Cover reveal: City of Islands

I am delighted to share the cover of my upcoming middle grade fantasy adventure novel CITY OF ISLANDS. This story has lived in my heart and mind for a long time, and I am so happy that it is getting such a stunningly beautiful cover.

I first began writing the book that would eventually become CITY OF ISLANDS for NaNoWriMo in 2010. I had spent that summer at the Clarion Workshop for science fiction and fantasy writers, and I was just starting to successfully submit and sell my first short stories. I decided I might as well try writing a novel. I won NaNoWriMo that year, but I didn't finish the novel. I set the unfinished manuscript aside, and just a few days later started another novel entirely--the unsold novel that would lead to me getting an agent and, eventually, writing and selling Shallow Graves

But the idea for CITY OF ISLANDS stayed with me. Most of all, it was the city itself that I could not leave behind: that foggy, strange, magical archipelago city full of wonders and oddities. It felt so incredibly real to me I knew I would have to write something for it eventually. I couldn't get it out of my mind; I could see the islands, the ships, the shadows darting under the water. A few years passed before I realized it was the perfect setting for a middle grade fantasy novel, and once that happened CITY OF ISLANDS began to take shape.

Because this story is so very rich in setting and atmosphere, I very much wanted the cover of the finished book to reflect that--but I also wanted it to focus on Mara, the main character, who loves the water and loves diving for treasures. It's hard enough to explain how an imaginary people and places makes you feel in words, even when you have an entire book to do it. It's even harder to convey that feeling to the illustrator charged with giving your book a cover.

But I was lucky: this beautiful illustration is the work of artist Jensine Eckwall, who has captured perfectly this story of a moody, magical archipelago city and the girl named Mara who lives there. The deep shades of blue, the mysterious bones, the bright glow of the magical lantern, and Mara reaching so confidently as she dives, all of it is perfect for how this book and its world feel to me. (And just wait until you see the map in the final book--it's every bit as fantastic and perfect!)

Here it is, in all its moody blue glory:

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In a foggy archipelago called the City of Islands, magic drifts on the air as songs. Twelve-year old Mara has always been fascinated by the spell-songs and dreams of becoming a great mage. Orphaned as a little girl, Mara was taken in by a bone-mage called Bindy. But when Bindy was killed by a rival, Mara lost both her home and her best chance to learn magic.
Now Mara is a servant for the powerful Lady of the Tides. She earns her keep by diving in the murky ocean, searching for magical treasures that might please the Lady. Mara still yearns to learn magic, but it’s hard for a poor, orphaned servant to dream when the path to becoming a mage is open to only an elite few.
Then one day, while diving for the Lady, Mara finds the skeletons of strange hybrid creatures: a lizard with wings, a horse with horns, and many more, the likes of which have not existed in the city for centuries. The entire trove of bones is humming with a powerful spell-song.
Mara is convinced the bones will earn her the opportunity to study magic. But rather than rewarding her discovery, the Lady gives Mara a challenge: to learn where the magical bones came from by sneaking into the Winter Blade, an island fortress ruled by the very same sorcerer who killed Bindy years ago.
What Mara finds will reveal chilling truths about her own past, as well as secrets about the history of her beloved city that are more dangerous--and magical--than she had ever imagined.

CITY OF ISLANDS will be coming out Summer 2018 from Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins. You can add it on Goodreads here.

The Memory Trees

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The Memory Trees is now officially released into the wild! You can buy it wherever books are sold (links here). It's available as a hardcover, ebook, and audiobook. 

I will be making a few appearances at bookstores in San Diego and the Boston area during October, in the company of the fantastic authors Adriana Mather and Shannon M. Parker. You can find a complete list of appearances on my Events page.

To kick off this mini tour, the launch party will be this Saturday, October 14, at 4 p.m. at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. Come on by for book talk and baked goods!

If you can't make it to one of the events but still want me to sign your book from afar, simply send proof of purchase and your address to thememorytrees@gmail.com, and I will send you a signed, personalized bookplate and some bookmarks in thanks.

If you are a school librarian or teacher, or you have a book club (of any age!) reading The Memory Trees, feel free to contact me if you are interested in a visit or Skype chat, or even if you just want a bunch of bookplates or bookmarks to hand out to students or book club members.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed, and posted about The Memory Trees in the days leading up to the release. This book was a tough one to finish, and I am forever grateful to everyone who offered their support during the whole long process from writing to publication.

Preorder Promotions for The Memory Trees

There are now two different ways to get a special gift for preordering The Memory Trees.

1. You can still preorder a signed, personalized hardcover copy of The Memory Trees  from Mysterious Galaxy. The first 30 orders will receive with their book a handmade charm bookmark. This offer is good until October 6, 2017.

2. If you have already or plan to preorder The Memory Trees from another source--your local indie, B&N, Amazon, Book Depository, anywhere--I would be happy to send you a signed, personalized bookplate and a couple of paper bookmarks in thanks. Send proof of your purchase to thememorytrees [at] gmail [dot] com with a mailing address and the name (if any) you want personalized on the bookplate. This offer is good until October 10, 2017 and is good anywhere in the world.

Many thanks to everyone looking forward to The Memory Trees! For a list of bookstores where I'll be making appearances in October, please check my Events page for updated information.

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The Memory Trees at Mysterious Galaxy

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You can now preorder a signed, personalized hardcover copy of The Memory Trees from Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego!

The first 30 preorders from Mysterious Galaxy will come with an exclusive, handmade charm bookmark to go with your copy of the book. I'm making the bookmarks myself, using charms of particular items of importance to the story. 

Order by October 6 to receive a handmade bookmark and personalized copy of the book. You can specify how you want it signed in the comments section at checkout.

If you're local to San Diego or southern California, stop by Mysterious Galaxy on Saturday, October 14 at 4 p.m. for the official launch of The Memory Trees. (Locals are welcome to preorder as well--you can always pick up your copy in the store.)

Mysterious Galaxy is an independent bookstore that focuses on fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery books for all ages. They are wonderfully supportive of authors both near and far, and I am delighted to be working with them to launch The Memory Trees and provide this exclusive preorder promotion.

a starred review and a great deal

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I am delighted to report that The Memory Trees has received a second starred review, this one in the September 2017 issue of the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. They say:

"There is a lot to unpack here, from the tenderness and toxicity that can simultaneously exist in families, to the rippling effect of mental illness, to history’s ability to bring guilt to a faultless generation, and to the search for a solid identity among all those jagged pieces. The orchard’s role in uncovering the truth behind her sister’s death adds a hint of magical realism and mystique, as do the interspersed chapters narrated by Sorrow’s ancestors that allude to but never confirm the orchard’s magical properties."


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As of September 5, 2017, Shallow Graves is now available in paperback:

Find buy options here

And the ebook version is currently on sale for $1.99:

Kindle | Nook

 

San Diego Writers, Ink Fall Conference

I am happy to be participating in the San Diego Writers, Ink Fall For Writing Conference this September! I will be doing a panel on children's literature with Marcie Colleen and Margaret Dilloway on Sunday, September 10 at 11 a.m. Check out their website for registration and event information.

San Diego Writers, Ink Fall For Writing Conference

September 8 - September 10, 2017

Arts District, Liberty Station, 2730 Historic Decatur Road, Barracks 16

San Diego, CA 92106

WorldCon writing & submitting panel

My second panel is now on the draft schedule for WorldCon 75, and this one is about when it's time to stop fussing over your stories and get them out into the world. And, honestly, don't come to this one to hear me talk--come to this one to hear the wisdom of the other amazing panelists!

Thursday, August 10 at 12:00

Messukeskus 101d

Just Send It!: When to Stop Rewriting and Just Get Your Work Out There

Ken LiuKali WallaceEllen DatlowKatri Alatalo

The plot works, the character interactions and dialogue flow well but, there's just "one or two more things" you need to fix. This way lies madness. Edits and rewrites are part of the writing process but at some point you need to stop polishing your work and submit it. Our panelists offer advice on figuring out where that point is and getting enough confidence in your work to submit it.

WorldCon YA panel

The preliminary WorldCon 75 schedule is online, so I can announce my participation in the following panel! (As always, details may change.) I am very excited for this chance to talk about representation and diversity of stories in young adult literature. If you're going to be at WorldCon 75 in Helsinki in a few weeks, stop by to join the conversation!

Thursday, August 10 at 11:00 in Messukeskus 203a

ASEXUALITY IN YA

Marguerite KennerLaura LamPeadar Ó GuilínKali Wallace

Are asexual characters well - or at all - represented in YA fiction? Is romance such an integral component of Young Adult fiction that it simply cannot be left out at all?

A starred review from Kirkus!

The early reviews for The Memory Trees are starting to come in, and I am absolutely delighted to learn that it has received a starred review from Kirkus! They say: "An absorbing, lyrically drawn mystery, examination of grief, and cautionary tale."

You can read the full review here, and find preorder links for The Memory Trees here.

The Foundry: A Literary Reading Series

On Saturday, June 10, I will be reading at The Foundry #5, a literary reading event hosted by San Diego's So Say We All, a literary and performing arts organization. The Foundry is once again taking over the Public Square Coffee House in La Mesa, CA. The readings will begin at 7 p.m. I'll be there along with writers Matt Young, Hari Alluri, Elizabeth Marro, and Steph Cha.

Please join us for an evening of literature and food and drinks! Everybody is welcome.

The Foundry #5 - Saturday, June 10 at 7 p.m.

Public Square Coffee House

8278 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa, CA 91942