Field Trip Friday: April 24, 2015


- For the YA authors among us, this article on the neuroscience of why teens are the way they are.


- Book Riot features an amazing conversation with authors Courtney Summers and Laurie Halse Anderson.

- Our wonderful Sarah Enni interviews our also wonderful Kristin Halbrook on her First Draft podcast series this week. I have already listened and you'll want to, too!

- The B&N teen blog has a list of LGBTQ under-the-radar reads.


- Publisher's Weekly has an article about the 'plummet' of sales in juvenile books.

- This tweet will make you feel better about your life.


- Maybe I am the only one who's super into mammoths but this article is still interesting either way.

- MTV has an interesting article about the departure of the Wonder Woman director from the film, and about the difficulties women face in Hollywood.

- It was a week of Hollywood ladies making statements. There's a parody video for #makeitfair, and this sketch from Inside Amy Schumer.

- NPR has an interesting article about mistaken identity and people not understanding how to use twitter.

- Several Native actors walked off the set of Adam Sandler's latest movie, and it sounds like this was a seriously good call on their part.


- Buzzfeed's article on Abercrombie's new look awesomely states that Abercrombie will have to: "adjust its infamous phantasmagoria of heavy scents, dark lighting, and loud music."

- Buzzfeed also has some great charts about how you use your work email. (Fairly accurate for me!)

Cover Reveal: Darkness Brutal by Rachel Marks

 I've been reading excerpts of DARKNESS BRUTAL by Rachel Marks for the past couple of years, and I can't tell you how excited I am to share the cover with you all! 
The author:
Rachel A. Marks is a cancer survivor, a writer and artist, a surfer and dirt-bike rider, chocolate lover and keeper of faerie secrets. Her four kids and amazing hubby put up with her nerdiness with tremendous grace, even when she makes them watch Buffy or Smallville re-runs for days on end. She was voted: Most Likely To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse, but hopes she'll never have to test the theory.
The blurb:
Aidan O’Linn’s childhood ended the night he saw a demon kill his mother and mark his sister, Ava, with Darkness. Since then, every three years the demons have returned to try to claim her. Living in the gritty, forgotten corners of Los Angeles, Aidan has managed to protect his sister, but he knows that even his powers to fight demons and speak dead languages won’t keep her safe for much longer.
In desperation, Aidan seeks out the help of Sid, the enigmatic leader of a rag-tag group of teens who run LA Paranormal, an Internet reality show that fights demons and ghosts. With them, Aidan believes he’s finally found a haven for Ava. But then he meets Kara, a broken girl who can spin a hypnotic web of passionate energy, and she awakens powers inside of him he didn’t know he had―and unleashes a new era of war between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness.
With the fate of humanity in his hands, can Aidan keep the Darkness held back and accept his terrifying destiny, or will he and his sister fall to the same fate as their mother?

Basically, an urban fantasy lover's dream!

Find Darkness Brutal (on sale July 1st) and Rachel Marks online at:

Happy Release Day to Kristin Halbrook and EVERY LAST PROMISE!

Today is the day! Our own Kristin Halbrook's gorgeous novel, EVERY LAST PROMISE, is out today. We hope that you love it as much as we do!

 To celebrate with Kristin, the rest of us Highwayers wanted to share our Last Promises with you. Some of these might be hard to keep, others not so much. Either way, we promise:




Congratulations, Kristin! We are so proud of you!

Field Trip Friday: April 17, 2015


- Corrine Duyvis interviewed Anne Ursu about her middle grade, THE REAL BOY, and discussed writing an autistic lead.

- Series, or stand alone? Author Alex J. Cavanuagh weighs the pros and cons.

- Hear author Erin Bowman talk about pushing through to The End in her First Draft interview!


- The hashtag #ToTheGirls -- created by the amazing Courtney Summers in support of her new release, ALL THE RAGE -- took the hell off, filling the Internet with encouraging words for teen girls (and all girls). It trended worldwide, and was covered by the New York Timesthe Today show, and Sofia Vergara (!!!!). Congrats to Courtney!!

- Publisher's Weekly created a great photo roundup of last week's AWP conference in Minneapolis! Check out Highwayer Stephanie Keuhn!

- The YALLFest crew expanded to Santa Monica, California for the first annual YALLWest! A few of the YA Highway members were there, and much fun was had! They announced the keynote speakers and dates for next fall's YALLFest (Nov. 13-14, 2015)! Awesomely, entertainment trade site SSN made a list of 8 titles from YALLFest that are begging to be made into movies.

- Kelley at Oh The Books reprises her incredible series: Book Covers Through the Eyes of a Synesthete.

- The ladies of Stacked share how they keep up with new YA releases! There's tons of great links, but you may want to break out a paper and pencil, too.

- Mallory Ortberg knows from books, and in all her many years of reading, she's collected what she's gleaned about heterosexual female desire. "[T]ruly lovable men have eyes hidden so deeply behind a cascade of floppy chestnut hair they are effectively blind."


- What do authors really think of their publishers? Check out this survey of what more than 800 traditionally-published authors think of the firms that published them. Results? If you're disappointed by your publisher's marketing skills and/or strategy, you are not alone: More than a quarter of respondents felt that their books "weren't really marketed at all."

- HarperCollins signed a deal with Amazon to sell its books.

- Tumblr's Rachel Fershleiser talks to the Los Angeles Times about books, nail art, and how Tumblr is connecting readers and authors. The Times calls Tumblr "an essential online literary ecosystem," and we 100% agree.

- The 2014 RT Winners were announced!

- Diversity panels at book conferences may not be achieving the desired goal, Justina Ireland says. "Diversity panels make conference organizers feel like they’re doing their part to further diversity, but all they really do is further ghettoize diverse authors and marginalized voices because the audience for those panels are the people who are ALREADY LISTENING. And that is the problem."


- Consider it a movement: Librarians and the rest of the world are calling for the singular 'they'!

- Do yourself a favor and read a health professor's live-tweet session from her son's abstinence-only health class. (It involves rolling a die, and paper babies.)

- Read the heartbreaking notes that third grade students wrote to their teacher when given the prompt, "What do you wish your teacher knew?" Honest admissions of loneliness and lack of support at home prompted the teacher to share.

- Six times Sesame Street made you laugh out loud with a book parody (Catching Fur!).


- Cheryl just needs to party like it's her birthday.

- Kate, Sarah, Deb and Kirsten were hanging out this week, and a few *truly* random videos came to mind. We'll share them with you all! 

Field Trip Friday: April 10, 2015


I love this lovely post by author Kat Yeh about how the power of a book--and its contents--can help children cope.

Wanting to write diversely does not entitle anyone to another person's story. If someone asked for author Avi's experiences, he'd reply "It's none of your business."

This is a great post, based on a talk given at this week's AWP conference, with nine ways YA authors can break down cultural stereotypes about girls through their writing.


A quote mis-attributed to Maya Angelou--and featured on Angelou's recently-revealed forever stamp--actually was written by children's author Joan Walsh Anglund. I'm not surprised USPS messed this up, since they mess up most things. *post office rage*

Sarah Mulhern Gross writes how teachers and the community can use books in the curriculum to effect needed social change.

Love the wild, wild West? Kimberly over at Stacked put together a list of YA (and a few MG) books with classic and modern western themes.

And if that isn't enough for your TBR list, Kelly Jensen rounds up 145+ YA books hitting the shelves this spring.


What happens when you hear, over and over, "I already have a book like that on my list"? NONE OF THE ABOVE author I.W. Gregorio discusses the problems when editors submit "I don't need another Asian-American (insert diversity of choice here) main character on my list" as a reason to reject a book.

VIDA released the 2014 Larger Literary Landscape Count, looking out the numbers of women authors published in the past year and which publishers followed through on promises to increase their overall diversity.


How much do musicians get paid every time their songs are streamed? (Hint: not much.) Here's a boobish-looking chart that crunches the numbers.

Following a number of heartbreaking incidents involving LGBTQ youth, President Obama calls for an end to "conversion" youth therapies.


I'm not sure if I like this cover of Radiohead's Creep better than the cover from the movie The Book of Life, but it's a definite contender.

Hope you have a great weekend! By the time you read this, I'll be on my way here, so my expectations for this weekend are high. :)

Cover Reveal: THIS ORDINARY LIFE by Jennifer Walkup

Today we are so pleased to share the cover reveal for Jennifer Walkup's forthcoming contemporary, THIS ORDINARY LIFE (Luminis, October 1, 2015).

Also, for readers and bloggers going to BEA: Jenn will be signing advanced copies of THIS ORDINARY LIFE on Friday, May 29 at 1:00 at Table 8 in the main signing area. Be sure to stop by!

 And now, the cover....

Sometimes hope is the most extraordinary gift of all.

High-school radio host Jasmine Torres's life is full of family dysfunction, but if she can score the internship of her dreams with a New York City radio station, she knows she can turn things around.

That is, until her brother Danny’s latest seizure forces her to miss the interview, and she’s back to the endless loop of missing school for his doctor appointments, picking up the pieces of her mother’s booze-soaked life, and stressing about Danny’s future.

Then she meets Wes. He’s the perfect combination of smart, cute, and funny. He also happens to have epilepsy like her brother. Wes is living a normal life despite his medical issues, which gives Jasmine hope for Danny. But memories of her cheating ex-boyfriend keep her from going on a real date with Wes, no matter how many times he asks her.           

Jasmine can’t control everything. Not who wins the internship, not her mother’s addiction, not her brother’s health -- not even where her heart will lead her. She wishes she could just have an ordinary life, but maybe what she already has is pretty extraordinary after all.

You can pre-order THIS ORDINARY LIFE today! 

Jenn's thoughts:

The cover process for THIS ORDINARY LIFE has been really fascinating. It was fun to see the different ideas presented, and hear the various feedback and wisdom that go into choosing a cover – from marketing and sales to focus groups and market research to publisher and bookseller feedback.

The final cover below is actually the second cover for THIS ORDINARY LIFE. (As a matter of fact, if you click the Amazon link above, the original cover may or may not still be the one that shows up).

I’m really excited about the final cover – not just because the artist did such a gorgeous job with it - but because it matches THIS ORDINARY LIFE so well. It captures Jasmine’s radio dj dream, but it also has grit and edge and attitude, which fits the story of her and her family perfectly. I really can’t wait to share this book with readers!:)

More about Jenn:

Jennifer Walkup is most often found writing, reading, and spending time with her husband and young sons.  A member of SCBWI and RWA, Jennifer also works as an editor and creative writing instructor, and is an advocate for Epilepsy awareness.  This Ordinary Life is her second novel. You can find her online at

Release Day: WATCH THE SKY by Kirsten Hubbard!

We are super excited to celebrate the release day of WATCH THE SKY by Kirsten Hubbard. So excited, in fact, that we decided to recreate the gorgeous cover to celebrate:

Finley Driza

Sarah Enni

Deb Driza

Lee Bross

Connor Driza

Kaitlin Ward

William Hart

Thomas Hart

Josh Hart

Amy Lukavics
Kate Hart
Stephanie Kuehn

Kristin Halbrook