DRIFT & DAGGER in The Bulletin!

So thrilled to share this lovely review from the folks over at The Bulletin!

This novel uses the same setting and world of Salt & Storm (BCCB 12/14) to introduce an earlier generation of characters; the result works as a standalone while also offering juicy, heartbreaking insight into one of the previous title’s most memorable characters: the mother of the protagonist. While Mal, a blank on whom magic doesn’t work, narrates the story, it is his best friend turned enemy, Essie Roe, who is the magnetic center of the novel. Her struggle to hone her witch powers under the crushing tutelage of her gifted mother, her ambivalence about being a witch on an island that uses their witches but also distrusts them, and her sincere regret over her frequent unkindnesses are powerful. Mal is right to hate Essie, but he is also right to love her, and their unlucky connection haunts both of them in ways that will have romance buffs gasping at the injustices they face. The world building is strong, surprisingly standing up just as well as in the earlier novel without ever feeling repetitive; this historical fantasy setting, particularly the witch-protected island, is so vibrantly described as to become a character in itself. Mal’s struggles when he runs away from the island are horrible, but his resilience and willingness to grow will keep readers willingly slogging through with him, as invested as he is in a better life somewhere ahead.

Hooray! Any time I hear Prince Island described as another character, it just makes me so giddy :D

Map It Up

The lovely folks over at NOVL have invited me to share some maps inspired by the world of SALT & STORM! These were so fun to create, and I hope you love them as much as I do. Okay--first go look!



I'm thrilled to announce I'll be giving away poster-sized, autographed versions of the Salt & Storm map to five lucky winners! Guys, this thing is gorgeous and possibly my favorite bit of swag ever. I love it and am seriously considering using them to wallpaper my house.

TO WIN: Tweet the link to my post over at NOVL *and* follow me on Twitter (if you're on Facebook, you can post the link *and* "like" my author page). Each tweet is another chance to win, so don't be shy! The contest will run until 9PM ET tonight, and standard contest rules apply. GOOD LUCK!


For a long time, I didn't know what to think about DRIFT & DAGGER. It was a book I had a hard time with. The first draft was so tough and tortured--the wrong story, the wrong focus. I always want to do better as a writer, dig deeper and create something I'm proud of. I wondered if I would ever get there with DRIFT & DAGGER.

Thankfully, my editor sat me down after that first draft and we talked things through. Where was the happiness? Where was the joy? Who was Mal really? What was his world and his journey?

It woke me up. It brought me back. I'd been trying to retell SALT & STORM with new characters, but DRIFT & DAGGER is its own book. Mal is his own person, with his own amazing story.

So I refocused. I found the things I loved about him, about his world, and I rebuilt the book around that. Mal is funny. He's tough. He's a hopeless romantic forced to be practical. He sees the best in everyone, except for himself. His world is dangerous and magical, and his immunity to magic means he walks through it untouched, both by the things that could hurt him and the beautiful things that make it special. He's got that unique kind of loneliness that I remember as a teenager, feeling totally lost and like there isn't anyone who could possibly understand you. But he also can laugh at things, and just because he's been burned by trusting the wrong people, he's not afraid to reach out again.

By the time this book was ready to go into print, I had fallen in love. It was a special kind of love. SALT & STORM was my first book, the one I had poured so much of myself into that it felt a part of me right from the beginning. But I had to find DRIFT & DAGGER. I had to get to know Mal and his story and figure out how to share that with the world.

I am so proud of this book. And I am blown away by the people who have read it and love it so hard. Reader responses are just the best thing ever and I'm grateful for all the people who have shared their enthusiasm for SALT & STORM. But DRIFT & DAGGER seems to be hitting something different. There's something in the way that they reach out to me that's just like, they get it. It's the greatest thing I could ever ask for as a writer, and it's why I am so thrilled for this book to finally be out on shelves and into your hands.

I hope you love it. I hope you love Mal. Thanks for going on this journey with me. <3

Countdown to DRIFT & DAGGER: Secrets and Lies

Well, folks. The book is almost here. I’ve loved sharing these special looks into DRIFT & DAGGER. From character introductions to photo collages to the first draft to deleted scenes, I hope you know how much I love this book and how excited I am for it to reach your hands.

For this last look, I want to talk about Mal, his story, and why I wrote about him.

If you asked Mal who he was, more than anything, he would say “different.” In his world, magic is everything. It’s the difference between life and death, loss and profit. It is hugely important to the fabric of society, but Mal is not a part of that. He’s a blank, someone immune to magic.

Blanks are seen as inhuman monsters. Some people believe all blanks will eventually grow up to destroy and kill. When Mal discovers his blankness, he understands it’s essentially a death sentence. There’s no place in society that will accept him, and even if he manages to hide this part of himself, he believes his blankness will eventually take over. He’ll turn into a monster, hurt people he cares about, and lose everything about himself that he loves.

It’s a scary prospect, and this fear is what drives Mal to do the things he does. But, although this is a fantasy world, I didn’t have to dig very deep to write about a confused teenager so full of self-loathing.

While I was thinking about Drift & Dagger, I spent a lot of time talking with and thinking about teenagers. I spent a lot of time reading things they wrote and shared with people. I went back over my old diaries and thought about the things that consumed me. And one thing that kept popping up was this question: Am I different?

As an adult, I love and celebrate my differences, but as a teenager, I saw everything about me that was outside the norm as a problem. And of course, it wasn’t just me. I can remember my best friend, who is now a confident, happy, successful adult in a wonderful, loving relationship, crying to me because he was gay, because he thought his family would hate him (and I would hate him), and he didn’t know how to keep this part of himself secret and still stay sane.

I saw stories like that over and over, played on tumblr and in the news and in fifteen-year-old emails from friends. I thought about it a lot. And then I wrote a book about it.

Fantasy can be a really wonderful tool for talking about things without naming them outright (did you like Salt & Storm? Congratulations! You just read a book about feminism!), and with Drift & Dagger, I took my magical world and imagined what a boy in the 1850s might have something in common with a teenager in 2015. Mal’s got a secret he’s scared will ruin his life, and for a lot of teenagers—and those of us who were once teenagers—I hope his story will resonate.

Because I also thought a lot about how our ideas about our identity change. I thought about my happy friend and the things I used to worry about myself. I thought about the It Gets Better Project and what it takes—friends, family, maturity, experience—to take these secret, shameful things, to strip away their power, and to let them exist as a part of you, not all of you.

I love Mal and his story. Writing his journey was such a raw, powerful experience for me. I am incredibly excited (and a little nervous) to see him out in the world next week, and I cannot wait for you to meet him.


Countdown to DRIFT & DAGGER: A D&D Deleted Scene!

Every book goes through a transformation from idea to notes to rough draft to polished draft to the finished novel in your hands. DRIFT & DAGGER had many different forms and if you compared the first version to the last version, I'd guess only about 5% made it through unchanged.

Trust me, this is a very good thing for you, because most of that 95% deserved to be lit on fire and thrown away. But, there are a few scenes that I loved, even though I couldn't work them into the final draft, and with two weeks to go before DRIFT & DAGGER's launch (!!!!), I thought I'd share one of my favorites here!

This scene was written before I quite realized that Mal, my main character, would be a blank (someone immune to magic), but I always knew that Mal would hold a disdain for people's reliance on magical solutions to their problems.

Enjoy (click on the images to make them bigger), and don't forget--you can pre-order DRIFT & DAGGER here!