The Suffering Tree Blog Tour (+ Summer of Authors #7): Guest Post + GIVEAWAY with Elle Cosimano – How I Found the Perfect Agent

Hi guys! I am so glad to have back Elle Cosimano, author of her latest book The Suffering Tree, on the blog! Earlier this year, I gave an exclusive interview with Elle (which you can find here) and reviewed her YA paranormal thriller Holding Smoke (which you can find here too), which I loved. Now, I am glad to promote her newest book The Suffering Tree in the blog tour!

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About the Book28810197

Title: The Suffering Tree

Author: Elle Cosimano

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: June 13th 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Synopsis: “It’s dark magic brings him back.” 

Tori Burns and her family left D.C. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family-it’s their generations-old land the Burns have “stolen.” As the suspicious looks and muttered accusations of her neighbors build, so does the pressure inside her, and Tori returns to the pattern of self-harm that landed her in a hospital back in D.C. It all comes to a head one night when, to Tori’s shock, she witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard. 

Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events-including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter’s cousin-that seem to point back to Nathaniel. 

As Tori digs for the truth-and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel-she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family’s oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried at any cost.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:elle-cosimano

Author of NEARLY GONE, NEARLY FOUND, HOLDING SMOKE, and THE SUFFERING TREE (Disney*Hyperion, 2017). Represented by Sarah Davies of The Greenhouse Literary Agency.


Let’s get onto the guest post!

Elle Cosimano

How I Found the Perfect Agent

Six years ago, when I completed my first draft of what would become my debut novel, I was a real estate agent with a background in psychology who dreamed of becoming a novelist. I had no formal writing training. I had no literature degree. And I had zero knowledge of the world of publishing. Basically, I had no idea what I was doing, much less any clue where to start. All I knew is that to get where I wanted to go, I presumably needed an agent.

But where did one go to find an agent?

Continue reading “The Suffering Tree Blog Tour (+ Summer of Authors #7): Guest Post + GIVEAWAY with Elle Cosimano – How I Found the Perfect Agent”

Cover Reveal: Fragments of Darkness (Anthology)

Hello! It’s Hump Day! (I know, that’s so old.) We have another cover reveal for you this Wednesday (I guess Wednesdays are the most popular days for cover reveals!), and this time it’s an anthology of short stories by some amazing authors who I’ve had the wonderful chance to be able to interview and chat with, including Melanie McFarlane, E. M. Fitch, and Dorothy Dreyer! Enjoy!

About Fragments of Darkness
Fragments of Darkness
An Anthology of Thrilling Stories
Release date: September 13, 2017
From between the cracks of imagination, among the splinters of the unknown, and upon the winds of mystery, lurk the Fragments of Darkness.
With legends of killer mermaids to tales of Civil War era ghosts, ten passionate story-tellers come together to bring you yarns of fantasy, paranormal, and chills and thrills that will entertain, intrigue, and enchant young adult and new adult readers.
Lisa M. Basso — Heart and Bone
C.L. Campbell — Reckoner
Dorothy Dreyer — Under the Surface
Pat Esden — Black as a Dark Moon, Scarlet as Sumac
E.M. Fitch — Between Shadows
R.A. Gates — The Collector
Jessica Gunn — The Ghost
Debra Jess — Blood & Armor
Melanie McFarlane — The Transgressions of Faithe Eileen
Daphne René — Story of the Unknown Soldier

Are you ready for the cover?

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Let me hear you!
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Are you sure?
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There will be some scary stories.
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But the cover is great!
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You wanna see it?
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Fine, it’s here!
Fragments Front Cover
Makes you wanna read it, doesn’t it?

I hope you liked the cover of Fragments of Darkness! Go check it out, and have a great week!

Happy Reading!
+ J.M.J.
~ Kester

Life and Death Cover Reveal!

Today I’m helping reveal the cover for Life and Death, a YA paranormal/fantasy by Selenia Paz, 2012 Honor winner of Lee & Low Publishing’s New Voices award. The book releases from Snowy Wings Publishing on April 4!

Title: Life & Death

Author: Selenia Paz

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

Synopsis: When Natalia’s younger brother disappears while on a visit to Mexico, Natalia is certain that La Llorona, the mythical Weeping Woman, has taken him. Her friend Miguel agrees to accompany her back to Mexico in the hopes that it will help him deal with the recent death of his grandfather. But as they embark on a journey to search for the creature that has taken Natalia’s brother, it becomes apparent that the spirits Miguel had brushed aside as mere legend are very real… and they have a dark connection to his family.

Add Life & Death on Goodreads!

Here it goes!!!

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Let’s do it!!!

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I bet you just skipped over it!

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Here it is!

Continue reading “Life and Death Cover Reveal!”

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!

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I wish you the best, and happy reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester