Some of you might be aware that I run a literary and art magazine based on Tumblr called The Teacup Trail. If you're not, here's a short introduction to my small publishing endeavor:
Our first love is anything speculative, whether it’s writing or art, full of the magic that makes the world go round. Fairy-dusted, shadowy and cursed, or suffused with starlight - however you like it, we’ll love it if it’s fantastical. That said, we know that tea comes with many different flavors, and we’re happy to try them all.
That's what our aesthetic is like. However, our art editor has to leave us, so we're looking in a hurry for a new one! 

Here are some short benefits of the position:

  • You help decide the visual artwork that gets published in The Teacup Trail.
  • Your bio is listed on our Masthead page. 
  • Although we can't offer payment, you do get the experience of working as part of a literary magazine's editorial staff.
  • We'll be forever grateful for your hard work (no, but really, you would have a special place in our hearts).
Our ideal new art editor would:
  • Have a spot-on sense of The Teacup Trail's inherently magical/speculative aesthetic.
  • Have a keen eye for visuals.
  • Have the free time to go through any art submissions that come in.
  • Be able to report accept/reject recommendations to the editor-in-chief (that's me!) in a timely manner.
  • As a plus (but it's not necessary) be interested/skilled in visual art.
  • As another plus (but again, not required) have experience working with a literary magazine.
  • And yet another plus (not necessary) be able to promote The Teacup Trail around the Internet.
  • And as always, be passionate about The Teacup Trail's mission.
Sound like something you might want to do with us? Let us know at teacupsandhearts [at] gmail [dot] com with just a few things:
  • Why do you want to work with The Teacup Trail?
  • What experience do you have that qualifies you for this position? (This isn't as important as the first question, so don't be too worried.)
  • Do you have any art samples that demonstrate your qualifications? If so, attach them or link us to them! (This is optional.)
If we think you might be a good fit for us, we'll email back asking you to give us accept/reject recommendations with reasons for a few sample art pieces. And remember, if more than one individual shows exemplary talent for the position, we may take on more than one art editor.

Some final words: don't be afraid to apply if you're genuinely interested. Passion for the mission is so much more important than experience, so if you don't have any, contact us anyway! We'll be glad to consider anyone and everyone.

We hope there are lots of interested people in this position, and the entire staff of The Teacup Trail sends much love!
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I'm taking a short break from all of the post series that I normally do and opening up on a topic I feel really strongly about: "strong" girls in YA. A lot of the hyped-up books these days make too many people think that writing girls who are fighters is the only way to go. To that part of the book world I say - let's agree to disagree. Girls are people. We're much more complex than that.

Below are some recommendations I have of books featuring girls who are a different kind of "strong". Hopefully this inspires you to both read and write more layered heroines and to appreciate the undoubtedly strong girls and women in your lives!

Incidentally, a few of these are great diverse picks, too, so I'll be highlighting those as well. (Look for the "diversity alert"!)

girls who are strategists

In this category, girls can be wickedly cunning. They know what they want and how to get it, how to maneuver around people while maintaining reputations of steel. They understand society and at times, they can turn the tables without lifting a finger.

Kestrel Trajan of Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Curse is just that - a winner, through and through. Despite her very unremarkable fighting skills, Kestrel can blackmail, cheat, and steal her way out of any predicament, being fabulous all the while. She's secure in her own skills and can keep the upper hand for as long as she needs to. Even when her life is a tenuous game, Kestrel uses jagged strategy to come out on top.

(NOTE: The Winner's Curse is the first book of The Winner's Trilogy.)

Lucero-Elisa, or just Elisa, as she's normally called, is the beyond-amazing protagonist of Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy and a queen in every positive sense of the word. Her character growth is extraordinary - she goes from being a frightened, dumpy princess to a powerful leader comfortable with her own body and abilities. Plus, most of the prominent characters are people of color, Elisa is anything but your "typical" thin heroine, and everything about this series screams GIRL POWER.

(Diversity alert! Setting based on Spanish culture, most major characters are Latino/a.)

Suzume of Zoe Marriott's Shadows on the Moon is different from the vast majority of female protagonists in that she is very vengeful. She's cruel and she knows it. She may be the heroine of a Cinderella retelling, but this is Cinderella given power and the drive to carry out what she wants. Also, this fantasy world is based on medieval Japan, and it features characters from a country based on African civilizations.

(Diversity alert! Setting based on medieval Japan featuring another country based on Africa.)

girls who find the silver linings in their "flaws"

There are so many ways one could go with this. Who is a character without flaws? Who is a person? But this category is more about a character's "flaws" as they're defined by society rather than by the character herself. 

Terra Cooper of Justina Chen Headley's North of Beautiful was born with a port-wine stain on her face. It's a prominent birthmark that mars everyone's view of her and even earns her the nickname "pretty ugly" from her own father. However, she comes to accept and even love herself over the course of the book. That takes a kind of strength that is quiet and universal, and I really admired that about this heroine.

girls who are technologically savvy

...because let's face it, some of us totally are. This is for the girls who talk to machines (sometimes more than people), for the girls who could dismantle a security system faster than you could think, for all the girls out there today who are working in STEM fields and kicking butt.

Linh Cinder is a mechanic. Cress Darnel is a hacker. (Scarlet Benoit is plain awesome, too.) They're the heroines of The Lunar Chronicles. So it seems that here we have a duo of girls, both brilliant with machines and not afraid to flaunt it as an important part of their respective skill sets. Best of all, their skills are acknowledged by the majority of the cast of characters. 

Emily is by far my favorite character in Kady Cross's Steampunk Chronicles series, although she's not really the heroine. (The third book of the series, which is the only one with a cover that features Emily, is pictured here.) She's whip-smart with a good amount of heart to back her up, and she isn't afraid to discipline her peers if they're being foolish. 

Maddie Brodatt from Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity (which I'm currently listening to as an audiobook) proves time and again that she can do just as well as - and frequently better than - the boys. She has the training and determination to go far, and her skills as a pilot, among other things, are recognized by even those who doubt her at first. Verity, the main character, is also a wireless operator and very good with both technological and interpersonal maneuvers.

girls who find strength in their relationships as well as their own selves

Sometimes romantic relationships can be a source of great strength, and YA doesn't let that happen a whole lot - or at least, not very effectively. All too often, one-half of the couple becomes just an accessory for the other or loses all of their substance in order to make the other half look good. Balanced relationships are about loving one's partner AND oneself, and these YA girls know how to do that.

Kaede and Taisin, the heroines of Malina Lo's Huntress, are a) SO shippable because ahhh and b) two girls with tremendous power in very different areas. They build a sturdy kind of love (not a spoiler, because the blurb kind of gives it away) that rests on trust and respect. This allows them to each take comfort in the other while knowing their own talents and limits.

(Diversity alert! Setting based on Chinese mythology, plus girl/girl romance.)

Alina Starkov, starring in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy, has to discover that she doesn't need to pine after a boy before she can truly fight for what she believes in. Everyone's telling her she's the "chosen one", as the Sun Summoner - the most powerful Grisha in existence. So she comes into her own power while discovering that love is really an important source of its own magic.

Despite not really being a YA protagonist, Celia Bowen of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus is definitely worth mentioning here, especially since The Night Circus could easily appeal to YA readers. Weaving through a forest of intricate, heartbreaking prose and thorny emotional threads, this book allows Celia to come into her own in an organic way. She defies fate and the rules set for her by her father - plus, her magical powers are fabulous.

Kate "Puck" Connolly, one protagonist of Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races, finds a quiet sort of power in her achingly lovely romance. It wraps around her softly and a little dangerously - though she can be reassured with the knowledge that she herself is perhaps even more dependable.

Do you have any more suggestions? By all means, leave them in the comments! And go forth and enjoy these girls and these books!
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Wow, I haven't done a Music Monday in a really long while! So today I'll be sharing two new picks with you as a sort of comeback.

First up is Farao, a UK-based indie artist whose haunting voice and chilling atmosphere make for some really great music. I found Farao through Maggie Stiefvater's Tumblr, because I pretty much trust Maggie Stiefvater's taste in almost all areas. A writer that great is going to be able to appreciate good music, right?


The first of Farao's songs that I listened to was "The Hours", and oh man. Oh man. Shivers all around. Farao's voice has a quiet depth and power that took me totally by surprise, and the background instrumentals are basically the best thing ever.

Another one of Farao's songs that I found was "Tell a Lie" - and again, more ethereal and wonderful vocals and background. Feast your ears below:

The lyrics are also absolutely stunning, if you listen closely enough to catch them. These songs have so many stories inside of them, and I'll be sure to pick them clean for inspiration in the future.

The second pick is a song by The Civil Wars called "Devil's Backbone". The simple, soft harmonies of the vocals in this are breathtaking, and the climax that the song climbs to is bone-shaking and gorgeous. I believe I came across while listening to a fanmix for the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series (one of my all-time favorites, by the way) and I immediately made note of it.

While it's not on Soundcloud (so I can't embed it, unfortunately), "Devil's Backbone" is on Spotify, for those of you who use that. (If you don't, I highly recommend it. I keep all my writing playlists there.)

So Spotify users should please listen to this beautiful song here:

A snippet of the lyrics:

Oh Lord, Oh Lord, he’s somewhere between
A hangman’s knot, and three mouths to feed
There wasn’t a wrong or a right he could choose
He did what he had to do
Oh he did what he had to do

Yeah. Pretty in a mournful way, I suppose.

Add some beauty to your Monday with these songs - I hope you fall in love with them as much as I did!
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*ahem* I'm in love.

Let me reiterate from the post title: No, not like that. (What, did you think I actually developed a crush on someone NOT fictional or famous?)

I'm in love and you could be too. Oh yeah. Actually, I'm pretty sure you will be. *tap dances*

I've talked about Kimberly (the queen Karalius, obviously) on this blog before - she's one of the Figment friends who so kindly supported me when I first joined the site and continues to support me even now. In fact, she is one of the most popular writers on Figment, so I was a little starstruck when we first started interacting. Kimberly's a wonderful person, and I love talking about writing, books, films, and whatever else might come to mind with her around the Internet. She's very, very kind, insightful, and creative, and I'm so lucky to know her. And her writing reflects her whimsical, curious spirit in every way, featuring a trademark style of magical realism that turns even the most ordinary places and people into little treasures. Girls who can command a hive of bees? Check. Boys small enough to live in dollhouses? Check. Mothers who shapeshift into human hearts to save their sons' lives? You got it.

However, whenever we started talking about publishing, Kimberly said she hadn't had any luck snagging an agent or a publisher for any of her works. I was shocked, almost outraged, because she's an absolutely brilliant writer. I thought, "The publishing world sure is missing a lot if it won't take notice of Kim."

Well, that changes today. Kimberly Karalius is getting published.


Here's a blurb of the book, for all your grabby hands:
Love is real in the town of Grimbaud and Fallon Dupree has dreamed of attending high school there for years. After all, generations of Dupree’s have successfully followed the (100% accurate!) love fortunes from Zita’s famous Love Charms Shop to happily marry their high school sweethearts. It’s a tradition. So she is both stunned and devastated when her fortune states that she will NEVER find love. Fortunately, Fallon isn’t the only student with a terrible love fortune, and a rebellion is brewing. Fallon is determined to take control of her own fate—even if it means working with a notorious heartbreaker like Sebastian. Will Fallon and Sebastian be able to overthrow Zita’s tyranny and fall in love?
Yes, that is every bit as awesome as it sounds. And the boy I was referencing in my post title is indeed Sebastian. He ran off with my heart, the knave. 

That shows how much I'm willing to give for Kim and her story - I am never using the word knave in a blog post again. Or casual conversation. Or... anything, really.

I mean, Sebastian is the knave. It just so happens that I am perfectly and totally okay with that. But I digress. 

I was lucky enough to read the manuscript of Love Fortunes and Other Disasters (originally titled We Could Fall in Love), and let me tell you, it is one of the most glorious books ever to book. (Book is both a noun and a verb now. Roll with it.) Which is why, when Kim submitted it to Swoon Reads back in April, I was absolutely sure they would select it for publication.

Swoon Reads is a YA/NA romance imprint of Macmillan that takes open submissions through an online community. The manuscripts submitted are then voted on over a rating period, and some of the top-rated manuscripts are looked at by the publishing team at Swoon Reads. Then three manuscripts are picked to become actual BOOKS. It's an innovative and really wonderful publication model, and a huge step forward for the publishing world.

After enthusiastically doing my best to support Kim in both the writing and the promotion of her manuscript as much as I could, I was overjoyed to see that it had made it to the top ten manuscripts on the entire website. And now Kimberly Karalius has been chosen for publication of her novel.

My first thought upon reading the announcement was YES. JUSTICE HAS FINALLY BEEN SERVED. VICTORY IS MINE.

That was before I dissolved into incoherent squealing.

Everyone go give her some love, okay? She's worked incredibly hard on her journey towards being a published author and I'm so, so proud of her.

(That makes me sound really stuffy and pretentious. But honestly the only thing I'm stuffed with is pride and sheer happiness.)

The book releases on June 9, 2015, and without spoiling anything, I'll tell you a few things about it: it's got ships (the definition that involves kissing). It has magic. It has color and wonder and life. IT HAS A SUPPORTING CHARACTER NAMED BEAR (yes, you read that right, and no, he isn't an actual bear). I, for one, plan on going for it the moment it comes up for preorder.

THE NINTH OF JUNE, EVERYONE. Mark your calendars now. I can't wait to hold Love Fortunes and Other Disasters in my hands and give it a huge bookish hug. And trust me, you'll want to as well.

Please do congratulate Kim on her blog or Twitter. She deserves it ten times over.

(By the way - because I'm a complete dimwit and forgot to link while I was fangirling - the info link for Love Fortunes and Other Disasters is right here. And OH MY GOODNESS but Swoon Reads decided to quote me in the "Praise" section. Look for the gushing of a certain Christina near the bottom of the page.)
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Woohoo! Out of my blogging slump! So sorry for that unintended hiatus, but I'm back.

Oh my goodness - thanks to the lovely Adelyn Belsterling (doesn't she have a fabulous name?), I've been given another Liebster Award, and yet another excuse to tell everyone more about myself!

However, this is a slightly different version of the award, which involves modified rules:
  • Post eleven facts about yourself.
  • Answer the eleven questions provided by the person who nominated you and then create an eleven-question set for the next group of nominees.
  • Choose eleven people to nominate and link them in the post.
  • Let your nominees know they've been tagged - and no tag-backs!
I love the Liebster Award because it's a great way for us smaller bloggers to build community, and without further ado, I'll be building some community of my own by answering Adelyn's questions!

1. Who was your first book crush?

Oh, dang. That's hard. My first? Well, I've had too many to number, so let's see. I only really started having genuine book crushes when I started reading young adult literature just a couple years ago. The first books I had genuine fangirl attacks over were the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. So I suppose my first actual book crush was Will Herondale. However, before the fangirl era (which has stretched on into the present, by the way), I read Pride and Prejudice, which of course meant that I was unknowingly crushing REALLY HARD on Mr. Darcy. So I'll say Mr. Darcy as well, because who wouldn't?

2. If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?

This is quite possibly even harder. Elizabeth Bennet, though, probably - because her story has one of the happiest endings ever. She gets Mr. Darcy (+ escape from Mr. Collins), Pemberley, financial security for herself, financial security for her family, and a happily married Jane. It's kind of difficult to not want to be her.

3. If you could live in any fictional universe which would you choose?

The country of Herran, in The Winner's Curse, before the Valorian conquest. (Not a spoiler, don't worry.) It sounds like such an educated, enlightened, artistic country with a very rich culture - a place I would love to live in, intellectual and creative in equal measures. (Since it's based on Ancient Greece and all, woohoo ~) But really, the descriptions of Herran in The Winner's Curse make me ache to go there and be a part of that civilization.

4. Which author would you let take control of your life?

I was going to say Maggie Stiefvater, but then I reflected that this might not be the best idea. (Although she might turn me into Puck Connolly, which would be beyond amazing, she might also turn me into Joseph Kavinsky. Or *shudders* his girlfriend. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, read this book and this series, respectively. You may or may not regret it - feels warning in advance.) So I guess I'll say Kimberly Karalius instead. I know, I know - Kim is one of the other lovely people nominated by Adelyn in her original Liebster post, and not a traditionally published author (though I'm confident she will be soon!). And I might not be totally objective about this, since Kimberly is one of my Figment friends/acquaintances/general brilliant people who are supportive of me despite their obvious brilliance. But honestly, I'd love to think about how much magic my life would suddenly contain if it were one of Kim's stories. I could defy love fortunes, tell stories with flour, and even get a host of bees to do my bidding. (CLICK THE LINKS. GO.) Best of all, I would be the true heroine of my own fairy tale - complete with, no lie, a ship-worthy ship. *squee*

5. Which book has had the most impact on your life?

Though it's not one of my favorites in and of itself, Swordbird by Nancy Yi Fan has really affected my life because it was the first book I read by a young author (twelve years old HOW) and it got me thinking about writing. I figured that if she could do it, there was no reason I couldn't, and this is what helped me develop my interest and eventual passion for building stories as well as reading them. Although this push into writing may have contributed to what seems like my mental instability, too.

Yeah, we'll just gloss over all of that.

6. What was the last place you traveled to?

In terms of, you know, actually far from home, that would be New York City, New York. I went for the National Awards Ceremony of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards (remember when I screamed about that?), so that I could receive my gold medal and silver medal. And oh. OH. OH. It was glorious. We went to see Wicked where I nearly cried of happy/sad feelings, to the New York Public Library where there was an amazing children's lit exhibit that had me mesmerized while the entire rest of my family seemed mildly bored, to a brunch place that served the most perfect slices of toast I've ever seen, to the Empire State Building because duh, and so many other places. Not to mention - CARNEGIE. FLIPPING. HALL. That had to be emphasized. I have no shame. That building, the emotions and high ceilings that have built it, it's all a work of art. Just thinking of it makes my heart swell with joy.

7. Which fictional character would you want to be stranded on an island with?

Definitely Elisa from the Fire and Thorns trilogy. She's resourceful, powerful, and totally kick-butt - plus maybe we could have a heart-to-heart talk while we're stranded. Elisa is just so good at life that I would love to get her opinion on things. And her intelligence would ensure that we got off the island once we were done.

I'm hoping we could become, like, best friends Hopefully we'd enjoy each other's company, you know? And I admire her so much as a ruler and person. I might just spend the first few minutes squealing, who knows.

Probably my most likely reaction, actually.

(I would've said Haku from the Ghibli film Spirited Away, but he doesn't talk much. I'd probably drive myself insane.)

8. Which book is your favorite guilty pleasure?

I'm pretty assertive about almost all of the books I read, so I guess there aren't any books I'm genuinely "guilty" about. However, if I had to choose one series, it would be the Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare - split up into the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices, of course. I sometimes get criticized for loving these so much because of their occasionally overt drama and their kissing scenes. (Those are so steamy it makes me a tiny bit uncomfortable, to be honest.) But I think they have genuine merit, and besides, I will fight to the death for the Herondales. So. (But please no City of Heavenly Fire spoilers! I haven't read that one yet!)

9. What book made you fall in love with reading?

Probably one of the more clichéd, light middle grade series I started in first grade, the kinds that never seem to end. I distinctly remember loving the Junie B. Jones series and the Magic Tree House series, though now I can't possibly fathom what I saw in them. I do owe those books my gratitude all the same, because without them, I wouldn't have made the leap to the wide, wonderful world of YA literature and classics that I love so much today.

10. If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?

Hands down, I would choose to have a photographic memory. Yes, this would be extremely painful because I wouldn't be able to forget traumatic sights and the like, but I could a) ace all my tests, b) throw exact literary quotes at people whenever I feel like it, c) REREAD BOOKS IN MY HEAD WHAT, and d) identify criminals accurately if I ever witness one. (Well, that got dark.)

11. What is the best book you have read this year?

Oh, that's excruciating. There's The Archived, The Winner's Curse, and The Scorpio Races, which I think were the big YA stunners for me so far. But keep up with me at my collaborative book blog, Literoses, where I'll be covering other great and not-so-great books!

Oh, and now eleven random facts pertaining to yours truly!
  • I'm that one terrible person who never roots for the USA in any international sports events. Things like the Olympics, the World Cup (ahem)... I'm never cheering for America. What is this patriotism you speak of?
  • I hate tomatoes but like salsa. Go on, judge me.
  • I once ate raspberry and cucumber sorbet. It was awesome beyond belief.
  • I have no idea why I'm talking so much about food, so I'll do a completely unrelated one: I watch two animes, Fairy Tail and Kuroko no Basuke. You are welcome to speak with me about either of these. Because I love them both.
  • On a side note, the only team sports I actually like watching are soccer/football and basketball.
  • But my favorite sport to watch is figure skating. (Sorry, but duh.)
  • I'm a second-degree black belt in taekwondo. But I probably can't beat you or anyone else up, because...
  • I'm short.
  • I also have terrible reflexes.
  • I have terrible eyesight to boot. My glasses actually make people feel sick when they try them on.
  • I won a state-level spelling bee once. (Yeah, really.)
My nominations are:
  • Ryanne (We spoke on Figment recently and you're so kind that I couldn't not include you.)
  • Willa (I read your posts and Lit Up Review and just recently started following your personal blog. You're a great blogger.)
  • Paola (I adore your thoughtfully written posts, your photography, your Tumblr, and your gorgeous voice! So basically a lot of things about you. Hopefully that doesn't sound as odd as I think it might.)
  • Bethan (I only started following your blog recently, but I love the effort you put into posting and being nice to all of your readers.)
  • Rose (Um, obviously. Your blog design is pages upon pages of pure genius, and your posts are always very thought-provoking.)
  • Kristianna (You're one of the most hilarious bloggers I know, in the most positive way. Your gaming series had me cracking up so hard I was in tears.)
  • Emily (I love meeting fellow teen writers, plus your blog is procrastination-inducing thoroughly entertaining. Congratulations on your awesomeness.)
  • Mackenzie (So much beauty is contained in your wonderful blog, seriously. Plus I love your infectious positivity and creativity.)
  • Kate (Another teen writer like me! I really admire how personable and involved you are on your blog and around the Internet.)
  • Kara (Yet another teen writer! I just found your blog and Wattpad account, and your blog posts are so well-written and engaging. I have yet to really get into one of your Wattpad stories, but I hope to do so soon!
  • Temple (I know, technically an author so it's a little odd of me, but I so wanted to nominate you! I've seen you around on YouTube and Goodreads and just started reading the blog, but I think you're super cool and can't wait to read Velvet.)
Also, there were some people on Adelyn's list that I would love to nominate but didn't in the interest of spreading the Liebster love as far as possible. So here's a short shoutout to AnQi, Cassie, and Kim.

Oh, and the nominees' questions:
  1. What's your favorite breakfast?
  2. What "unattainable" person (i.e., celebrity, fictional character, etc.) do you have a crush on?
  3. What's a movie (an adaptation, an original movie, whatever!) that you really want to see made, and who would be in the cast?
  4. If you could collaborate on a book with any author, who would it be?
  5. If you could live in any time in history, where would you go? (Or would you stay in the twenty-first century?)
  6. Do you have a nickname? If you don't, is there a nickname you wish people would call you by?
  7. Describe yourself in a haiku.
  8. Do you have any strange skills that not many people know about?
  9. How good are you at keeping secrets?
  10. What's the most valuable thing you've ever learned from a book?
  11. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
Many thanks again to Adelyn for the nomination, and I hope you all find this as fun as I do!
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