Giveaway Winner Announced!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered last month’s giveaway! Watch the video to see who won an autographed copy of John Green’s TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN and signed ARC of SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS!

Stay tuned for more fun contests and giveaways as we gear up for launch May 1st! Links to pre-order below!



Pre-order Summer Constellations in hard cover or paperback on Amazon (US)

Pre-order Summer Constellations in hard cover or paperback on Amazon (Canada)

Pre-order Summer Constellations in hard cover or paperback on Chapters (Canada)

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Many of you may have seen the bee-you-tiful cover for SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS, (out May 1st, 2018) but here are some fun facts about the book you might find interesting. Or not. (You’re just here for the signed John Green, aren’t you? That’s cool.)

Me & my bro out for a hike back home

1). The setting is loosely based on the campground Lakelse Lake, near my hometown of Kitimat, BC, in the remote wilds of the Pacific Northwest.

What up, Katniss?

2). Summer Constellations is being published by Kids Can Press (Franklin The Turtle, Scaredy Squirrel, etc.) under their new LOFT imprint, helmed by the lovely Kate Egan, editor extraordinaire of THE HUNGER GAMES. It boggles the mind.

3). Talented freelance designer Emma Dolan designed the cover without ever knowing about our family’s Ontario cottage where we spend each summer – and the resemblance is uncanny.

Is that not cray-cray?!

The only major difference is I’m cozying up to my 6-year-old daughter on the right (as opposed to a hunky 20-year-old, but other than that… 😉 )



4). Emma Dolan also (highly coincidentally) designed the cover for my first novel, KISSING FROGS

5). From start to finish this book will have taken four years to produce, what with the writing, editing, submission process (that’s when it gets sent to editors), acquisitions, more editing, marketing, and finally, waiting (a year!) for the release date.

BONUS: SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS is now available for pre-order on Amazon, Chapters and other fine book retailers in Canada and the US. Pre-ordering is a great way to show an author your support!



PS. Don’t forget to sign up for a chance to win! US and Canada only.

#authorlove – The Grimhunters by Kobi Madsen

Today on #authorlove we have an inspirational young man, Kobi Madsen, chatting about his new book The Grimhunters and his experiences writing and publishing his novel.

Available on Amazon

What genre would you classify The Grimhunters as?

The genre of my book is Horror/Thriller/Mystery if that makes sense. It tells the story of a young boy, named Victor, who moves from Seattle to the fictional town of Roarke Montana with his family. There he meets an eccentric old man on the lakeshore who warns Victor of its perils. Disregarding the man’s advice, Victor investigates and discovers something far more dark than he could possibly imagine.

Where did you get the idea for the book?

When I was nine years old I had a nightmare in which I was the main character of my book. I lived on a lake with my family and we were being stalked by something inhuman. I forgot the nightmare but around seventeen I had a similar one. I was both excited and disappointed when I woke up because I had no idea how it would end. This was when I realized I wanted to write a series of horror books. I immediately sat down and started printing a rough copy that would become my first novel years later. I had a teacher at school, Ana Pires, who was very supportive and encouraged me to continue to write. But once I’d finished I was lost in terms of what to do next. It was only after 3 or 4 years of sitting on it that by chance my aunt, who was in the process of publishing her children’s books, gave me advice and some contacts to get my book published.

Do you have any advice for aspiring young writers?

I guess my advice would be to write if you are driven to do so and if it makes you feel good doing it. Know that the first book is probably the hardest but if you can get through that, the rest is gravy. I made several copies of my book, which started out on scrap paper. Moving forward, I transferred my text onto computer making re-writes easier. At some point there isn’t much more you can do to improve the words so I reached out to others to help me edit.

What did you enjoy the most about the publishing process? Was there anything in particular that you found challenging?

The easiest part of this process for me was the writing itself, as that was something I could do on my own and within my own time frame. I would say the hardest part has been the promoting of my book as this involved personal contact with people in an area where I was very unsure of myself. Part of this was due to the fact that this is my first book and part of it might be due to my autism, which I was diagnosed with at age four and can make things difficult for me in social settings. I’ve faced challenges growing up with this condition but have never let this hold me back from doing the things I’ve wanted to do in my life. I’ve had many wonderful people in my family and life support me, and when it came to writing I think it actually helped me focus and be committed to doing the work. I hope that others look at me as an example of what hard work and commitment can achieve.

Who would you cast in the Netflix series?

We might be getting a little ahead of ourselves but I could see someone like Jack Nicholson playing the role of the hermit Willy and maybe Ryan Gosling as Victor to make the ladies happy. Steven could be played by someone like Mark Whalberg just to throw a total twist into the picture. Wouldn’t it be cool if Johnny Depp played the werewolf in my first book and then took on the role of the demon/monster in every book?

Do you plan to write any more books?

My plan for this book and the future are to write additional books as part of the Grimhunters series. I am currently writing the second book and so far I’ve had no problems coming up with ideas for the book. My main character, Victor, will face a new horror in each book, as he becomes a hunter himself. You’ll have to stay tuned for all the surprises as this book evolves.

Check out Kobi’s Facebook PageInstagram or website and don’t forget to pick up your copy of The Grimhunters available for purchase on Amazon.




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#authorlove – Confessions of a Creative Mind

Ryan’s best Zoolander face.

Today on #authorlove I am so excited to feature Ryan Smith, who is not only a good friend of mine but who also happens to be hilarious, brilliant and really really ridiculously good-looking. Ryan is here to talk about his book, Confessions, which is meant as a guide for writers (and all creatives for that matter), on how they can get out of their own way and become who they’re meant to be: artists. Ry and I went to film school together, as I’m sure you’ll be able to tell from his entertaining book trailers (watch them below, they’re pretty great) and I am incredibly proud to be hosting him here!

Me: So Ry, give us a brief snapshot of what your book is about.

Ryan: This book is about facing your own worst enemy – yourself – head on and overcoming the “Monkey Mind” that can cripple your creativity, your productivity and in some cases your wellbeing. It’s about altering the way you perceive creativity and your relationship to it in order to become a better, happier writer.

That is the serious description. The not so serious description is that I make fun of myself for 180 hundred pages for how ridiculous I have been in creating.

A subject I’m all too familiar with! Why did you write it?

I wrote it as a challenge to myself, primarily. I challenged myself to finish writing a book, and I thought this sort of genre would better lend itself to achieving that because I was so obsessive over my fictional work, fussing over every sentence. I challenged myself to be open and honest because I am the ultimate introvert and I keep so much of myself below the surface. Initially, what I thought I was writing was something to help writers look at creativity and their relationship with it in a revitalizing way, but when I got into it, I realized I was working through my struggle and my attempts to understand and tame it. I hope people get as much out of reading it as I did writing it!

Who is it for?

It is, as the subtitle says, a writer’s guide, but the concepts I talk about are not exclusive to writers, especially the ego struggle, fear and self-doubt. We all, creative or not, suffer from the machinations of our inner demons in varying degrees. The first half of the book doesn’t deal with writing, it’s all about taming that Monkey Mind. After that, my creative writing degree kicks in and I get into new ways of looking at creativity, story structure and dealing with the whole creative process in a way that is more organic.

Are there one or two particularly salient points that you feel can really help creatives get out of their heads and on with their work?

The first point revolves around not making writing harder than it has to be. I think that has a lot to do with ownership. Our egos sink their teeth into our work because we deem it as “ours,” something to be protected and obsessed over. If we look at our creativity and the stories that arise from that as being separate from ourselves, there is a freedom in that separation that opens up creativity and productivity because we’re getting out of the way of the story and unburdening the baggage we tend to put on our work. Think of yourself as being separate from creativity.

The second point is one that was a long, hard lesson for me to learn: focus on intentions rather than expectations. If you are just focused on the end result, then 99 times out of 100 you will be disappointed even if the outcome is successful, because it’s not exactly how you envisioned it to be. If you focus on an intention, then your energy is on achieving that goal, but without any preconceived notion. My writing improved and my productivity went through the roof when I made that shift, but most importantly, I was a lot happier.

Plans for the future?

I’ve already started on a novel that I’m very excited about, and I will be releasing some short films to help promote that when the time comes. I’ve had a lot of fun making the book trailers for Confessions. So much so that the video company my wife and I have, SPIRO Creative is now offering book trailers as a new product. I am dropping shameless plugs left and right!

Speaking of shameless plugs, I will definitely be signing up for that when my next book, Summer Constellations, comes out May 1, 2018 ;). You self-published. How did you find the process? Is it something you would recommend to other writers?

It is a challenging process in that you wear so many hats, but it has been a rewarding learning experience. My weakness is self-promotion – I hate talking about myself – so this was a sink-or-swim position for me to be in that has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m grateful to be strengthening myself in that regard.

I self-published this book because I didn’t want to spend so much time trying to find an opportunity. I wanted to make one for myself and go after something bigger but with forward momentum. If I get noticed by a publisher great, if not, it was a tremendous learning experience and hopefully I can use it to get my foot in the door for my fictional works. I would recommend it for those who want to make their own “Yes” and aren’t afraid of a lot of work, especially in promotion.

I hear you about the self-promotion, a necessary evil for most authors*. Sigh.  Any other writing hacks or things you like to do personally while “creating”?

Writing hack, I like that! I guess one of my hacks is for problem solving in the writing process – I let my subconscious do the heavy lifting for me. The stuff that comes easy and flows on the page is one thing but once I hit a problem that needs to be solved in order to continue, I write down the question I need answered. If I’m lucky, I can write out several possible answers and choose the one that best fits the story or has the highest stakes. If I’m stuck, I move on to something else, but set the intention of figuring it out. The subconscious goes to work, and sometime later when I’m disengaged, like washing the dishes or something like that, Eureka! I get the answer. I have scrambled out of the shower to write down epiphanies more times than I can remember. So, I’m not pushing myself and I’m clean!

A big congratulations to Ryan, I’m sure will be hearing a lot more from this talented guy in the future. Have a look at his hilarious book trailer and if you’re a writer with a book coming out, well, you’ll know where to go to get one just as good! 

Check out Ryan’s Facebook page for more great videos and a chance to win a free book trailer with a purchase of his new book or find him on Instagram!

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#authorlove: Diadem of Death (A Nefertari Hughes Mystery) by BR Myers

Author BR Myers

Joining us this week for some #authorlove is BR Myers, creator of the Nefertari Hughes Mystery Series. Her second book, DIADEM OF DEATH (I love saying that out loud), recently came out and today we’re talking research! As someone whose first historical adventure novel (also set in Ancient Egypt) is going out on submission very soon (keep your fingers crossed), I am all too familiar with the amount of time and energy solid fact-finding takes. Ms. Myers’s research focused on Cleopatra, one of the most compelling female figures from history. Below she chats about her experiences in writing her second novel.

BR Myers: The first book in the Nefertari Hughes Mystery series, Asp of Ascension, was originally a short story of less than a thousand words, but after prompts from readers on Wattpad, I decided I could take the story further and turn it into a novel. After all, Cleopatra is one of the most iconic figures in history, known best for seducing two powerful men; Caesar and Mark Antony. Her death scene is one that even Hollywood couldn’t have staged better. How could I resist—the well of material at my fingertips was brimming to overflowing.

Practically salivating, I headed to the computer. I had an outline for the novel, but now I needed facts, hose tasty bits of history that would ground the fantasy aspects of the story. Part of the fun of writing a book based on ancient Egypt is the exploration. And by exploration I don’t mean relying on Wikipedia ;). I soon discovered I was about to embark on a journey of epic research proportions. If you Google Ancient Egypt and Cleopatra’ you will get over six hundred thousand results in less than a second. That is a lot of sticky notes, my friends.

After disappearing down the rabbit hole of the internet for hours at a time (Cleopatra is everywhere!) I weeded out the less reliable sites—love potions of the middle east anyone?— and dove into ancient Egypt with the trusted experts from National Geographic. It was then that I realized I would have to rewrite my entire novel. I had planned my plot on preconceived ideas about Cleopatra that were based on pop culture and ignored the most important facts of her life. It was a gruelling decision to change the story, but in the end the payoff was substantial.

So with my head down and into the wind, I left the house and ventured to library, determined to do Cleopatra’s legacy justice. I poured through the numerous hard cover books devoted to the subject. Those published by museums with their sumptuous photographs of artifacts were the most inspirational, and it was in those moments, bent over the library desk that I developed some of my favourite scenes, encouraged by the timeline of Cleopatra’s reign.

It was a grand coincidence that while I was writing Asp of Ascension a friend of mine was reading, Cleopatra, by Stacy Schiff. We would talk about my plot and she would intersperse several facts from Ms. Schiff’s book. I remember her telling me the mascara wand designed by Cleopatra was nearly the exact same as you would buy in Sephora today—nearly two thousand years later. That little nuance made it into the book. Research also dispelled a lot of myths for me and I was shocked to discover that there is only one tablet that bears her writing. After her death, all other works had her name obliterated as ordered by Octavian.

I discovered Cleopatra was so much more than the seductress Hollywood would like you to believe. In fact, she was a shrewd planner, meticulous with details who left nothing to chance. She made advancements in medicine, was a contributor to the arts, and invented products that are still in use today. Plus, she was a single mother with her first born from Caesar and twins fathered by Mark Antony who left her to marry Octavian’s sister … but, of course he returned to her and the rest as they say is history.

Check out the book trailer below!

Nefertari “Terry” Hughes is looking forward to spending the school break with her boyfriend, but when her archaeologist father announces he’s working on a project that will take him to Egypt, all hopes of having a romantic summer are buried.

Follow BR Myers on Facebook and Twitter.

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#authorlove: The Darkhouse by Barbara Radecki

Hey guys!

I’m so excited to kick of my #authorlove series today! Each week will feature a different author Q&A, along with their latest book, so you can get to know more about all the amazing novelists out there. For my very first post in the series we have The Darkhouse by Barbara Radecki. The Darkhouse has been described as “…a young adult thriller unlike any other… Radecki’s work developing Gemma’s character through the first person narration is masterfully done…” Let’s get to it!

So B, give us a snapshot of what The Darkhouse is about.

The Darkhouse is about a 15-year-old girl named Gemma, the only young person in a tiny community on a remote Maritime island, whose life unravels when she discovers the terrible truth about who she really is.

Fans of who/what will like this book?

The Darkhouse melds a few different genres—mystery, coming-of-age, the dark undertones and shocking discoveries of speculative fiction. Another definition I’ve come to love is that it’s an original fairy tale for adults and young adults. The heroine basically walks into the mysterious woods alone and discovers that the world isn’t the safe or predictable place she thought it was. To survive, she has to mine for resilience and courage she doesn’t know she has.

What inspired you to write the book?

The idea for The Darkhouse came to me while I was weeding my garden one sultry summer day. I was working on another novel at the time, so I wasn’t really searching for another story idea. But out of nowhere, I heard this young girl’s voice in my head—and she told me the secret that lies at the heart of the story. And I knew I had to find out what happens to her by writing it.

Young Anna Paquin in “A Walk on the Moon”

Any thoughts on if you had to cast the movie? 

Coming from an acting background, I’ve thought about this a lot! I’d love to see a fearless young actress play Gemma, someone like Anna Paquin when she was a child in The Piano. I’ve also pictured Casey Affleck or Joaquin Phoenix as Jonah, and Emily Blunt or Michele Williams as Marlie.

Do you have any writing quirks?

Well, I do like to write with my feet up, say, lying on a couch or lounger. Somehow my body doesn’t suffer so much from the hours at the computer if I switch up sitting at a table and reclining. Also, I get so many ideas or thoughts in the shower or as I’m falling asleep that I have to keep Post-it pads and pens in my bathroom and bedroom.

Can you tell us about the cover?

This is one of my favourite Darkhouse stories! When Cormorant/DCB acquired my book, I was also scheduled to appear at a few comic-cons—I have a small fan-base because I dubbed the English voice of Sailor Neptune in the original Sailor Moon series. My agent, Sam Hiyate, suggested I print up some postcards announcing the upcoming release so comic-con fans could look for the book when it came out. I needed some artwork for that postcard, and it was way too early for Cormorant to commission a cover design. My daughter, Stefanie Ayoub, is a professional designer and illustrator and I asked her if she would design something. She was amazing—taking careful notes about the story and Gemma’s character (and, of course, she’d read a few drafts along the way). Then she created this incredibly evocative, textured image, which I used for the postcard. Later, when my editor was beginning his search for the cover designer, I suggested they consider Stefanie’s artwork. Before he saw it, he was understandably sceptical—do you know how many authors have family or friends who’ve “designed a cover,” only for them to be terrible or unusable?! But he was open to considering it, and when he saw it he was blown away. The cover you see on the book today is only a few tweaks from her original creation.

Barbara Radecki

What are some of your favourite authors/books and why?

I’m a voracious reader and have been all my life. This is the hardest question to answer because I don’t dote on one writer, but read so many different books that I feel it’s unfair to land on a writer or book as my “favourite.” The only exception to this rule is, in fact, my fairy tale collection—these are the only books I’ve read and re-read over the years. In general, I’m most drawn to evocative literary fiction with a strong story. Margaret Atwood, Barbara Gowdy, Toni Morrison, David Bergen, Richard Wagamese, Austen, Eliot, Tolstoy. Standouts for originality and emotional power after all these years are Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Juno Diaz, and The Outlander by Gil Adamson (not the British series). Oh, and I can’t forget A Prayer for Owen Meany and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Any plans for future projects?

I’m writing my next book right now! Briefly, it’s about a 16-year-old girl who gets a message in the middle of the night telling her she’s the next messiah, and her first mission is to save the runaway sister she hates. But is she the next messiah, or is she just a messed-up kid from a dysfunctional home looking for love?

Thanks to Barbara for joining me today and make sure to grab a copy of her book if it sounds like something you’d be interested in. If you’re an author who’d like to be featured on #authorlove, send me an email!

Happy Reading!



This May, Give Love Away…

Ahhhh, May. Flowers blooming. Birds chirping. Summer on the way…

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY to Kim Turrisi of Just A Normal Tuesday and Lindsey Summers of Textrovert!

With spring now in full session, comes renewed energy and life, and a letting go of the darkness of winter. It’s time to blossom and I’m committing the next year to helping my fellow authors and writer friends do just that. Not having a book of my own out this year is blissfully freeing! I can promote others instead of myself – the necessary bane of a writer’s existence – as we continually harass encourage our friends and family to “buy our book” or “please leave a review”. (Though, seriously, if you have a writer in your life, you have no idea how much reviews count for in the Amazon world, playing into intricate mysterious algorithms, etc., etc. 😉 ).

In addition to giving out tons of #authorlove, I also want to give out maximum #readerlove, and am making Kissing Frogs available on Wattpad – an amazing app that lets you read books for free on your phone or tablet a chapter at a time, as well as putting it back up on Amazon.

I also encourage all my writer friends out there to take part in a fun Instagram challenge put on by fellow KCP-Lofter, Cheyanne Young. As a matter of fact, I’m crossing #2 off my list right now – “A writer’s morning” (which usually isn’t as productive as this one has been – I’m writing a blog post and everything – and typically involves a lot more banging of the head on keyboard 😉 ).

With so much going on, I know it’s going to be a magical May! So if you’re an author and want to be featured on my blog, drop me a line. And to all future readers out there, looking forward to meeting you!

Lots of love,


New Book Deal with KCP Loft

20161017_C2123_PHOTO_EN_797249A writer’s life is filled with endless cups of cold coffee, hunched shoulders and chronic sciatica from all the sitting, and of course there’s the ample amounts of self-doubt and criticism, but occasionally there are times when it’s all worth it. (Just reread that and excuse my facetiousness, it’s always worth it 😉 ).

I am just a wee bit excited to announce my latest book deal with the award-winning Kids Can Press, a parent company of Corus Entertainment and an incredible publisher (some of my mommy friends may be familiar with their Franklin the Turtle series).

Kids Can Press recently started a new Young Adult imprint called KCP Loft, to be “expertly curated” by respected editor Kate Egan  (also maybe familiar: Kate was the editor of a little series called The Hunger Games, and is a rad author in her own right).

I am over the moon about working with such a fabulous editor and press and can’t wait for all of you to read Summer Constellations, due out in Spring 2018. I’m having a swell time working on the edits (currently at the point where I want to throw the computer out the window – fellow writers will be familiar with this stage of the process), and am having fun peppering the names of friends and family through the book ;).

Thank-you to all for your support and a special shout-out to my agent Ali McDonald of The Rights Factory for all her hard work and bearing with me in all of my most neurotic-writerly moments.

With much love and gratitude,


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Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill”. You have to listen.

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Video dropped this morning (Jan 23/17)

So I’m sitting here working on my novel, Spotify playing in the background, the Discover Weekly playlist on mid-volume. I’m enjoying the music but not thinking too much about it, as I’m currently waist-deep in the Nile in the middle of Ancient Egypt. And there’s a crocodile just off to the left, lurking amongst the papyrus reeds.

When suddenly, this song comes on and damn if it doesn’t pull me right out of my book. It’s about watching the sunset over the castle on the hill. I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that?” (For us small-town gals who didn’t have a convenient castle nearby, that’s equivalent to watching the sunset on the water towers. Or silo. Or whatever).

It’s about a boy going back to his hometown where he grew up and all that goes with it. I think to myself, “This is the male equivalent to Taylor Swift.” Someone whose power for telling a story in three minutes has launched her into current global domination.

Unable to resist looking at my phone, I see that it’s Ed Sheeran. And then, of course, the whole castle thing makes sense, him being British and all. And the T-Swift connection, of course.

Anyways, it inspired me to write this post about music and writing. The first one has the power to transform the other. I only recently started listening to music when I write, having previously found it too distracting. But I’m loving this new addition to my routine. The feelings Sheeran’s song evokes brings me right back to that small town where I grew up. And I love it and every single person from there, as fiercely as he does in his song. When it comes to the edits on my new Young Adult romance, Summer Constellations, also partially inspired by where/how I grew up, I will be sure to have this song on repeat.

Coincidentally, Ed’s other song, which debuted at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 last week, “Shape of You”, has just come on as I finish writing this post…also a good one if you need some fresh tunes. Hey, I write books for teens (and older people who secretly love them), it’s really all just research 😉

What songs make you think about being a kid? Leave a comment below.


PS. Always knew Ed was one to watch – featured him in a post back in 2014 when Kissing Frogs came out called 5 Kissable Frogs 😉




New Year, New Start


Book research in ROM’s private stacks!

A blank page. That is what the new year is to me. As someone who works hard to live in the moment, I love what a fresh year means. A chance to move on. To forget about past mistakes and disappointments. After all, dwelling on these things wastes our energy. It is best if we merely learn from them and then let them go.

2016 was the year I learned to have more patience. The year I learned to cut myself some slack. The year I understood that worrying about things doesn’t help, and so I try to do less of that (though it is still a struggle some days).

IMG_0222I am so excited for 2017 and the possibilities it represents. And whatever your hopes and dreams, I’m excited for you to achieve them too. Whatever your goals and ambitions, as long as they are framed by love and hope, the world is a better, brighter place. Let’s shine together.

xoxo, Alisha

PS. I have a few big announcements in store, so stay tuned!