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!

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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

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

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!”