Guest Post + GIVEAWAY with Shaila Patel: Avoiding the Traps in Writing Romance

Hello! I am so glad Spring Break is here! Woot woot! I am currently a little under the weather right now, but I am so glad I have a wonderful author here on our blog today. I met Shaila Patel a couple of weeks ago at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival, and it was so awesome to meet her! She is one of the nicest author I’ve ever talked with, and I’ve loved our little chats. I loved her debut book Soulmated, and she is giving away an e-copy of her book along with some swag. The swag is great; I have some at home and I love them! Hope you enjoy!

Two souls. One Fate. soulmated_shailapatel_1600x2400_seriestitle

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?

 

a-shailaAbout the Author

As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever-after, Shaila Patel’s younger self would finish reading her copy of Cinderella and fling it across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Soulmated is her debut novel and the winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards for Young Adult. She loves books, craft beer, tea, and cozy window seats—but she’ll read anywhere. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or online gushing about her favorite books.

Publisher Information:Month 9 Books

Represented by: Agent Amanda Leuck of Spencerhill Associates


A Shaila

Avoiding the Traps in Writing Romance

Hi Kester! Thank you for having me here today to talk about avoiding clichés and stereotypes in writing romance.

As a romance writer and a huge fan of romance novels, I can say with certainty that there are no original tropes. A trope is a scenario or plot device, and in love stories they form the foundation on which the romance is built. Examples include the girl falling in love with her brother’s best friend (or vice versa), or the rich, spoiled hero who falls for the one girl who hates him, or even the classic love triangle where a heroine has to choose between two boyfriends.

All romances are based on a trope, yet despite the predictability, we fall in love with a particularly romance novel because it doesn’t feel like the same old story. And that’s probably because it avoided using clichés and stereotypes that usually leave us uninspired and bored. Imagine eating steamed broccoli, or steamed carrots, or steamed cauliflower every night at dinner. Sure, they’re different vegetables, but having them prepared the same way doesn’t get you excited about sitting down to dinner. The same thing can happen in writing.

So how do you avoid the blahs in writing a romance?

Start by subverting the reader’s expectations. Let’s take the example of Beauty and the Beast. Why not make the beast the heroine instead of the hero? Why not move the story into the present day? Or what about making the beast a Hollywood A-list celebrity instead of a recluse? Now you’d have a story that would spark the imagination and make you forget that you already know what it’s all about.

Once you’ve subverted the reader’s expectations of the trope being used, create characters that can’t be contained on the pages of your book. It’s inevitable that you’ll use a few clichés and stereotypes, but don’t rely on them. Instead, captivate your readers with images and characterizations that force them to spin their expectations until they’re dizzy.

Here are three ways you can do that.

First, create fresh character descriptions. By their very nature, clichés and stereotypes don’t inspire us to think. They’re like shortcuts that are overused and instantly tell us what thought, description, or idea is being conveyed. If I were to describe a character’s hair as “golden locks,” you’d know I was describing blond hair. But does it paint a picture in your mind? Not really. How about this: “hair like garlands of pale yellow primroses.” Paints a different picture, doesn’t it?

Second, develop your characters by adding depth. Create an interesting backstory and personality flaws that—again—subvert the reader’s expectations. Taking the trope I mentioned above (the rich, spoiled boy who falls for the girl who hates him), maybe his backstory is that he was poor as a child. Or maybe he’s struggling with turning his parents in for their illegal activities. Why not make him insecure to counter his confidence? Or even embarrassed by a learning disability? There’s nothing more ho-hum than a one-dimensional, perfect character. It leads writers to fall back on expected character-types that you’d find for specific romance tropes, but worse, it makes the story predictable.

Third, have the expected character-type change and grow. If the hero or heroine doesn’t, you run the risk of having flat characters that do nothing to jazz up your trope. Do you have a brooding male hero? Give him a quirky hobby like doing magic tricks. With an interesting backstory, the reader would know why the hero loves the sleight of hand involved with card tricks, and by the end of the story, it could be part of the reason he grows and changes. Do you have a shy heroine? Give her an unexpected cause to champion and allow it to be one of the reasons she transforms by the end of the story. Parallel the hero and heroine’s growth, and intersect them when you need to advance the romantic plot. The goal is to have readers cheering for the hero and heroine, both as individuals and as a couple—all so that they won’t be thinking how predictable the trope is.

Using a romance trope in the same way that it’s always been used is like an uninspiring cliché. It doesn’t create a fresh image in our minds. It isn’t engaging. And if you can’t engage a reader, they’ll likely forget what they read.

And who would want to read a book like that?


Thank you so much, Shaila, for coming onto our blog! I’m so glad to have you guest post for us!

If you want to check out Shaila’s social media pages or buy Soulmated, check out the links below!

Contact Links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

Buy Links for Soulmated:

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Books-a-Million| Google Play | Indiebound | Kobo


Now onto the giveaway! Woo hoo! I think you should enter this giveaway because I loved Soulmated A LOT! I mean A LOT! It was amazing! You’ll really enjoy it!

Just a few quick rules:

1) This is open to ALL International residents. For US Residents, you will get more swag than Int’l residents because of postage.

2) You must be truthful when entering!

3) You must be 18 years or older or have parental permission.

4) Winner must respond within 48 hours of me notifying him or her.

Here’s the Giveaway Link!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I wish you the best! Hope you have fun! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

 

 

 

 

Interview + GIVEAWAY with Bryan Pentelow

‘Ello gov’na! (I just love British accents!!!) Today’s special guest hails all the way across the Atlantic and lives in the United Kingdom! We are so glad to have Bryan Pentelow with us today! He is giving out TWO e-copies of his newest book Sprocket and the Heart of the North this week, and we want you to win them! Go check out the interview below and be sure to enter the giveaway below!

Bryan Pentelow

1. In your own words, what is your book Sprocket and the Heart of the North about? 51CtZm7Rp2L._AC_US160_

As with all the Sprocket Sagas, this one is a fight between good and evil. Which wins? Read it and find out. 

The North of England was a centre of glass making in the past and in my history, the furnaces were fired by dragons. Then a desperate sorcerer needing powerful magic to save his own land steals the Heart of the North, kills its maker and casts an evil spell to cover his dark deeds. A counter spell is conjured to contain the evil but how long can it last. Can dogs, dragons and humans find the lost Heart of the North before the Creeping Dark destroys the Great Northern Forest and lays waste to their homes? What is Dragon Glass and what makes it so special? Is the young glass blower from Manchester a descendant of the maker of the Heart of the North? What is hidden on a dusty top shelf in the store room of the Glass Museum in Malaga Spain? There is so much to learn, so many questions to answer and so little time for our heroes to unravel the clues and twists of history and legend. Join the hunt for the Heart and follow the trail where ever it leads, but don’t linger on the way or you may be consumed by the CREEPING DARK.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I have a life long fight with the English language, having very wobbly spelling and a tenuous grasp on grammar. As a result of this, I wrote as little as possible till the advent of word processing packages then at least I could correct some of my shortcomings. I have been a copywriter for mail order catalogues which broadened my vocabulary when trying to find yet another different way to describe several almost identical products. As part of my sales and marketing career, I had to make presentations and give them. This disciplined me to write logical timelines and produce impact at beginning and end. Try Public speaking some time, it’s a great way to improve your writing and bring an understanding of the difference between written and spoken language. At some time I would love to give poetry a serious try but I find the restriction of very few and precise words beyond me most of the time.

3. Who are your favourite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

The list is endless and it is very hard to pull out my favourite authors, but I will do my best not to write a book and bore you to death. Terry Pratchett and his Disc World books have given me immense joy over the years and great sorrow at his recent death. The vast imagination and joyous humour of his stories are beyond compare. My second choice is Neal Asher. He writes science fiction which explores the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence which could be hard work if his storylines and action packed plots didn’t drag the reader along at a breakneck pace. Steve McHugh is my third choice with his masterly interweaving of history, legend and the present day. Mix together magic, gods of every pantheon and a thrilling fast paced story line and you are in for a fast ride. Recently I have come across to new, independent authors who have gripped my reading. E.M. Swift-Hook who is currently producing the second trilogy in her fascinating story of the clash of medieval and sci-fi societies is a writer well worth getting to know. Her books are full of strong characters with plots that have more twists than a coil spring. The second is Robert Lee Beers. His books centre on a hard-bitten private eye whose cases cross the boundaries of time and the supernatural to give a fascinating insight into the ways of crime and evil. As all these writers have a number of books to their names, whichever one you pick you will have plenty to go at. 

4. What are your favourite genres to read and write? What are your favourite books?

I have a fairly catholic taste in reading material. My only must have is a good story line. I cannot bear are the sort of classic novels filled with dithering characters with too much money and time who fritter away their time on pointless trivia. I love Science fiction and fantasy both to read and write for the freedom to follow ideas to logical or illogical conclusions usually without getting locked up or causing wars or riots. I like military history as long as it’s not too packed with statistics and facts that they slow down the story. I read this, I don’t write it as I’m much too lazy to do the copious amounts of research necessary to get the facts straight. I have listed above some of my favourites but here I would include ant of Bernard Cornwell’s books particularly the Lords of the North series and the Sharpe series. Staying in the Napoleonic era I would also recommend any of Alexander Kent’s Bolitho books about the Royal Navy of that period. He can write a sea battle like no other and leave you wondering how any sailor survived the shot, shell and flying splinters. Just to show that I do read books by authors who are not British, I would include most of David Baldacci’s fiction books all of which are real page turners.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?10391697_105921086085058_4141656_n

I read. I am lucky enough to be retired so can usually find time to keep my, to read list, from getting too long. I have always loved reading as a method of learning and visiting new places and ideas. As a child, I went through many torch batteries while reading under the bed covers after official lights out time. Since I became a writer and discovered how much a review means to an author I also try to write a review of the books I read and would encourage everyone to do the same. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or erudite, just a few lines to say what you liked or what could be improved are of real value. My other great pleasure is listening to the radio. I know its old fashioned but the special effects have always been much better than television and the scenery always coincides with my ideas of what things look like. 

6. Who is your favourite character from your Sprocket Sagas?

It has to be Mrs. Mumbly. She is an English Bull Terrier and is the toughest dog you could imagine. If you are unfamiliar with the breed then look them up on Google. They are short haired, bullet-headed with pointed ears and whippy tails. They look very fierce but if you offer a hard dog biscuit and a scratch between the ears you will have a friend for life. These dogs are totally loyal to their friends and will defend their loved ones to the death. If you meet one, be a friend. Never cross the dog world’s answer to an armoured vehicle. 

7. How is it like living in Britain? What are some things you love about the United Kingdom? Do you guys drink a lot of tea there? (I had to ask!)

I love and hate the weather. In the same day, we can experience at least three seasons and need to change outfits to suit. I love the fact that the English, in particular, are not uptight about who we are. It makes me smile when our Celtic neighbours get wound up about the ‘Old Enemy’. Clinging to the past can have a very negative effect on a nation. 

Yes we do drink a lot of tea and are very choosy about what tea we drink and how we brew it. What most of Europe and most of America forget is that tea needs boiling water and that coffee machines do not get the water hot enough to make a good cup of tea. 

My other delight is the BBC. From an early age their Children’ Hours on the radio (now sadly no longer broadcast) fired my imagination and being able to watch a whole program without being interrupted by the banal drivel of adverts is a blessing afforded to very few.  51bgt51b3gL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

8. Your books feature dragons and take place in Dragon World! Would you like one as a pet, and why or why not?

Yes, I would like a dragon but not as a pet. My dragons are sentient beings, so keeping one as a pet would be like keeping a slave. I would love a dragon friend but most of them are too big for houses and their appearance would tend to terrify people. Also, they must be kept away from liquorice as it gives them hiccoughs and that combined with the ability to breathe fire or ice can lead to disaster. Having a Seeker Dragon as a friend would save a fortune in petrol and air fares as I could use portals as a means of getting about. One of my aims in life is to give dragons a better press. They have mostly played the villain in stories but that was because of humans being frightened of the unusual and our tendency to try to wipe out that which we find threatening.

9. What is a regular day of writing to you?

There isn’t a regular writing day for me. I am completely undisciplined and come and go to and from my laptop as the ideas hit me. I am something of a believer in Terry Pratchett’s theory that Ideas sleet through the multiverse till they collide with a mind and if you don’t write them down quickly they will move on to someone more receptive. In this way I drift from project to project sometimes working for long periods while the story line flows and at others, bumbling about in my shed or garden as ideas sleet past. Being retired and a self-published author I don’t have editors or publishers setting deadlines for me. What a marvellously unstructured existence I lead, at least till my grandchildren put the pressure on.

10. How do you combat writer’s block?

I’m lucky. It hasn’t been much of a problem for me but on the odd occasion when a story line gets stuck up a dead end, I go and do something else till bits drop into place then go back to where things started to go wrong and re-write from there. I am waiting for a breakthrough in the second Sci-Fi book to see if it will be one or two books but if I wait much longer then it is likely to be more fact than fiction.

11. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans for your writing career?P1020353

There are now six stories in the Sprocket sagas and my eldest granddaughter is putting the pressure on for another full-length book, a longer one as it only took her about a week to read the last one. 

I have also written a short Science Fiction book ‘Sea Change’ and am writing a much longer sequel. There is also a short story, ’A waste of Skin’ which I have yet to publish. As I am a member of a speaker’s club I will be writing a number of pieces for verbal presentation. Some of my past speeches have been put up on Niume and can be read there. Anything which is on that site with the exception of the serialisation of the first Sprocket book is free to download. Find me on Amazon to see all my books.

12. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

There is only one main tip and that is to write. Until you have written down your ideas you have nothing to work on. In this day and age it is easy to cut and paste a piece of work to put in additional material or to alter an idea which has run into a brick wall but until you have a basic story on the screen or page there is nothing to improve. So don’t waste time trying to come up with the perfect novel in your head, get on and write. 

Thank you so much, Bryan, for coming onto our blog!

Check out Bryan’s social media pages here!

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Goodreads

Here is the giveaway! We are giving away two Kindle e-copies of Sprocket and the Heart of the North! Enter the giveaway below! The rules are in the Terms & Conditions (make sure you read them!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope you have a wonderful week! And make sure you share! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Home Blog Tour: Interview with Eleni McKnight

Hi guys! In two days, I am going to the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival in Murfreesboro, Tennessee! I am so excited! You know what else I’m excited for? This author interview with Eleni McKnight because of two reasons: 1) She is local author from TN! Yay! Go Volunteers! 2) She’s from Murfreesboro, the town I’m going to this Saturday! I hope you enjoy this interview!

home

 

Home by Eleni McKnight home-front-cover-hirez

Genre: YA Dystopian

Release Date: November 22nd 2016

Summary from Goodreads: Knowledge is a Dangerous Commodity HOME – the last bastion of civilization in a corrupt and fallen world. Outside dwell the reanimated dead, cannibals, and scavengers; remnants of a once great race. Inside, the commune is ruled with an iron fist by Deacon, and administered without mercy by the Elders. Everyone knows their place in HOME. Everyone is safe in HOME…as long as you follow the rules. Handmaiden Suzannah Commons is content with training to be a wife and mother, the only occupation open to women in HOME. But her world is turned upside-down when she tastes the forbidden knowledge contained in outlawed books. Suzannah discovers a new way of life is possible, but that knowledge comes at a high price. It could cost her life. Or the life of the boy she loves. 

Add to Goodreads

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

About the Authoreleni-mcknight

Eleni McKnight is a Murfreesboro, Tennessee native. She graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a degree in Theatre with an emphasis in Literature and a wild passion for creating clothes and doing make-up. She’s also an avid reader and loves music and theatre. She started writing at age eight when she had read all the Baby-Sitter’s Club books that were out and wanted something new to read. It’s never quite left her over the years These days, you can usually find Eleni working backstage or costuming in local community theatres, reading a book, walking (that FitBit is addictive!), at a concert, drinking a craft beer with friends, knitting, embroidering, or taking a dance class.

Author Links:

Email | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

 

Now onto the interview!

eleni

1. What is your book Home about?

“When did your ignorance become as good as my education?” sums it up in short. It’s a book about how reading can be dangerous because it opens your minds to new ideas and situations, and gives you empathy (which I think society is sorely lacking these days). Suzannah Commons is an innocent young Handmaiden who has always followed the rules. An accident happens, and her “purity” is compromised when she accidentally walks in on a naked boy while doing her chores. In her purity-centered religious culture, the message is that the loss of virginity was her loss of a huge part of her as a person, and as she tries to redeem her soul, she begins to open her mind to new ideas when she begins reading books, making her dangerous.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

Wow, that’s so me. I grew up with a teacher for a mother, and she got me into reading big time. I loved the Baby-Sitter’s Club books and when I wanted to read more of them, but couldn’t go to the store for more books because I was eight-year-old and didn’t have money to get them, I decided to write my own books! Writing has gotten me through some severe depression in the past (along with therapy, and I think everybody needs a therapist to unload on and talk to!) and it’s helped me document my life a little bit, if not in writing, by how I was feeling and thinking at the time.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

I’d definitely say Ann M. Martin started me down the path. She will forever hold a special place in my heart due to that. Judy Blume made a huge impact on me too, teaching me that reading could be fun and enjoyable, not a chore (like the Superfudge books).  I loved Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Anne Shirley series by L.M. Montgomery, too. I was also crazy about scary stuff, too, so I loved horror like R.L. Stine’s Fear Street (but never Goosebumps) and Christopher Pike as a teen, too, but it more started with my love of the book Bunnicula by James and Deborah Howe. I love paranormal books, too, so I loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula and general classical horror novels, now I like Stephen King too. But I always wanted to write YA because my teen years were a difficult and confusing time in my life (hey, whose weren’t?). I didn’t read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood until after I finished Home, and I’m happy I did, because it’s become one of my favorite novels, and it shares a lot unintentionally with my book. I am so excited about the series that’s coming soon! I like her work a lot, too, especially The Edible Woman.

4. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

I like embroidery, sewing and costuming, cross-stitching, theatre, knitting, make-up, and candle-making. I know that’s a lot of hobbies, but I try to make it work, you know? I work during the day, so writing is my part-time gig!

5. Since the society in your book has outlawed books, what is one banned book that you loved reading, and would you want schools to read it? home-front-cover-hirez

I LOVE BANNED BOOKS! I’d much rather be on the Banned Book List because that means I’ve “made it” as an author! Not yet, but I’m working on it… I loved The Giver by Lois Lowry. I think this one is so important for kids to read and understand: it’s good to challenge authority by asking WHY we have certain rules, not just going along with them. I also think it’s good for kids to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury in high school, because it gives them an idea of how futile and horrifying war truly is that you can’t really get from a history textbook. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie spoke volumes to me, because I did not grow up on an Indian Reservation, and I never understood what people who were in different economic conditions than I was survived. Are you There God? It’s Me, Margaret was a great book by Judy Blume because it covered a lot of the bullying and the realization and empathy that comes in school, but it didn’t have an after-school special kind of ending to it.

6. What would you do if the zombie apocalypse struck unexpectedly?

I’d probably get a blow torch and take out as many of those suckers as possible! Are they zombies induced to come at you when there’s noise? Because I can be very quiet. But, I’d also be a bad ass driving away on a motorcycle like Daryl Dixon on Walking Dead with a cross bow strapped to my back.

7. On your website, you say you want to write for a TV show or movie. What about the TV or movie industry attracts you to want a career in it?

That’s a great question, and I love answering this. I actually majored in theatre at UT. I’ve always dreamt of acting, because it’s telling a story. A lot of the times, I can empathize with someone who is a good actor and can portray the conflict of the situation. It opens up my mind a lot and gets me thinking. I want to be a part of that, maybe one day.

8. I see you love music and theater! I love them both, too! What is your favorite play or musical? What is also your favorite song or musician?

SQUEE! Another theatre person!! I love the play My Fair Lady because it had an ending where Eliza came back as Henry Higgins’s equal. I love Shakespeare, I used to do a lot of that, too, my favorite play being Twelfth Night. And my favorite song is “As Long as I Can See the Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, it’s not a musical song. If you want that, I love the song “Anything Goes,” because it’s so catchy and you can do some great choreography to it.

9. If your readers had to get one message from this book, what would it be?

That reading is so important. And so is equality, even if you think you already have it, a lot of people in this world don’t, so always work towards it.

10. What is your go-to cure for writer’s block?

Finding an inspiring read. The best one though, is sometimes taking a break from writing and re-entering the real world and reconnecting with friends.

11. I’m from Tennessee, too! What is one thing you love about Tennessee and one thing you wish was better about the state?

eleni-mcknightOMG, really?!?! SQUEE! The best parts of being from Tennessee is the amount of people who always volunteer to help after a disaster. You never have to worry about getting help, we are the Volunteer State for a reason. I think the worst part: we are landlocked 😦 I love the beach!

12. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans with your writing career?

I have written several books that I had to shelve. I really want to write a paranormal series that I’ve renamed and rewritten about fifteen times that right now, I’m calling the Magi Chronicles. I know it will take a lot of passion and work to do all that I wish to with it. I really want to write more Young Adult (that’s maybe not so dark) in the future. I plan on writing contemporary romance under a pen name, too, but that’s a ways off. And like I said, I’d LOVE to become a film and television writer, but that’s a long shot. It would be nice to be able to put food on the table and roof over my head with a savings account in the bak from writing alone, but I’m not sure if that’s even feasible. For now, I just want to get my work out there and get it read by people!

13. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

Be passionate about what you write. Try to write every day, even if you don’t feel like it. If you need inspiration, look inside yourself at the things that you are passionate about and try to write about that, even if you think it’ll never get read. And don’t read your reviews (at least the non-professional ones)!

Thank you so much for coming on our blog, Eleni! It was nice having a local author on LILbooKlovers!

 

Now onto the giveaway!

 

GIVEAWAY:

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

Blog Tour Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours

ya-bound-book-tours

 

Of the Trees Blog Tour: Interview with E. M. Fitch

Hi guys! Happy Monday! It’s already March, can you believe it? Welcome to our tour stop for the Of the Trees Blog Tour, and we are hosting author E.M. Fitch in an exclusive interview! We also have a giveaway that is at the bottom of this post if you want to check it out and enter!

 

of-the-trees-1

 

Title: OF THE TREESof-the-trees

Author: E.M. Fitch

Pub. Date: February 28, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 345

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play Books | Indiebound

Synopsis: Cassie and Laney fancy themselves amateur ghost hunters. When a carnival comes to town, Cassie embraces the chance to try something new.

Carnival workers watch the girls with a collective gaze that ignites in Laney a dark and dangerous fascination, leaving Cassie unnerved.

It’s not just their age or the unsettling way they stare. There is something in the shifting of their skin and the way their features seem to change in the shadows.

Cassie can’s shake this sickening feeling that there’s more to the carnival than meets the eye.

When townspeople suddenly start dying and bloody warnings appear around town, Cassie is lured into a nightmare where trees whisper and strange, shape-shifting men haunt the backwoods she once hunted for ghosts with her best friend.

Then Laney goes missing, and only Cassie can get her back. But the creatures of the trees aren’t simply going to hand Laney over to Cassie without getting something in return.

 

About E.M:e-m-fitch

E.M. Fitch is an author who loves scary stories, chocolate, and tall trees. When not dreaming up new ways to torture characters, she is usually corralling her four children or thinking of ways to tire them out so she can get an hour of peace at night. She lives in Connecticut, surrounded by chaos, which she manages (somewhat successfully) with her husband, Marc.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

 

Now onto the interview!

e-m

1. How would you describe Of the Trees if you had only 10 words to use?

Dark fairies lure young women into the forest.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

It’s not just that I love writing, it’s that I couldn’t exist without writing. That’s not to say there aren’t days in which I can’t stand writing, trust me. I groan and moan and say to myself, “Why am I even doing this?!” But in the end, I’m always drawn back. There are stories in my head, and they want out, darn it!

If I’m being honest, my first love for storytelling began when I was very young. I adored the Oz books, Sword in the Stone, The Hobbit. There were never enough stories for me, despite how many books my parents brought home. So I started making them up. My mother still has a box of cringe-worthy, self-illustrated short stories that I wrote decades ago. Fiction got tossed to the side during my college years, I was so absorbed in studying and working full time that there was much less time for make-believe stories to circle my brain. One night, on break at work, I absently picked up Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (it was the only book laying around the breakroom). I finished half the book that night. I devoured as much of the series that was published at that time, and then I needed more. But there wasn’t any! Not Harry Potter, at least. I found lots of other Young Adult fiction to satisfy my needs, but something about Harry kept drawing me back. And so, drawing on those same urges I had as a child, I needed to finish Harry’s story. J.K. Rowling was taking much too long for me. I got into fanfiction writing. Now this was long, long before I ever considered doing this whole writing thing professionally; I felt I was just messing around. My husband is also an author, and he was in a Master of Fine Arts program at the time. Imagine us attending lots of dreary poetry readings and lectures with warm red wine and questionable cheese left out in the corner – that’s a pretty accurate picture. At one of the events, a colleague of my husband’s asked me if I was a writer, too. I paused. Because, no, I wasn’t really. And yet I spent hours in front of my computer playing around with Harry and company, plotting, and tweaking storylines. It felt really silly to admit that (it still does), but I eventually stuttered out a response. “No, not really,” I said. She grinned over at me, said, “Oh, that means you are,” and walked away. I don’t remember who she was, what she looked like, and I couldn’t possibly tell you her name. But at that moment, I knew I was a writer. I began writing my first novel that year.

Side note: I can’t believe I just admitted that *hides face*

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?of-the-trees

My favorite authors include Becca Fitzpatrick, Libba Bray, Peter Straub, and John Marsden. Patrick Ness, as well, and he is probably one of the biggest influences on my fiction. Of course, now that I admitted to my Potter mania, I have to include J.K. Rowling. As to who has affected my writing style the most … it’s a tough call. I could claim that any of the names above has influenced my work, and that would be true. But I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful friend and mentor, Mav Skye. Not only has she influenced me with her own stories and novels, which are dark and fascinating, I’ve had the absolute privilege of her advice/critiques on my work. Between my husband, Marc Fitch, and my friend, Mav Skye, I’ve had two authors championing me and kicking me in the rear. There’s nothing so impactful as people who believe in you.

4. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

I tend to stick to a lot of Young Adult fiction, something about those few years of your life just really sticks with you, doesn’t it? But broadly speaking, I adore fantasy/horror/paranormal/dystopian fiction. I enjoy a smidge of romance within all those dramas, and you can’t go wrong with a bit of steampunk/historical fiction. I’m also a fan of non-fiction, from books exploring Quantum Physics, to survival accounts. The Lord of the Rings trilogy will remain one of my all-time favorites. Harry Potter is another favorite, of course. I love the childhood classics of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz series, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland – but not Moby Dick. I hate that book. I enjoyed reading Ayn Rand, because her books read like the mean girl at a party, the one you know you shouldn’t be laughing with, but can’t help it. Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy remains one of my all-time favorites, as well as John Marsden’s Tomorrow When the War Began series.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

Writing is absolutely a full time job. I love writing, and I treat it like a full time job, with time dedicated to it and deadlines I have to meet. I have several other full time jobs, however. I’m a mom to four wonderful kids, that’s a job in and of itself. I am also a pediatric psychiatric nurse, and I work the most wonderful group of staff and patients. Whenever I’m not at my computer or in the hospital, I enjoy being outside. I love campfires, ghost stories, hiking, the beach, old cemeteries, historic battlefields, museums, and libraries.

6. Do you believe in ghosts or anything paranormal? Would you hunt one down in one of the creepiest haunted houses?

I believe in spirits and the afterlife, I’m not so convinced about the Casper the Friendly Ghost figures drifting around haunted houses. Would I seek them out? Sure! Because that sounds like fun! I have enjoyed many trips to haunted cemeteries, hotels, houses. I love those haunted history walks, and I’ve gone through San Francisco, St. Augustine, and countless others. I’ve never seen anything, and for as much fun as I have on ghost hunts, I honestly hope to never find one. I just enjoy the cheap thrill of looking.

7. Are you a fan of carnivals or fairs? What’s your favorite carnival ride or game?

I enjoy both carnivals and fairs, though I prefer the smaller, hometown versions and not the gigantic, state-wide affairs. Favorite ride? Anything that goes fast! Or, ooh! That thing that spins and spins and spins and pins you to the side? And then you can flip upside down? Or to the side? I love that one! Centrifugal force at its best.

8. What made you attracted to the Young Adult genre as a reader and writer?

So back before I was writing, I was reading. But being a young mother, who had just gotten out of college having completed a nursing and a psychology degree, I had no time to keep up with what books were out there. I hadn’t really read for pleasure in years, and I had no idea where to start. I looked online and found this website where you could put in the books you read and loved, and they would recommend titles. That seemed so wonderful to me, like Netflix but for books! So I jotted down a few titles that looked promising, walked to my local library, and looked them up. Every title, every single one, had me going to the children’s section! I was surprised, and a little embarrassed. I didn’t even know YA was a thing, couldn’t have told you that that was where my tastes lay; but I went to the kid’s section, quickly pulled the books I wanted off the shelf, and scurried out of there. The first title I grabbed was A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. I loved it! So I kept marching back to the children’s section, kept pulling titles. When I finally decided to take my writing seriously, it felt completely natural to gravitate toward YA literature. I write what I love, YA books that usually feature a dystopian/horror/supernatural element.

So I fell into writing YA, but I make the choice to stay there. I love working with teens, and I love writing teenage protagonists. There’s just something about those years in which people are this amazing combination of intelligent and naïve, resourceful and vulnerable. Teens can see the world in a whole new way, and also exhibit flashes of ancient wisdom, grace, and sensitivity. I love the struggles of identity formation, finding who you are. These make for great literary devices, and are such wonderful things to explore in the characters you create. There’s also a massive amount of growth – intellectual, emotional, physical – when you’re a teenager, and that’s another element of great fiction, character growth. Whatever drew me to YA fiction, I’m forever grateful that I’m here.

9. How do you cure writer’s block?

I don’t get writer’s block, per se. There’s times I get stuck on certain scenes, and then I just move to different scenes. I go back and forth with creative ventures, sometimes I need a break from writing and then I dive into promos, social media, website building. I read a lot. I love projects, to the point where my husband cringes when I mention I wasn’t to build something new. I like to try my hand in anything, building furniture, refinishing pieces, painting, landscaping – but my true creative love is writing, and so those are my little breaks, and then I dive back into my work.

10. If you had one book with you on a deserted island, which one would it be?

I’m torn here. I hate to pull a Dwight Schrute here and give such a dry, boring answer, but… it would most likely be The Physician’s Desk Reference. Possibly a book on regional edible plants? That, or the Bible.

11. Your Break Free series takes place during a zombie apocalypse. What would you do if a zombie apocalypse broke out?

Grab my machete! Gather my family, and get out to the woods and away from civilization. Head south (it’s too cold to survive winters for long in my neck of the woods). My ideal would be to head to a marina, snag myself a boat, and sail off to find a quiet little island and wait out the apocalypse. That being said, zombies are pesky beings, and plans go awry. I’d do my best to adapt to the situations thrown at me.

12. What’s a typical day of writing like for you?e-m-fitch

Can you hear my laughter from where you’re sitting?? There is no typical day for me, but I’ll try to give you a glimpse. Wake up, brush teeth, coffee, chase children, feed children, teach children, play with children, repeat some of those tasks, put children to bed. Two nights a week I then drive to work for some overnight shifts at the hospital I work in, the rest of my evenings are spent quietly in my home. The writing happens between all of that. Currently, I have dinner cooking on the stove and the boys are playing with their father, who just got home from work, so I’m answering a question at a time while going back to stir the fajitas. Nighttime is the most peaceful for me, so I tend to stay up way, way too late. When I get caught in a writing haze, I can be up to two or three in the morning, just typing away. I catch little bits of time here and there, and somehow out of all this chaos, novels are born.

13. If Of the Trees was made into a movie, who would you have as the director, and who would you have as the cast?

Alfonso Cuarón would be my top pick for director. I like how he can work with such diverse subject material. His visual storytelling is incredibly expressive, and Cuarón has a way of holding the audience right where he wants them.

I don’t know what role I’d give her, perhaps Laney, but I would want Saoirse Ronan there. I think she’s an amazing actress, so compelling to watch, and she truly becomes her characters.

14. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans with your writing career?

Of The Trees is my fourth novel to be published. Previously published is my Young Adult zombie trilogy, The Break Free Series. As for what’s next, I have the sequel to Of The Trees, entitled Darkness Cannot Hide Her, completed and ready for edits. I have another YA novel entitled The Monsters Within that is also complete, and for which I will be seeking representation. I’m currently writing a YA ghost story that hasn’t yet earned its title, and just for fun, I’m writing and publishing as many short stories as I can.

15. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

Keep writing. If that’s what you’re meant to do, if there’s stories in your head that just don’t quit, then don’t give up. Don’t get stuck on your first novel, don’t worry about making it perfect. Just go on and write your next book, and then your next. Find yourself some honest critiques, throw your work out there, and don’t get disheartened by the hundreds of rejections that will come your way. Those come to everyone. If it’s something you’re meant to do, do it.

Thanks so much, E. M., for coming onto our blog and doing this interview! Great answers!

 

Now here’s the giveaway!

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a $25 Fandango Gift Card, US Only.

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

2/27/2017- Lisa’s Loves(Books of Course)– Interview

2/27/2017- Never Too Many To Read– Review

2/27/2017- Julie Reece– Excerpt

2/28/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Guest Post

2/28/2017- Book Review Becca– Review

3/1/2017- Two Chicks on Books– Interview

3/1/2017- Omg Books and More Books– Review

3/2/2017- Always & Forever Fangirling– Excerpt

3/2/2017- Bookaholic Banter– Review

3/3/2017- Rockin’ Book Reviews– Guest Post

3/3/2017- Quantum– Review

 

Week Two:

3/6/2017- LILbooKlovers– Interview

3/6/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Review

3/7/2017- The Book Adventures of Annelise Lestrange– Excerpt

3/7/2017- Book Lovers Life– Review

3/8/2017- Hidden Worlds Books– Guest Post

3/8/2017- Book-Keeping– Review

3/9/2017- Bibliobibuli YA– Interview

3/9/2017- StephanieCassidyBlog– Review

3/10/2017- So Few Books– Interview

3/10/2017- I am not a bookworm!– Review

 

Thank you so much for checking out our tour stop, and please chat with us below! What is your favorite YA paranormal book? Have you read or are going to read Of the Trees? Comment below, and let’s chat!

+ J.M.J.

~Kester

 

Exclusive Interview + GIVEAWAY with Elle Cosimano

 

Hi guys! So I just finished a really good book called Holding Smoke, and I am so glad to be hosting Elle Cosimano today in an exclusive interview with her! Also, she is giving away a hardcover copy of Holding Smoke in the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this page, so I urge you to check it out! Enough said, let’s get on with the interview and giveaway!

elle-cosimanoElle Cosimano grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs, the daughter of a maximum security prison warden and an elementary school teacher who rode a Harley. She spent summers working on a fishing boat in the Chesapeake Bay, baiting hooks, scrubbing decks, and lugging buckets of chum. A failed student of the hard sciences, she discovered her true calling in social and behavioral studies while majoring in psychology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Fifteen years later, Elle set aside a successful real-estate career to pursue writing. She lives with her husband and two sons in Northern Virginia and Mexico.

Elle’s debut, Nearly Gone, was a 2015 Edgar Award finalist and winner of the International Thriller Award. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Horror Writers Association, and Sisters In Crime. She was selected for the 2012 Nevada SCBWI Agented & Published Authors’ Mentorship Program, where she worked under the guidance of Ellen Hopkins. She attended the Writers’ Police Academy at Guilford Technical Community College, Department of Public Safety, to conduct hands-on research for her books.

holding-smokeJohn “Smoke” Conlan is serving time for two murders-but he wasn’t the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke’s new home and the only one he believes he deserves.

But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they’re asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn’t care that the “threads” that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name.

Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink’s help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he’s willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for.

2017 Nominee for the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in dark fantasy and horror writing

My Mini-Review (Full to Come Later!)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the author in exchange for a review. I also got some free signed swag- this is outside of the trade agreement. None of these factors will affect my review.

Rating: 9/10 stars

Overall Thoughts: I really liked this book! It was very well-written, and it definitely does leave an impact on you. I was creeped out at times because it was very haunting and chilling. This is one of those books that you’ll just go “Wow” at the end. I know, because that happened to me!

Pros

  • That ending. I never saw it coming! You’ll never predict it!
  • It will make an impact on you! There’s an article by the author at the end that have the potential to change your outlook on the world. I know I was just amazed by it- it links well with the ending!
  • Hooks you in emotionally, especially with the flashbacks and vivid imagery

Cons

  • I started to lose interest in the middle, but the ending hooked me back it.
  • Some details were a bit off to me. Sometimes I didn’t know if Smoke was in his body or not, and other times I wondered how these events stringed together.

Recommendation: Definitely!

elle

1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I love storytelling in all forms. I love reading stories, watching them, listening to them, and I enjoy creating stories of my own. I think it goes beyond the escapism. For me, the fascination is in the discovery process, both of the characters within the tale but also of my self. When I was a kid, I had an uncle who would read fables and fairy tales aloud to me when I came to visit. We would talk about the characters and their struggles–why they made the choices they made and how they felt about those choices. These were formative moments for me, and in hindsight, I can see how strongly they’ve influenced the kinds of stories I write today.

2. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?elle-cosimano

The first book I really, deeply connected with was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I read her books over and over again. Her characters were so real to me, so alive and layered, each one unique. It was amazing to me, that she could achieve that kind of depth of character and richness of setting in such a short book, or that she could make me feel so much within so few pages. To this day, I still gravitate toward books that make me care the way this book did–stories and characters that make me laugh or cry or shout out in public places. When I write, my goal is to make a reader feel.

3. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

I love thrillers and suspense of all kinds, and I appreciate a touch of mystery in anything I read. In adult fiction, I enjoy crime thrillers and psychological suspense. When it comes to YA, I also gravitate toward books with a touch of magic, paranormal, or fantasy in them. And I love a good atmospheric ghost story for any age! When mystery, thrills, and speculative elements are combined, that’s often the perfect combination for me.  

4. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

I’m Mom to two very busy boys, ages 11 and 14, so my time is divided between writing and Mom-ing. I retired from a long career in real estate to write books, and writing has been my career every since. As for what I do when I’m not writing? I live on a beautiful stretch of beach, and it’s a great place to plot murder. . .  errr. . .  I mean to relax and enjoy the sunshine.

5. Would you want to have a power like Smoke’s, even with all the risks? Why or why not?

Smoke’s ability (astral projection) came at a pretty steep price–a near-death experience at the hands of someone who was supposed to care for him. I don’t envy any of the experiences Smoke endured in order to possess the ability to separate his spirit from his body. I can’t imagine anything more painful than suffering that, or feeling so broken you might never be whole again. So no, I don’t think I would ever want an ability like Smoke’s. 

6. How much research did you have to put into Holding Smoke since it takes place in a prison in Denver? What did you learn?

When I was growing up, my father was a warden of a maximum security prison just outside of Washington, DC. Over the years, he managed institutions which housed some of our nation’s most violent offenders, so I had a great resource for a lot of my questions, and have visited him at the prison, and also at a detention center (jail) before. I attended a special police academy for writers where I was able to take classes on cell searches and talk with corrections officers about their experiences, as well as do a ride-along with a deputy sheriff who answered a lot of questions about arrest procedures and responding to domestic violence calls for me. I interviewed EMS responders and ER physicians for answers to several medical questions. I interviewed a lawyer regarding some of my legal questions. And as for the setting, I lived in Denver for two years, so I was already familiar with the region. As for what I learned? Well, I wrote about that in the Author’s Note at the end of the book. But you can read it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elle-cosimano/the-good-the-bad-and-the-_9_b_5922654.html

7. How does it feel like living in a tree house on a Caribbean island? I bet the view must be beautiful and breath-taking there!

I don’t live on an island, though that might be nice! I live in Mexico, on a stretch of the eastern coast called the Riviera Maya. My community is tucked between the Caribbean Sea and the jungle (but I can see the island of Cozumel on a very clear day from the beach across the street.) My house is mostly open-air, and the living spaces are under a palapa, a thatch roof made from dried grass or dried palm leaves. The support poles are made from trunks of very hard wood trees called zapote, giving it the look and feel of a tree house. It’s very peaceful. We live simply here, mostly outside, and it’s a great place to raise the kids. I also get very interesting critters in my kitchen sometimes. . .  scorpions, snakes, pumas, and spiders the size of my face. I post a lot of pics of my home on my Instagram. You can see a pic of me in my treehouse here: http://www.instagram.com/p/x4jF9rJnaz/

8. The title of your book Holding Smoke is a play on Smoke’s nickname. Why did you choose Smoke as the name of your protagonist, and how you did come up with the title?

Honestly, I can’t remember when his name came to me. I was doing a lot of research and reading about Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). Lots of people described their experiences very similarly . . . seeing themselves from outside themselves, almost as if they were in ghost form looking down on their own bodies. Several reported that their NDEs left them with the ability to project their souls at will. So in my mind, Smoke’s astral form was very wispy and ghostlike. But word choice is important. It reflects the narrator’s voice and the lens through which they see their world. A “hardened” kid in a dangerous world probably wouldn’t call himself “Wispy”. But he might just be okay calling himself Smoke. It felt like a fit, both to his voice as well as within his setting.

9. What is your favorite quote from this book, and is there a message you want your readers to get from Holding Smoke?

“The way you look when you project yourself, the places you can go, the things you haven’t figured out how to do yet. . . it’s all in your head.” — Pink, Holding Smoke

This is my favorite quote from the book, and perfectly encapsulates the message I wanted readers to take away from Smoke’s story.

10.  Do you have any tips for any aspiring authors or writers?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Everything you need to become a writer? It’s all in your head.
Now onto the giveaway!!!
Click below to win a hardcover edition of Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano!
Just a few quick notes:
1) This is a US Only giveaway (sorry Int’l).
2) You must be 18 years or older or have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter.
3) No PO Boxes. You must have an address to have the book sent.
4) Be truthful! All entries that do not do what the instructions are will not be counted!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I wish you the best, and happy reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Station Fosaan Blog Tour: Interview with Dee Garretson

 

Hi guys! Welcome to my tour stop for the Station Fosaan Blog Tour! Today we are hosting author Dee Garretson on our blog with a great interview with her! Hope you enjoy and check out her newest book!

station-fosaanstation

Title: STATION FOSAAN

Author: Dee Garretson

Pub. Date: February 14, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 300

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play Books | Indiebound

Synopsis: Scientists and their families stationed on the remote planet of Fosaan were promised a tropical vacation-like experience. But Fosaan, devastated from an apocalyptic event nearly three-hundred years ago, is full of lethal predators and dangerous terrain.

Earthers are forbidden to go beyond the safety zone of their settlement and must not engage the remaining reclusive Fosaanians, native to the planet. Sixteen-year-old Quinn Neen is about to do both of those things.

During an unsanctioned exploration of the planet, Quinn discovers a beautiful Fosaanian girl named Mira stealing food from his family’s living unit. But before he can convince her to show him around, scientists are taken captive, leaving Quinn and the other young Earthers at the mercy of space raiders.

Quinn must go from renegade to leader and convince Mira to become an ally in a fight against an enemy whose very existence threatens their lives and the future of Earthers stuck on Fosaan and at home.

STATION FOSAAN is THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND meets STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN.

About Dee:dee-garretson

Dee Garretson writes for many different age groups, from chapter books to middle grade to young adult to adult fiction. She lives in Ohio with her family, and in true writer fashion, has cat companions who oversee her daily word count. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel, watch old movies, and attempt various kinds of drawing, painting and other artistic pursuits.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

Now onto the interview!

dee

Hi Kester, Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog.

1. If you had to introduce your book Station Fosaan to someone, what would you say?station

First, I’d try not to babble, which is what I usually do when someone asks me about one of my books. I like to describe it as STAR TREK The Wrath of Khan meets Jules Verne’s MYSTERIOUS ISLAND with some romance thrown in. And it also has a parrot. I like to add that because how many science fiction stories have parrots?

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I love writing because I’ve always told myself stories in my head. It was the way I put myself to sleep as a child. I look at writing as a challenge to make the stories in my head come to life for a reader. When I was about twelve, I started trying to write stories, but I’d start and stop and never really finish anything. I was probably about sixteen before I finished a short story. It’s not something that came easily to me, and sometimes life would just lead me down different paths. The good thing about writing is that you can always come back to it, and the more you experience in life, the more it adds to your writing.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors because her writing style is completely unique. I reread PRIDE AND PREJUDICE at least once a year and never get tired of it. J.K. Rowling is another favorite. Like Austen, her writing style is all her own, and both are true storytellers. There is good writing and then there is storytelling, and the books I keep going back to read combine the two.

When I was trying to develop my own writing style, I decided to pick an author whose style I would like to emulate and study what they did. I loved a mystery series by Martha Grimes so I sat down with her books and analyzed them to determine what I liked so much. I realized she had a very easy uncluttered style, and even though the books are murder mysteries, there are some light touches here and there. Those bits of humor made me invest in the characters all the more and made me want to read each new book as it was released. That’s what I’ve worked to develop in my own style.

4. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

Favorite genres to read are science fiction, epic fantasy, historicals, mysteries and thrillers. I switch around a lot, partly because if I’m writing in one genre, I don’t read in that genre. It fogs up my brain too much if I do. The books I mentioned above are certainly favorites, but my other favorites are DUNE and a mystery series by Elizabeth Peters. DUNE for the sweeping scope and world building and the Elizabeth Peters books because they are just fun to read, plus they are about archaeologists in Egypt, and I used to dream about being an archeologist.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or a full-time job?

Writing is a full-time job for me. When I’m not writing, I’m reading or watching movies or hanging out with my family. I also love to travel-we took a trip a few months ago to England and did the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It was basically the perfect vacation, combining books with travel!

6. Since your book takes place on the planet of Fosaan, how did you come up with your setting? Do you have any tips on world building?

I knew I wanted Fosaan to have a tropical climate, but it had to be different from the tropics on Earth, so I decided to make it more of a Jurassic world. I took inspiration from the plants and animals of that time period to create Fosaan. To do the world building, I started with a list of all the elements I had to pull together: history, environment, family structure, societal structure, culture (art, music, etc.) and religion. I sketched out some basic ideas, but then added elements as I pulled together the plot, so that it all tied together. For a unique world, a writer can’t just take an existing or historical culture and rename some elements or change up a few aspects.  The world has to be built bit by bit.

7. Do you believe aliens exist? Would you want to meet one?

I hope aliens exist! There is so much about the universe we don’t know, that is seems possible. I would like to meet one, as long as they weren’t related to Jabba the Hutt. No alien crime lords for me.

8. Would you move and help colonize another planet even though it would mean you would leave all your loved ones on Earth forever?

No, I’m too attached to people here. I might have done it when I was younger and had fewer ties, but not now. I really admire the people who are planning to apply for the Mars mission. I can’t even imagine how overwhelming it is to make a decision like that.

9. Who was your favorite character to write in all your books and why? 

In WOLF STORM one of the characters, Raine Randolph, has been a successful actor since she was a baby, which has sheltered her from the real world. Because she has been so sheltered, she has great fun doing ordinary things. She’s also a bit of a diva but has learned to stand up for herself in an industry where people try to take advantage of her all the time. I really enjoyed trying to imagine what she would be like and how she would react to situations.

10. How did it feel to be chosen to write some of the Boxcar Children books? Which ones did you write? I used to love those books as a kid!

It was incredibly exciting to be chosen to write for the Boxcar Children. I loved series books when I was younger, and it’s kind of like being part of the history of children’s literature to write for them. The ones that came out in 2015 and 2016 are titled THE SLEEPY HOLLOW MYSTERY and THE ELECTION DAY DILEMMA. I’m most excited about the new miniseries, THE GREAT ADVENTURE, out this year to celebrate the 75th anniversary. I helped plot out the five books in the series and wrote the first three. The first book came out February 1st and is called JOURNEY ON A RUNAWAY TRAIN. I’m also excited to have my name on the inside pages as the author of these, though of course Gertrude Chandler Warner’s name is on the front covers.

11. Pick three emojis to describe how you feel whenever your books were nominated for awards and picked for selections, like the Junior Library Guild and the Scholastic Book Club.

I’m not much of an emoji user, but I definitely like the confetti one, especially for the Scholastic Book Club. I remember being so excited as a kid when the Scholastic orders would come in, so to have my book in that was an incredible feeling.

12. How do you cure writer’s block?dee-garretson

I tell myself I don’t have to write perfect sentences. In fact, if you read my first drafts, they’d all sound like random gibberish. I write bits of dialogue, actually a lot of dialogue, interspersed with bits of description, and I jump all over the place. My main goal is just to get the story down and then go back and look at each sentence. My philosophy is that it’s better to have something down on paper. You can fix that. You can’t fix a blank page.

13. Have you written any other works? Out of all your books, which one is your favorite or the one you’re most proud of?

I’ve been writing a long time so I have several books out in the world. I have a middle grade adventure, WILDFIRE RUN, about a U.S. president’s son who gets trapped at Camp David after a disaster, and I have another adventure that is upper middle grade/lower YA called WOLF STORM. It’s about teen actors on a movie set in the mountains who find themselves in the middle of a blizzard. My favorite of my own books is STATION FOSAAN. It was the biggest challenge though it was also the most fun to write. That’s why it’s my favorite.

14. What are your current plans for your writing career?

I have four ideas for stories I’d like to write next, but it’s going to be hard to choose which one I’ll start first. I can’t imagine ever not writing, so I’ll just keep going as long as I can.

15. Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Study the books that you love to figure out why you love them, then practice those techniques. Everyone gets discouraged, but keep going. Stubbornness is a writer’s most important character trait.

Thank you so much, Dee, for coming onto our blog! It was fun reading your answers!

 

Now onto the giveaway!

Giveaway Details:

(1) winner will receive a Perfectly Posh, Posh To Meet You Set ($20 value), US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

If you want to go check out the rest of the blog tour, check out these fabulous posts here!

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

2/13/2017- S.E. Muir– Excerpt

2/13/2017- Book Review Becca– Spotlight

2/14/2017- Bibliobibuli YA Interview

2/15/2017- LILbooKlovers Interview

2/16/2017- Lisa’s Loves(Books of Course)– Guest Post

2/16/2017- Omg Books and More Books– Review

2/17/2017- So Few Books– Interview

2/17/2017- Month9Books– Excerpt

Week Two:

2/20/2017- Two Chicks on Books– Interview

2/20/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Review

2/21/2017- Susan Heim on Writing– Excerpt

2/21/2017- Book-Keeping– Review

2/22/2017- Wishful Endings Interview

2/22/2017-Hidden Worlds BooksGuest Post

2/23/2017- Always & Forever Fangirling– Excerpt

2/23/2017- the Blacksheep Reader– Review

2/24/2017- I am not a bookworm!– Review

 

Thank you so much for reading this tour stop for Dee Garretson’s Station Fosaan! Go check out her books, and remember to subscribe and share our blog to get the latest blog tour stops!

Guest Post + GIVEAWAY with J. L. Pattison: Tips on Using Social Media for Writers who Don’t Like Using It

Hi guys! Happy Monday! Today we are having speculative fiction author J. L. Pattison here on our blog! His short stories The Visitor and Alibi Interrupted were some of the greatest short stories I have read! They were really good! You can find links to both reviews and the original post below, along with a special giveaway for his newest book Saving Kennedy, which is the paperback book with both stories included! Go check it out!

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6 Tips on Using Social Media for Writers who Don’t Like Using Social Media.

If you’re anything like me, you loathe the time-wasting medium of social media. But as authors (especially independent authors), it is a necessary evil you must dabble with if you hope to market your books and your brand.

One of the things I dislike about Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, et al, is their addicting nature. Like a mermaid, social media sings its irresistible songs to seduce writers to waste their time scrolling through YouTube videos, poorly spelled memes, personal relationship drama, and an endless supply of images of pets and meals.

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Check out my review of Alibi Interrupted here!

Well, have no fear, I am here to help.

The biggest obstacle you have to overcome is resisting the mermaid’s siren, and the biggest solution to that obstacle is to make social media harder to access.

And here are six ways to do just that:

1). Don’t download social media apps. Instead, force yourself to go through a browser which will take you a little longer to do.

2). After visiting a social media site, be sure to log out. By having to log back in every time to view them (through a browser), you’ve effectively removed the ease by which you can cavalierly access them.

3). Disable all notifications. If you’re not being alerted about a new post or message on social media, you won’t know if you’re missing anything. Keeping notifications on is like entering a bakery when you’re on a diet. Don’t enter the bakery, and don’t enable notifications.

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See my review of The Visitor here!

4). Determine to visit social media only once a day (or two days). Pick mornings or evenings (or whatever time is good for you) and stick to it. This way you won’t feel the draw of checking social media every free moment you have because you’ve agreed that you’re only going to check them at predetermined times.

6). For every 12 hours (or 24 hours) that you don’t check your social media, reward yourself with something nice … like a donut.

I hope these are a help to you. If you have any other suggestions, please share them in the comments section.

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J.L. Pattison is the author of two speculative fiction ebooks, The Visitor and Alibi Interrupted, both of which are also available together in a two-story paperback collection entitled, Saving Kennedy. His latest book, The Island, is due to be released in the latter portion of this year. Pattison has lived in California, Nevada, and Florida, and is married with an amazing brood of children that keeps him young.
Now onto the giveaway!
All the rules can be found in the Giveaway Terms and Conditions. You must be 18 years or older or have the permission of a parent or guardian to enter.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

I wish you all the best, and I hope you have the chance to check out J. L. Pattison’s amazing books!

 

Til next time! ~ Kester

Embers in the Sea Blog Tour: Interview with Jennifer M. Eaton

Hi guys! Welcome to the my tour stop for the Embers in the Sea Blog Tour! There are two things special about this book and blog tour stop: 1) This is the last promo post stop! Woo hoo! We’re ending the blog tour off with a bang! 2) I’m planning on meeting Jennifer M. Eaton at the SE-YA Book Fest in Murfreesboro, TN, this March! I can’t wait, and I am so glad that I am part of the blog tour! Hope you enjoy my stop, buy her books, and share this blog tour stop with all your friends! 🙂

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Title: EMBERS IN THE SEA (Fire in The Woods #3)embers-in-the-sea-ebook-final

Author: JenniferM. Eaton

Pub. Date: January 31, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 300

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Synopsis: Alien scientist David has dealt with disappointment his entire life, but failing to breathe life into the planet Mars is his greatest regret. Out of options and in need of a new home for their people, the alien Caretakers rekindle their plan to inhabit Earth. First they will have to eliminate the human race, including Jess, the only human David holds dear.

Humanity has one final chance at survival. David needs to emulate Earth’s precipitation on Mars. But the catalyst to make it rain lies in the fathomless depths of Earth’s ocean.

The clock is ticking down to humanity’s last hours as Jess and David face a world more alien than either of them can imagine. The sea hides secrets, but some secrets don’t want to be found.

Title: FIRE IN THE WOODS (Fire In The Woods #1) fire-in-the-woods

Author: Jennifer M. Eaton

Pub. Date: October 28, 2014

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 331

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon |B&N | TBD |  iBooks | Kobo | Books A Million | Google Play | IndieBound

Synopsis: When a plane crashes in the woods near Jess’s home, the boy of her dreams falls out of the sky—literally.

But David’s not here to find a girlfriend. He’s from another planet, and if Jess can’t help him get back to his ship, he’ll be stuck on Earth with nothing to look forward to but the pointy end of a dissection scalpel. But her father runs their house like an army barracks. and with an alien on the loose, Major Dad isn’t too keen on the idea of Jess going anywhere.

Ever.

So how the heck is she supposed to help the sweetest, strangest, and cutest guy she’s ever met? Hiding him in her room probably isn’t the best idea. Especially since her Dad is in charge of the squadron searching for David.

That doesn’t mean she won’t do it.

It just means she can’t get caught. Helping David get home while protecting her heart—that’s gonna be the hard part.

After all, she can’t really fall for a guy whose not exactly from here. As they race through the woods with Major Dad and most of the U.S. military one breath behind them, Jess and David grow closer than either of them anticipated. But all is not what it seems. David has a genocide-sized secret, and one betrayal later, they are both in handcuffs as alien warships are positioning themselves around the globe. Time is ticking down to Armageddon, and Jess must think fast if she’s to save the boy she cares about without sacrificing Earth—and everyone on it.

FIRE IN THE WOODS is Star-Crossed meets Close Encounters of the Third Kind!

Title: ASHES IN THE SKY (Fire In The Woods #2)ashesinthesky-v6-book2-final-v3

Author: Jennifer M. Eaton

Pub. Date: March 15, 2016

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 331

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon |B&N | TBD | iBooks | Kobo | Books A Million | Google Play | IndieBound

After inadvertently saving the world, eighteen-year-old Jessica Martinez is ready to put adventure behind her and settle back into the familiar routine of high school.

Though when she’s offered an opportunity to photograph the inside of an alien space ship, Jess jumps at the chance. After all, she’d be crazy to turn something like that down, right?

Spending time with David on the ship has definite advantages and the two seem to pick up right where they left off. But when Jess discovers a plot to sabotage David’s efforts to establish a new home for his people on another planet, neither David’s advanced tech nor Jess’s smarts will be able to save them.

ASHES IN THE SKY is an action-packed, romantic Sci Fi adventure that will leave readers screaming for more.

About Jennifer: jennifer-m-eaton-promo-protrait

Jennifer M. Eaton hails from the eastern shore of the North American Continent on planet Earth. Yes, regrettably, she is human, but please don’t hold that against her. While not traipsing through the galaxy looking for specimens for her space moth collection, she lives with her wonderfully supportive husband and three energetic offspring. (And a poodle who runs the spaceport when she’s not around.)

During infrequent excursions to her home planet of Earth, Jennifer enjoys long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but great adventures are always a short shuttle ride away.

Who knows where we’ll end up next?

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

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Hi Kester! Thanks so much for having me today.

1. Congrats that your most recent book Embers in the Sea, the finale to your Fire in the Woods trilogy, just released!embers-in-the-sea-ebook-final

Thanks! Woohoo! I can’t believe the story has grown so much.

In your own words, what is your Fire in the Woods series about?

In general, Fire in the Woods is a fun story about running for your life while stuff blows up, but there are deeper themes, like friendship, honor, tolerance, racial equality, and striving to do what’s right against the odds.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I’ve been making up stories since I was a little kid. (No-not to get out of getting in trouble.) I can’t remember a time when there weren’t little characters running around in my head on silly or extravagant adventures. When I was in high school, I started writing a story down for the first time. I wrote a chapter a night and let my friends read it the next day at school. They loved it, and I was hooked. Writing is sort of like therapy. It is an amazing escape to lose yourself in a world you’ve created.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

My favorite authors are Jennifer L. Armentrout, (YA Spec romance) Jocelyn Adams,(YA/NA Spec Romance) Jess Acardo (Contemporary YA thriller romance) and Suzane Brockman (Adult Navy Seal stories)

I think all of them have had somewhat of an impact on my writing. Armentrout has a way of drawing you into a story and not letting go. Adams writes with a unique voice that really connects you to a character. Acardo writes with fantastic pressure and pacing. Brockman is a master of creating fantastic ensemble casts of characters where you love the secondary characters as much as the main characters. I try to emulate some of what they do when I write. Finding a balance of these elements is a tricky process.

Continue reading “Embers in the Sea Blog Tour: Interview with Jennifer M. Eaton”

100th Post: Interview + GIVEAWAY with Marie Silk!

Hi guys! Man, January is almost over! It has been an amazing month for LILbooKlovers. This is actually the 100th post of LILbooKlovers! Woo hoo! *cue streams and balloons* I am so happy to celebrate our 100th post with Marie Silk, a #1 Amazon bestseller who has had her book Heiress Interrupted placed in the goodie bags at the Golden Globes- the movie and TV show Golden Globes- and the Producers Guild Awards! I loved her first book, and I hope you will enjoy this interview and enter the giveaway below!

We have also nearly tripled our views this month and have met a ton of amazing authors and bloggers! I have definitely enjoyed this month with all of you! To end off January, here is an exclusive interview and GIVEAWAY with Marie Silk. Marie Silk’s book Heiress Interrupted was actually put into the goodie bags at this year’s Golden Globe- the Golden Globes where Jimmy Fallon sang an opening number that parodied La La Land– and the Producers Guild Awards! Marie is also an #1 Amazon bestselling author and the #87 author in Historical Fiction on Amazon! If you want to win her amazing book series (I loved the first book Davenport House), then enter below!

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1. What is your Davenport House series about?photo-7

The Davenport House series follows the lives of a wealthy family and their servants in 1915 America.  The house is turned upside down with the sudden death of the patriarch.  This tragedy sets into motion a chain of events which affects everyone on the estate, including the workers.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I love writing because I know how enjoyable it is for me to read a story that originated in the imaginations of other writers. I hope to bring that enjoyment to others.  It’s hard to remember a time that I wasn’t writing. When I was ten years old, I was sent with some other students to organize the storage room at school.  I remember being intrigued by the puppets and theatrical props that were in there. I went home and wrote a play that would use the props. The teachers at school liked the script and we later produced the play for the students.  This was probably the first time I realized that I could write a story.  It was fun!

Continue reading “100th Post: Interview + GIVEAWAY with Marie Silk!”

Damaged Goods Blog Tour: Interview with Jennifer Bardsley

Hi guys! If you’re here on the Damaged Goods blog tour, welcome to my tour stop! What a great way to end the tour, huh? This series is actually one of my most anticipated reads of 2016! I can’t wait to start it! And today, I have the honor to interview the lovely Jennifer Bardsley, also known as the YA Gal! (*internally screaming insider because I’m so happy I got to interview her*). Let’s get on with the tour!

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Title: DAMAGED GOODS (Blank Slate #2)

Author: Jennifer Bardsley

Pub. Date: January 17, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 300

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Synopsis:

Blanca has everything she ever wanted, a hot boyfriend named Seth and the loving support of her foster father, Cal. She’s finally escaped the abusive control of her birth father, Barbelo Nemo, and her tortured childhood at Tabula Rasa School.

But the scars of Blanca’s Vestal upbringing run deep, especially when the FBI start asking questions. Blanca feels abandoned by Seth who is hunting for Lilith, Blanca’s only blood relative. The Defectos, a support group of Vestal-Rejects, offer Blanca comfort instead.

While the Vestal order crumbles, Chinese rivals called the Guardians rise to power and wrest control of important Tabula Rasa contacts. Now Blanca’s life is in peril once more, and this time, Blanca struggles to recognize friend from foe.

 

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Title: GENESIS GIRL (Blank Slate #1)

Author: Jennifer Bardsley

Pub. Date: June 14, 2016

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 280

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon |  B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Books A Million | Google Play | IndieBound

Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet. 

Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.

Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable. 

By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online. 

 

About Jennifer: jennifer-bardsley

Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for the Sunday edition of The Everett Daily HeraldShe also blogs at Teaching My Baby to Read with the mission of sparking a national debate on the important roll parents play in education. Jennifer is a graduate of Stanford University and a member of SCBWI. She lives with her husband and two children in Edmonds, WA.

GENESIS GIRL will release in 2016 and is about an 18 year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder, the sequel  will come out in 2017. Jennifer is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Literary Agency LLC.

Follow the Jennifer on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.

 

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Interview with Jennifer Bardsley:

Kester: In your own words, what is your Blank Slate series about?

Jennifer: The Blank Slate series is about a teenager named Blanca who grew up in a quasi-religious cult called the Vestals, where she was shielded from the Internet for eighteen years. Blanca grew up with no online profile or digital footprint. All the Vestals were blank slates, and since that is so rare, it made them valuable. In GENESIS GIRL Blanca’s digital purity gets auctioned off to the highest bidder. In DAMAGED GOODS, Blanca struggles to overcome the brainwashing of her past.

Kester: Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

Jennifer: I grew up keeping a diary. It’s really hard to commit to a diary, and I flaked out a whole bunch, but did manage to write a few times a month. Now I have diaries from when I was ten to fifteen that I treasure. If I was a teenager today though, I’d probably have an anonymous blog instead.

Continue reading “Damaged Goods Blog Tour: Interview with Jennifer Bardsley”