Zoe Cannon's YA Fiction

Instigator by Nicole Ciacchella

by on Jul.03, 2014, under Uncategorized

The final book in my favorite indie dystopian series, the Contributor series by Nicole Ciacchella, came out this week! If you’re already a fan, go grab your copy on Amazon now – I’m in the middle of reading it now, and so far it’s shaping up to be just as good as the other two, if not better. If you aren’t familiar with the series, and you like YA dystopia with skin-crawlingly believable worldbuilding and a strong main character who is more interested in righting the wrongs in her world than in deciding whom to kiss, start with the first book, Contributor, here.

Instigator cover


Disillusioned and angry at the revelation of the Free Thinkers’ secret patron, Dara isn’t sure whether her decision to join them was the right choice. Guilt over Letizia’s loss plagues her, and she feels betrayed by one of the few people in whom she placed her trust.

Adjusting to life outside of the domes hasn’t been easy over the past six months, especially because the Free Thinkers’ progress is so frustratingly slow. Nothing has changed, and she doesn’t know how much longer she can deny her searing need for vengeance, or even whether she should place her faith in the Free Thinkers. The more the truth about both them and the Creators is revealed, the less certain she is that the two are all that different. What if she handed them the incriminating evidence they need to exploit to ensure a future that looks a lot like what the Creators envisioned?

Yet Dara has never been more certain of one thing: the Creators must pay—for what they did to her mother, for what they did to Letizia, and for what they’ve done to humanity.


“Storm coming?” Javier asked, joining her. He folded his arms over his chest, adopting his usual carefree expression and posture, but she’d come to know he wore it like a mask. Almost everything he did was calculated, and behind his placid exterior was a mind rarely at rest.

“I don’t think so,” she said after studying the sky for a moment longer. Conditions didn’t feel quite right for the vicious dust storms that ripped through the area with surprising frequency but little warning. She had developed a healthy respect for them; they were not to be messed with.

“Another sabotage mission completed,” he remarked. He sounded as if he were satisfied with a day’s work well done, but she heard a note of something in his voice, a note that mirrored the disquiet in her own head.

“Prick, prick, prick,” she said, unable to keep the sarcasm from her tone. “Think the Creators will bleed to death anytime soon?”

He smiled. “Doubtful. Still, I guess we are annoying them and setting back their master plan. They can’t be too happy with us about that.”

“So they have to wait for their toys. Poor dears.” Disdain dripped from her words, but the thought didn’t make her feel any better. Who cared if they inconvenienced the Creators? Inconveniencing them was the least of what she’d had in mind.

“The time isn’t right. You must be patient,” he said, mimicking Mal’s tight voice, making Dara smile despite herself.

“I’m really sick of that word.”

“You’re not alone there.”

“Do you think an actual plan exists?”

“Depends on which day of the week it is,” he said, giving her a crooked smile. He leaned against a rusting beam, seeming unconcerned about it crumbling under his weight. “I know they have plenty of plans, I’m just not sure what those plans are and whether they’re the plans I’d like them to be.”

“Raj keeps telling me we can’t be rash.”

“Inertia. I thought the Creators were the only ones who suffered from it. Looks like I was wrong about that.”

Get the book on Amazon!

NCiacchella Author Photo

About the Author

Nicole has progressed from scribbling in notebooks to banging on keyboards, but she’s never managed to stop daydreaming at inappropriate moments.

When not answering the demands of her characters, Nicole can often be found curled up with a good book or spending far too many hours acting the hero in whatever video game is her obsession of the moment.

One of Nicole’s other great passions is travel. She loves being married to a native Belgian, both because she likes the idea of being “The American” and because it gives her plenty of excuses to visit Europe—that wondrous land of coffee, chocolate, pastry, and some other stuff—as often as possible.

Michigan born and raised, Nicole lives there with her honorary Michigander/Belgian husband and her two children. A Michigan State University alum, Nicole bleeds green and is a Spartan for life.

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No Return is now available!

by on May.21, 2014, under No Return

No Return B3

No Return
The conclusion to the Internal Defense series

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | paperback

Every dissident knows about Becca Dalcourt.

They know about the lives she’s saved. About the prison break she carried out against impossible odds. They know she turned a dying resistance into the first real threat Internal Defense has faced in a long time.

And even now, with the resistance under attack from the inside, they know Becca can save them.

They’re wrong.

The conclusion to the story that began with The Torturer’s Daughter and Necessary Sacrifices, No Return explores what happens when an ordinary person becomes a legend – and how to choose between who you are and who the world needs you to be.

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Mary Hades: a new release from Sarah Dalton

by on May.16, 2014, under Uncategorized

Fellow Shattered Worlds author Sarah Dalton just released her new book, Mary Hades, last week. The book is based on her bestselling Kindle Single “My Daylight Monsters,” and already has some great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I admit I can’t read this one myself, because I can’t read horror, but if you’re a fan of YA horror, be sure to check this one out. :)

Mary HadesAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | Google Play

Not many seventeen year old girls have a best friend who’s a ghost, but then Mary Hades isn’t your average teenager.

Scarred physically and mentally from a fire, her parents decide a holiday to an idyllic village in North Yorkshire will help her recover. Nestled in the middle of five moors, Mary expects to have a boring week stuck in a caravan with her parents. Little does she know, evil lurks in the campsite…

Seth Lockwood—a local fairground worker with a dark secret—might be the key to uncovering the murky history that has blighted Nettleby. But Mary is drawn to him in a way that has her questioning her judgement.

Helped by her dead best friend and a quirky gay Goth couple, Mary must stop the unusual deaths occurring in Nettleby. But can she prevent her heart from being broken?

The first in a series of dark YA novels, Mary Hades follows on from the bestselling Kindle Single My Daylight Monsters. A spine-tingling tale with romance, readers will be shocked and entertained in equal measure.

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Why We Need Diverse Books

by on May.01, 2014, under Musings, Personal

I’m posting as part of today’s We Need Diverse Books campaign. You can find more posts on the campaign’s Tumblr and follow the hashtag on Twitter.


I learned about the world through fiction.

I didn’t know, when I was a kid, that I was on the autism spectrum, or that I would grow up to be asexual. I just knew that I was different. I knew I didn’t understand things that other people understood. I knew that other people didn’t think the way I thought. And even though I wouldn’t start thinking about sexuality for years to come, I had a vague premonition that I was different in that regard too, whenever I saw boys and girls proto-flirting on the playground.

Looking at the world straight-on left me overwhelmed. Talking to people left me bewildered. But words – words were my domain. They translated a world that was written in a language I didn’t know. They taught me how other people thought, and how they related to each other, and what they were like.

But there were things books didn’t teach me.

For one thing, they didn’t teach me about people like me.

I remember the lightning stab through the heart I would feel whenever I stumbled upon a character I could relate to. I would read the book over and over, trying to inhale it through my pores. I would try to force it on my perpetually unbookish friends. “Mom,” I would say, as if I had come fresh from a mystical vision. “This person is like me.

It didn’t happen very often.

I got older. I learned about myself, discovered how to name my differences. I went to fiction to find reflections of myself, to find a map that would show me where I belonged in this world, and came away with empty hands – or worse than empty. Of the autistic characters I found, most of them were barely more than a collection of symptoms taken straight from a reference book, and either they were embarking on a heartwarming journey of becoming less autistic (don’t get me started), or they existed solely as someone else’s inspiration (including the reader’s) or as a challenge for a non-autistic character to overcome. Of the asexual characters I found… well, one was a convicted murderer, and one was a self-centered brat. Needless to say, neither one found true love.

I want to read books that tell me that people like me can be heroes. People who do the things I do and think the way I think and love the way I love. I want books that reflect my own experiences. Books that tell me I can obsess over strange things and rock when I’m happy and scream at loud noises and still be a fully realized human being in my own right. Books that tell me I can live happily ever after with the love of my life without ever swooning over his hotness. I want books that tell me the things that make me who I am are more than just problems to overcome, or bits of flavor in someone else’s life.

But that isn’t the only thing that books didn’t give me.

Stories shape how people see the world. That’s what they did for me. People will assume, on a subconscious level, that the stories they read reflect the world they live in, even if it isn’t true. And what happens when they don’t see people who are different from them? What happens when all they see are negative or stereotypical portrayals of differences? (To use one example: A lot of autistic people complain about the portrayal of the main character in Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. A lot of non-autistic people, on the other hand, gush about how this book helped them to understand autism. I’m sure most people who differ from the norm in some way can think of a similar case. That stereotypical portrayal that left you with a “this is me/this isn’t me at all” sense of cognitive dissonance. That book or movie that makes you silently gnash your teeth whenever someone brings it up, or tries to tell you how much it helped them understand “people like you.”)

Stories shape how people see the world – but this is a double-edged sword. If we’re shown a world in which everyone is the same, then that’s what we’ll see.

And while I want to see myself reflected in the books I read, that’s not all I want. I want to learn about all ways of being, not just the ones that are most common. I want to read about lives and experiences that give me that shock of recognition, and I want to read about perspectives I’ve never considered before. I want to expand my view of what it means to be human, and what it means to live in this world. I want to see the world as it is, in all its infinite diversity.

Both these things are equally important. But right now, all too often, the books I read don’t give me either one.

Watch the We Need Diverse Books Tumblr if you’re interested in reading more diverse books – tomorrow people will be sending in their book recommendations, and on Saturday we’ll try to show there’s a demand for diverse books by buying them ourselves and encouraging others to do the same.

If you’re interested in my own portrayal of autism in fiction, my short story “Flight,” available in this free anthology, retells the story of Beauty and the Beast with two main characters on the autism spectrum.

 Kea’s Flight by Erika Hammerschmidt and John C. Ricker remains my favorite book about autistic characters. (As a bonus, it also contains an asexual character who is neither obnoxious nor a murderer!) My thoughts on this book are too complex to be summed up in a couple of lines, but you can read my gushing Goodreads review here.

 Finally, “Difference of Opinion” by Meda Kahn is a short but powerful story about an autistic woman in a science-fiction world.

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No Return Cover Reveal

by on Apr.22, 2014, under Uncategorized

The third and final book of the Internal Defense series will be here soon, and I finally have the cover to show you! (…Okay, the cover has been done for a while, but I didn’t want to share it until I had an actual release date for the book.) This was a difficult cover to design – it had to look right with the covers of all the other books in the series, have the same theme as the other covers in the series (namely, an important concept in the book represented in a figurative way, with a strong central image), and fit the book itself. I had the Necessary Sacrifices cover figured out long before I had finished the first draft (that seems more industrious than it is – I tend to use cover design as a way to avoid writing while still feeling like I’m accomplishing something :) ), but for this book it took me until I was well into the revision.

But thanks to my many hours of browsing stock photo sites, many Photoshop-induced dents in my skull, and the comments of several beta readers who told me (all independently of each other) that a certain location was the most vivid and meaningful in the book, the cover is here! Enjoy:


No Return B3Every dissident knows about Becca Dalcourt.

They know about the lives she’s saved. About the prison break she carried out against impossible odds. They know she turned a dying resistance into the first real threat Internal Defense has faced in a long time.

And even now, with the resistance under attack from the inside, they know Becca can save them.

They’re wrong.

The conclusion to the story that began with The Torturer’s Daughter and Necessary SacrificesNo Return explores what happens when an ordinary person becomes a legend – and how to choose between who you are and who the world needs you to be.

No Return will be released on May 21st, 2014. You can add it to your Goodreads TBR list here.

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My Writing Process Blog Tour

by on Mar.24, 2014, under Uncategorized

I’m following Megan Thomason, fellow Infinite Inkling, in this blog tour about authors’ writing processes. Visit her website here: http://www.meganthomason.com.

What am I working on?

Right now I’m finishing up the last of my edits on No Return, the final novel of the Internal Defense series. I’m looking forward to getting this book out there and wrapping up the series, and yet at the same time, it’s a strange feeling. I’ve been writing about these characters for so long that it’s going to be hard to let go.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Most dystopian novels focus on creating an exotic world very different from our own, and then telling an epic story about fixing that world. I wanted to do something different with the Internal Defense books. As I said when asked to explain the motivations behind my books for the recent launch of Infinite Ink Authors, I wrote this series because I wanted to create a more realistic-feeling dystopia. Most dystopias are larger than life, both in terms of whatever is wrong with the world and in terms of the heroes who are trying to fix it, but there are plenty of real-world governments, both now and in the past, that could be classified as dystopian. I wanted to combine that kind of atmosphere with contemporary American culture, and show what that world would look like from the perspective of someone who has never known anything else – and then turn that ordinary person into a hero.

Why do I write what I do?

That’s a hard question to answer. The simplest explanation is that I write what I do because these are the stories that come to me. But I suppose I love both speculative fiction and the YA category because I’m endlessly curious. I love to explore what makes people who they are, and YA is the perfect place to do that because the characters in YA are often learning about who they are and deciding who they want to become. And I love to explore new possibilities and ideas. I like to ask “Why?” and “What if?” and “What makes things this way?” There’s no better place to do that than in speculative fiction.

As for who all my stories end up being kind of dark (okay, maybe more than kind of)… it sounds strange, but I think it’s actually because I’m a huge idealist. And idealism doesn’t mean as much in a happy world. It’s easy to believe in hope when everything is going well, and it’s easy to do the right thing when your choices are black and white. That’s not what interests me. I like to write about people who do the right thing even when it costs them everything, who believe in a better world when things are at their darkest, who fight for what they believe in even if they know they can’t win.

How does my writing process work?

It’s different for every book, and is always changing as I learn more about the craft of writing and about how my own mind works, but these are the steps I usually go through:

- I come up with an idea.

- I noodle around with the idea for a while, scribbling down notes and getting a sense of the shape of it. This is usually where I figure out what my main character is like, the basic trajectory of the plot, how I want it to end, and what themes the story will focus on. It’s also where I start getting ideas for specific scenes.

- I take the scene ideas I’ve already come up with and fill in the gaps between them, until I have a basic outline that takes the story from beginning to end with no missing pieces.

- I outline each of my scenes in more detail, using a process similar to this.

- I write the first draft. This usually goes pretty quickly – a few weeks on average – because I already know where I’m going.

- After putting the book aside for at least a few days, I reread it and figure out what I need to change. While writing the first draft, it’s hard to see the big picture; this is where I can finally step back and see the book as a whole. I look at how each scene fits into that larger picture, and what I need to do to make all the parts of the story fit together seamlessly. I write notes for each scene – creating a new outline, in a way – laying out what needs to be changed, what needs to be added, and what needs to be removed.

- I start the actual revision. The revision process always takes at least twice as long as the first draft, sometimes much more than that. Not because my first drafts are that messy – I actually write pretty clean first drafts – but because it’s just a slower process. In my first drafts I go down every path I see, following every tangent, especially in terms of what my characters are thinking and feeling. In the revision, I prune away everything that isn’t necessary. I’m ruthless. If something doesn’t serve the story, out it goes. It’s normal for my books to lose at least ten thousand words between the first draft and the second. No Return lost more like fifty thousand.

- After the second draft, the book is basically done. I don’t do five or ten different drafts – I do a single revision, but I make it massive. By the time I’m done, I know I’ve turned the book into the story I want to tell. All that’s left after this is my final line edit and proofreading pass – and then publishing!

Following me next week on the #mywritingprocess tour are:

Katie French, YA dystopian author and fellow Infinite Inkling: http://www.katiefrenchbooks.com

Ariele Sieling, YA sci-fi author: http://www.arielesieling.com

Christopher Kellen, fantasy and science fiction author: http://www.christopherkellen.com

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Psst! Something is happening.

by on Mar.15, 2014, under Uncategorized

Want to discover a bunch of new YA spec fic authors?

Want a chance to win free books and maybe an Amazon gift card?

What to find out what I’ve been helping to put together for the past couple of months?

Visit the Infinite Ink Authors site here!

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Shattered Worlds Release

by on Feb.26, 2014, under Uncategorized

Shattered Worlds Final Cover Small

The Shattered Worlds boxed set is available now! Get six full-length dystopian novels, including The Torturer’s Daughter, for only 99 cents. And if you want to follow along on our blog tour, you can find the schedule here.

Have you entered the Shattered Worlds giveaway? If not, there’s still four days left – enter here to win copies of all the books in the set plus their sequels, copies of the sequels only, or a $60 Amazon gift card!

Get the ebook:
On Amazon
On Barnes & Noble
On Kobo
On Smashwords


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Snuggle Up and Read Giveaway

by on Feb.16, 2014, under Uncategorized

Remember Through a Tangled Wood, the fairytale anthology my Beauty and the Beast retelling was published in a couple of months back? (If you haven’t read it, what are you waiting for? It’s free!) This week, all the authors from the anthology are teaming up to giveaway a whole bunch of free books. If you’re looking for a book to hide under the covers with during the next snowstorm, enter the Snuggle Up and Read Giveaway here:

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Shattered Worlds: Announcement and Giveaway!

by on Feb.03, 2014, under Uncategorized


Shattered Worlds Promo Small


The Torturer’s Daughter is one of six complete novels included in Shattered Worlds, a new YA dystopian boxed set. Shattered Worlds will be released on February 26th and will be available for a limited time on all major ebook retailers. To celebrate the release, we’re giving away three prizes, including an Amazon gift card and all the books from the boxed set plus their sequels:

Shattered Worlds Giveaway

Second Prize Third Prize

Enter the giveaway below, and add the book to your Goodreads shelves here!

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There is no Them. There are only facets of Us.
- John Green