24 February

#BlinkBlog: Reading Lists + Goals

A new week means another new Blink Blog!! What are our author’s reading right now? And what are their goals for 2019? Keep reading to find out…

What has been on your reading list so far this year?

Alison Gervais: So far my reading list has been comprised of mostly Blink authors, like: No Place Like Here by Christina June and Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill. Sadly I don’t have as much time for reading as I once did, so I hope that changes soon!

Annie Sullivan: I finally read One of Us is Lying and The Glittering Court. And I just started Seafire, so I’m excited to see where that one leads! I’m also excited about some novels like Warriors of the Wild and Finale! It’s going to be a good year for books.

Carol Williams: I’ve just finished The Martian and Big Little Lies (Books for adults! Who-da thunk it!). I’m rereading Catherine, Called Birdy and Walk Two Moons and just finished Boxers, American Born Chinese, You May Already Be a Winner, Calvin and now I’m reading an arc of Scary Stories for Young Foxes plus my very own signed copy of Hearts Unbroken. For awhile there I wasn’t reading anything. But I’m trying to make up for lost time. And I’m loving every minute of it!

Christina June:  I just finished the wonderful FRONT DESK by Kelly Yang.  I read it with my daughter and it sparked many thoughtful conversations about equity and racism and how we treat others.  I loved YOU’D BE MINE by Erin Hahn, coming out later this year, as well as the brilliant audiobook of BECOMING by Michelle Obama.

Courtney Moulton: So far, I’ve devoured MIRAGE by Somaiya Daud and THE SOURCE by James A. Michener.

 Heather Hepler: Mostly I’ve been catching up with some science fiction that I’ve missed. Philip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft are at the top of the list.

Heather Maclean: Whenever I’m writing fiction, I can’t read it because it messes with me, so I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately. On my list (actually on my bedside table) right now: Girl, Wash Your FaceMolly’s Game and Like She Owns the Place.

Jill Williamson: So many books! I’ve read Stephanie Morrill’s Within These Lines, Mary Weber’s To Best the Boys, and Roshani Chokshi’s The Guilded Wolves. I’ve also read a lot of middle grade fantasy. (I figured I need to read more if I’m going to teach readers in this age group!) I’ve enjoyed The Last Kids on Earth, Wings of Fire, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, and A Snicker of Magic. Oh! And The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, which wasn’t fantasy, but it was amazing. I highly recommend it!

Joan Lester: Reading several books at once, as usual. Jacqueline Woodson’s wonderful Harbor Me (YA), Mary Pipher’s inspiring Women Rowing North (other end of the age spectrum), and the harrowing Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli. Quite a spread!

Kimberly Gabriel: I’m currently reading Katy Loutzenhiser’s If You’re Out There, a YA thriller that releases in March, and I’m listening to American Panda by Gloria Chao on Audible. Because I love listening to books Audible, I’m always reading two books at once. Other books I’ve recently read and loved include Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton and other debuts: Just For Clicks by Kara McDowell, The Art of Losing by Lizzie Mason, and Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte. Next up on my list, I have Caleb Roehrig’s Death Prefers Blondes and Maureen McQuerry’s Between, Before, and After.

Lauren Mansy: I’ve been re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia series and loving it just as much as when I was a kid!  A book coming out later this spring that I’m so looking forward to reading is Finale by Stephanie Garber. I really enjoyed Caraval and Legendary, and I can’t wait to see how this magical series will wrap up!

Lorie Ann Grover: Along with Kwame Alexander’s Swing, I’ve read Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye is in my stack, and I’m reading through The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. Karen Armstrong’s The History of God and Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh rounds out my non-fiction reading.

Lorie Langdon: What has been on your reading list so far this year? A lot of fantasy! I’m writing fantasy and reading is the best inspiration. I just finished The Wicked King, by Holly Black, and ordered Enchantée by Gita Trelease. But my most anticipated read this year is Finale!  The Caraval Series by Stephanie Garber is my absolutely favorite series right now.

MarcyKate Connolly: So many things! I’ve got Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton and The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner on the top of my list, and after watching (and loving!) the new A Discovery of Witches series on Sundance, I must re-read the books. I haven’t had time to read much yet, but I am determined that this year I will read more books than last year (all of 3 – the adjustment to life with a baby was…quite a shock to my normal reading habits to say the least!).

Maureen McQuerry:  First I’m a sucker for beautiful writing and atmospheric books. My taste skews literary, so fair warning. I just finished  The Light Between the Worlds by Laura Weymouth. TLBW explores what happens to kids who return from magical worlds like Narnia as they grow into teens in our every day world. Can they really leave the magical world behind? It isn’t as easy as you might imagine. The book has some very dark moments, but it is hopeful in the end. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers. In honor of Mary Oliver’s passing, I’ve been reading her poetry collection Evidence. I’m a big Mary Oliver fan. I read Stephanie Morrell’s Within These Lines and was captivated by the story of two teens, a budding romance and  lives upended when Japanese American citizens were sent to internment camps.

McCall Hoyle: I’ve been reading lots of middle grade and adult fiction and lots of animal books, especially dog books. Think: A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s JourneyThe One and Only IvanThe Art of Racing in the Rain. And guess what? My family just adopted the sweetest golden retriever. His name is Gordon, and he’s dying to make an appearance in a future book.

Stephanie Morrill: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was FANTASTIC and lived up to all the good things I’ve heard about it over the years. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, a beautifully written story about a time in history that I knew nothing about. The Lilac Girls, which is an unflinchingly honest look at WWII through the eyes of a New York City socialite, a female doctor at Ravensbruck concentration camp, and a female prisoner at Ravensbruck. The book is beautiful, but hard to read at times.

It’s still early in the year. What do you hope the accomplish through the rest of 2019?

Alison Gervais: I hope to accomplish a lot of things throughout 2019, but the main thing would have to be getting back into writing. It’s been far too long since I’ve been able to get lost in the words of a project of mine, and I can’t wait for that. I’d also like to focus on improving my mental health too. Moving halfway across the country away from my family has been an extremely big change for me, and one more difficult than I anticipated. It’s been tough, so I’m making plans to return to counseling. Everyone needs a little extra help now and then, and counseling is great!

Annie Sullivan: I’m wrapping up writing the sequel to A Touch of Gold, so that is my biggest priority right now. I can’t wait for readers to see where Kora ends up on her next adventure. There may not be pirates, but there might be satyrs, and sirens, and mysterious islands. Oh my!

Carol Williams: More writing. More reading. More laughing. Necessary weeping. And lots of good eating.

Christina June: I want to continue seeking joy in my writing.  I’d like to survive my book launch.  And I’m looking forward to a fair bit of travel over the year, including taking my daughter on her first international trip this summer.

Courtney Moulton: My number goal for 2019 is to finish my next book, which I am so in love with and can’t wait to share with the world!

Heather Hepler: I’d like to start seriously fostering dogs. I can’t have too many animals around, but for the sanity of my family, I have to keep the permanent members to two or three.


Heather Maclean: I hope to travel to Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France to research and finish writing the sequel for Toward a Secret Sky!

Jill Williamson: Well, as I mentioned, I’m hoping to attend grad school. The program starts in May and runs for eighteen months. Also on my To Do list for this year is to finish my new YA fantasy novel and get it to my agent (hopefully before school starts). I’m also hoping to plan a writing retreat with authors Stephanie Morrill and Shannon Dittemore to write a companion book to Go Teen Writers: Edit Your Book–this one would be on writing the first draft.

Joan Lester: I hope to sell a memoir I’ve worked on for five years, and then get back to a YA novel for which I have a contract. Will be another real change of pace.

Kimberly Gabriel: I’m looking forward to releasing Every Stolen Breath later this fall, and I hope to have a fun and successful launch. I’d also love to finish my current WIP, another YA thriller that starts with a dead girl, a gamer, and a bus stop bench. From there it spirals out of control with secrets, revenge, social media, regret, denial, and, of course, murder.

Lauren Mansy: I’m so excited for 2019! I’m absolutely thrilled that my debut novel The Memory Thief will be coming out this fall, and finishing up those edits is definitely at the top of my list! I’d also love to spend as much time as I can with my nephews in California, and I’m hoping to pick up a few new hobbies…if I can bullet journal and bake a perfect batch of biscotti by the end of 2019, I’ll consider this year to be a winner 🙂

Lorie Ann Grover: I’m practicing being present, being kind to myself and others, and working to support the restoration of justice when I have opportunity. I hope to continue to share encouragement through board books and novels. My board book series, Wonderful Me launches in September. Here’s to 2019!

Lorie Langdon: It’s still early in the year. What do you hope the accomplish through the rest of 2019? Professionally, my goals are to finish writing my current portal fantasy novel. Then I have two other novels, a time-travel set during the Revolutionary War, and a spin-off of Olivia Twist, that I plan to revise. On a personal level, I’d like to start a writer’s group at my church and spend more time with family and friends!

MarcyKate Connolly: Write ALL the books! I have books to edit and sequels I’m very excited to draft. I always have lots of projects in the works in addition to my contracted ones, and I’m hoping to get a couple of those polished up this year, too.

Maureen McQuerry: So much! I have two more novels buzzing to get out into the world, another I’m itching to start writing that involves time travel, and a special, secret  project for younger kids I’m working on with my son-in-law. And I miss poetry. I’ve neglected it for too long and those poetry muscles are weak. I want to strengthen them again. I’d also like to go to Patagonia. A friend just went and the photos are amazing. And maybe taking a calligraphy class?

McCall Hoyle: The last couple of years have been busy with book travels. This year I hope to focus on fun family travels to some of our favorite spots: the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Asheville, North Carolina, St. Augustine, Florida, maybe even Disney.

Stephanie Morrill: I have a huge list, including a couple new book ideas that I’m eager to write, but the hardest item to cross off this year will likely be potty-training my three-year-old! He’s convinced that he should be in diapers forever.

22 February

#BlinkBlog: Looking Ahead To Spring

It’s been a cold (and long!) winter! We asked our Blink authors what they were most looking forward to this Spring. Read below to see their answers… and share your responses on Facebook and Twitter with us.

It’s been an incredibly cold winter! What are you most looking forward to this Spring?!

Alison Gervais: I’ve been enjoying the cool temperatures on the West coast, so my winter has been pleasantly mild! I’m looking forward to traveling to even more beaches and spending as much time in the sun as I can – while writing, of course.

Annie Sullivan: That polar vortex hit me hard (and broke my furnace), so I am ready for warmth, warmth, and more warmth. I can’t wait to take my dog walking outside. I love warm weather—the hotter the better—and can’t wait to just be able to spend time outside without freezing!

Carol Williams: Every time it gets cold I stay inside. I HATE THE COLD. But there are ways to combat that: go to bed early and read. Make sure your electric blanket is on and that you’re covered with heavy blankets. I do have to leave the house when I teach (boo!) and that makes me look forward to warmth again. I look forward to flowering trees, crocuses pushing up through the snow, and going for walks again. Also, I think my four chickens and one turkey ALSO are looking forward to warmer weather. I’m wishing I knew how to train two of my dogs not to run off when I let them outside alone. Unfortunately, I haven’t done that so I have to go and stand outside in the snow. (sigh)

Christina June: Obviously the release of NO PLACE LIKE HERE on May 21 is top of my list!  I actually enjoy winter and snow and curling up under cozy blankets, but I do love seeing everything get green and being able to ditch my heavy coat and mittens.

Courtney Moulton: This Spring, I look forward to sunshine and green grass, and spreading the word about my new book WARDENS OF ETERNITY!

Heather Hepler: I can’t wait for the tulips and daffodils I planted to come up! I love bulbs – the surprise of them when one morning you step outside and your garden has gone from brown and grey to yellow and pink and orange.

Heather Maclean: I cannot wait to attend TomeCon in Georgia in March! I love meeting readers more than anything, and I’m hopeful that there will at least be buds on the trees and some sunshine!

Jill Williamson: I’m looking forward to starting school! I’ve decided to go to grad school and earn my masters in teaching. I’d like to teach fifth or sixth grade.

Joan Lester: I look forward to FLOWERS. Magnolias are in bloom now in northern California where I live…their fragrance fills the air. I look forward to all the flowering fruit trees coming, and azaleas and foxgloves. The colors!

Kimberly Gabriel: Living in Chicago, I’m eagerly anticipating spring, especially after the -50 degree temperatures we just survived. Springtime gives my family and I a chance to be outside again. I have three young kids who love to be outdoors biking, playing sports, visiting parks, walking along the beach, picnicking, or exploring the city. Regardless of what we’re doing, springtime allows us to release our pent-up energy and be active.

Lauren Mansy: As much as I do love peppermint mochas, I’m beyond excited to put this chilly weather behind us! For me, a perfect spring day is being outside as much as possible. I love taking walks with friends, eating meals out on the patio, and of course, opening all the windows while I tackle some spring cleaning. There’s nothing better after being cooped up inside all winter!

Lorie Ann Grover: I suppose travel for that last bit of ski season. With autoimmune diseases, I’m no longer able to ski with my husband, but I love sitting in the lodges and writing while he hits the slopes. I’m working through a revision of a brand new YA novel, while completing the Firstborn trilogy.

Lorie Langdon: It’s been an incredibly cold winter! What are you most looking forward to this Spring?! I live in Ohio, so I always look forward to the Spring! This year, I’m looking forward to my oldest son’s graduation from high school and a family trip we are planning to celebrate!

MarcyKate Connolly: Going to the park with my toddler. I cannot wait to explore with him. The spring will also bring lots of bookish fun and events such as TLA and BEA which I’m very excited about!

Maureen McQuerry: This is the snowiest Feb in the history of Richland, WA, the town where I currently live. I love the snow, but I’m looking forward to the first green leaves on the trees, hiking in the mountains, and traveling without worrying about road conditions. Truthfully, I have terrible spring allergies!  Spring is beautiful, but I’m  tempted to wear a bubble helmet to filter out all the pollen. Upside: I’ve started allergy shots again and that might help. Downside, I’ve started allergy shots again. Are there any other allergy sufferers out there? I worry the plants might kill us all. Hey, that might be a good plot for my next book.

McCall Hoyle: Three words: sun, sun, and more sun! Not only has it been really cold this winter. It’s also been really rainy here in Georgia. But the birds are coming back. The sun is rising earlier, and it’s setting later. So yay!

Stephanie Morrill: I’m looking forward to going for runs outside again and letting my treadmill gather some dust!

04 February

#Blink Blog Author Spotlight: Maureen Doyle McQuerry


In honor of the release of Between Before & After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry, we have a special author spotlight interview!

What was your inspiration behind Between Before & After?

I grew up in a household of secrets. I knew my grandmother died in the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, and I’d heard my father’s stories of life as an orphan on the streets of Brooklyn. I also knew there was more to the story, and I was able to observe first-hand the effects of that early trauma in my father’s life. I was intrigued by the way one event, the flu pandemic, could change the trajectory of so many lives. I also had question about resiliency. Why do some people manage to thrive despite difficult circumstances and others do not?

My stories always start with questions I’m grappling with. During the many years it took me to write Between Before and After, some of the questions about my own family were answered. I met two brothers, I never knew existed. After being raised as an only child, this thrilled me, and it gave me a glimpse into the person my father might have been.  The book is dedicated to my new found brothers.

What makes this period of history so special?

I became interested in 1918 because of my family’s connection to the Spanish Flu and the more I researched, the more I realized how little most people know about the pandemic that killed over 600,000 people in the U.S. that’s more than died in WWI! The era really came alive to me when I traveled to Brooklyn and took a tour of some of the old landmarks and locations I read about in my research. I was fortunate to have an older, long-time, NY resident as my guide.

During I also discovered the locations where my relatives lived, and most poignantly found the single grave several Irish immigrant ancestors shared.

I grew up in pre-Silicon Valley California, so I was fascinated to learn more about the San Francisco Bay Area of the 50’s when there were more fruit orchards than tech companies. It was a land and a time full of dreams and promises. People were moving in droves to the suburbs like San Jose to pursue the great American dream. Everyone seemed to be from somewhere else and they each brought their own culture and stories with them.

What do you hope readers take away from Between Before & After?

A sense of hope and of wonder which is so important in becoming resilient people. I also wanted to explore the idea of redemption, how difficult circumstances and bad choices don’t have to define us. Even our own stories can surprise us and it’s impossible to predict the ending.

How are you reflected in Between Before & After (or, how much of you is reflected in the book)?

Like Molly, I was always curious and full of questions. In fact, my nickname When I was little was “question box.” I also aspired to be a “real” writer one day. I didn’t think it would happen, and I’m thrilled that it did. There’s a bit of Elaine in me too. I’m a striver, who works hard to pursue her goals, and I’m a bit reserved at first. I think there’s a bit of each character in me, but none are me completely.

Both settings were important in the life of my own family and so were the historical events in the novel.

Get your copy of Between Before & After HERE.