Exclusive Interview + GIVEAWAY with Abby J. Reed

Hi guys! Life update: school is going to end in three more days for me! Three more days! I can taste that sweet, sweet freedom now! In the meantime, I am trying to get as much read in the month of May and I’m catching up on all of my reviews! Now, I have a special guest for you today: Abby J. Reed, author of When Planets Fall. I just finished reading it a week ago and it was great! Definitely enter the giveaway below!


About the Book30801623

Breaker’s home is cleaved by blood. The three tribes on the planet Scarlatti, whose only difference is their blood color, each want to exploit Breaker’s valley for themselves. The feudal tension has already claimed red-blood Breaker’s leg and his older brother. Now all this 18-year old wants is to maintain the tenuous peace in order to keep his little ‘stroid of a brother alive. Malani, a red-blood raised blue, is a kidnapped POW and only wants to return to her adoptive home with her dangerous blue secrets. Luka, a red-blood stewing for trouble, wants to right wrongs done to his family and bathe his home in justice.

All three intersect when Breaker discovers a wrecked starship and is given seven days by the green-bloods to fix and hand it over as a weapon. Breaker must decide if aiding his enemies is worth the home he knows and his family’s life. War is coming. And war respects no boundaries. And war leaves no survivors.


Abby J. Reed

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

I love writing because it’s my way of giving back to the world. I can’t volunteer at events. I can’t cook meals for all my friends who are baby-ing. Right now, I can’t even donate tons of money to help (enter your chosen endangered species). But I can make the world a little more beautiful by telling a story. I can give in this way—by creating art.

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

Most recently, Robin Hobb’s THE ASSASIN’S APPRENTICE really impacted me. I loved how the main character Fitz could’ve totally been “the chosen/special/talented one” . . . but wasn’t. I loved how he became magically disabled and never recovered (some may say it’s not a disability, but I will argue for forever that it is). And yet—he still did his job and did it well. Those are the type of characters I want to create, the one’s who keep going no matter what.

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

Writing is “technically” my full-time job. However, with the whole Chronic Migraine thing—it ends up being a part-time job. I spend the majority of my time managing my disorder, then when I can, I write! But I also love painting. Painting uses different creative muscles and it doesn’t aggravate my head, so I spend a lot of time in my little studio.

4. Your debut book When Planets Fall takes place on the fictional planet of Scarlatti, which is home to three feuding tribes. What was your process to world-build the geography, demographics, society, and culture of Scarlatti and its inhabitants?30801623

I strongly believe a person is heavily influenced by their world, language, culture, everything. I spent a long time researching and nailing down a lot of these details as I began fleshing out characters and writing the first draft. After I have a “poop” draft and knew where the story is going, that’s when I really pour in and make sure the world building is sound and complete.

5. Why do you believe it is important to incorporate characters with chronic illnesses and disabilities inside YA fiction? Since you yourself have Chronic Migraine, which is a neurological disorder, is there anything in the book that has been inspired by your own experiences?

Breaker, Malani, and Luka are all disabled because at the time I was writing—I was beginning to drown in my own disability. I handled the pain well for years. But eventually, you run into a wall. I couldn’t handle Chronic Migraine without more help—I switched doctors, I switched medications, I was seeing a counselor and pain management specialist, and I realized I had a lot of emotions about my disability. WHEN PLANETS FALL became my outlet for these emotions—Breaker’s emotions about his amputation are probably the closest to my own, though Luka has a lesser severity of my disorder.

If they could have this and keep going, then maybe so could I. Writing them gave me hope.

That’s why I think chronic illness and disability should be included more in YA lit. Because all of us need that hope.

6. Which tribe- each based on the blood colors of red, green, and blue- would you want to be and why?

I’d pick Human, red, just because that’s what I already am. There’s pros and cons to each. No tribe is perfect and each have their high points and hidden flaws.

7. Science Fiction or Fantasy: You could only pick one! I know you love to write about both, but which genre as a reader and writer would you choose and why?

Ugggghhhh. Why do you do this to me??? I CAN’T PICK. Ooo. I know. Science-fantasy. Ha. Now I can have both.

8. How is it like being a debut author? What is one thing you wish someone told you before you started writing and publishing?

AbbyI really like being a debut author. I love meeting people and being able to connect and chat about books.

Another author told me recently—she does as much editing as she possibly can before she sells the book. But once she sells, she consideres the book done. I really wish I had heard that attitude before selling. That would’ve helped me manage the stress of deadlines for my health better!

9. Your book is told from three protagonists’ perspectives: Breaker, Malani, and Luka. Which character POV was your favorite to write? Whose POV gave you the most challenges?

Honestly, I loved all of them as I wrote. I was having serious OMG I LOVE YOU BE MINE FOREVER crushes on each. But Luka’s story was the hardest. I re-wrote his storyline probably 3 times before it finally clicked. His depth really surprised me.

10. Do you have any writing habits?

Habits don’t work well with Chronic Migraine. What works today will 98% not work tomorrow. The only habit I can really maintain is during drafting. Whenever I do sit down to write, my minimum goal is 1,000 words, no matter the pain. Everything else depends on the day!

11. Since When Planets Fall is the first book in the Stars Fall Circle series, is there anything you could tell us about the sequel? Could you give us some secrets?

Tahnya will have a POV! And . . . somebody new . . . .(wink wink). Also—I’m a huge believer in consequences. So, actions in book 1 will have repercussions in book 2. Plus, there will be a couple payoff scenes I’m eagerly waiting for :DDD

12. Do you have any tips or advice you would like to give to any aspiring authors or writers?

I’m constantly telling this to myself: you are not your work. If your work sucks, that doesn’t mean you suck. If you’re work is awesome, that doesn’t mean you’re awesome. There’s more to life to you, to me, then just writing.

Thanks so much, Abby, for doing this interview! I love your answers! 🙂


About the AuthorAbby

Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if. She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, When Planets Fall, will be published in April 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.

Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at www.abbyjreed.com


Now here’s our giveaway!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules are the same as always! Go enter! You don’t want to miss it!


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

Sunday Discussion: Giveaway Accounts

Hello guys! Today has been such a great Sunday! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! Thank you so much for doing one of the hardest jobs on Earth, yet one of the most important ones. Be sure to give your mom a hug or a phone call or a kiss or a hi or a THANK YOU today!

Instead of a quote-flection of the week, I’m opening up a discussion question I feel like I need to talk about: giveaway accounts. Should you let people with giveaway accounts enter your giveaway? This includes Rafflecopter, Gleam, Twitter, Instagram, etc. giveaways. This isn’t that big of an issue, but I wanted to talk about it because sometimes it annoys me.

What is a giveaway account? A giveaway account is an account on Twitter or Instagram that is devoted to only entering giveaways. You can easily tell because 100% of the tweets or posts are “I just entered a giveaway!” Most of the Tweets aren’t even book-related! I’ve seen ones to win beauty prize packs, Amazon gift cards, toys, etc. Some say they’re “bloggers” and “youtubers” but they never provide a link in their bios or talk about those things.

This issue arose up when I held a giveaway by one of my good author friends. Anyway, I got a whole influx of followers and entrants on our giveaway, and we reached over 100, maybe even 200 entries on our Rafflecopter. When I checked those entries later, 90% of them were from giveaway accounts! And there were many people who “cheated”! One girl never even followed me or followed the author, yet entered through the Twitter methods. There were so many people that abused the Facebook page method that I remove it!

We talked and we were both worried that these people may illegally redistribute files or resell them. I didn’t want the book and swag to go to somebody who just wanted to win something. I saw one Twitter giveaway account recently about winning a toy, and I’m going “Did you win that for your child, your collection, or someone else? Or did you just want it?” It’s scary to know if your prize is going into the hands of someone who might not mind it at all.

Yes, I do enter and win giveaways where I haven’t read the book or don’t think I will in the future. But at least it’s going into the collection of a book lover! I’m guilty of tsundoku (acquiring books without reading them) sometimes, but I like to look at the spines or the covers. They’re being added to a collection! Sometimes, I enter giveaways to gain a book so I can trade it or give it to someone in the future. Other times, I just enter to see if I’ll win. I’m getting better at selecting which giveaways to enter now. I’m starting to adopt a “If you’re not interested then don’t enter so someone who is can win it” policy.

But sometimes I don’t exactly trust these accounts. If I were to see that a librarian won my giveaway or a blogger did, I would know that it’s going into someone who might read it. I know there are many giveaway accounts who actually want to read the book, but I can’t know that for sure! If you give a PDF file to one of these accounts, who’s to say they might not send it to their friends? They might resell it for their own gain? I want these books to go into hands of people who will want them, who will put them on a shelf, who will look at it, and who will read it.

So I’m opening up this discussion down in the comments. What do you think of giveaway accounts? Should they enter these giveaways? Why or why not?

I really want to discuss this with readers, bloggers, and authors, so please give your insight below!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Cover Reveal for Dragons of Nova!

Hi guys! Today Elise Kova and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover for THE DRAGONS OF NOVA, which releases July 11, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to win assigned ARC of the book!!
On to the reveal! 
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Do you wanna see the cover?
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I know you wanna!
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Fun Fact: I just bought my e-copy of The Alchemists of Loom and I’m super excited to join the read along!
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You should join me!
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It’s going to be fun!
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Now here it is!
 
 
Title: THE DRAGONS OF NOVA (Loom Saga #2)
Author: Elise Kova
Pub. Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Keymaster Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 488
Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD | Goodreads
Cvareh returns home to his sky world of Nova with the genius crafter Arianna as his temperamental guest. The mercurial inventor possesses all the Xin family needs to turn the tides of a centuries-old power struggle, but the secrets she harbors must be earned with trust — hard to come by for Ari, especially when it comes to Dragons. On Nova,
Ari finds herself closer to exacting vengeance against the traitor who killed everything — and everyone – she once loved. But before Ari can complete her campaign of revenge, the Crimson Court exposes her shadowed past and reveals something even more dangerous sparking between her and Cvareh.
 
While Nova is embroiled in blood sport and political games, the rebels on Loom prepare for an all-out assault on their Dragon oppressors. Florence unexpectedly finds herself at the forefront of change, as her unique blend of skills — and quick-shooting accuracy — makes her a force to be reckoned with. For the future of her world, she vows vengeance
against the Dragons.
 
Before the rebellion can rise, though, the Guilds must fall.

 Exclusive Excerpt!

They’re coming from the front!” Nora screamed over the crescendo of the engine gaining speed. On cue, the train lurched as an endwig was splattered to a bloody mess on the point of the engine’s pilot.

Bloody cogs,” Florence cursed. The Vicar Alchemist had sent her to protect the mission as the Revolver, but one of her wasn’t going to be enough. “I’m going to the engine.”

“What are we going to do?” The usually self-sure Nora had the face of a cornered hare.

You’re going to fight.” Florence passed her a weapon.

I’ve never shot a gun before.”

Now is a great time to learn.”

“I’m an Alchemist!”

Seriously, Florence was a breath away from shooting the woman herself. “You’re dead if you don’t adapt! There’s three more bombs exactly like the ones you just used, right there. Just fend them off until the train gets up to speed. But don’t use any other disks.”

Florence had no more time to waste as the train lurched again. They just had to survive until the train reached full speed. For all the endwig were, they certainly couldn’t keep up with a locomotive.

She hoped.

The wind whipped her hair around her face as she stuck her head from the train car. Florence reached out for the ladder to the right of the door, scaling up before another endwig could emerge. She swung up just in time as an explosion nearly blew her foot clean off.

“By the five guilds, you two only had three bombs!” she screamed over the wind, not knowing if they could hear. “Ration them a bit!”

Standing, Florence looked in horror at the tracks ahead. Dozens of endwig lined the path, running eagerly to meet the train. She loaded six canisters at once.

Jumping to the tender, Florence lost her footing atop the moving train car. A nail snapped clean off as she sought a grip that would prevent her from being thrown to certain death. If she fell now, she would never get back on the vessel. She’d be torn limb from limb.

Gritting her teeth, Florence rose to her knees, shooting two endwig in the process. She wedged herself between two grooves on the top of the tender. Blood pooled around her shins as she dug them into the metal for a grip where there was none, but she was stable enough to take aim, and that meant she could open fire.

Five shots down, and Florence reloaded her gun. Endwig came relentlessly like a never-ending nightmare. But the train didn’t gain any more speed. She repeated the process, waiting for the vessel to be like her bullets, whizzing through the night at deadly speeds.

“Anders, now would be a great time to open her up!” she screamed.

There was no reply.

“Anders, Rotus, we need speed, get us out of here faster!”

Five long claws curled around the door of the engine in answer. Florence watched in horror as the white silhouette of an endwig, dotted in the black blood of a Chimera, pulled itself from the engine room. Florence swallowed hard.

They were without Rivet and Raven, stumbling through the darkness, enemies at all sides. She raised her gun slowly, looking fearlessly at the face of death itself. Her revolver was steady over the rocking of the train.

“You think I’m not used to this?” Her mouth curled into a mad grin. “I’ve been fighting my way out of the darkness my whole life. And you’re not going to stop me now.”

Gunshots echoed through the forest.


About Elise: 
Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before
crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next
magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is
not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with
readers on social media. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Air
Awakens Series as well as the Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).

 


Giveaway Details:
(1) winner will receive a signed
advanced readers copy of THE DRAGONS OF NOVA.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Exclusive Interview + Giveaway with Kym Brunner!

To all you Star Wars fans, May the Fourth be with you! Today is also National Bird Day, which brings us to today’s special guest: Kym Brunner! Kym wrote a book called Flip the Bird (yes, there is a secret pun… please see question 5 for that answer… the bird is named Flip), and to celebrate the upcoming “Be Kind to Animals” week and International Bird Migratory Day on May 14th, she is giving away a copy of Flip the Bird! Woo hoo! Here’s a special interview I conducted with her after I saw her at SE-YA (I’ve made a lot of author friends there).


Kym Brunner

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

I’ve always loved reading, but it wasn’t until my thirties that I thought, “Hmm…maybe I could write a book.” I bought a book called “How to Write a Book For Dummies,” and that was all the permission I needed to go ahead and try writing a book too. Found out I absolutely loved it and an obsession was born.

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I love reading––PB through adult novels––but mostly I read YA and New York Times bestsellers. Growing up I was really into Stephen King because there wasn’t a true young adult category. I suppose that’s why I love suspenseful books so much. As far as writing style, I can only say that I write the way I think and talk, so I don’t model myself after any particular author. But when I first started writing, I was reading a lot of Meg Cabot, Carolyn Mackler, Laurie Halse Anderson, and John Green. Fingers crossed that I picked up a few tips vicariously through reading their books.

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

I always tell my husband that I have two full-time jobs… teaching 7th graders and writing novels. When I’m not teaching or grading papers, I’m writing or thinking about writing. I get up early and write before school, and then work for several hours after school on my novels. On weekends, I still get up early and write, sometimes all the way until dinner. Writing consumes me and I don’t even notice the time.

4. Your latest book Flip the Bird is targeted especially for middle grade to teenage boys. Why did you choose to write for this audience, and how would you respond to that “teenage boys don’t read”?

I didn’t choose the audience; the book chose me, so to speak. I took a falconry class at a raptor rehabilitation center after attending the Medieval Times dinner show, and the sport captivated me. I could easily have made the story a female apprentice, but having brothers myself, I could easily picture this being a dad-son sort of activity. As far as teen boys not reading, I can only shrug. I do think there are a lot of teen boys reading out there, but as a group, their interests might stray toward video games, girls, and sports for awhile. But I’m hoping they eventually come back to reading, and that they continue to make time to read when given a chance to relax. Reading novels not only expands your mind and gets you to consider other aspects of issues, but it’s very relaxing. Everyone needs down time without the noise and violence of a video game to collect their thoughts and think about what kind of person they want to be. Reading gives you lots of opportunities to explore who you are and who you will become as an adult.

5. What was the inspiration for the title of Flip the Bird? Is there a reason why Mercer chose to name his hawk “Flip”? (Is there a secret pun in the title?)

Definitely a secret pun in the title! The original title was (get ready to cringe)  “A Falcon’s Feather.” Yeah, so that is what we call “a working title,” something to put down at the top as a placeholder, but you can see it didn’t work at all. One day, we were laughing about someone flipping the bird to me in traffic, and I was like, “Bam! That’s it! He’ll name his hawk Flip!” Thus, it should probably be titled, “Flip, the Bird” with a comma. 🙂

6. Would you want to be a master falconer? Would you like to have a bird as a pet, and if so which one?

Maybe one day I’ll pursue being a falconer myself, but it is a huge time commitment and can be somewhat of a big expense if you do it correctly. I have had birds as pets before (cockatiels, umbrella cockatoo, green cheeked conure) and have loved them all. I also have several bird feeders right outside the window where I sit and write.WANTED - DEAD OR IN LOVE cover(3)

7. In one of your previous novels Wanted: Dead or In Love, the souls of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde start to take over the bodies of high school students Monroe and Jack. Did you have to do any research on the deadly duo to write this book? If so, what are some of the most interesting or surprising things you learned?

Boy, did I ever have to do research! Hours upon hours of reading books and watching documentaries. The thing that surprised me the most was that Clyde Barrow lived in the poorest part of Dallas during the Depression, so much of the stealing he did in the beginning was to survive and to help his family. I think his first arrest was for stealing a turkey, and another was for failing to return a rental car on time, both in his teens. Not making any excuses for him, but his first murder was a prison guard who had raped him daily during his year incarceration when he was only 17. After Clyde was released from prison, he followed the guard home and killed him.

8. You are currently serving as a 7th grade teacher along with your writing career. How would you instill a new love for books in a student who does not like reading at all?

I talk about how much I love books and have librarians come in and book talk the newest books a couple of times a year. No one likes to be told what to do, so I hope that my enthusiasm for certain books makes them curious enough to want to read it too.

9. Could you tell me some of the reasons why you think that Chicago is the “best city in the world”? If I were to go there (which I already have!), what are some activities or attractions you would recommend to a visitor?

Chicago is beautiful and filled with diverse, smart, talented people. It’s got every type of food you can imagine with a ton of pro sports teams and there’s just a cool vibe when you walk along the lakefront. I’d recommend trying foods from around the world at all of the ethnic restaurants we have, take a bike ride through Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain, visit the Art Institute, and catch a free symphony on Wednesday afternoons in the summer near the Bean! Of course you should go have a snack and a drink on the Signature Room on the 95th and 96th floors in the John Hancock (and you don’t have to pay to go to the 98th floor observation deck).

10. I am so glad I got to see you at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival in Murfreesboro, TN! What do you like most about being an author at book festivals? How was your experience at SE-YA?

SE-YA Fest was amaaaazing! I loved how many teens were bussed in for the day to attend the event! So fun to talk to a room full of eager readers that had the most hilarious questions for the authors. It was so well run and the campus where it was held was stunning. What I like most is being able to talk with teens about books, and especially happy when they’ve read my book and want to take a picture with me. Makes me feel so happy and proud.

11. Have you written any other works? What can we expect from you in the future?SmartCookie_Cover(1)

Always writing, always hoping the next book is picked up by an editor who loves it too. I’ve written a humorous MG sci-fi novel that my agent will be sending out to editors soon. My “WIP” (work-in-progress) has some “eco-fiction” elements in it the way Flip the Bird did, but this one also has a futuristic world and a suspense plot filled with lots of twists. Fingers crossed that all my books eventually land in the hands of readers.

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

Read, read, read…and write, write, write. Everything takes practice so you’ll have to write for awhile before you can critically read your own work. Join a critique group and have others read your stories and tell you what is working and what isn’t is the most valuable tip I can give you. Writing a book is hard work, but anyone can do it if they dedicate the time to making the pages sing. Best of luck and thanks for interviewing


About Flip the BirdFlipTheBirdCover

Mercer Buddie wants two things in this world: a girlfriend and the chance to prove to his master falconer father that he’s not a flake. With hunting season fast approaching, fourteen-year-old Mercer has only a short time to work with Flip, a red-tailed hawk he irreverently named to show his dad that falconers don’t have to be so serious all the time.


When Mercer meets Lucy, he falls hard for her gorgeous looks and bubbly personality. He thinks his love life is about to take flight, until he discovers that Lucy and her family belong to a fanatical animal-rights organization called HALT—a group that believes imposing any sort of restrictions on animals is a form of cruelty. Mercer soon realizes that if he wants to keep seeing Lucy, he’ll need to keep his love of falconry and his family’s raptor rehabilitation center a secret from her, and Lucy’s involvement with HALT from his family.


With humor and honesty, Mercer’s story shows how growing up means making diff
icult choices…and sometimes, being rewarded in unexpected ways.


About the Author

Kym Brunner dreams entire novels in her head, but needs about a year to write it all down.  She wishes there was an app for this. She’s addicted to chai tea, going to the movies, and reality TV. When she’s not reading or writing, Kym teaches 7th grade full time. Her article, Cracking Down on Multiple POVs:  Surrender and Nobody Gets Hurt, appeared in Writer’s Digest online (July, 2014). She is the author of the three YA novels listed below. She lives in the Chicago area with her family and her two trusty writing companions, a pair of Shih Tzus named Sophie and Kahlua. Keep in touch by following her on Facebook (Author Kym Brunner), Twitter (@KymBrunner), or at her website, http://www.kymbrunner.com.

Wanted: Dead or in Love, Merit Press, June, 2014
One Smart Cookie, Omnific Publishing, July, 2014
Flip the Bird, HMH Books for Young Readers (coming Nov. 1, 2016)

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Now onto the giveaway!
Please check out the rules and make sure you FOLLOW them!

Hope you enjoyed this interview! Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.
~ Kester

Interview + GIVEAWAY with Stephanie Elliot

Hi guys! This past week has been crazy for me! I’ve been gone out of town for the All State Men’s Choir (which was super amazing by the way!) and catching up on a ton of homework… As I write this, I still got a 16-slide powerpoint, a one-page article reflection, and an essay on the US and USSR involvement in Latin America in the Cold War. But by the time this is posted I’m probably done with all that. I haven’t been able to blog that much recently, but I’m back! I’m not going to post as frequently as I was before because I am going to focus on many other things and activities, but I’ll still be active!

Also, Happy Easter!!! I did not post anything this weekend to honor the Triduum and the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the start of the Easter season, so here’s my latest post!


 

A Stephanie New

1. How would you describe Sad Perfect in your own words?SadPerfect_09e

A girl with a unique eating disorder falls in love and tries to hide her disorder from her boyfriend while trying to recover.

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

I love writing because when you write you get to create anything you want to. You can go anywhere you want to, you can dream up anything you want to. I think I loved reading first and then I loved writing.

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

I don’t know if my writing style has been affected by any particular writer but I admire so many writers. I love writers who can write in verse, or who can make a sentence sing off the page. Someone who makes colors look completely different than you ever imagined just by their word choice. Writers who do that are magical.

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

I love reading contemporary novels—young adult and women’s fiction. Psychological thrillers are fun too. Emotional reads that can get your heart racing and your mind thinking are what I gravitate toward.

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

Writing is very part-time and I would love to write more. I’m a mom to three teenagers, and I love that job too—it’s my most important one.

6. What is ARFID, and what is the message or impact you want your readers to get through your book?DSC00461

I want readers to know that ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) EXISTS. Many parents think that kids are just picky eaters and don’t do anything to help their children with this serious eating disorder, which is the actual fear of trying new foods. It’s a mental disorder that can also cause severe anxiety and depression and lead to more serious issues if not treated. I also want readers to know that there is hope for kids with ARFID, that if someone has ARFID, and if he or she wants to get better, if they work at it, they can get better.

Continue reading “Interview + GIVEAWAY with Stephanie Elliot”

The Magnificent Glass Globe Blog Tour: Exclusive Interview with N. R. Bergeson

Hello! I hope you are enjoying your day! We have another blog tour stop for you today! We have with us N. R. Bergeson talking about his debut book The Magnificent Glass Globe! If you want to travel around the world, then you should go check out this book!

THE MAGNIFICENT GLASS GLOBE


Title: THE MAGNIFICENT GLASS GLOBEA Globe

Author: N.R. Bergeson

Pub. Date: April 10, 2017

Publisher: TantrumBooks

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 273

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

Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Mary Tucker dreams of visiting the Amazon. But if her father, a museum curator, has his way, she might be a grandmother before she ever gets the chance.

One day, while mischievously exploring the museum’s warehouse with her brother Ike and best friend Helen, Mary stumbles across an old travel trunk belonging to her grandfather.

Inside, they discover an nondescript glass globe. Curious about the simple object, Mary touches the globe, and is shocked when the room is suddenly consumed by the most amazing view of Earth.

The magnificent globe lets the friends zoom closer and closer toward the earth’s surface, eventually bringing them close enough to touch the trees. That’s when the globe entirely disappears, and they find themselves falling.

Suddenly, they’re far from home, in place that’s either a paradise, or the place where they will die.

Sleep, water, and food become precious and scarce. A native tribe may hold the keys to their survival as well as clues to help them get back home. But it won’t be easy. The rain forest is a big place, and when others find out what the globe can do, Mary, Ike and Helen will need a plan, allies, and a little luck.


About N.R.: Nils

R. (Nils) Bergeson is the author of the “Magnificent Glass Globe” series. Nils was born in California but spent his childhood at the foot of the beautiful mountains of northern Utah. From an early age, he was fascinated with the wider world, prompting him to earn a degree in international studies from Utah State University, followed by a Master’s degree in Public Administration/International Management from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He knew early on that his interests were as wide as the world itself, and that he’d find real joy living overseas. Since 2002, Nils has only spent four years living in the United States. He was a missionary in Siberia, spent time in Romania as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, and has worked for several years in Colombia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and now Indonesia as a U.S. diplomat/international development worker. He’s traveled to more than 60 countries with his wife, Emily, and their three young children. Nils’ love for writing, which began in the second grade, complements his globetrotting ways well. He hopes his writing will instill a desire in his readers to take advantage of modern opportunities to see the world, learn new languages, and expand their cultural experiences. We live in a wonderful world, and it’s just waiting for us to see it.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


A N.R. Bergeson

1. What is your book THE MAGNIFICENT GLASS GLOBE about?

It’s about a globe – a particularly magnificent globe – made out of glass. More specifically, it’s about Mary, an eleven-year-old who obsesses about traveling the world and feels stuck where she is. After she accidentally discovers the aforementioned magnificent glass globe, she finds herself, along with her brother and best friend, unexpectedly in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. Now, they have to figure out how to survive and get home. They realize the world can be both beautiful and dangerous.

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

I like to express ideas, and I feel like writing gives me a chance to do that in a creative way. I hope it will help people see something in life just a little bit differently.

I dabbled with writing a little bit way back in second grade. My teacher was so impressed by a short story that I wrote and encouraged me to become a writer. “Yeah,” I thought. “I could do that…” While it helped instill a love of writing, that short story didn’t become a best-seller. Still, ever since then I’ve tried my hand at writing in different ways – books, articles, and blog posts.

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

Well, I don’t know about style (I’m really just winging this whole thing, and I hope to learn a little bit more about writing from the real professionals at some point), but I was influenced once by the great Brandon Sanderson. I asked him if somebody like me, with a full time job, a family, and more taking up my time, would ever be able to find time to actually write a book.

“Sure,” he said. “You’ll have to be organized with your time. But you can do it. Just do a little bit at a time.” And he was right. So thanks, Brandon.

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

Well, most of my reading is focused on very boring and very long technical documents. If I spent as much time reading good literature as I do reading reports and memos, I would probably have read every book ever written.

But when I’m not stuck reading the booking stuff, I like to branch out and do different things. I read a lot of non-traditional epic fantasy-type books, as well as a lot of contemporary literature where ordinary kids find themselves in extraordinary circumstances.

I like to write about young people discovering new ideas and seeing new things for the first time.

Some of my favorite books are Great Expectations, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Maniac Magee, The Secret Garden, and more.

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

Well, I think writing is like my third or fourth job. I work full time at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. Luckily, the traffic here in Southeast Asia is terrible, so I take my laptop and try to write while stuck in a traffic jam. My other full-time job is raising my three highly-energetic children.

6. Mary, Ike, and Helen- the main characters- in your new series use the glass globe to travel all over the world. If you could use the globe to travel somewhere, where would you go?

Well, I’ve been lucky to go a lot of places already with work. And I have loved them all. But I still haven’t lived in Africa, and there are a lot of places I’d like to go. I’d probably start with Zambia.

7. What was it like serving as a missionary, Peace Corps volunteer, and a U.S. diplomat in various countries around the world?

You end up in a lot of really weird situations where you have no idea what is going on. I’ve found myself time and time again in rooms full of people speaking languages I didn’t understand, and just nodding my head and pretending like I understand. But you learn that people are all fundamentally the same. We have the same hopes and desires. There’s no reason for us all not to respect one another and get along.

8. Out of all the more than 60 countries you have visited, which one was your favorite and what did you see there?

Everywhere is amazing. If I could go and spend more time in a particular place, however, I’d probably pick Japan, Chile, and Turkey. Also, Finland is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

9. How do you want your book to change young readers? Why did you choose to write for a middle grade audience?

One reason I wrote for a middle grade audience is because those books are shorter, and I wanted to actually finish a book at some point! But I also get along with young people. I don’t think I ever fully grew up. And they read more than anybody else. They are learning about the world for the first time. They are open to new ideas and haven’t been corrupted by the boring parts of being an adult. I hope it makes them want to see more of the world, meet people from other places, and become better global citizens.

10. Who was your favorite character to write and why?

I like Ike because I can relate to the wanting to be funny, but not always being very good at it. I also liked writing Colin the poacher. I have a lot of Australian relatives, so in some ways I’m kind of teasing them with his character.

11. What is your personal cure for writer’s block?

I have no cure. If somebody has discovered one, please tell me. Also, I could use some advice on how to write more effectively while sitting in a crowded van in rush-hour traffic.

12. How much of your books were based off of your own personal experiences or research (if you had to do any)?

Almost 100%. I never actually got lost in the rainforest, but I did go visit back in 2010/2011 when I lived in Colombia. I met the Ticuna, visited one of their villages, had monkeys crawl all over me, climbed vines on a tree, and walked around the beautiful streets of Puerto Nariño. I would highly recommend it to anybody.

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

Book #2 comes out in 2018. It’s in a completely different part of the world – Russia. Russia has been like a second home to me, so I loved writing about it. You get to learn more about where the globe came from, what the deal is with Anatoly, and you find out that things are a lot more complicated than they seemed at the end of the first book.

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

Yep, and it’s the same advice I give over and over again. Get out and see something different. Learn a new language. Visit a new country. Eat some weird food. Be safe, but be adventurous. You’ll it will flip on your brain like a switch, and new ideas will start flowing from all over.


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a paperback of THE MAGNIFICENT GLASS GLOBE & A DVD of Jumanji, US Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

4/3/2017- Rockin’ Book Reviews– Excerpt

4/4/2017- Books: A true story– Review

4/5/2017- Never Too Many To Read– Guest Post

4/6/2017- Month9Books– Excerpt

4/7/2017- I am not a bookworm!– Review

Week 2:

4/10/2017- Book Review Becca– Guest Post

4/11/2017- So Few Books– Interview

4/12/2017- LILbooklovers– Interview

4/13/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Excerpt


I hope you have a great week! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

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

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Billionaire Blog Tour: Interview with Teymour Shahabi

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Hi guys! Happy Friday! Welcome to one of the final tour stops for THE SECRET BILLIONAIRE Blog Tour!!! Woo hoo! Look at that pretty cover! This book is really intriguing, and you should read it! Also, we are hosting Teymour Shahabi on our blog, too, in a special interview! Hope you enjoy our tour stop and grab the book!

The Secret Billionaire by Teymour Shahabi the-secret-billionaire

Genre: YA Mystery

Release Date: September 2016

Summary from Goodreads: 1960s — March 24. Billionaire Lyndon Surway takes off in his private plane and never returns.  His will leaves the entirety of his wealth—one of the largest fortunes in history—to his “dear friend Lucian Baker.” Only there is no trace of anyone by that name. And the fortune itself is nowhere to be found. Andrew Day knows nothing of wealth and privilege, but he won a scholarship to study at the most exclusive school in the country, in the town where the mystery, decades later, remains unsolved. There he discovers friendship and danger with the aristocratic Cameron and the beautiful Olivia. But watchful eyes follow him everywhere… Until, one night, he comes across a secret that will change his life. As he begins to unravel what really happened to the Surway fortune, the question remains: who is Lucian Baker?

Add to Goodreads

Buy Link: Amazon

About the Authorunspecified-3

Teymour Shahabi was born in Paris in 1985 of Persian parents. He moved to the United States to study Comparative Literature and Mathematics at Harvard University. He currently lives in New York City, where he’s spent the last few years among serious grownups who probably have no idea he’s doing this. The Secret Billionaire is his first published book.  You can watch (and help) him try to figure out writing and life at www.youtube.com/PageWingChannel.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

And now onto the interview!

teymour-shahabi

1. How would you describe The Secret Billionaire?the-secret-billionaire

>> The Secret Billionaire is a young adult mystery novel. It tells the story of an enormous fortune that a tycoon left in his will for “his dear friend Lucian Baker.” Only there is no trace of anyone by that name. Decades later, three high school students set out to solve the mystery.

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

>> I love the two main components of writing: storytelling and language. (I suppose I’m cheating, because then I should explain why I love each of these two… But writers are good at using words to cheat – surely you know that already J) I’ve loved writing as long as I can remember. I would stay up writing in secret, with a flashlight, as a kid. And I have embarrassing proof locked away in my closets.

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

>> I work full-time in a field that has nothing to do with writing, and I’m incredibly lucky to love my job. I’m even more fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who support and even celebrate my writing. And by challenging me and teaching me in ways that are seemingly completely unrelated to fiction, they constantly help me grow as a person – and therefore as a writer.

4. If you received an entire fortune, what would you do with the money?

>> I would do five things exactly: (1) share the wealth my family; (2) help support causes that matter infinitely more than my writing – in particular children’s medical research; (3) build Iron Man’s house; (4) start a business; (5) keep on writing.

5. Do you like to go about solving mysteries? If you could, would you be a detective?

>> Sure – but I’d need: (a) a creepy real-life movie score playing wherever I go; (b) an awesome raincoat.

6. Which literary character would you pick as a sidekick? It could be one as a detective sidekick, a writing sidekick, a vlogging sidekick, whatever you like!teymour

>> I want White Fang, the wolfdog of Jack London’s novel, to be with me at all times. I would have given you the same answer twenty-two years ago. I’ve made my peace with it.

7. It’s so cool that you have your own Youtube channel! What is it like being a vlogger? Do you have some tips to making a great video, especially one about books?

>> Thanks! The channel made a huge difference for me: it allowed me to connect with strangers from all over the world who helped me every step of the way (for example by voting among possible covers – or even telling me whether toward or towards sounds better). More importantly, they became my first readers – and some of the most encouraging friends I’ve ever encountered. I’ve found that the best way to make a good video (about books or anything else) is to be yourself. Nothing is more compelling than the opportunity to connect with a real person.

8. How was it like winning three awards for the Best Young Adult Book at three book festivals last year?

>> It is an extremely joyous and strangely personal feeling. It feels like a hug from people you’ve never met. I don’t know about achievements in other fields, but there’s something deeply emotional and intimate about winning an award for a book. Each time, the first thing I do is tell my family. Perhaps it’s because I feel honored, grateful, and humbled beyond belief – these are all emotions best shared with the people you love the most.

9. What do you do if you are not reading, writing, or doing anything book-related?

>> I daydream about food. But you could guess that from the book. I’m also a big movie guy. So put on a movie and give me a pancake. We’ll be best friends.

10. How do you want your book to impact your readers? What is the message you want readers to get from The Secret Billionaire?unspecified-3

>> Nothing makes me happier than hearing from readers. I feel a combination of profound thankfulness and love (I was going to say friendship – but really, love) for anyone who tells me that the book kept them reading late at night, or made them miss a train stop. But as for the message of the book…  I wouldn’t want to share my own assumptions with readers, especially since I’ve seen some incredibly thoughtful and generous reviews about the book’s message on Amazon.

11. What are your current plans with your writing career?

>> Every time I read a new reader review, I feel the strength to write for a whole new chapter for the sequel! More immediately, I’m almost done recording the audiobook for The Secret Billionaire, which I’m very excited to release.

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

>> I have only one: just write, gratefully and joyously, as if the world needed you to write. It does!

Thank you so much, Teymour, for coming onto our blog! I loved your answers!

 

Now onto the giveaway!

GIVEAWAY:

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Blog Tour Schedule

 

Blog Tour Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours

ya-bound-book-tours

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!

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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!

j-l-pattison

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.

 

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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