Hello, 2012!

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{Hmm… How long will it take me to get used to writing 2012?}

Ringing in the new year with my girlie…

First, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone who participated in last week’s Class of 2011: YA Superlative Blogfest. It was an absolute delight to visit the blogs of all you participants and to read about the books you fell in love with last year. My To-Read list thanks you as well. 🙂

And another HUGE THANK YOU to my three lovely friends and fellow Superlative Blogfest hosts:  Jessica LoveTracey Neithercott, and Alison Miller. This whole shebang would not have been nearly as successful without your brilliance, and it definitely wouldn’t have been as fun.
You girls ROCK!

If you’ve yet to read my Class of 2011: Superlative posts (or if you’d like to reread them) check out my header. I’ve given the blogfest its very own tab for easy access to all of the amazing 2011 releases I read. A perfect place to visit if you’re ever in need of book recommendations.

And, as the final category of my last Class of 2011: YA Superlative Blogfest post, I asked you to tell me your:

Most Anticipated 2012 Release

You responded overwhelmingly with mentions of this book:

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)

Other titles named: Nevermore, Perigee Moon, Butter, If I Lie, Cinder, Partials, Hallowed, The Fault in Our Stars, The Lost Girl, Unspoken, Bitterblue, Girl of Nightmares, Ditched, and A Million Suns

My Most Anticipated Release of 2012? As if I can pick just one!

If I LieThe Selection (The Selection, #1)

Under the Never SkyCinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)In HonorThe Fault in Our StarsDitched: A Love StoryA Million Suns (Across the Universe, #2)

And, speaking of 2012 releases I can’t wait for… My incredible CP Jus Accardo has one such book. It’s the follow-up to her debut, Touch, and it’s called Toxic (a perfect title, in my opinion!). Jus finally has the go-ahead to share Toxic‘s cover and summary, and (good news!) I get to help in that reveal. Without further ado, the cover of Toxic

(She is so Dez!)

And the summary… 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 and 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…

I’ve read this one, guys, and it’s fantastic! Full of adventure and action and Dez’s snarky wit, it had me feverishly flipping pages. Toxic is available May 1, 2012, and you can find it on Goodreads HERE.

Tell me: How did you ring in the New Year? 

Introducing Jus Accardo and TOUCH…

Today I’m thrilled to share my very first interview! Even more exciting–it’s with one of my amazing critique partners, Jus Accardo.

Jus pens YA paranormal romance and urban fantasy, and she’s one of the most creative people I know. Plus, she writes some of fiction’s most badass heroines!  Her debut novel, Touch, is due November, 2011 from Entangled Publishing.

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my blog and answer a few questions, Jus! And congratulations on the upcoming release of Touch. Can you talk a bit about the story? 

Thanks for having me! Touch is about a seventeen year old girl who runs off with her father’s most deadly assassin. It’s full of action, secrets, and best of all, kisses. 🙂 Here’s the blurb:

 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.

(Guys. I’ve read this book. Trust me–it’s just as awesome as it sounds!)

Can you tell us about your inspiration, Jus? Where did the initial idea for Touch come from? 

My inspiration? For this book it was, um, coffee..? Seriously though–it was the end of May last year and I was about to do a boot camp novel-in-30-days kind of thing. I had a few ideas I was batting around, but nothing felt right, ya know? So I’m sitting on line at Dunkin Donuts, just staring off into the woods, and I get this picture in my head. There’s this barefoot girl being chased through the woods at night. As she runs, the ground and everything she touches–tree trunks, low hanging branches–they all die. BOOM> Next day I started and couldn’t stop until it was finished!

How much of main character Dez is you? What’s your favorite thing about her? Least favorite? 

Dez and I share some of the same traits (though none of the cool ones!). We’re both on the snarky side, we tend to have issues with authority figures, and we can both toss a killer right hook. 😀 I envy her confidence, though. She’s self aware and independent. She knows exactly who she is and what she wants. As far as least favorite… I’m not sure. I mean, there must be something, but I can’t think of anything. Dez is the kind of girl I could see myself hanging with. She’s real and out there and totally loyal. Maybe the only thing I don’t like is the way she treats Alex…though he kinda deserves it.

Dez is definitely a girl I’d be friends with too. And you know I love Kale (as seen below on Touch‘s gorgeous cover!). How did you go about crafting such a swoon-worthy boy? 

He crafted himself. I know, that sounds like such crap, but he really did. Just like Dez, Kale took on his own life and voice inside my head–not sure what that says about me… He was as clear to me as though I’d known him all my life. 

I happen to know that you’re a panster (and I’m at times envious!). What was your writing process like for Touch? How long did your first draft take? What about revisions? 

First draft took about three weeks. It was insane. I couldn’t stop until I finished. It was kinda like I was possessed! Revisions took between three and four weeks before I started querying/submitting. I continued to change things throughout the year due to agent, and then later, editor feedback, but all in all it was pretty fast.

(I can confirm that Jus’s daily word count totals in the first-draft stage are, in fact, insane. We’re talking upwards of 5, 6, even 7 thousand words A DAY. She’s a machine!)

You’re represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Can you talk a bit about your agent search? What were you looking for in a prospective agent? 

Kevan was in my Top 5When I started sending queries, I sent to two of my top 5 and decided to wait on the other three because they were all scheduled to take pitches at Savvy Authors. All three of those ended up requesting, and two eventually made offers. It was a hard choice, but I went with Kevan because we just clicked. 

Such a fantastic feeling! Can you tell us a bit about your submission experience? Were you an obsessive email checker? How did you deal with the wait and the stress? 

I thought waiting to hear back on queries was agonizing… I swear there’s a new level of hell for each step closer you get to publication! I checked my email a billion times an hour. No joke. I ended up at the acquisitions board in three NY houses, but for one reason or another, they ended up passing. Then, about a month later, Entangled opened and I swear, it was simply meant to be!

How did you celebrate when Touch and the follow-up books in the Denazen series sold (yay!) to Entangled?

Well, there was a lot of screaming and some Snoopy Dancing, but we decided to hold off on major happies until release day. My husband is taking me to dinner and then that weekend, we’ll be having a release party. There’ll be stuffed bears and lots of cheese. Kale would be proud.

(Kale and his adorable quirks–LOVE.)

Entangled melds traditional and indie publishing. Can you tell us a bit more about how they’re different? What’s it like to work with such a cutting-edge publisher? 

Working with Entangled has been amazing. They’re enthusiastic and ambitious. I’m so honored to be part of their team. Their covers rival NY–as does their editing–but each author is given their own publicist. They do simultaneous ebook and print release. Oh, and let’s not forget the higher royalty rates. Cause that’s some serious win.

Sounds pretty amazing. And yeah… who can complain about HIGHER royalties? Tell us about revising/editing under contract. How was your experience working with a professional editor? 

My editor, Liz, is awesome! She gets me and she gets my characters. Plus, she loves them as much as I do. I trust her with them, and that says a lot. These are my babies. They mean a lot to me. Her attention to detail is amazing. With her help, I added so many layers to Touch. I can’t wait to get started on Toxic!

Speaking of Toxic… Touch is the first book in a planned trilogy. When does the second book in the Denazen series come out, and can you share anything about it?

Toxic comes out Spring, 2012. I can’t say much without giving anything away, but I can tell you that Dez and Kale are not going to have it easy. There will be more secrets, some betrayal, and someone might even switch sides. Oh, and someone might die. 😉

(I’ve read Toxic–lucky me!–and I might love it even *more* than Touch. Just sayin’…)  

The Denazen books recently sold in France. So cool! Can you give us any details about how that sale took place? What was it like to get the good news? 

This is gonna sound funky, but I’m not too clear on the details. There was interest, and submissions, and some awesome work by my agent, Kevan, and Marsal Lyon’s foreign rights agent, Taryn Fagerness, and POOF. France! I was in a doctor’s office when I got the call, and I couldn’t listen to my voicemail.  A few minutes later, Kevan emailed me with Viva La France! LOL. I kinda screamed. The office was really crowded–I think they all thought I was mental.

I’m laughing at the mental picture I just got of you startling a waiting room full of sick people!

And a few fun, quick questions:

What are your three favorite books? (Only three!) 

Nightlife – Rob Thurman — Bitten – Kelley Armstrong — The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West – Mary Stanton

What kinds of music inspires your writing?

It really depends on the scene. Personally, I’m a hardcore alternative girl, but I listen to pretty much everything. I’ve got stuff from classical to screamo on my Zune.

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Chocolate Brownie Fudge

Dream vacation destination?

Australia! 

What’s your favorite writing snack?

Coffee counts, right?

And, finally, if you weren’t a writer, what would your dream job be? 

If I wasn’t writing, I’d be cooking. There’s no doubt in my mind. I came really close, too. I was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America but passed last minute to pursue writing. I’m thinking I made the right choice.

I like you better as a writer who cooks, rather than a cook who writes. Definitely the right choice! Thanks so much for visiting today, Jus. 

This was so much fun, Katy! Thanks for letting me hang out. 🙂

I highly encourage you to visit Jus at her website, and to preorder Touch from Amazon or barnesandnoble.com.

Here’s to a Happy Monday and a stellar week!