All posts by Cindy Pon

An excerpt from SACRIFICE by Cindy Pon

By Cindy Pon

As a writer, I always feel like my second books are stronger than my first. My stories naturally seem to be told in duologies, and with the sequel, it might be that I’m more comfortable with the characters, their motivations, and worlds. As someone who does not outline, my process is pretty intuitive. I knew that Sacrifice would be told from dual narrations (as Fury of the Phoenix was told): Skybright’s and Zhen Ni’s. It wasn’t until I finished the first draft that I realized that I needed to include Kai Sen as a main point of view. This allowed me to expand the lens into this world, and I enjoyed it as much as it challenged me as a writer. I love this story, and I’m so happy it’s finally out in the world! I share an excerpt from Sacrifice below and ordering information for personalized and/or signed copies with pre-order gift!


Excerpt:

Someone opened the panel of her room quietly. “Zhen Ni?” a male voice whispered.

She smothered a scream. No man had ever been within her bedchamber, except for the doctor on rare occasions, and even then, she had been hidden behind silk drapes on her bed,  offering her arm so the man could examine her pulse. No common man had ever been allowed within the inner quarters, unchaperoned much less, and in the dead of night. Blood pounded in her ears, and Zhen Ni gripped her dagger tighter, prepared to use it if she had to.

“It’s me. Kai Sen.”

Recognition dawned. She had thought the voice sounded familiar, but she hadn’t seen Kai Sen since they parted ways over half a year ago, after he had escorted her home from visiting Lan one last time. What in the goddess’s name was he doing here, breaking all rules of decorum? Her reputation could be compromised if he were caught.

Zhen Ni smiled in the dark then. It was a wonder anyone would take her as a wife at all. She was notoriously known as a stubborn runaway and truly didn’t give a donkey’s ass about decorum now, but she had behaved perfectly to please her parents since returning home. She held still in her dark corner, waiting to see what Kai Sen would do.

A bright flame ignited within the bedchamber. She squinted, thinking he had lit a lantern, but it appeared as if he cradled a ball of blue fire in his very palm. Astounded, Zhen Ni stared as Kai Sen drew to her empty bedside, peering down at the rumpled coverlet, then turned to survey the room.

Dressed in a black sleeveless tunic, he seemed taller than she remembered and definitely bigger. Kai Sen had been all wiry muscle when they had traveled together but thin, still boyish in some ways. His time in the monastery since had filled his frame, as if he’d finally grown into his adult physique. He had looked strong before; now he looked powerful. She watched while the flickering flame danced across his face. Kai Sen’s dark eyebrows were knitted together as his alert eyes swept the large bedchamber. Zhen Ni could see why Skybright had been drawn to him—he was handsome. He exuded masculinity. Assuming a girl appreciated that sort of thing: rough hands and deep voice, the odd metallic tang of sweat. She knew from their travels together that he even smelled different.

Zhen Ni wasn’t attracted to these things.

For a brief moment, she remembered the soft curve of Lan’s neck bent over her embroidery, smelled the rose perfume she used to dab at the hollow of Lan’s throat, the scent sweet and mellow when she would kiss the same spot hours later … Zhen Ni blinked the memories away and whispered, “What are you doing here?”


Buy the Book:

Order from Mysterious Galaxy Books to get signed and personalized copies of Serpentine or Sacrifice, and choose a pre-order gift of your choice! Grace Fong’s gorgeous art of my girls Zhen Ni and Skybright magnet, or my hummingbird Chinese brush art card. You receive a gift for every book purchased AND you’re supporting my favorite indie book store!

Zhen Ni and Skybright by Grace Fong

Serpentine is also currently on sale across all ebook platforms for 99c. If you haven’t had a chance to read the first book yet, here’s the perfect opportunity for less than a buck! #nook #kindle #kobo #ibook #googleplay

WANT Cover Reveal

By Cindy Pon

Every book I have written is a book of my heart, but WANT is especially dear to me. A near-future thriller set in Taipei, it is an ode to my birth city, the vibrancy of which is deeply rooted in me. The feel of the air, the smells, these colors shaped my childhood and who I am today. I tried to capture that in WANT. This book is also special because it is the first non-fantasy novel I have ever written and challenged me in so many ways as a writer. But I loved my characters in this book, especially my hero and heroine, and I loved portraying this city I adore, a character in itself, so close to my heart. It is the first YA speculative fiction I’m aware of published by a big US publisher set in Taipei, if not the first young adult set there. So many fantastic firsts!

The WANT cover is stunning and amazing and everything I could have hoped for as an author. I hope you love it too!

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Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

Following is a conversation I had with Jen Ung, my Simon Pulse editor, on our thoughts about this cover!

Cindy: I wasn’t expecting it at all when WANT’s first cover iteration dropped into my email. It came as a complete surprise! My reaction? *screaming* and *lying face down* ha! WANT is the first non-fantasy novel I’d ever written, and one of its draws for me was my #cuteasianboy hero Jason Zhou. To see him rendered so wonderfully and featured and centered on the cover, with the lights of Taipei reflected on his helmet—I honestly cannot describe all my feels. I know everyone has a different preference and opinion for book covers. But personally for me, the more Asian faces I can get onto my novels, the better!!

Jen: WANT’s original editor, Michael Strother, and I were also all for showing a #cuteasianboy on the cover! When the designer for the project, Karina Granda, read the first draft of WANT, she described the read as feeling atmospheric and “wet,” and wanted to evoke this with the cover art style. She decided to hire artist Jason Chan, who does a lot of work in the video game space. He also regularly illustrates MG/YA book covers, so she knew he could do a fantastic job applying his video game art style to a YA book cover. The cover you see here is one of Jason’s original concepts, and I think it’s stunning.

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Cindy: I feel so so lucky because Jason Chan is an amazing artist, and he really captured the feel of the novel so well. I also love that Karina described the atmosphere of WANT as “wet”. This novel was truly an ode to my birth city, Taipei, which is a very humid city with many rain showers (and typhoons!), and I wrote all that into the book. I’m just so pleased that she picked up on that as a perceptive designer! When I saw the original cover, with Jason’s white blonde hair and eyes closed, I was already blown away. Michael was kind enough to ask if I had any feedback. I did. My main concern was that readers might not see with this first cover iteration that Jason is indeed Asian. I don’t think it’s an unfounded fear, as there are so few Asians featured in young adult novels today, much less Asian boy leads. In fact, I’m certain that WANT will likely be the only YA cover with an Asian hero so prominently shown in 2017. This representation mattered to me. I really appreciated the dream-like quality of having Jason’s eyes closed, but he is such an active hero in the novel, I felt opened eyes and a direct look from him was more suitable. And although he starts with blond hair in the novel, the majority of the story he wears it black. Jason Chan was able to incorporate both suggestions, and I truly feel so happy and fortunate. I don’t think there is any room for doubt that my hero is an Asian boy on the WANT cover. I adore this cover so much.

Jen: We loved Cindy’s suggested changes, and I agree that the tweaks ultimately made for a stronger, more active image. Representation in YA—in terms of both covers and content—is something near and dear to my heart, and I just know that WANT is going to mean so much to so many readers, for so many different reasons. I’m very grateful to the designer and artist for so perfectly capturing the essence of the book, and to Cindy for writing such a fantastic story!

WANT (Simon Pulse) releases June 2017! Add it to your goodreads shelf!


imageCindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow Books), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. Serpentine (Month9Books), the first title in another Chinese-inspired fantasy duology, is a Junior Library Guild Selection and received starred reviews from School Library Journal and VOYA. Sacrifice, the sequel, is also a Junior Library Guild Selection and received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. She is the co-founder of Diversity in YA with Malinda Lo and on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Learn more about her books and art at http://cindypon.com. Chat with her on twitter: @cindypon or follow her on instagram: @cindyponauthor

A Guide to Writing Non-Commercial YA Fantasy

By Cindy Pon

pon-serpentineMaybe the title of this post is a little tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely.

When I was pitching my debut novel, Silver Phoenix, in 2008, one of the first editors I met at a local conference read twelve pages and said two things that stuck with me. First: This reads like Crouching Tiger crossed with The Joy Luck Club. Why is it fantasy? Second: Asian fantasy doesn’t sell.

My internal thought to the first was: But doesn’t Crouching Tiger have fantastical elements? And why is he saying it like this is a bad thing? My thought to the second was: Oh.

I immigrated to the United States from Taiwan when I was six years old, which means I learned English as a second language. I remember vividly my first grade teacher having to write my name onto the chalkboard because I didn’t know the alphabet. I remember staying home to work on my English while I watched the neighborhood kids play outside. So, when sometime in the third grade I began reading—and reading a lot—it seemed as if magical worlds had been opened to me. I had worked so hard to gain access to these story treasures!

I fell in love with books, and fantasy was one of my favorite genres. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized I had never seen a character who looked like me in any of the fantasy novels I had read. That’s why I wrote Silver Phoenix.

It was incredibly disheartening to be told by the first professional editor I’d met as a budding writer: Don’t bother. No one wants this.

Well, Silver Phoenix did sell to Greenwillow Books, and it was published in 2009, a difficult time in publishing, and an even more challenging one for debut authors. That year, my novel was the only Asian-inspired YA fantasy released by a major publisher, and now, six years later, I can still count on one hand the number that are released any given year. There have been strides, but not many.

When I began writing Serpentine, which was published on Sept. 8, I knew it was a risk. I was writing another fantasy set in my fictitious Kingdom of Xia when the sales numbers for my other books had not been strong. But if you know me personally, you know that no one tells me what to or not to do, and I am a stubborn-headed goat. When I do find a story idea, I always write that novel. Serpentine was on submission for two years, with a handful of editors giving very positive feedback, but asking to see something “entirely different” from me instead.

I was ready to self-publish when Serpentine and its sequel were acquired by Month9Books, and it has been a fantastic journey with this amazing small press. But those two years on submission gave me time to realize all the things that made Serpentine “not commercial” by the standards of what is popular in YA fantasy’s current market.

1. “Too many Asians”

My novels feature casts that are almost entirely Asian, which is very rarely seen in YA books. I’ve also come to realize that the setting itself, inspired by ancient China, is severely othered by the average Western reader, even those who are enthusiastic fantasy readers. Ancient China is more foreign and seen as less commercial than Mars or the moon.

2. “Always the handmaid, never the princess”

I’m very familiar with fantasy’s love for royalty, the princes and princesses who must be smart, brave, and persevere to save their kingdoms. I have read and loved many of these fantasy stories, but have never been drawn to writing them myself. My heroines have always been underdogs, and it is no different in Serpentine. Orphaned at birth, the main character Skybright has been a handmaid and companion to her mistress her entire life. She is pragmatic and hardworking, until one night she wakes to find the lower half of her body has morphed into a long serpentine coil. This changes what she thought she knew about herself and her life forever.

3. “Sisters before misters”

I knew from the outset that I wanted a strong female friendship to be the focus of Serpentine. It was something that was lacking in my Phoenix novels, but also, it was a tribute to all the fabulous women friends I have in my own life, who have boosted and encouraged me in my writing career. And although there is a strong romance between Skybright and a boy she meets, I do believe the core of the story is the friendship between Skybright and Zhen Ni.

4. “Different but not that different”

I think the true irony is that I always think I am writing to market. Shapeshifters are a popular staple in fantasy, both urban and traditional, and are part of the mythos and lore of many cultures worldwide. But one of my critique readers found the idea of a serpent demon heroine “gross”, and an editor said that despite my beautiful storytelling, a half serpent with a forked tongue would be a “tough sell” to the YA readership. Well, damn. Why can I never just fit nicely in the YA Fantasy Expectations Box? I blame my fascination with the idea of monstrous beauties, as well as the Greek mythology of Medusa, who was a beautiful woman herself before she was changed into a monster.

As for whether or not Asian fantasy sells, I think that it can, if these titles are given the same strong publicity and marketing push as other Western-inspired YA fantasies. I have yet to see this happen, and when there is strong buzz from the big publishers, it has often been for an Asian-inspired fantasy written by a white author.

So I’m especially grateful that Serpentine has had the chance to enter the world—and that the reception, so far, has been so welcoming. And if you decide to take a chance with a non-commercial YA fantasy, reader, I hope you enjoy Serpentine.


cindyponauthorcolor2Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Serpentine, the first title in her next Xia duology, is a Junior Library Guild selection for Fall 2015. She is the co-founder of Diversity in YA with Malinda Lo and on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website at www.cindypon.com.

Signed/personalized copies of Serpentine may be purchased from Mysterious Galaxy Books, and if you do so by Sept. 12, you will receive a brush art card (with art by Cindy Pon) with the book.

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Don’t forget! You can enter to win Serpentine and four other wonderful YA SFF novels at our Fantasy & Science Fiction Month giveaway (deadline Oct. 6).

Aisha Saeed Gives Us the Inside Track on the We Need Diverse Books IndieGogo Campaign

By Cindy Pon

Last Thursday, We Need Diverse Books™ kicked off their IndieGogo campaign to raise $100,000 to fund their advocacy efforts. Aisha Saeed, WNDB’s Vice President of Strategy, dropped by DiYA to fill us in on the campaign and WNDB’s future goals.

Full disclosure: DiYA is not officially affiliated with WNDB, but I (Cindy) am a member of the WNDB Advisory Board.

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We Need Diverse Books Panel at BookCon in May 2014. Front row from left: Lamar Giles, Mike Jung, Matt de la Peña, Grace Lin, and Jacqueline Woodson. Back row from from left: Ellen Oh, Marieke Nijkamp, Aisha Saeed, and I. W. Gregorio.

Cindy Pon: Hi Aisha, thanks for stopping by DiYA! Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved with the We Need Diverse Books™ team?

Aisha Saeed: Hi Cindy, thanks for having me here! I am an author, mama, lawyer, teacher, and maker and drinker of chai (lots and lots of chai). My debut novel Written in the Stars, follows seventeen-year old Naila who didn’t realize just how far-reaching the consequences could be when she disobeyed her parents one rule: not to fall in love.

L: Written in the Stars; R: Aisha Saeed
L: Written in the Stars; R: Aisha Saeed

I am also the Vice President of Strategy for We Need Diverse Books™. It’s hard to believe we started only earlier this year, but being part of WNDB is one of the things I’m most proud to be a part of.

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The Oakland Public Library shows its support!

Cindy: This fundraising campaign looks amazing! Could you highlight some of the WNDB initiatives contributors will help fund through their donations?

Aisha: We are so grateful to each and every backer of our project. Every single dollar donated is not only tax-deductible, all funds go towards launching our initiatives. While you can read more about them here, some of our initiatives include Diversity in the Classroom aimed at bringing diverse authors and diverse books to classrooms. We also seek to support diverse authors and writers with the Walter Dean Myers Awards and Grants program to honor authors with commendable diverse books and to help support diverse writers and illustrators seeking publication. We are also putting together educational kits for classrooms, bookstores, and libraries, and promoting the conversation on diversity at conferences. And last but certainly not least, we are launching our first ever kidlit diversity festival in 2016.

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Mabith shares during the WNDB twitter campaign: #WeNeedDiverseBooks because disabiilty is not life-ending, an aberration, or a side story. In the US, nearly one in every five people have a disability.

Cindy: Can you tell us about some of the incentives available for those who donate? And what we can look forward to for the rest of the campaign?

Aisha: We are very proud of our perks, and so thankful to all the amazing authors, artists, and community members who have donated so many amazing things!  In addition to tote bags, T-shirts, swag packs, posters, and holiday notecards, we also have agent-donated perks tailored to writers, signed prints by illustrator Dav Pilkey (of Captain Underpants fame), and dinner dates with celebrated authors Matt de la Peña  and Jacqueline Woodson. Due to the generosity of so many people we still have many other prizes coming down the pipeline including original art created for the WNDB fundraiser by Grace Lin! (And FYI, we also have a fabulous piece by you, Cindy Pon!)

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“Here Comes the Dragon” signed print from Grace Lin’s book Bringing in the New Year.

 

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“Nestled Chick” an original Chinese brush painting by Cindy Pon.

We are so very grateful to everyone who has been supporting us, but we still need your help to reach our goal. Please check out our campaign page and our amazing video featuring authors Matt de la Peña, Jacqueline Woodson, Cindy Pon, Marie Lu, John Green, and Tim Federle, and consider helping to take us one step closer to fulfilling our dream to make the world of literature infinitely more diverse!

 


Aisha Saeed is a YA novelist, her book Written in the Stars, will be released in March 2015 by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin. She is represented by Taylor Martindale at Full Circle Literary. You can follow her on twitter here or tumblr here.

Interview with Barry Goldblatt of BG Literary

By Cindy Pon

Literary agent Barry Goldblatt has represented many young adult authors including Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Lauren Myracle, and Libba Bray. He recently created the Angela Johnson Scholarship for the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults, which aims to support talented writers of color.

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Cindy Pon: I queried over a hundred agents back in 2008, and I’ll always remember your agency as one of the few that listed multicultural and/or diverse stories as something you were actively seeking. It certainly made a very positive impression on me. Why does diversity in children’s books matter to you, Barry?

Barry Goldblatt: To me, it’s quite simple: I don’t live in a monochrome world, so why should the stories I represent? The world is full of different stories, and as a reader I was always fascinated by reading about people and places that were different from me…and yet, oh so similar. I think good readers long for diverse experiences, and I also think that every reader deserves a chance to see themselves reflected in the pages of a book.

Cindy: How would you respond to aspiring writers who are afraid that including LGBT characters or characters of color in their book will make getting published more difficult?

Barry: I simply do not see that in my experience. I’ve never had a book rejected because of LGBT content, or because of the race or religion of characters in the story. In fact, quite the opposite experience, really: editors are readers at heart, and they’re eager to find a new story, a new approach, a new worldview.

That said, we obviously face difficulties in the marketing of said books, but I think many of those barriers are falling these days, and will continue to do so. If we keep providing great stories, the readers will come, and ultimately, all that will matter to them is that the face on the cover represents the character they love.

Cindy: You recently announced the creation of The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a partnership between your literary agency and the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Could you tell us more about this fantastic undertaking?

Barry: I have a long relationship with the wonderful MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts: I’ve represented a number of writers who have served as faculty there or who graduated from there. Their faculty is incredibly diverse, and it seems that would help attract a diverse student body, but when I visited recently as part of a alumni program, it was obvious to me that more was needed to accomplish that. So I proposed the scholarship, making it clear there were no strings attached: no recipient was required to submit their work to me or be represented by me. I just thought it was one small way I could put my money where my mouth is, to encourage writers who might not have even been aware of the program, or unable to afford it, to maybe come give it a try, and to help get their stories—from whatever background they’ve come from—get out into the world.

Cindy: And finally, are there any particular projects you are especially interested in representing right now?

Barry: I never know how to answer this question, because I really don’t know what I want until I read something that blows me away, and then of course I want that! In general, I’m looking for something brilliant, something that punches me in the mouth or the gut with an emotional wallop, or something that sneakily creeps up on my heart and squeezes. I want big stories of bravery and derring do, and I want small stories of love and compassion and understanding. All I ask, is that it grabs me and takes me somewhere else, somewhere new, somewhere unforgettable.

To learn more about the Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency, visit their website, bgliterary.com, or follow Barry on Twitter.

Someone Like Me

By Cindy Pon

This article first appeared in The ALAN Review, Summer 2013. Published here with permission.

I play “Spot the Asian” when I watch movies. I remember doing this for The Avengers recently, and feeling disheartened near the end of the film when I had yet to see an Asian American face on the big screen. The movie redeemed itself in a montage of post-conquering-the-bad-guys scenes in New York City, where I saw Asian faces as extras in the background and even a brief cameo of an excited Asian American boy with actual lines to speak. For those who are not people of color (PoC), this might seem an odd ritual. But imagine growing up and rarely seeing someone who looked like you in the media–not even in commercials, much less on television shows, in films, or in magazines. I was a voracious reader as a child, but it was only as an adult, looking back, when I realized that I had never read a book with a character who looked like me.

Imagine if you were a woman, and the television shows and commercials you saw only had men in them, that all the models in the magazines you read were men, that if you actually saw a woman reflected back at you from the screen or the page, it stood out so much that you’d make a mental note of it. You would feel surprised and pleased. Look, you would think, someone like me. You would remember the television show or the product being sold as something positive, something you should keep an eye out for.

Because everywhere else in the media, you were rendered invisible.

Malinda Lo and I set up the Diversity in YA tour back in May of 2011 because both of our Asian-inspired YA fantasies were published within weeks of each other. We wanted it to be a celebration of diversity in young adult books and to continue the dialogue that had already been brewing among readers, librarians, educators, and those who worked in publishing. I remember quite vividly our panel at the Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts, moderated by Roger Sutton from The Horn Book Magazine, when a woman raised her hand during the Q&A portion and asked why diversity mattered. Her children, she said, were white and Chinese, and they read books with no Chinese characters in them and loved them. It wasn’t their ethnicity or backgrounds that mattered, she asserted. A good book was a good book.

There was a moment of stunned silence. We were at a Diversity in Young Adult books panel, after all. I was the only one who responded to her question, saying that it was true that if an author did her job, readers should be able to relate to the character no matter how dissimilar their backgrounds or experiences might be. However, I had no choice in the fact that I only saw white characters in books while I was growing up. Of course, it was only after the panel that the response I wished I had given came to me. (Isn’t it always like that?!) If a character’s background and ethnicity did not matter, if only good books mattered, then why didn’t we have stories featuring more non-white characters out there on the shelves? Continue reading Someone Like Me

Project: Boy Next Door by L. K. Madigan

By Cindy Pon

Being the son of a mega-famous mogul isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, which is why super-smart but socially awkward teen Melvin Pepper wants to try something new: anonymity. To attend a regular high school, get a normal job, meet real people. A break from the pressure and facade that come with crazy wealth and a world-renowned last name.

But Mel quickly realizes that being Mike, his alter ego, isn’t as easy as he’d assumed. He gradually makes friends at work and school and becomes involved in the radio club, plus navigates the rocky waters of first crushes and first kisses. However, he discovers someone out there is on to his secret and is threatening to expose it. 

And that’s not all. One of Mel’s new work friends is hiding a dark secret of her own, and Mel feels helpless to make things better for her. He struggles with juggling two very different identities, balancing jealous old friends and nosy new ones. Yup, Mel’s in way over his head…and the only chance he has to make everything right is to be true to himself.

I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa (published under L. K. Madigan) at SCBWI National Conference in Los Angeles in 2008. I had just read her Flash Burnout ARC and had a major author crush. I followed her around the conference, asked her questions about Blake, and talked the book up so much she said I should be her publicist. ha! I asked about her next project, and she was coy, only telling me it was about a mermaid. Later, I would read The Mermaid’s Mirror and happily immerse myself in Lisa’s stories once again.

We were part of the Feast of Awesome Debut 2009 group—and had been through so many highs and lows together as new authors. Lisa was always there to offer encouragement, commiseration, or a laugh. Losing her to cancer was devastating. Not only had we lost a companion, advocate and friend, we had lost Lisa’s stories—her unique voice, humor, and way of seeing the world.

Imagine my surprise and happiness when a fellow deb, Rhonda Helms, said she had been approached by Lisa’s husband, Neil, to edit and publish Project: Boy Next Door. I began reading immediately, and laughed, and it was wonderful to be in Lisa’s story, to hear her voice once more.

Below, fellow authors express their thoughts on Lisa, and how she and her books affected them.

“I never got the chance to meet Lisa in “real” life, but we emailed about our writing, and about how publishing was going. She was unfailingly encouraging and kind, and I always felt she must be a truly good person. I wish she was still here in the world with us. I miss her.”

~Teri Hall, author of The Line.

“Back in 2010 I wrote a really raw post about my then 15 months on submission to editors, and how I’d failed to sell and spiraled into an anxiety-ridden mess. I was completely taken back by the out-pouring of love and support from the blogging community that day. So many writers, both aspiring and published, took the time to comment and share with me their own struggles and also their encouragement. Lisa was one of those writers, and having just read FLASH BURNOUT (which blew my mind), her comment meant so much to me. It’s simple, but I’ve kept it on my desktop as a virtual sticky note ever since that day:

‘It’s clear that you have the three most essential traits of successful writers:

 Talent, heart, and perseverance.

 I have no doubt your journey will one day end up at the Happily Ever After.

 xo

 Lisa’

Little did Lisa know that her book was one that inspired me to try writing contemporary YA, and that my first contemporary played a big part in healing the wounds my publishing journey had given me. I barely knew her, but I admired her deeply. Even to a near stranger like me, she was kind and supportive and inspiring.

It was only a few months after that post I heard of Lisa’s death. I wept. I’m even crying right now as I write this. I wept because it wasn’t fair, because I would never get to read another book of hers, because she was someone who inspired me so much that I still think about her and her characters. So to hear that PROJECT: BOY NEXT DOOR is about to be published brings me great joy. Because there will be more of Lisa’s words in the world, and that means this place will be a little better after May 6th than it was before”

~Natalie Whipple, author of Transparent

“Lisa was extraordinarily generous with advice and support. I’ve never been good at figuring out chapter endings, but she helped me to figure out where to end them so people would want to keep reading.”

~Megan Frazer Blakemore, author of The Water Castle

“She was a generous and tough crit partner and I appreciated her feedback like no other. I was lucky enough to read three of her manuscripts while they were in progress and to meet her twice in person. Nothing pleases me more than to see her Boy Next Dooron the shelves. One thing for sure, I miss her a lot.”

~C. Lee Mackenzie, author of The Princess of Las Pulgas

“Lisa was not only a stunning writer; she was one of those people who made everyone she met a little happier, a little kinder, a little more thankful for the journey. I’m so looking forward to hearing her writing voice again.”

~Kate Messner, author of Capture the Flag

“Lisa stood up for the underdog. That’s what I loved about her most.”

~Lauren Bjorkman, author of Miss Fortune Cookie

“I met Lisa at the SCWBI conference in 2009.  She glowed with light, the kind of person who drew you in immediately with her warmth and kindness. She was so excited for the release of Flash Burnout, and enthusiastic for everyone else releasing books too. I love her writing so very much and remain a forever fan.”

~Janet Gurtler, author of How I Lost You

Project: Boy Next Door is available in ebook format from amazon and bn.com. Please read and help spread the book love!

cheers, cindy