Historical Novel Society Conference Highlights

I’ve been watching from the sidelines for years as other historical fiction authors I admire talked about the Historical Novel Society and its amazing conference, held every two years in the United States. I promised myself that if I ever got a book published, I would try to go, and lo and behold, it worked out for me this year!

My debut novel, White Rose, based on the true story of a German student-led resistance group during World War II, was published in April, 2019, with HMH’s new Versify imprint, so I was lucky enough not only to attend the conference this June, but also to present as part of a WWII panel (Beyond Rosie the Riveter) and a Kaffee Klatsch (The Crossover Revolution: Is It Adult or Is It YA?).

Obviously a huge highlight for me was talking my passion with these fantastic authors and attendees. But there was much more to the conference. I’ve been to SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conferences multiple times, and while I can sometimes manage to track down the historical writers in the bunch, it was amazing to be surrounded by other like-minded individuals. Instead of, “What do you write?” I could start out with a much more specific, “What’s your era?” to get a conversation going. And there were conversations aplenty, starting with Thursday evening’s costume party, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Next, attending other sessions was a huge highlight for me, including the
Tall Poppy Writers’ Marketing Collective panel and the State of the State of Historical Fiction panel with a group of agents and editors.

Finally, listening to Dolen Perkins-Valdez give her fabulous keynote about “making sh*t up” (while she also clearly does the work, putting on the gloves in the archives and the whole bit) and going back to our “nerd-holes” was an absolute inspiration. Looking forward to reading her books, and to reading more from everyone I met!

Upcoming Workshops

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be leading some upcoming workshops, focusing on my own areas of passion and expertise: verse and historical fiction. I’m already looking forward to working with writers on their projects. Feel free to share and to ask any questions in the comments below.

Where and when you can catch me in the coming months:

July 16, 2019: The Writers’ Loft, Sherborn, MA

September-December, 2019: at home!

This fall, I’ll be leading a virtual-based historical fiction workshop through Inked Voices. I’m especially excited about this one because I’ll get to read several historical fiction projects and get to know the writers behind them.

September-October 2019: Follow Your Art, Melrose, MA

This fall, I’ll be working with teens to craft and revise original poems, as well as introduce them to various forms and styles of poetry.

White Rose Pre-Order Gifts!

Now that it’s February, the publication date for my debut novel is just two months away, which means it’s time to share the White Rose pre-order gifts I have planned! I’m so thankful for everyone who wants to read, so this will be my turn to give back to you.

How to Pre-order

Make your pre-order by 11:59 p.m. EST on April 1, 2019 at …

    • My local independent bookstore, Porter Square Books. I’ve attended more book launches at PSB than I can count, and I just love the knowledgeable, friendly staff (and the fact that the store is one of the most enthusiastic settings for the HONK! band to parade through).
    • Any independent bookstore (I love indies!). You can find the closest one to you on Indiebound and pick it up in the store–how cool is that?
    • Any library. I personally pick up a ton of the books I read at my local branch. Did you know that you can make a request at your local library to purchase a book? Getting my book into libraries where even more readers can find it is a huge dream of mine, so if you prefer to make a library request, that will also qualify.
    • One of the larger outlets. I realize many people make their book purchases at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or others I haven’t listed, so these will count as well. Also, for my international friends, books can be ordered and shipped through Book Depository.

To receive your gifts, send your full name, mailing address, and proof of your pre-order to WhiteRose.Preorders@gmail.com. A screenshot or photo of the pre-order or library request is fine. Now on to the gifts themselves!

First off, everyone who enters will receive a beautiful bookmark and a sticker. This part of the giveaway is open internationally! I truly appreciate the support of all readers, and I’m so glad I can at least send along these goodies to readers farther afield.

Then, along with these swag packs, winners of the following gifts will be chosen randomly among entrants based in the U.S. (because shipping costs).

  • Three third-place winners will receive a white rose enamel pin in addition to the swag pack. Aren’t they beautiful?
  • Two second-place winners will receive rose-themed notebooks in addition to the swag pack. Useful for jotting down any and all  thoughts! 
  • One grand-prize winner will receive a mini Playmobil figure of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in addition to the swag pack. Goethe was an 18th-19th century German author whose words inspired the White Rose to take action, and I just loved that his action figure shows him writing.

The Fine Print

  • A pre-order of the hardcover or ebook of White Rose  made by 11:59 pm EST on April 1, 2019 counts as one (1) entry.
  • The giveaway is open internationally to contestants 13 years of age or older.
  • By entering, you are stating that you are 13+ and that you authorize me (Kip Wilson) to contact you via email to confirm your address for prize pack.
  • For each book preordered, entrant will be mailed a single swag pack including: (1) bookmark and (1) sticker. This giveaway is open to international entrants and will continue while supplies last.
  • (3) third-prize winners will receive (1) swag pack + (1) white rose enamel pin
  • (2) second-prize winners will receive (1) swag pack + (1) rose notebook
  • (1) grand prize winner will receive (1) swag pack + (1) Playmobil Goethe figure

A Star for White Rose

The first of the trade reviews are in, and White Rose has earned a starred review from Kirkus!

I’m so very grateful and absolutely thrilled. The last line of the review particularly got exactly what I was aiming for. “Real events made deeply personal in an intense, bone-chilling reading experience.”

Feel free to check out the full review here (warning: it does contain spoilers).

Favorite Books from 2018

Although 2018 continued to be a dumpster fire in many of the same ways 2017 was, it was at the very least a great year for reading. I read 88 books this year*, and was astounded by all the literary greatness. Choosing only ten favorite books from 2018 was no easy feat. I’m quite proud of myself that I managed it!

*So far. I am well aware that there are 12 days left of the year and I am still reading. But at the moment I’m up to my eyeballs in research books that are completely fascinating to me but unlikely to end up on a top-ten list of favorites.

As usual, some of my absolute favorite books are historical fiction or novels-in-verse, and this year was no exception. To start with some of my favorite historicals, I fell hard for:

  1. THE DOLLMAKER OF KRAKOW (MG historical) by R. M. Romero tells the story of Karolina, a doll who comes to life as the Nazis roll in to Krakow. Heartbreaking, lovely, and poignant.
  2. ORPHAN MONSTER SPY (YA historical) by Matt Killeen is about a kickass Jewish teen who infiltrates an elite Nazi school. Looking forward to the sequel already!
  3. NOTHING BUT SKY (YA historical) by Amy Trueblood sends the reader high over the skies in the 1920s with wingwalker Grace. Love the historical details in this one.
  4. THE NIGHT DIARY (MG historical) by Veera Hiranandani is told by Nisha, a young girl composing letters to her deceased mother during the turbulent time when India becomes independent and breaks into two separate countries, India and Pakistan. Epistolary novels are most decidedly my jam.
  5. THE LADY’S GUIDE TO PETTICOATS AND PIRACY (YA historical) by Mackenzi Lee features asexual Felicity in her well-deserved own story after playing a side character to her brother Monty and his love interest Percy in THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE. While I adored GENTLEMAN, I’m pleased to report that I loved LADY even more. Historical fiction at its best!

    a few historicals

    Also as usual, I fell hard for some amazing novels-in-verse this year.

  6. JAZZ OWLS (YA novel-in-verse) by Margarita Engle is such a gorgeous book about the Zoot Suit Riots. The poetry is absolutely lovely, and the details she weaves into the lines just sing. As a bonus, artwork throughout by Rudy Guitierrez further sweeps the reader away.
  7. REBOUND (MG novel-in-verse) by Kwame Alexander is a prequel to his Newbery-award-winning THE CROSSOVER, aka the verse novel that astounded me with its ability to interest me in a sport. REBOUND is actually a historical too, since it’s the story of the dad in THE CROSSOVER as a teen, so it doubly captivated me. Un-put-down-able.
  8. BLOOD WATER PAINT (YA novel-in-verse) by Joy McCullough is stunning. It tells the timely #MeToo story of Artemisia Gentileschi, a painter active in Italy in the early 17th century. But don’t just take my word on it. BLOOD WATER PAINT is winning all kinds of praise, and is a newly-announced Morris Award finalist.
  9. THE POET X (YA novel-in-verse) by Elizabeth Acevedo is pretty much everything. This book! The poetry grabs you by the heart, and Xiomara’s voice rings true and loud and in-your-face, and so many people needed her story right now, and I can’t recommend it enough. On top of all that, THE POET X just won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, so others think it’s a pretty awesome book too. Side note: if you ever get the chance to see Elizabeth in person, do not miss it

    some favorite verse novels

    Finally, a bit of a curve ball.

  10. The Faithful Spy (YA nonfiction) by John Hendrix caught me completely off guard. I had pre-ordered this one because I’m particularly interested in World War II resistance within Germany by Germans, and I’ve long held great respect for pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As expected, I devoured it when it arrived, but the unexpected thing is … I simply cannot stop re-reading it.  I just love it so much. I’ve never read such a gripping work of non-fiction, and I absolutely credit that to the graphic presentation. The story of Bonhoeffer’s life progresses in a linear fashion, but it’s broken up by compelling images, descriptions, and details that add up to a full and rich picture not just of this one important man’s life, but of the terrible time he lived in and how he reacted to the circumstances as a person of conscience. This book is a masterpiece and I would love to thrust it upon more readers, so here!  

a book unlike any other

On top of all these wonderful books, I’ve also had the chance to read ARCs of some of the new books coming your way in 2019. From Gita Trelease’s ENCHANTÉE to Justin Reynolds’ OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS to Laurie Halse Anderson’s SHOUT to Mariama Lockington’s FOR BLACK GIRLS LIKE ME to Lamar Giles’ THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER, you are in for some fantastic treats! 


Total books read: 88
Total YA books read: 35
Total MG books read: 39
Total adult books read: 14

Indies Introduce

Bookish news to share! A panel of ABA booksellers has selected White Rose as an Indies Introduce title for Winter/Spring 2019! I am so incredibly thrilled about this honor and so excited to share the space with the incredible titles on the full list.

Indies Introduce is a fantastic program wherein committees of independent booksellers first read mountains of manuscripts. They then select their favorite books by debut authors to promote for the upcoming season. One committee selects ten children’s books, and another committee selects ten for adults. The idea is that they select books they love and think they can hand-sell. In the end, this program helps introduce readers to unknown, untested authors. All this to say that this is an amazing honor!

Independent bookstores and their booksellers are glorious, beating hearts that get books into the hands of readers. That this group of knowledgeable, passionate people saw the promise in my book means the world to me. The bookseller who called me with the news absolutely made my day (after I recovered from the shock), and her blurb left me dizzy:

This enthusiasm for White Rose reminded me of my purpose in writing it–that this story might move readers as much as it moved me. I’m simply over the moon at this news!

#TakeYourBookOutdoors: August 2018

This summer, I decided to join the #takeyourbookoutdoors challenge started by bookstagrammer Bronte, and August ended up being another great month for me to do so. There were some quite hot days, but many beautiful ones, and I took my books along to all sorts of fun places.

One one of those hotter days, I took SUNNY by Jason Reynolds along to the pool. One of my local librarians recommended this book to me, since she knows how much I loved LONG WAY DOWN. This book is for the younger (middle grade) crowd, but sings with musical prose.

Sometimes getting outside means taking the T, and I was reading GIRL IN DISGUISE by Greer Macallister on a trip into town for some dumplings. This book about the first female Pinkerton detective really hooked me.

A NIGHT DIVIDED is on the MCBA (Massachusetts Children’s Book Award) list this year, and my children both thrust it on me, telling me how much they loved it. The book tells the story of a family divided by the Berlin Wall. I had to keep stepping outside for fresh air and looks skyward as the clock ticked on against their escape plans.

On a literary field trip this month, we had the chance to read some of Emily Dickinson’s poems below her window among the tree stumps. We each opened to a random page and read the poem we found there out loud. I read this one just afternoon. Chills!

I read THE CONFIDENCE CODE by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman (here at the Japanese Garden at the MFA) this month. It was jam-packed with interesting science, but I’m now reading THE CONFIDENCE CODE FOR GIRLS (which I checked out for my daughter), and I’m enjoying that version even more.

A BOOK OF PEARL by Timothée de Fombelle was my companion for a few delicious days, including on a lakeside picnic. Part historical, part fantasy, part fairy tale, this book is absolutely gorgeous (as is de Fombelle’s other work–loved VANGO as well).

Finally, I took WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW by Cindy Baldwin along to the Hatch Shell for a (free!) Landmarks Orchestra concert and got to read a little while waiting for the amazing dance performances to begin. This lovely, painful book is a perfect summertime read that ends with buckets of hope.

What great reads have you taken outdoors this summer?


Literary Field Trips

I’ve always been a huge fan of road trips, and literary field trips are probably my favorite type of all. I love to visit literary destinations both close to home and farther away, (including bookish sights in Spain!) but there are oodles of great options not too far from my doorstep in Boston. As summer winds to its lovely end, my kids and I piled in the car and headed off west for a lovely day.

Our first stop was the Montague Book Mill, about an hour and a half west of town (not counting traffic) off a curvy country road tucked beside a rushing river. This used bookstore is brimming with books and includes a healthy children’s section. We ended up with a delicious stack with something for everyone!

Next, we got back on the quiet road for a short stretch through hills and farmland to Amherst and the Emily Dickinson Museum. It was a gorgeous day, and we thoroughly enjoyed it with a picnic among the trees and stumps outside her window. I brought along a volume of her collected poems, and we took turns opening to random pages and reading poems aloud. So much fun! We weren’t able to do the full tour, but we at least made it inside and got an abbreviated tour of Emily’s bedroom where she wrote her poetry.

Finally, we finished up the day with a sunset performance of AS YOU LIKE IT at Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires. Beautiful setting and fantastic performance!

I would love to schedule more literary field trips. What favorite bookish sights are near where *you* live?

#TakeYourBookOutdoors: July 2018

Last month I decided to join the #takeyourbookoutdoors challenge started by bookstagrammer Bronte, and I had just as much fun taking my books outdoors in July as I did in June. This month actually included a week of vacation, so my great outdoors went beyond Boston and up to the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont and tranquil Lake Champlain in New York.

First off, my daughters and I are continuing our read-aloud of HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, and we got to read a chapter one morning before breakfast in the most gorgeous setting in Vermont.

I also started reading THE NIGHT DIARY by Veera Hiranandani while at a writing retreat for a few days on Lake Champlain. One of my daughters had thrust this book in my hands and I could see why she loved it as soon as I started it. Such an emotional, epic journey set in the newly-separated Pakistan and India in 1947.

Back home from vacation, I had the luck of receiving an ARC of SPECTACLE by fellow member of the #novel19s, Jodie Lynn Zdrok. My photo from reading in my own back yard is of the spine because the atmospheric cover hasn’t yet been revealed! But it’s a perfect match to this historical fantasy set in nineteenth century Paris.

Another book I started poolside after my daughters devoured it was FRONT DESK by Kelly Yang. What I love best about this book was how it gave us so much to talk about: how hard life can be, especially for new immigrants, how prevalent racism is, and how experiences from people’s own lives can make the best stories.

Finally, a shot from our new reading nook on our front porch (sadly, a three-season porch, which means a one-season porch in Boston) of THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER by Jen Wang. This graphic novel is absolutely adorable, and this time, my kids devoured it after I did. The historical details, charming characters, and steadfast friendship between this fictional Belgian prince who loves wearing dresses and his ingenious dressmaker is absolutely charming!


#TakeYourBookOutdoors: June 2018

Prompted by the #takeyourbookoutdoors call by bookstagrammer Bronte, I decided to do just that this summer and take advantage of the few months of the year when the weather actually cooperates in Boston. This June has been a particularly fine month for weather, which means I got to enjoy books in all sorts of places, and I had a whole lot of lovely books to read this month, which made it even more fun.

At first, I didn’t venture out too far, taking AMERICAN PANDA by Gloria Chao out to my back porch. This book is so, so fun to read, but it also has a more serious side that made me fall hard for it. Bonus points for taking place just down the road at MIT! More bonus points for being a YA set in college–would love to see more of these.

Next I headed to one of my regular summertime haunts (the beach, of course!), taking MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE by Nisha Sharma with me.  What an adorable story! The romance is top-notch, but really what sold me on the book was the way all the relationships felt so real, including the romance of course, but also the friendships and family relationships. It was refreshing to read a YA with such likable parents!

My next read took me out to sea even though my body stayed firmly on land at an outdoor café while I read THE UNBINDING OF MARY READE by Miriam McNamara. This book is full of adventure, romance, and all the gender and sexual orientation questioning. Plus who wouldn’t love a book about girls dressing up as boys, especially when the characters are based on historical pirates?

Since I was out at sea for UNBINDING, I was drawn to the harbor for my next read. My children and I have been making our way through the Harry Potter series, and we’re currently on book six. I read the books myself in English back in the day, so reading them in Spanish (my children’s first language) is somewhat like reading them again for the first time.

Finally, I wrapped up the month by starting YOUR DESTINATION IS ON THE LEFT by Lauren Spieller, which I brought along on an outing to the North End (not pictured: pizza from Regina’s and granita from Caffe Vittoria). I’m already loving the story of nomad Dessa and am looking forward to finding out where the road will take her!