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Tracy Bilen, young adult author

New cover! Today!

I’m thrilled to share the cover for my upcoming YA novel, WATCH YOUR BACK! Release date April 2015!


Add to Goodreads here!

Be part of the Cover Release!!

I’m thrilled to announce that the Cover Release for WATCH YOUR BACK will be Monday, June 23, 2014. BLOGGERS, if you want to be a part, please send an email to:  editor (AT)

Tag – You’re it! (My writing process)

Thanks to my writing mentor, Shutta Crum, for tagging me in the writing process blog hop! Shutta is the author of many picture books, including Fox and Fluff (my favorite) and Thunder Boomer (my daughter’s favorite) as well as the middle grade novels Spitting Image and Thomas and the Dragon Queen. You can read all about her and her writing process (and learn what happened when she was invited to read at the White House Easter Egg Roll) at her website. And stay tuned at the end of this post for the two cool authors I’m tagging for next week! But first, let me tell you about my writing process!

What are you currently working on?

In the next few weeks I should be getting edits for my upcoming YA novel, WATCH YOUR BACK, which is coming soon from Tulip Romance/Spencer Hill. It’s just been added to Goodreads (like today!), so you can add it to your To Read pile HERE! Also later this month will be the cover release for WATCH YOUR BACK. I can’t wait to share my awesome cover for this book about…


When sixteen-year-old Kate hears the boom that ends her parents’ life, she doesn’t even realize it has anything to do with her. Until the police arrive at her front door.

Sent to live with her aunt at a ski school in Vermont, Kate tries to adapt to her new life. But then Kate’s aunt is hit by a speeding car and a rogue FBI agent tries to force Kate into his car at gunpoint. She’s saved by Ryan, the risk-taking skier she’s only just met.

On the run, the two must unravel the truth about her parents’ murder in order to stop a terrorist plot and save their own lives.

Besides working on WATCH YOUR BACK, this summer I’ll also be working on a new manuscript, which I’m calling (for moment at least!) WHISPER, also a thriller.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My new book, WATCH YOUR BACK, takes place at a boarding school for high school students who want to become professional skiers and snowboarders. It’s a mix of my two favorite genres – thriller and romance!

Why do I write what I write?

When I started to write my first novel, I was just barely out of high school myself, so YA was what felt most comfortable to me. As a high school teacher, I’ve still got a foot in that world, so I still love reading and writing YA.

How does my individual writing process work?

This is how I start a new book:

1. Float through life certain I will never come up with an idea. This process can last days, weeks, months…

2. Sit down at computer in front of a blank screen.

3. Stare at screen. Put fingers on keyboard. Type random story ideas.

4. Hone in on one sentence that I love. Run with it. Write all day. If I have to go anywhere, live out the story in my head. Give monosyllabic answers to anyone I meet. Get back to computer. Stay up late and write. Live in this euphoric world for the first 50 pages, then…

5. Bam! Get stuck. Outline. Write the end.

6. Float through life certain I will never finish this book. This process can last days, weeks, months…

7. Return to computer. Begin a log of how many words I write each day. Trick myself into thinking I will finish in a month.

8. Continue to obsess about word counts until I only have 10,000 words to go.

9. Consume lots of Super Pretzels and hot chocolate (doesn’t matter what season)

10. Reach the end! Go to Barnes and Noble for a red velvet cupcake (if still in season)

So there you have it, my writing process in ten (easy??) steps! And now, tag – you’re it! Go write that novel!! But first, check out novelists Marissa Doyle and Patti Richards. Marissa is the author of several YA and historical books and writes a cool blog on what it was like to be a teen in the nineteenth century! Patti is living the writing dream, earning her living as a freelance writer by day, and writing picture books and novels by night! Head on over to their websites right now, and be sure to check in on them again next week (June 16) when they’ll be sharing their own writing process secrets! Also next week, I’ll be blogging over at YA Fusion. See you there!




Over at YA Fusion, we’re giving away an ARC of Huntley Fitzpatrick’s What I Thought Was True! Plus we have an interview with Huntley.

Here’s one of our questions and her answer:

Can you tell us a little about your path to publication?
It really does feel as though I followed the yellow brick road. I’d wanted to be a writer since I was five, but wound up becoming (and loving being) an editor for years. When we started having kids, I left my job and we moved from NYC to coastal Massachusetts. Then, a few years ago, I suddenly woke up and HAD to write a book. So I did—carrying the manuscript everywhere, writing on the beach and at playgrounds and school parking lots. I found an agent willing to look at what I turned out, and wrote two manuscripts that didn’t work. Then My Life Next Door, which was totally different than those two but somehow clicked with the agent, then with my publisher, Penguin-Dial for Young Readers. I am honestly still pinching myself that that happened…let alone that I’ve been able to keep writing since then. I don’t think I’ll get over the shock of having a lifelong dream come true, ever.



This week at YA Fusion, I interviewed the editors at Manuscript Critique Services. Check out the interview and see how you could win a query critique here.

And for a chance to win books by AC Gaughen, Tiffany Schmidt, and me, visit AC Gaughen’s blog!


Astronomy Lab, Waldorf Astoria Red Cake, and Worst Case Scenarios

Question: What do an astronomy lab, Waldorf Astoria red cake, and the Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook all have in common?

Answer: They’re all mentioned on my newly updated FAQ page!

Other tidbits include:

Where I met my agent, my German cover, and the inspiration behind my debut novel.

To get you started, here’s one of the questions and its answer:

What advice would you pass along to those of us who haven’t gotten that first book published?

Try to stop writing. (I know, you’re ready to kill me now – how is that inspiring??!). But I’m serious, in a way. Throughout my writing journey, I tried to stop writing (why did I want to publish a book anyway?) But I couldn’t stop. I always came back to it. So if you try to stop writing and you just can’t, you’ll know that you were meant to do it (and that your mind won’t give you any peace if you don’t). If that’s the case, go with it. Keep writing. Keep querying. Write something new while you’re querying (I wrote What She Left Behind while I was querying a book that didn’t sell). Join the professional organizations for your genre. Find a critique group with people who write in the same genre or for the same age-group. And don’t give up. Think back to when you were looking for your first (serious) job. It may have seemed impossible at first. You kept trying different things until you hit upon something that worked. And now when you look back on in, it doesn’t seem that bad. The publishing process is probably going to take you way longer than it took you to find that first job. But it’s worth it. And you can do it!

For more questions and answers, visit my FAQ page!

And if you missed my interview with K.A. Barson, author of 45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS), head on over to YA Fusion!

Butter, anyone?

Over at YA Fusion this week is my interview with Erin Jade Lange, author of Butter. And if you want to know What Happens Next, click here for my interview with author Colleen Clayton.

For teachers and book discussion leaders, here’s my Michigan Reading Association handout, with links to book discussion guides for nineteen 2012 YA titles. And with this video,Young Adult Books Central is hoping to get a YABC bookmobile to bring YA swag to book events throughout the country! In the past few months, I’ve had a great time talking to young people at Lapeer East and West High Schools and at Fenton High. I also enjoyed talking at the Troy Library. At the Michigan Reading Association author breakfast, Ruth McNally Barshaw drew caricatures of all of us as how she imagined us as kids. So sweet!  And then I listened to her talk about her incredible writer/artist journey. I’ll be part of the WNBA Detroit author panel at Novi Library on Wednesday April 24 at 6:30 and will be giving a workshop for teen writers at the Rochester Hills Public Library on June 8 at 2:30.

Super Scary YAmazing Race: Halloween Edition!

It’s time again for the YAmazing Race (Halloween Edition!) with the Apocalypsies. Please see the Apocalypsie website for all the rules and cool prizes (with a signed copy of What She Left Behind among them!) Be careful not to jump the gun: the contest runs from Monday October 22, 2012 at noon EST through Monday October 29, 2012 at noon EST. You can find the answer to the quiz question about What She Left Behind in both the synopsis and the book trailer (if you haven’t seen it yet you don’t want to miss it!)

BONUS CONTEST: I’m giving away one What She Left Behind tote bag and one T-shirt (medium and large sizes available) - if you want to enter, please leave your contact info in the comments section of this post OR send it to me through the “contact” button at the top of this page.

Here’s the synopsis of What She Left Behind:

“Don’t even think of leaving…I will find you,” he whispered. “Guaranteed.”

Sara and her mom have a plan to finally escape Sara’s abusive father. But when her mom doesn’t show up as expected, Sara’s terrified. Her father says that she’s on a business trip, but Sara knows he’s lying. Her mom is missing—and her dad had something to do with it.

With each day that passes, Sara’s more on edge. Her friends know that something’s wrong, but she won’t endanger anyone else with her secret. And with her dad growing increasingly violent, Sara must figure out what happened to her mom before it’s too late…for them both.

And now for the book trailer:

What She Left Behind

For the next stop on the YAmazing Race, please go to Lana Krumwiede’s website!

If you had to choose one song to portray What She Left Behind, what would it be?

The answer is in my interview at Born Bookish!

T-shirt winner!

The YAmazing race is now closed. The t-shirt winner is Jaime Rainwater!! Look for an e-mail from me, Jaime. Thanks to everyone for your comments and for participating!