Field Trip Friday: February 27, 2015


- Shannon Hale has a thought provoking post on school visits as a woman author.

- A guest post on Stacked Books discusses writing realistically flawed parents in YA.

- Author Natasha Sinel has some great thoughts on how authors are never quite satisfied. 


Buzzfeed has an amusing article about problems Stephen King fans have.

-A Scholastic report on kids' reading habits.

-Friend and former YA Highway member Kody Keplinger's THE DUFF made it to #2 this week on the NYT YA Bestseller list! We are all very excited for her.


- Lerner Publishing has acquired Egmont USA's list. 

- Barnes & Noble will be separating its college business from its retail & Nook business.

- Interlude Press, a boutique LGBTQ publisher, is launching a new YA imprint.


- This has been one heck of a winter, as I have experienced firsthand here in New England. One photographer even captured images of nearly frozen waves!

- The revenge porn guy doesn't get the irony of this situation.

- Anita Sarkeesian gave a talk on how video games could become more female friendly. This article reviews her talk in depth.

- Surveys show that audiences like diversity. Hopefully Hollywood figures this out soon.

- Parks & Recreation had its beautiful series finale this week, and many, many tears were shed.

- The Washington Post has an article about Tumblr's teen suicide epidemic. And in somewhat related news, Facebook rolled out some new tools this week to try and reach out to users who may be suicidal.

- The FCC voted in favor of net neutrality.


- Warren G and Kenny G perform together.

- A thing happened with escaped llamas and the internet loved it.

STONE IN THE SKY Blog Tour: Interview with Author Cecil Castellucci!

Blog Tour Schedule 

Today we are so honored to be a part of the Stone in the Sky blog tour, and we hope you enjoy this interview with the amazingly talented Cecil Castellucci!

Be sure to also check out Tin Star, as well as 'The Sound of Useless Wings,' a prequel short story featured over at


Hi Cecil! Congratulations on the upcoming release of your latest book, Stone in the Sky, the sequel to your sci-fi novel, Tin Star. What can you tell us about Stone in the Sky? What was it like to complete Tula’s story?

Stone in the Sky takes place a year after Tin Star.  Things have not gone quite right in Tula’s plan.  Reza and Caleb were both sent to the outer rim and Trevor was left behind.  This causes her a lot of guilt, especially as her relationship with Tournour becomes more confusing.  Then of course, everything changes when a rare plant is discovered to be blooming on Quint.  Where Tin Star was very internal and claustrophobic, seeing Tula hemmed in and cold, Stone in the Sky opens up to exploring the whole galaxy, as she becomes who she really is.

You’ve published books across numerous age groups and genres, and even across formats. How did you know this duology was going to be YA, and what does that designation mean to you?

I always feel that a story tells you how it wants to be written and then I write it.  Honestly, I never think in terms of designations.  That’s the publishers domain.  My job is to write the book and follow the character and see where they go and then to try to tell their story as true to the bone as possible.  For now, it seems as though my voice naturally lends itself to young adult fiction.  I think it is a moment where a person is really throwing down for what kind of a person they want to be and that’s pretty compelling.  As for Tula Bane and her story, I always knew that it was going to be a duet.  Book one was loosely inspired by Casablanca and book two I wanted to be a gold rush western.  It had to be two books because Tula survives in book one by shedding her humanness and mimicking aliens in order to survive.  In book two, she must reclaim her humanness.  So I always knew that it was going to be divided.  Two books felt natural to me.  I just want to get to the good parts! 

I know that you have a musical background, which I find interesting. Writing and music are obviously both creative processes, but one is collaborative while the other is less so.  How do you adjust to the solitary aspect of writing and is that something you enjoy?

It’s funny, because I don’t do music much anymore.  Wait, that’s not really true.  I’m writing the libretto to an opera right now.  But I mean, I don’t jam with a band anymore.  And I do miss it a lot.  But honestly, I think what makes me able to hang with the solitary aspect of writing is that I not only write novels, but I write comic books, too.  To me, writing comic books (and my opera) are collaborative processes and it’s kind of like being in a band.  I actually think that doing both allows me to be more generous when I’m working with someone, because I have this whole domain, novel writing, where I get to have my way 100%.  It frees me up for real, deep collaboration.  Which is the best part of being an artist I think. Doing cool stuff with other cool creative people.

Are there themes or ideas that you find yourself coming back to in your writing, whether conscious- or unconsciously?

This is something I’ve been thinking about lately.  Yes. I think I am always writing about the exiled and outsiders, about finding your true tribe and following your heart and about how art can save you.  And about real true long lasting life long love, in other words, not necessarily romantic, but the people that you keep forever as you travel along.  I think I am constantly trying to find out how to keep your independence.  I am allergic to group think, and I think that I keep writing about how to survive leaving that mainstream behind and be ok with it, because it’s scary to not follow the herd and strike off on your own.  It’s not popular, but it’s very rewarding. 

I know that you’re active in the Los Angeles kidlit community, which is very cool. What makes that community unique, and what do you enjoy most about being able to with connect local writers and readers?

I would say that I’m more active with the Los Angeles literary community in general than just the kidlit one and that’s what makes me seem so active!  I will say that I think that many people dismiss Los Angeles as being very Hollywood oriented and so people are always surprised across the board that there is such an active literary community here.  The reason why I organize so many things is because I like to hang out with other people who are creating stories.  LA is such a large unwieldy city that I think it is hard to find the center of it.  So it’s essential to be active in order to not feel completely isolated.  There are a lot of writers in Los Angeles, we are made of stories here.  But

being a novelist in a silver screen town is very different.  See, putting stuff out there is fun because conversation about craft and process just make us all stronger in our own work. That said, some of the things I do:  Run the LAPL Teen Author Reading Series (let me know if you are in town YA authors! Come panel with us!)  Former YA Editor at the LA Review of Books! And current Children’s Correspondence Curator for The Rumpus (Middle Grade authors, come write a letter for me)

What are some books that you’ve enjoyed recently?

I just caught up reading Aquaman (New 52) and it reminded me how much I would like to write Mera again.  I actually just read your book Charm & Strange!  It was great! (steph: thank you!) I read Through the Woods by Emily Carrol.  A wonderful comics story collection.  I also read a time travel book called The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer.  I’m not quite sure what I thought of it, which I think is a good sign.  When you are still mulling a book months later.  Currently I’m reading 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson which is really good but really dense.

What’s next for you?

Upcoming in 2016 I have a graphic novel with Joe Infurnari called Pearl in the Rough about a girl who rides the rails with an old hobo in 1932.  And I’m tinkering away at a first draft of a new book which I hope will become my first middle grade novel. 

Thank you, Cecil!

About the Book

Stone in the Sky (Tin Star #2)

In this thrilling follow-up to Tin Star, Tula will need to rely on more than just her wits to save her only home in the sky.
After escaping death a second time, Tula Bane is now even thirstier for revenge. She spends much of her time in the Tin Star CafĂ© on the Yertina Feray—the space station she calls home. But when it's discovered that the desolate and abandoned planet near the station has high quantities of a precious resource, the once sleepy space station becomes a major player in intergalactic politics. In the spirit of the Gold Rush, aliens from all over the galaxy race to cash in—including Tula's worst enemy.

*Indiebound Amazon * B&N * Powells Book Depository * Books-A-Million *


Tin Star 
 Amazon * B&N * Powells *Indiebound Book Depository * Books-A-Million 

 About the Author

 Cecil Castellucci is the author of books and graphic novels for young adults including Boy Proof, The Plain Janes, First Day on Earth, The Year of the Beasts, Tin Star and Odd Duck. Her picture book, Grandma’s Gloves, won the California Book Award Gold Medal. Her short stories have been published in Strange Horizons, YARN,, and various anthologies including, Teeth, After and Interfictions 2. She is the YA editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, Children’s Correspondence Coordinator for The Rumpus and a two time Macdowell Fellow. She lives in Los Angeles.  

Road Trip Wednesday: February 25, 2015

What's the best book you read in February?

Leave a comment here, link us to your own blog post, or tweet your answer using the hashtag #RoadTripWednesday. We'll do our best to share all the responses, and help you build your TBR pile!

Cover Reveal: EVOLUTION by Stephanie Diaz

We're so excited to host a cover reveal for the final installment in the EXTRACTION series by Stephanie Diaz. EVOLUTION concludes the saga of Clementine and Logan, two Surface-dwellers wrenched apart, and Clementine's mission to reunite them and end the planet's destruction! Have you been following Clementine and Logan's struggles? Are you DYING to see if they'll get a HEA? EVOLUTION isn't on sale until September, but you can see the striking, gorgeous cover today! As a bonus, we have Stephanie here to tell us her thoughts on the covers for her series.

Author Stephanie Diaz
"I’m so psyched about this cover. The stars! The colors! Red is my favorite, and I think it looks absolutely stunning with the blue. The designer, James Iacobelli, did such a fantastic job in keeping with the theme of the first two covers while also bringing something new and awesome to the table. I love that the galaxy is more prominent in this cover than in the others, because space travel plays a bigger role in Evolution than it did in the first two books.

I’ve been so incredibly lucky with every cover in this series, and I can’t thank James and the rest of the team at St. Martin’s enough. They were willing to listen to my thoughts in the design stage and change even tiny details to make sure I was happy with the final product. Each cover perfectly encapsulates the feel of the series—not to mention they look beautiful side by side. I can’t to wait to have all three displayed on my bookshelf!"


What do you think? We love it! Learn more about Stephanie and her series on Stephanie's website and her twitter.

#ScaryYAH: Two Sentence Horror Story #2

Happy Saturday, Spookies!!

Welcome to the second round of Two Sentence Horror Story. This feature was inspired by a fun flurry of posts last year all across the internet that displayed brilliant (and very creepy) stories that were only two sentences in length, total.

Prize Schedule:

Every single participant of the game is automatically entered to win a prize for the three times a year when names will be randomly drawn. These dates are:

Friday the 13th (of March) 2015

Saturday, October 31st, 2015 (in honor of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos)

Friday the 13th (of November) 2015

The more you participate, the higher a chance you have of winning! Prizes will include things ranging from scary books to DVDs to horror trinkets guaranteed to send shivers down your spine.

How To Play:

Every month, Amy or I will post a photo prompt to inspire your two sentence horror story. Once you have yours ready to go, you can either:

a) Post it in the comments below
b) Tweet your two sentence horror story (if it fits!) with the hashtag #ScaryYAH
c) Post the story on Tumblr and tag it with #ScaryYAH

Every month, we will post our favorite entry from the previous round. Winners will get an additional entry for a prize on top of their participant entry. Pretty straight forward, right? We are so excited to read, retweet, and reblog your entries!

Our favorite entry from last month (which was a very hard decision! You guys had great two sentence stories) comes from Ashleigh Paige: "She never thought one man's body could spill enough blood to coat a warehouse floor. The way it softened her hardened feet made her wish she'd cut up the last three the same way."


This Week's Prompt:
Nightmare by Nikia
Amy's entry: "After all this time, she was still full of lies. The only way to get them out, I knew, was to cut them free."
Kaitlin's entry: "It was her knife that I held in my hand. This began with her knife, it only felt fitting that it end the same way."

Your turn!

Field Trip Friday: February 20, 2015


The film version of THE DUFF is out in theaters TODAY! The amazing Kody Keplinger gave an interview with MTV all about the former Highwayer's movie, and current Highwayer Amy Lukavics blogged about attending the fancy-schmancy LA premiere!


- Chuck Wendig takes aim at the concept of "strong female characters," and discusses ways that perceptions of "strong" can fail women, too.

- Hilary T. Smith, formerly the INTERN, ponders whether the path from popular blogger ---> published author is the right path for all, or if the idea of "graduating" to publication is actually in violation of the Peter Principle.

- Dear Editor offers advice to someone looking to break into picture book illustration.


- At Diversity in YA, Malinda Lo combined her four-part Tumblr series on perceptions of diversity in books reviews. Lo says that, in reading hundreds of trade reviews of YA books, some consistent issues were found: reviewers saying diversity felt "contrived,"that books deal with "too many issues," and some calls for a glossary to "decode" the text.

- Laurie Halse Anderson tells Buzzfeed that more adults should read YA: "It can also give them insight into some of their own stuff, some of their own sadness and sorrows, and shine a light on maybe some work that they need to do emotionally, which is very helpful. And also, the writing’s amazing."

- The Toast hosted a roundtable with Asian American writers, tackling all kinds of issues, beginning with: what is "Asian American literature"?

- Kelly Jensen wrote a piece on how coping with depression impacted her reading life: "Regular exposure to the message that seeking help, especially medication, is a sign of weakness and a means of numbing yourself to reality, sinks in. The last thing in the world I wanted as a writer and as a reader was to feel like the things that buoyed me through rough times would be the first things I’d lose when getting better."

- Kameron Hurley reacted poorly to Neil Gaiman's decision to name a short story collection, "Trigger Warnings." "[W]what you do when you title a rather typical short story collection “Trigger Warning” is that your work becomes part of the problem of breaking it down into meaninglessness and slapping it on any old thing as a marketing gimmick," she writes. "You co-opt a term used in feminist spaces, and you use it for shock value, to be edgy and subversive, instead of acting like an ally who has empathy and understanding of the term for its intended use."

- Megan Dowd Lambert bemoans that Marla Frazee's picture book, THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN, may not have received a fair shot at the Caldecott because of cultural perceptions of "older, solitary, ... and gentle men as threats."

- Librarian Ally Watkins reviews Kathryn Holmes' THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND, and discusses the unique and potentially problematic world of religious "youth groups."

- BookRiot has a pretty brilliant diverse, genderbent casting plan for a Lord of the Rings reboot that I would see seven times in theaters, the first weekend.

- Epic Reads brought us an awesome >3 minute video on the history of YA lit


- The Cooperative Children's Book Center, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, published its annual survey of diversity in kidlit for 2014. The numbers ... aren't great.

- New Leaf Literary's subrights and film/TV assistant Jess Dallow shares how writing fanfiction for nearly 15 years led her to discover her true calling: working with writers.

- The Future of Ink has a guide to writing more compelling Amazon descriptions.


- The Women of Library History Feminist Task Force has issued a call for submissions! In honor of Women's History Month in March, they will be posting daily stories on their Tumblr of those who identify as women, and have made significant contributions to their local libraries.

- The In The Margins committee has announced that Bryan Stevenson's JUST MERCY is the winner of its first Social Justice/Advocacy Book Award!

- As the whitest Oscar ceremony ever approaches, Fusion culture editor (and badass lady) Danielle Henderson wrote a great post about how Hollywood is shooting itself in the foot by not striving to be more diverse. "Television is really kicking the movie industry’s ass in terms of how well it’s adapting to its audience."

- A poet who found fame writing about his small penis is hosting a Big Small Penis Party in London!


- Which YA revolution would you join?? I got The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked from DOROTHY MUST DIE, and BRB while I get that tattooed on my arm.

 - And, facing a problem we've all encountered, Epic Reads deals with WHAT TO DO WHEN A BOOK GETS WET!

The DUFF Movie Opens Today!!

I recently had the opportunity to join my close friend (and former YA Highwayer!) Kody Keplinger in Los Angeles to attend the red carpet fan screening for the movie adaptation of her novel, The DUFF!

Kody was the first writer friend I ~ever~ made, back in the forums at Absolute Write about seven years ago. I had posted the first chapter of my newly completed novel, and saw that other people had done the same. None of the other samples really commanded my attention though, until I came across one for the first chapter of a story called, you guessed it, The DUFF. I was crazy about the sample and left a comment proclaiming my love. Imagine my happy surprise when I realized that the writer had left a similar comment on my own chapter! The rest was history, as they say.

Kody and I got to watch each other go through all the big steps. I remember when she first received an offer of representation from her agent, Joanna Volpe, and how The DUFF sold at auction after only two weeks on submission to publishing houses. Her journey was so inspirational to me, a still aspiring author who had yet to find an agent. After multiple bad query drafts that only gathered slews of rejections for me, Kody suggested I send my new and improved draft to her agent, who loved 'edgy' YA (hahaha! Remember when 'edgy YA' was a thing?) I queried Joanna, who was indeed very interested in my manuscript, and before I knew it, Kody and I were represented by the same agent.

I remember traveling to New York City to attend the book launch party for The DUFF back in 2010. It was one of the greatest trips ever!

Me at the DUFF launch party with fellow YAHers Emilia and Leila!

Kody and I being silly with our awesome agent, Joanna.

Kody with her editor at the DUFF book launch party.

Of course, this book's awesome journey was far from over. Through the years, the film options sold, and eventually Kody found out that her book was indeed going to be made into a real, actual movie!! When I discovered that I would be meeting up with her in LA for the red carpet screening, I was so excited, not only to see Kody own the red carpet like a total boss, but also to watch the movie for a book that was so very close to my heart.

The screening was a blast. I got to see all the stars in person, as well as a few others who weren't in the movie (I legitimately almost peed my pants when I saw Aubrey Plaza walk in and start chillin' not five feet away from me.) The after-party at Dave and Busters was also super fun, and the next day I left the city exhausted but still buzzing with happiness for Kody.

Kody on the red carpet with the cast!

Our table at the Dave and Buster's after party.
In the theater, right before movie time.

Me with Ken Jeong, who played Mr. Arthur in the movie.
Kody with the director and screenwriter of the film.

So, fast forward to today: The DUFF is finally, officially out in theaters! Go see it with all your friends, and remember to give an extra cheer when Kody's cameo pops up toward the end of the movie.

Happiest of release days to the DUFF movie!