Exclusive Guest Post with Gia Cribbs, YA Debut of The Disappearance of So: Plotting, Pantsing and the Art of Surprise

Hi guys! Today I am having my first ever guest post on the blog in a long time! Carrie Ann DiRisio and Brooding YA Hero introduced me to the wonderful Gia Cribbs and her main character Sloane Sullivan, and I am super excited to have Gia today to talk about “Plotting, Pantsing, and the Art of Surprise!” I love YA thriller novels and the feeling of being on the edge of your seat while your heart is pounding, so I very looking forward to The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan! I hope you enjoy this amazing guest post!

About the BookThe Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan

No one wants me to tell you about the disappearance of Sloane Sullivan.

Not the lawyers or the cops. Not her friends or family. Not even the boy who loved her more than anyone. And most certainly not the United States Marshals Service. You know, the people who run the witness protection program or, as it’s officially called, the Witness Security Program? Yeah, the WITSEC folks definitely don’t want me talking to you.

But I don’t care. I have to tell someone.

If I don’t, you’ll never know how completely wrong things can go. How a single decision can change everything. How, when it really comes down to it, you can’t trust anyone. Not even yourself. You have to understand, so it won’t happen to you next. Because you never know when the person sitting next to you isn’t who they claim to be…and because there are worse things than disappearing.


Gia Cribbs InterviewPlotting, Pantsing, and the Art of Surprise

I have a SLOANE bible.

It’s a black Moleskin notebook, one of the largest ones they make, filled to capacity with everything I’ve ever researched or thought of for this book. There’s a page for each main character, with pictures of what they look like and their favorite birthdays and backstories I knew would never actually make it into the book. There’s a list of every identity Sloane’s had while in witness protection, including where she lived, what she looked like, and who she was friends with. Calendars with dates of story events circled, hand-drawn maps of schools and towns, lists of popular 1990s alternative bands because one character is obsessed with them—they’re all in there. And, of course, a very detailed outline. Because if you haven’t guessed it: I’m a planner.

Continue reading “Exclusive Guest Post with Gia Cribbs, YA Debut of The Disappearance of So: Plotting, Pantsing and the Art of Surprise”


This Month’s LILbooKtalk: “Healing through Stories: Two Novels of Uniting Families” with Corabel Shofner and Leslie Hauser

Hi guys! I am super excited for this month’s LILbooKtalk! I had the amazing opportunity to read both of these excellent debuts, and they share so many similar themes and conflicts that I had to invite both of the authors in our February panel. Today, we have Corabel Shofner, author of Almost Paradise, and Leslie Hauser, author of Chasing Eveline, on the blog today to talk about “Healing through Stories: Two Novels of Uniting Families.” It was definitely a fun chat to moderate, and I hope you enjoy it!

About Almost ParadiseAlmost Paradise

Twelve-year-old Ruby Clyde Henderson’s life turns upside down the day her mother’s boyfriend holds up a convenience store, and her mother is wrongly imprisoned for assisting with the crime. Ruby and her pet pig, Bunny, find their way to her estranged Aunt Eleanor’s home. Aunt Eleanor is a nun who lives on a peach orchard called Paradise, and had turned away from their family long ago. With a little patience, she and Ruby begin to get along―but Eleanor has secrets of her own, secrets that might mean more hard times for Ruby.

Ruby believes that she’s the only one who can find a way to help heal her loved ones, save her mother, and bring her family back together again. But being in a family means that everyone has to work together to support each other, and being home doesn’t always mean going back to where you came from.


About Chasing EvelineChasing Eveline

Sixteen-year-old Ivy Higgins is the only student at Carmel Heights High School who listens to cassettes. And her binder is the only one decorated with album artwork by 80s band Chasing Eveline. Despite being broken-up since 1989, this rock band out of Ireland means everything to Ivy. They’re a reminder of her mom, who abandoned Ivy and her dad two years ago. Now the music of her mom’s favorite band is the only connection she has left.

Even though Ivy wavers between anger and a yearning to reconnect, she’s one-hundred percent certain she’s not ready to lose her mom forever. But the only surefire way to locate her would be at a Chasing Eveline concert. So with help from her lone friend Matt—an equally abandoned soul and indie music enthusiast—Ivy hatches a plan to reunite the band.

The road to Ireland won’t be easy, though. And not just because there is no road. Along the way they’ll have to win over their Lady Gaga-loving peers, tangle with some frisky meerkats, and oh yeah, somehow find and persuade the four members to play a reunion gig. It’s a near-impossible task, but Ivy has to try. If she can’t let go of the past, she’ll never be able to find joy in the present.


LILbooKtalk 3

Questions are in bold

Kester: The first author we have today is the wonderful Corabel Shofner, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Southern Festival of Books last October. Her Middle Grade debut novel Almost Paradise released last summer, and I enjoyed it so much that I finished it in a day! Could you describe to us a bit about your book and yourself?Almost Paradise

Corabel: ALMOST PARADISE is a Middle Grade contemporary novel with lots of whimsy, humor and heartbreak. In some ways it is a reverse coming of age story, since Ruby Clyde had taken on the adult role in her family and needs to reclaim her childhood. I am a wife and mother who lives in Nashville, TN. I had a very colorful life before I settled in the suburbs and I love it out here. ALMOST PARADISE is my debut novel although I have written law, short stories, essays and such.

Kester: Thank you, Corabel! It’s so great to be having a local Tennessee author here on the blog! We also have the amazing Leslie Hauser, who I was able to interview on my blog last summer. I loved her Young Adult contemporary debut Chasing Eveline, which I also devoured in a single day! Would you also like to share with us a bit about your novel and your background?

Leslie: Hi! Thanks for having me here. CHASING EVELINE is about 16-year-old Ivy HIggins and her desire to reunite her mom’s favorite 80s band. She thinks it may be the only way to find her mom who left Ivy and her dad several years prior, but also the music is a way to keep her mom present in her life. It also has some humor and heartbreak–sounds like a good companion to ALMOST PARADISE! I am a middle school English and history teacher in California and CHASING EVELINE is my debut novel.

Kester: Chasing Eveline and Almost Paradise are definitely great companions! (And you provided the perfect segue for my next question, Leslie!) That’s why as I read both of your novels, I noticed that each of your main characters share the common goal of healing their broken families. How do you want readers to be impacted by Ivy’s attempts at finding her long-lost mother or Ruby Clyde’s actions to help her mother avoid being imprisoned? How do your characters learn what it means to love those around you?

Chasing EvelineLeslie: Losing someone is difficult. I realized after my aunt passed away that every year, the memories became dimmer. It’s to the point now where I can’t even see parts of these memories (like the picture in Back to the Future! If you’re familiar with that movie.) Ivy’s quest to reunite Chasing Eveline is her way of dealing with loss and trying to keep her mom present. I wanted to write a story that shows that there are productive outlets for grief. I would hope readers would see that as a takeaway.

Corabel: Hi Leslie, I haven’t written anything with music as an element but I love the way Ivy seeks her mother through her mother’s favorite 80’s band. Reminds me a bit of Guardians of the Galaxy where he’s stomping through puddles listening to his mother’s old music, on an old player. Ruby Clyde is a self possessed little thing. She willingly steps up to care for her fragile mother but when the Catfish (mother’s rascal boyfriend) launches off on a cross country trip and gets them both arrested, Ruby Clyde is consumed with a longing for home and a growing realization that she might not be able to single handedly save her mother from prison. I want my readers to feel brave. Bravery is contagious.

Leslie: Sounds like Ivy and Ruby both have to step up in their families. Ivy feels compelled to take care of her dad in her mother’s absence. Bravery is definitely important when dealing with these struggles.

Corabel: Everybody loves the precocious child, the ‘little mother’ or the one who takes care of everything because a parent is damaged. People should realized that these children pay a price by losing their childhood. My sister did that in our family and it did not end well. I’ve since seen other children try to play this role and it breaks my heart. But their old personalities in the miniature bodies is often hilarious.
Continue reading “This Month’s LILbooKtalk: “Healing through Stories: Two Novels of Uniting Families” with Corabel Shofner and Leslie Hauser”

Deanna Cabinian, YA Author of One Night, Chats about Writing from a Guy’s Perspective as a Female Author

Hi guys! Tomorrow is Halloween! Instead of going trick-or-treating or scaring trick-or-treaters, I’m hoping to be curled in bed reading a good book (unless I have a lot of homework tomorrow which I hope not). Today, I have a very special guest post for you! Deanna Cabinian, author of her debut YA contemporary novel One Night, is here to give insight into how a female author can write a story from a guy’s perspective. I hope you enjoy!

About One Night30306706

Breakups are the worst.

Thompson is miserable.

Can he get Caroline back?

With his mind on HER, his life takes an unexpected turn. Elvis gives him a job. He knows nothing about the world of celebrity impersonators, but he does know social media.

And so starts his adventure…where will it take him?

Will he find his true love?

Paper Towns meets The Way Way Back in this contemporary YA novel about first love and friendship set to the beat of Elvis Presley’s music.




To read a free preview, sign up here.

Deanna Cabinian

Writing from a Guy’s Perspective as a Female Author

When I first started writing all the lead characters in my novels were female and they all kind of looked, sounded, and acted like me. They shared my interests (writing, tennis, and pop music), they were around my age, and they lived in the Chicago suburbs. For one reason or other none of those novels was a success—they all had major problems and I think one of them was that I kept making the main characters exactly like me. When I started writing from the viewpoint of the opposite gender, though, that’s when things started to click.

My tips for writing from a male point of view as a female author:

1. Read books written by male authors that have a lead character who is male. Make a note of what the characters talk about—and what they don’t. What do they notice? What do they ignore completely when going about their day? What do they worry about? What vocabulary do they use?

2. Pay attention to how males you interact with talk and what they talk about. I am constantly watching people and making mental notes on the things they say and do. A lot of the time I take actual notes, either on my phone or on paper. For example, I have a document on my phone called “funny stuff my husband says.” I also have documents called “weird stuff heard on the train” and “conversations that could be novels.” I always make sure to have a pen and paper when I leave the house to take notes on, too.

303067063. Get a second opinion in the form of a male beta reader or editor. The editor for my YA novel, One Night, was male and he was great at pointing out flaws in my manuscript. There is a scene in One Night where Thompson, the main character, notices a pretty girl in a dress. In the original draft of the manuscript she is described as wearing a spaghetti-strapped dress. I remember so clearly my editor’s note in tracked changes: a heterosexual male does not know what a spaghetti strap is. You could say thin straps or even better, just say “a dress.” That moment was eye-opening for me. Now when I edit scenes that are written from a guy’s point of view my second thought is, would he even notice that?

4. Be careful not to stereotype. As you write think about the males you know. Do all of them like sports and action movies? Probably not. Remember that everyone is an individual with their own unique interests. Try to reflect that in your writing whenever possible.

Hopefully you find these tips helpful. If you have any pointers of your own I’d love to hear them in the comments.

About the AuthorDeanna

Deanna Cabinian is a marketing director who lives in the Midwest, but dreams of living by the ocean. When she isn’t working or writing she enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and their Havanese dog, Cuba. She is the author of the contemporary young adult novels One Night and the forthcoming One Love.

Connect with Deanna online:


On Twitter: @DeannaCabinian

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Do you love YA contemporary novels? What are your thoughts on Deanna’s tips for writing from a guy’s perspective as a female author?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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Middle Grade Author Nancy J. Cavanaugh Talks About the Process of Writing Her Latest Book – Elsie Mae Has Something to Say + GIVEAWAY!

Hi guys! Happy Labor Day everybody! Today I am finishing up my 5-day weekend from school, and (hopefully) I got a lot of things done. September is going to be a crazy month for me- it usually is one of the busiest throughout the year- but I am so glad to have an amazing lineup of authors this month! Please give a warm welcome to Nancy J. Cavanaugh, author of Elsie Mae Has Something to Say, which I reviewed a few weeks ago as an ARC! She’s also giving away a signed copy of her book, so please don’t miss that!

About Elsie Mae Has Something to Say34006756

Elsie Mae is pretty sure this’ll be the best summer ever. She gets to explore the cool, quiet waters of the Okefenokee Swamp around her grandparents’ house with her new dog, Huck, and she’s written a letter to President Roosevelt that she’s confident will save the swamp from a shipping company and make her a major hometown hero. Then, news reaches Elsie Mae of some hog bandits stealing from swamper families, and she sees another opportunity to make her family proud while waiting to hear back from the White House.

But when her cousin Henry James, who dreams of one day becoming a traveling preacher like his daddy, shows up and just about ruins her investigation with his “Hallelujahs,” Elsie Mae will learn the hard way what it really means to be a hero.


Nancy J. Cavanaugh

My Writing Process for Elsie Mae Has Something to Say

So excited to be stopping by to do a guest post on Lilbooklovers!  I’m thankful for the opportunity to share a bit about my process in writing my most recent book, Elsie Mae Has Something to Say.

My basic formula for writing this particular book was to take one cup of inspiration, combine it with many cups of research, fold in a couple of cups of personal experience, then simmer and stir into a pot of creative imagination for about twenty years to yield one middle grade historical novel.

Continue reading “Middle Grade Author Nancy J. Cavanaugh Talks About the Process of Writing Her Latest Book – Elsie Mae Has Something to Say + GIVEAWAY!”

The Suffering Tree Blog Tour (+ Summer of Authors #7): Guest Post + GIVEAWAY with Elle Cosimano – How I Found the Perfect Agent

Hi guys! I am so glad to have back Elle Cosimano, author of her latest book The Suffering Tree, on the blog! Earlier this year, I gave an exclusive interview with Elle (which you can find here) and reviewed her YA paranormal thriller Holding Smoke (which you can find here too), which I loved. Now, I am glad to promote her newest book The Suffering Tree in the blog tour!


About the Book28810197

Title: The Suffering Tree

Author: Elle Cosimano

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: June 13th 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Synopsis: “It’s dark magic brings him back.” 

Tori Burns and her family left D.C. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family-it’s their generations-old land the Burns have “stolen.” As the suspicious looks and muttered accusations of her neighbors build, so does the pressure inside her, and Tori returns to the pattern of self-harm that landed her in a hospital back in D.C. It all comes to a head one night when, to Tori’s shock, she witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard. 

Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events-including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter’s cousin-that seem to point back to Nathaniel. 

As Tori digs for the truth-and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel-she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family’s oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried at any cost.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:elle-cosimano

Author of NEARLY GONE, NEARLY FOUND, HOLDING SMOKE, and THE SUFFERING TREE (Disney*Hyperion, 2017). Represented by Sarah Davies of The Greenhouse Literary Agency.

Let’s get onto the guest post!

Elle Cosimano

How I Found the Perfect Agent

Six years ago, when I completed my first draft of what would become my debut novel, I was a real estate agent with a background in psychology who dreamed of becoming a novelist. I had no formal writing training. I had no literature degree. And I had zero knowledge of the world of publishing. Basically, I had no idea what I was doing, much less any clue where to start. All I knew is that to get where I wanted to go, I presumably needed an agent.

But where did one go to find an agent?

Continue reading “The Suffering Tree Blog Tour (+ Summer of Authors #7): Guest Post + GIVEAWAY with Elle Cosimano – How I Found the Perfect Agent”

My Second Author Collaboration Video!

Hi guys! Yesterday, I got done with my ACTs, so finally, I’m done with school-related stuff for the meantime! Woo hoo! As a special treat, I created another author collaboration video for featuring 16 amazing authors! Hope you enjoy it and check out the books to these fabulous authors! You don’t want to miss their books!

Continue reading “My Second Author Collaboration Video!”