27 June

What Does “Clean” YA Mean?

What Does “Clean” YA Mean?

Here at Blink, we publish clean young adult fiction and nonfiction, and every so often I have a reader ask me what “clean” means. It certainly isn’t meant to be the opposite of “dirty,” and it also isn’t meant to imply that the content doesn’t tackle tough topics. So here’s what clean does mean:

  • Clean YA comes in all shapes and sizes—fantasy, contemporary, historical, and even thrillers. It deals with real issues real people face, whether that’s overcoming a loss, facing a challenge, or finding where you fit in the world.
  • A clean book would earn a PG or PG-13 rating at the movies. Like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), we look at use of language, mentions of drugs and alcohol, sexual content, and violence to decide if a story fits the bill. Generally, the main characters in clean YA don’t swear, drink, or progress beyond kissing, and they only resort to violence when absolutely necessary.
  • Unlike with the “clean edit” of a song, this genre doesn’t take a gritty book and bleep out the swear words. These books are written with the intention of having clean language and content from the get-go.
  • Authenticity is important. Just because there is no cursing doesn’t mean the voice of the main character isn’t true to teens. In fact, because clean YA follows stricter guidelines, it is even more important that the storytelling is pitch-perfect and characters feel true to life.
  • Protagonists in clean YA are not perfect—far from it! But they often are the types of heroes and heroines who don’t give up, even when they’re facing seemingly impossible odds. Their attitudes are meant to inspire readers to be stronger and more confident no matter the situation.
  • These stories are written for everyone. Clean YA isn’t only intended for younger or conservative YA readers, but for anyone who loves a well-told story.

Blink was created almost three years ago to publish the clean YA that readers want. We had librarians and booksellers asking for those types of books, and we thought “hey, we could do that!” Now our imprint is home to award-winning and bestselling authors and dozens of beloved books. Check out the titles Blink publishes on our Books page, and if you’re interested in finding more to read, you can ask your librarian for recommendations or search “clean YA books” online for extra ideas!

I wanted to close this post with some recent tweets from bestselling author Ally Carter, who is one of the queens of clean YA. She is pointing out the need for writing in this genre, and we’re so glad we are able to provide books to readers around the world! Show your support by tweeting about why YOU love #CleanYA.





21 June

Blink Authors: Any Vacation Plans?

Now that summer is OFFICIALLY here, our Blink authors are sharing their summer vacation plans! Keep reading to see what they are up to this summer break…

Lorie Langdon: I’m headed to Indian Rocks Beach with my hubby and two sons.

Denise Grover Swank: I’m taking my kids to Universal Studios. We’ve never been so we’re excited—Harry Potter World!

Jonathan Friesen: I’m thinking about hauling my family to Singapore. And back again, of course.

Luke Reynolds: My wife, Jennifer, just submitted her PhD dissertation, so we’re all hoping to go to York, England where she defends her work!

Carol Lynch Williams: I run a giant writing conference that is smack dab in the middle of June. I spend the first few weeks of summer preparing for the conference, a week at the conference, and the next few weeks trying to recover from the conference. My vacation will be at home. That’s where I am most happy. We  have a new house and I’m slowly changing it with my daughters, painting, doing little remodels, stuff like that. It doesn’t seem like a vacation to others, but that makes me happy.

What are your summer break plans? Check back later this week for more Summer Fan with the Blink family!

20 June

Book Brag! It Started with Goodbye


Happy longest day of the year, readers! In honor of all things summer, it’s my pleasure to announce next year’s spring/summer release, It Started with Goodbye, a sweet and quirky contemporary novel with a Cinderella twist.

Here to celebrate the announcement of this book with me is author Christina June. She is a debut author and high school counselor, who loves spending her summers eating ice cream, strolling farmers’ markets, playing tourist in her own city, and binge-watching Felicity, Gilmore Girls, and Lost for the millionth times.

JM: Hi, Christina! So excited to introduce the world to It Started with Goodbye. Tell us about how you came up with the story and how it feels to be publishing your first novel!

CJ: I’m excited to be here! I’ll save my inspiration for the next question. As for how it feels to be a debut author? So many things at once. I am elated, terrified, and humbled in equal parts. It is a great honor to be able to share my words with readers. The young adult book community really knocks my socks off with their passion for great stories.

JM: It Started with Goodbye is a bit like a modern fairytale retelling. What was your inspiration for including a Cinderella theme?

CJ: It was literally an abandoned shoe. I was walking into work the Monday after the Homecoming dance and there was a dress shoe lying on the side of the road. There are a lot of Cinderella-inspired stories, and for good reason, since all of us can relate to feeling treated unfairly in some way. I wanted to make my heroine someone who questions the rules she’s living with.

JM: Your main character, Tatum, is certainly not the type of girl who sits around and waits for her happy ending—she creates her own. What do you love most about Tatum?

CJ: I love that she thinks she’s right all the time, sometimes to a fault. I’m sure my parents will agree when I say she’s a little like me at that age (and maybe also now). I admire that she always does Tatum the best way she knows how and she doesn’t apologize for it.

JM: Tatum is a graphic designer. Do you have any artistic talents, or are you living vicariously through her?

CJ: Writing is my biggest creative outlet these days, but once upon a time in high school I was a theatre and choir nerd. The first big show I saw was Cats when I was 5 and I tried to hide under the seat when the actors danced in the aisles. I still love watching musicals though, especially on Broadway—who wants to take me to see Hamilton?!

JM: Sneak peek. What is your favorite line from the whole story? (Yes, I know it’s hard to choose!)

CJ: This is like making me choose between chocolate and peanut butter! Okay, if I have to choose, this is probably my favorite—mostly because of what happens because of it. This is an email Tatum sends after listening to a particularly emotional piece of music:

That completely wrecked me. Bravo.


And if you want to know who she sent it to and what comes next…..well, you’ll just have to read the book!

Thanks so much, Christina! Readers, stay tuned for more posts on It Started with Goodbye and from Christina, and be sure to preorder the book at the links below. Also visit www.ChristinaJune.com/ for more info on preorder perks and special events such as:

  • Exclusive content and bonus chapters
  • Playlist featuring Tatum’s favorite songs
  • Graphic design contest
  • Local events and launch party info



About It Started with Goodbye

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh…and maybe even get her happy ending along the way. A modern play on the Cinderella story arc, Christina June’s It Started with Goodbye shows us that sometimes going after what you want means breaking all the rules.

About the Author

Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become—whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal—the east coast of the U.S. and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington, D.C. with her husband and daughter. See more at www.ChristinaJune.com.


About the Cover

Love the cover as much as we do? Check out the exclusive cover reveal story with YA Highway here.


15 June

Book Brag! The Lost Girl of Astor Street

Hello, readers!

Jillian Manning here, one of the Blink YA editors. I’m so excited to introduce you to our upcoming title, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, in which 18-year- old Piper Sail must uncover the truth behind the disappearance of her best friend, Lydia, in 1924 Chicago.

Here to celebrate the announcement of this book with me is author Stephanie Morrill. She’s a veteran of the YA industry as the author of the Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt and Ellie Sweet series, and she’s also one of the leaders of Go Teen Writers, a website that helps young writers learn their craft and uncover the behind-the- scenes world of publishing.

JM: Welcome, Stephanie! We’re thrilled to talk about Lost Girl with you. Tell us a little bit about the inspiration for the book.

SM: Thanks for having me, Jillian! I had the idea for the book a few years ago when I was putting away laundry. My thoughts were wandering (as they often do when I’m doing something like laundry!) to Downton Abbey because I had just gotten hooked. And then I was thinking how I wished another season of Veronica Mars would magically appear, because I miss that show so much. Then I thought, “How fun would it be to write some sort of Veronica Mars meets Downton Abbey type of story?” I wasn’t totally sure yet what that looked like, but I’ve never been so instantly excited about a story idea!

JM: Your main character, Piper, is clever, headstrong, and totally awesome. Was Piper’s character based on anyone you knew?

SM: I would love to say she’s based on me, but I get nervous just venturing to the unfinished part of my basement! But no, Piper is all a product of imagination. Except for when she says she always tries to lead when she dances. My friend Kelli said that about herself once, and I unapologetically stole it.

JM: Lots of people love the Roaring Twenties—it was an era of great change and great fashion! How did you research the novel, and what were some of the craziest facts you uncovered?

SM: Before I started writing this book, all my knowledge about the 20s came from reading The Great Gatsby, so I had a lot to learn! I read lots and lots of books (there’s a complete-ish list on my website) about fashion and food and organized crime and daily life. I will limit myself to three things about the 20s that I found fascinating:

Health care for women really improved over this decade. Any guesses why? Because in 1920 women won the right to vote, so issues that mattered to women finally started to matter to politicians.

Because refrigerators and freezers were primarily owned by wealthy people, the fashionable foods of the day were mostly cold and frozen items. If you were invited to a swanky luncheon, you would have been served foods like frozen cheeses, frozen fruits, and frozen salads. Yummy…

I’ve always loved the iconic flapper look—drop-waist beaded dresses, cloches, long necklaces. It’s much less fussy than all the fashions that came before. Never had it occurred to me that the fashion of the day was born out of the role of women changing. Along with women winning the vote came the movement for equality between the genders, and we see that in the curveless shape of the dresses and the bobbed hair.

JM: 1920s Chicago wasn’t all glitz and glam. Tell us what you learned about the darker side of the city, especially when it came to the mobsters Piper has to face.

SM: When selling alcohol was outlawed, there were of course people who were ready to make a profit selling it illegally. (The documentary, Prohibition, by Ken Burns is fabulous.) The mafia was already in the U.S. and had been for a while, so they were already organized. But the prohibition bureau was under-staffed, under-funded, and completely new; they were working from behind from the start. With the amount of money a person could make selling alcohol—even bad alcohol—and with the nation split on their beliefs about prohibition, it was fertile ground for corruption.

JM: This story—full of adventure and romance and mystery—is really about friendship. Is there anything Piper wouldn’t do for her friends?

SM: Probably not! Piper doesn’t warm to people quickly, but she’s fiercely loyal to those whom she loves.

Thanks so much, Stephanie! Readers, stay tuned for more posts on Lost Girl and from Stephanie, and be sure to preorder the book at the links below. Also visit www.StephanieMorrill.com/LostGirl for more info on preorder perks and special events such as:

An evening with the author and editor: video chat with Stephanie and Jillian to talk about the publishing process, the Roaring Twenties, and more!

Exclusive Lost Girl content and bonus chapters

Playlist featuring Piper’s favorite 1920s songs

Hair and fashion guide to looking your best in 1924




About the Book

With a Veronica Mars meets Downton Abbey twist, Stephanie Morrill’s atmospheric, jazz-age mystery will take readers from the glitzy homes of the elite to the dark underbelly of 1920s Chicago.

When her best friend vanishes without so much as a good-bye, eighteen-year- old Piper Sail takes on the role of amateur sleuth in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. Given that Piper’s tendency has always been to butt heads with high-society’s expectations of her, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t give a second thought to searching for answers to Lydia’s abduction from their privileged neighborhood.

As Piper discovers that those answers might stem from the corruption strangling 1924 Chicago—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

About the Author

Stephanie Morrill lives in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and three kids. She is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into a Published Book, and the Ellie Sweet series. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog, www.GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrill.com.

About the Cover

Love the cover as much as we do? Check out the exclusive cover reveal story with YA Books!



08 June

What is on your MUST READ list for this summer?

Curious what’s on our Blink YA Books authors reading lists this summer? We have the scoop! Keep reading to find out and let us know what is on YOUR reading list this summer.

Lorie Langdon: This could be a LONG list, so I’ll limit it to my top three: SUMMER BY SUMMER by Heather Burch, A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT by Sabaa Tahir, THE CROWN by Kiera Cass

Evangeline Denmark: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Jonathan Friesen: As I mentioned earlier, summer is a big outdoor time for me, and reading doesn’t take over until fall. That said, I have NEVER read a graphic novel, and it is about time I jump on that bandwagon. I don’t know where to start, so if you know of some awesome titles, let me know. You will be creating my summer reading list!

Luke Reynolds: BOOKED by Kwame Alexander; THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY by Laurie Anderson; THE POWER AND THE GLORY by Graham Greene.

Carol Lynch Williams: This year’s award winners. Plus, I have lots of friends who publish so I’m interested in whatever they are writing. An editor just sent me J Scott Savage’s Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution. I can’t wait to read this. I love the first book of that series Fires of Invention.

Check back next week for more summer fun from the Blink family…