Get to Know Elly Swartz

Author Interview

IMG_9578.jpgMeet Elly Swartz.

Elly Swartz loves writing for kids, Twizzlers, and anything with her family. Her debut novel, FINDING PERFECT (FSG 2016) is about twelve-year-old Molly, friendship, family, OCD, and a slam poetry competition that will determine everything. In her second book, SMART COOKIE (Scholastic, 2018), you meet the spunky and big-hearted Frankie. Frankie’s all about family with a dash of mischief and mystery! And then in 2019, say hello to Maggie in GIVE AND TAKE (FSG). Elly lives in Massachusetts with her family and beagle named Lucy. If you want to connect with Elly, you can find her at ellyswartz.com on Twitter @ellyswartz or on Instagram @ellyswartzbooks.

Social media
http://ellyswartz.com/ While on my site, be sure to check out the downloadable activities and curriculum guides for Finding Perfect and Smart Cookie.
Twitter @ellyswartz
Instagram @ellyswartzbooks.com
#BooksintheKitchen web series with author Victoria Coe https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkOp2zBQIr4_1mrpbR3EwyQ

 

 

 

The Interview.

A fellow Pennsylvanian! Greetings! To cure that boredom, *sigh* which I still face, did you come up with stories as a child?
I loved writing stories and poems as a kid. Not as a cure for boredom, I did a lot of bad baking for that, but simply because I loved story. The way the words wove and the characters sprang to life. In my stories, I could do or be or feel anything. And everything. I truly believe the seeds were planted during those years for Molly Nathans, the 12-year-old vulnerable and loving slam poet in Finding Perfect, and Frankie Greene, the feisty and big-hearted strong girl in my newest mg, Smart Cookie.
How did your diverse studies from psychology and law, shape you as a writer and a children’s books author?
Great question! Funny how each path we take informs the next. Often incidentally. Psychology gave me a foundation for understanding mental illness and how it manifests and impacts people’s lives. It showed me the importance of empathy and compassion and feeling connected. Books and story are a gateway. A mirror and a door. A wonderful platform for readers to learn and understand about themselves and others. Story is a way for me to, hopefully, allow kids to see themselves on the page and educate others about challenges many face. As for the study of law, it taught me the value of research and analysis, the malleability of words, and the importance of viewing life through many different lenses.
Why kid lit as your genre of focus?
I am pretty sure I have a twelve-year-old girl broadcasting from inside of me! Honestly, middle grade chose me. When I started writing, that was the voice that found its way onto the page.
A gum wrapper that was a fortune too – “You have the ability to become outstanding in literature.” What advice do you have for aspiring children’s writers?
Honestly, I still can’t believe I got that fortune in my Bazooka bubblegum! As for the advice I’d give – Read as much as you can. Write because you love it. Dream big. Work hard. And embrace the journey!
What topic challenges you the most when writing your novels for a younger audience?
For me, the most challenging part of writing was creating the scenes in Finding Perfect and Smart Cookie where my main characters felt emotionally raw. They either went to that dark place or felt a deep sense of loneliness. To truly capture those moments authentically, I also had to go to that emotionally raw place. And that was hard. But, it was the only way I could truly connect with the heartbeat of those experiences.
Tell us about your experience writing and publishing Finding Perfect. How did that journey differ from your other works?
Finding Perfect was the 5th book I wrote and the first one to be published. I worked on it for 8 years. I felt a very strong connection to Molly, the main character in that story, and to her struggle with OCD. I was never willing to let this story go and was determined and committed to becoming the best writer I could be so that Molly’s journey could find it’s way into the hands of the readers who really needed it.
When I got the call from my agent that Finding Perfect had found a home at FSG, I cried. Big happy tears. It was truly a dream come true. And, most gratefully, that dream continued when Smart Cookie found its way to Scholastic and then into the world this past January. I fell in love with Frankie, the main character in Smart Cookie, the moment she came to me with her big heart, love of family, and all that spunkiness.
Truly, I love my job. Writing stories and connecting with readers! The best!
Is there anything you’d like to share with the readers today?
Thank you for reading! Stay tuned, because in 2019 you get to meet twelve-year-old Maggie in GIVE AND TAKE. Maggie has a big heart and a hard time letting go. Of stuff. Of people. Of the past. With the help of her turtle Bert, a baby named Izzie and the almost all-girls trap shooting team, she begins to understand that people are more than the things that hold their memories.
And, be sure to check out and subscribe my new web series #BooksintheKitchen with author Victoria Coe, where we talk books and whip-up treats. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkOp2zBQIr4_1mrpbR3EwyQ.

Amber Sky Blog Tour

Blog Tour

Amber sky v3.jpgAmber Sky (C.O.I.L.S of Copper and Brass #1)
by Claire Warner
Genre: Dystopian Steampunk
Release Date: June 2nd 2017

Summary:

“You thought I did this out of the goodness of my heart?” He gave a short mirthless laugh. “Not a bit of it, this is going to be dangerous for me. What are you offering for my help?”

Beneath the Amber Sky, the nobility control the food, education, and the mysterious C.O.I.L.S of Copper and Brass. To Tay, struggling to keep her siblings alive, the ideas of rebellion and freedom are distant and unreachable.

But when her father is arrested, she begs Darius James, the son of the Overseer, to save his life. Darius agrees, but his help costs her a favour, one he can call in at any time.

Darius’ favour will bring her to the Palace, and the perfect position to help the growing rebellion. But the court has games beyond anything she has seen before, and Darius’ secrets will add to the danger.

Tay is now able to make a difference, to join the rebellion, find the C.O.I.L.S and discover the secrets of the Amber Sky. All she has to do is survive. 

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Excerpt:

Within the coils of copper and brass, there is a chance of freedom:
Anonymous writer (date unknown)

Chapter 1:

It was November, and soot-laden fog obscured her progress as Tay strode along the busy street. A chill wind kept the smog moving and nipped at her exposed skin. She was grateful for the shifting whiteness: it kept away curious eyes, and gave her a sense of freedom. The Factory was ahead, belching clouds of smoke and steam into the air, choking the lines of workers that queued outside. She averted her eyes and kept going. Thoughts of the Factory led to thoughts of the Mine, and she could not allow that. The work site fell behind her as she began to move uphill, away from the choking smog of the Factory District, and towards the Mercantile District. The traffic thinned out as her feet carried her through the cold, whispering quiet. The crowds were lighter here and better dressed. In contrast to their well-heeled fashions, Tay looked like an old sack. Several threadbare garments covered her body, and a moth-eaten, woollen hat was jammed down on her chestnut-coloured hair. Her boots were held together with twine, and stuffed with rags to keep the cold at bay. Despite her efforts to layer her ragged clothing, the wind still found its way to her skin, making her shiver. As she headed into the district, the fog shielded her from prying eyes and made her progress easier. Moving along the well-paved roads of the Merchant District with the elusiveness of a wild thing, she avoided the few traders that braved the cold, speeding up as she approached her destination.
The house was built from white stone, now discoloured from the ubiquitous soot. On the faded, cherry-coloured door, a brass knocker in the shape of a lion warned her off with what she fancied was a contemptuous gaze. For a long moment, she stared at the wood, wondering at the wisdom of what she was attempting. Lars and Cody could have been wrong, and this trip could easily land her in the cells. As the ever-present wind chapped her lips, she mustered her resolve. All other options had been exhausted, and this was all she had left. Taking a deep breath, she grasped the knocker with one shaking hand before letting it fall. For several moments, she waited on the doorstep, shifting uneasily from one foot to the other, nervous beyond thought.
The door creaked open, and a maid stared down at her with unconcealed distaste. Tay nervously wet her lips and opened her mouth to speak.
“No beggars.” The maid spoke first, her voice shrill with strident condemnation, as she took in Tay’s attire. Confident in her dismissal, she moved to close the door.
“No, wait.” Tay placed her foot in the hall, and leant forward. The maid stopped moving, distaste morphing into shock. “I need to speak to Darius…” Despite her best efforts, Tay’s voice still shook. “Please.” The woman stared down at her with disbelief, incredulous at her audacity to ask to see the Master’s son.
“I don’t think so.” The woman began pushing the door shut, shoving Tay’s fragile frame off the doorstep with its weight. Tay held her ground, trying to keep the door open.
“Please…” She pleaded once more, her voice echoing loudly in the hallway. Panic thrummed through her as she became aware of the spectacle she was creating. One complaint from any of the people on the street behind her and the guards would come. “I need to see him.” It was a desperate, yearning plea, yet the maid was having none of it. The door jammed against her toes, and she winced. The maid was winning the battle, her far stronger, well-fed, bulky frame inching Tay closer to the street.
“What’s going on?” A male voice echoed across the hall, and the maid stopped.
“It’s this beggar, Sir.” The woman held the door steady as she turned to face the speaker. “She wishes to talk to you.” Her voice was sneering, only slightly mollified by deference to her master.
“Let me see.” The man walked forward, and the maid reluctantly released her hold on the door. Tay’s eyes roved across the man before her as he came into view, starting at his well-shod feet, and travelling upward. A well-tailored, dark blue suit framed a lean body, and a cane of some dark wood lay carelessly in his hands. Casting her gaze upwards, she stared directly into a pair of deep-blue eyes, which were alight with interest.
“I need to see you, Darius,” She appealed directly to him, holding his gaze with silent entreaty. She ignored the scandalised tut of the maid as she took a step forward. “It’s important.”
Darius thought for a moment before he nodded. “Let her in,” He said to the maid, stepping back along the hall. With a look of shock on her features, the woman stepped away from the door and let Tay into the house.
Heat enveloped her as she stepped off the street, and followed Darius’ beckoning finger. The maid closed the door behind her as she slowly crossed the hall towards a door on the left. Her eyes drifted across the panelled space, awed by the luxury she saw. Dominated by a sweeping staircase, the hallway was decorated in shades of gold and blue. A heavy chandelier, festooned with lights, swung from the ceiling, and it was blissfully, wonderfully warm.
“Come on girl,” Tay’s head snapped back to the doorway, and she almost tripped over her own feet, as she hastened towards the sitting room. A fire blazed in a large hearth, filling the room with a cosy light. Above the mantel, a gilt-framed mirror reflected her scared and lost face. Several comfortable-looking couches lay about the room, and a variety of expensive knick-knacks were arranged on a wooden cabinet against the left wall. Intimidated, she looked around at the luxuriant surroundings and swallowed nervously.
“Warm yourself up.” Darius indicated the roaring fire, and she stepped before it gratefully, feeling the heat radiate across her cold skin. “Emma.” He turned to the maid. “Can you find me some old clothes?” With a sour look on her face, Emma nodded. As soon as she had left, Darius turned back to the room. “Now that she’s gone,” He said as he walked forward. “Why don’t you tell me what you want?”
Taya bit her lip and fidgeted. What had seemed like a good idea in the safety of her home, now felt like insanity. She glanced at him, noticing the arrogant cast to his features and the surety of his gaze. He was handsome, she realised with a jolt. Beneath a shock of black hair, deep blue eyes stared out at her with disconcerting directness.
“My name’s Taya, and…” She stopped, wondering how she could continue with her request.
“And?” He encouraged, noticing her hesitation. “I can’t help you if you don’t ask.”
“My father has just been sent to the mines,” She said quickly, watching the realisation cross his face.
“I see,” He noted softly, staring at her with interest. “And?”
“He already has a weak heart,” She found herself saying. “The mines will kill him.”
“I fancy that’s the idea,” He uttered, reaching for a glass of amber liquid that lay on the mantel, and took a sip. “What do you expect me to do about it?”

 

claire warner.jpgAbout the Author

When I was a child, I made up games and characters when my sister and I played with dolls. As I grew older, I would make up scenarios and scenes, fully intending to write them down but never finding the time. In my late teens, I discovered the world of role playing and settled into an avid ‘geeky’ life of D&D, comics, sci-fi and fantasy fiction. Years passed and I finally gave voice to the stories in my head. I write romance, fantasy, action and adventure. I love tales of steampunk and history, tales of magical powers and dark curses lurking in the shadows. Though The Black Lotus is not my first attempt at a novel, it is the first I have finished.

And some fun facts about me:

I sew.

My favourite Disney film is Atlantis.

I’ve been a film extra and stood 5 feet away from Sam Rockwell.

Babylon 5 is my fave sci-fi show.

I cried at the end of Toy Story 3.

Author Links:

Website . Goodreads . Twitter . Facebook

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Fade Away Cover Reveal

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Fade Away
Genre: YA Contemporary Realism/Coming of Age 
Release Date: March 22nd 2017
 
Summary:
 
The Monster’s Bop is the last dance of the year, a costume party thrown by Elizabeth’s high school annually. But this year is different. With more than 20 Cinderellas watching, a fight breaks out between four Batmen and four Supermen while a Hulk cowers under the punch bowl, and it isn’t over kryptonite or the keys to the batmobile. It’s over the power of a single text message.
Fade Away is the story told from Elizabeth’s diary about what it’s like to navigate the unfamiliar and ever-changing landscape of high school. A new horizon of first boyfriends, family decisions, and budding friendships. Ergo, of awkward physical and intellectual landfalls to school dramas and the lessons learned from them otherwise known as coming into your own.
 
About the Author
Jeremy lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He grew up in the south Atlanta area, and eventually earned his bachelor’s from Duke University. After experiencing enough life to form his own opinions, he enjoys sharing some with friends, reading, watching fantasy thriller and romance films, listening to music, and jogging when he is not writing. 

An eighty’s baby year-old indie author, he enjoys writing to the tween bumfuzzles in us all to reveal old unconditional loves. 
 
Author Links:
   



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Dark One’s Mistress Promo

Blog Tour

DOM cover.jpgDark One’s Mistress
By Aldrea Alien
Genre: NA Gothic Romance
Release Date: October 31st 2016
Thardrandian Publications

Summary from Goodreads:

For centuries, the people have lived under the protection of their so-called Dark Lord. Now, with news of his death reaching the quiet village of Everdark, rumour whispers that his son, Lucias, is hunting for a mistress to beget him an heir.

Clara doesn’t put much stock in village gossip, until she finds herself forcibly taken to the Lord’s fortress. Escape is not easy. She has no way out and, against a man with magic, little chance of fighting back. But the Lords are still men and the death of Lucias’ father is proof that they die just the same. And yet, if Lucias dies heirless, his army will be free to terrorise the land.

Such is the goal of Lenora of Ne’ermore, an old enemy and ex-prisoner of the kingdom. She is sending a man to slaughter Lucias and, to ensure there’s no chance of an heir, his mistress must die as well.

Caught between regaining her freedom or losing it for the good of the kingdom, Clara struggles to decide her path before certain death breaches the gates.

 

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Excerpt:
A hoof scraped the ground behind her, the sound akin to the sharpening of a knife.
Clara froze, her heart thudding. Taking a deep breath, she stared at the empty road stretching ahead. She could even make out the doorway to home. Mind your own business, she reminded herself. She took a shaky step forward, steadfastly refusing to look behind her.
“You there!”
Unable to resist the cry, she whirled about to face them. The carriage, its black panels naught but a darker patch within the shadows, stood on the other side of the junction. One of the horses stamped a shaggy foreleg, the other bobbed its head as if in reply. How she hated the beasts. Unlike the dogs and cats she was more familiar with, horses always seemed to have a superior glint in their eyes, as if they were secretly laughing at everyone.
The driver gently pulled on the reins, stilling the creatures. He leant forward in his seat. Piggish eyes, dark like little coals, peered down at her. His lips twisted into a sneer. “She’ll do.”
Clara didn’t fancy waiting to find out why she’d do and what for. Dumping her burden, she ran down the street, racing for the shadowed doorway leading to safety.
The clatter of hooves followed her. Black horseflesh ran alongside her, then fast pulled ahead to let the carriage trundle even with her.
She glanced at the shut doors and grimy windows of houses flanking her other side, madly searching for a closer haven. Sudden movement on the edge of her vision drew her attention back to her pursuers. She caught only the briefest flash of a horse sliding to a halt right in her path before crashing into the beast, forcing the air from her lungs.

 

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aldrea alien.jpgAbout the Author
Mother. Animal lover. Vampire. Fangirl.

Aldrea Alien is a New Zealand author of romantic speculative fiction of varying heat levels.

She grew up on a small farm out the back blocks of a place known as Wainuiomata alongside a menagerie of animals, who are all convinced they’re just as human as the next person (especially the cats). She spent a great deal of her childhood riding horses, whilst the rest of her time was consumed with reading every fantasy book she could get her hands on and concocting ideas about a little planet known as Thardrandia. This would prove to be the start of The Rogue King Saga as, come her twelfth year, she discovered there was a book inside her.

Aldrea now lives in Upper Hutt, on yet another small farm with a less hectic, but still egotistical, group of animals (cats will be cats). She still hasn’t yet found an off switch to give her an ounce of peace from the characters plaguing her mind, a list that grows bigger every year with all of them clamouring for her to tell their story first. It’s a lot of people for one head.

Author Links:
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