The Day I Forgot how to Talk (i.e. the day I met Marianas Trench)

So…it’s been awhile…

How have you been? Are the kids well? Anything new? 🙂


Anyway, I’ve been thinking for a while that I really needed to brush off this dusty ol’ blog and start it again, but I could never figure out what I wanted to talk about. I knew I didn’t want to talk about writing. That’s boring.

I mean, I sit at a computer all day and press keys in rapid succession until something that I hope resembles a book pops out. Or worse, I sit and stare into space while I wait for my Muse to slap me over the head with ideas, but mostly end up staying that way until the kids come home. And only when I’m thisclose to falling asleep does an idea hit me. I promptly decide there’s no need to write it down because unlike the gazillion times before this time I absolutely will NOT forget it by morning. Only to wake up the next morning asking myself what was the brilliant idea I had.

So…back to the blog. I didn’t want to write about writing. So what did that leave me to write about? I had no idea. Until Saturday that is.

So a few months ago, I saw my favorite band (Marianas Trench–if you haven’t heard of them, check them out. They’re amazing. Seriously.) was coming to Orlando. Without too much thinking, I decided I was going to go and not only go, I was going to spring for VIP tickets to meet them. I was so excited (nervous, too, because…me.) and I stalked them on twitter to figure out exactly what “VIP” meant. Which is how I found out that they wanted people to dress in 80’s garb.  Neat, right?

I messaged my friend,  Leah (LD Chrichton)–who was the one who introduced me to their music in the first place (she even bought and sent me their CDs back when you couldn’t buy their music on iTunes in the US.)–to tell her I got VIP tickets. Squeeing with me, she suggested I bring a copy of RENEGADE and show them that I’d written a thank you to them in the acknowledgements. I agreed it was a good idea, but decided I’d do one better and bring each of them a copy of the book to say thank you in person, for creating such wonderful music.

So…fast forward to Saturday. I take my daughter to ice skating and can barely contain how excited I am, sharing my plans with anyone who’ll listen while making a mental list to make sure I’ve got everything I need for my 80s costume, beg a friend for makeup tips, and convince another one of my friends, Larissa Hardesty, to come with me (I have no shame when I share my favorite things with my favorite people. ;P).

When I get home, I double and triple check the email they sent me re: the VIP meet and greet. Then pull my costume on, asking my husband every 5 minutes if I look 80s enough. I think I did pretty good, considering I may have been born in the 80s, but I’m a 90s chick.

I wish I'd had time to tease and/or crimp my hair more, but the side pony tail was good enough. I think

I wish I’d had time to tease and/or crimp my hair more, but the side pony tail was good enough. I think

So I go to the concert, wait outside for awhile then go to the meet and greet/VIP event. It was so much fun. I met some wonderful ladies (if you ladies are reading this, message me! We should totally hang out.) And even gathered the courage to ask them a question about David Bowie. They played PERFECT (one of my favorites). Then we were all shuffled through some pics with the band, which is where I WANTED to hand them the books with the thank you, but I chickened out and I didn’t really have a chance to before we were all shuffled back outside. But they all said they liked my costume. So still a win, right?

I met up with Larissa at Bongos (Beautiful restaurant, BTW. Their  chocolate lave cake is to DIE for. Seriously.) And then we headed back to House of Blues where we stood outside for a few to get in (while I cursed myself for not getting in the front of the line when I had the chance to when I left the VIP event. Because it was FREEZING. Or at least it was for this Florida girl).

An awful selfie I took while freezing outside HOB.

An awful selfie of Larissa and I, that I took while freezing outside HOB.

The next few hours were spent enjoying an AMAZING concert. The set list was FANTASTIC. They played all of my favorite songs (like I have one I DON’T like. LOL.)! But my absolute favorite was GOOD TO YOU. 🙂


This was from ASTORIA. (Forgive the crappy pictures. I’m short and I was in the back. LOL.)


I can’t remember what song this was, but I love the lighting and the background.


FALLOUT (obvs.) And HELLO shirtless Josh. LOL.


Another FALLOUT.


Another FALLOUT, but I LOVED Josh’s pose and expression here.


WILDFIRE, I think. But this was my favorite pic of the night.


Can’t remember the song, but loved the background.


Pretty sure this was END OF AN ERA. They had a better background later in the song, but I didn’t take a pic for whatever reason. 🙁

So then Josh announces that the band is coming out to meet with everyone and I damn near jumped for joy because I was sure this was my chance. So I waited FOREVER in Josh’s huge ass line. The entire time I’m practicing what I’m going to say when I hand them to him. “Thanks for making such wonderful music. I have at least one song of yours on every playlist I have while writing. I wrote you in the acknowledgements of RENEGADE and I gave one of my characters your famous blue and black hair before you changed it. Blah, blah, blah.” You get the picture.

So then it’s my turn, and he smiles at me. I forget everything. (Of course.) I shove the pile of books at him. Mumble something about how much I love his music and how I put him in the acknowledgements and wrote a character for him in book 2 and that the books are for the entire band. Which wasn’t AT ALL what I meant to say.

He just kept saying wow and turning the books all around, staring at them like, “What the fuck?”


Pretty sure that’s the face of: “What the fuck is this? And why is this crazy chick giving me 4 copies of a BOOK?”

So then I start apologizing and saying how I know it’s weird (like a DUMB ASS). He hands the books to his assistant and tells me he’s going to have them take them backstage. And then he posses for a picture with me.


Then I bolted out the door and tried not to cry from embarrassment.

He was SO nice about it, but I’m sure he went backstage and was like, “I had the weirdest chick in line today.”

So…what’s the most embarrassing moment of YOUR life? Sound off in the comments.

Pitch Wars 2015 Bio and Wishlist


It’s time for Pitch Wars again! Whoot! And, this year,  I’m so, so, so very excited to announce that I’m going to be a mentor this year!

I’m assuming that if you’ve happened upon this post you know what Pitch Wars is, but if you don’t, click here. (Go ahead and click it, it won’t bite. Promise. :P)

Okay, now that you’ve done that, let’s get down to business, shall we?

First things first! This IS my first year mentoring in Pitch Wars, BUT I have awesome creds. I actually mentored the fabulous Brenda Drake (the lovely author who has put this together every year) to her agent and book deal! I’d say that makes me pretty awesome, right?

Now…a little about me as told in 3rd person:

J.A. Souders was born in the heartland, smack dab in the middle of Packer country less than a mile from the famed Lambeau field to a pair of Cheesehead Trekkies. Despite her parents nightly efforts to brainwash her with every episode of Star Trek ever created (Original Series, The Next Generation), J.A. escaped into the fantastic world of books and her own imagination. When she started showing too much interest in becoming the next Nancy Drew, her parents took the only obvious course of action—they moved to Florida.

Now a Southern Girl without an accent, J.A. reveled in her “nerd” status in high school, and read every one of the classics her teachers heaped on her. She owes her love of dark fiction to the fabulous classical writings of William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, H.G Wells, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and to the more modern writers, Christopher Pike and Dean Koontz. While technically a good student, J.A. annoyed all her teachers (except her English teacher) by using class time to write stories about aliens, witches, and vampires.

Determined to be a disappointment to her parents, J.A.’s favorite show of all time was (and still is) SeaQuest, which began her lifelong dream of living in an underwater city. After failing to grow gills in high school, J.A. decided a more practical way to achieve her underwater dreams was to study Marine Biology and join the Navy.

Turns out, the Navy doesn’t have a secret entrance to Atlantis, but J.A. did get to live on a boat as large as a city for a while, and travel to the Middle East, Germany, and Italy. She waved “hi” to other countries as the ship traveled past them, and promised to come back for a visit someday.

After being medically retired, she returned home to Florida where she still lives today with her husband and two children. Her days are spent chasing the monsters in her head out onto the pages of her novels, filling her children’s heads with the awesome nonsense of the Science Fiction/Fantasy world, and battling the real-life laundry-monster.

J.A. has an unhealthy obsession with ghost stories and loves visiting St. Augustine and Savannah just to listen to them. Someday she’ll make good on the promises she made while in the Navy to visit Ireland, Scotland, and England for even more ghost stories. Besides writing—and reading—J.A. enjoys traveling. She may or may not have planned out every detail—including maps, brochures, and timelines—of every place she’s going to visit, depending on if you think that’s crazy or not.

Despite being a card-carrying nerd, who still loves video games, Science Fiction movies, manga and anime, J.A. also loves swimming, SCUBA diving, and boating, and has fired some seriously badass guns in the name of research.


I’m also the author of the Elysium Chronicles a YA science fiction thriller set in an underwater Utopian society that includes a badass heroine, brainwashing, and a forbidden romance. And my debut NA will be published soon.  My social media links are on the bottom of the page if you want to find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other places.

And now onto the good stuff (i.e. what I’m looking for):I’m mentoring both the YA and NA categories this year, and I pretty much love every genre in both categories, although I do tend to lean more toward dark and quirky speculative fiction.  If your book’s a bit “risky,”  or “edgy” you get bonus points.  I don’t mind swearing, sex, or violence (as long as there’s a reason for it. If you just threw in some violence to make it edgy, that’s probably not going to work for me). I love diversity, so give me all you’ve got. My only exception to all that would be that I’m not a fan of hardcore horror (If you have something like Anna Dressed in Blood, though, bring it!) and YA Dystopian (I love it, but it is very dead right now.)



A few of my favorite published authors are Sophie Jordan, Rachel Vincent, Kendare Blake, Gretchen McNeil, Lisa Desrochers, and Marissa Meyer. And my favorite “claim to fame” is that a CP of mine has compared me to Tim Burton. 🙂 Hopefully, that should give you a good indicator of my taste in books.

I know my list of wants is pretty open (that’s intentional as I don’t want to limit what I see–you just never know what’s going to grab you until you read it), so if you have questions, I’m very open to answering them. Just leave them below. I will not, however, answer specific questions about whether or not I’d be interested in YOUR specific book. It’s not fair. Sorry.

A word of warning, I’m tough on my mentees. To steal a line from my friend, Sarah Nicolas, “If you want a mentor who is going to take on your project, tweak a few sentences and tell you it’s perfect, I’m not the girl for you!”



But, I promise you, if you work your ass off, I’ll work twice as hard.



So…good luck and happy hunting!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out all the other mentors.

Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets — Auto-Linky widget will appear right here!This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.If this widget does not appear, click here to display it.


Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the RED TEAM–but there is also a pink team, a gold team, a blue team, a purple team, a green team, a orange team, and teal team for a chance to win a whole different set of signed books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.




Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the red team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).


Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.


Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, Oct 5th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.





Today, I am honored to be hosting author Amy K. Nichols on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!


Amy K. Nichols holds a master’s in literature and studied medieval paleography before switching her focus to writing fiction. She is the author of YA science fiction novels NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE (Knopf 2014) and WHILE YOU WERE GONE (Knopf 2015). She is mentored by award-winning novelist James Sallis. Insatiably curious, Amy dabbles in art, studies karate, and has a long list of things to do before she dies. She lives with her family on the edge of the desert outside Phoenix, AZ. In the evenings, she enjoys counting bats and naming stars. Sometimes she names the bats. Visit her online at


Find out more information by checking out her website or find more about the author’s book (including where to buy it) here!




Eevee is a promising young artist and the governor’s daughter in a city where censorship is everywhere and security is everything. When a fire devastates her exhibition—years in the making—her dreams of attending an elite art institute are dashed. She’s struggling to find inspiration when she meets Danny, a boy from a different world. Literally.

Raised in a foster home, Danny has led a life full of hurt and hardship until a glitch in the universe changes everything. Suddenly Danny is living in a home he’s never seen, with parents who miraculously survived the car crash that should have killed them. It’s like he’s a new Danny. But this alternate self has secrets—ties to an underground anarchist group that have already landed him in hot water. When he starts to develop feelings for Eevee, he’s even more disturbed to learn that he might have started the fire that ruined her work.

As Danny sifts through clues from his past and Eevee attempts to piece together her future, they uncover a secret that’s bigger than both of them. . . . And together, they must correct the breach between the worlds before it’s too late.

WHILE YOU WERE GONE tells the flip-side of the first Duplexity novel, NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE, following the story of the alternate Danny and alternate Eevee in Danny’s parallel world.


Sounds amazing, amiright?!


And what’s more awesome? Amy has been awesome enough to give us a guest post AND a peak at her first book below!


I’m so excited to be on Team Red for the YA Scavenger Hunt and to share some bonus material with you! While I’m here promoting WHILE YOU WERE GONE, the second book in the Duplexity series due to be published by Knopf on August 4, the scene I’m sharing with you today is from the first book in the series, NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE.


First, though, a little background.


WHILE YOU WERE GONE tells the story of Danny, a boy who jumps to a parallel world where he’s no longer an orphan, where he has a cool best friend, and where he even gets the girl. But the society his parallel self lives in is a police state about to implode. The people there are weighed down by and fed up with constant security and surveillance. Surprisingly, Danny’s jumping holds the key to solving the problem. With the help of super-secretive Warren, they devise a plan to take down the entire system. If their plan fails, though, they run the risk of sending Danny back to his old world for good.


WHILE YOU WERE GONE is the flipside of the first book, NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE, which tells the story of the alternate Danny and alternate Eevee. Danny jumps from a police state to a free society, only to discover his parallel self is an orphan living in a foster home. He’s a lonely loser who has no friends, let alone a girl. Still, super-smart Eevee who sits next to him in English agrees to help him figure out how he jumped there. With the help of her best friend Warren, they devise a plan to get him home, but now that he has Eevee, he’s not sure back home is where he wants to be.


If you’ve read NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE, you know about the date between Warren and Missy Bivins (which happens off-stage) and its wider implications. The bonus material I’m giving away today is that scene, in all its nerdy splendor. If you haven’t read NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE, I hope this scene piques your interest enough to give it a try. It’s a lot of fun.


Without further ado, I give you…



Caterpillars, Bantha Steak and Secrets




Captain’s Log Stardate 92799.92



I set course to rendezvous with a fascinating life form approximately 1.6 meters tall with astronomical mathematic skills and brown hair typically worn in braids. Melissa Bivins.

Also in the honors track at Palo Brea, Missy sits next to or near me in several classes. She smells of citrus blossoms and potassium iodide. On a number of occasions I’d considered pointing this out, but didn’t want to state the obvious. It’s my understanding that females tend to be deliberate about matters such as perfume choice. Besides, orange trees are in bloom in Phoenix this time of year. Most residents probably carry a certain amount of pollen, and thus the scent, every day without even knowing. Still, I’d resolved that, should the subject come up over the course of the evening, I’d mention it.

That moment came approximately three minutes after she answered her door.

“Hi Warren,” she said, turning a braid around her right index finger.

I moved my goggles—my best pair, the antique aviators—up onto my forehead and said, “Hi Missy.” Then we looked at each other for another minute and a half, and I said, “You smell like citrus blossoms and potassium iodide.”

My keen observation skills must have impressed her. “Thank you,” she said. “I like your shirt.”

I’d chosen the quasi-steampunk Tesla portrait for a number of reasons, the first and foremost being that Nikola Tesla is one of the greatest scientific minds to ever live. Second, the scrollwork and stylized font make it look classy and I wasn’t sure what Missy had planned and if we were going somewhere nice. Also, my favorite shirt, the cosmic Einstein, was dirty. “Tesla was one of the greatest—”

“Scientific minds ever,” she finished and we both smiled.

I followed her through the house to the backyard where she led me up a ladder into the limbs of an enormous mulberry tree. Of course she’d have a killer fort. Inside, the Milky Way stretched across the ceiling. “Did you paint this?”

“My father helped me. He’s an architect.” She picked up a mulberry flower that had fallen through the open window. “They look like caterpillars. Spilarctia luteum maybe?”

I picked one up, too, and inspected it, my mind spinning. A lepidopterist, too? Missy Bivins was full of surprises. “Or spilosoma lubricipeda.”

She held out her pseudo-caterpillar and I touched it with mine. “Cheers.”

We sat on a blanket set in the middle of the fort and ate the dinner she’d prepared with her mom. Lamta, hubba bread, bantha steak soup. The choicest selections from Jun Seros’ diner in Mos Eisley. “It’s really couscous,” she whispered, pointing at the lamta, but we agreed to pretend.

When the sun went down, the Milky Way above us glowed. We ate sugar-dusted pallie and talked about school and the severe lack of challenging homework. We debated DC versus Marvel and tried to solve unsolvable math problems. Then, in a most surprising turn, Missy reached across the blanket and took my hand. “Tell me a secret.”

My mouth went dry. Of course my first thought was the Faraday cage and EMP device I’d been building with Eevee in my garage at home. I wanted nothing more than to tell her about Danny Ogden. If he really had jumped here from a parallel universe, then we were sitting on a discovery that would blow the scientific realm wide open. The words gathered at the front of my brain like podracers revving at a starting line somewhere in the Outer Rim. But secrets are called secrets for a reason. I couldn’t tell her.

Or could I?

Lle quena i’lambe tel’ Eldalie?

Her eyebrows furrowed. “Is that Italian?” she asked, confirming my suspicion that she wasn’t familiar with the languages of Middle Earth.

In perfect elven, the secret poured forth from my lips. Somewhere, Tolkien smiled down on me.

“Amazing,” she said, her face beaming despite having no idea the incredible tale I’d just told.

Bolstered by a mix of relief and confidence, I added, “Oio naa elealla alasse’.” Ever is thy sight a joy.

At the end of the evening, when all the pallie and blue milk had been consumed, she walked me to her front door and kissed me on the cheek. “Thank you,” she said, and her finger went back to turning the braid.

I moved my goggles down over my eyes. “Lissenen ar’ maska’lalaith tenna’ lye omentuva.” Sweet water and light laughter till next we meet. Then I turned and walked home, filled with a sense that all was right in the world—or worlds, plural—all the while reciting the names of the stars above.


And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Amy, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 17. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the red team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!




To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author! My awesome friend and one of my crit partners, Christina Farley!!!!

But WAIT! There’s more!


Enter my bonus giveaway below! I’m giving away 1 copy of RENEGADE to 10 people. It will be signed HC if you’re in the US and e-copy if you’re International.
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New Release!!

RISE has risen! For all those who’ve wondered what exactly is the deal with that Timothy character in RENEGADE, here’s your answer.  RISE is the creepy and thrilling new novella in the Elysium Chronicles. It’s a first-hand account of the events that lead up to the opening of RENEGADE from Timothy’s perspective.




Timothy has lived his entire life in darkness, under the oppressive rule of Mother in the underwater city of Elysium. As part of the Underground, a rebel group opposing Mother’s dictatorship, he has one role: get close to the Daughter of the People, Miss Evelyn, in order to obtain enough information to take her and Mother down.

He wasn’t supposed to fall in love with Evie.

He wasn’t supposed to care.

And now he has a choice: risk everything – his life, his mission, his people – to protect her…or sacrifice her for the justice of all.

RISE is a chilling prequel to RENEGADE, an Elysium Chronicles short story.


I’m so excited for everyone to read this one. Timothy was originally a character that was meant to catapult the story forward, but to my surprise there was a lot of people who wanted to know more about him. And once I got writing his story, I found out there was actually more to his story than even I know. It was an extremely emotional story for me, knowing what I know about him. I spent many hours writing and editing his story through blurry vision from tears, so I really hope that everyone likes this one.

In celebration of this story, I’m hosting a Facebook virtual launch party here from 7:30pm EST (4:00pm Pacific). I’ll be giving away books, gift cards, fun Halloween things, and whatever else I feel like giving away, so I hope you’ll join me there tonight!


Ginormous Book Signing!!

A few months ago, I mentioned on Facebook that my local Books-a-million wanted to do a giant book signing with a bunch of authors. I’m happy to say that this event is in the final planning stages and more information will be sent out shortly.  However, I need to judge the amount of interest of readers in attending the event.  The event will be held December 6th in Orlando, Florida.

So, yay, warm weather! And awesome authors–I can’t confirm at this minute who exactly is coming, but let me assure you, you’re NOT going to want to miss them. And most importantly BOOKS!!!

There will be a hotel block reserved for those that need it and transportation provided to and from the hotel for those that are coming from far away.

To judge initial interest for both Books-a-Million and for me to make sure I have a the right size venue for the signing, please fill out the form below. There is absolutely NO OBLIGATION to go if you fill out the form, it is solely to judge the possible interest, so if you even remotely think this might be interesting to you, please fill out the form below.

And feel free to tell anyone and everyone you can about it, the more people we have coming, the more authors we can convince to join us. 😛