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About the Author
The authors included in the Wednesday Books Sampler are bold, diverse, and commercial voices who speak to a generation of readers hungry for more of the books they grew up reading, but who also want something more.
LILY ANDERSON is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. She is also the author of The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You.
P.C. Cast is the author of the House of Night novels, including Marked, Betrayed, Chosen, and Untamed. She was born in the Midwest, and grew up being shuttled back-and-forth between Illinois and Oklahoma, which is where she fell in love with Quarter Horses and mythology. After high school she joined the United States Air Force and began public speaking and writing. After her tour in the USAF, she taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time. Ms. Cast is a #1 New York Times and USA Today Best-Selling author and a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. With more than 20 million copies in print in over 40 countries, her novels have been awarded the prestigious: Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Prism, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers’ Best, and the Laurel Wreath. Ms. Cast lives in Oregon surrounded by beloved cats, dogs, horses, and family.
Jenny Fran Davis was born in Manhattan and spent four months avoiding (but later embracing) millet mountains in a peace- and justice-focused Quaker community in northern California. Fond of big dogs, doo-wop, and Judy Blume, she attended the Chapin School and is currently an undergraduate at Wesleyan University. Everything Must Go is her debut novel.
Allison Raskin&Gaby Dunn are two best friends who live in Los Angeles. They started the comedy YouTube channel Just Between Us in 2014 and have since then spent far too much time together. They have worked together and separately for Buzzfeed, Sourcefed and Fullscreen. Gaby’s journalism has appeared in pretty much every major publication and Allison has written some really funny group texts with her family. They hope to die within one hour of each other so neither has to plan a funeral. I Hate Everyone But You is their debut novel.
AMANDA HOCKING is the author of the New York Times bestselling Trylle trilogy, its spin-off the Kanin Chronicles, the Watersong series and six additional self-published novels. She made international headlines by selling over a million copies of her self-published books, primarily in eBook format. She lives in Minnesota, where she's at work on the next book.
ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and grew up in a Mexican-American family. She attended University of Southern California on a Trustee Scholarship. A Lambda Literary Fellow, she has had work featured by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, CRATE Literary Magazine's cratelit, Camera Obscura's Bridge the Gap Series, and The Portland Review. McLemore is the author of The Weight of Feathers and When the Moon Was Ours, which was longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.
GAE POLISNER is the award-winning author of The Summer of Letting Go (Nerdy Book Club Best YA 2014, Teen Ink Editor’s Choice Badge of Approval) and The Pull of Gravity (2012 Bank Street Best, 2012 PSLA Top Forty, Nerdy Book Club Best YA 2011). She also co-hosts Teachers Write!, a virtual writers camp for teachers and educators. She lives in Long Island, New York with her family.
SCOTT STAMBACH lives in San Diego where he teaches physics and astronomy at Grossmont and Mesa colleges. He also collaborates with Science for Monks, a group of educators and monastics working to establish science programs in Tibetan Monasteries throughout India. He has been published in a dozen literary magazines including The Writing Disorder, Stirring, and Ecclectica. The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko is Scott's first novel.
DODIE SMITH was born in 1896 and died in 1990. She is also the author of The Hundred and One Dalmations, the novel that inspired the timeless Disney cartoon.
LILY ANDERSON is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU is her debut novel.
P.C. Cast is the author of the House of Night novels, including Marked, Betrayed, Chosen, and Untamed.
Ms. Cast is a #1 New York Times and USA Today Best-Selling author and a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. With more than 20 million copies in print in over 40 countries, her novels have been awarded the prestigious Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Prism, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers’ Best, and the Laurel Wreath.
Ms. Cast was born in the Midwest and grew up being shuttled back and forth between Illinois and Oklahoma, which is where she fell in love with Quarter Horses and mythology. After high school she joined the United States Air Force and began public speaking and writing. After her tour in the USAF, she taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time. She now lives in Oregon surrounded by beloved cats, dogs, horses, and family.
ALLISON RASKIN&GABY DUNN are two best friends and New York Times bestselling authors who live in Los Angeles. They started the comedy YouTube channel Just Between Us in 2014, which has amassed a near 150 million views and have created individual podcasts, both of which have landed on the iTunes international top charts. Gaby’s journalism has appeared in pretty much every major publication and Allison has written some really funny group texts with her family. Gaby and Allison have developed television projects with MTV, YouTube Red and FX. They both love their dogs very much.
Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.
ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and grew up in a Mexican-American family. She attended University of Southern California on a Trustee Scholarship. A Lambda Literary Fellow, she has had work featured by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, CRATE Literary Magazine's cratelit, Camera Obscura's Bridge the Gap Series, and The Portland Review. She is the author of The Weight of Feathers, When the Moon Was Ours, and Wild Beauty. She lives in Sacramento, California.
GAE POLISNER is the award-winning author of The Memory of Things, The Summer of Letting Go, and The Pull of Gravity. A family law attorney and mediator by trade, but a writer by calling, she lives on Long Island with her husband, two sons, and a suspiciously-fictional-looking small dog she swore she’d never own. When she’s not writing, she can be found in a pool, or better yet, in the open waters of the Long Island Sound where she swims upwards of two miles most days. She hopes one day soon to grow gills and morph into a mermaid.
SCOTT STAMBACH lives in San Diego where he teaches physics and astronomy at Grossmont and Mesa colleges. He also collaborates with Science for Monks, a group of educators and monastics working to establish science programs in Tibetan Monasteries throughout India. He has written about his experiences working with monks of Sera Jey monastery and has published short fiction in several literary journals including Ecclectica, Stirring, and Convergence.
Dorothy Gladys "Dodie" Smith, born in 1896 in Lancashire, England, was one of the most successful female dramatists of her generation. She wrote Autumn, Crocus, and Dear Octopus, among other plays. I Capture the Castle, her first novel, was written in the 1940s while she was living in America. An immediate success, it marked her crossover from playwright to novelist, and was produced as a play in 1954. Smith also wrote the novels The Town in Bloom, It Ends with Revelations, A Tale of Two Families, and The Girl in the Candle-Lit Bath, but she is best known today as the author of two highly popular stories for young readers: The Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Starlight Barking. She died in 1990.
Read an Excerpt
There was no empirical evidence that the Lieutenant wasn't a robot.
And, really, if the government was going to pick a family to test run a cybernetic human, why wouldn't they pick the Lawrences? Career air force going back to the Tuskegee pilots, all officers — except for our second cousin Terry, but no ever talked about him. Strong bone structure with God and country stamped into the marrow. No genetic predisposition for diabetes or flat feet or nostalgia.
Then again, maybe living with my father and my stepmom, Beth, had made me soft.
There was nothing soft about the Lieutenant. My cousin was leaner than anyone else in the family, with ropy arms made for one-hand push-ups and cheekbones that tipped up the corners of her eyes. Her spine was a compass pointing her forever northward. She kept her hair at a regulation two inches high and her bare nails clipped short and her mouth set into a neutral line.
She didn't bob her head as the restaurant's speakers started thumping a Prince song. She didn't put ketchup on her French fries. Her gaze flickered to her brother decimating a burger beside her, and then back to my face.
A slow blink. Another plain fry slipped between her teeth.
If the government was going to program the perfect airman, would they have thought to make them crave French fries to let them blend in with the rest of us? She could run on veggie oil like a converted diesel car.
Lieutenant Sidney Lawrence: now energy efficient! Fly, fight, win!
At least if she were a cyborg, she would have Asimov's laws of robotics written into her code. Forcing a late-night dinner at the Davis In-N-Out burger in the name of familial bonding definitely counted as harmful. Sid alone I would have been able to deal with. Sure, she was intense in a black Terminator sort of way, but she was my oldest cousin and sometimes she had nuggets of wisdom to pass down.
Having to sit directly across from Isaiah, however, was an exercise in torture. He was the baby of the family, a year and some change younger than me. And, in a perfect world, we would only see each other on federal holidays and the occasional milestone birthday.
But tonight Sid had paid for my burger and agreed to drive me to the train station without question, so I wasn't in a position to complain. At least, not out loud. It had been way too valuable to have my dad and stepmom see her drive me away from our house. It added real, tangible credit to my story.
"So, Ellie," she said in between nibbles. "Your family won't let you attend the summer program in Colorado Springs?"
Your family. No Venn diagram would force the Lawrences to acknowledge the other half of my genes. Even Grandmother Lawrence only referred to the Gabaroches as "those Creoles." Like knowing that there were French people somewhere in the higher boughs of my dad's family tree made them all suspect.
It'd been at least a century since any of the Gabaroches could even speak French. I'd been taking Spanish since middle school.
Plus, I couldn't wear a beret without pressing my hair. No, thanks.
"Dad doesn't want me to fly," I said. I heard the squeak of my sneakers rubbing together and tucked my feet around the legs of my chair. The cold metal helped settle the twitch that had started up in my calves.
"That's dumb," Sid said. "You're seventeen. We'd never let you in the air."
I thought of the Air Force Academy pamphlet torn to shreds and buried under the junk mail in the blue recycle bin. Sid didn't mean never the same way my father did. She was thinking of a temporary pause — a stop sign. But cadets turned into airmen. Not after the high school summer seminar, but eventually.
My father didn't like eventualities.
"Don't you miss In-N-Out burgers when you're deployed?" Isaiah asked his sister.
He'd grown since Christmas. Sitting down, he was almost a full head taller than Sid. It could have been true for a while. The three of us hadn't been in the same room at the same time since — when? Grandmother Lawrence's sixty-fifth birthday? Back when the whole family was crowing about Isaiah skipping the eighth grade. He's so gifted, they let him move right on into high school. Looks like he and Ellie are going to graduate in the same year. The academy better watch out.
Like anyone learned anything in the eighth grade.
"There's decent food everywhere," Sid said. "Especially burgers."
"But no spread," Isaiah said. His long Predator dreadlocks slithered around his shoulders as he squeezed more pink ooze onto his burger out of the red and white plastic tube. He'd always had a thing about sauces. He drenched his food until everything he ate could be considered a soup. I couldn't sit next to him at holiday dinners anymore. Watching him drown his plate in equal parts gravy and cranberry sauce made me heave.
Gwendolen is devoted to bread and butter, my brain hummed. I tried to shoo the thought away. Not now, Oscar Wilde.
"It's Thousand Island dressing," Sid said. "So, yes, we could have that anywhere."
"It's not just Thousand Island," Isaiah pouted, slurping a blob of Thousand Island off of his dark brown hand. "It's spread. Does Thousand Island have pickles cut up in it?"
"By definition, yes," I said.
"Well, it tastes better when you can squeeze it onto burgers," Isaiah said, continuing to coat his burger in chunky goop. He shook his head and hiccupped a laugh. "Who would put ketchup and pickles on a salad? That'd be like putting mayonnaise on pizza."
"What do you think makes ranch dressing white?" I asked.
His upper lip curled. "Milk."
"Isaiah, I told you to stop buying salad dressing. It's empty calories," the Lieutenant said. Then, as though sensing the scoff building up in the back of my throat, she snapped her head toward me again. "Elliot, when am I supposed to drop you at the train station?"
"By ten," I said.
"I didn't even know the train went all the way to So Cal," Isaiah said.
"The railroads go everywhere. It's even in a 'Schoolhouse Rock' song," I said. "I guess they must have covered the Industrial Revolution in the back half of middle school."
"Must have," Isaiah said, not registering the dig. He idly licked a drop of spread off one of his dreads.
I pushed my fries away.
"I didn't know that Senior was so much of a tightwad," Sid said. "He must have the money for a plane ticket in his wallet. Who the hell makes their kid take the train across the state?"
Since my father remarried, neither of my cousins felt the need to refer to him as "Uncle Elliot" anymore. I wished they would. I wasn't technically a junior. Not only because I'm a girl, but also because Mom had replaced Dad's middle name on my birth certificate with her even more masculine last name. Regardless, calling him Senior was a constant reminder that my name was barely mine.
Except, once I set foot on the train, it would be.
I scratched at my scalp with my prickling fingertips. It was slick with melting coconut oil. The air conditioner wasn't up high enough to permeate through more than the top layer of my hair. Even with the streetlamps burning outside the windows, I knew it would still be almost ninety degrees outside. I took a long sip of my lemonade.
Sid's biceps gave an unconscious flex. "They couldn't have picked something useful for you to do with your vacation?"
"No," I said. The truth came out cool and clean against my lips. "They really couldn't have."
When we perfect commercial time travel, everyone in the past is going to be pissed at us. It's not only that their quiet, sepia-toned lives will be inundated with loud-mouthed giants. And it's not even the issue that language is a living organism, so all communication will be way more problematic than anyone ever thinks about.
It's jet packs.
At some point, someone is going to ask about jet packs, and no amount of bragging about clean water and vaccines and free Wi-Fi will be able to distract them. Even if you went back before the Industrial Revolution, someone is going to want to know if we've all made ourselves pairs of Icarus wings.
Defrost Walt Disney and he'll ask to be put back in the fridge until Tomorrowland is real. Go back to the eighties and everyone's going to want to know about hoverboards.
Hell, go back to yesterday, find your own best friend, and they'd still ask, "Tomorrow's the day we get flying cars, right?"
People want miracles. They want magic. They want to freaking fly.
Unrelated: Did you know that crossing state lines on a train is pretty much the most boring and uncomfortable thing ever?
Despite sounding vaguely poetic, the midnight train to Oregon wasn't much for scenery. Unfortunately, running away tends to work best in the middle of the night, especially when one's cousins have a curfew to make and can't wait on the platform with you.
Twelve hours, two protein bars, and one sunrise later, the view was rolling brown fields that turned into dilapidated houses with collapsing fences and sun-bleached Fisher Price play sets. Apparently, the whole "wrong side of the tracks" thing wasn't a myth. Everything the train passed was a real bummer.
One should always have something sensational to read on the train, whispered Oscar Wilde, sounding remarkably like my step-mom.
With my headphones drowning out the screech of the tracks, I reached into my backpack, pushing past the heavy stack of books and ziplock bags of half-eaten snacks, to the bottom. Tucked between the yellowed pages of my battered copy of Starship Troopers was a folded square of white printer paper. I tried to smooth it over my leg, but it snapped back into its heavy creases.
On behalf of Rayevich College and our sister school, the Messina Academy for the Gifted, it is my great pleasure to offer you a place at Camp Onward. At Onward, you will spend three weeks learning alongside forty-seven other accomplished high school students from all over the West Coast as you prepare for the annual Tarrasch Melee. The winners of the Melee will be granted a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to Rayevich College ...
The page was starting to wear thin in the corners from my fingers digging into it whenever it stopped feeling real enough. The packing list that had once been stapled to it was even worse off, highlighted and checkmarked and underlined. I'd had to put that one inside of an N. K. Jemisin hardcover so that the extra weight could smash it flat.
I ran my thumb over the salutation again. Dear Ever.
I shivered, remembering how my hands had trembled as I'd read those words for the first time, stamped to the front of an envelope with the Rayevich seal in the corner. It meant that everything had worked. It meant that freedom was as simple as a checked box on an Internet application.
The train lurched to a stop. I shoved the note back inside of Starship Troopers and popped out my headphones just in time to hear the conductor's garbled voice say, "Eugene station."
I staggered down to the platform, my laptop case and my backpack weighing me down like uneven scales. I sucked in fresh air, not even caring that it tasted like cement and train exhaust. It was cooler here than it was back home. California asphalt held in heat and let it off in dry, tar-scented bursts.
Oregon had a breeze. And pine trees. Towering evergreens that could have bullied a Christmas tree into giving up its lunch money. We didn't get evergreens like that at home. My neighborhood was lined in decorative suburban foliage. By the time I got back, our oak tree would be starting to think about shedding its sticky leaves on the windshield of my car.
As a new wave of passengers stomped onto the train, I retrieved the massive rolling suitcase that Beth had ordered off of the Internet for me. It was big enough to hold a small person, as my brother had discovered when he'd decided to use it to sled down the stairs.
I'd miss that little bug.
There were clusters of people scattered across the platform, some shouting to each other over the dull roar of the engine. I watched an old woman press two small children into her bosom and a hipster couple start groping each other's cardigans.
In the shade of the ticket building, a light-skinned black guy had his head bowed over his cell phone. His hair was shorn down to his scalp, leaving a dappling of curl seedlings perfectly edged around his warm brown temples. He was older than I was, definitely college age. He had that finished look, like he'd grown into his shoulders and gotten cozy with them. A yellow lanyard was swinging across the big green D emblazoned on his T-shirt.
"Hey," I called to him, rolling my suitcase behind me. My laptop case swayed across my stomach in tandem with my backpack scraping over my spine, making it hard not to waddle. "Are you from Rayevich?"
The guy looked up, startled, and shoved his phone into the pocket of his jeans. He swept forward, remembering to smile a minute too late. All of his white teeth gleamed in the sunshine.
"Are you Ever?" His smile didn't waver, but I could feel him processing my appearance. Big, natural hair, baggy Warriors T-shirt, cutoff shorts, clean Jordans. Taller than him by at least two inches.
"Yeah," I said. And then, to take some of the pressure off, "You were looking for a white girl, right?"
His smile went dimply in the corners, too sincere to be pervy. "I'm happy to be wrong."
"Ever Lawrence," I said, hoping that I'd practiced it enough that it didn't clunk out of my mouth. It was strange having so few syllables to get through. Elliot Gabaroche was always a lot to dump on another human being.
"Cornell Aaron," the college boy said, sticking his hand out. He had fingers like my father's, dark and tapered, with clean, round nails. I spent the firm two-pump handshake wondering if he also got no-polish manicures. "I'll be one of your counselors at Onward. It's a quick drive from here."
He took the handle of suitcase without preamble and led the way toward the parking lot. I followed, my pulse leaping in the same two syllables that had wriggled between the folds of my brain and stamped out of my shoes and pumped through my veins for months.
It was a stupid thing to drive you crazy, but here I was: running away from home in the name of Oscar Wilde.
Excerpted from "Wednesday Books Sampler"
Copyright © 2016 Scott Stambach.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
NOT NOW, NOT EVER by Lily Anderson,
SUN WARRIOR by P. C. Cast,
EVERYTHING MUST GO by Jenny Fran Davis,
I HATE EVERYONE BUT YOU by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin,
HIDDEN KINGDOM: THE KANIN CHRONICLES by Amanda Hocking,
THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS by Anna-Marie Mclemore,
THE MEMORY OF THINGS by Gae Polisner,
I CAPTURE THE CASTLE by Dodie Smith,
THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF IVAN ISAENKO by Scott Stambach,