middle grade

A starred review for City of Islands!

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CITY OF ISLANDS has received a starred review from Kirkus!

"Wallace builds intrigue, layer by layer, page by page, until readers are glued to each word right up to the magnificent end. The captivating worldbuilding is supported by a sturdy third-person narrative that’s filled with people of various skin tones, personalities, and abilities who find a way to work together to right the wrongs of corruption.... Inspiration and excitement from beginning to end."

You can read the full review here, and you can preorder CITY OF ISLANDS anywhere books are sold: 

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

Indiebound | Powell's

Introducing my new monthly newsletter

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I am starting a monthly newsletter to provide readers with updates and news. Stay Out of the Forest will go out no more than once a month, and it will contain book news, publishing updates, occasional musings on writing and publishing, recommendations and raves, and, of course, a collection of cocktail recipes. I promise to keep things interesting, and I will never spam you with unrelated emails.

This is my way of staying in touch with readers, friends, and fellow authors in a publishing world that has become increasingly overwhelmed by the fast-moving and aggressive social media environment. Because I write everything from adventurous children's novels to high-concept speculative short fiction, I want a way to reach all interested readers and colleagues without individual announcements being lost in the shuffle.

As thanks for signing up, all new subscribers will receive a sneak peek at the first chapter of CITY OF ISLANDS.

If you are want to receive the newsletter, please provide your email via the form below. You'll receive an email containing a link to a PDF with the CITY OF ISLANDS chapter. Thank you very much!

year in review

'Tis the season in which writers are listing the works they published during the year, for the purposes of clarifying awards eligibility and whatnot.

Alas: I didn't publish any short stories during 2017. I sold a couple to not-yet-published anthologies, and I wrote several more that are now in various stages of revision. I hope to get some new short fiction out into the world in 2018. 

I did publish a novel this year. I am proud of The Memory Trees. I think it's a good book, and hearing from people who read and loved it means the world to me. But the entire experience of trying to promote and launch it was such a nightmare from beginning to end that I really just don't want to think about it anymore. I'm glad the eleven people who read it enjoyed it. If you ever dare ask me why more people didn't read it or even hear about it, my hair will turn to snakes and strangle you. I have a lot of hair. It would be a lot of snakes.

I also finished revising and editing City of Islands, which will be published next July, although I feel like I have scarcely had time to catch my breath from the last book release. The thing I have learned from this experience is that nine months between books is too short. But I am excited to have City of Islands creeping out into the world. It's a fun book, full of magic and salty sea adventures, and I hope readers enjoy it. 

So, onward. I wrote a novel I love during 2017. It's about spaceships and corpses and cults and death. (This is where I start humming, "These are a few of my favorites things….") My current publisher had zero interest in it, and I decided to write it anyway. That was an easy decision. I hope you get to read it someday. 

As for the next step: I know what book I want to write in 2018. I've been thinking about it for a long time. It will be big and complicated and full of generational trauma and gruesome magic and beautiful mountains. (Once again I am humming, "These are a few of my favorite things….") I have no idea if anybody will want to publish it, but, well, the world may well be ending in fire and flood and fascism, so what's the point of waiting? Nobody is ever going to wobble around on their Mad Max: Fury Road acid wasteland stilts saying, "Man, I wish I had spent more time trying to write something more popular and marketable by arbitrary commercial standards." 

That is my writing & publishing 2017 in review. Have a picture of Ireland.

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Editorial Services for Fiction Writers

I am now offering editorial services for fiction writers. Helping other writers shape their work into the very best it can be has always been one of my favorite parts of being a writer. I love the big-picture process of looking at a rough story and finding the heart of what it could become, as well as polishing the language line by line to make it shine. 

The full details and rates can be found on the Editorial Services page. I offer developmental editing, line editing, first draft consultation, and query critique packages, as well as a world-building consultation service for science fiction and fantasy writers.

I'm happy to work with fiction writers across many genres, with books for any age range of middle grade or higher, including self-published works. If you're a newer writer who has never even tried to edit or revise a novel before, I can help you figure out how to begin. If you're an experienced writer getting into a new story but worried that world-building questions are slowing your progress, I can help with that too. 

Check out the services I offer on the Editorial Services page. Feel free to send me an email at KaliWallaceEditorial@gmail.com if you have any questions, or if you've got a novel in need of revision and you're ready to get to work.

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.

November 1, 2016 debuts

Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth

Disney-Hyperion

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Emma Allen couldn't be more excited to start her sophomore year. Not only is she the assistant stage manager for the drama club's production of Hamlet, but her crush Brandon is directing, and she's rocking a new haircut that's sure to get his attention. But soon after school starts, everything goes haywire. Emma's promoted to stage manager with zero experience, her best friend Lulu stops talking to her, and Josh--the adorable soccer boy who's cast as the lead--turns out to be a disaster. It's up to Emma to fix it all, but she has no clue where to start.

One night after rehearsal, Emma stays behind to think through her life's latest crises and distractedly falls through the stage's trap door . . . landing in the basement of the Globe Theater.

It's London, 1601, and with her awesome new pixie cut, everyone thinks Emma's a boy--even Will Shakespeare himself. With no clue how to get home, Emma gamely plays her role as backstage assistant to the original production of Hamlet, learning a thing or two about the theater, and meeting an incredibly hot actor named Alex who finds Emma as intriguing as she finds him. But once Emma starts traveling back and forth through time, things get really confusing. Which boy is the one for her? In which reality does she belong? Will Lulu ever forgive her? And can she possibly save two disastrous productions of Hamlet before time runs out?

"First-time author Booth captures the thrills of the theater in two eras while providing an striking portrait of Shakespeare and the Chamberlain’s Men through Emma’s eyes... As enlightening as it is enjoyable, this whimsical novel deserves applause of its own."
-- Publishers Weekly starred review
"Emma’s narration includes enough minutiae to please theater-loving readers. Her transitions between times are handled fairly smoothly, Emma employing her knowledge of Elizabethan English to communicate successfully in the 17th century. This entertaining and original novel deals not just with growing up, but with a fresh and different interpretation of 'to be or not to be.'"
-- Kirkus starred review

Future scientist Madeline Little is dreading the start of middle school. Nothing has been right since her grandfather died and her best friend changed schools. Maddie would rather help her father in his research lab or write Standard Operating Procedures in her lab notebook than hang out with a bunch of kids who aren’t even her friends. Despite Maddie’s reluctance, some new friends start coming her way—until they discover what she’s written in that secret notebook. And that’s just part of the trouble. Can this future scientific genius find the formula for straightening out her life?

"First-time author Teagan underscores the importance of compassion and forgiveness as she provides thoughtful insight into a girl working hard to try to maintain control over a life filled with unwelcome developments."
-- Publishers Weekly

"Teagan offers a smart, breezy narrative that is both clever and approachable, offering a fresh twist on the familiar topic of middle school angst. Her characters are realistic and funny as they fumble through early adolescence and grapple with the reality of change. "
-- Kirkus starred review

October 18, 2016 debuts

Lou Lou Bombay and Peacock Pearl have been best friends since first grade. Every Friday afternoon, they get together in Lou Lou's backyard garden for their PSPP (Post-School Pre-Parents) tea party. They chat about school, discuss Pea's latest fashions, and plot the weekend's activities.

But all plans go out the window when a series of small crimes crop up around El Corazón, their quaint and quirky neighborhood, right before the Día de Los Muertos procession. First, Pea's cousin's quinceañera dress is tragically ruined. Then Lou Lou's beloved camellia bush, Pinky, suffers a serious blow. And that's just the beginning! When clues start to appear in El Corazón's outdoor murals, the best friends join forces, using Lou Lou's floral expertise and Pea's artistic genius to solve the mysteries.


To twelve-year-old Molly Nathans, perfect is:

—The number four
—The tip of a newly sharpened No. 2 pencil
—A crisp white pad of paper
—Her neatly aligned glass animal figurines

What’s not perfect is Molly’s mother leaving the family to take a faraway job with the promise to return in one year. Molly knows that promises are sometimes broken, so she hatches a plan to bring her mother home: Win the Lakeville Middle School Poetry Slam Contest. The winner is honored at a fancy banquet with white tablecloths. Molly is sure her mother would never miss that. Right…?

But as time passes, writing and reciting slam poetry become harder. Actually, everything becomes harder as new habits appear, and counting, cleaning, and organizing are not enough to keep Molly's world from spinning out of control. In this fresh-voiced debut novel, one girl learns there is no such thing as perfect.

"Getting an insider’s view of Molly’s downward spiral is both painful and enlightening. Readers need not be familiar with the psychological terms to recognize the damaging effects of Molly’s thinking and how it is wreaking havoc on her relationships. While Molly’s situation becomes quite dire, her courageous decision to communicate her fears and seek help pave the way for a comforting resolution. "
-- Publisher's Weekly

For three ten-year-old girls, their once simple worlds are starting to feel too big. Painfully shy Grace dreads starting fifth grade now that her best friend has moved away. Jada hopes she’ll stop feeling so alone if she finds the mother who left years ago. And Malia fears the arrival of her new baby sister will forever change the family she loves.

When the girls each find a mysterious treasure box in their library and begin to fill the box with their own precious things, they start to feel less alone. But it’s up to Grace, Jada, and Malia to take the treasures and turn them into something more: true friendship.

"Just right for sensitive tweens, this is a sweet story of friendship and learning to cope with common fears and life changes."
-- School Library Journal
"An endlessly endearing story of three girls’ pursuit of friendship and the beauty and challenge of what it means to be 10. "
-- Kirkus starred review

October 11, 2016 debuts

Since her mom died, Andie’s family has crumbled. Instead of working, her dad gambles away insurance money, while her sister, Paige, has put her future on hold in order to pick up extra waitressing shifts. Andie’s afraid of what will happen if people find out just how bad things are. She’s not sure how long she can hide the fact that there’s no food or money in the house...or adults, for that matter.

When her science partner suggests they study paranormal activity, Andie gets an idea. She wants a sign from her mom—anything to tell her it’s going to be okay. Maybe the rest of her family does too. So she starts a project of her own. Pretending to be her mother’s ghost, Andie sprays perfume, changes TV channels, and moves pictures. Haunting her house is Andie’s last hope to bring her family back into the land of the living.

"Clasen sensitively depicts narrator Andie’s navigation of her new reality as she attends group-therapy sessions at school, allows herself to get to know her mother through her mother’s journals, and embraces new friends."
-- Kirkus reviews

Seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disorder, almost triumphed once; that was her first suicide attempt. 

Being bipolar is forever. It never goes away. The med du jour might work right now, but Zero will be back for her. It’s only a matter of time.

And so, in an old ballet-shoe box, Catherine stockpiles medications, preparing to take her own life before Zero can inflict its living death on her again. Before she goes, though, she starts a short bucket list. 

The bucket list, the support of her family, new friends, and a new course of treatment all begin to lessen Catherine’s sense of isolation. The problem is, her plan is already in place, and has been for so long that she might not be able to see a future beyond it. 

This is a story of loss and grief and hope, and how some of the many shapes of love—maternal, romantic, and platonic—affect a young woman’s struggle with mental illness and the stigma of treatment.

"Catherine's acerbically witty narrative voice is razor sharp and often raw, and the confessional tone of her present-tense narration makes clear how overwhelming her pain is... An honest, informative, and ultimately optimistic novel about living with mental illness. "
-- Kirkus reviews

Some secrets are better left at the bottom of the ocean.

Sixteen-year-old Bridey Corkill longs to leave her small island and see the world; the farther from the sea, the better. When Bridey was young, she witnessed something lure her granddad off a cliff and into a watery grave with a smile on his face. Now, in 1913, those haunting memories are dredged to the surface when a young woman is found drowned on the beach. Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her Granddad to leap has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, people in Bridey’s idyllic village begin vanishing, and she finds an injured boy on the shore—an outsider who can’t remember who he is or where he’s from. Bridey’s family takes him in so he can rest and heal. In exchange for saving his life, he teaches Bridey how to master her fear of the water—stealing her heart in the process.

But something sinister is lurking in the deep, and Bridey must gather her courage to figure out who—or what—is plaguing her village, and find a way to stop it before she loses everyone she loves.

"While first-time novelist Marsh draws heavily on standard paranormal tropes (the enigmatic love interest, for example), her evocative setting, memorable characters, and use of obscure folkloric elements all contribute to the novel’s strong sense of place."
-- Publishers Weekly

My review: Oh, what a lovely book this is! Set on the Isle of Man in the early 20th century, FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP is utterly steeped in the island's superstitions, folklore, and culture. The island and its people come alive in these pages--nosy neighbors, dangerous seas, old stories and all--and I just love how rich it all feels, with a real sense of history and community. 

I also adore the main character Bridey, to determined to protect her loved ones and her home in spite of her fears and her dreams of traveling the world, and her relationship with her family, her friends, her home. The sense of connection and shared history between all the people in this isolated little town feels so strong--both the good, between friends, and the bad, when it comes to long-harbored suspicions and rumors. 

I am not saying anything about how great the sea monsters are, because to say that would be to spoil things that are best left unspoiled, so rest assured there are sea monsters and they are great. Sometimes with lots of teeth.

Reading this book felt like taking a trip into a magical, occasionally terrifying past, all described is beautiful detail, and I enjoyed every page. I can't wait to read whatever Sarah Glenn Marsh writes next--whatever it is, I'm sure it will once again feel like immersing myself into a weird and wonderful place I can only visit through her words.


It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite.

When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, she realizes how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn. 

"In Soria’s quick-paced third-person narrative, threats gather and mysteries deepen, failing or succeeding, but the girls’ mutual loyalty and trust never waver. Energetic and original, this alternative history, fantasy, and mystery mashup with its pair of smart, resourceful, flawed but engaging heroines never disappoints."
-- Kirkus starred review

October 4, 2016 debuts

Young mouse Calib Christopher dreams of becoming a Knight of the Round Table. For generations, his family has led the mice who live just out of sight of the humans, defending Camelot from enemies both big and small.

But when Calib and his friend Cecily discover that a new threat is gathering—one that could catch even the Two-Leggers unaware—it is up to them to unmask the real enemy, unite their forces, and save the castle they all call home.

"Leung creates a fascinating parallel world of mice living alongside Camelot’s famous human inhabitants and neatly laces the action-driven plot with colorful animal and legendary Arthurian characters... A winning new adventure featuring a stalwart warrior mouse, heroic knights, and magical Camelot."

-- Kirkus reviews


Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

"Debut novelist Roehrig peoples his sensationalistic, twisty mystery with credible characters, especially narrator Flynn, whose struggles with coming out will resonate with young gay teens in more mundane circumstances. Witty, realistically foulmouthed dialogue and the suspenseful, well-laid mystery will keep pages turning, as will the budding romance between Flynn and Kaz. Readers won’t be able to put it down."

-- Kirkus starred review

My review: Caleb Roehrig's LAST SEEN LEAVING is a wonderfully dark and twisty mystery that is absolutely riveting from beginning to end. I was so tense following along as Flynn slowly uncovered what was going on, peeling back layers and layers of January's life, and realizing a lot of uncomfortable truth about her and himself in the process. 

The mystery is incredibly well done--so many twists and turns! so many plausible possibilities!--but what I really adore about this book are the two main characters. Flynn is wonderful and genuine and believable in both the good and bad choices he makes, the assumptions about himself and others he is forced to confront, and the way he learns that what people see of the world is always colored by their own experiences and perceptions. His process of admitting and accepting his sexuality and the charming romance that follows are realistic and touching.

And January--I know it sounds strange to refer to the character who is by definition not present as the other main character, but she really is. I know the description of the book makes it sound like a girl character is fridged to give the boy character a story, but that's... really not how the plot plays out. But it's impossible to explain without spoiling literally everything about the mystery, so I'll just say that January is a wonderfully complex character with a great deal more agency than the one-line description suggests, and while the story deals very extensively with sexism and misogyny faced by teenage girls, the narrative itself is free of the usual sexist trappings one is braced to expect from "missing troubled girl"-type thrillers. 

Definitely recommend this one. I enjoyed the hell out of it. It's fast-paced and tense and really quite stressful at times, but in the best way, and it's made me eager to read whatever the author comes up with next.

October 1, 2016 debuts

At seventeen, Adam Rhodes is famous, living on his own, and in a downward spiral since he lost the girl he loved. Marybeth—stage name Sunshine—was his best friend from the days they were foster kids; then she was his girlfriend and his band mate. But since her accidental death, he’s been drinking to deal with the memories.

Until one day, an unexpected visitor, Dr. Elloran, presents Adam with a proposition that just might save him from himself. Using breakthrough cloning and memory-implantation techniques, Dr. Elloran and the scientists at Project Orpheus want to resurrect Marybeth, and they need Adam to “donate” intimate memories of his life with her.

The memory retrieval process forces Adam to relive his life with Marybeth and the devastating path that brought them both to fame. Along the way, he must confront not only the circumstances of her death but also his growing relationship with the mysterious Genevieve, daughter of Project Orpheus’s founder. As the process sweeps Adam and Marybeth ever closer to reliving the tragedy that destroyed them, Adam must decide how far he’ll go to save her.

"Using this thought-provoking framework, debut author Koosis leads readers through a labyrinth of moral, spiritual, and emotional dilemmas explored through complex characters grappling with loss... Koosis’s philosophical tale thoughtfully examines the ambiguity of what makes us who we are."
-- Publishers Weekly

Oliver, the meek son of a wealthy British industrialist, discovers the identity of a notorious thief, a man who has been skillfully evading Scotland Yard and snatching priceless artifacts for sport: Mr. Scant, his family butler. After first fearing for his life, Oliver discovers Mr. Scant's secret within a secret: the butler's crimes are actually a series of strikes against an underground group of business tycoons trying to master black magic.