23 December

#BlinkBlog: Goals For 2019

As 2018 comes to a close and we approach a new year, we asked some of our #Blink authors to share their goals and advice for 2019. Read their answers below!

What are your goals—not resolutions—for the New Year?

Alison Gervais: This is a really tough question. I’ve never been good at sticking to goals, let alone creating them. But I’d like to gain more confidence in myself and my writing, stay on top of my mental health, and be as supportive as possible during this first year of my husband’s enlistment in the military.

Annie Sullivan: My goals for the new year are to spend more time writing and reading, which might sound obvious, but my schedule has been so busy that I haven’t had as much time as I’ve wanted to sit back and do those things. I also just want to live in the moment more and enjoy everything as it comes.

Christina June: Keep writing.  Write for me. Connect with more readers, librarians, teachers and booksellers.  Listen and learn. Lift up marginalized voices in the kidlit community.

CJ Lyons: 2019 is my year to take my craft of writing to the next level. I will be exploring new techniques and am already signed up to both teach and take master classes (I learn as much when I teach as I do as a student—and I can *always* learn more!)

Heather Hepler: I want to spend more time with family and friends and less working. I want to laugh more. And I definitely want to figure out a way to travel somewhere again for an extended time. I spent last winter in Mexico and it was one of the hardest, but best things I’ve ever done.

Laurie Boyle Crompton: I have a few book projects I’m excited to spend some time working on and I’m THRILLED for the release of PRETTY IN PUNXSUTAWNEY Jan 15th so that’s a goal achieved! I’m also trying to be more intentional with my screen-time. Watching movies and conducting research is far more productive than scrolling mindlessly through social media. Less scrolling equals more time to write!

Maureen McQueery: So many both personal and professional. Number one is to truly see the people around me and remember that I have never “met a mere mortal.”

More travel! Hiking in the Dolomites, exploring the village my family came from in Ireland.

Always to improve my craft. I want to get better at writing subtext.And I have another story or two I would like to slip into the world. We’ll see what happens!

McCall Hoyle: My goal for 2019 is to be grateful, to revive the habit of writing daily in a gratitude journal, and to focus on all the simple little joys and blessings I have a tendency to overlook when my life becomes overly booked.

Stephanie Morrill: One of my goals is to be a better fan. I have lots of books and podcasts and products that I love … but I’m not great about sharing them or leaving reviews. In 2019, I want to take some intentional steps to more vocally support what I love.

How would you encourage Blink readers to help others in the New Year?

Alison Gervais: I think one great way to help others is to first help yourself. It’s easy to lose sight of yourself and your needs when the only thing you focus on is everything else around you. You matter, you’re important, so take care of yourself, and you’ll be better able to help others when it matters most.

Annie Sullivan: Be kind. It takes nothing to be kind to one another. Reach out to people, especially someone who has been isolating themselves recently. Take the time to really check in on one another and reconnect outside of social media.

Christina June: I would encourage readers to do what I’m doing.  Listen and learn. Lift up marginalized voices in the kidlit community.  Look for ways, even small ones, you can use your privilege to make someone else’s life better.  I love those memes that say “Equal rights for all does not mean less rights for you. It’s not pie.”  We all have the power to ensure other feel heard, seen, and welcomed.

CJ Lyons: Take a moment to sit down, turn your phone off, and think about what you are truly grateful for at the deepest level—more than your circumstances, but for the entire community. Then stand up and do something, whether donating money, time, or just spreading word of mouth, to help everyone share in that gratitude.

If you’re thankful for your health, reach out and help kids suffering via Unicef or learn more about Doctors Without Borders and their work. Maybe your family has survived a disaster like the recent fires in California—how can you help others be better prepared, while also helping yourself? Check out the Red Cross courses or your local Community Emergency Response Team (both offer free training).

Or maybe you’re passionate about the environment or social justice or some other cause that has given you the chance at a life that others around the world (or even in our own country) can only dream about. How can you make a difference?

It might be as simple as supporting an author whose books have changed your life, inspired or empowered you to see the world differently. Buy an extra copy and donate to your local library or share it with a friend.

Your five minutes of gratitude might open the door to a world of change!

Heather Hepler: Sometimes I think we try to hard, thinking it has to be a big plan with lots of moving parts, but I think helping others is in the smaller moments. It’s saying hello and smiling. It’s complimenting someone. It’s really looking at someone when they are talking as if he or she is the more important person in the world.

Laurie Boyle Crompton: I think the best way we can all help others is to just really pay attention to those around us and watch for opportunities to show we care. Oftentimes that just means listening to someone who is feeling frustrated or upset and then letting them know you hear them. There are lots of ways to help out with volunteering of course, but sometimes people just need to feel seen.

Maureen McQueery: Be kind. Help when you can. Point people to wonder. It is truly all around them even in the darkest places. I love this quote from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard:

“The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside by a generous hand. But- and this is the point- who gets excited by a mere penny? But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.”

McCall Hoyle: I think each and every one of us has special gifts and talents and believe that one of the greatest gifts we can give to others is the sharing of those gifts and talents. I would encourage Blink readers to do some soul searching and brainstorm some creative ideas for sharing those gifts with the world. I think I have the ability to inspire others to reach for the stars and a calling to teach others how to read and write. My plan for 2019 is to use those gifts to lift up and inspire the teenagers I teach in public high school and the women I teach in prison.

Stephanie Morrill: I’m learning that helping others sometimes means being uncomfortable. It means not asking a friend IF I can bring her a meal, but asking her WHEN I can bring her a meal. It means not just speaking out about an issue on social media, but also giving my time and dollars to bring a solution. My encouragement to others is to find one small step you can take towards being a little more helpful/generous/empathetic, and take that step.

17 December

New Year, New Reads Await


It’s hard to believe the hustle and bustle of the holiday season will all too quickly be behind us. It is my hope that your holiday season is filled with joy. And, as we look toward the new year, I want to share some of the exciting titles Blink has in store for you. So, find that cozy reading spot by the fireplace and get ready to lose yourself in new adventures that will take you on journeys of nostalgia, self-discovery, and romance.

Whether you’re a fan of the 80s or love a good John Hughes movie, we have a really fun read for you! Pretty in Punxsutawney, by Laurie Boyle Crompton, is the perfect Groundhog Daymeets Pretty in Pinkmashup. Andie, a senior in high school, finds herself in an endless loop of her first day at her new school. She’s convinced true love will break this curse. As she seeks out this love, she begins to look beneath the surface to see people for who they really are, realizing we all share similar hopes, dreams, and hang-ups. It releases on January 15. Your inner 80s child will thank you for reading this book. #TodayIsWhatYouMakeIt

If historical fiction piques your interest, be sure to pre-order a copy of Between Before & After from Maureen Doyle McQuerry. This beautifully written story explores the nature of family secrets, resiliency, and redemption. It’s told in dual narratives between 1918 New York City and 1955 San Jose, California. The author’s personal connection to this story is just as intriguing as her book. In 1918, the Spanish influenza, the largest flu pandemic the world has seen, arrived. Maureen’s grandmother died in the third wave of the epidemic, leaving behind three children; the oldest was her father.Between Before & After, which releases February 5, 2019, tells a story of hope and the bonds of family.

Within These Lines from Stephanie Morrill explores war, love, and racism. Although historical fiction, as this novel is set in 1941 San Francisco, the themes woven throughout are issues still relevant today. Within These Linesfollows the inner-racial love story of an Italian-American girl and a Japanese-American boy torn apart by racism during World War II. The moving story is  powerful, thought-provoking, and a book you don’t want to miss. It releases on March 5, 2019, and is available for pre-order now.

We hope these titles will find a place on your bookshelf or in your classroom. At Blink, not only do we want to provide readers with clean YA choices, we believe in providing thought-provoking stories that help each of us grow as individuals in our world.

Happy Reading!


Annette Bourland
Publisher, Blink

10 December

#BlinkBlog: Christmas Memories & Traditions

With Christmas just weeks away, we asked our Blink authors about their favorite Christmas memories and traditions. Read below to see what they share!

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What are your favorite Christmas memories? 

Alison Gervais: Most of my favorite Christmas memories involve my family in one way or another. There are too many to pick from!

Annie Sullivan: My favorite Christmas memories are decorating the house the day after Thanksgiving, going to pick out the Christmas tree (with three siblings, it was always a competition to see who would be the one to find the lucky winner), and making Christmas cookies. All of these memories involve time spent with my family and the traditions I still love doing today.

Christina June: Aside from the actual holiday, I like the anticipation of Christmas and all the festivals and markets that pop up in December.  We always make a trip to the National Zoo for Zoo Lights, where a selfie with the naked mole rat made of out twinkle lights is a must!

CJ Lyons: My favorite Christmas memories when I was a child are from when I was around ten or eleven and was finally old enough to help play Santa for my younger siblings. I had great fun hiding their presents and sending them on elaborate scavenger hunts or wrapping them in fun (and tamper-proof!) ways.

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized by delegating Santa duties to me, my parents also received the gift of more time for themselves!

Heather Hepler: Decorating the tree with my family was (and is) a special tradition. We have boxes of old ornaments. Some are from my grandparents. These are beautiful, silk ribbon drums and hand-carved nut crackers. But there are also sad salt dough candy canes from when I was young and pompom elf that looks more than a little frightening.

Laurie Boyle Crompton: I grew up in western Pennsylvania, but my parents are both from New York and so we would travel there to visit family for the holidays every year. The car ride took about seven hours and I’d inevitably fall asleep, but not before giving my parents explicit instructions to wake me up the moment we got to the George Washington bridge.

Waking up to that view of Manhattan all lit up was such a thrill. And then I loved watching the Christmas decorations grow from string lights on balconies in Brooklyn to lawn decorations in Queens, right up to my grandma’s Christmas tree in her front window with presents underneath it for me. I still love the NY skyline at night, and mostly moved to NY just so I can see it more than once a year.

Maureen McQuerry: For five years, when our children were young, our entire family danced in the Nutcracker. Claire, our budding ballerina, was everything from a mouse to a snowflake. Our son was Fritz and, not to be left out, my husband and I were parents in the party scene. Our Christmas cards featured all of us in costume.

McCall Hoyle: Honestly, I could write an entire book about my favorite Christmas memories. My dad loved, loved, loved the holidays. His love trickled down to my siblings and me, and we’ve passed that along to our children. I’m pretty sure my twenty-two-year old daughter still believes in Santa Claus. If she doesn’t, she certainly believes in the “spirit of Christmas”. My favorite memory would have to involve the day-after-Thanksgiving traditions of dragging out the Christmas albums. (Yes, they were albums when I was a kid.) Then we would decorate the tree and drink hot chocolate, and light a fire–even if it was too hot for a fire in Georgia–and sing, and laugh, and make plans for the upcoming holidays.

Stephanie Morrill: As a kid, we rarely traveled on Christmas, so most of my memories are me and my parents around the tree exchanging gifts. I treasure that so much that now that I’m a parent, my husband and I have saved Christmas morning for just us and our kids.

Does your family have any Christmas traditions? 

Alison Gervais: My family and I have always have pizza for dinner on Christmas Eve, then midnight mass at our church, and afterward we all open presents. Now that I’m married, I suspect my husband and I will get to create all new sorts of Christmas traditions with both our families, which is an exciting prospect.

Annie Sullivan: We have a few traditions. Everything from putting a nativity scene above our fireplace to hunting for a pickle-shaped ornament on Christmas morning to see who gets to open the first present. But my favorite tradition is having a big breakfast together before we open our presents.

Christina June: We celebrate Polish-style with a Christmas Eve Wigilia and do a more casual Christmas Day meal.  Everyone gets new pajamas on Christmas Eve!

CJ Lyons: Our family’s favorite Christmas tradition, handed down for over two hundred years (my mom’s side of the family was here before the American Revolution), is baking the ugliest cookies you’ve ever seen.

They’re mincemeat cookies (the name alone turns off many! And way back when they did actually have meat in them). The recipe has no measurements other than “glugs,” “pinches,” and “dashes.” Making them is not cooking or baking but rather an artistic feat as the recipe varies according to temperature, humidity, phase of the moon.

They come out of the oven looking like lumpy mud pies fashioned by a toddler. But then you take that first bite and the flavors start dancing in your mouth and…suddenly a recipe that makes twelve dozen isn’t near enough!

Heather Hepler: It seems our tradition is lack of tradition. One year we went to New York City for Christmas where we ate deli food and walked through Central Park. One year we did the twelve days of Christmas, opening a gift a day. This year we bought a lemon tree instead of a traditional Christmas tree because buying a dead tree in the middle of a parking lot seemed incredibly sad to me. Plus now we’ll have lemons in the spring!

Laurie Boyle Crompton: Dressing the pups up in their festive Christmas outfits and attempting to get a group shot is one of my favorite holiday activities. We also love to visit the shop windows in Manhattan every year and of course visit the tree at Rock Center. Also, my daughter pointed out once that each year we get into a big family argument about where the Christmas tree will look best and then always set it up in the same exact spot in the living room. Traditions are important I suppose!

Maureen McQuerry: We love mysteries. So we create elaborate or funny or obscure clues for every present. The giftee can’t open the gift without three attempts to guess the contents based on the clues. Sometimes the clues lead them on a treasure hunt. Sometimes they test their ability to make weird associations.

McCall Hoyle: We have lots of Christmas traditions at the Hoyle house. One of my favorites is family movie night. Most Saturday nights in December involve piles of blankets, pillows, popcorn, and the whole family piled in the living room in front of the Christmas tree, re-watching Christmas movies we can mostly recite the words to. My absolute favorite is Elf.

Stephanie Morrill: One of my favorite things we do with the kids every year is make hot chocolate, load up in the van, and drive around town looking at Christmas lights. Our kids are 11, 8, and 3, so it’s hard to find something that we all enjoy, but that’s one of them!