Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS: When Is My Manuscript "Good Enough" to Submit?

The lovely Bailey Knight recently asked me...

Q: When it comes to submissions, how thoroughly edited should the manuscript be?  My understanding is that most editors suggest pretty drastic changes and that many revisions and edits that have been previously made would simply be discarded. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

A: Apologies in advance for the brutal honesty, but I think this is really important question, and one that I want to help you make the best decision about:

There's no doubt that working with an editor is a lot of work--sometimes going so far as to restructure or rewrite whole portions of a manuscript. When you consider that fact it can sometimes feel like all that work revising and polishing your drafts is pointless. After all, if they're going to change it anyway, why bother?

Trust me, you need to bother. In fact, it's imperative you revise, rehash, take critique, revise again, and polish until that baby can be seen from space.

Why? Because whatever you put in front of an agent or editor will be perceived as your best work. And if that's the best you can do, and it's too far from sufficient, you won't get another chance for that work, with that individual.

Here's the thing: There are literally thousands (millions?) of aspiring authors out there on top of those writers already published and making their way in the industry. Agents and editors are getting new manuscripts daily from established writers, with proven track-records, and already drafted to a professional level. Don't get me wrong--those manuscripts still need work. A lot of work, usually.

But unfortunately, your revised and polished "best" probably isn't quite as good as an established author's first draft.

That sounds harsh, but it's true. And I speak from experience.

I can go through my back-up files and look at the manuscript I spent over two years working and reworking, having critiqued and reworking again. I thought it was good enough for readers, so I self-published. I thought I had the best book I was capable of writing.

I didn't.

Luckily for me it was good enough (barely) to catch an editor's eye. She acquired the book and then we got to work.

Four rounds of editing later, the manuscript was 20% lighter in word count, restructured, had a new ending, and was, overall, immensely better. In the process I had become a better writer. A dramatically better writer.

Being edited by someone who really  knows what they're doing in terms of story structure, pacing, character development, and word usage is like athletic training: The longer you do it, the stronger you get.

I wrote another book immediately after finishing that process, and it was noticeably better--the best writing I've ever done.

It still needs heavy editing.

Every book I write, every editing process I go through, I'll get stronger still. And I'll write better drafts--better manuscripts that I'll send to agents and editors. The same agents and editors to which you're submitting.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a nobody in publishing. I have one book out, more coming, but I'm not hitting any bestseller lists (yet! I said, yet!) or making any six-figure advances. I'm just a solid, mid-list author with some interesting ideas.

And you're competing with people like me for agents, for editors, for contracts, and to a certain degree, for readers.

To get in that door, you have to have written something that engages an agent and / or editor's heart and head enough that they're willing to go through the process of helping shape you into an immensely better writer. One who can do as well, or better, than the likes of me.

If they're choosing between my latest draft--when I've already proven I can get the goods done--and your unproven submission, yours has to be better than mine to win.

Don't misunderstand, they know this is your first, so they are definitely looking for the potential. But they also know it's going to be more work for them for that reason. So you need to carry as much of the weight of that initial revision as possible.

Otherwise they'll just say no.


Your Turn: Do you have any questions about revision, the submission process, or publishing in general? Comment here, or email me at aimee (at) aimeelsalter (dot) com!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS: The Best Way to Fill Time While on Query or Sub

Hi all,

I'm working through a bunch of new content right now, but I've had several questions sift to the top recently from other writers, so I thought I'd take a stab at answering them here.

This is one I get A LOT. I see it from aspiring writers who are querying, writers whose agents have their manuscripts on sub, and authors who are working with editors and have large gaps between deadlines, or waiting for a verdict.

I've been in all those places--I've queried five times and got agents twice. I've been on submission to big editors three times. I've had manuscripts waiting to be acquired by an editor I have a relationship with, and I've had down time between deadlines where I'm waiting for an editor to come back to me with notes.

I've tried to deal with that "Dead Time" a lot of different ways. But there's only one way I haven't regretted:

Jumping into (or back into) writing another book.

Now, before you go all "Yeah, yeah, heard THAT before . . ." there's four very important reasons why writing something new is the right answer (and only one situation in which it isn't). (If you skim everything else, read Point 2 in detail--because that's the guts).

1. Stay Ahead of the Curve

There are no guarantees in this game. If I've learned anything in the last three years--in which I've gained and lost an agent, self published, had my book acquired, gone through the traditional publishing process, looked for agent again, got another contract . . . blah, blah, blah--it's that nothing is guaranteed. There are no easy answers, no safe doors.

Even if an editor loves your stuff, even if an agent is raving, even if you had multiple offers on your last book . . . it doesn't matter. When push comes to shove, you're still looking for the next contract, hoping you've got something the professionals (or the readers) can engage with.

So the sooner you have new material--polished material--the better. Especially if you do get that contract and (*Fireworks!* *Confetti!*) the publisher is interested in seeing what else you've got because maybe they'll offer a multi-book contract?

If you're self-publishing, this is even more important, because you need to be building your backlist. The more books you have for sale, the more there is for a reader who's picked up your book and loved it to check out and purchase next.

2. Become a "Real Writer"

Do you know what authors with agents and editors have to do? They have to work to deadlines. They have to create on-tap. They have to switch between projects because they're proofing one Galley while they're writing the first draft of another.

They are doing what needs to be done, whether it "feels good" or not.

I can't tell you how crucial it is to learn to do this. You can talk to be about being an artist until you're blue in the face--and yes, I agree, we writers are artists--but our art has to be consumed on a commercial level. Either through a publisher, or through the process of publishing ourselves.

If you're going to work with a publisher, you won't have a choice. You have to work to deadlines, even if the muse is asleep. You have to work on multiple projects, whether your inspiration burns bright or not.

You have to work. The sooner you can develop the self-discipline and time-management skills to do that, the better. And the easier your career will be--and the more publishers will want to work with you. Don't underestimate how people talk. And how professionals hear what isn't said. If your agent isn't raving about your ability to work under time pressure, or your editor had you missing three deadlines last year, they will think hard about the next project and whether they want to go through that again--and they'll probably tell their friends too.

So what I'm saying is--keep writing, setting goals, pushing forward even when it's hard. Because you'll teach yourself to be a professional.

3. Avoid Writer Neurosis

It's really easy to get completely stuck on speculating what's happening out there with your book baby. Did the agent like it? Will they offer sub? What if they ask for an R & R--what are you willing to change? Or if it's with an editor, what if they don't like the latest book? What if they think it sucks? Or what if they love it and they offer a HUGE contract . . . .

The possibilities are endless, as is the mind-spiral you can get into trying to talk yourself into, or out of, whatever option is currently front-of-mind.

It isn't healthy, and it isn't helping you. It's harder to be professional when those calls do come, if you're on the id death-bend because someone told you the manuscript was "powerful".

Turn all that energy, all that focus into the new project, because what if this one doesn't sell? The sooner you have another manuscript to go out, the sooner you can be distracting yourself from the submission process again. Just sayin'.

4. You Get Better With Every Book

I don't care if it's your first novel, or you're Stephen King, every book you write teaches you something. Every book makes you a better writer. Every hour spent writing helps you reach your goals faster. Even the false starts and terrible first drafts. Because, seriously, your brain needed those steps (your heart probably did too).

Look at every word you write as another step towards your goal, another brick in the House of Career Writer you're building. Be humble. Keep learning. Get better--because either this book you've got out there is going to get picked up, or it isn't. If it doesn't, you need something else--something better!--to try. And if it is, the better writer you are, the better chance that project has of succeeding.

So, that's my take on the importance of working through the dead air. The only other thing I'm going to say on the subject is: WELL DONE, YOU. You wrote a book, you're getting it out there. No matter which stage of the process you're in, you've just achieved more than most of the writing population who will forever look at you with envy because they just wish they could be on sub . . .

Your Turn: Have you experienced Dead Time and how did you deal with it?

Monday, July 20, 2015

My First TV Interview!

I can't believe I forgot to post this last month when it happened.

That should give you some idea how MAD life is right now. (But that's better than being bored, right? RIGHT? Sigh.)

Such an exciting (and terrifying) day! If you can't make it play below, you can watch it HERE.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Finding the BEST Books Through #QuietYA

Hi all!

This week I'm thrilled to be taking part in a #QuietYA Event hosted by Julie at Bloggers Heart Books. Julie coined the term #QuietYA, which refers to great books with great reviews that are flying a bit under the radar and not getting all the press of books by the likes of John Green or Victoria Aveyard. A ton of awesome books are up for grabs in the #QuietYA event so definitely check out the guest posts and rafflecopters over on Julie's blog.

Want to learn more about all the books up for grabs in the event? Look no further! I'm highlighting each of them today!

They Call Me Alexandra Gastone 

by T.A. Maclagan 

When your life is a lie, how do you know what’s real? Alexandra Gastone has a simple plan: graduate high school, get into Princeton, work for the CIA, and serve her great nation. She was told the plan back when her name was Milena Rokva, back before the real Alexandra and her family were killed in a car crash. Milena was trained to be a sleeper agent by Perun, a clandestine organization from her true homeland of Olissa. There, Milena learned everything she needed to infiltrate the life of CIA analyst Albert Gastone, Alexandra’s grandfather, and the ranks of America’s top intelligence agency. For seven years, “Alexandra” has been on standby and life’s been good. Grandpa Albert loves her, and her strategically chosen boyfriend, Grant, is amazing. But things are about to change. Perun no longer needs her at the CIA in five years’ time. They need her active now. Between her cover as a high school girl—juggling a homecoming dance, history reports, and an increasingly suspicious boyfriend—and her mission in this high-stakes spy game, the boundaries of her two lives are beginning to blur. Will she stay true to the country she barely remembers, or has her loyalty shattered along with her identity?

Amazon Praise: "...the intersection of action, espionage, and drama makes for solid...entertainment: readers will gladly sit back and watch Alexandra navigate the obstacle course that comes with playing her role too well. It's a strong debut for New Zealand author Maclagan." --Publisher's Weekly

The Revenge Playbook

by Rachael Allen 

Don't get mad, get even! In this poignant and hilarious novel, Rachael Allen brilliantly explores the nuances of high school hierarchies, the traumas sustained on the path to finding true love, and the joy of discovering a friend where you least expect. In the small town of Ranburne, high school football rules and the players are treated like kings. How they treat the girls they go to school with? That's a completely different story. Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane, and Ana each have their own reason for wanting to teach the team a lesson—but it's only when circumstances bring them together that they come up with the plan to steal the one thing the boys hold sacred. All they have to do is beat them at their own game.

Amazon Praise: A fun YA title that challenges sexist attitudes in modern-day high school culture.--School Library Journal

Prep School Confidential 

by Kara Taylor 

  Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York's Upper East Side--that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne could care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate, Isabella's body is found in the woods behind the school. When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella's twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn't quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne's snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read--even if it means framing her for Isabella's murder.

Amazon Praise: "...gripping, and well-plotted mystery that will keep readers glued." -- Booklist

These Gentle Wounds 

by Helene Dunbar 

Five years after an unspeakable tragedy, Gordie Allen is living with his half-brother Kevin, the only person who can protect Gordie at school and keep him focused on getting his life back on track. But just when it seems like things are becoming normal, Gordie’s biological father comes back into the picture, demanding a place in his life. Now there’s nothing to stop Gordie from falling into a tailspin that could cost him everything—including his relationship with Sarah, the first girl he’s ever trusted. With his world spinning out of control, the only one who can help Gordie is himself . . . if he can find the strength to confront the past and take back his future.

Amazon Praise: "A heartbreaking novel, this first-person narrative lets readers inside the mind of someone who has suffered abuse and is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor's guilt. The writing is solid, with a firm grasp on the inner workings of a mind that has been ravaged by tragedy... Pair it with Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Storyand Stephen Chbosky's Perks of Being a Wallflower to round out your offerings." -VOYA

Sweet Unrest 

by Lisa Maxwell 

  For as long as she can remember, Lucy Aimes has been plagued by a dark, recurring dream of drowning. But when her family moves to an old plantation outside New Orleans, she starts having intense new dreams, vivid scenes of a bygone era filled with people she shouldn't know but does. Searching for answers to her haunting visions, Lucy reluctantly descends into the city's mystical culture. What she finds is Alex, a charming but mysterious boy who behaves as if they've known each other forever. Lucy shouldn't be so drawn to him . . . but she is. As she tries to solve the mystery surrounding Alex, a centuries-old vendetta unspools around her, resulting in a vicious murder. Now trapped in a dangerous crossfire, Lucy must act fast to save her future—and everyone she loves.

Amazon Praise: "A well-written, spellbinding, and informative story that teen readers (and adults) are sure to snap up."—School Library Journal

Every Ugly Word 

by Aimee Salter 

When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school, bullies taunt and shove her. She can't go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can't make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self. Her older self has been through it all already--she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop. Perfect for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why and The List, Every Ugly Word is a gripping and emotional story about the devastating consequences of bullying.

Amazon Praise: "Original. Authentic. Heart-breaking....Officially one of my favorites!" -- Cora Carmack, New York Times Bestselling author of Losing It.


by Ann Redisch Stampler 

A toxic friendship takes a dangerous turn in this riveting novel from the author of Where It Began. Emma is tired of being good. Always the perfect daughter to an overprotective father, she moves to Los Angeles dying to reinvent herself. This is why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her. And the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge—and she wants Emma to come with her. And it may be more than Emma can handle. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop… How many lies can you tell your father, your best friend, your boyfriend, and yourself before everything falls apart?

Amazon Praise: "In Stampler’s unflinching look at wealthy, decadent youth and complicated relationships, realistic characters and tight dialogue add to the tension—and there’s plenty of it."-- Booklist

Unknown-5The Way Back From Broken 
by Amber J. Keyser 

Rakmen Cannon's life is turning out to be one sucker punch after another. His baby sister died in his arms, his parents are on the verge of divorce, and he's flunking out of high school. The only place he fits in is with the other art therapy kids stuck in the basement of Promise House, otherwise known as support group central. Not that he wants to be there. Talking doesn't bring back the dead. When he's shipped off to the Canadian wilderness with ten-year-old Jacey, another member of the support group, and her mom, his summer goes from bad to worse. He can't imagine how eight weeks of canoeing and camping could be anything but awful.

Amazon   Praise: "The Way Back from Broken is compelling and unrelenting a story for anyone trying to find their own way back." --Sara Ryan, author of Bad Houses and The Rules for Hearts


by Madeline Dyer 

As one of the last Untamed humans left in the world, Seven’s life has always been controlled by tight rules. Stay away from the Enhanced. Don’t question your leader. And, most importantly, never switch sides—because once you’re Enhanced there’s no going back. Even if you have become the perfect human being. But after a disastrous raid on an Enhanced city, Seven soon finds herself in her enemy’s power. Realizing it’s only a matter of time before she too develops a taste for the chemical augmenters responsible for the erosion of humanity, Seven knows she must act quickly if she’s to escape and save her family from the same fate. Yet, as one of the most powerful Seers that the Untamed and Enhanced have ever known, Seven quickly discovers that she alone holds the key to the survival of only one race. But things aren’t clear-cut anymore, and with Seven now questioning the very beliefs she was raised on, she knows she has an important choice to make. One that has two very different outcomes. Seven must choose wisely whose side she joins, for the War of Humanity is underway, and Death never takes kindly to traitors.

Amazon Praise: "As a person who rarely reads fantasy/sci-fi but grew up with it always on the nightstand, Dyer’s book reawakened in me a buried love for the genre." Jen Knox, author of Musical Chairs & After the Gazebo

Unknown-6The Bridge from Me to You 

by Lisa Schroeder 

  Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place. In alternating chapters of verse and prose, new girl Lauren and football hero Colby come together, fall apart, and build something stronger than either of them thought possible -- something to truly believe in.

Amazon Praise: "Writing in alternating viewpoints, with Lauren's chapters unfolding in free verse and Colby's in prose, Schroeder (Falling for You) offers a thoughtful, straightforward, and fairly chaste romance between two kind, generous teens-one burdened by her past, one burdened by his future." —Publishers Weekly  

Last Year's Mistake 

by Gina Ciocca 

Is there anything that electric chemistry can’t overcome? The past may be gone, but love has a way of holding on in this romantic debut novel told in alternating Before and After chapters. The summer before freshman year, Kelsey and David became inseparable best friends—until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke and everything around her crumbled, including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey’s parents decide to move away, she can’t wait to start over and leave the past behind. But David’s not quite ready to be left. Now it’s senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David’s family moves to town. Old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey’s second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never let him go. And maybe she never wants to…

Amazon Praise: “A solid, thoughtful romance with plenty of angst.” School Library Journal

This Ordinary Life 

by Jennifer Walkup
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 Jasmine 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 Jasmine may just discover that what she already has is pretty extraordinary after all.

Amazon Praise: “I adore This Ordinary Life! It has so much heart and soul, it’s like I walked into Jasmine’s life and left on the last page knowing her. The radio premise is new and fresh. This book has everything...!" —Jamime Blair, author, Leap of Faith and Lost to Me
Between the Sea and Sky 
by Jaclyn Dolamore

For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.

Amazon Praise: "Dolamore did a wonderful job weaving together the perfect amount of romance, and adventure to make this book come alive for me. This is tthe first mermaid book I've ever read and it definitely paved the way for me to read more in the future." -- Swoon Worthy Books  

My Best Everything 

by Sarah Tomp

Luisa "Lulu" Mendez has just finished her final year of high school in a small Virginia town, determined to move on and leave her job at the local junkyard behind. So when her father loses her college tuition money, Lulu needs a new ticket out.

Desperate for funds, she cooks up the (illegal) plan to make and sell moonshine with her friends. Quickly realizing they're out of their depth, they turn to Mason, a local boy who's always seemed like a dead end. As Mason guides Lulu through the secret world of moonshine, it looks like her plan might actually work. But can she leave town before she loses everything?

My Best Everything is Lulu's letter to Mason--but it a love letter, an apology, or a good-bye?

Amazon Praise: "This is an impressive debut of last summers and first loves, set against the backdrop of faded rural grandeur. Suggest to fans of Sarah Dessen looking for tough-as-nails heroines, enduring friendships, and romance with a side of grit."―Booklist
Unknown-12The Artisans 
by Julie Reece

In this dark southern gothic novel, a young woman meets a man who may be more than he seems. After the death of her mother, 17-year-old Rave Weathersby gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands. To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day. Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad’s drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox. But Raven’s stepdad is drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she’s ever known out of jail. Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries’ clothing line, signing over her creative rights. Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can’t imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes. But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?

Amazon Praise: "This novel makes the most of its hodgepodge of gothic elements to create a compulsive read for avid fans of gothic romance." --School Library Journal

Some of the Parts 

by Hannah Barnaby 

For months, Tallie McGovern has been coping with the death of her older brother the only way she knows how: by smiling bravely and pretending that she’s okay. She’s managed to fool her friends, her parents, and her teachers, yet she can’t even say his name out loud: “N—” is as far as she can go. Then Tallie comes across a letter in the mail, and it only takes two words to crack the careful fa├žade she’s built up: ORGAN DONOR. Two words that had apparently been checked off on her brother’s driver’s license; two words that her parents knew about—and never revealed to her. All at once, everything Tallie thought she understood about her brother’s death feels like a lie. And although a part of her knows he’s gone forever, another part of her wonders if finding the letter might be a sign. That if she can just track down the people on the other end of those two words, it might somehow bring him back. Hannah Barnaby’s deeply moving novel asks questions there are no easy answers to as it follows a family struggling to pick up the pieces, and a girl determined to find the brother she wasn’t ready to let go of. Amazon Coming in 2016  


by Jenny Martin 

The Fast and the Furious gets a futuristic twist in this action-packed debut! On corporately controlled Castra, rally racing is a high-stakes game that seventeen-year-old Phoebe Van Zant knows all too well. Phee’s legendary racer father disappeared mysteriously, but that hasn't stopped her from speeding headlong into trouble. When she and her best friend, Bear, attract the attention of Charles Benroyal, they are blackmailed into racing for Benroyal Corp, a company that represents everything Phee detests. Worse, Phee risks losing Bear as she falls for Cash, her charming new teammate. But when she discovers that Benroyal is controlling more than a corporation, Phee realizes she has a much bigger role in Castra’s future than she could ever have imagined. It's up to Phee to take Benroyal down. But even with the help of her team, can a street-rat destroy an empire?

Amazon Praise: "It’s a wholehearted adrenaline rush when it comes to the thrill of the run, making it easy to get drawn into a fast-paced, high-stakes story."—Publishers Weekly

Wish You Were Italian 

by Kristin Rae 

The summer before senior year of high school. It's supposed to be one of the biggest summers of her life, but Pippa is headed to an art program she has no interest in. The one saving grace is it's in Italy. And when the opportunity strikes, she decides to ditch the program and travel Italy accomplishing her own list of goals. Things like swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, eating a whole pizza in one sitting…and falling in love with an Italian boy! As she explores the famous cities of Rome and Pompeii, Pippa finds herself falling for two boys: a local guy she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student who keeps disappearing and reappearing at the strangest moments. Will Pippa find her true love before her parents find out the truth about her summer program?

Amazon Praise: This breezy, envy-inducing romance opens the If Only series -- Publishers Weekly

The Secret Side of Empty 

by Maria E. Andreu

What's it like to be undocumented? High school senior M.T. knows all too well. With graduation and an uncertain future looming, she must figure out how to grow up in the only country she's ever called home... a country in which she's "illegal."M.T. was born in Argentina and brought to America as a baby without any official papers. And as questions of college, work, and the future arise, M.T. will have to decide what exactly she wants for herself, knowing someone she loves will unavoidably pay the price for it. On the way, M.T. must navigate first love, letting go of her childhood friends as they begin a life she can't share, a difficult relationship with a father who grew up a world away and a mother struggling to find her way in America. What is it like when the only country you've ever known says you don't belong? The Secret Side of Empty offers an intimate, often surprising glimpse into a story you often hear on the news but have never heard told this way before. 

Amazon Praise:
Written with the compassion and raw emotions of one who has lived in the shadows herself, Andreu’s debut offering is a winner -- Booklist

Unknown-17The Secrets of Attraction 
by Robin Constantine

Set in the same world as The Promise of Amazing, this smart, surprising, and romantic follow-up to Robin Constantine's debut novel follows two New Jersey teens as they become friends and fall in love. Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, Sarah Mlynowski, and Jennifer E. Smith. Madison Pryce thinks she's got everything figured out—she's working on a portfolio for a summer art program and hanging with her friends. Plus she has her hot boyfriend, Zach. But then a visit from a family friend turns Maddie's life upside down. Jesse McMann is still reeling from a breakup that shattered his heart and his band. Then pride (and some goading from his bass player and fellow barista) forces him to find a new drummer—and the inspiration to write music again. Kismet arrives in the unlikely form of Grayson Barrett, who tries out for Jesse's band, and whose girlfriend is BFFs with the cute girl who orders a chai latte after yoga every Thursday: Maddie. What Jesse and Maddie thought they knew about the secrets of attraction and the rules of romance changes once they start falling for each other.

Amazon Praise:
“Well-crafted and enjoyable.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))

Dream Boy 

by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg 

Perfect and REAL. The boy of her dreams. And when he brushes past her, he whispers her name. Annabelle Manning spends her nights with a blue-eyed boy who consumes her dreams - then vanishes each morning as she wakes. He's everything she's every wanted, but even she never expected to find him in her chemistry class the next day. Now she's got a gorgeous guy who's totally into her, whispering the most ridiculously romantic things in her ear. Her life is a dream come true - until her dreams stop and the nightmares begin.

Amazon   Praise: "Hits the chick-lit and romance buttons, adding suspense and an intriguing idea as well for nicely rounded entertainment" - Kirkus