The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl

It is rare that I find a book that has a cover I could stare at for hours and never tire of.  This book happens to have one of those covers.  It’s just stunning in more ways I can mention.

It’s even rarer still to have the pages within those covers turn out to be just as fantastic as the cover itself.  This one will definitely be added to my printed collection.  I hope you add it to yours as well.


Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are revealing the first chapter for

The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl by Leigh Statham

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

The Perilous Journey

Lady Marguerite lives a life most 17th century French girls can only dream of: Money, designer dresses, suitors and a secure future. Except, she suspects her heart may be falling for her best friend Claude, a common smithie in the family’s steam forge. When Claude leaves for New France in search of a better life, Marguerite decides to follow him and test her suspicions of love. Only the trip proves to be more harrowing than she anticipated. Love, adventure and restitution await her, if she can survive the voyage.

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Leigh Statham


The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl

Leigh Statham

Chapter One

Marguerite held the brass cricket gingerly in her hands. She kept it tucked under the table while she turned it over, her fingers blindly memorizing every feature. She knew it was childish for a sixteen-year-old to have a favorite toy, but she couldn’t help it. The design fascinated her. Occasionally she would trip the mechanism and the cricket literally sprang to life, launching itself against the underside of the table with a loud knock.

“What was that?” Madame Pomphart cried.

Marguerite caught the little metal bug with one hand and tucked it into the folds of her skirts. “Nothing,” she lied.

“I heard a noise.” The sour-faced governess slapped the desk with her pointer and stepped closer. “What are you hiding?”

Marguerite didn’t flinch. “You must be hearing things again. You are getting rather old.”

Madame Pomphart swung her pointer, making sound contact with Marguerite’s shoulder.

“Ah!” Marguerite grabbed her shoulder and jumped to her feet, knocking her chair over. She quite forgot about the little toy cricket which launched right at the governess’s face.

“What? Oh!” Madame Pomphart batted the air and stumbled backward, dropping her stick as the cricket ricocheted off her nose and landed at Marguerite’s feet. “How dare you bring vermin into my classroom? Your father will hear about this. Lord Vadnay will not be pleased!”

Marguerite scooped up her prize and ran for the door, grateful for the chance to escape.

“Get back here or you’ll receive double lashings!”

It was too late. Marguerite ran much faster than her teacher and was already halfway down the wide corridor. Lined with portraits of long-dead relatives and her father’s collection of modern weaponry, each display tempted her with thoughts of challenging the governess to a duel. She could easily scoop up one of the automated cat-o-nine-tails and turn back to the classroom. She rather fancied the idea, actually. But it wasn’t the right time or the right way to handle her heavy-handed caretaker, and honestly, she wasn’t quite brave enough to do more than talk back—not yet.

Her fear began to lift as she lightly descended the grand curving stairway to the ballroom, sprinting over the marble tiles and through the large doors to the gardens. The French summer sun blinded her. Marguerite blinked as she continued to run around the fountain filled with automated koi. A servant perched on the edge of the large pool, brass fish in hand. Its tail clicked furiously back and forth as he tried to oil it. The late-summer roses bloomed bright with color all around her. Butterflies seemed to flit merrily on every blossom, cheering her on. Human and automaton servants worked side by side grooming the large hedges … They jumped out of her way and bowed. None of them seemed surprised to see the young lady of the house running out of doors and they all knew where she was headed.

She tried to slip away to the cool shelter of the small glen beyond the lavender fields every chance she could, but since her father came up with the idea that she needed to be a “real lady,” it had become more difficult to sneak away.

At this point, she could have stopped. Pomphart wouldn’t follow her now, but it felt so good to move quickly after being at a table all morning. Her heart beat like an auto-hammer in her chest by the time she reached the work fields. More automatons and human servants stopped and bowed to the master’s daughter. Marguerite paid them no attention.

Finally reaching the small grove of trees, she flopped merrily on the soft grass and took a deep breath, then giggled to herself. She was safe, for now. The wind picked up and tousled the leaves overhead, sending bits of sunlight swimming wildly around her. The grass outside the glen rustled under the heavy thud of work boots: Claude.

“Hullo!” His voice sounded merry as he peered through the low branches that poked and tickled at the earth, surprised to see her there so early. “How’d you manage to beat me?” His wavy, light brown hair was just shaggy enough to soften his strong jaw and angular nose. His cheek was smeared with gear oil, right up to the corner of his smiling blue eyes. He was too tall for his work trousers and his chest had grown too broad for his cotton shirt. The buttons tugged a bit, but he wasn’t the type to care about his clothes. He pulled his welding goggles off of his head and wiped the sweat on his brow with the arm of his shirt.

“I ran.” She smiled wickedly.

Claude flopped down in the grass beside her. “That’s not very ladylike, and Pomphart doesn’t usually let you out till half past.”

“I had to run after this marvelous toy you made for me attacked her.” She held up the cricket like a prize gem freshly plucked from the earth.

“Marguerite!” he cried. “I asked you to keep it safe, not use it to get yourself tossed out of ladyhood!”

“It was an accident. I swear. The lessons are just so boring. I needed something to do, so I had it under the table. She’s such a brute. You should have seen how she hit me with her blasted pointer.”

“She struck you again?” his face turned dark.

“Yes, but it’s nothing, just a welt on the shoulder.” The last thing she wanted was to be the damsel in distress.

“Still.” Claude’s brow furrowed. “It’s not right. Ladies don’t strike other ladies. Please keep good care of that little bug. It took me a long time to build and I didn’t record the plans. I may need to borrow it back someday.”

“All right.” Disappointed at his lack of enthusiasm for her naughtiness, she carried on. “But you should have seen her face! If only I could have a portrait made of that. I’d hang it over my bed and have a miniature made to keep by my heart.”

A nasally voice attached to a pointy-faced, pale girl in bright pink skirts burst through the cool glen. “Whose miniature are you keeping by your heart? You haven’t even had your ball yet.”

“Hello, Vivienne.” Marguerite sighed without enthusiasm.

“Marguerite has just sealed her doom,” Claude chimed in. “She threw the cricket I made her at Pomphart’s face today, so there may not be a ball.”

“That’s rubbish! I did no such thing. It just got away from me and bounced right off her nose.” Marguerite laughed again while recalling the image, but Claude’s words made her a bit nervous.

“Oh dear,” cried Vivienne. “What are you going to do?”

Of course Vivienne would make a big deal out of it, Marguerite didn’t expect anything less from her childish neighbor.

“I’m not sure. That’s why I came straight here.” She turned pointedly to Claude. “I thought you’d want to celebrate my freedom and take the rest of the day off.”

Claude was quick to reply, “I’m afraid I can’t. Lots to be finished at the forge and I am on stall-mucking duty with the bots.”

“What do you possibly have to finish at the forge that’s so important?”

Claude raised his eyebrows at her. “A certain girl’s father has requested automatic serving dishes made of twenty-four-karat gold for her introduction to society.”

“Oh my!” Vivienne drew a dramatic breath. “How elegant. I so wish I were old enough to come.”

“Don’t worry,” Marguerite patted the girl’s knee, “I’m sure you can borrow them for your own ball.”

“Marguerite … ” Claude hissed at her.

It wasn’t a very kind thing to say, but Marguerite had never been very fond of Vivienne. She mostly endured her company because she was the only girl within a hundred miles that was close to the same age and station as Marguerite. That, and Claude had insisted she be kind to her.

“You’re right, Claude.” Marguerite smiled in repentance. “I’m sure your father will have loads of wonderful things for the guests to marvel at when your time comes, Vivienne. Still, it would be nice to have both of you there. I suppose I will be forced to talk to strangers.”

“I can’t believe you’re not excited!” Vivienne chattered. “New dresses! Handsome suitors!”

“I am excited,” Marguerite cut her off, “to have it over and done with! Dressing up might be fun, but dressing up to catch a man is not my idea of a good time.”

“Don’t be vulgar.” Vivienne blushed. “It’s not like that at all.”

Claude cut in, “I’d love to stay and discuss this matter with you girls, but I do have a few chafing dishes waiting for their motors in the shop.”

Marguerite tensed at the thought of not only being left alone with Vivienne, but also being without Claude’s protection should Pomphart come looking for her. “Do you think I could come help you at the forge today?”

“Not if you want me to get anything done.” Claude smiled merrily.

“Stop it! You know I’m a whiz with gear-work.”

“When you are actually interested in the work, yes, but I’m afraid that auto-spoons and brass tureens would bore you to death.”

Marguerite tried to make her eyes look large and beseeching, but she knew it was no use.

“No. But you can walk me there. I forgot my lunch anyway,” Claude said as he reached to help Marguerite up.

“I didn’t exactly have time to grab a snack as I fled the dungeons,” Marguerite quipped.

“Oh! I know!” Vivienne was bursting. “Let’s have lunch in town today. You’re not going back to your lessons are you? And Claude is busy with work. It will be such fun girl time!”

Marguerite sighed, but Vivienne was right. There was no way for her to return to the estate house without being trapped by Pomphart, and she had nothing to do if Claude insisted on finishing his chores. Still, she was uneasy about the idea of being on her own with Pomphart’s wrath hovering around an unknown corner waiting to pounce. The woman was ruthless when no one of importance was watching. She had a way of getting Marguerite off on her own and exacting whatever form of punishment she felt was suitable for the crime. Marguerite tried to complain to her father, but he wouldn’t listen, he thought Marguerite just didn’t want lessons anymore.

Claude knew all of this and sensed her fears in her quiet gaze.

“Come with me, both of you. I have someone I want you to meet.” Claude smiled.

Marguerite jumped up at his tug, tossed her wavy brown hair, and set her skirts aright, glad someone was helping her make up her mind. “Very well.”

“Hooray! Oh, I know just the place,” Vivienne said. “There is a new little patisserie I saw the other day I’ve been aching to try.” She skipped up the hill ahead of the other two, babbling on about buns and cakes and half sandwiches.

Claude reached for Marguerite’s arm and squeezed a bit. He used this gesture when he was about to chastise her, but she didn’t think she’d been that rude to Vivienne. The girl got on her nerves with every word, but her intentions were good and Marguerite wasn’t cruel by nature, just impatient.

“What?” she hissed.

“I have some news, but I wanted to tell you first.”

“Oh?” Relieved not to be in trouble, but also perplexed, Marguerite wished more now than ever that Vivienne would just skip into oblivion with her bouncy blonde curls and scattered thoughts.

“Yes. You know how we spoke a few weeks ago about my plans?”

“Did you find a position in Paris?” Marguerite could scarcely contain herself. Her friend was so talented, and she knew better than anyone that he was wasted working as a bondservant on her father’s estate. If he could secure an apprenticeship in Paris he could come back to La Rochelle as a master tradesman. Plus she could visit him there. Still, apprenticeships were hard to come by.

“No, I think it’s better than that.”

“What could be better than Paris?” In her mind, crowds of well-dressed ladies paraded down glittering avenues while the latest autocarts passed by in a blur of technology and innovation. Paris was the hub of all things Marguerite admired.

“I’ve signed into His Majesty’s service. As of next week, I’ll be an official member of the Royal Corp of Engineers.”

“You what?” She was stunned. It took her a moment to sort out her emotions. How could he have made this type of decision without consulting her? They had shared everything since they discovered each other as bored children on the estate a decade ago.

“I knew you’d be angry with me for not telling you beforehand, but an opportunity just presented itself and I knew it was right—I had to take it.”

“No, I’m not angry at all. Just shocked. You know how my father feels about the military.”

“But you see, that’s just it. I won’t have to worry about your father anymore, I won’t owe him anything. My first assignment is to New France.”

“Are you two coming or not? I’m starved!” Vivienne had doubled back when she realized she was talking to herself.

Marguerite wasn’t sure she could eat or talk at that moment. She wasn’t sure she could even take another step.



L. Statham

Leigh Statham was raised in the wilds of rural Idaho, but found her heart in New York City. She worked as a waitress, maid, artist, math teacher, nurse, web designer, art director, thirty-foot inflatable pig and mule wrangler before she settled down in the semi-quiet role of wife, mother and writer. She resides in North Carolina with her husband, four children, five chickens and two suspected serial killer cats. If the air is cool and the sun is just coming up over the horizon, you can find her running the streets of her small town, plotting her next novel with the sort of intensity that will one day get her hit by a car.

Connect with the Author: Website |Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


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C – Charlotte Stine

Good day, everyone, and welcome to day 3 of the A-Z Challenge.  Thank you all for stopping by and reading my contribution to this fun blogging event.  You can find the link to all the participants here, so after leaving my site, don’t forget to bop around to read the other offerings from almost two thousand other bloggers.  Now onward to the letter C.  From my YA novel, The Eye of Kedge, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Charlotte Stine.  You can see my vision of her by clicking the girl below.

Charlotte Stine was born on April Fool’s Day, but there is nothing foolish about her.  She is an energetic, inquisitive teenager who speaks her mind, loathes war, and passes out at the sight of blood.  Her core beliefs are put to the test after she and her best friend, David Heiland, are kidnapped, and thrust into a world of chaos and magic.  Together, they embark on a perilous journey across a magical land, and discover strange allies in odd places, courage they didn’t know they had, and a hidden destiny that changes everything.


David slipped downstairs, careful not to make a sound, and unlocked the front doors.     Ten tortuous minutes passed before the door opened and Charlotte stepped inside.  She removed her white puffy coat and crocheted cap, spilling coffee-brown hair over her shoulders to her waist. David’s heart fluttered as she flicked him a smile.

“Hey, Firefox,” she said, using the nickname she’d given him as kids.  “What’s got your boxers in a bunch?”


“If you could” Friday

Today is “If you could…” Friday!  Today’s question:

If you could be any mythical creature, what would you be and why?

I also posted my picks for the most anticipated YA novels for March.  I would love it if you stopped by and voted for the one you want to read the most, if any.

Meet YA author, Jamie Ayres, ink-slinger of 18 Things

 Hi everyone! Thanks for dropping by the YA Blog Takeover.   Today we have the crazy, off-beat, simply irresistible, Jamie Ayres.  Yaaaayyyy!  If you’ve missed any of the previous YA author blog events, you can catch up here, here, here, here, here, here and here. (that’s a lot of catch up)!  🙂

Okay, Jamie, now that I got everyone’s attention, take it away!

Hi, ya’ll *waves* Big shout out to Jenny for hosting me! Let’s get this party started . . .

My name is Jamie, my closest friends call me Jaim-O, hubby calls me Sporty Spice, daughters call me Big Mama (I try to get them to change that to “Hot Mama” but they said nobody would believe that), my students call me Mrs. Ayres or Mrs. A—I’ll basically answer to anythingJ

I’ve been blogging for two years and made the transition from Wannabe YA Writer to Bona Fide Published Author just last month. It all happened through a contest at the end of May—so if you don’t think contests are worth it, pay close attention. The contest was a call to submit our query + first 500 words to YA acquisitions editor Krystal Wade of Curiosity Quills, whom blogger buddy Sharon Bayliss had just signed a contract with. I thought, what the heck? I’ll start my summer off right with a contest and hopefully gather some valuable feedback. Everyone rocked with their comments and I got a request for the first 3 chapters from Krystal. I was excited but also kinda disappointed I didn’t get a full request. *She later told me she wasn’t going to request it at all but liked the changes I’d made based on the comments* I sent Krystal the manuscript on a Saturday morning and when I checked my email on Monday, I had a message from her requesting my full!! I got one of those really good feelings but remained only cautiously optimistic until another 2 days later, I received an offer for a publishing contract!

My first novel, 18 Things, will be published later this year as part of the My So-Called Afterlife trilogy. I didn’t set out to write YA paranormal love stories, but I guess that’s what I enjoy reading the most so that’s what flowed out of me. I love coming-of-age stories . . . that time in our lives when we’re figuring out who we are and often falling in love for the first time and kinda getting away from the watchful eye of the parentals and the vulnerability that stems from all of that. Makes for great writing material!

It’s in high school when I really discovered I wanted to be a writer. Teaching was tugging on my heartstrings too so that’s what I majored in, with the intent to write in my ‘spare’ time. Well, that’s the thing. When you’re in college, you don’t realize you won’t have any spare time when you grow-up. So that’s why it took me until the summer of 2009 to start this journey. That’ s when my wonderful husband started snoring and keeping me up at night. Since I couldn’t sleep, I wrote! I penned two cringe worthy novels and received 55 rejections until I really honed what 18 Things is today . . . guess the saying is true: Third time’s a charm! Failure was never an option for me. I have two young daughters and students (past & present) looking up to me. If I give up on my dreams, how can I turn around and tell them, “Dream big or go home!”?

I’m supposed to leave you with some parting tidbits of wisdom (hmm . . . perhaps Jenny forgot who she was talking to, lol). I’ll keep this simple with my top 5; otherwise my convoluted thoughts will take over: Be yourself (variety is the spice of life, right?) Never give up (you never fail until you quit—some smart person said that—not me)! Trust your gut (instinct is untaught ability—another smart guy named anonymous said that—not me)! Don’t stress (your novel/blog will still be there after you take off a day, a week, or even a month—take care of you first. Thanks to Jenny for being a good example on this one). And believe every rejection in life just means God has something better planned for you down the road

J ~Cheers!

Aww, Jamie, thanks for the mention.  I love your upbeat voice and can’t wait to read 18 Things.  I have to say, your method of landing a publishing contract was a bit out of the ordinary.  It doesn’t happen to most authors, so big congrats for that!  It just goes to show that every aspiring author needs to explore every avenue in writing from contests to blogs.  Who knows.  You may end up in shoes similar to Jamie’s.  You just have to try.

I would love to post a picture of Jamie’s novel but because it is soooo new, the publisher hasn’t released one yet.  I can, however, give you a nice little exciting blurb.

Description for 18 Things:  

Can eighteen things save a life? Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name (after her grandmothers of course) and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten. Then Conner is killed in a freak accident and Olga feels responsible. The sarcastic, nerdy girl who never missed a day of school is suddenly lost and unable to deal with the emotional pain. When she downs an entire bottle of pain pills, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled 18 Things. Eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday. Olga enlists the help of her friends and becomes a catalyst for healing in their own lives as they eagerly offer suggestions. Alls she has to do is fire-walk, try out for the cheerleading squad, break a world record, and err . . . go on her first date. Good thing Nate, a new hottie in town, enters her life with perfect timing. He brings the fun factor to her list and helps her discover the beauty and strength inside herself, then complicates things by falling in love with her. Maybe it’s time to put into practice the lessons her list has taught her. Just as she’s finally embracing the joys of YOLO, her therapist reveals a big secret and Olga’s world is shaken. In the past year it took eighteen remarkable things to change a life, but nothing she believed about her mission is true. Now she doesn’t just risk losing her true soul-mate forever, she risks losing her very soul. There’s only one thing she knows for certain. Her choice will affect their future for all eternity.

Doesn’t that sound like a great read!  Please free to leave a comment here for Jamie or at any one of the following links.  I’m sure she would love to hear from you and chat up her new book!


Meet YA author, Michael Conn, creator of Maxwell Huxley’s Demon

Today I have the fabulous, fantastic (and rather shy) Michael Conn, author of Maxwell Huxley’s Demon.  The premise of this book is mysterious and creepy, perfect for those who like a little scary in their reading library.  The cover got my heart pulsing.

So without further ado, give a round of applause to the talented Michael Conn!  *Star Wars Imperial March plays as author steps to the podium*


My name is Michael Conn. I am a married father of three. I have two dogs, and I live and write in Victoria, BC, Canada.

I’m not sure when the idea behind MAXWELL HUXLEY’S DEMON popped into my head, but I had been mulling it over for a couple of years before writing it. In the summer of 2011, I spent time at my family cottage in Ontario. My sister is a writer, and I read one of her latest books. Reading her book made me think that I should try this. I should write. I should write down Maxwell’s story.

I started with an outline – the complete story from beginning to end mapped out. I outlined all of the books planned in the series before I wrote the first book. In August, I started writing. I wrote the story from Maxwell’s point of view only, ignoring all the other characters. Then I wrote the story of each character in separate files. So I ended up with a short book for Maxwell, a book for Midge, a book for Kristina, a book for Catherine, and so on. With each of the books done, I weaved them together, taking scene from each point of view and layering them into the main novel.

Being my first book, I wasn’t sure that I could or would finish it. To help my chances of success I set myself a daily word count quota. 1000 words per day. I picked a thousand words because I was told a novel should be 80,000 words. So this will take me 80 days. I was optimistic.

Back in Victoria I treated the project like a job and wrote everyday with an eye on my quota. I found I could usually write 1000 words, but sometimes I also deleted 1000 words. There were days when it was hard to keep my net output up to 1000 words, but I usually did.

I don’t have a literary background. I worked as a software engineer for most of my career. My career started out providing me with a healthy creative outlet, but over the years this changed. Writing provided the creative outlet that I crave when work didn’t.

Eighty days wasn’t a bad guess. After 90 days I finished draft 1. After 9 months, I finished draft 31, the one I published.

Maxwell Huxley’s Demon is self-published for two reasons. One, I’m impatient and so have a hard time waiting on the traditional houses. Two, I’m impatient and wanted it out there. I felt that I could write the rest of the story until book #1 was published, so up on Amazon it went. Here is a favorite blog post of mine about the trials and tribulations of an Amazon book promotion weekend:

I wrote Maxwell’s story because I love action adventure stories, and I often find myself reading YA novels to satisfy this appetite. However, quite a few adventure books I have read over the last number of years seemed quite slow to me. My goal with Maxwell was to explore developing a character through action. I didn’t want to create a novel where the action stopped every time character development started. I wanted to see if I could do both simultaneously.

I am now partway through book two of Maxwell, but I have taken a break to write an unrelated novella with a working title of the Monster. My current plans have the Maxwell Huxley series finishing after five books.

Whoo Hoo!  Thank you, Michael.  Five books.  What an admirable goal.  And your story is so familiar among writers.  We have normal jobs but there is a story lying within us, screaming to be written.  Good luck with your books and will definitely add them to my TBR list.

Now everyone, here’s a bit about Maxwell Huxley’s Demon.

 Description: In MAXWELL HUXLEY’S DEMON, when nine-year-old Maxwell Huxley and three others break free from their mountain-top “school” for gifted children – a place where kids mysteriously vanish when they turn ten – a fantastical chase around the world begins. Pursuing answers and freedom, Max unintentionally creates a new world: a world where friends and family meet their demons, where artificial beings come to life, and where nanotechnology is indistinguishable from magic. Maxwell pays a heavy price to discover what he was bred for.

Isn’t that cover great!

After your order your book, don’t forget to pop over and say hello to Michael. You can find him at the following locations, usually with a pen and/or a laptop close by.

Twitter: @maxwellhuxley
Email: michael(at)maxwellhuxley(dot)com

Michael’s Bio: In addition to writing, I work as a senior software engineer and solution architect. I have always been intrigued by software security, artificial intelligence, and expert systems. From this acquired expertise came the idea to write MAXWELL HUXLEY’S DEMON.

Meet YA Author Jus Accardo, author of Touch

I am thrilled beyond belief to introduce all of you to Jus Accardo, author of TOUCH (available now) and TOXIC, coming out September 2012.  I can’t wait to sink my teeth into these novels.  And the covers are to die for gorgeous!  Yummers.

Anyhoo, enough drooling for now.  Everyone put your hands together for Jus Accardo!!!  *whistle*  *applause*  Take it away, Jus.  The stage is yours.

Being an author isn’t an easy career path. Everyone’s trip is different, so today I thought I’d share a little bit about my journey and some of the things I learned along the way.

I wrote my first full book when I was in high school. It was divided up between three notebooks, handwritten in various colored ink, and then hidden away in a box never to be seen again. From there I went on to write other things. Short stories, catchy lyrics, and, of course, more books.

The wisdom? Write. Write. Write. Every word gets you closer to your goal.

Five books. That’s how many I wrote before I queried my first agent. The first book I did query got no requests. Yep. You read that right. None. Zip. Zilch. Z.e.r.o. Okay. That’s not entirely true. I did get one request from an agent—almost two years after I’d sent the query. I kid you not. My point is, it sucked. It was hard and there was an ungodly amount of waiting. For someone who possesses no patience, this is truly the definition of hell. There were so many days that I woke up thinking, What the hell am I doing? This isn’t going to happen.

The wisdom? Don’t give up. You need to go into this profession wearing full body armor, armed with an arsenal of support and a slick back. It’s rough and tough and some days? It hurts. In the end though, it’s so worth it.

So I sat down and started working on another book. TOUCH. What I’m going to say up front is that there is no norm for getting published. It really is different for every author. Under eight months from the first word in the first draft, I had an agent and a 3 book contract. I’ve heard of people querying multiple books—some more than three years—with no success. I’ve also heard of people querying a few agents with their first book, and getting snapped up right away.

The wisdom? It’s different for everyone. Don’t measure your success—or timeline—by other people. All it will do is upset you/piss you off/make you want to quit. Keep at it. It only takes one person to pick you out of the slush and give you a home.

TOUCH had a lot of interest from New York. It went to the acquisition table at multiple houses, but in the end, most came back to us with the same answer. They’d recently picked up something that was similar. The kiss of death, that word. Similar. Obviously, I was disappointed. To get so close to where I wanted to be, only to have the door closed? An entirely new definition of hell (There are many in an authors world).

There were still more editors to submit to, but honestly, I was expecting them to come back with the same answers. I’ll admit I got a little discouraged. And then my agent and I found Entangled. They were new and enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to get their hands on Dez and Kale. But they were a small press, and at the time, only a few months old. Not one of the elite. I’ve lost track of how many people asked me why in the world I sold my book to a small press when I could have kept chasing New York. At the time, I defended my decision. Now? Well, the proof is in the pudding. Chocolate pudding. With strawberry. Mmmm…

The wisdom? Don’t look down your nose at self-pubbers and small presses. TOUCH has done extraordinarily well in the hands of a small press. Truthfully, I don’t look at them as small press/big press. They’re publishers. Each with their own good points and bad ones. The key is finding one that fits you personally. And self pubbers? Amanda Hocking, anyone? Granted that’s not going to happen for everyone, but, yanno, just sayin…

So now that I’ve got a young adult series underway (and another coming in 2013) people have been asking if I’ve ever thought of writing adult stories? The truth is, I’ve thought about it, and I’ll never say never, but for now I’m sticking with ya because it’s what I’m passionate about. Books got me through my teenage years. More than anything, I want to create stories that will do the same for others.

The wisdom? Write what you love. I read both adult (Darynda Jones and Rob Thurman are two of my all time faves) and YA (infinite list of faves). But I tend to gravitate more toward writing ya mostly (but not limited to—according to some it’s because I’ve never quite grown up) because I’m a sucker for firsts. There’s so much emotion in ya. So many firsts.

Fantastic insight and advice there, Jus, and you’re right. Each person’s journey is different.  The thrill is in taking the ride, not comparing it to someone else’s experience.

Now on to the good stuff.  Check out Jus’s novels below!


Touch (A Denazen Novel)

When a strange boy tumbles down a river embankment and lands at her feet, seventeen-year-old adrenaline junkie Deznee Cross snatches the opportunity to piss off her father by bringing the mysterious hottie with ice blue eyes home.

Except there’s something off with Kale. He wears her shoes in the shower, is overly fascinated with things like DVDs and vases, and acts like she’ll turn to dust if he touches her. It’s not until Dez’s father shows up, wielding a gun and knowing more about Kale than he should, that Dez realizes there’s more to this boy—and her father’s “law firm”—than she realized.

Kale has been a prisoner of Denazen Corporation—an organization devoted to collecting “special” kids known as Sixes and using them as weapons—his entire life. And, oh yeah, his touch? It kills. The two team up with a group of rogue Sixes hellbent on taking down Denazen before they’re caught and her father discovers the biggest secret of all. A secret Dez has spent her life keeping safe.

A secret Kale will kill to protect.

Add Touch to your TBR pile on Goodreads

Description:  When a Six saved Kale’s life the night of Sumrun, she warned there would be consequences. A trade-off. Something taken for the life they gained. But Dez never imagined she’d lose the one thing she’d give anything to keep… And as if it’s not enough Dez finds her immunity to Kale fading, the Six brought in to help Kale learn to control his killer touch starts drooling on him the moment they meet. Worse than that? Jade can touch Kale. But bimbo Barbie is the least of Dez’s problems.

After Dez and Kale got away at Sumrun, her father lost not only his most powerful weapon but an important piece of the Supremacy project. Forced by Denazen to remedy the situation, he poisons Dez and offers her a choice—surrender to Denazen for the cure…or die. Determined to find a solution that doesn’t involve being bagged and tagged—or losing someone she loves—Dez keeps the poison a secret. But when a rash of Denazen attacks hit a little too close to home, Dez is convinced there’s a traitor among them. Jade.

Sacrifices, broken promises, and secrets. Dez will have to lay it all on the line if there’s any hope of proving Jade’s guilt before they all end up Residents of Denazen. Or worse, dead…

Add this one to your TBR list at Goodreads.

And don’t forget to stop by the following links and say Hi to Jus!

Goodreads * Twitter * Facebook * Website

Interview with YA author, Kevin McGill, scribbler of Nikolas & Company: The Merman and the Moon Forgotten

Today I have a very, very special guest, Kevin McGill, the author of the Nikolas and Company series.  I met Kevin during the peak of a mega marketing campaign.  His goal?  Sign 1,000 paperbacks and send them to 1,000 lucky kids between 9 and 18.  Why?  To save them from summer boredom.  Ha!  I liked the guy right away and knew I had to have him for this blog takeover.  Anyone who wants to save kids from summer boredom by having them read instead of play video games scores BIG in my world.

Here’s a pic of Kevin and all his madness.

Of course it will all start over soon when his second book in the series releases in 10 days, but we’ll get to that later.  Right now, let’s get this party started.

{turns to Kevin}

Me:      Hey Kevin!  Good morning.  Wow, it’s great to have you here.  I’m sure you’re exhausted so I really appreciate you taking time to hang out here for a bit.  Maybe as an ice breaker, you can tell everyone a little about yourself.  Where you were born?  Are you married?  Do you have kids?  Where do you live now?  All those kinds of things.

Kevin:     My name is Kevin McGill and I’m the author of Nikolas and Company: The Merman and The Moon Forgotten. I hail from the great state of California. I was born at Merced Castle Air Force Base, and grew up deep in the recesses of the country. Woke up every morning to the sun rising above the Sierra Nevadas. Fast forward past High School, college, and all the way to grad school where I met and married my bride. The missus is a smart lady who works with international students at a local graduate school and is currently getting her PhD in London. She/we go there about twice a year for classes. It’s a tough life…

Me:     That sounds like it’s a tough life, but fun and full of new adventures.  Great fodder for stories.  Tell us, how old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Kevin:     My first inkling was at the young age of seven. We were given fictional writing assignments. I wrote mine in record time, and it was pretty long if I remember. Later on some of my classmates asked me to write stories for them, and even paid me two bucks to do it! Gladly I accepted. But then I found out they turned my stories in as their own.

Me:     Ah, man, that sucks.  You know, Stephen King wrote in his On Writing about a similar experience. The things others will do to get a grade.  I hope you didn’t get in trouble.

{Kevin smiles}

So, how long did it take to write Nikolas & Co., The Merman and the Moon Forgotten?

Kevin:     It took about a year or so. I wrote the entire series over a five-year period.

Me:     Where did the idea come from?

Kevin:     Remember when I said I grew up in the country? Well, one amazing thing about a place with no city lights is the moon and the stars. My stepmom always encouraged creativity, so, lying out on our pool deck one night with my siblings, she asked us to come up with a story based upon what we saw. I remember looking up at the moon, and imagining that it was part of a long lost civilization. The craters were not from meteor strikes, rather an interplanetary battle between moon and earth. Then, back in 2006, the image of a boy standing on the bow of a deck as it flew toward a planet flashed across my mind…well, I can’t say more about that bit because I’ll be giving away Episode 2.

Me:     Well, we wouldn’t want to do that, would we?  Tell me.  I always love asking this question.  Are any characters based on anyone real?  Come on, you can tell us.  Inquiring minds want to know.

Kevin:     {he smiles and slightly chuckles}  Not consciously. But I’m almost certain subconsciously. Hey, I can’t be responsible for what lurks in the recesses of my subconscious mind {big smile}.  Grand felt like a man I worked for about five years back. He also felt like my impressions of Dad growing up. Not mean, but stern. And always marching forward, though looking at you in the corner of his eye. I will say, I think I accidentally ripped off the Last Unicorn when developing Yeri. Did you ever see that cartoon? Ah, don’t worry about it. Few have. Anyway, there is a wizard in it by the name of Schmendrick. I’m pretty sure I ripped off that character for Yeri, the stagecoach driver.

Me:     I liked Schmendrick.  He was such a shy, naïve and kind soul who didn’t really truly believe in his abilities until the end.  I feel like I know Grand already.

So, I’ve seen the book trailer for the novel and it’s really cool.  Did you come up with the storyboard and animation yourself?

Kevin:     I fleshed out the basic concept, but Carlyle McCullough did the artwork and Tim Pike did the animation. I and several others did the voices. My voice work was all the creepy English/Victorian characters closer to the end. It really took a small army to pull it off. Still one of the coolest things our little studio has done to-date.

Me:     Would you say there is a moral or lesson to be learned in The Merman and the Moon Forgotten or is it straight action with a great plot?

Kevin:     Merman and Moon Forgotten is an introduction to our hero, Nikolas, but it also sets up some themes for the next three books, specifically greed. Greed is just a financial form of a black hole. The greedy party sets up a system in which all money eventually heads toward them, while the rest are without. It’s interesting that plant life dies when the balance of input and output are disrupted, and some particular specie overtakes the others.

Me:     Who is your favorite character in the novel and why?

Kevin:     Ah. That’s tough. I like Nikolas, I even like Caroline, but at the moment Grand is my favorite. He is simple, but that simplicity is a thin shell covering up a good deal of complexity. Oh, and the crazy stunts he gets away with makes the teenage boy in me smile.

Me:     Ah, smiling teenage boys are a good thing, especially for parents and teenage girls.  Tell us, you mentioned sequels to The Merman and the Moon Forgotten.  Can you tell us a little bit about them?

Kevin:     There definitely are sequels. The next one will be published August 4th. It’s called Nikolas and Company: When Boats Breathe and Cities Speak. The four part series will introduce us to the fantastic world of Huron, the immensity of the evil Yeri, Nikolas and the Merrows will face, and what part Nikolas’ company will play in all of it. His friends aren’t along just for the ride ;).

Me {rubs hands together}:     Oooo, I do love a good mystery!  Okay, seeing how much you love to write, you must also love to read.  What’s your sweet elixir?  What do you prefer:  paper or e-books?

Kevin:     I don’t think I have a preference. The only time I do have a preference is when I read a sci-fi classic. Right now I’m reading Asimov’s Foundation series. It’s pretty cool to feel like it’s 1961 and I just picked up the book from some mom and pop bookstore. But that might mean it’s just a good antique.

Me:     What scares you the most?

Kevin:     Flash mobs. Oh, Jersey Shore. But mainly flash mobs.

Me:     LOL!  Jersey Shore scares me too. I kind of like flash mobs though.  Next:  ice cream or candy?   What kind?

Kevin:     Right now it would be ice cream. Dallas is nearing apocalyptic temperatures. Magnum double caramel.

Me:     Yummers.  What if you could have a super power.  What would it be and why?

Kevin:     Flying. Unequivocally it would be flying. You can go anywhere.

Me:     Okay, here’s a toughy.  If you had the power to stop time for five days, what would you do to make the world a better place?

Kevin:     Write a story. I know it sounds like a cop out, but I think the best thing I can do to make the world a better place is to write a story.

Me:     spoken like a true writer.  On that note, do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share with your readers?

Kevin:     Hmm…I think this goes out to any writers out there. It’s a repost but it has been on my mind in light of the cynicism and slander that continues to plague our culture.

I find we artists have one of the more unique tasks. In a world bent on demeaning and destruction, terror and tragedy, we are tasked with addition – creation. Our art does not have to be tethered to the unending demotion that is the bread and butter of so many other professions. We do not have to tear down to build up. All we artists need to do is create, and good art will have been made…if we’re willing.

Me:     Beautiful sentiment and I couldn’t agree with you more.  {pauses for a drink of coffee}  Okay. folks, I think that wraps it up for today.  Kevin, thank you so much for stopping by and doing this interview with me  and sharing tidbits about you and your novels with all my readers.  I will certainly read this story soon as well as the others in the series.  Until we meet again my friend.  {shakes hand}.  Keep writing and keep us posted on all new events.  I’d love to have you back if you ever feel up to it.  Have a super day.

Okay folks, there you have it.  You can find links to Kevin below:






Kevin’s Bio:  Kevin McGill is the mad writer of the Nikolas & Company series where the Moon is much more than we think, mermen walk on automaton legs and 14-year-old boys talk to cities in their heads. When not spinning Lunar yarns, Kevin hosts a weekly books podcast Guys Can Read along with his college buddy and co-host, Luke Navarro. Contact him at and twitter @kevinonpaper.


Ohhh!!!  Before you go, Kevin wanted me let you know about a 500 book giveaway he’s doing for the Merman and the Moon Forgotten! Yep, another one! From Kevin:  “I have a print, signed copy for anyone between the ages of 9 and 18 that likes a fun fantasy adventure. If that’s you, or someone you know (hey, we all know a teenage reader), go ahead and order a copy for them. It ends Aug 6th. Also, adults get a free, ebook copy. Order it now!”  Sounds like a great deal, guys!  Go sign up!  What are you waiting for?  🙂

2011 YA Superlatives Blogfest – December 27th – 30th

I am really stoked about the 2011 YA Superlatives Blogfest on Katy Upperman’s site.  This is a great idea for all you YA fiction nuts!

What is the 2011 YA Superlative Blogfest?  From Katy’s site:  it is “…a fun and interactive way to highlight and share your favorite YA novels, covers, characters, and story elements.”

Topics will span every element of YA fiction from your favorite dystopian, favorite thriller, to Biggest Flirt, to Quirkiest character, to Most Jaw-Dropping Finale, to name a few.  The rules to participate are simple and can be found on Katy’s site.  Hope to see you around and participating.