Tuesday, May 7, 2019

YA Guy Hosts... Malayna Evans, Author of JAGGER JONES AND THE MUMMY'S ANKH!

YA Guy is excited to introduce debut author, friend, and agency sibling Malayna Evans, whose middle grade novel JAGGER JONES AND THE MUMMY'S ANKH comes out on May 28! To me, this historical fantasy-adventure, first in a series set in ancient Egypt, sounds like it rivals the Kane Chronicles series by Rick Riordan, so I can't wait to read it. I asked Malayna to talk about her path to publication, and she responded with a story that's both bittersweet and empowering for aspiring authors everywhere!
I always wanted to be a writer … in the same way my eleven-year-old daughter wants to be a mermaid. It’s not that I didn’t mean it. I did. I even went back to school to earn grad degrees in ancient history, in part because I thought a few fancy pieces of paper might magically transform me into the next Margaret George or Madeline Miller.

Then life happened. And believe it or not, my mermaid job never magically materialized.

And then, life happened some more. In the midst of a family crisis, I took my son, then nine, to lunch one day for a heart-to-heart. I don’t know how we ended up talking about ancient Egypt. At the time, we both adored the topic. (Sadly, one of us--now sixteen--has outgrown it). After a depressing debrief, perhaps we just wanted to lighten the mood. It’s the following moments that are still clear in my mind. He asked me what ancient Egyptians looked like. I told my beautiful, biracial son he’d fit in well. And he said someone should write a book about a kid who looked like him in ancient Egypt.

When my son and I drafted chapter one, it was a parenting exercise, something for us to work on together during a rough spot.

When I kept writing, it was a hobby to spend time on as I found myself with a lot more free time on my hands than I was accustomed to.

When I finished a full draft, tracked down real feedback, tossed the first manuscript in the trash, and started again, I began to wonder: could I really land a job as a mermaid?

I didn’t know at the time how hard it is for unpublished authors to get an agent, or find a publisher, or actually launch a book into the world. In retrospect, my naivete might have been a blessing.

I did know I wanted to write a book that featured bright, creative kids--kids like my two little people--on a memorable adventure in ancient Egypt. And I wanted to share my passion for history with middle school kids, and make it fun enough that they’d enjoy learning, or, better, not even realize there was learning involved.

When I landed an agent, I thought my big mermaid-break was just around the corner. Turns out, as hard as that was, it was only the start. Fortunately, my fabulous agent, Liza Fleissig, has the patience of a mollusk. She stuck with me, helping me improve the work until it was good enough to send out. It took a minute (okay, a few billion minutes), but eventually she found my series a home.

Book one, Jagger Jones and the Mummy’s Ankh, is scheduled to be released on May 28th from Month9Books. And no, it doesn’t mean I’m a professional mermaid now. Turns out, most authors need regular-old-human day jobs. But it’s a start. And the goals that animated my pursuit are in sight. If kids read this book and see themselves in Jagger and Aria, or discover an interest in the ancient world, I’ll coin myself a successful mermaid … and quite possibly track down a seashell-drenched tiara to don. Because mermaids may not be real, but celebrating life’s accomplishments should be!

About the Book: Jagger Jones is a whiz kid from Chicago's South Side. Ask him anything about Ancient Egypt, and Jagger can fill hours describing all that he knows. But when he and his precocious little sister Aria fall more than three thousand years back in time to the court of Amarna, Egypt, Jagger discovers a truth that rocks his world: books don't teach you everything there is to know. Mummies, pyramids, and cool hieroglyphics make awesome movie props, but the ancient court of Amarna is full of over-sized scorpions, magical amulets, and evil deities determined to scare unwanted visitors away. If Jagger and Aria are to return safely home, they must find nine soul-infested gemstones, defeat an evil general, save the royal family, and figure out how to rescue themselves! Armed only with Jagger's knowledge of history and a few modern objects mined from his pockets and Aria's sparkly purse, the siblings have exactly one week to solve supernatural riddles and rescue the royal family. If they can pull it off, Jagger Jones just might return to Chicago a hero.

About the Author: Malayna Evans, author of Jagger Jones and the Mummy’s Ankh, earned her Ph.D. in ancient Egyptian history from the University of Chicago. She’s used her education to craft a magical time-travel tale set in ancient Egypt for middle graders. Malayna lives in Oak Park, Illinois, with her two kids, a rescue dog, and a hamster named Pedicure.

You can learn more about Malayna on her website: http://malaynaevans.com
Or you can follow her on social media:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Malayna
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/malaynaevans/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/MalaynaEvans

To preorder JAGGER JONES, go here:
https://www.amazon.com/Jagger-Jones-Mummys-Malayna-Evans/dp/194867162X/

Thursday, May 2, 2019

YA Guy Proudly Presents... The Ecosystem Trilogy!


Well, it's finally done. The Ecosystem Trilogy, a project YA Guy's been dreaming about and working on for years, is completed, released, and launched. The three books are out there in the world, and I hope readers enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

To celebrate the completion of the series, I'm running a promotion for the Kindle e-books, each of which is on sale from May 2 through May 6 for only $0.99. By my calculations, that means you can buy the whole series for a mere $2.97. If you're interested, here's the link:


Thanks for tagging along with me on this journey. Traveling through the Ecosystem with you has been one of the best adventures of my life.

Monday, April 22, 2019

YA Guy Launches... HOUSE OF EARTH, HOUSE OF STONE!

YA Guy was happy to find a big box o' books on his doorstep a week ago, heralding the arrival of copies of HOUSE OF EARTH, HOUSE OF STONE, the third (and hence final) book in the Ecosystem Trilogy.


That's a lotta books, isn't it?

Anyway, today--Earth Day, 2019--is the book's release date. (The first book in the series, Ecosystem, released on Earth Day last year, with the second book, The Devouring Land, tucked in between.) I'm personally very proud of this series, into which I poured a lot of my heart and soul, and I hope readers will enjoy its futuristic vision of an Earth in which the natural environment has become a collective sentience bent on humankind's destruction--and of the brave people who try to come to some sort of reconciliation with Nature. Yes, it's an allegory for our times--but even more, it's an exciting adventure story with a fiery protagonist, tons of action, and really cool monsters. So check it out and order a copy today!

Or, if you're in the Pittsburgh area and would like a signed copy, you can check out the book's launch party, which takes place next Tuesday, April 30. Here's all the information you need:


I hope to see some of you at the party, and I look forward to hearing from you about your reaction to the Ecosystem Trilogy!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

YA Guy's in... The Spring 2019 YA Scavenger Hunt!


It's my favorite time of year!

YA Guy's super excited to participate in this year's SPRING 2019 YA SCAVENGER HUNT! This is my seventh Hunt, and I've got a new novel, the concluding book to the Ecosystem trilogy, due out at the end of April (on Earth Day, of course). So I'm totally ready for the Hunt, and I trust that you are too! (I mean, why would you be here if you weren't?)

As you can probably tell by all the green lettering in this post (not to mention the banner at the top), I'm on the GREEN TEAM, along with the other awesome authors you see below:



The YA Scavenger Hunt is a bi-annual event first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! Add up the clues on each GREEN TEAM page, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in our team! There are FIVE contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! But don't delay: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will be online only until noon Pacific time on SUNDAY, APRIL 7! (I'm also running a personal giveaway during the same period of time.)

HOW IT WORKS

Directions: In the author biography below, you'll notice I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the Green Team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!). 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form to qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally. Anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, April 7, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered. For more information, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

Personal Giveaway: In addition to the prizes named above, readers who enter my personal giveaway will have a chance to win a signed copy of the three books in the Ecosystem series! Like the Hunt itself, the personal giveaway is open internationally. See below on how to enter!

Got all that? Then let's meet the author I'm hosting, AMANDA MARIN!

When Amanda was a child, her father traveled frequently for business, always bringing her back a book (or 22) as a present. It wasn't long before she was hooked on stories! Nowadays, she writes books of her own. Amanda has degrees in English from Salve Regina University and Boston College, and her favorite things include Starbucks lattes, lazy summer afternoons at the beach, and books with characters that make you go "awwww." She lives in New Hampshire with her family and furbaby, Snickers the Poodle.

To stalk Amanda, go to her website or visit her favorite social media hangouts:

Twitter: @AMarinWrites
FB: https://www.facebook.com/amandamarinwrites
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amarinwrites/

About NORTH TO NARA: Neve Hall has always admired the good works of the civil servants who brought prosperity back to the Nation. She especially respects the Sufferers--empaths who, with the help of technology, anonymously bear others' troubles for them. But when her assigned empath is abruptly retired, she uncovers certain secrets. Like the identity of her new Sufferer, Micah Ward... and the fact that behind his kind smile is a life filled with loneliness and pain.

The closer Neve grows to Micah, the more desperate she becomes to protect him from a cruel and gruesome fate. But in a world where only a few are allowed the luxury of love, saving Micah comes with a price: Neve must choose between her loyalty to the Nation or her heart--a decision that will take them both on a race for their freedom, and their lives.

To buy the book, follow this link!



****************************************************************************************************
But wait, there's more! I'm also running a personal giveaway, in which one reader will win a signed copy of the three books in the Ecosystem series: ECOSYSTEM, THE DEVOURING LAND, and HOUSE of EARTH, HOUSE of STONE!


Set on a future Earth where the natural world has mutated into a planet-wide predator, the Ecosystem trilogy tells the story of Sarah, a seventeen-year-old girl with the psychic ability to survive within the sentient Ecosystem that drove humankind to the brink of extinction. In order to protect her family and her community, Sarah must face the Ecosystem's deadliest creatures and travel to its most terrifying places. And she must decide whether to save the boy she loves, Isaac, at the cost of losing everything else she holds dear.

You can enter my personal giveaway in one (or all) of the three following ways:

--comment on this post
--follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/joshuadavidbellin
--subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter at https://joshuadavidbellin.blogspot.com/p/contact.html

Each form of entry gives you one chance at winning. The winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries.

THE SPRING 2019 HUNT IS OVER! I'll be compiling entries for my personal giveaway this week, and contacting the winner by week's end. Thanks to all who entered!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

YA Guy... Reveals All!

Okay, YA Guy admits right up front that the title of this blog post is misleading. I'm not revealing ALL (because trust me, you don't want to know!). But I am revealing the cover to the third book in the Ecosystem Trilogy, HOUSE OF EARTH, HOUSE OF STONE, which releases April 22 of this year (Earth Day, of course). Here it is, in all its glory:


Two notes about this cover.

First, though I love all of the covers my design team produced for the Ecosystem series, I love this one the most. Something about the colors, the layout, and the totally cool circlet they created based on my description in the book--perfect! I hope you like it too.

Second note: this is yet another thing I love about self-publishing. I woke up this morning and said, "Gosh, I feel like revealing the cover to my book," and so I did it. No permission needed. No hoops to jump through. Just me, on my own, doing my thing. Nice!

Let me know what you think about the cover, and I look forward to releasing HOUSE OF EARTH, HOUSE OF STONE to the world!

Friday, March 1, 2019

YA Guy... Lets Go!

Like all writers, YA Guy has from time to time permanently shelved a writing project that failed to pan out as originally hoped. Usually, this happens quite early in the writing, a chapter or two in. I'll be momentarily jazzed by an idea, but then I'll figure out very quickly that it's going nowhere.

Not this time.

A couple of years ago, I had what I thought was a great idea for a YA historical horror novel. I had the title, Polar. I had the premise: a North Pole voyage--loosely based on the final voyage of Commander Robert E. Peary--that goes horrifyingly wrong due to supernatural events. I had the narrator, a teen stowaway named Justin Morrow. As that name indicates, I also had an intertextual reference: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, in which the monster's spree of homicidal revenge begins with the false accusation and execution of Justine Moritz and ends, guess where, at the North Pole.

In short, I had it all.

As someone who's been fascinated by the North Pole voyages since childhood, I plunged gleefully into the research. I read the autobiography of Matthew Henson, the African American man who assisted Peary and who was to play a large role in my novel. I read Peary's accounts of his own polar voyages, as well as his wife's account of an earlier voyage to Greenland. I educated myself on Arctic climate and geography and peoples, on the boats and sleds and other equipment used to mount polar expeditions, on the details of polar living and travel. I read other works of fiction set at the Pole. I had so much material, I couldn't wait to start writing.

And I did start. Given the historical nature of my story, I planned out the writing to a far greater extent than I usually do, with a quite specific timeline of major events, incidents, and locations. I drafted the first several chapters, and I was pleased with the story's direction. I kept going. The manuscript swelled to over two hundred pages. The story got richer, more complex, more exciting. The end was, if not exactly in sight, at least in mind.

But then, it came crashing to a halt. The story sputtered and died. I set the manuscript aside a year ago, and I've kept trying to get back to it ever since, but without success.

I'm not entirely sure what went wrong. Looking back over it, I fear I might have over-planned, burdening my brain and my story with so much historical detail, the story never soars. Or possibly it was that I never found a compelling enough reason for my chosen narrator to be taking this journey and telling this story. I do know that I struggled with his voice, which I tried to model on early-20th-century prose but which, in the end, felt forced and flat. Supernatural elements no longer felt as frightening as they were supposed to be, and the coherence of the story suffered as a result. It started to feel like a very weirdly written history, not a novel--a chronicle, not a narrative.

Eventually, I admitted to myself that I was never going to get it back on track, and I retired it permanently.

Letting go is hard, especially with a story you've lived with and dreamed of for such a long time. Writers pour so much of themselves into their writing, it's quite painful to accept defeat, quite tempting to keep alive the belief that the pieces will magically come together. Sometimes, you get lucky. Other times, you don't. Those are the times you need to let go and move on.

So that's what I'm doing. I'm a bit too drained by this experience to pick up a new project immediately, but I'm waiting for the next inspiration. I'm hoping it'll sustain itself better than Polar did. I'm trying not to feel like a failure.

And, whatever happens next, I'm telling myself this isn't the end of the world.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

YA Guy Can't Wait for.. These 2019 Books!

YA Guy's always on the lookout for great books. Here are five from the first half of 2019--all but one of them for young readers--that I'm particularly excited about. I'll freely admit that I have a personal connection to each of the five authors (heck, I'll even tell you what that connection is), but at the same time, no one's paying or even prompting me to promote their books. I've listed them in order of release date--and the first one on the list comes out a mere week from today!

Louise Cypress, NARCOSIS ROOM (February 19). We share an agent and (sort of) a moniker--she's the YA Gal, I'm YA Guy--but one other thing we share is a love of twisty, creepy sci-fi stories. Her latest, set in a world where one's looks and identity can be surgically enhanced--or destroyed--will definitely freak you out in the best possible way.

Jessica Khoury, LAST OF HER NAME (February 26). I've loved Khoury's books since her debut, ORIGIN, and I love space operas. (I also love the artwork she drew for two of my own recent novels.) Her latest is a sci-fi retelling of the Anastasia story set in a distant galaxy, and it's just what I need to get through the wintertime.

Kat Ross, INFERNO (March 15). Way back in 2014, Ross and I met as members of a debut YA novelists' group. Since that time, she's put out some of the highest quality fantasy novels I've read, including two series that span the centuries and are linked by common characters. INFERNO, the final book in the Fourth Talisman series, promises to be yet another wickedly fun adventure into the worlds of the weird, the monstrous, and the undead.


Cadwell Turnbull, THE LESSON (June 18). Currently one of the rising young stars in science fiction, Turnbull was once a student of mine at the college where I teach. But trust me, I didn't teach him how to write this novel, a wildly imaginative tale of an alien race that settles for unknown purposes in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Nick Courage, STORM BLOWN (July 16). Pittsburgh author Courage writes the kind of books my kids loved when they were still kids. (Now the one in high school reads ancient history, and the one in college reads what she has to read for her classes.) His latest, which focuses on children battling a hurricane, sounds like a high-energy thrill ride.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

YA Guy Has... Trilogy Fever!

The final book in YA Guy's Ecosystem Trilogy is due out in April (on Earth Day, of course). Titled HOUSE OF EARTH, HOUSE OF STONE, it completes a series I first dreamed up in 2011 and have been working on pretty much nonstop for the past two years.

So I figured, while we're waiting for Book Three, what better time than now to offer readers a discount on Books One and Two? From today (which also happens to be my birthday!) through February 11, you can purchase the e-books of ECOSYSTEM (Book 1) and THE DEVOURING LAND (Book 2) for only 99 cents each. That way, you'll be all caught up on the adventures of Sarah, Isaac, Miriam, Leah, and the rest as they battle the Ecosystem, search for love, and defend the City of the Queens--just in time for the release of HOUSE OF EARTH, HOUSE OF STONE!

Here are the links. Enjoy, and let me know what you think about the Ecosystem Trilogy!


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

YA Guy Defines... Success!


What does it mean to be a successful writer?

For many writers--and, perhaps, for the general public--"success" means six-figure advances, bestseller status, big-ticket awards (including those just announced for this year's very deserving Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz Award winners).

By that definition, most of us--including YA Guy--are abysmal failures. Given the very nature of publishing, the very nature of any business venture, most people don't achieve that kind of success. Most of us plug along somewhere in the middle, perhaps making some money, perhaps not, perhaps making a career of it, more likely not, perhaps winning an award or two, perhaps not, but never becoming household names.

I've been writing since I was about eight years old. (Actually, earlier than that, but it was around age eight that I tried to write my first novel--on my mom's manual typewriter. After a page of typos and frustration, I gave up.) Since that time, and with increasing frequency from the year I started college (1983) to the present, I've produced numerous creative nonfiction essays, short stories, academic books and articles, and partial or completed novels. Some of the above has been published, some of it hasn't. None of it has skyrocketed to fame. But all of it, even the things I didn't finish for one reason or another (because the idea wasn't as good as I first thought, because I ran out of steam, whatever), has been written.

So I decided to pursue a different definition of "success," one based purely on page totals. In my calculations, I ruled out academic books and articles, as well as short pieces (fiction and nonfiction), and focused on novels. The numbers are skewed downward by that decision, considerably so, but since novel-writing was and is my highest aspiration (as it is for many writers), it made sense to me to narrow my output in that way.

For purposes of this quantitative analysis, I estimated a completed novel (whether published or unpublished) at 300 manuscript pages (except for my earliest novels, written in the years 1981-1987, which tended to be shorter, so I averaged those at 250 pages per novel). An unfinished novel--either one that I've discarded permanently or that I'm still working on--I assigned an average of 100 pages. With those estimates, here's what I came up with:

In total from the years 1981 (when I completed my first novel at age 16) to the present, I've written roughly 4,750 manuscript pages of novel-length works. This breaks down as follows:

  • On average, I've written 125 pages worth of novels per year over a period of 38 years, or about a page every three days.
  • Narrowed down to the years of my greatest productivity, from 2010 to the present, I've written about 3,900 pages, for an average of 433 pages per year. That's over a page a day for almost 10 years.
  • Limited to completed novels, it works out to approximately 3,300 pages or 366 pages per year.
  • Confined further to completed and published novels, it drops to about 2,100 pages or 233 pages per year. However, that number is unacceptably low--because, of the seven novels I've started but not finished, only three of them have been completely abandoned, so the other four might be considered "on their way" to completion and, hopefully, publication. Ditto with the four novels from 2010-2019 that are completed but unpublished; two of them will never see the light of day, but one is currently being shopped by my agent and the other I plan to self-publish.

The point is, any way you slice it, I've been pretty productive as a writer of novels throughout my life, and especially in the past decade.

Dare I say I've been successful?

Maybe yes, maybe no. If the almost 5,000 pages of novel-material I've produced in my lifetime have been complete and utter garbage, then maybe I'm less successful than delusional. But on the other hand, even if those pages have been junk, I've written them, and writing counts for something in and of itself. I like to think my success as a writer has been like my career as a writer: somewhere in the middle. No, I'm not one of the great writers of my own or any time, but I'm not a hack either. I'm a writer like most writers, producing as much work as I can that's as good as I can make it.

I hope this exercise doesn't seem merely a pep talk to myself. My purpose in conducting it was to offer words of encouragement to the many writers who are in the same place that I am: people who've been writing for years without the obvious signs of "success" that some writers have achieved. I'm thinking it would be a good idea for those writers to take the time, now and again, to redefine "success." You can do it quantitatively as I've done, or you can find some other qualitative measure: satisfaction, personal growth, positive reviews, the stranger on the street who recognized you. All of those measures (and many more) are valid, and validating.

So be a successful writer. Your own kind of successful writer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

YA Guy Hosts... Erica George, author of WORDS COMPOSED OF SEA AND SKY!

YA Guy is delighted to introduce my friend and agency sibling, Erica George, whose debut YA novel, WORDS COMPOSED OF SEA AND SKY, will be published in 2021. That seems like a long way away--but as Erica so eloquently narrates in the following post, her writing journey, like so many others', has been long and unpredictable. (I can relate: though I've wanted to be a writer since age eight, I didn't publish my first novel until age forty-nine.) For all of us who dream of publishing novels, Erica's story is a true inspiration.

So enjoy the post, and make sure to follow Erica on Instagram and Twitter so you can keep track of her as she continues her journey!



Benjamin Churchill first appeared to me when I was thirteen years old. It was a rainy December night, and my family and I were driving home from having seen a production of A Christmas Carol put on in Princeton. I was consumed by the concept of change, whether we were all capable of change, or if, for some of us, it was too late.

I think that’s why he materialized that night, riding a horse, keeping pace with the car—to help me explore this question.

When I got home, I crawled into bed, pulled out my trusty notebook from the nightstand (I still keep one there, by the way), and wrote down everything I knew about Benjamin Churchill, a character that would stay with me for twenty years.

He’s changed a lot since then. He’s been British, he’s been American, he’s been in the Navy, the Army, and then finally I decided he was going to be a whaler. He’s been surrounded by multiple casts of characters, he’s been the main character, and now he’s a supporting character. He’s also been shelved for most of this time.

I’ve always been a writer, a teller of stories, but I didn’t think I was capable of being published until after college. I had just completed my teaching degree and was working with a group of fifth graders. We were reading a fairy tale retelling (that no one was particularly fond of), and one of the students said, “You know, I think you could write a better version of this.”

It was a challenge, but I did it. Having no idea what to do with a completed manuscript (well, at least I thought it was completed), I sought the advice of my neighbor who I knew was a writer as well. She invited me to join her writer’s group, and that’s where everything really started coming together for me.

Writing is a fairly solitary occupation, and it’s easy to be intimidated and keep your work to yourself. This was the first time I was sharing my writing with a group of like-minded people. I received feedback (some positive, some constructive—mostly constructive), and I kept working. Finally, when I felt like I had polished my fairy tale retelling, I decided to attend the New Jersey conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Something must have possessed me, because I also signed up to pitch my book to an agent.

As I waited in line for my turn, I kept rereading my pitch, trying to memorize every word. I was shaking. I was sweating. I could just picture myself trying to describe my book, something so personal and close to me, to someone who just wouldn’t be interested or see my vision. Finally, I sat down in front of Liza Fleissig, took a deep breath, and got halfway through my pitch before she stopped me and said, “I want you to send me the whole thing.”

You’d think the shaking would stop there, but no. Cue more incessant nerves.

Liza signed me as an author at the Liza Royce Agency in 2014, and I was positive, absolutely certain, that it would be smooth sailing from that point forward.

Only no one can truly prepare you for your personal voyage to publication. I figured that because it had been so easy to secure an agent, my book would obviously be snapped up in a second by an editor. That book ultimately didn’t go anywhere. My next two made it farther than that, but ultimately went nowhere as well.

Writing is hard, and giving up is so much easier. But I’ve wanted to be an author since I was little, since I sat in the children’s section of my local library, piling up books to bring home and devour. Books were my constant, and I knew that simply reading stories wouldn’t satisfy me forever. I had to write them. I had to hold my own book in my hands.

It was only this past year that Benjamin Churchill resurfaced for me, and this time, he took the form of a Yankee whaler. He was always tied to the sea, but I finally realized where he belonged, what his story actually was.

My Young Adult novel, Words Composed of Sea and Sky, debuts in Summer 2021 from Running Press Kids/Hachette. It’s told in two alternating points of view, one of Michaela, a girl living on present-day Cape Cod, writing poems in an effort to escape her home life, and the other of Leta, a girl living in the same town but during the height of Yankee whaling, who also uses poetry to escape the social conformities of her time.

You’ll find Benjamin Churchill among the pages, too.


About Erica: Erica George is a writer of Young Adult fiction and a graduate of The College of New Jersey with degrees in both English and education. She resides in scenic Hunterdon County, New Jersey, but spends her summers soaking up the salty sea air of Cape Cod. Many themes of Erica's writing rotate around environmental activism and helping young people discover their voices. You can find her writing, whale watching, or engrossed in quality British drama with her dog at her side.

Twitter/Instagram: @theericageorge