Guys. Can we talk?

Two years ago, before DRIFT & DAGGER was DRIFT & DAGGER, it was the story of a kid on a whale ship. Oooooh did I want to write about whale ships! How, I kept telling myself, did I manage to write a whole book about whaling without including a single scene about hunting whales??

So when DRIFT & DAGGER came along, I leaned hard into whaling. I reread all my research books. I watched even more documentaries. I once again pestered the wonderful people at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. It took about two weeks of research to write one chapter, but I loooooved it.

And then? The book, as books do, took a turn and became something completely different. Those beautiful lovely whaling scenes suddenly didn’t belong anymore. I’m usually pretty ruthless when it comes to editing, but cutting those chapters just about broke my heart.

For a long time, I thought they’d live on my computer. Maybe I could release them as a sort of alternate world thing. Maybe they’d just be a bonus chapter somewhere.

But then this past spring, my editor came to me with a proposition. Would I be interested in writing another SALT & STORM story? A short one? On anything I wanted?

I don’t think I’ve ever said yes faster.

All those lovely scenes have a new life! And a new story! And you, dear reader, can have them all for your own.


I am THRILLED to announce a new story, set in the world of SALT & STORM. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for…..







*heart flutters* I am in l-o-v-e with this story! I don’t think I’ve ever had a better time writing something. It’s been a fabulous project and the perfect goodbye kiss to writing about the Roe witches, magic, and whaling.

Okay, enough gushing. Here’s what you need to know:

What is it?
It’s a novella! Longer than a short story, shorter than a novel. It will be an e-reader exclusive, meaning it’ll be available in electronic form. (Don’t have an e-reader? You can buy and read it on your computer, tablet, smartphone, etc etc.)

When is it out?
Just a few more weeks! Exact date TBD

What’s it about?
SALTWATER HEART is about a boy named James, who falls in love with the confident and charming daughter of his town’s most famous whaling captain. An excellent sailor, Alice is desperate to go to sea but when her father offers a place on his ship to James instead of her, she disappears. James searches the world for her, a journey that takes him from the strange and mysterious world of the infamous Roe witch to the deepest and most dangerous reaches of the ocean itself.

It’s a romance, it’s a whaling story, it’s a story about identity and acceptance and the magic of first love.

Lots and lots of whaling.

Lots and lots of magic.

Yeah, I’m gonna say it’s pretty steamy.

When does it take place?
In between the events of SALT & STORM and DRIFT & DAGGER.

Will I see [insert name of favorite character here]?
Most big characters make an appearance, one way or the other.

I haven’t read SALT & STORM and/or DRIFT & DAGGER. Will I be totally lost reading SALTWATER HEART?
Nope! SALTWATER HEART was written with both new and returning readers in mind. If you’ve never read anything I’ve written before, it’ll introduce you to the world of the Roe witches, whaling, and magic (and, I hope, will entice you enough to pick up the books). If you have read the books, I’ve filled this story with lots of little easter eggs to keep you happy :)

What’s up with that cover?
It’s what they call in the biz a “placeholder.” It’s not the final cover. ACTUALLY, the final cover is not up to me, the cover designers, or my publisher. It’s up to you. Yes, you get to play cover designer and decide what my sweet little book will look like. In a few days, I’ll post TWO possible covers for SALTWATER HEART. Pick your favorite and the winner will be the final cover! (There will also be fun things involved in the vote just in case the heady rush of playing cover god is not enough for you)

Sooo…did I hear something about a…giveaway?
Yes indeed! To celebrate SALTWATER HEART I’m going to be giving away some fabulous prizes! They are….


10 SALT & STORM temporary tattoos!

2 whale pens!


One lucky winner will receive an autographed ARC of DRIFT & DAGGER!


And a grand-prize winner will receive an autographed copy of SALT & STORM!

To enter: Tweet about the announcement/giveaway with the hashtag #SALTWATERHEART! Feel free to share link back to this page or post your comments! Don't have Twitter? Facebook shares/mentions are also good! Just make sure you tag my author page in your post! Standard contest rules apply.

This contest will be open from 1PM ET to 9PM ET so get tweeting and good luck! The contest is now closed. Thanks for playing!

DRIFT & DAGGER in Kirkus!

Kirkus: June 23, 2015

Drift & Dagger
By Kendall Kulper
September 2015/ Ages 12 & Up/ $18
ISBN 978-0-316-40453-2
Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-40455-6

In an alternate 1850s, a boy with no magic struggles to survive in a world dominated by it. Virtually everyone in Kulper's world has some form of magic or is at least affected by magic. Those with Talents earn appreciation, while Others, people with true magical gifts, can become prized members of their communities. Mal, however, is a "blank," a rare, feared person who not only has no magic, but one upon whom magic has no effect whatever. Born on Prince Island, his best friend is Essie, who will one day become the famed Roe witch and help to control the weather for the whaling and merchant ships. However, Essie betrays Mal's secret to the islanders, forcing him to flee. He teams up with Boone, a shady dealer in magical items. When Boone learns of the shar, a long-lost knife with the power to cut magic out of people, the two begin a desperate quest to acquire it and the riches it represents. Now 18, Mal wants revenge on Essie and intends to use the shar on her. Kulper creates a vivid, richly detailed alternative world grounded in history but with the added magical twist. Instead of witches, blanks are feared and persecuted. Characterizations, particularly the angry, afflicted Mal, pop as vividly as the alternative setting, offering readers an absorbing experience. Unusual and highly engaging.


Oh so exciting (and nerve wracking) to see the responses to DRIFT & DAGGER coming in! And I'm SO pleased that the fine folks at Kirkus enjoyed it (also, great plot summary). If you'd like to pre-order DRIFT & DAGGER, click here: Amazon - Barnes & Noble - IndieBound! For autographed copies, click here

The Good News and the Bad News...

So, last week I talked about some fun! things! to come!!! Including an educator's guide for Salt & Storm and the very exciting SECRET PROJECT announcement!

Well, the bad news is...the SECRET PROJECT announcement has been moved from today to next Friday. There were a few last-minute tweaks, and in the interest of getting things just right, it's getting pushed back juuust a little.

But the good news is that Salt & Storm's educator guide is available NOW! Produced by my publisher, Little, Brown, and written by teacher Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, the guide is designed to help teachers incorporate Salt & Storm into their Common Core lessons.


It's filled with fantastic resources and great questions about vocabulary, characters, and how the themes of the story can be applied to their own lives.


I'm still going to put together some fun mini-lessons on history, whaling, and folklore available this fall, but this educator guide is an amazing start! It's available for download (for free!) here!

And hang on...just four more days until the SECRET PROJECT is revealed!

DRIFT & DAGGER in School Library Journal!

DRIFT & DAGGER has its first review! 

School Library Journal: July 2015

 Drift & Dagger
By Kendall Kulper
September 2015/ Ages 12 & Up/ $18
ISBN 978-0-316-40453-2
Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-40455-6

A teen comes of age in a historical setting and under difficult and harsh conditions. Mal, an orphan with a dangerous secret, and Essie, whose mother is the Roe witch of Prince Island, are friends from a young age: both are outcasts. At 13, Essie tells the village Mal’s secret. Hurt and angry, the boy flees the island on a ship and begins a new life. He meets Boone, a partner who needs the secret Mal carries to hunt magical items. The young man tries to control his anger and the monster inside him, but vengeful thoughts threaten to take him over. As Mal and Boone begin a dangerous search for the fabled Shar, a knife that takes a person’s magic forever, Mal struggles to remain human. This coming-of-age tale features action, adventure, high seas, magic, betrayals, and danger. Fans of alternate histories will enjoy the author’s skillful world-building and fantastic dialogue. A few short, gory scenes might be too much for some sensitive readers, but a very light romance spattered throughout won’t deter younger middle school readers. VERDICT This bildungsroman has broad appeal for those who enjoyed Catherine Jinks’s “Pagan Chronicles” (Candlewick) or Celia Rees’s Pirates! (Bloomsbury, 2003).


So thrilled! Bonus points for calling it a "bildungsroman," a word which is not nearly bandied around as much as it should be. If you'd like to pre-order DRIFT & DAGGER, click here: Amazon - Barnes & Noble - IndieBound! For autographed copies, click here