Tag Archives: young adult

Chapter Fifteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of the lovely Ally Grosvenor, as always!

The fifteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! This chapter marks the end of Part One, but no worries—the next chapter will release on time in two weeks. New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST.

Lots of exciting things are in the works here at KJG Productions! I know a lot of people find it hard or annoying to read a book on a website, so to make The Gold in the Dark easier to read I’m going to be releasing Part One in mobi, epub, and pdf file formats. It will take me a little bit to pull everything together, so we’re looking at an end of September or early October release date for that.

Ooh, look how shiny.

Some other fun news is that Specter was awarded five stars by Indies Today! That means I get to throw this cool badge up everywhere. 😀 We’re a month past Specter’s release at this point, so promo is winding to a close, but if this is the first time you’re hearing about the book, just keep scrolling; I’ve thrown the blurb and the cover down below. It’s at a cool 4.6 rating on Goodreads and four and a half stars on Amazon right now. 🙂

I’ve been spending the last couple weeks in drafting mode. The Beauty and the Beast and Aliens WIP is really fun to write. I’m not going to mask that it’s been slow-going… I’m already knees-deep in a Chapter Two rewrite right now. I know a lot of people will think it’s strange to be rewriting a chapter so early on in the process, but I’m an edit-as-I-go type of writer. Is that what most professional writers recommend? No. Does it work for me? Yes—and it has a lot to do with the fact that my very opinionated husband serves as my “alpha reader.” I’m thinking of putting up a post soon about why I like having an alpha reader—anyone interested in that, I wonder?

Last thing I want to mention is that in the process of drafting I’ve discovered a useful new tool! I’m having to use Google Docs to draft this book, not Scrivener, and I haven’t been able to find any decent word count tracker for Google Docs. So that led me to Pacemaker, which is a tool specifically for anyone who needs to track their words. It has a lot of functionality and options, so I’m finding it really useful.

All right, that’s all I’ve got for now in terms of writing updates. Have a good rest of your weekend and enjoy Chapter Fifteen.


Blurb

Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ distorted, waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

Specter is available for purchase at any book retailer or from Hidden Bower Press. Even independent bookstores should be able to preorder Specter—and you can even request your local library order a physical or ebook copy! I love libraries, so making the book available everywhere was important to me in my publishing decisions. So please consider picking up a copy or adding it to your Goodreads TBR!

Reading the Rainbow: Swipe Right for Murder (ARC), Earth to Charlie, When It All Falls Down

Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for sending me a free advanced reader copy of Swipe Right for Murder for an honest review. Swipe Right for Murder debuted August 6th.

For full disclosure, I am friends with the author of When It All Falls Down, and she gifted me a copy of the book!

The stars have aligned: of the last few books I’ve read, three in a row had a strong coming-of-age focus on homosexuality! So I thought I would throw together a post of mini-reviews for each book; all three were fun to read!

First up is Earth to Charlie. This was one of those books that I picked up in a random buy-a-thon in Barnes and Noble. The blurb called to me: aliens in Montana? I’m writing a book about aliens in Montana, so this was basically required reading!

Slight spoiler, but I think you really ought to know this heading into the book: in the end, Earth to Charlie turned out to be much more of a contemporary book than anything approaching sci-fi. That was a bit of a disappointment to me; it’s not the first time this year that I’ve been teased with YA aliens, only for the author to not follow through. But nevertheless, I finished this book within one sitting, which should speak for itself in terms of the easy readability of this book. It’s a comfy page turner, with a small cast and a cozy, small town setting. I’m still searching for YA aliens, but I’ll recommend Earth to Charlie to fans of contemporary coming-of-age fiction, especially if you’re looking for an LGBT thread.


Next is When It All Falls Down. Tanya Chris and I are writing buddies, even though she focuses on M/M romance and I’m strictly a YA/NA gal. (Goodness, so many abbreviations!) While still firmly in the romance genre, this is the most YA-ish of her books, so I was excited to give it a read. The premise is that Charlie is a high school senior who’s recently come out of the closet. His love interest, Drew, is reeling from a recent auto accident where he struck and killed a young girl. Both characters have a lot to deal with, their walls both self-imposed and terrifying real (a lawsuit with huge monetary implications, the possibility of having a college admissions decision revoked).

What I really liked about this book was the fleshed-out cast of characters. I was really feeling the chemistry between the two main characters (Drew is absolutely adorable!), and their family members and friends’ approach to Charlie and Drew’s developing relationship is handled in a realistic, grounded way that feels fresh. This mixed with the lawsuit details, which are incredibly real and well-researched, made this a fun, engrossing read.


Swipe Right for Murder consumed me for forty-eight hours, gobbling up every spare moment I had. I really enjoyed Milman’s first book, and I was a bit scared that this would be a sophomore slump effort, as it’s only been a year since his first novel. How wrong could I be—Swipe Right for Murder is a wild ride, set in 2019 but with a raucous, cyberpunk feel. I’ve been of the opinion for some time that, of all the fictional visions for the future, cyberpunk is the most accurate; give this book a read and see if you agree.

The premise is that Aidan, through the use of a Grindr-style hook-up app on his senior Spring Break, stumbles into an unfortunate series of events that lead him into close contact with a domestic terrorist organization bent on killing homophobes. This is a page-turner if there ever was one, and it’s fucking funny. Seriously, there are some legit laugh-out-loud moments in this book, which is hard to do with a written medium, in my opinion. The book is smart, hilarious, and turned up to eleven at all points. Count me in for all future releases from Milman; I’m a fan.


Have you read any great books with LGBT threads lately? Any favorites to recommend? Leave your suggestions down below!

Copycat Covers

Anyone with me that cover design has gotten way, way better in the last ten years? Maybe it’s a controversial opinion, but I’m pretty sure that the books of yesteryear never looked so pretty. Walk into a library or a bookstore and it’s like being in a candy shop, every book on the shelves some varied, enticing flavor.

But I’m sure none of us can deny that, just as there are trends in titles (“bone” books, ahem), there are also definite trends in cover design. For example, once you’ve noticed the white-uppercase-sans-serif-with-stuff-over-it trend, you’ll never unsee it…

So I thought I’d put together a little gallery of books where the covers are pretty damn similar. Not saying these covers look exactly the same or that plagiarism is involved—just that they are similar enough that I’ve taken notice.

So these covers are definitely different, but the illustration style coupled with the color palette similarities have basically mushed these into the same book in my mind. I love, love, love this flat line-art style, but it is starting to be pretty overdone.

Pretty sure I legit thought these were the same book for a couple weeks. The crouching-on-the-rooftop-in-silhouette pose and the twilight background are too similar for my poor brain. XD

I guess every designer got the memo that black/gold snake books are legit a thing now.

I mean, do I really need to say anything about this one? Not like I would confuse the two, but come on, the similarities are so obvious.

What trends in cover design have you noticed? Any favorite or hated trends? Leave a comment below!

A Tale of Two Forests: Contrasting The Devouring Gray with Here There Are Monsters (ARC)

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for sending me a free advanced reader copy of Here There Are Monsters for an honest review. Here There Are Monsters debuts August 6th. For full disclosure, I requested a review copy of The Devouring Gray and was denied, and then purchased The Devouring Gray with my own money. This in no way affects my opinions of the book.

The Devouring Gray was on my top ten TBR list for 2019, as I’m sure it was for many others. The marketing campaign for this book was pretty intense, and I was fully on the bandwagon. A small town setting with a Stranger Things comp? Sign me up, please.

Can you hear the “but” coming? I’m going to cut to the chase: The Devouring Gray was really disappointing to me. As has been the case with some other YA books I’ve read lately, this book could have done with a lot more page-turning plot and a lot less navel-gazing. Yes, I know that YA by its nature tends toward the introspective, but this book has… not much going on? I showed up for the malevolent presence lurking in the forest, but there’s actually not much forest action. The main character, Violet, is a Mary Sue to the core, and the characters flitting around her are boring. There is so much backstory that it feels like we are constantly playing catch up. Seeding of foreshadowed information and pacing were a further problem in this book, as well as awkward, confusing phrasing.

“Justin didn’t understand how it was possible to be simultaneously proud of May, relieved she’d known what to say, and jealous that he hadn’t. But he was.”

People don’t think it be it like it is, but it do.

So The Devouring Gray is an unfortunate pass for me, and I will not be picking up the second in the series when it releases.

Which leads me to Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé. Whereas The Devouring Gray dragged on and on, this was a total binge-read. As is the case with Gray, this book presents a main character who has lost her sister—here, “lost” is used literally, as the MC’s sister has disappeared somewhere into the sprawling, ominous swampland behind their house. The language is surprisingly lyrical, atmosphere suffuses every scene, and the characterization and dialogue are perfect. What Gray failed to accomplish with its forest setting, Monsters presents in spades.

I want to also touch on the sister dynamic in the book, which is extremely raw and real. The younger sister who’s gone missing, Deirdre, is a girl in her own world, constantly rubbing her older sister, Skye, the wrong way. A fair warning that Skye is very harsh to her younger sister—if you are looking for a likable MC, this is not the book for you. But not everyone is likable, and it is okay to tell their stories. I suspect that it is for the “unlikable MC” reason that this has a lower score on Goodreads (currently 3.43).

I would describe this as a book that pushes the envelope in terms of the sister relationship, one particular plot twist, and the ending. How I’ve longed for good YA horror; thank goodness this author has arrived on the scene.

So if you were at all disappointed by The Devouring Gray, I really recommend giving Here There Are Monsters a try. I will absolutely looking out for future releases from the author, and the story will be staying with me for a long while; I may even pick up a hard copy.

The Devouring Gray

Here There Are Monsters

Chapter Fourteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, as always.

The fourteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST.

For this week in writing updates I’ve been drafting Beauty and the Beast and Aliens, which has been quite fun. It’s definitely on the softer side of sci-fi, maybe even veering towards science-fantasy territory, a genre that I love and would love to see more of! It’s been really interesting conceptualizing the aliens in terms of their “human-ness,” since there’s going to be a strong romance element—how alien can you make a love interest before things get too weird? I want to push the boundaries as far as I can, but don’t want to get into gross-out territory—tentacles, etc.

Also, if you’re looking to pick up a copy of Specter this is a good day to do it! (If this is the first you’re hearing of Specter, I’ve thrown the cover and blurb down below. Pitch: Stranger Things with a ghostly twist!) It’s on free promotion over at Kobo, and today is the very last day before the price goes up, so go grab a copy! Also, can I just take a second to say thanks to all the nice people at Kobo? It’s such a supportive company to indie authors—they have a podcast, respond very helpfully to emails, and offer authors all these ways to easily promote their books at low cost. Thanks, Kobo. 🙂

All right, that’s it for writing updates. Have a good rest of your weekend and enjoy Chapter Fourteen. ❤


Blurb

Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ distorted, waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

Specter is available for purchase at any book retailer or from Hidden Bower Press. Even independent bookstores should be able to preorder Specter—and you can even request your local library order a physical or ebook copy! I love libraries, so making the book available everywhere was important to me in my publishing decisions. So please consider picking up a copy or adding it to your Goodreads TBR!

Chapter Thirteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, as always.

The thirteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST.

This week in writing updates has been the book launch for Specter, combined with new beginnings as I picked up my new WIP (the Beauty and the Beast and aliens book) once more. It feels great to be drafting again, and I’m trying to push myself to work on the manuscript every day. My goal is to have this next book out a year from Specter‘s launch, which would be July 7th of next year. The even loftier goal is to have it out sooner… but I don’t want to jinx things. I’ve set a timetable for myself like this:

Drafting: 7 months
Editing: 3 months
Publishing: 2 months

We’ll see if I can pull it off. 😉 Anyway, that’s all for writing updates this week. I’m leaving the blurb for Specter down below, so if this is the first you’re hearing about it, please check it out! And have a good rest of your weekend and enjoy Chapter Thirteen. ❤


Blurb

Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ distorted, waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

Specter is available for purchase at any book retailer or from Hidden Bower Press. Even independent bookstores should be able to preorder Specter—and you can even request your local library order a physical or ebook copy! I love libraries, so making the book available everywhere was important to me in my publishing decisions. So please consider picking up a copy or adding it to your Goodreads TBR!

Chapter Twelve of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update

Illustration courtesy of the amazing Ally Grosvenor, as always.

The twelfth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with chapter illustrations, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST. This week is a split POV chapter between Thurie and Tia. This chapter is a favorite of mine—well, really any chapter with Thurie is a favorite of mine. 😉 Thurie and Dunna were a pretty spontaneous addition to the narrative, but now looking at the book as a whole, I can’t even picture what it would look like without them. Funny, how letting your subconscious chew away at a book idea can work so well.

This week in writing updates… Specter is debuting in JUST ONE WEEK OMG. I can hardly believe it. I’m trying to keep calm, but it’s that sort of thing where all the little pre-debut tasks never end. Birthing a book baby is tough work!!! Blog posts, Instagram posts, miscellaneous promo, making posters—sometimes it seems the circus is never-ending. But even though life is a whirlwind right now, it’s the kind of whirlwind that I know I’ll look back fondly on later.

And if you’re just hearing about Specter for the first time, welcome! Specter is a YA paranormal thriller perfect for fans of Stranger Things, about a girl who suddenly starts seeing ghosts. The detailed blurb is below!

Blurb

Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ distorted, waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

So if you’re a Stranger Things fan, please consider adding Specter to your Goodreads TBR or preordering at any book retailer. Even independent bookstores should be able to preorder Specter—and you can even request your local library order a physical or ebook copy!

All right, that’s all for now. Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Twelve. ❤

Missing Persons Report: Melissa White

Full Name: Melissa Mary White
Date of Birth: February 2, 1969
Place of Birth: Lanster, New Hampshire
Missing Since: September 22, 1985. (Sixteen years old)
Height: 5’4” (At time of disappearance)
Weight: 115 pounds (At time of disappearance)
Race: Caucasian
Hair: Blond
Scars and Marks: Freckles; ears pierced; navel pierced
Clothes and Jewelry: Unknown

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact the FBI immediately.

Specter paperback and ebook go on sale July 7th.

With strong characters who are easy to root for, this stunning, multilayered paranormal thriller will keep you holding your breath till the very last page.

Order from all major retailers or Hidden Bower Press.

Who Killed Melissa White?

The school picture flipped to another photo—Melissa standing by a beach dressed in a pristine white bikini. There was a grainy silver glint at her belly button—her piercing. She was half-smiling, half-smirking at the camera, though her eyes were hard and shuttered. She was a knock-out, but a sad aura hovered around her, like some young almost-Marilyn Monroe.

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Specter debuts July 7th. Available for preorder now at all major retailers.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Kobo

Chapter Eleven of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update

Illustrations, as always, courtesy of the incredible Ally Grosvenor.

The eleventh chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! I’m living for this week’s chapter illustration—it encapsulates perfectly the mood at the end of the chapter. Also, don’t you think that middle portrait looks a bit like a very dour Michael Jackson? Don’t tell Ally. ;D New chapters, complete with chapter illustrations, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST.

This week in writing updates I’ve been working on writing a short story tie-in for Specter that will be free to everyone who signs up for my mailing list. I have so many thoughts about the mailing list aspect of being an indie author. Literally everybody in the biz says it’s crucial to staying in contact with your core audience, but I write YA, and I sort of think that my audience might not be big on newsletters? Is Instagram a good newsletter alternative for indie authors with a younger audience?? Probably the answer is do both. The issue is that out of all the social media stuff I do, the newsletter is decidedly the least fun. But maybe I just need to give it a fair shake and work on discovering how to make the newsletter my own.

In other news, we are just three weeks away from Specter’s release! There’s been all sorts of fun Specter stuff in the last couple weeks, from the book trailer to a post about why the book is set in Connecticut.

Also, who killed Melissa White? Like, seriously, who? Inquiring minds REALLY want to know.

So if you are at all intrigued by any of this, and especially if you are looking for a book like Stranger Things, then please consider adding Specter to your Goodreads TBR or preordering at any book retailer. Even independent bookstores should be able to preorder Specter—and you can even request your local library order a physical or ebook copy!

All right, that’s all for now. Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Eleven. ❤