Exciting Things Coming Up!

A lot has been happening. Here’s a post to catch you up on things you might have missed as well as some information on new things coming up!

First off, the release date for DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING has been changed to February 28, 2017—just one week later than the original pub date. My mother is very excited about the change in release date (it’s her birthday). There are several reasons for the change. One thing is that we’re revamping the cover. It will still go in an illustrated direction, but the design team is going to try and age it up even more (see my last post on how the cover came to be here). So while it’s always sad to have to wait longer for a book, I think the wait will be worth it. On top of the changes to the cover, the cover copy will also change. So we’ll have a new synopsis going live soon. No changes have been made to the words INSIDE the book. Only the packaging will be different.

In case you missed it, the daughter of the pirate king, herself, gave an interview over on Read Write Love 28. I think it gives some fun insight into Alosa’s personality. You can find that here.

Also, DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING was selected by the American Booksellers Association to be an Indies Introduce title for winter/spring 2017. I’m so excited and honored beyond words. You can learn more about what this means here and see the other books selected. And here you can find the blurbs that various book store owners gave about the book. I’m so flattered and excited that DotPK is being spoken of so highly.

Now for upcoming things!

I have two exciting things coming up. First, there will be a first chapter reveal for DotPK. It will be revealed by A Perfection Called Books on September 29th at 1:00 PM EST. You will find it on their website here when the time comes. So excited for everyone to get to read it!

And second, I will be participating in a Twitter chat with Brittany’s Book Rambles on October 1st at 8:00 PM EST. You can participate, too! Follow the hashtag #BBTC (easiest way to do this is to get on Tweetdeck. From there you can follow the tweets and jump in with your own!). For those who don’t follow me on twitter, my handle is @tricialevensell (because there wasn’t enough room for the E and R).

Comment below if you have any questions!

The Makings of a Cover

I’m so excited to announce that DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING has a cover. Here it is!

Artist Credit: Jen Wang; Design Credit: Liz Dresner

I thought it would be fun to talk about how the cover came to be, and I received permission from the good folks over at Feiwel and Friends to share some earlier versions.

I had no idea how long and complicated the process of creating and choosing a cover was until it was happening to my book. So many people have a say on the cover, such as the sales and marketing teams, design team, the publisher, etc. Surprisingly, the author is actually not one of the people who has a say on the cover. We may be asked for an initial idea of what styles we like or on our opinion between two different options. But the general direction the cover goes in? Not something we’re a part of, which makes sense if you think about it. Writers write. We’re not usually illustrators or design specialists, and we’re not as aware of the cover market as the professionals.

I’m so thankful for how hard the Feiwel and Friends team worked on this cover. It was an especially long process for my cover in particular, I’m told.

At first, they tried a cover more realistic with a photograph of a girl dressed as a pirate on a ship. Think of something reminiscent of Robin LaFevers’ GRAVE MERCY, but with pirates instead of assassins.

Grave Mercy

I believe it was decided that cover didn’t quite stand apart from other books on the shelves, (which isn’t to say LaFevers’ books don’t stand apart, just that they came first) which I’m sure is usually the reason why original covers are discarded. After this, they decided to try a title heavy cover. Something decorative. Like EVER THE HUNTED. I’m told all the attempts at this kind of cover (and I believe there were around twelve different mock ups) also weren’t working. (By the way, I love Erin’s cover. Isn’t it gorgeous?)

ever the hunted

After that, the team wanted to try an illustrated cover. There’s an illustrated trend happening with adult covers, and the team wanted to try fitting DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING in with those. (Such as the covers of UPROOTED or A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC.)

Uprooted_cover_pictureA Darker Shade of Magic

While these are decidedly dark, the team really wanted a light cover, something that would hopefully stand out among all the dark, grittier covers in YA (don’t get me wrong, though, I love dark and gritty covers). Now this whole process happened without me seeing a single cover option. There’s little point in showing the author anything when it could be shot down by the people in sales or marketing or design. So the very first time I saw a cover for my book was when these two images showed up in my inbox (there was a little confusion on whether or not “the” was in the title, but we got that fixed right away):


I was entirely surprised. I hadn’t pictured anything like this at all, and when I learned just how much work F&F had already put into the covers, I was blown away. It’s amazing to know that other people have worked so hard on your book. I expressed my preference for the blue color scheme rather than the purple and yellow. I also preferred the corset to the pirate coat.

F&F also wanted to try a more muted look so the illustration wouldn’t look too cutesy or lean toward middle grade. DotPK is an upper YA, and it’s an action adventure/fantasy/romance with pirates. Not exactly a cutesy book. So they altered it to this:


I loved the new color scheme, and the picture above is what got put on the ARCs (advance reader copies). The colors looked even better when they were printed, and it was incredible getting to hold an actual book in my hand.


Even so, the cover wasn’t final. They wanted to make some more changes. Yesterday, I was shown two new covers, the one below and another that looked exactly the same except without the blood. (If you look closely, you can see more texture was added. Particularly to the sword and Alosa’s pants.)


I like the addition of blood on the map in the background. This is, after all, a pirate book, and swashbuckling is a must. So this is the cover we went with!

I’m sure the journey is different for every author, but there’s a slight look into the makings of a cover. I’d love to hear thoughts and questions below!



Real Female Pirates, Part 3

It’s been far too long since I’ve done a post on real life female pirates. So far, you can find info about Ching Shih, our Chinese prostitute turned pirate here, and Grace O’Malley, the Irish pirate queen here. Today’s post features Jeanne de Clisson, a French aristocrat who turned pirate as a means of obtaining revenge.

Jeanne de Clisson
Ancient Origins Photo Credit

Jeanne was born in 1300 to a wealthy family and had a proper aristocratic upbringing. She was married three times in her life. She married her first husband when she was twelve and had two sons with him. He died fourteen years later, and Jeanne later married Olivier de Clisson.

At this time in history, the War of Breton Succession was occurring, in which the French and English were fighting for control of the Duchy of Brittany after the duke had died without a male heir. Charles de Blois sought to claim it for the French, and John de Montfort, for the English. Naturally, the Clissons sided with the French. Jeanne’s husband served as a military commander during the fighting that ensued.

Though there is no proof that Olivier was anything but loyal, the French suspected him of aiding the English, and King Philip VI of France had Olivier tried with treason. He was beheaded, and his body was displayed publicly.

Jeanne was furious. She sold all of her lands, purchased several warships, rallied herself some loyal supporters, and started attacking French ships. To invoke more fear, she had her ships painted black and her sails dyed red. After capturing a ship, she’d kill everyone on board, save a couple of witnesses who could report back to King Philip. She wanted the king to know exactly who was causing him so much trouble. When she captured any French noblemen, she personally beheaded them. They called her the Lioness of Brittany for her brutality.

Jeanne kept at it successfully for thirteen years, even after the king had died. She fell in love and married her third husband, an English nobleman; retired as a pirate; and lived happily ever after. In a castle.

Wikipedia—War of Breton Succession

Wikipedia—Jeanne de Clisson

Ancient Origins—Lioness of Brittany

Fact Fiend—Story of Jeanne de Clisson



Life Update

I’ve been busy this month.

Unsurprisingly, most of it has been writing/reading related. I’ve been revising DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING’s sequel like crazy. It’s so close to being done! The goal was to get it sent off to my agent by the end of this month.

Yes, I said was the goal.

But then first pass pages came for DotPK. Since this is my first time selling a novel, I didn’t realize how much suddenly having a book published interrupts the writing process. I’m the type of writer who likes to work on one project at a time. I start a book, finish a book, edit the book, edit the book some more—until it’s just the way I want it and I send it on its way to the higher powers. Then I work on the next book. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

But once you sell a book, there’s suddenly more you have to do. You edit the book some more based on your editor’s notes. Sometimes you can do up to three or more rounds of big edits. After you send in those edits, you can go back to writing another book. But then you’re interrupted again later to do copy edits. Pause your work in progress (WIP) because now that your first book is coming out, you have deadlines you have to meet for it, and you can no longer do whatever you want. When you finish copy edits and turn them in, you can get back to your WIP. Then first pass pages come! You have to read through that first manuscript yet again, even though you’d rather pull out your hair instead of read it. (First pass pages are basically the first time you see your novel in printed form. The fonts for the interior of the book have been chosen, the text has been formatted, the cutesy page break characters have been chosen, etc. In this read through, you’re mostly looking for typos and other small fixes.)


I’m happy to say first pass pages are done, and I am back to revising the sequel once more. Don’t get me wrong, I love the editing process, but it was hard to pause on the sequel and switch over to a different mindset to work on that first book some more. Because the characters are in different places. Their goals are different. Even if they have the same personalities, it’s hard to revert back to the way they were before. I dread to think of how difficult it will be when I have to work on two completely different series at the same time.

On top of all the writing and revising, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading. I’ve had the pleasure to read several books before they’ll be published, and I’m so excited to talk about them.


First was Charlie N. Holmberg’s MAGIC BITTER, MAGIC SWEET. This book was not at all what I was expecting, but not in a bad way. It’s a mixture of a fascinating magic system, fractured fairy tales, and phenomenal cosmic powers (imagine Robin Williams’ voice there)! This book releases June 28th.


Next was Ilima Todd’s RESIST. For those of you who like your dystopia with a strong romantic element, I recommend checking out the first book in the series, REMAKE. RESIST releases July 5th.

ever the hunted

And the last book I read was Erin Summerill’s EVER THE HUNTED. Erin is a fellow YA historical fantasy author. Erin has a lovely writing style, and the book is a travelogue with a sweet romance spread throughout. This title releases December 27th.

and i darken

Now I’m currently reading Kiersten White’s AND I DARKEN, which is fabulously dark, as its title would suggest. It’s a retelling of Vlad the Impaler, if Vlad had been a girl. This one releases June 28th.

Getting Ready for YALLWEST

Who else is going to YALLWEST? Some of my favorite authors will be there, and I’m so excited to meet them!


Mary E. Pearson

The Remnant Chronicles series

Leigh Bardugo


Marie Rutkoski


Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy Covers

Simone Elkeles

Perfect Chemistry Trilogy

To properly prepare, I’ve been reading as many books by authors who will be there as possible. They were already in my TBR list, so I finally had an excuse to read and neglect other things. So far, I’ve finished

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. This is a new favorite. Absolutely LOVED this book!


Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. Also LOVED this one. All the swoon!

Shatter me 1

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski. Should have bumped this up in my reading queue forever ago!


Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini


Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch


To complete my current reading goals, I need to get these read before YALLWEST. Hope I make it!

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne


The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead


Also I’m so excited for The Crown’s Game! It comes out after YALLWEST, but Evelyn Skye will be there.


Needless to say, I have to bring an extra suitcase JUST for all the books I need to get signed! The only thing that could make YALLWEST better is if Rae Carson and Robin LaFevers also attended. Then I think I might die of happiness. This is a YA booklover’s dream. So excited that I get to chat with other YA historical fantasy authors and some of my fellow authors with Feiwel and Friends Publishing!


I used to think all I had to do was sell a book, and then I’d be set. If I could just get a publisher to offer me a publishing deal, everything else would work out on its own. I have a publishing deal now. My first book is scheduled to release February 21, 2017—

And I find myself more stressed out than ever.

I’m contracted for a duology. I have to turn my second book into my editor by August first. I used to think it would be easier writing a book with the knowledge that it will be published (rather than writing a book, hoping to pick up an agent, and hoping that agent could sell my manuscript). But I’ve already sold the book I’m writing. That should make it easier.

Instead, it’s a hundred times harder. I stress over every word, worrying that those who read and enjoy the first book will be disappointed with the sequel. I worry my editor will wonder how my writing managed to start sucking majorly. I worry my agent will question why she signed me on in the first place.

And because I can’t seem to focus on the here and now, I worry about problems far into the future. Will anyone buy my first book? Will I earn out my advance? Will the book flop and the publisher decide it’s not worth the cost of printing the second?

And after I’ve finished this series, will I be able to sell another? Will I have to write four more books before one sells, just like the first time around? Will my ideas get increasingly worse?

With all these thoughts swimming for dominance in my head, it’s easy to question why I do this whole writing thing at all. But a wise man by the name of Rick Walton once said, “If you had the knowledge that none of your books would ever be published, would you still write them? If the answer is yes, then publishing is for you.”

That is what it feels like most of the time. Nothing will ever come of it, but it would be even more painful to stop writing altogether. And the truth is I need writing in my life. I can’t remember who I was before it. Publishing is beyond rewarding, and I’ve barely begun to reap the rewards.

Think of how it will feel to see a cover with your name on it. Imagine holding a hardbound book that you wrote. Imagine inspiring and touching others through the words you’ve written. Think of the book events you will attend. The signings!

I can’t speak to these yet. I’m still in the early stages. But I can share how wonderful it has been being a part of a debut group (the Swanky Seventeens are a vastly entertaining bunch). How the friendships I’ve made with other authors have already touched my life. Finding an agent and editor who are as enthusiastic about my work as I am has been magical. Connecting with eager, would-be readers and bloggers has been a blast. Receiving items as simple as copyedits and an ISBN have made more than one of my days.

And I’m not even to the really good part, where I can walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelves. It’s so important to try and remember to be happy where we’re at. To remember how much we’ve achieved, whether we’ve just finished drafting our first ever novel, finally been offered representation after our 100th query rejection, or recently published our fifth novel. Be proud of the work you’ve done. Take your future goals at whatever pace necessary to stay sane and happy. And remember that there are so many writers out there like you. We’re here to uplift and help each other out.

Perserverance Quote

Interview with Nicole Castroman!

I interviewed fellow YA pirate author, Nicole Castroman, regarding her debut novel, BLACKHEARTS.



Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

BLACKHEARTS is a Blackbeard origin story. It’s what Nicole likes to call PRE-PIRATE, which means it’s more Poldark than Pirates of the Caribbean.

And now for the interview!

Tricia: Pirates are the best! What led you to writing about Blackbeard and, more specifically, his pre-pirate life?

Nicole: My family planned a trip to Charleston, SC in August of 2012. I started doing some research and learned that Blackbeard had held the entire city hostage. After more research, I learned that only the last two years of Blackbeard’s life are documented. So I asked myself the question, what would cause him to leave everything he knew behind and become one of the most notorious pirates to sail the seas?

Tricia: I also understand that there’s a girl in the story who is just as much of a main character as Blackbeard. Where did her character come from, and how was the process of entangling her story with Edward Teach’s?

Nicole: Anne came to me almost immediately. I could picture her in my mind. I knew she needed to be strong and fearless, someone who could hold her own against Teach. Blackbeard had quite a powerful presence, and she couldn’t fade into the background when he was around. I also knew that she would be the reason he turned to piracy. It’s so fun for me to see how readers are reacting to her. She’s fierce, but feminine.

Tricia: Could you tell us about finding yourself as a writer? I believe you didn’t start out writing historical fiction or third person. How did you come to understand that was your true calling? And do you intend to stick with it or branch out in the future?

Nicole: I initially wrote contemporary. I signed with an agent, but that manuscript never sold. I wrote two more, but by that time, both my agent and I knew we weren’t the right fit for each other. Publishing is a business, and sometimes authors and agents realize that the working relationship isn’t working. So we parted ways, and that was when my husband said, “Let’s go to Charleston for a vacation.” I think he did it to take my mind off of being unagented again, and I will forever be grateful to him for that.

I’m a history buff, and so I did my research about Charleston and voila. The seed for BLACKHEARTS was planted. Because I wanted to make the story sound historical, I changed the POV to third person. I didn’t want my story to sound like a modern teen in 1697 England. I wanted it to read like a historical novel.

I have some ideas for other stories. I’m always open to new ideas and would never say never about branching out into other genres.

Tricia: What’s your day-to-day writing process like? Do you write every day in the same place at the same time? Need music playing or a specific snack on hand?

Nicole: I do write in the same place every day. It’s in my study. I can’t have any music playing, but I can handle interruptions. I have two children, and ever since I’ve been writing, I’ve learned to answer a question or get them something and then get right back to the story. As far as snacking, I’m a fan of smokehouse almonds. I will take salty over sweet any day.

Lightning Round!

If I weren’t a writer, I’d be: In marketing or publicity somehow.

Favorite celebrity: Aidan Turner

Favorite Disney movie: I’m really enjoying the live action Disney movies, like Maleficent and Cinderella.

Favorite fictional character: Atticus Finch

Movie I’ve seen the most times: Tie between The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Bourne series.

The most delicious cereal is: I don’t eat cereal. Breakfast isn’t my favorite.

About the author:

Nicole Pic

Nicole has a twin sister who can read her mind and finish her sentences. When she was 13, Nicole went to Europe, and it changed her life. She loves learning about different people, languages, and cultures. She speaks fluent German, knows enough Spanish to get herself into trouble, and can still read the Cyrillic alphabet from when she studied Russian. She received her B.A. from Brigham Young University and has lived in Germany, Austria, and two different places called Georgia. She resides in the state of Georgia with her handsome husband and two beautiful children who continue to amaze her.

February Pirate Book Releases

There’s a shortage of YA pirate books in the world. But I’m excited that there are four new pirate books (that I know of) coming out this month! February must be the perfect month for pirates because DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING comes out February 2017.

I’m so excited to read these titles.

UNHOOKED by Lisa Maxwell


This is a dark Peter Pan retelling. It came out on February 2, from Simon Pulse.


The Abyss Surrounds Us

Pirates and monsters! Need I say more? Coming February 8, from Flux.

BLACKHEARTS by Nicole Castroman


This is a Blackbeard origin story. Coming February 9, from Simon Pulse.


The Girl From Everywhere

This time-travelling pirate story comes out February 16, from Greenwillow Books.

I hope 2016 will bring us even more pirate books!

Writer’s Block

There are often days when I don’t want to write. The scene I put into my outline months ago is too complicated. It’s smarter than I am. I can’t possibly write it.

And so the writing comes to a halt because I don’t know what happens next. I mean, I have a general idea of what happens, but I don’t know the specifics. I’m not a detailed outliner. I jot down a small paragraph of what’s going to happen in each chapter. Then I get to a particular chapter, read my outline, and think, I’m too stupid. How can I possibly pull this off?

Inevitably, the chapter will get written, but I have to remind myself what to do. You see, I’ve had to practice motivating myself for…all my life now. And I still forget what to do when I’m stuck. So now I’m making myself write it down.

First I ask myself what would make the scene fun to write. An epic battle, more kissing, something funny, more kissing, something dangerous, more kissing—whatever. Don’t forget what it is about writing that you love and work it into the scene. But sometimes you can’t do that. You have to write a serious scene or a death scene or something that prevents you from putting in what you love right away. Then what?

Often I run into the problem of forgetting to let my characters behave like themselves. I’m putting them through the motions of what needs to happen without coloring their actions with their personalities. Two characters are angry at each other. Let that get in the way of what they need to do. Another one is terrified. Let that hinder the process. A fourth needs to usher everyone on because she’s the responsible one. A fifth is the thrill seeker who is loving every moment of this difficult, complex scene I thought I could write. If a scene is painful to write, color it more with your characters. Let them help you push on. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what needs to happen that I forget who’s involved in making it happen—and how they feel about the whole thing.

And then, if I’m still stuck, it’s important to get the creative juices flowing. If you don’t know what’s going to happen next, make a list of what could happen next. List all the ways you can think of for your characters to do what needs doing, no matter how clichéd. Put every idea onto the list. The more your mind comes up with, the more unique your ideas will get. Eventually the right one will come to you. Even if it takes days. Your mind is a muscle. It needs to be stretched. When you start forcing it to think a certain way, it will get stronger until you get the results you need.

And then when the answer finally comes to you and you get to move on to the next scene, you can be like Kermit.

Kermit Typing

Until the next difficult scene comes…

Real Female Pirates, Part 2


Grace O'Malley
Click picture for photo credit


Grace O’Malley was the daughter of the O’Malley Clan’s chieftain, whose holdings were located off the west coast of Ireland in the 16th century.

Grace wanted to be on the sea from the time she was little. She would beg her father to take her with him when he went trading overseas. But of course, Grace was told that a ship was no place for a girl. Grace was determined to prove that she could do what it took to be a sailor, so she cut her hair short and dressed as a boy. After much pushing, Grace finally convinced her father to let her accompany him overseas.

Grace was a hard worker, and she did everything she could to learn about the sea. She married twice. Both were matches that initially gained her more power and holdings, particularly near the sea. Her first husband died in battle, and she proposed marriage to her second in order to create a more impressive stand against the invading English.

Upon the death of her father, Grace inherited the family trading business. She taxed anyone who wanted to fish off her land or sail through her waters. If anyone refused to pay, Grace and her men would help themselves to whatever they wanted. They pillaged ships and castles, kidnapped notable people for ransom, and retaliated against any who offered her insult.

She caused so much trouble that the English tried to put a stop to her exploits, but Grace beat their initial attacks. She was an impressive strategist, which is clear from the way she negotiated her own advantageous marriage and convinced her father to let her engage in traditionally boy activities, but she also must have been an exceptional fighter, since she literally led her men into battle again and again.

Alas, Grace’s influence and power didn’t last. As England’s power in Ireland continued to grow, Grace’s power lessened. It is unclear when and how she died, but to this day, her descendants celebrate her life at the Westport House Estate, which was built upon the old foundation of O’Malley’s castle, with an adventure park, a statue, exhibits, and tours.






Ancient Origins

Westport House