What Diverse Fall 2016 Books Are You Excited About?

So last November I did this post where I talked about diverse 2016 books I was excited about. I was initially going to write another of just books in general I was excited about, then realized 8/10 had diverse casts and it wasn't exactly difficult to replace the two that didn't with others that did so here we are. 

More 2016 books I'm psyched for! Because as good as this year has been for books, there's so much more goodness to come!

Photo credit: Goodreads

As I Descended by Robin Talley (September 6) 
YA Contemporary

Goodreads summary: 

"Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them. 
Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey. 
Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word. 
But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily. 
Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.
But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line."

Photo credit: Goodreads

Into White by Randi Pink (September 13)
YA Contemporary
(black protagonist)

Goodreads summary:

"Sixteen-year-old Latoya Williams, who is black, attends a mostly white high school in the Bible Belt. In a moment of desperation, she prays for the power to change her race and wakes up white."

Photo credit: Goodreads

Overexposed by Megan Erickson (September 20)
NA Contemporary

Goodreads summary: 

"Levi Grainger needs a break. As a reality show star, he’s had enough of the spotlight and being edited into a walking stereotype. When he returns home after the last season of Trip League, he expects to spend time with his family, only to learn his sister is coming back from her deployment in a flag-draped casket. Devastated, Levi decides the best way to grieve will be to go off grid and hike the Appalachian Trail—a trip he'd planned to do with his sister. 
His solitary existence on the trail is interrupted when he meets Thad, a quiet man with a hard body and intense eyes. Their connection is stronger than anything Levi has ever experienced. But when Levi discovers the truth about what Thad is hiking to escape, their future together looks uncertain, and uncertainty is the last thing Levi needs..."

Photo credit: Goodreads

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (September 27)
YA Fantasy
(Disabled protag, m/m couple, and characters of color)

Goodreads summary: 
"Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world."

Photo credit: Goodreads

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig (October 4)
YA Thriller

Goodreads summary:
"Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own? 
Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something. 
But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself. "

Photo credit: Goodreads

YA Magical Realism
(Latina protag and South East Asian trans boy love interest)

"When the Moon Was Ours follows two characters through a story that has multicultural elements and magical realism, but also has central LGBT themes—a transgender boy, the best friend he’s falling in love with, and both of them deciding how they want to define themselves. 
To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up. "

Photo credit: Goodreads

YA Fantasy
(Biracial Japanese bisexual protag)

Goodreads summary: 

"A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul. 
No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own."

Photo credit: Goodreads

by Tara Sim (November 1)
YA Fantasy

Goodreads summary:

"Every city in the world is run by a clock tower. If one breaks, time stops. It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old Danny knows well; his father has been trapped in a town east of London for three years. Despite being a clock mechanic prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but time itself, Danny has been unable to free his father.  
Danny’s assigned to a damaged clock tower in the small town of Enfield. The boy he mistakes for his apprentice is odd, but that’s to be expected when he’s the clock spirit who controls Enfield’s time. Although Danny and the spirit are drawn to each other’s loneliness, falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, no matter how cute his smiles are.  
But when someone plants bombs in nearby towers, cities are in danger of becoming trapped in time—and Enfield is one of them.  
Danny must discover who’s stopping time and prevent it from happening to Enfield, or else he’ll lose not only his father, but the boy he loves, forever."

Photo credit: Goodreads

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst (November 22)
YA Fantasy

"Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden. 
Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed. 
When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more. 
But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other. "

(no cover yet)

Bad Boy by Elliot Finley Wake (December 6)
NA Contemporary
(trans guy protag and knowing Wake's novels, probably much more rep in the cast)

No current Goodreads summary but I've loved his previous books (written under Leah Raeder: Unteachable, Black Iris and Cam Girl) so I'm psyched.

What Fall 2016 books with diverse representation are you looking forward to?

Twitter-sized bites: 

What diverse Fall 2016 books are you excited about? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)  
Want more books to add to your TBR y/y? Check out 10 Fall 2016 books @Ava_Jae is psyched about. (Click to tweet)

Fixing the First Page Winner #24!

Photo credit: Carolyn Coles on Flickr
Quick Thursday post to announce the winner of the twenty-forth fixing the first page feature giveaway! Ready! Set!


And the twenty-fourth winner is…


Yay! Congratulations, Jes!

Thank you to all you awesome entrants! If you didn't win, as always, there will be another fixing the first page giveaway in July (July!!!), so keep an eye out! :)

Books(dot)Con Recap!

So Sunday and Monday was Books(dot)Con! And overall I think it went really well—the panels were great and packed full of a ton of great information about all aspects of publishing and writing. And because I know not everyone was able to tune in (which is fine, of course!) I thought I'd link all the panels and interviews here all together.

So! For the interested! Here we go:

Blending Genres with Heidi Heilig, Rin Chupeco, Katie Locke, LR Lam, and me:

Let's Talk About Disability with Corinne Duyvis, Katie Locke, and Kayla Whaley:

Comic Books and Web Comics with Mildred Louis, Nilah Magruder, Taneka Stotts, and Wendy Xu:

Gender and Sexuality with Taneka Stotts, Nita Tyndall, LR Lam, and Fox Benwell:

Alternatives to the Traditional Publishing Path with Dahlia Adler, Taneka Stotts, and Mildred Louis:

Exclusive Interview with Bernie Su:

Culture and Faith with Katie Locke, Nita Tyndall, Kaye M, and Rin Chupeco:

What Happens After You Sign With An Agent with Nita Tyndall, Katie Locke, Eric Smith, Corinne Duyvis, and me:

Neurodiversity and Mental Illness with Corinne Duyvis, Katie Locke, and Nita Tyndall:

Research: from Worldbuilding to Historical Accuracy with Katie Locke, LR Lam, Mildred Louis, Wendy Xu, and me:

A Peek Behind the Veil of the Industry with Alison Weiss, Eric Smith, McKelle George, and Whitley Abell:

Exclusive Interview with Elizabeth Wein:

Twitter-sized bite:
Missed @booksdotcon but want to hear from authors, editors, agents, & more? Check out this compilation. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: Don't Worry About Idea Stealing

I semi-frequently hear from new writers who are too nervous to get critique partners because they worry about their book ideas being stolen. So here's why I don't think you have to worry about it.


Did you worry about this before working with critique partners for the first time? (I know I did.)

Twitter-sized bite:
Too worried about idea stealing to enter a pitch contest or work w/ a CP? @Ava_Jae says not to worry about it. #vlog (Click to tweet)

On Taking Self-Care Days

Photo credit: kevin dooley on Flickr
I am a workaholic. This is a downside, I suppose, of (usually) enjoying the work you do—I work in a field I love (publishing), and get to spend many hours a day immersed in worlds I create, in worlds other people create, in blog posts and manuscripts and books, and it's a surprise to approximately no one who knows me that I get very immersed in my work.

(This is also a downside, I suppose, of working for myself. There's no one to tell me, "hey, you've done enough work today—go home and relax.")

So shortly after I graduated college, I realized if I wasn't careful, I was going to work myself into the ground. And so I established a weekly self-care day—a day when I'm not allowed to do any work; not answering e-mails, not writing, not plotting, not editing—this is a strictly work-free day.

So what do I do that day? I read a lot, mostly. And watch Hulu/Netflix, and play Assassin's Creed, or Sims 4, or Civilization V when I'm in the mood. And go out, and chat with my bestie, and do all sorts of things that don't involve working, all day.

It's a nice thing, and I do think it's helped, because come Monday (my day off is usually Sunday) I'm ready to dive in to work all over again.

I really do think it's important to take time off for yourself when you can. Writers are notoriously overworkers—many of us squeeze writing in during free hours or minute between day job, or school, or family, or all of the above, or, or, or—and it can be so easy to forget to take care of yourself.

So here is your reminder to take time off for yourself, too, whatever that means. It's important. You're important.

Do you take self-care days? What do you like to do during your work-free time? 

Twitter-sized bite: 
Do you take self-care days? @Ava_Jae talks about the importance of taking time off for yourself. (Click to tweet)

Are You Going to Books(dot)Con?

So we all hear about big conferences every year, and many of us know the pain of watching from afar, stalking the conference hashtags, and looking at pictures, and thinking, wistfully, maybe next time.

The truth is, as wonderful as conferences are, they're expensive. Really expensive. From the registration fee, to the hotel charge, to the travel charge, plus food, and, well—it's not difficult to see why many people struggle to go.

However! The conference I'm participating in this Sunday and Monday is not one of those, because this conference is online—all shared via Google Hangouts and later YouTube. And (mostly) free.

Books(dot)Con is shaping up to be a really awesome conference. With author speakers like Corinne Duyvis, Heidi Heilig, Laura Lam, Fox Benwell, Dahlia Adler, Katherine Locke, and more, editor speakers like Alison Weiss, McKelle George, and Wendy Xu, agent speakers like Eric Smith, and Whitney Abell, illustrator speakers, diversity advocate speakers, blogger speakers, and exclusive interviews with Elizabeth Wein, and Bernie Su, the lineup looks pretty amazing.

I mean, just take a look at this schedule:

I'll also be taking query + first page critiques for the conference and afterward, for those who are interested in that sort of thing. And also there are workshops which look very cool too.

So hopefully, wherever you are, you'll be able to tune in if you're interested. Hope to see some of you guys there! :)

Will you be checking out Books(dot)Con this year?

Twitter-sized bite: 
Check out @booksdotcon, an online conference w/ author, editor, agent, illustrator, & blogger speakers! (Click to tweet)

When Struggling to Find the Words

Photo credit: mdave on Flickr
So I've been first drafting again, now for the second time this year (and, come to think of it, second time in a couple months), which is both exciting because after perma-revision mode for so long, it's nice to be in draft-all-the-things mode, but also scary (because drafting), and a little tiring (because I want to draft something else this year too). Overall it's been really fun to dive into the new project—a project I've wanted to work on for a really long time—but I've also noticed the words, as of late, have not been coming so easily.


Once upon a time, I used to be able to write 1,000 words in 30 minutes, with the aid of Write or Die and music (and 30 minute breaks). With my last WIP, I averaged around 700 words in 25 minutes, with a 5 minutes break, so about 1,400 words in an hour, assuming both sprints ended up in the average range. This time I've been averaging lower—sometimes in the 500 range per 25 minute sprint on a good day, or closer to 300ish words per 25 minute sprint on a not-so-good day.

Of course, even on the not-so-good days, the word count isn't awful, but it does feel noticeably slower—and more difficult, to me.

These harder-to-write days, weeks, manuscripts even happen to everyone regardless of experience level. And while I'm pretty sure I know why the struggle is happening more frequently than usual with this particular manuscript, the struggle is still...well. It's a struggle.

The good and bad news with this is while there isn't really a *cure* for difficult-to-write days (or manuscripts), it's not a death sentence, either. Assuming you stick with it and force yourself to keep writing even when the words are being less-than-friendly, the words will come. But it also means you maybe need to be patient with yourself, or give yourself more manageable goals. I moved my goal for this first draft a couple days to lower the daily word count I needed to meet my self-imposed deadline, for example, which has helped. I've also forced myself to take those five-minute breaks between writing sprints, because they make it easier to then dive in to the next 25 minute block.

The long and short of it is this happens to everyone, and while there isn't a guaranteed insta-fix, the best you can do is keep with it and know this isn't happening because you're manuscript is terrible, or you're terrible, or your writing skills are terrible, etc. If anything, it just means welcome to the club—writing is hard, and we've all been there.

What do you do when struggling to get the words down? 

Twitter-sized bite: 
Author @Ava_Jae shares her experience struggling to find the words when first drafting. (Click to tweet
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