Here’s the latest update from my newsletter!


As winter turns to spring, there’s a hungry, wild energy in the air; thanks to the many, many days of rain here in L.A., the hills are lush and green for the first time in years, and in my garden alone, the hyacinth, lilies, and sweet peas are all dancing in their blooms. My favorite, the massive jasmine bush is bright and full; its intoxicating scent carries through the entire neighborhood. 

I’ve been talking to many people who have said that they’re feeling this energy in their work, that after months of creative drought, they’re suddenly feeling bursts of inspiration, a need to express themselves via writing, painting, dance, and more. I, too, have been writing more; I must partly give thanks to the shifts in season, but I also have been traveling and attending many festivals. I am always invigorated by these days, when I am able to meet readers, hear many thanks for my stories (which is so humbling), and talk to other writers about the craft of writing and the process of creation. As Rachel Carson writes, “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” Creation itself is an antidote to destruction, and considering the selfish, destructive work of the current presidential administration, as well as the fear, greed, and hate motivating those who support his policies, we need all of the positive, creative, outspoken, critical, and hopeful voices now more than ever.  

This Saturday, I’ll be at the Ontario Teen Book Fest, where I’ll be giving a keynote speech on Fear and Writing, for just as much as we can be afraid in these wild times of change and response, we also need to be brave. (And to be honest, one of my biggest fears is public speaking (!!!), so I’d love to have you in the audience – you can catch me when I faint!) 

 Saturday, March 25, 2017

Keynote Speaker

Ontario Teen Book Fest

Ontario, CA


Over the next few weeks, I’ll also be at the 2017 Literary Orange Fest and the L.A. Times Festival of Books. I hope to see you there! 

 Saturday, April 1, 2017

2017 Literary Orange Fest

Teen/YA Panel

Moderator: with Sherri L. Smith, Elise Allen and Rachel Cohn

Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa

900 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660


Saturday, April 23, 2017

L.A. Times Festival of Books

Young Adult Fiction: Who Do You Think You Are?

Moderator: with Rachel Cohn, Robin Benway, and Lilliam Rivera

I’d love to hear about your acts of creation! Please send me a note or tag me in your posts on FB, Twitter, IG, etc.! I FIRMLY believe that together, our many acts of creation can change the world. 



I’m SO incredibly honored to see that

HOW TO BE BRAVE is on Barnes & Noble’s most recent list of Must-Read YA Books About Loss, alongside other AMAZING books by Jeff Zentner, Jason Reynolds, Adam Silvera, Margo Rabb, Kekla Magoon, Jandy Nelson, and Nina LaCour.


A few pics from my recent adventures: 

I hope to see you soon! 

With gratitude, 


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Happy Valentine’s Day to you, my friends! I just sent out my first newsletter in three months. May you be filled with courage and humility, as well as confidence and vulnerability, and may your day be filled with love.

      I write stories about girls.

      I write stories about girls who are searching for their voice.

      I write stories about girls who are searching for truth.

      I write stories about girls who are searching for love – and not just the idealized, romantic version – the girls in my stories are searching for something different: a strength of self that is rooted in their own worth, a kind of love that requires both courage and humility, confidence and vulnerability.

      Today is Valentine’s Day, and talk of love swirls all around. It’s a day to celebrate what I see as the highest form of truth: a feeling about both self and others that stems from respect, kindness, and a desire for connection.

       There is also the swirling talk of resistance – and yes, I’m talking political resistance against the new presidential administration. I, like many of you, have been struggling the past few months, especially in terms of my creative life. The days before a book release are exciting – there are reviews, blog posts, giveaways, and of course, the party itself. After that wonderful energy subsides, I like to return to the quiet, creative place of writing. My second book released on November 1, and then eight days after, much of what I thought I understood about the world was shattered by the results of the election. Instead of choosing a leader who embodied a hopeful future and who was committed to the values of equity and social justice, many in my nation chose a leader who is unquestionably racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, greedy, and narcissistic. When my ten-year old daughter asked how he could have won and what the future held, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to explain how the world could have chosen such man and worse yet, what it means, for girls like her, that our newly-elected president continuously and unapologetically disrespects women, minorities, immigrants, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, those who live with disabilities, and the poor and struggling.

      I couldn’t explain it to myself.

      (I write stories about girls who are searching for their voice.)

      In the days after the election, I was lost.

      And so, I stopped writing.

      It really didn’t seem like there was any point.

      Like many, I spent my time reading obsessively, trying to understand what it meant that white supremacists, billionaires, and fringe bigots who justify their positions in pseudo-science and all-out manipulation of facts, would soon hold influence in our White House. There were no good answers, no logical explanation or solution. I couldn’t understand. Many of you know about my lifelong struggles with depression and anxiety. I fell into this place again. I was utterly hopeless and desperate for change.

      Thankfully, as it has many times during my life, a book saved me. (And, I must add, loads of self-care, check-ins with my health care professionals, my practices, and –yes – medication.) In January, I read HOPE IN THE DARK by the amazing Rebecca Solnit, which she originally wrote in response to the Second Gulf War. In it, Solnit delineates the many victories of social justice that are often ignored by history books, and she calls for a rhetoric of hope, defining hope as the very thing that will change the world for the better:

        “It’s important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is, or will be fine….The hope I’m interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act….Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand.”

      Solnit also talks about the power of story and highlights the very fact that positive change starts with story. She quotes George Orwell, who wrote, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past,” and then she adds: “Controlling the past begins by knowing it; the stories we tell about who we were and what we did shape what we can and will do. Despair is also often premature: it’s a form of impatience as well as of certainty.”

      It was the exact thing I needed to read. It was the exact thing I needed to hear.

      Hope matters.

      Stories matter.

      Our resistance matters.

      I was reminded of why I became both a teacher and a writer. Both are rooted in my desire to effect change and empower others to live with dignity and freedom.

      Solnit’s book (as well as her Facebook feed) also propelled me to act; I started making my daily phone calls to my representatives, attending political action groups, and marching in the streets. I also spoke at two school board meetings about the need for a safe zone resolution to protect the rights of undocumented families and other vulnerable communities in this new age of fear. In the process, I’ve been finding beautiful connections my community as well as strength in my friends, both old and new. I’ve also been finding some newfound strength in myself.

      (I write stories about girls who are searching for truth.)

      I’ve also started writing again. This new protagonist is searching for her place in a world that thinks of her as less than:

          which is to say she is searching for truth,

          which is to say she is searching for justice,

          which is to say she is searching for love.

      Much has been said about not normalizing the rhetoric of hate. The thing is, for many  – women, minorities, queer folk, immigrants, the poor – this is nothing new – the world has always contained hate and fear. We must also acknowledge that every day presents a wealth of struggles – confusion, sorrow, despair – that is the story of being human. However, the newly established regime that seeks to turn back the progress of the last century is new, and it must be resisted.

      When I was sixteen, an older relative laughed at me. I was president of the Eco-Club, a devout environmentalist, and an unapologetic idealist. This older relative said, mockingly, “Wait until you grow up. One day you’ll learn how the world really works, and all of your idealism will be destroyed.” 

      That’s one choice. It’s a pretty easy one, deciding that the world is hopeless, that we are powerless, that we just need to sit back while those with selfish ambitions take over the world.

      I turned forty this year, and I have to say: it’s still not the choice for me.

      (I write stories about girls who are searching for love.)

       Rebecca Solnit writes: “Pay attention to the inventive arenas that exert political power outside that stage or change the contents of the drama onstage. From the places that you have been instructed to ignore or rendered unable to see come the stories that change the world, and it is here that culture has the power to shape politics and ordinary people have the power to change the world.”

      We are the ordinary people who have the power to change the world.

      I am an ordinary person who writes stories.

      I write stories about girls.

      And what I write matters.

      I choose hope. I also choose idealism and the unknowable. I choose to act, today and tomorrow. And above all, I choose love.

I’d love to hear about the work you’re doing to make positive change in the world!

With love and peace,


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Many writers talk about books that are the “stories of their hearts.” My first book, HOW TO BE BRAVE, was most definitely that since it is told through the eyes of Georgia, a Greek-American teenager whose mother passes away. I am half-Greek, and my father died when I was seventeen, so much of the story, in terms of its exploration of grief and loss, identity and love, came directly from my heart and my life.


My second book, THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER, is equally the story of my heart in that Vivana is seeking a life filled with love and trust – trust in those around her, and even more importantly, trust and confidence in herself. To celebrate its release, I’m doing a preorder campaign, as well as several giveaways – all the details are below!



Step 1: 
by midnight on November 1, 2016 – hardcover or ebook: 

IndieBound  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks|
Book Depository  | Kobo  | GooglePlay  | Target

Step 2:

Simply email proof of purchase to ekatwrites at
You can forward your order confirmation, take a photo of the receipt,
or take a screenshot of your order – whatever works for you.

You can delete or mark out any personal information, but even if you don’t,
I promise I won’t use or share your information in any way.

**Include the following in your email:
-Your name and mailing address. Make sure this is exactly as it should be on the envelope!

That’s it! 
I’ll email you when the swag pack is sent,
so if you don’t hear from me within two weeks,
send your email again in case it was lost to spam.


1) Is the preorder offer international? 
I’m so sorry! Not this time! But hopefully, next time I will be able to do international as well.

2) What if we order multiple copies?
Then you get multiple swag packs, plus a surprise!

3) Did you make the charms yourself?
YES! That means that each one is unique and each imperfect in its own special way. The book is about accepting imperfection, and so the process of sitting down with clay and being utterly frustrated by its inability to follow my directions was a practice in patience and focus, which I am always working on. I also put my own heart into each charm, and so I hope that when you carry it with you, you find stillness and grace in your own perfect imperfections.

close up of white charm
4) What are the quotes on the signs?
I truly believe that when we listen to our hearts, we find that the best possible answer lies within.

These are the two quotes from the book that are written on the signs:

“If I listen to my heart, if I trust in that voice that sits deep in my soul,
that untouched being of truth – I know it’s there –
I will discover the answers eventually.”

“I will live this life the only way I know how.
With love at its core. With love in my heart.”

Let me know if you’d prefer one quote over the other.



5) Why a meditation?
In THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER, Viviana is a driven honors student and the daughter of parents who have extremely high academic expectations for her. As a result of both these expectations and an exposing mistake Viviana made in sharing a nude photo with her boyfriend (who proceeded to send it to the entire school), Viviana suffers from severe anxiety and panic attacks.

This aspect of Viviana’s story is quite personal for me. As some of you know, in addition to writing for teens and I teach English full-time at the community college level, and I am also a certified yoga teacher. I am a teacher and faculty advisor to the Pasadena City College Yoga and Meditation Club, where students explore contemplative practices, or practices that encourage mindfulness, specifically those that focus on the balance between the mind and the body and allow students the chance to continually reconnect with their goals and have a solid base so they can realize success healthily. As is evidenced in both my writing and my daily work, I am interested in the relationship between the body and the mind, and I am always eager to find ways to bring inquiry about this relationship to both my readers and my students.

So I offer all of this, including a guided breathing meditation which I’ve found has been healing for me, as a gift to you. Thank you for supporting my work.

And to further mark its release, as well as to celebrate the support I’ve received from authors who I have deep respect for – and to celebrate YOUR support of my writing, I am holding FOUR GIVEAWAYS in the next three weeks.

Jessica Love, author of IN REAL LIFE, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of FIRSTS, and Charlotte Huang, author of GOING GEEK, all read my book early and lent their support, which I’m honored to say is on the back of the cover.

Each week, starting TODAY, I’ml holding a giveaway of an ARC of THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER, plus a signed copy of one of their books! How awesome is that! In order to enter, simply share/RT on Twitter/Instagram/FB. Click on the picture to RT the tweet and enter to win!

Also, keep an eye out, because in a few weeks, I’m going to be revealing the trailer for THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER! Perhaps some of you remember the amazing interactive trailerNeha Dutta directed for HOW TO BE BRAVE that functions like a choose your own adventure. I promise, this new one will be fun, too!

Finally, if you’re in or near L.A., I’d love to see you at the launch party!  



And a special thanks to all the new followers and subscribers.
I had so much fun participating in the YA Scavenger Hunt this year. It’s always a thrill to connect with others who love everything YA.

I’d love to hear how you’ve been brave today.

As always, thank you for your support and enthusiasm.
And thank you for all that YOU give to the world!


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YA_ScavengerHunt_WebBannerWelcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was 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! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are eight contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the

Computer generated image with clipping path - Team.

–there is also a red team, an orange team, a blue team, a green team, a teal team, a blue team, a purple team, and a pink team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.


Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve hidden my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the gold 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 here to officially 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.

Oct 4, noon PST- The hunt begins!

Oct 9, noon PST- The Hunt ends–winners selected.

Oct 11-Winners Announced!

To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Oct 9, noon PST, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


Today, I am hosting

Stacie Ramey

on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!

As it happens, we both have our second books coming out on the exact same day this year, 11/1/16! How awesome is that!

And as it happens, 11 is one of my very favorite numbers!

Stacie learned to read at a very early age to escape the endless tormenting from her older siblings. Where the Wild Things Are was her first favorite book and she swore she’d only marry a man who could prove he had rumpus in his heart! She graduated from the University of Florida, and Penn State(Go Gators). Her first book, THE SISTER PACT (Sourcebooks) was released in November 2015. Her sophomore novel, THE HOMECOMING (Sourcebooks) is due out November 2016.

Find out more information by checking out her website or find more about her book here!



They say you can never go home-and John’s about to find out just how true that is. John’s mother kicked him out of the house when she couldn’t handle his anger, and John’s spent the last few years bouncing between relatives. But after his last scrape with the law, there’s nowhere for him to go but home.Starting senior year at a new high school and fitting into the family that shut him out is a challenge. And it’s all that John can do to keep from turning back to bad habits. Lacrosse training helps him focus. As does Emily, the girl next door. She’s sweet and smart, and makes him think his heart may finally be healing. Maybe he’s ready to trust again. But tragedy has a way of finding John, and he must decide between saving his family or saving himself.


Are you ready for some behind the scenes bonus material about THE HOMECOMING?

THE HOMECOMING was actually the first novel I ever wrote (back in 2009) even though it turned out to be the second book I published. When I sold it to Sourcebooks, we went back and forth about a title. When my editor at Sourcebooks proposed THE HOMECOMING, I wasn’t a fan. But then I started to think about how, like John Strickland, the main character in the book, everyone deserves a good home, and that resonated with me.

As I get closer to launching this book, I want to capitalize on both of the feeling of yeah-I love-that-title and the hmmmm it might be a little rah-rah-cheesy. Here’s a sneak peek into how I organize a book launch party.

I am planning at least three parties in different locations and I am asking fans to write to me on my website if they want me to add one near them.

The parties will be a mash-up of sincere and snarky. There will be a float building contest. We will elect a Homecoming King. There will be a visit from a (secret) celebrity! There will be specific secret decorations that play to the themes in the book with some specific pieces from the book itself.


We will have a balloon arch for pictures, a special tattoo made to represent John, our hero, and best of all, a portion of the proceeds will benefit animal rescue programs in the cities/towns surrounding the launch because everyone deserves a good home. So to sum up. We will have a ton of fun. We will take a lot of pictures. We will help puppies and dogs and maybe even kittens. Yay us! yash-big-dog1

I know I’m making this book sound like it’s just about the party (although parties are sort of my jam), but it’s also about families and recovery and being accepted and forgiving. Oh and it’s also about young love. Because. Yeah. We all love that.

Here’s a tiny excerpt featuring my favorite characters, John and Emily:

I almost consider cancelling my date with Emily because my head is still so messed up from the emotional lobotomy Steve dished out, but sitting at a table for two at Joey’s Pizza, my control is almost back, and my checkout plan is one doctored Coke away from getting started. Emily folds her slice in half, pulls pieces of the melted cheese off the end, takes tiny bites, sucking the sauce off of her finger, and it’s so cute it almost makes me laugh.

“What?” she demands.


“Sorry I don’t eat salads like the girls you’re used to.”

“How do you know what kind of girls I’m used to?”

“I’m pretty sure I could guess.”

I put my hand over hers. “Don’t.” My eyes are serious but not angry.

She goes back to picking at the cheese on her slice. She smiles. “Soooo, new conversation?”

“Probably best.” I nod soberly but add a smile so she knows I’m still playing.

I drink my Coke, letting it cool me inside and out. Then I pull out a flask I’ve filled with Jack. She watches as I pour a small splash of my favorite drink into my soda. Much smaller than if I was going to be drinking this alone.  “This is why you should have ordered a soda, but don’t worry, I’ll share.”

“You’re incorrigible,” Emily says.

“That’s just a big word for sexy, right?”

And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Stacie Ramey, and more! Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the gold team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!


To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, the wonderful founder of YASH, Colleen Houck!


In addition to a copy of HOW TO BE BRAVE for the main YASH contest, I’m giving away a copy of my second book, THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER, hot off the presses!

(Note: Publication is November 1, 2016, so the books will be sent after that date.)

Click here to view this promotion.
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Happy September! 

The countdown continues!  

THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER releases in less than two months!


I can’t tell you how excited I am!

As I’ve learned since the release of my first novel almost a year ago (A YEAR AGO!!), book launches are exhilarating experiences – and they are also incredibly scary! As writers, we take our hearts, pour them into the world of story, and then we hand them off to strangers.

I know that many of you are writers, artists, teachers, and givers of one sort or another, and that you are quite familiar with this experience. 

I offer my stories to the world the only way I know how – with love in my heart.

Of course, it is my deepest desire that readers will connect with Vivi and her struggles, but I am fully aware that the level of connection that occurs is not up to me! It makes the experience of writing and publishing is a true practice in vulnerability for me. And as Brene Brown says,

“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection. 

I wholeheartedly agree, which is why

I want to thank you for reaching out and expressing continued interest in my writing. 

It means the world to me! 


I also wanted to let you know that my publisher, St. Martin’s Press/ Griffin Teen, is hosting a giveaway on Goodreads of 50 advanced reader copies of THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER!
This is a GREAT chance to get YOUR hands on an early copy of the book! 

I’d love for you to enter, and I would be eternally grateful if you would post a review on Goodreads and any other retail site (Amazon, B&N, Indiebound, etc.)
once you’ve finished reading! Thank you in advance!

Click here to enter!

And one final thing:


to the 



Vroman’s Bookstore, Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA

November 5, 2016, 4pm

with Charlotte Huang, author of GOING GEEK

& Amy Spalding, author of



As always, thank you for your support and enthusiasm!

I wish you continued success in your vulnerable moments.

Thank you for all that YOU give to the world! 


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Happy happy June!!

I don’t know about you, but I am READY for summer!


And I am hitting the road in less than eight days for a road trip!


Before I leave town, I’ll be at LitFest Pasadena this Saturday June 4 in…you guessed it: Pasadena!

2:15 – Vroman’s Upstairs
YA Writers: Reports from Inside Publishing’s Growth Industry
E. Katherine Kottaras, Jen Klein, Michael Mullin, Diana Wagman; Lisa Beebe Moderator

Then, next week, I’ll be traveling to my hometown of Chicago, where I’m thrilled to have three book events with these amazing authors!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Barnes & Noble Teen Book Fest, 7pm

with Eileen Cook and Michelle Falkoff

Oakbrook Center, Oakbrook, IL

Saturday, June 11, 2016

2pm with Eileen Cook

Anderson’s Bookstore, Naperville, IL

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Printer’s Row Lit Fest, 2pm, South Loop Stage

with Eileen Cook, Denise Grover Swank, Erica O’Rourke, and moderator Nora Schoenberg

Chicago, IL

AND THEN! I’ll be driving south to St. Louis and Nashville where I have MORE book events scheduled with even MORE amazing authors!

Monday, June 20, 2016, 7:00 p.m.

Hot Summer Teen Reads with E. Katherine Kottaras, Sarah Jude,

Zac Brewer, and Kat Zhang

Left Bank Books, St. Louis, MO

June 28, 2016, time TBD

with Ashley Herring Blake, Jeff Zentner, and Courtney Stevens

Barnes and Noble

Brentwood, TN on Mallory Lane (also called Cool Springs)

So, to kick off and celebrate this summer of taking HOW TO BE BRAVE around the country, I’m doing a GIVEAWAY! 

Copy of HOW TO BE BRAVE Summer Giveaway

 Show me how YOU are going to be brave this summer,

and I’ll dress you up in a pretty Modcloth outfit!

Remember, there are ALL kinds of ways to be brave! (Doesn’t have to be throwing yourself out an airplane or ziplining into oblivion.)

I want to see YOURS!

cat flyingzipline

summer dance

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I hope you’re having a lovely spring! I’m gearing up for a bunch of super fun events coming up in May and June, in California and in the Midwest! See my events page for my traveling schedule.  In addition to the great event coming up, I have some fun news to share below! 

 Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 10.05.04 PMLocal friends, this Saturday is the first ever Tots, Tweens, and Teens Book Fest, hosted by Bridge to Books and Once Upon a Time at Pasadena High School. There will be many wonderful kid lit authors, from picture books up through YA, so it’s perfect for the whole family. I hope to see you there!

I’ll be moderating a panel with Elana K. Arnold, Aaron Hartzler, Michelle Levy, and Ingrid Sundberg from 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm, with a signing after. 

Click here for the full schedule. 


To my surprise and delight, more great reviews have come in for HOW TO BE BRAVE!

Midwest Book Review says,

“HOW TO BE BRAVE is an exceptional novel that will hold the reader’s rapt attention from beginning to end. Deftly crafted.  Will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library YA Fiction collections.”

VOYA says, “This inventive novel is more complex than its misleading yet pretty cover suggests. A debut novel, HOW TO BE BRAVE is a strong opening for Kottaras.”

And last but not least, next week, May 18-22 is I READ YA Week.

YA author extraordinaire, Sara Santana, invited me to talk about why I read, write, and LOVE YA lit.

Read the interview here!  

I’d love to hear what you’re reading to celebrate! 

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