today.”

Where can fans buy your jewelry?

Outside of writing and jewelry making, what do you do in your free time?

“I read, obsess over movies and my favorite TV shows, and spend time with my family.”

Who are your favorite authors and what are some of your favorite books to read?

I love Kieran Scott’s writing, and particularly love her new book, Only Everything. I also can’t wait for Anna Carey’s Blackbird. This summer I brought Jen Calonita’s Summer State of Mind to the pool and Tana French is my favorite adult writer.”

Do you have any advise for aspiring writers?

“Keep writing! Every day. Set a word goal for yourself ([try] 1000 words per day) and stick to it. You can write an entire book that way in less than three months.”

Is there anything else you would like to add or say to fans?

“Thank you for reading!”


Follow her on Twitter and check her out on Facebook.

Author Spotlight: Elizabeth Eulberg

Source: Facebook

If you’ve never had the chance to meet Elizabeth Eulberg you are certainly missing out. Besides being one of the sweetest authors I’ve ever met, she’s also very talented and very cool. Not only can she write amazing books, such as The Lonely Hearts Club and Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality, she also knows how to play multiple instruments and is an exquisite traveler. Check out my interview with her below.

What first inspired you to start writing?

“I always enjoyed telling myself stories as a kid and thought it would be fun to write a book, but I was too intimidated to start. Then Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants) encouraged me to write. It was the boost I needed to start. I’m so thankful for him!”

What was the first book you ever wrote and what was it about?

“My very first book was The Lonely Hearts Club, which is about a girl who has decided to give up dating guys in high school because they aren’t worth the trouble. What started as something for her to get through heartbreak ends up taking over the school and craziness ensues!”

When will the sequel to The Lonely Hearts Club be released?

We Can Work It Out is coming out early next year! There are going to be three e-short stories about Penny Lane and the Lonely Hears Club that will be online for FREE this fall [as well]. I can’t say much about them, but the first [one] is coming out Oct. 1 and will be Halloween themed. The others will be out Nov. 1 and Dec. 1. Hopefully I’ll get to share more soon!”

Besides the TLHC sequel, are you working on any other projects right now?

“I’m working on a couple different projects. Unfortunately I can’t say anything about them yet but I’m excited about them both!”

What was the best place you ever visited and where do you still want to go?

“Australia is one of my favorite places – it’s a gorgeous country with wonderful people. I got to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef and hold a Koala – what more could you want! I really want to explore South America more – especially Brazil and Chile.”

Who is your favorite music artist?

“I’m a huge fan of CHVRCHES, Ingrid Michaelson, Tegan and Sara, Panama Wedding, Bastille, Ed Sheeran, and of course, The Beatles!”

What instruments do you play and what kind of music do you like to play?

“I play mostly the guitar and piano (although I can play the clarinet and drums, but it’s been awhile for both). I generally play rock music on the guitar (The Beatles, Oasis, OK Go, Snow Patrol, etc.), but play classical on the piano (Mozart and Beethoven are favorites).”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“What is this ‘free time’ you’re referring to? I’ve actually been working on one of my secret projects for nearly three years now in any spare time I have in between edits, but at night I go to concerts, read, or go to karaoke and pretend that I’m a rock star!

Who are some of your favorite writers and what are some of your favorite books to read?

“So many! I’m fortunate that I get to be friends with a lot of the writers I admire. Some recent favorites are Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski, The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith, Only Everything by Kieran Scott, and I’ll read anything by Ally Carter and E. Lockhart.

How do you come up with ideas for your novels?

“My ideas come from a lot of different places. The seed for Better Off Friends was planted by my editor, so that was the first book where the original idea didn’t come from me. Take a Bow was inspired by my love of music and my desire as a teen to go to a performing arts high school. The Lonely Hearts Club came from a friend who always dumps her friends when she gets a boyfriend. After I get the original idea, I start building the character and plot from there.”

Do you think you’ll ever write adult novels?

“There may be a possibility that one of my projects that I’m working on is not YA. That’s all I can say.”

What’s your writing process like?

“Everything starts with one idea. Then I work on building on the characters and the arc of the story from there. I spend a lot of time on the characters before I sit down to write. I use index cards to do a basic outline of the plot and I also have a notebook for every book that includes character profiles and chapter outlines. I usually have everything figured out before I sit down to write a single word. I’m a very fast first drafter (I believe in just getting to the end) and then I revise several times on my own before a single person reads it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write for yourself, first and foremost. Don’t worry about if anybody will like it or if it will sell. Write the story you want to read. And no matter what, do not give up!

Is there anything else you would like to add or say to fans?

Yes, a BIG THANK YOU! I get to have the best job in the world, which wouldn’t be possible without readers. XOXO

To learn more about Elizabeth Eulberg and her writing check out her website and Facebook page.

Author Spotlight: Eniola Prentice


Introducing Eniola Prentice a new writer on the scene. She was born in Lagos, Nigeria where she began to pen her stories as early as nine years old, inspired by an eclectic group of writers. Still is her debut novel and the first in a series of book. It was in her third year of medical school that she was inspired by God and the unique and inspiring stories of friends that later became her family, to start writing this novel. Check out her author interview below and make sure to purchase Still on Amazon or on iBooks.

Eniola Prentice: Inspired by God and Medicine

Q: What is your story?

Eniola Prentice: Lol. I really do love that question because everybody has a story. How long do you have?   I am someone who has beat incredible odds to get to where I am today by the grace of God. Getting and staying in medical school was [a] struggle, publishing this novel was a struggle but I did it by the grace of God.  I have many definitions, doctor, Nigerian, female etc. but I don’t think those categories adequately tell my story. The recurring theme of my life story is never giving up and God dragging me to the finish line with the helm of his garment. I hope my life one day inspires others to chase their dreams in education, music writing, in whatever with an unparalleled tenacity. With God [and] with you, there really is nothing that is impossible.

Q: What is Still (and the Still series) about?

EP: At its core, Still is about God’s love for four flawed characters. It includes a fifth character of medical school which is an essential component of my plot. The novel is about their intertwining relationships between each other and their friends against the backdrop of medical school. The main character, Sola starts medical school with the hope that it’s a new beginning for her but as life never turns out how we plan she meets an unlikely character, Tayo who she had encountered in a past life. She also develops and ignores feelings for Ladi, another classmate while she is trying to convince Nikky, another classmate that she should steer clear of Tayo. Yes, she does have her hands full.

Q: Is Still based on personal experiences?

EP: Yes, it is a tongue in cheek memorial of my experience in medical school. When I graduated I realized just how self-absorbed we were. Our whole lives revolved around being in medical school, the gossip, [and] what we wanted to do in the future. We were aware that we were going through an exciting process and enjoyed every minute of it. Yes it was hard work but it was also fun.

Q: Tell me about your journey as a writer

EP: My journey as a writer actually started when I was younger. I wrote my first official novel or novella when I was twelve years [old]. It was called Dark Shadows. Before that, I would use stories from the Sweet Valley High series and Babysitters Club as ‘inspiration’ for my novels. I put inspiration in quotes because my sister always accused me of copying the stories and I would get upset. It led to a lot of sibling squabbling. Anyway these novels inspired me and tickled my imagination. I never took writing seriously as a medium for reaching people until a light bulb went off in my head in medical school and I began writing again. I realized the imagination I had should not be dismissed as childish but that it was a gift from God.

Q: Why was writing this book so important to you?

EP: It was important because I believe God placed it in my heart to write it. I felt He has a plan and purpose for the series so I am going to obey him to the best of my abilities.

Q: Tell us a little about your life now?

EP: My life now is in transition. I just published my novel and now I am starting medical residency in Virginia so I also have to move to a new city. I am excited about all the changes in my life and I am looking forward to starting a new chapter of life.

Check out the synopsis for Still below and buy it today.


A broken soul,

an alcoholic,

a certifiable genius,

a Christian man

and a secret that will destroy the bonds of their friendship.

When self-proclaimed atheist Fadesola, gets into medical school she believes that it’s a fresh start of sorts for her. Until she discovers her class mate is charming and handsome Tayo Smith, a man she encountered in a violent moment years ago. This revelation shatters Fadesola’s already fragile emotional state but hope comes where she least expects it. A seemingly innocent friendship with Tayo’s friend, Ladi, slowly develops into a smoldering relationship with both afraid to acknowledge their mutual feelings. Things get even more complicated when Nikky, Fadesola’s classmate and friend, ignores her desperate warnings and decides that Tayo is the man she is meant to be with. However, within the complexities of this friendship these flawed individuals will experience God’s redemptive grace in a setting each believed his love would never find them. Still, the first book of a four part series is a coming of age story about navigating through medical school in the first year, complete with hilarious hook ups and breaks ups, legendary parties and incessant studying, and experiencing the triumph of success and disappointment of failure.

Also to celebrate the release of her novel, Eniola is hosting a raffle. You can win a signed copy of the novel, a mystery gift, and a $40 Amazon Gift Card. Click here to enter.

Maria V. Snyder: From Meteorologist to Novelist


If you told Maria V. Snyder 20 years ago, that she would be a New York Times best-selling author, she probably wouldn’t have believed you. Snyder’s dream was never to become an author but instead to be a storm chaser. It wasn’t until she got her degree in meteorology and became an environmental meteorologist that she began writing. It was then that she realized she loved writing more than studying meteorology and went back to school to get her Masters of Arts degree in fiction writing from Seton Hill University, where she now teaches.

I recently had the opportunity to get to know Snyder, learning more about the start of her career, love for writing, hobbies, and what she’s got planned next.

Zakiya N. Jamal (ZJ): How did you first get interested in writing?

Maria V. Snyder (MS): Boredom! I was working as an environmental meteorologist for a consulting firm and I was either crazy busy or bored. During the slow times, I jotted down story ideas and possible plots.

ZJ: When did you write your first novel?

MS: I started my first novel in 1996. I wrote about a chapter a month and submitted the pages to my critique group for feedback then made revisions. It was a slow process, but I finished the novel in 2001.

ZJ: What was the transition from being a meteorologist to novelist like?

MS: It was a slow transition. When my son was born, I went from working full time to part time, then, when my daughter was born two years later, I quit working as a meteorologist. Writing at that time was more a hobby – something to do that was creative and fun. When I finished Poison Study [my first novel], I thought the book was pretty good so I submitted it to agents and publishers. After 57 rejections, I received an acceptance! [In total] the transition spanned eight years and instead of going back to work, I kept writing.

ZJ: Where do you get the concepts for your novels?

MS: Everywhere! I get story ideas from books, magazine articles, TV shows, movies, the theater, from something my kids say, from my travels, or from the people I meet. Life is [a] fodder for my stories.

ZJ: Almost all of your series are trilogies except the Outside In/Inside Out pair. Is there a reason why you write your series in the form of trilogies? Can readers expect a third Outside In novel?

MS: I don’t really consider my books trilogies. What happens is, after I write three books about the same characters, I’ve had enough. I want to move on to new characters and new worlds with a whole new set of problems. In my opinion, trilogies are just one huge story broken into three parts. As for another Insider book, there are no plans for a third book at this time.

ZJ: Are you working on any new projects currently?

MS: I’m working on a new set of Study books with Yelena and Valek. There has been enough time from the original three books for me to be excited about the characters again and I [came up with] a new idea. The first of them is tentatively scheduled for January 2015 release.

ZJ: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

MS: Lots! I have a number of writing advice articles on my website that they can read but my biggest piece of advice is always persistence! I’d been writing for 10 years and submitting for eight before I sold anything. [You should] learn the craft of writing as well as the business of writing and attend writer’s conferences and classes if you can; consider that time an apprenticeship. Get feedback on your stories from fellow writers before submitting. Joining a critique group is very helpful. I also find that if I let a story sit on my desk for a few weeks I can pick out all the problems, typos, and inconsistencies easier. I agree whole heartily with Stephen King’s advice: ‘If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.’ And don’t give up!

ZJ: The worlds of the Study and Glass series and the Healers series seem to be similar. Is there a connection between the two worlds at all or is that just a coincidence?

MS: There isn’t a connection; they are two separate worlds. However, I will admit there are many similarities between them. In both worlds there is magic and a lack of technology – no electricity or modern machines. I just think it’s more fun and challenging to have characters [that] ride horses, fight with swords, and don’t have instant communication. Many fantasies are set in medieval times, but with my worlds I didn’t want to be restricted to what words I could or couldn’t use and those times were not the best for women and my ladies are strong, smart, and independent.

ZJ: What is your writing process like? Do you start writing as soon as you come up with an idea or do you do a lot of research first?

MS: I don’t do that much research before writing. I’m a “seat-of-the-pants” writer; I discover the story’s events as I write so I never know what I’m going to need as far as research is concerned. As I’m writing, I’ll encounter things I need to research so I’ll make a list as I go and just put a comment in my story and move on. However, that doesn’t work for things that propel the story and are integral to the plot. For example, in my Glass books, the main character, Opal, is a glass artist and I needed to take a number of glass blowing classes while working on those stories.

ZJ: What do you do when you’re not writing?

MS: I enjoy playing volleyball and I love to ski. I also dabble with photography and make jewelry plus I read and love to travel.

ZJ: Who are some of your favorite authors?

MS: This is always a hard question to answer and I’m glad you [only] asked for ‘some’. Some are Rachel Caine, Illona Andrews, Mindy Klasky, Jeri Smith-Ready, Kate Elliott, Gail Carriger, Harlan Coben, Sebastian Junger, and Dick Francis.

ZJ: If you didn’t choose to be an author what do you think you would be doing?

MS: Before I started writing seriously, I always thought it would be fun to work in a bookstore or be a librarian. Now if I had to change careers, I would become a criminal psychologist – I find the criminal mind fascinating!

ZJ: What has been your greatest accomplishment/experience as an author?

MS: This one is easy to answer. A teen girl who was contemplating suicide was inspired by the actions and courage of Yelena (my protagonist from the Study books) that she decided to keep living. That is without a doubt my greatest accomplishment as a writer – better than any award or being on a bestseller list.

Snyder would like to thank her fans for their loyalty and support and for inspiring her to be a better writer. She hopes that you continue to support her as she continues with her writing. If you’re interesting in learning more about Snyder’s works you can read the first chapter of all her books on her website and read a few of her short stories there, as well.