Wednesday, September 21, 2016

All Laced Up

Surreal and exciting news: my third book comes out October 10, 2016! ALL LACED UP is another contemporary young adult novel from Entangled Teen Crush!

Everyone loves hockey superstar Pierce Miller. Everyone except Lia Bailey.

When the two are forced to teach a skating class to save the rink, Lia’s not sure she’ll survive the pressure of Nationals and Pierce’s ego. Not only can’t he remember her name, he signed her bottle of water like she was one of his groupies. Ugh.

But if there’s one thing Lia knows better than figure skating, it’s hockey. Hoping to take his ego down a notch—or seven—she logs into his team website under an anonymous name to give him pointers on his less-than-stellar playing.

Turns out, Pierce isn’t arrogant at all. And they have a lot in common. Too bad he’s falling for the anonymous girl online. No matter how much fun they’re starting to have in real life, she’s afraid he’s going to choose fake-Lia over the real one...

Disclaimer: This book contains a swoony hockey player (and his equally swoony friends!), one-too-many social media accounts, kisses that’ll melt ice, and a secret identity that might not be so secret after all...

I had a blast writing this one and hope you'll enjoy reading it, too! Can't wait for you to meet Pierce and Lia!

You can add All Laced Up to your Goodreads TBR here. You can also pre-order it on Amazon or B&N.

See you on the ice in October!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Interview with PURGE author Kat Ellis

There's no one who does intense, kinda dark, super-exciting YA better than Kat Ellis. Seriously, Kat's novels keep you on the edge of her seat! Luckily for us, her third novel, PURGE, is out today!

Mason has a habit of getting into trouble. He's been kicked out of every place he's ever lived in. Moving to the cult-like community of Alteria is definitely a last resort, even if it's better than braving the wastelands outside. But following their strict rules is a hundred times harder when Mason meets Eden, who has a wicked streak to match his own. Caught with contraband, Eden is forced into a programme to purge her bad behaviour. But Mason has seen what happens to people who get purged, and knows he will lose Eden if he can’t help her find a way out.

Out in the wastelands, Noah has no memory of what happened before he was abandoned in a war zone. All he wants is to know who he is, and if he can trust the strangers who rescued him from the rubble.

With lies surrounding them on all sides, Mason and Noah must piece together the truth if they want to escape. Failure is not an option when it means being purged from existence.

Kat was kind enough to answer a few questions about PURGE and writing to help celebrate her book birthday! Check out her responses...

If you had to describe PURGE in five words or fewer, what words (or phrase) would you use?

Two trapped teens: no escape!

Finish this sentence: PURGE will appeal to fans of...

... THE MAZE RUNNER (maybe? I think?)

If you were making a playlist to go with PURGE, which songs would you choose to represent Mason and Noah?

For Mason, I'd choose You & Me by Disclosure feat. Eliza Doolittle (Flume Remix) because it's kind of trippy, and the video is super hot and reminds me of Mason together with Eden - the girl who changes the way he thinks about everything.

Noah's song would have to be something angsty and confused and intense, so I think Can You Feel My Heart by Bring Me The Horizon is perfect!

As an avid and talented photographer, what's the most interesting photo you've taken recently? Can you share it with us?

Haha, thank you! I love taking photos of the weird and wonderful Welsh scenery, and this is one of my recent faves. It looks so desolate and creepy, I think it fits in well with certain scenes in PURGE.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

The YA landscape is constantly evolving, so read as much as you can - especially new books that are coming out - and don't get tripped up by trying to write to trends. Find your own niche, and if it doesn't exist, create it!

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Kat!

Want to get your hands on PURGE? If you're in the UK, you can purchase via Amazon, The Guardian, or Waterstones. If you're in the US (or elsewhere), you can get your copy from The Book Depository.

Other helpful links:

Add PURGE to your Goodreads TBR
Follow Kat on Twitter
Follow Kat on Instagram ( this...she takes amazing pictures!)
Visit Kat's website

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Giveaway: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Less than one week until the incredibly talented Jaye Robin Brown's GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT is released! To celebrate, I'm giving away a copy!

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees. 
Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

Y'all, I absolutely loved this book. It's important and beautiful and completely un-put-down-able. It takes on religion, faith, and sexuality while still being funny and romantic and touching. The characters leap off the page. You will love spending time in Jo's world.

Here's how to enter to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Open to US (via Amazon) and International (via Book Depository). Winner will be notified on Monday, August 29.

Helpful Links:
Georgia Peaches... on Goodreads
Georgia Peaches... on Amazon
Jaye Robin Brown on Twitter
Jaye Robin Brown's Website

Thanks for playing! Good luck!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Can't Pour from an Empty Cup

Recently I started thinking about the expression "You can't pour from an empty cup." Usually this wisdom refers to taking care of yourself before taking care of others, but I realized how much it applies to writing, too.

You know those days when the words don't come was easily as you want them to? When writing is more of a struggle than a pleasure? Check yourself: are you trying to pour from an empty cup? Are you lacking necessary inspiration?

Confession: this has been a kind of an empty-cup summer for me. I've battled low self-esteem and stress over some aspects of the business side of being a writer. I didn't do a good job of seeking out things that would inspire me as a writer. Even though I kept writing and working on various projects, I felt that emptiness. The words didn't pour like they had before, like I knew they could.

This month, I started filling my "writer cup" (which, let's be honest, is probably a coffee mug).

First, I attended Writer's Digest's Annual Conference. I could do an entire blog post about the conference, but for now, let's just say that three days of conference sessions and keynotes and being surrounded by fellow writers who share the same passions and dreams and goals? Pretty cup-filling.

While in NYC, I saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time on Broadway. I'm a theater junkie anyway, but seeing a book I love come to life? Awesome.

Curious Incident... Stage
Two days after I got home from NYC, I went to a concert -- the Tour de Compadres with Mat Kearney and NEEDTOBREATHE. This concert had absolutely nothing to do with writing. It didn't make sense that it would fill my writer cup, but it did. You know Lin Manuel Miranda's "love is love is love" speech from the Tony's? In this case, art is art is art, music included. Cup filled.

Tour de Compadres 2016
Raleigh post-sunset
Today, I went to see Newsies for my third and final time before it stops touring. That one does have some writing tie-ins, but I was mostly in it for the dance and music, which will now be stuck in my head for weeks. I also spent some time wandering around Durham's beautiful American Tobacco Campus. It's one of those places I drive by often without really stopping to appreciate it.

American Tobacco Campus 
I never intended for all of these things to happen within the same ten-day period, but they did, and my cup is full. Overflowing. I've worked on edits and beat deadlines. I'm revising a project that has been stuck for a while. I'm blogging for the first time since May. While driving home from work the other day, I had to turn off the radio because it was distracting me from story ideas.

I'm pouring from a full cup and loving every minute of it.

If your writer cup is empty, do something to fill it back up.

Visit an indie bookstore for an author's reading and book signing.

Watch a movie, maybe one that you wouldn't normally pick.

Check out a museum for a couple of hours -- art, science, history, doesn't matter.

Go to a concert or listen to a new song. (Might I suggest one of these?)

Do something Instagram-worthy. (Or Snapchat-worthy? IDK, I'm old.)

Re-read a favorite book that's falling apart from being opened so many times.

Walk around somewhere beautiful.

Then pour your heart from the full cup onto the page.

I can't wait to read what you write.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Write Like You're Running Out of Time

Like most people, I have become a fan of (*cough* obsessed with *cough*) the musical Hamilton. Despite the fact that I used to think history was boring, know little to nothing about hip-hop or rap, and haven't actually seen the musical, I've been listening to the soundtrack on repeat for months. One of my favorite songs is "Non-Stop."

The song centers around Alexander Hamilton writing the Federalist Papers in support of the US Constitution. Long story short: Hamilton wrote 51 important essays in a span of six months.

Through the lyrics of Hamilton's genius writer and creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Aaron Burr asks Hamilton a series of...well...fairly reasonable questions:

"Why do you write like you're running out of time?

Write day and night like you're running out of time?

Why do you write like it's going out of style?

Write day and night like it's going out of style?

How do you write like tomorrow won't arrive?

How do you write like you need it to survive?

How do you write every second you're alive?"

I have to think if Hamilton were alive today, he'd teach the ultimate workshop on how to avoid writer's block and make writing a priority. Getting tickets would probably be harder than getting tickets to the musical, but I digress.

As a writer, I find these lyrics convicting and inspiring. Realistically, we all know we're running out of time. We don't know if tomorrow will arrive.

But do we write like that?

Five years ago, I might not have related to this song as much as I do now. Five years ago, like most twenty-somethings, I thought I was invincible. An exercise regimen led to a foot injury that proved I wasn't a teenager anymore, but still. I wore an air cast, and my foot got better.

But then I developed pain in my calf. It hurt so bad it kept me up at night and made me cry into my cereal at breakfast. My leg and foot swelled. My doctor was pretty sure it was a muscle strain from the cast but sent me for a test to rule out a blood clot. The ultrasound technician did her work and called in the radiologist, who told me I did have a blood clot, deep vein thrombosis, and needed to go straight to the emergency room.

Slightly stunned, I went to get up from the table, but the technician stopped me. "Don't walk," she said. "We'll get you a wheelchair."

What I didn't know at the time was that if any part of the clot in my leg broke off and traveled to my lungs, heart, or brain, I could die. Learning there's something inside your body that can kill you at any minute is rather sobering. I was admitted to the hospital, placed on blood thinners, and eventually allowed to walk and go home.

A month later, I felt a familiar pain in my thigh. Another ultrasound, another blood clot, another hospital stay. Another reminder that I was far from invincible.

Looking back, it makes sense that the book I wrote during this time, Where You'll Find Me, was my first to be published. Though I didn't have a constitution to defend, I did have a goal to accomplish and a realization that life is short. Like Hamilton, I wrote non-stop, and my tenacity paid off.

Fast forward to 2013. My doctors deemed me well enough to stop taking blood thinners, hoping my body had worked out whatever had gone wrong. Not long after, I woke up with pain in my other calf and immediately knew I had another DVT. While I waited for an ultrasound of my leg, my chest started hurting. As much as I hoped and prayed the pain was just caused by my anxiety, a CT scan revealed that what I'd feared had happened: part of the clot in my leg had broken off and traveled to my left lung.

It feels weird to say I was lucky, but I was. For 25% of people with a pulmonary embolism, the first symptom is sudden, unexpected death. Obviously I lived to tell about it, and thanks to a new medication I've been free of blood clots for three years, but that same medication comes with life-threatening risks. Right now, the benefits outweigh those risks, but every time I take that pill, every time I hear the lyrics to "Non-Stop," I'm reminded that each day is a gift, not a promise.

Hamilton had wisdom to impart. Lin-Manuel Miranda had a story to tell. So do I. So do you.

Don't wait until next year to write that novel.

Don't wait until next month to revise that chapter.

Don't wait until tomorrow to share your story.

Do it now.

Write like you're running out of time.

Write like you need it to survive.

And if you somehow stumbled across this post and you're not a writer?

Paint like it's going out of style.

Dance day and night like you're running out of time.

Run like tomorrow won't arrive.

Be you every second you're alive.

Don't throw away your shot.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

February Wrap-up!

What happens when you take the shortest month of the year and cram 2,981,569 things into it? March. March happens. Because March is suddenly here! And so is my end-of-month wrap-up!

What I Wrote

February was devoted exclusively to final edits and proofreading of PIECES OF YOU AND ME, coming April 2016 from Entangled Teen Crush! All of the last minute stuff like proofreading the galley and working on the back cover copy and writing acknowledgments takes a lot of time, but it's done! Woohoo! Can't wait for y'all to meet Chase and Rylee in April!

What I Read

I read a lot this month! The combination of audiobooks on car trips and regular books on airplanes added up to six books read in February:
  • Four by Veronica Roth
  • An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Aimee and the Heartthrob by Ophelia London
  • Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
  • Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
My favorite of the month had to be Symptoms of Being Human. I learned so much about people who are gender fluid and absolutely loved Garvin's choices and style in this sometimes painful but always beautiful book. Highly recommend. 

I also adored listening to Breathe, Annie, Breathe. The romance storyline was like eating candy, but it had all this depth and layers hiding underneath. Also in the "like candy" category? Aimee and the Heartthrob. It took me back to my boy band fangirl days, and I loved every minute of it. Can't wait to read the rest of the Backstage Pass series!

Other February Life Stuff

For the day job, I had six business trips in three weeks, so that took up most of my month. When I was home, I finally got to see The Lion King musical!

Also, I shopped at Trader Joes for the first time. Pro tip: never tell the employees at Trader Joes it's your first time there. There's bell ringing and some kind of loud chant involved. Also, red velvet Oreos were back, which are far superior to any other flavor of Oreos.

Hope you had a great February and have a fantastic March!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Wrap-Up!

How is the first month of 2016 already over? I swear we were just singing Auld Lang Syne yesterday...

Alas, tomorrow is February 1, so here's my January recap:

What I Wrote

A majority of my writing time was devoted to editing PIECES OF YOU AND ME, coming from Entangled Teen Crush on March 14, 2016! I also got to see a mock-up of the pretty! Can't wait to share it with you!

I'm also working on my yet-to-be titled September 2016 (ish) release! It's another contemporary YA romance. I'm 40K words in and having so much fun writing it! I can't wait for you to meet Pierce and Lia.

What I Read
The award for best January book goes to THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp. Painful? Yes. Heartbreaking? Yes. But also gripping and beautiful and completely unputdownable. Check it out on Goodreads here and Amazon here.

I also finally got around to reading INSURGENT and ALLEGIANT. I'd read DIVERGENT a long time ago, before the movie came out, but held off on reading the other two when I heard the furious reactions to the series ending. However, seeing the second movie reminded me how much I enjoy that story and those characters, and...I caved.

Somehow, I hadn't been officially spoiled regarding the ending of ALLEGIANT, but I had my suspicions, which ended up being correct. I'll just be over here hoping they change the ending of the movie...

Lastly, I beta read an amazing and beautiful manuscript by Julie C. Dao. It was the kind of story that left me thinking for days after I finished, so you know it's good! You can find Julie on Twitter or her website, and can read her MG, PUMPKIN PATCH PRINCESS, on Wattpad.

Other January Life Stuff
  • It was my birthday! I turned a prime number less than six squared. I'll let you guess which one.
  • Snowmaggedon happened. At my house, we got an inch or two of ice and snow. In true southern fashion, I was trapped at home for three full days. When I was able to return to work, the ice in our parking lot (on a hill) started melting, and parked cars slid into each other. Crazy:

  • I signed up for Audible! I do a lot of traveling for my day job, and listening to a book makes the time go by much faster! Currently I'm listening to FOUR by Veronica Roth. I got some great suggestions on Twitter, but if you have other recommendations, I'm all ears! (Get it? Audiobooks? Ears? Yeah, okay. Please leave recommendations in the comments!)
Hope your January was great! Enjoy February...all twenty-nine days of it!