YA Valentine’s Day Reads

Love can happen in unexpected places and ways. So in honor of St. Valentine’s Day, here are some young adult fantasy reads that have unexpected romances or romances that happen in unique ways!

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  • Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

This book is told from 3 points of view—the princess who ran away from her wedding, the prince who goes after her, and the assassin sent to kill her. However, the story is told so masterfully that when the princess is interacting with the prince and assassin, you don’t know which is which! You’ll be on the edge of your seat!

young adult fairytale retelling book
A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan
  • A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

In this retelling about the cursed daughter of King Midas, don’t trust anyone. You never know who’s hiding secrets and who might think the girl with the ability to turn things to gold might be worth her own weight in gold.

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  • Caraval/Legendary by Stephanie Garber

These two books will also keep you guessing as to who our heroines might end up with. Who can you trust? Whose relationship is real? Who’s telling the truth? Garber will lead you into the world of Caraval and delight your senses as you try to figure out the answers to all those questions.

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  • Doon by Lorie Lagdon and Carey Corp

This YA retelling of Brigadoon has some swoon worthy princes from Scotland, but things get complicated when you’re leaping through time. Pick up this series to see who ends up with their prince!

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  • Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

This is an oldy but a goodie. This Cinderella retelling talks about what happens after the ball. Everyone expects Cinderella to stay in love with the prince she just met…but what if love takes an unexpected turn?

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In this Mulan-inspired retelling, Mariko is supposed to be married off for political gain, but things turn awry on the way there. Will love find a way to survive?

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  • The Selection

What if love were a competition similar to The Bachelor? What if you only entered because you wanted the money that came with winning? What if you found love once you arrived?

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  • Matched by Allie Condie

What if the government picked who you loved? What if your match was revealed during a big ceremony? What if you saw someone else’s face for a split-second when your match was revealed?

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  • Sky in the Deep

Sometimes love doesn’t come from those you expect. In this Viking-inspired tale, you might turn to your enemies to survive. And you might find that they aren’t truly your enemies at all.

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  • Sea Witch

You’ll feel as if you’ve been put under a spell reading this twisted reimaging of The Little Mermaid myth. Hold on to your fins as you see who falls in love with whom.

 

Who is your favorite young adult couple? Share in the comments!

 

 

 

Preorder Tiger Queen and see the cover!

We’ve just revealed the cover for Tiger Queen, my new young adult novel about a desert princess who fights in an arena against suitors in order to win her right to rule!

But now you can also preorder it! Preorders really help authors by showing the publisher there is interest in the book!

PREORDER right now!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0310768772
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tiger-queen-ann…/1129853416
IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780310768777

Save those preorder receipts! I’ll be announcing my preorder giveaway prizes soon!

Now, without further ado, here’s the cover!

tiger queen cover

About the book:

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess as she fights to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story “The Lady, or the Tiger?”.

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an old law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena against twelve suitors to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, losing is not an option because in order to fulfil her promise to her late mother, she must win to keep her crown and lead her people. The situation outside the palace is uneasy. The harsh desert is unforgiving, water is scarce, and Kateri’s people are thirsty. To make matters worse, the gang of thieving Desert Boys, the same group that killed Kateri’s mother and her new baby, frequently raids the city wells and steals water, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is the choice between two doors. Behind one door lies freedom and behind the other is a tiger.

The people of Achra are growing restless and distrustful of the monarchy, and when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In her desperation, Kateri turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. Her future now, too, is behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which will release the tiger.

A Touch of Gold Available Now!

I can’t believe this day is finally here! A Touch of Gold, my young adult book about the cursed daughter of King Midas, is finally available in stores starting Tuesday, August 14th…although I’ve heard it’s already on shelves in most Barnes & Nobles!

It’s taken 8 years from when I started writing the book to reach this point. So many people helped me along the way, and I can’t thank them enough. This truly is a dream come true.

In hopes of continuing that dream, I have a few favors to ask.

First week sales are really important not just because they help me make bestseller lists but because they effect my rank on Amazon, and a lot of smaller booksellers look at Amazon rankings to decide if they want to carry the book. There are lots of ways you can help with my sales ranking. The first and best way is to buy the book!

  • You can order the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local bookstore.
  • You can also call your local bookstore and ask if they’ll be carrying A Touch of Gold.
  • You can also request your local library branch carry A Touch of Gold.

 

The next best thing you can do is to review the book on:

You may have to wait until Tuesday to review it on Amazon, but that is the platform where reviews are most needed because once an author reaches 50 reviews, certain algorithms kick in to help boost the book’s visibility on the site. You also don’t even have to have read the book or have bought it from Amazon to leave a review. Something simple like, “It’s a great book,” counts!

Additionally, just getting the word out there about the book will help tremendously too.

  • You can tell any teachers that you know. Ask them to buy a copy for their school library or ask them to tell their students about it.
  • You can continue to spread the news on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

 

Studies show it takes someone seeing something 8 times before they’ll stop and actually investigate what the product is.

Thank you again for following me on this journey. I couldn’t have done it without you, and with your continued support, I hope to share many more books with you in the future!

Happy reading!

 

 

Prizes for Preordering A TOUCH OF GOLD!

Prizes for preordering! Ways to get signed/personalized copies! Giveaways! And more!

A TOUCH OF GOLD, a young adult fantasy novel about the cursed daughter of King Midas who faces pirates, betrayers, and thieves on her quest to retrieve her father’s stolen gold, releases in just over a month! Have you preordered your copy yet?

Preorder at any of these sites or at your favorite independent bookstore!

 

Why should you preorder?

Preordering helps my publisher know that you’re excited about the book and helps convince them to buy more books from me. Also, preorders all get counted during the book’s first week on sale, meaning authors have a better chance of making things like The New York Times bestseller list if they get a lot of presales.

The two single most important things you can do to help an author are to preorder the book and to spread the word on Facebook and social media sites.

 

Want to preorder a SIGNED copy of A Touch of Gold?

Are you interested in getting a signed/personalized copy of A Touch of Gold but can’t make it to my launch party? I’ve partnered with Kids Ink bookstore so you can get signed copies of my book. All you have to do is call them at 317-255-2598 to place your order, and they’ll ship it to you!

 

Prizes for preordering A Touch of Gold

In the coming days, I’m going to be publicizing my preorder incentive—that means anyone who preorders will get some really cool prizes when they send in their proof of purchase. Make sure you’re following me on the below social media sites to find out how to claim these amazing prizes! These prizes will only be for people who preorder, so don’t wait!

 

Near Indianapolis?

If you want to come to book event of the year (in my opinion), then come to Barnes & Noble River Crossing on August 17th at 7pm for my book launch party. There will be prizes, fun activities, and a book themed cake that you won’t want to miss!

Details here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/touch-of-gold-release-party-tickets-46200875061?ref=enivtefor001&invite=MTQ0Mjk3NjkvYW5uaWVzdWxsaXZhbjE2NjFAZ21haWwuY29tLzA%3D&utm_source=eb_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=inviteformalv2&utm_term=attend

 

Touch of Gold Final Cover Image

 

I Have a Book Deal!!!

I’m so thrilled to announce that I have a book deal with Blink (HarperCollins). My book, A TOUCH OF GOLD, is set to publish in Summer 2018.

Book Deal Announcement
Annie Sullivan’s Publishers Marketplace Deal Announcement for A TOUCH OF GOLD

So what do you do when all your dreams come true? Well, if you were me and got asked that question by your sister, you’d answer with, “Go take a nap.” So maybe that’s not the most exciting reply, but it might be the most honest one because it turns out making your dreams come true takes a whole lot of work.

Most people out there seem to think that you simply write a book and then **poof** you get a book deal. But there’s so much more too it than that. It takes an army of people.

Not only do you need teachers and instructors and mentors and peers to teach you how to write and help you become better, but you need an understanding family who lets you have time to write. You need critique partners and Twitter followers. You need agents and editors. The list goes on and on.

Not to mention this process can take years. I started writing A TOUCH OF GOLD way back in 2012. That’s right. 5 years. Did it take me 5 years to write? No. But it took that long for me to write it, revise it multiple times, let it sit a while, revise it again, have friends and critique partners read it, revise it again, get an agent, revise it after my agent read it, go out on submission, and finally get a deal. Not to mention I wrote several other books in the midst of all that going on.

But it was all worth it to write this blog post because this is the blog post I’ve been dreaming of writing for years, the one that proves all that hard work was worth it. The one that proves that not only do dreams come true, but so do fairytales. And mine is just starting!

Look for A TOUCH OF GOLD coming Summer 2018.

 

***To stay up-to-date on what’s happening with my book, be sure to subscribe to my blog and follow my author Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAnnieSullivan/

 

 

 

How to Get the Most Out of Your Sidekick Characters

Sidekick characters can breath life into a story and set your protagonist up for success. But in order to do that, you have to make sure you’re using your sidekick characters to their fullest potential.

However, if you include a sidekick, make sure your sidekick has a clear stake in the outcome of whatever problem your protagonist faces. Next, make sure they have a clear reason to trust and follow your protagonist. Also make sure they have their own backstory, even if not all of it is mentioned. Finally, make sure your sidekick has some effect on the outcome of the story. Whether they’re the ones who figure out one of the mysterious riddles or the ones who save the protagonist at a difficult moment, they need to have a role in the outcome in order to justify their presence.

So, once you know your sidekick is necessary, here are a few ways to make sure you’re using them to the fullest.

1.) Friend/Confidant

Use sidekicks as ways to get information across that the protagonist knows but the reader doesn’t. Maybe there’s a tricky piece of backstory you want to include or some piece of information that the reader will need to know later on. Sidekicks make the perfect sounding block.

2.) Comic Relief

While I’m sure we all wish our main characters were witty all the time, sometimes that role needs to fall to the sidekick. Give them opinions and help them lighten things up.

3.) Hope for the Hopeless

Sidekicks are there in the tough times. They can be the ones to give the protagonist the information or encouragement they need to go on when everything seems ruined.

4.) Access to Information Protagonists Don’t Have

Maybe your protagonist works somewhere where they’ll overhear a key piece of information the protagonist will need. Or maybe they’re off researching someone’s criminal history while the protagonist is off getting into trouble. Whatever it is, sidekicks can be a means of gaining access to information that the protagonist wouldn’t have been able to obtain on their own.

5.) The Company You Keep

Remember that who your protagonist chooses to spend time with says a lot about them as a person. Consider that when you’re creating your sidekick. They also need to balance each other well and have different strengths and weaknesses.

 

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to write a good protagonist, look at the influences in your own lives. Who has picked you up when you were down? Who’s joked with you when things were tough? What characteristics do those people have in common? Take them and meld them into one solid character who nicely compliments the characteristics your protagonist holds dear. You can also watch movies/read books with some of your favorite protagonists. Model your character after them.

Do you have a favorite protagonist? Let me know in the comments!

The 1 Thing Authors Should Be Doing to Improve Their Writing

So many authors read blog post after blog post or book after book about writing, but too few authors put the time and money necessary into conferences.

I attended my first conference back in 2013, and even then, I had to be prodded into it by some writing friends. I didn’t see the point in spending money to learn about writing when I’d already paid to get a Masters degree in Creative Writing.

Boy, was I wrong! The conference I went to was called the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, Indiana. To be honest, I went because I wanted a literary agent, and the conference offered me multiple opportunities to interact with and pitch agents. (Spoiler alert: what I learned at the conference and the feedback I got eventually helped me land my agent.) But the conference did so much more for me than just help me connect with agents.

The conference:

  • Offered great advice on perfecting my query letter.
  • Helped me learn new skills for revising, plotting, world building, character building, and other craft lessons.
  • Inspired me to get on Twitter where I connected with countless writers and publishing professionals.
  • Connected me with multiple critique partners.
  • Allowed me to talk with editors about what they were looking for.
  • Helped me establish relationships with big name authors.
  • Offered free help setting up my blog.

When you look at all the things you can gain by going to a conference, it’s worth the cost because you can’t get some of those things just from reading books about writing.

In that vein, I recognize conferences can be expensive once you add in travel and lodging. So if you can’t swing attending one in person, look for online ones. For example, WriteOnCon is a good one that’s very inexpensive. Another one you should check out that’s coming up soon is offered by the same Midwest Writers Workshop that I went to. It’s called Build a Better Plot with Shirley Jump.

Find out more about it here:

http://www.midwestwriters.org/2017/03/build-better-plot-shirley-jump-mww-ongoing-starts-march-27/

There could also be conferences offered in your state or through your local writing center.

The other conferences I’ll be attending this year as either a participant or panelist/speaker are:

Seven Sentences (presented by Maggie Stiefvater)

Nashville, Tennessee

April 2nd, 2017

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/seven-sentences-nashville-tickets-32341738009

(Note: Other dates and locations available)

 

Midwest Writers Workshop

Muncie, Indiana

July 20-22, 2017

http://www.midwestwriters.org/

 

Ch1Con

Chicago, Illinois

August 5th, 2017

https://chapteroneconference.com/

 

Will you be at any of these conferences or have a conference you want others to know about? Let me know in the comments.

 

How Many Coincidences are too Many in a Novel?

I once attended a conference where a very well-known and well-respected literary agent told us that you were only allowed one big coincidence in a novel. But is that really true? Let’s break it down.

There are different levels to coincidences. Having your heroine run into both her love interest and the man she’s engaged to marry in the same marketplace at the same time is what I would consider a smaller coincidence because they’re in a very well-traveled public place where it’s feasible any of those characters might be found at any given point. Place that scene in the woods, and it feels a little more forced, a little less believable- a little bit too much like a coincidence. And that’s where your problem arises. Anytime something feels too much like a major coincidence, your readers are going to pick up on that.

That’s why that well-respected literary agent suggested you use only one big coincidence because as soon as someone thinks about something being a coincidence, they’re going to be primed to be on the lookout for others. And should they find another coincidence (no matter how big or how small), especially if it’s close to the first, your writing will seem weak and contrived. So you have to use coincidences sparingly and thoughtfully.

 

Another great rule to follow is to use a coincidence when characters are getting into trouble vs. getting out of trouble. Running into the soldiers hunting for your main character in the marketplace or the woods is going to feel a lot less like a coincidence than a secondary character showing up and quickly pulling your character into a safe hiding spot just as the soldiers are about to stumble upon your main character.

To put it plainly, coincidences are better if they happen in order to get your characters into trouble instead of saving them from that trouble. If Cinderella’s fairy godmother had showed up and let her out of the attic so she could try on the shoe at the end of the original Disney movie, it wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying. Let your characters get themselves out of trouble because it will go a long way in showing who they are and how resourceful/clever/smart/driven they are. Let us see your character and not another plot device.

With all that in mind, sticking to one coincidence is pretty good advice because you’re forced to then let your plot do the work of adding tension instead of giving characters easy ways out of complicated and drama-filled situations. This in turn helps with characterization because we get to see the main character in action.

Is there a coincidence in a book that you find just too hard to believe? Discuss it in the comments.

How to Deal with Writer’s Block (featuring a T-Rex)

How do you deal with writer’s block? That’s a question many authors ask. Learn how to overcome writer’s block with these simple tips…presented by a T-rex!

 

Having any other methods you swear by for getting over writer’s block? Share them in the comments!

10 Ways to Build Romance in Your YA Novel

If you’re writing a YA novel, odds are there’s going to be some sort of romance. And it’s not enough to simply have your characters look at one another and instantly know they’re in love. So how can you make sure the romance in the story builds and feels believable? Follow these tips on how to make characters fall in love.

  • Give them something in common

Characters who have something in common will have an immediate bond. Are they both adopted? Did they both grow up in the same small town? Did they lose a parent at a young age? Are they wearing the same band’s T-shirt? All these are little hints that they might get along because they have something that ties them together- something to talk about with one another. For example, in the movie A Cinderella Story, the main characters connect over wanting to escape their overbearing parents/stepparents and go to the same college.

  • Start with small bodily gestures

A touch on the arm, focusing on how he flips back his hair all the time, a small glance as one walks away- especially after they’ve just had a talk about something they have in common. These can go a long way to conveying what a character may be starting to feel.

  • Characters start to change

Maybe where a character would’ve snapped before, they treat the other more gently. Or, perhaps, one gives something up that they would’ve kept for themselves earlier on –food, a blanket, the more comfortable bed. Think of Mr. Darcy going out of his way to help save the reputation on Elizabeth Bennet’s sister in Pride and Prejudice.

  • Nicknames/Inside Jokes

Is your hero still making jokes about the time the heroine fell off her horse? It means he’s thinking about her. Teasing someone can be a way to show you care without having to admit it. Plus, laughing at the same jokes counts as having something in common. Additionally, nicknames used in jest at first can be endearing later on. A new book that I loved but won’t name so it doesn’t ruin anything for anyone does this well with a character named Scarlett who gets called Crimson.

  • Jealousy

Does your character jump to conclusions when they see their crush with someone else? Jealousy can be an easy way to show they care without them having to say it. Think of Hermione not wanting to be around Ron and Lavender Brown in the Harry Potter series.

  • Atmosphere

If you’re writing a high-paced thriller, recognize that it’s hard to fall in love when you’re constantly running for your lives. Make sure you take breaks from the action for characters to bond. The right setting can enhance this- talking at sunset, strolling through the woods, hiding out on a rooftop with a great view, etc. might make for a romantic setting.

  • Shared experience

As I mentioned with high-paced thrillers, it can be hard to find time for love, but having that shared emotional experience can also drum up some passion. Surviving something together can cause people to cling to each other, and going back to my first point, it will give them something in common.

  • Think about the 5 Love Languages

Figure out if your character needs gifts or words of emotional support. Make sure their beloved can respond in turn.

  • Don’t forget about banter and passion

Your characters don’t have to get along at first. That fast-paced, biting banter they use can quickly turn into passion under the right circumstances, like surviving something together and then realizing they’re more alike than they think because….say it with me now…they have something in common. If you’re looking for a good example of this, checkout the book Frostblood.

  • Physical attraction (teamed with something they admire)

It sounds shallow, but physical attraction is something that relationships do need. It’s okay to have a fluttering heartbeat when you look at someone the first time…or the hundredth time. But make sure there’s more to the relationship than just looks; that’s why I put this last on the list. More than this, they’ll need something to admire in the other person because when you see something you like in someone, then you’re more likely to find them attractive. They may not discover what they admire until later in the story, but when they do, that’s when the physical attraction becomes more about what’s inside than outside.

 

Now you’re ready to go out there and start building a relationship. But before you do, stop over in the comments and let me know who your favorite literary couple is! I’ll start. Mine’s Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.

Happy Valentine’s Day!