Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Contemporary YA Authors That Should Be on Your Radar

Let's face it. We can't all be John Green or Sarah Dessen or Rainbow Rowell. They're among the Kings and Queens of YA contemp. Most YA fans know them. Most YA fans have read them. Their books rocket up the best sellers lists and they are talked about, recognized, and celebrated.

I'm a fan of these authors myself, but over the past several years I've discovered and enjoyed many authors who don't seem to be as widely read (but maybe should be). Here are a few of my stand-outs:

Abby McDonald/Abigail Haas

I've been saying for a year and a half now that DANGEROUS GIRLS is the most underrated, under-read YA in existence. And it is. This is the book I shove at people when they ask for a recommendation. I think I even told my cat to read it. It's just that good. The follow-up book, DANGEROUS BOYS, is fantastic as well. Abby writes unputdownable YA thriller like nobody's business.

Laura Wiess

Laura is, in a word, amazing. Her writing is gorgeous, evocative, and brave. Her stories are thought-provoking and heart-wrenching. I needed a box--an entire BOX--of Kleenex when I read ORDINARY BEAUTY. Few books have touched me so much or wrecked me so thoroughly. I know that when I open one of Laura's books, I will spend the next several hours crying. And I look forward to it.

Rebekah Crane

No, I don't just love Rebekah because her name is the same as mine but spelled differently. I love her because her books are hilarious and awesome. I remember getting her first book, PLAYING NICE, as an Amazon freebie. I do not have a good track record with Amazon freebies, but this one was a gem. I scored an ARC of her latest book, ASPEN, and was charmed all over again.

Dahlia Adler

Dahlia is super supportive to authors and I appreciate the time and commitment she puts into promoting, recommending, and blogging about books. She also writes books, and they are fun and engaging. BEHIND THE SCENES was my first Dahlia book, but definitely not my last. She also wrote a New Adult that "didn't make want to scoop my eyes out with a spork." (direct quote from my review) and I'm eagerly awaiting her next YA, UNDER THE LIGHTS (which, FYI, comes out the same day as my next book).

Brandy Colbert

Brandy's debut novel, POINTE, was probably my favorite contemporary YA of 2014. I discovered it while browsing through the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag on Twitter one day. Sometimes an author's writing just clicks with me and that's what happened here. There are a select handful of authors whose Goodreads pages I keep a close eye on, just waiting for a new book to add to my TBR shelf, and Brandy is one of them.

Amy Christine Parker

Cults. Brainwashing. Corruption. Amy hit on a lot of my literary weaknesses with GATED. I was riveted from the first page to the last. This is another author who I feel is under-hyped. Some people put Amy's books in the dystopian or sci-fi category, but after reading the first one, I think they're solidly contemporary. I have yet to read GATED's sequel, ASTRAY, but it's high up on my to-read list.

Jessica Verdi

Jessica brings something really unique to contemporary YA. MY LIFE AFTER NOW tackles an issue I don't think I've ever seen in a YA novel. THE SUMMER I WASN'T ME is about a girl who goes to a religious de-gaying camp. I feel like I can count on this author to bring something new and different to the table. Ever ask yourself "Why hasn't someone written a book about ______?" Well, Jessica is probably writing it.

Who are some authors that you feel should be on everyone's radar? Tell me in the comments. If I haven't heard of them, I'll rectify that ASAP.

Monday, January 19, 2015

15 Things I'd Tell My Younger Author Self

I've been writing pretty much all my life, but it wasn't until 2011 (when I started writing my third book, Out of Nowhere, with the intent of actually getting published) that I decided to make a full-time career out of it. Back then, like a lot of new authors, I had no clue what I was doing or what I was in for. Now that I'm relatively seasoned, I can't help but wonder what I'd tell my younger, greener self if given the chance.

So naturally, I came up with a list:

1. You will meet other authors through Twitter, etc. and feel like you've finally found your people. We're insecure and a little crazy and we talk about publishing and books and cats and food and it's pretty cool.

2. You will go through phases during which all you feel like doing is playing Candy Crush or re-watching Grey's Anatomy on Netflix and you'll feel really guilty about it. It's okay to avoid that WIP if you're just not feeling it. For a little while. Then you'd better put away your tablet, get your ass back in that chair, and keep writing.

3. You will experience how simultaneously exciting and terrifying it is to have a book out on submission. You will also learn about patience, handling rejection, and how to take editors' feedback and apply it to your next book.

4. You will learn that beta readers and critique partners are not just important, but downright necessary. It's a daunting thing, sending your baby off for others to criticize, but it's the most valuable learning experience you'll ever have.

5. You will discover that the YA community is awesome, but there's some vitriol too. You'll focus on the awesome.

6. You will discover that most authors are kind, supportive, and lovely, but there are some jerks too. You'll focus on the lovelies.

7. You will get reviews that make you question your writing skills/career/life. But then you'll learn that opinions are subjective and not everyone is going to like your books.

8. You will get reviews that make it all seem worthwhile. And they will make your day.

9. You will feel invisible sometimes. Why doesn't so-and-so respond to my tweet/email me back/read my book/mention my book on their blog/know I exist?

10. You will read other books in your genre and support/promote/shower love on the author. And they'll be appreciative and grateful and maybe even do the same for you.

11. You will learn that even the most famous and successful authors feel insecure sometimes. Even Stephen freaking King probably has doubts about his work. (Well, maybe not)

12. You will realize how random and fluctuating your sales earnings can be. One month you'll make enough to treat yourself to a new laptop, the next month you'll make just enough for a McDonald's Happy Meal.

13. You will stalk your Goodreads author page and keep a close eye on your Amazon rankings. Not all authors do this, but they have way more willpower than you do.

14. You'll compare yourself to other authors and feel like a failure and/or imposter sometimes. Then you'll learn to keep your eyes on your own work.

15. You will discover that the good far outweighs the bad. You're doing what you love and getting paid for it. You can live in yoga pants or pajamas and never leave the house. And even though writing is hard and sometimes lonely, you'll realize how damn fortunate you are to be able to do it for a living.

2011 Rebecca Phillips, you won't regret a thing.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Last Year, This Year, and Beyond

2014 was an exciting year in my writing life.

In February, I finished the manuscript I started during the 2013 National Novel Writing Month. The final product is a novel I'm very much proud of called ANY OTHER GIRL. You can read about it HERE.

In May, this happened:

In June, I started writing UNTIL sixth book, my first New Adult, and the third book in my JUST YOU series.

In September, I saw this cover for the first time...

In October, UNTIL NOW was released and the cover for FAKING PERFECT was revealed on Barnes and Noble.

What's coming up in 2015?

  • All things FAKING PERFECT, which will be released on June 30 (but you can pre-order it right now!)
  • I'll write a new YA book, which will be different (and darker) than anything I've attempted before. I look forward to the challenge.
  • In the second half of 2015, I'll shift focus to ANY OTHER GIRL, which is due out in February 2016 with Kensington Publishing.
  • I'll continue on with this crazy, busy, wonderful ride called Full-Time Author.

I wish you all the best of luck in 2015!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Best Reads of 2014

It's that time again! This year, I've read about 90 books. Here are my top 10, in no particular order:

1. ONE PLUS ONE by Jojo Moyes -- Moyes wrote one of my favorite books of all time (ME BEFORE YOU) and I didn't think she could ever top it. This one didn't exactly top it, but it came pretty damn close.

2. DANGEROUS BOYS by Abigail Haas -- Haas' last book, DANGEROUS GIRLS, was one of my favorite reads last year (if you haven't read it yet, do yourself a huge favor). The author herself sent me an ARC of this book and when she offered to email it to me, I freaked out like I'd won the lottery. It did not disappoint.

3. POINTE by Brandy Colbert -- Hands down the best YA contemp I read this year. Beautiful writing and characters that stuck with me.

4. BIRD BOX by Josh Malerman -- I read this on Halloween and scared the hell out of myself. A great horror story. Don't read before bed. Or in the dark. Or alone. 

5. ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Stephanie Perkins -- A lovely end to a lovely trilogy. I think this one was my favorite of the three. 

6. WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon -- It's no secret that I'm a diehard Outlander fan. This is book freaking EIGHT and the story and characters are still as addictive as ever.

7. BREAKABLE by Tammara Webber -- EASY is my favorite New Adult book and I wasn't sure how Breakable would compare. I shouldn't have wondered. This one is just as good, if not better.

8. CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE by Cassandra Clare -- I've read so many disappointing ends to series', but this one got it right. 

9. MR. MERCEDES by Stephen King -- I think I'm one of the few who likes King's new stuff better than his old. *ducks and runs* I get lost in his books--the storytelling is just that good.

10. BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty -- I love Moriarty's books and will read anything she puts out.

Honorable mentions:

PANIC by Lauren Oliver 
SPLIT SECOND by Kasie West 
ON THE FENCE by Kasie West
THE ART OF LAINEY by Paula Stokes
AFTER I DO by Taylor Jenkins Reid
ME SINCE YOU by Laura Wiess
17 FIRST KISSES by Rachael Allen
I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler
YOU by Caroline Kepnes
REVIVAL by Stephen King
THE TREATMENT by Suzanne Young

What were YOUR best reads of 2014?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

UNTIL NOW (Just You #3)

UNTIL NOW (Just You #3) is available (almost) everywhere today! 

Pick up a copy at:

Only two things are keeping Robin Calvert on the right track: the support of her best friend Taylor, and Drake and Lila, her three-year-old twin siblings. Former party girl turned dedicated college student, Robin strives to be a good role model for her younger brother and sister. But when her mother disappears, and her stepfather ships the twins off to live with their grandparents, the stable life she's worked so hard to maintain comes crumbling down around her.

Without her siblings around to motivate her, she backslides to her old reckless ways--vodka, hangovers, and bad boys who give her nothing but trouble. One bright spot is Jane, the grandmotherly stranger who takes Robin under her wing and welcomes her into her big, loving family. There, she forms an unexpected connection with Jane's son, Ryan, a divorced single dad whose pale blue eyes make her question her policy against dating guys with kids.

Ryan has baggage of his own, but the closer Robin gets to both him and his family, the more she understands what it truly means to be home.