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Coming Soon...

As you might have noticed, we have a new look here at the League! But that's not all...starting in February, we're going to have a new schedule of topics and a brand new set of authors to help us celebrate dystopian, science fiction, and spec fic writings!

Now that we've launched two more of our authors' books, we're going to take a few days to get re-organized and come back roaring with new blog members and other awesome things. So stick around to find out who's joining our ranks as new League Authors!

Shades of Earth = Set-Up for Awesomeness

First a bit of housekeeping ... the winner of the complete ACROSS THE UNIVERSE trilogy is ... Jaime K!  Congrats!

If you've read ACROSS THE UNIVERSE and A MILLION SUNS, then you know that Beth Revis has mad skills for setting up tension and drama and mega excitement.

SHADES OF EARTH seems to promise even more thrills and chills.  And many opportunities for drama. Here are a few:

1. You've got a society of shipborns who has spent their entire lives cooped up on a space ship. How are they going to react to the wide open spaces of a new planet?

2. Then there are the frozen scientists waiting to be awoken (including Amy's parents). How are they going to get along with the shipborns?

3. Elder is in charge now ... but can he stay in power with all the new challenges that await?

4. How is Amy's dad going to react to Elder?

5. Is the planet the refuge they've been seeking? Or will it bring death and destruction?

So many questions!! Plan to read this when you've got a big chunk of time, because I suspect you won't want to put it down.

Happy launch week Beth!

Guest Interview with Beth Revis

Beth Revis’ first novel, Across the Universe, was an inspiration for me. I loved how she grabbed the reader with such a visceral, memorable opening chapter. She’s shown how YA readers can be entertained by a story set on a spaceship, disproving the myth that “girls don’t read science fiction,” with her bestselling trilogy.

Today, the week that the final book, SHADES OF EARTH, is released, Beth takes time from her crazy schedule to talk to us - Lissa

First of all, how does it feel to finish this incredible trilogy? Is it a feeling of relief, from finishing such a major project? Or is it sad to say goodbye?

It’s such a relief! I’ve never felt the slow-wheels of publishing before now, but I’ve been dying to have this book out for what feels like ages. I’m very happy with how the whole thing turned out, so that made it much easier for me to let go.

I understand there is a murder in Shades of Earth that is your favorite scene?

There is. I don’t want to give anything away as to who kicks the bucket, but I’ll say that it’s one of the scientist’s deaths about half-way through the book. I wish I had a video of myself typing that scene. I was literally on the edge of my seat, my fingers pounding on the keyboard. As soon as I finished, I made my husband listen to me read that scene aloud—and I never do that! I was just so excited to kill that character off like that!!

Do you have any sense, either from fan mail or otherwise, what percentage of your fans are girls vs. boys? Teens vs. adults?

No idea at all—and it doesn’t actually matter that much for me. I’m writing for readers, not a demographic. I’m a bit worried that if I focused to much on who my “audience” is, I’d forget to write a good book; I’d be too focused on pleasing some idea of my ideal reader. My publisher labels my books as “teen,” and that’s fine, but I’m not writing for teens. I’m writing for everyone. Let’s talk about “the grass is greener” for a moment.

If you could trade places with any author, who would it be?

No one. As much as I like other books (and as much as it would be fun to invade JK Rowling’s brain space for a bit!), my writing is a part of my life, and my stories come from me. I can no sooner imagine trading places with another author than I could imagine swapping lives with someone else!

Is there a book that you wish you had written?

I wouldn’t mind the royalty checks from some other books ;) But in general, nope—I value my favorite books in part because they’re such a surprise to me. And they wouldn’t be a surprise if I’d written them :)

Switching to publishing, what’s the nicest thing your publisher ever did for you?

Send my book into space! I still can’t believe that it’s actually happened. I am so amazed that they took my crazy idea and totally ran with it. When I first pitched it to them, I seriously expected to be laughed away. I mean, honestly, what publisher sends a book into space?! My publisher, that’s who! That was absolutely fantastic.

Readers, if you don’t know about this, it’s all here.

So you are the Queen of promotion and publicity, one of the hardest workers I know. You throw contests for your readers that have the most humungous prize packages. How do you balance that with writing? Are you some scheduling wizard?

HAHAHAHANOOOOOO. I am TERRIBLE at schedules. I basically come up with crazy ideas, set them in motion, and then procrastinate until I realize that I’ll totally be a loser unless I do ALL THE THINGS at once. This includes writing books. I’ll totally be irresponsible until I can feel the deadline breathing down my neck, then I panic and spend weeks doing 10k a day.

Love knowing that you’re human! What’s next for Beth Revis and is it going to be science fiction again or fantasy?

I can’t say! But I can confirm that there will be something else.

Is there anything else you’d like the League readers to know?

My favorite part of Across the Universe was the chapter that had only one sentence. My favorite part of A Million Suns was the page that has only one word. My favorite part of Shades of Earth is the blank page.

Beth Revis is the author of the NY Times Bestselling Across the Universe series, published by Razorbill/Penguin in the US andavailable in 17 countries. The first book in the trilogy, Across the Universe, is a “cunningly executed thriller” according to Booklist, and the second book, A Million Suns, was hailed by the LA Times as “a fast-paced, action-packed follow-up.” A former teacher, Beth lives in rural North Carolina with her husband and dog.

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Finishing a Trilogy -- SHADES OF EARTH

Okay, so Beth's last book in the Across the Universe trilogy hit shelves yesterday! Be sure to get your copy today!

I simply can't wait to find out what happens in this book. It's rare for me to see a series all the way through to the end, but Across the Universe and A Million Suns have both been so intriguing and powerful that I can't help but be bouncing in eager anticipation of Shades of Earth. (In fact, I pre-ordered it on my Kindle, so it's possible that I've already finished it by now -- but I'm writing this post early.)

I wanted to talk about trilogies today, and mostly because of what I've already admitted: I don't normally finish them. I'll admit it, I get bored. Bored with the same style of writing, bored with the same world, bored of the same characters. I just figure that there are so many books out there, so many new characters and worlds to explore, and I want to read about them all.

As an author myself, I know it takes some serious fortitude to write a trilogy and not want to gouge out your own eyes. That said, Beth did such a fantastic job of making A Million Suns more than a bridge book. (If you haven't read it yet, you must!) The plot of AMS really pushed me toward the resolution I know I'm going to find in Shades of Earth.

I'm sure Beth has some bittersweet feelings on finishing her trilogy. But mostly, I know she's excited to share the conclusion to what truly has been one of the best trilogies I've ever read.

Need to catch up or refresh your memory on Across the Universe and A Million Suns? Visit the tumblr here.

Want to read a new short story, As They Slip Away? Do it here!

Oh, and enter to win signed copies of Across the Universe, A Million Suns, and an ARC of Shades of Earth!

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What are some of your favorite trilogies? Besides Across the Universe of course...

Launching SHADES OF EARTH by Beth Revis

This week we're celebrating the launch of the final book in Beth Revis' New York Times bestselling trilogy:  SHADES OF EARTH.


Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience. But this new Earth isn’t the paradise that Amy had been hoping for. Amy and Elder must race to uncover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together.

But as each new discovery brings more danger, Amy and Elder will have to look inward to the very fabric of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses?

Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been meaningless.

What critics are saying:

“A tense and delicious ride — one that satisfyingly brings the series full circle.”
 –The Examiner

“[Revis has a gift] as a propulsive storyteller with a knack for jarring surprises and raising the stakes.” –Booklist, Dec. 1, 2012

“[Shades of Earth] brings it home on a planet far from home.”
–Kirkus, Dec. 1, 2012

Some freaking cool extras and contests:

  • The ACROSS THE UNIVERSE novella, AS THEY SLIP AWAY, is available for the low, low price of FREE.  Download here.
  • Penguin is sponsoring an awesome contest to launch SHADES OF EARTH into space. (Yes, I said space.)  Details here.


All this week you can enter to win signed copies of the whole darn ACROSS THE UNIVERSE trilogy, including:

  1. Across the Universe (paperback)
  2. A Million Suns (paperback) 
  3. Shades of Earth (ARC)

Our contest runs through midnight January 17, 2013. We'll announce the winner on January 18.  US entries only. Sorry!

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Level Up: Guest Post

When I first accepted my agent’s offer of representation, I learned one of my agency siblings would be Lenore Appelhans, who—aside from being enviably gorgeous and some sort of crazy productive—wrote a fab-sounding book that I knew I had to read.

Level 2 begins with Felicia Ward, a girl trapped in the level between life and the true afterlife—a purgatory of sleek white walls and memory pods.  Felicia feels like she’s been there forever, and maybe she has, sharing her memories as currency and reliving the private memories most special to her, the ones related to her boyfriend Neil.  But when a boy from her life breaks into her chamber and offers to help Felicia escape, Felicia takes a chance, and soon finds herself caught in the middle of a war between recalcitrant angels and God—with the entire world hanging in the balance.

I know after reading that, you already went out and pre-ordered.  But in case you’re still unconvinced, here is a list of reasons you should readLevel 2:

--Felicia is a real person, with flaws and failures jostling against her strengths; she is determined, smart and a genuinely good friend, but she can also be prickly and petulant and narrow-sighted, and she has to face up to that in order to move on to Level 3.  I love it when characters have that kind of depth.

--Julian (sigh.)

--Visually, Level 2 is a brilliant mix: Matrix-like technology coupled with a vast landscape of smooth white hives and controlling memory pods.  It’s the afterlife as designed by Apple, disorienting in its deceptive complexity and overwhelming with its size and circularity and impossibility to navigate.  (Much like the real Apple company.)


--Thematically, Level 2 braids together different cultural ideas about the afterlife to create something that seems real, something that seems like it could indeed be the source for so many myths and beliefs.  There are angels who are dangerous and ambitious; there are rivers straight out of Greek mythology; there are elements akin to Catholic purgatory; and Level 3 sounds a lot like heaven.  The world feels rich and layered, and once I thought I knew everything about Level 2, something entirely different and fantastic would appear.

--Musical goats.

--The pages fly by.  Really.  I’m a fairly slow reader and I finished this book in a day.  This is one of the most well-plotted, delightful novels I’ve read in the past year.


Now go pre-order!

Bethany Hagen is an author and librarian living in Kansas City.  Her debut novel Landry Park will be out in Fall 2013 from Dial.  She is represented by Mollie Glick of Foundry Media.

Listening to LEVEL 2 by Lenore Appelhans

I’m a HUGE fan of audio books. I joined Audible way back when. Plus I get them from the library. Audio books were a godsend when I commuted an hour each way to work. Now they save me from boredom at the gym. (My idea of exercise is zoning out on a bike with a good book in my ears.)

So, I can safely say Lenore’s LEVEL 2 is exactly the kind of book that makes a great listen.

Here’s why:

  1. Great world building. Level 2 might be a stark white world between worlds, but the concept is fascinating and fertile ground for dystopia.

  2. An absorbing story. No spoilers, but Felicia encounters death, intrigue, love, good and evil, rebellion—all in the afterlife.

  3. Pace that builds. See number 2. Let’s just say that Felicia finds out that reliving you’re greatest hits (memory-wise) gets you nowhere. You’ve got to face the hard stuff to move on.

  4. Fabulous narrator. Based on my own experience as a listener and an author, the narrator can make or ruin the listening experience. The narrator of Level 2—Jenna Lamia—has a certain something to her voice that makes it ideal for YA. She’s also very experienced, with over 40 titles to her credit, including: The Help, Shiver, Linger, Forever, and the Adoration of Jenna Fox. (And those are just the ones I’ve read/listened to.)

But don't listen to me; judge for yourself!

If the above embedded player doesn’t work, you can go directly to Level 2's Listening Library page .

You can purchase Level 2 as an audio book on:

(Full disclosure: I read the book on my Kindle, but I just listened to the first chapter sample via Listening Library. And wow. I may have to use my next credit to hear L2 at the gym.) 

Review: LEVEL 2

What’s comes next?
That’s a question many of us have probably asked themselves many times.
Death – the Unknown.
But Lenore Appelhans explores the question above, and more, in her debut LEVEL 2 (January 15th, 2013).

Here’s a summary:
Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.
Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.
Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

I had the pleasure of reading Level 2 just a few days ago and I was stunned by Lenore’s imagination. You might think Felicia’s surroundings – a stark white “room” filled with other drones like Felicia – might get boring fast, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only does the slow unraveling of the truth behind Level 2 and the malfunctions of the chambers keep you on the edge of your seat, but the glimpses into Felicia’s life before death, which she relives by accessing her memories in the previously mentioned chambers, adds numerous fascinating settings to the story. And believe me when I tell you that Lenore knows how to write setting. Every place she describes comes to life. It feels like you’re there with Felicia.
I especially loved the scenes that allow us to see what happened in Felicia’s past and why she might not be ready to move on yet.
A fascinating, layered, imaginative debut! You should not miss it!


Today I get to interview the long-time YA blogger and Leaguer Lenore Appelhans about her writing and publishing process for her debut YA novel, LEVEL TWO. You’ll enjoy her contemporary take on the afterlife where reliving your past memories is key to making sense of your life.  Add in a rebellion and a love triangle and what more could you want from the afterlife?

Readers always love to hear how writers come up with their concept, especially when it is a different kind of fantasy as yours is, so let’s start there. How did this story come to you and how did you build your world?  

I’ve always been fascinated with authors’ visions of the afterlife (DEFENDING YOUR LIFE is one of my favorite movies). I’d had this idea of an afterlife where memories are currency – some more valuable than others – but for so many years, I didn’t know how to implement it. 

My friend and I were in Pompeii and a question came to me in the shower: “What would a dystopian afterlife look like?” Afterwards, the basics of the story came pouring out of me.  My friend asked me tons of logistical questions - and in the answering, Level 2 was born.

As far as world building, I did a lot of research into the afterlife visions of different religions and mythology and I dug deep into my own imagination.

I love how well-traveled you are that you can begin a sentence with “My friend and I were in Pompeii.”

The memories that your main character Felicia plugs into are so wonderfully rich with detail that it’s hard to imagine that these memories are not real.  You, like her, have lived in many countries and traveled extensively. How much did you mine your own history to write those memories?

All the places Felicia’s been in the memories, I have been – with one big exception. The trip she takes with her father to the Turkish coast is based on a trip that my husband took. He talked about his adventure so vividly, I was captivated and knew it had to be in my book.  The roofless shack they stay in is real, but the prancing goats are pure fiction.

Darn. I wanted to see the prancing goats! With a story like this, there seem to be many different places you could have started. Did Level Two always begin this way?

The first scene I wrote (right after my Pompeii epiphany) was Felicia’s death scene, but I knew even then that I wouldn’t start the book with that. I let everything percolate in my head for about five months, and when I sat down to write again, the first five chapters came very easily. The opening few pages haven’t changed at all (save a few copyedits) since my first draft.

At later points in the story the characters say that the rules are changing. Did you always plan to change the rules or did that evolve in the writing process?

Part of the writing process for this novel was figuring out what the rules were. They definitely evolved during drafting and revising.

You’ve written and turned in the sequel, Level Three. Will that be the end of the series?

Interesting question! I originally intended Level 2 to be a standalone, but then I found that there was more to tell, hence Level 3.  Theoretically, the Levels could be endless – because no one ever knows what’s next.  I could see Felicia’s story extending into one more book, but we’ll just have to see!

What has been your biggest surprise in the publishing process?

I started aiming for publication with picture books back in 2004. So it’s been a surprise to be debuting in 2013 with a novel and a picture book.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the League readers about Level Two or about yourself?

Level 2 is exactly the kind of book I love to read – full of twists with a dash of romance, action, mystery and literary allusions.  Level 3 gets even crazier – and I can’t wait to share it with the world.

Congratulations to Lenore on Level Two, available for pre-order now, coming out in just days -- Jan 15!



Twitter: @lenoreva

Read an excerpt of the first 50 pages of LEVEL 2 here

Preorder LEVEL 2 here

Add to Goodreads

View the Book Trailer

Launching LEVEL 2 by Lenore Appelhans

We're glad to be back in 2013 with a bang! I hope you're enjoying our new site design, because this week, we're celebrating the forthcoming launch of League member Lenore Appelhans's LEVEL 2!

About LEVEL 2: In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

We'll be celebrating all week with Lenore and LEVEL 2 and we hope you'll take a few minutes to check out some of these great things going on with the novel.

  • There's a pre-order promotion going on now! You can preorder a signed, personalized copy of LEVEL 2 at the Watermark Books website until January 15th (release day). Once you put in your cart, use the "order comments" input field to specify who you want the signed copy made out to. The first 50 preorders via this channel will also get a limited edition LEVEL 2 magnet - so order soon!

Congrats to Lenore and LEVEL 2!!

A New Look!

Hi everyone! What do you think of our shiny new look? We here at the League would like to extend our thanks to Hafsah at Icey Books for getting back to us so quickly and working on a new look for our blog over the holidays!

You'll be seeing some more changes this year as we reorganize our schedule, add new people, and do some new things (like chats!). But meanwhile, we've got TWO League launches to prepare for--so stick around for the next two weeks as we launch Lenore Appelhans and Beth Revis's books!

And also: I'd like to apologize to our League member Angie for accidentally leaving her books off the list of prizes for our last giveaway. TOTALLY my bad. If you're looking for some winter reading, definitely check out Angie's latest novels: