Black Flowers, White Lies

4 10 2016

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Today we’re celebrating the release of Yvonne Ventresca’s latest novel with a special giveaway. Be sure to enter in the Rafflecopter below to win. Doesn’t this look intriguing? Be sure to read about Yvonne’s path to publication. Sometimes stories take a long time and a lot of rejections before the magic happens. Kudos to Yvonne for being willing to revise and rewrite.

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The Evolution of Black Flowers, White Lies

By Yvonne Ventresca

Black Flowers, White Lies started as a middle grade mystery about a daughter searching for her mother who recently disappeared. The story was set in Hoboken, New Jersey, where Emma lived and worked in their family-owned bookstore. The premise: Emma was reluctantly psychic, but she needed to use her abilities to rescue her mother, even if she didn’t quite believe in the supernatural.

Over the years, I submitted versions of the story without success, writing a nonfiction biography in the interim. I continued to revise the novel based on feedback from my critique group and from workshopping the story at multiple conferences. I eventually abandoned the psychic angle, making it more of a haunting instead, and I made the cause of the mother’s disappearance less obvious. But despite the many improvements, it still didn’t sell. Some editors questioned the plot. Some questioned the voice. “While the voice is clearly teen, the adventure is middle grade,” one editor said.

After 60+ rejections, I didn’t know how to fix the novel and lost the enthusiasm to try. I put it aside and started something new. With Pandemic, I moved more definitively into the young adult world, in voice, in concept, and in length. After I finished and submitted it, I reread the previous story and realized it was not meant to be a middle grade mystery. Creating Pandemic allowed me to see the novel’s potential as a YA thriller.

Sky Pony Press acquired Pandemic, and the sale bolstered my confidence. I opened a new document and started from scratch. The story remained set in Hoboken, and her mother still owned a bookstore, but Emma got a fresh beginning as Ella. I decided that instead of being reluctant, Ella adamantly believes in ghosts. The mother is no longer missing or divorced—I started earlier in time so that she remarries and goes on her honeymoon, leaving Ella with her new stepsibling. One of my original characters, a charismatic stepsister, became a stepbrother instead. This resulted in another major rewrite, but sparked some creative changes.

In this new version, I focused on the relationship between Ella and her stepbrother, a belief in her father’s spirit, and unexplainable events that make Ella question her perception of reality. I finally found her voice and the heart of the story. Instead of rescuing her mother, the way I originally planned, Ella needs to rescue herself. Over nine years, Black Flowers, White Lies transformed into a journey of strength and self-belief, for Ella as a character and for me as a writer.

 

blackflowerswhitelies_finalcoverABOUT BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES

Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. Since her mother discourages these beliefs, Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. But she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died sixteen years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. After a lifetime of just the two of them, Mom suddenly feels like a stranger.

When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before. If it’s not a warning, could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible for the strange occurrences? Or maybe it’s the grieving building superintendent whose dead daughter strongly resembles Ella? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her.

Soon the evidence points to someone else entirely: Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

yvonne-ventresca-photo-for-downloadABOUT YVONNE VENTRESCA:

Yvonne Ventresca’s latest young adult novel, BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES will be published by Sky Pony Press in October 2016.

Her debut YA novel, PANDEMIC, won a 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In PANDEMIC, a teen struggles to survive not only a deadly outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons. Ventresca’s other works include the short story “Escape to Orange Blossom,” which was selected for the dystopian anthology PREP FOR DOOM, along with two nonfiction books, PUBLISHING (Careers for the 21st Century) and AVRIL LAVIGNE (People in the News).

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

GIVEAWAY

Prize pack includes a three panel rustic chalkboard with a $25 Amex gift card, a $25 Sephora gift card, and a signed copy of Black Flowers, White Lies.

Click on the link to enter:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Jen Halligan for hosting the book tour:

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Prepare for an Epidemic…

22 05 2014
Yvonne Ventresca Author

Yvonne Ventresca

I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Yvonne Ventresca and discovering that we both wrote nonfiction books on singers for Lucent Books. Mine was about Rihanna; hers was on Avril Lavigne. But that wasn’t the only similarity. We both had YA fiction titles debuting in May.  So what better way to celebrate our joint book birthdays than hosting her on my blog.

Yvonne’s latest release, Pandemic, has been called “riveting and terrifyingly real” on Goodreads.

Welcome, Yvonne! It’s great to have you here today. I’m so glad you were willing to answer some questions for our readers.

When did you start writing?

I have old poems from around sixth and seventh grade. I was always an avid reader, and wanting to work with words seemed like a natural extension of that. I took my first formal creative writing classes in college.

Are there any fond memories you’d like to share that relate to your writing?

Yvonne at her Hofstra graduation

Yvonne at her Hofstra graduation

My dad worked during the day and received his MBA by attending Hofstra University (Long Island, NY) at night. One Saturday when he needed to research an assignment, he took me to the university library. I couldn’t believe how many books there were compared to our small local library! I managed to amuse myself for hours while he finished his work. I later attended Hofstra as an undergraduate and received a Bachelor of Arts in both English and computer science.

In school, what was one of your worst moments?

Not exactly a moment, but my lowest grade of all my college courses was in a basic freshman English. Luckily, the professor wasn’t successful in discouraging me from studying literature and writing.

What hobbies and interests do you have?

I love genealogy and tracing my family’s history. The research is fascinating and I’ve learned some great family stories.

Yvonne's officeI see from this picture of your office that you have old family photos on the wall. How awesome. I love family history and genealogy too.

What made you write Pandemic?

I’ve always been fascinated with disaster and survival stories. For example, I loved Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I wanted to create a story where the main character is in a difficult place at the onset, even before the disease strikes, so that she must find a way to heal and become stronger during the crisis.

Can you share a brief blurb about Pandemic?

In Pandemic, only a few people know what caused Lilianna Snyder’s sudden change from a model student to a withdrawn pessimist who worries about all kinds of disasters. After her parents are called away on business, Lil’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread fatal illness. With her worst fears realized, Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons.Pandemic cover

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? If you’d like to buy a copy of Pandemic, it’s available here:

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Powells
Book Depository
Chapters

What are you working on now?

I’m writing a psychological thrill about a teen girl who fears she is either being haunted or losing her mind.

And just for fun…

What super power do you wish you had?

I wish I needed less sleep and less caffeine – a super-energy super power!

That sounds useful. 🙂

What is something most people don’t know about you?

Throughout my life, I’ve had five dogs, one cat, three parakeets, two hamsters, numerous guppies, and a dwarf rabbit who lived in my college dorm room for a year.

Yvonne at age eight with her pet parakeet

Yvonne at age eight with her pet parakeet

Where can readers find out more about you?

Visit Yvonne at her:
Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Pinterest

Even better, you can meet Yvonne in person at the following venues:

June 1, 2014, Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Somerville Street Festival
Book signing and sale
Somerville, NJ

June 3, 2014, Tuesday
NJ Library Association Annual Conference
Atlantic City, NJ

June 3, 2014, Tuesday from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Otto Bruyns Public Library
Author talk and book signing
Northfield, NJ

June 26, 2014, Thursday from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Scotch Plains Public Library
Author talk and book signing
Scotch Plains, NJ

June 28 and June 29, 2014, Saturday and Sunday
New Jersey SCBWI 2014 Conference, Faculty
Workshop: What To Expect When You’re Expecting a Novel
Princeton, NJ

September 20, 2014, Saturday, 11:00 am to 7:00 pm
Chapter by Chapter BookRave
Book Signing and YA Bowling Party
Larchmont, NY

October 11, 2014, Saturday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Collingswood Book Festival
Collingswood, NJ

And here’s a brief bio about Yvonne:

Before becoming a children’s writer, Yvonne Ventresca wrote computer programs and taught others how to use technology. Now she happily spends her days writing stories instead of code. Yvonne is the author of the young adult novel Pandemic, available in May from Sky Pony Press. Yvonne’s other writing credits include two nonfiction books for kids: Avril Lavigne (a biography of the singer) and Publishing (about careers in the field).