Thursday, February 25, 2016

YOU'RE STILL THE ONE by Rachel Harris: Inkslinger Blog Tour

I was lucky enough to meet Rachel at last year's UTOPIAcon, and I was immediately drawn in to the My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century series. 

So when @InkSlingerPR offered a chance to be part of the blog tour for YOU'RE STILL THE ONE, Rachel's newest book, I jumped at it.


Love is one dare neither of them can take...

Arabella Stone, Nashville's darling, is eager to shuck her prim-and-proper rep, and a few wild months spent checking items off her " summer bucket list" is the way to do it. First up: kiss the man she's crushed on since she wore a training bra, the bad boy of country himself, Blue bassist Charlie Tucker.

For Charlie, a beautiful woman flirting with him isn't out of the norm--but a beautiful woman bolting after the hottest kiss of his life sure is. And when he finds out his kiss-and-run Cinderella is none other than Arabella Stone, daughter of his label's CEO, he knows he's in trouble. Because not only is she a Stone, she's also his employee for the next few months at the recording studio he just bought.

Over the course of one thrilling summer, Arabella and Charlie chip away at her bucket list and fight the simmering attraction between them...knowing that once it's all over, so is their time together.

Order on Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

Here's an excerpt:

Heart fluttering like a hummingbird, Ella picked her way across the stones, the steps still warm from the day’s brutal sun. She lowered herself, one concrete step at a time, until the tepid water lapped against the undersides of her breasts. She gasped at the sensation.
If she’d thought the biker bar felt decadent, this was positively wicked. Never in her wildest dreams had Arabella considered checking skinny-dipping off her list in this way, with neighbors potentially watching, and a naked Charlie Tucker as a wingman. 
He tensed as she glided across the pool, the muscles of his back like chiseled marble. She’d love to believe it was because of her, that he longed to touch her as badly as she wanted to be touched. But she knew him well enough to know that even if he did, he’d never act on the desire. Not unless his guard was down.
So, Arabella did what any self-respecting woman in her situation would do. She dipped her hands into the water on either side of her body, gently cupping them so as not to make any sudden waves. She grinned as she bent her knees for leverage…and then, stifling a laugh, swung her hands high and up into the air.
Charlie cursed as water rained, falling like a sheet over his head. His neck snapped back, flicking his unruly dark hair out of his eyes, and his shoulders raised to meet his ears.
Immediately, Arabella started backpedaling.
Fans of romantic comedies, and anyone who swam with boys in high school, knew what came next. She’d awoken the sleeping bad-boy giant, or so she hoped, but somehow, even as she kicked away as hard as she could, she couldn’t excite the proper trepidation. She wanted this, wanted him to come after her.
But she had to make the chase look realistic.
“Oh, you think you’re funny, don’t you?” Charlie’s smile was as big and dangerous as a bloodthirsty alligator, and Ella squealed as he took his first looming step. “You better run, sweet girl. It’s on now.”
Arabella kicked her feet, shooting water in his face. “Bring it, Tucker!”
Please, please, bring it, Tucker.  

And here's a YouTube trailer to further entice you:

About Rachel Harris:

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Vibrant settings, witty banter, and strong relationships are a staple in each of her books…and kissing. Lots of kissing.

An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict and homeschool mom, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!

You can also enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to get free stuff!

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016


I've been a fan of C.J. Redwine ever since Defiance, and was thankful for the chance to interview her back in 2012. I was also lucky enough to attend one of her workshops, and it was worth every penny (they all are). While there, I found out about THE SHADOW QUEEN, the first in her new Ravenspire series. At long last, THE SHADOW QUEEN is here (today!), and the premise is knock-your-socks-off amazing:

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

C.J. also answered some follow-up interview questions!

In our last interview, you said you'd "like readers to see what it looks like to be broken and then to do what it takes to heal and find hope again." Have you found that your stories continue to invoke this, and if so, how have your readers responded?

I think every story of mine will have an element of brokenness to the main characters because that's what life does to us, and because being broken for a while doesn't make us less heroic or less able to rise from the ashes. I want to portray that, but I have found it looks different in each story because of course each character is different and so are his/her circumstances. Many readers have a strong emotional response to that element in my stories, and I think it's because it resonates with all of us.

It certainly does. Having an aversion to Snow White and the Huntsman, I was ecstatic to learn that THE SHADOW QUEEN emerged from your rant after watching it. How has THE SHADOW QUEEN developed since, and what do you like most about crown princess Lorelai? 

The Shadow Queen developed into an epic showdown between two equally powerful female characters, one of whom would sacrifice anything and anyone for what she wants and one of whom would sacrifice herself for the good of others if all of her other plans fail. As an added bonus, the huntsman is also prince charming, and he is a dragon shape-shifter so there's that.

It was really fun to write. I wanted the Snow White character (Lorelai) to be driven, intelligent, fierce, brave, and to overcome incredible odds/hardship, and she does just that. I really love that Lorelai is a thinker. A planner. She has some mad parkour skills and some incredibly powerful magic, but what wins the day for her is her brain.

You had me at parkour! And you're right--the best protagonists also have the cleverest minds. As mentioned, you conduct writing workshops. What do you find most rewarding about helping other writers?

I really love teaching! I used to be a teacher before I had children, and it's always been a pleasure to break down a concept into something that can be easily understood. I feel like it's a privilege to unlock concepts for other writers and help them see how they can use that in their own work.

You've definitely done that for me, and for countless others, I'm sure. What are some of your current projects?

I'm finishing up the second book in the Ravenspire series. This time, I've written the next tale in Rumplestiltskin's life. After being exiled from the fae kingdom by the disloyal miller's daughter, he's set up shop as a wish granter in the kingdom of Sundraille. He'll grant you the wish of your heart, but it will cost you your soul.

Sounds breathtaking. Thanks, C.J., for yet another amazing interview!

To grab THE SHADOW QUEEN for yourself, click below:

Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

You can also find C.J.'s other books, including an excellent one on querying:


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

QUERY: Everything You Need to Get Started, Get Noticed, and Get Signed


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

FIRSTS by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

I was intrigued by FIRSTS when it came across my desk as an ARC. I started reading the first chapter...and then I couldn't stop. Not only does this book have great characterization and voice, but it tactfully handles a difficult topic, and will likely spur necessary conversations among teens. And, oh yeah, it already has two holds within my library system. Have a look:

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

Laurie was also kind enough to answer some interview questions:

According to your website bio, you learned that you'd rather write fiction while in journalism school. Can you tell us more about how you came to this conclusion and about your publishing journey in general?

That’s a great question! Like many authors, I’ve always been a writer in some capacity— I vividly remember being a fourth-grader spinning stories in class and running out of paper to write my crazy tales on. And if I’m being honest with myself, I knew I always wanted to be a novelist. But I convinced myself it was too farfetched, so I did what I thought was the next best thing—I went to university for English Literature, and later attended journalism school. It was when I was in the journalism program that I realized I’m not wired for hard facts and news reporting. I wanted to make up stories about the people in my head. I wanted to tell the stories of those characters, who already felt real to me.

I started writing seriously with the goal of being published in 2012. I wrote two New Adult novels, both of which I ultimately shelved. With my third manuscript, Firsts, which was my first attempt at YA, I got an agent, then a book deal. My journey to publication didn’t happen overnight, but that makes me appreciate it a lot more.

Not only that, it offers proof that there are no wasted words. Speaking of FIRSTS, I thought you did a really good job capturing the awkward, fumbling love scenes. What about these scenes was most challenging to write?

Thank you so much for saying that. To be honest, those scenes were really fun to write! I did my best to tap into the awkwardness you feel as a teen interacting with the opposite sex, sometimes for the first time. Too often, sex is depicted as perfect and seamless, romantic and playful in the media, and I wanted to show the other side. The awkward, messy, clumsy, difficult parts, because that’s more accurate to life. I want to be as honest as possible as an author and show the reality, not the dream.

That's something many of your readers (myself included) will appreciate. I also anticipate that FIRSTS will generate a lot of conversations between teens about their first time. What would you tell parents and librarians who might have questions about the story before reading it?

I’d tell them that although sex is a part of the story, it’s definitely not the whole story. This is a book with sex in it, but it’s not a book about sex. It’s the story of a girl trying desperately to find control the only way she knows how. It’s about friendship and finding yourself and the damaging effects of rumors and the scars people wear on the inside.

Such a broad audience appeal will entice librarians as well. What are some of your current projects?

After Firsts, I wrote another YA contemporary. It’s about a girl whose best friend disappears after a blowout party, and the realization that both girls were keeping huge secrets from each other—secrets that might play a role in the disappearance. Right now, I’m also working on two other YA contemporaries. One is from a boy’s POV, and the other is pure trouble!

Can't wait to find out more about "pure trouble"! Thanks Laurie, for such a great interview. 

To grab FIRSTS for yourself, feel free to click the links below:

Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


I first met Rebecca Podos when she took part in one of Operation Awesome's Mystery Agent contests. About year and a half later, I stumbled upon her starred review in Booklist, and immediately ordered THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES for my library system. Have a look:

All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when Imogene was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “troubled waters.”

Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father, a famous author of medical mysteries, has struck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And she decides it’s up to her to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of reading her father’s books to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.

Rebecca also answered some interview questions:
THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Booklist. Congratulations! What do you hope readers will find most compelling about Imogene's story and what did you enjoy most about writing it?

Thanks Karen! My favorite thing about the book might be the friendship between Imogene and Jessa. It’s complicated, seemingly superficial and unlikely despite its long history. Let’s be straight, Immy isn’t a great friend to Jessa at the start of the book. She’s accustomed to playing Watson to her father’s Sherlock, and when called upon to solve her own mystery and Sherlock-up, she automatically casts Jessa in that supporting role.

But the thing about Watson is he was never just a sidekick; through practical smarts and compassion and sheer force of will, he oftentimes kept Sherlock together. He was invaluable. And I think Imogene soon starts to see the value of—and to see herself as capable of—a deeper kind of friendship, the kind that both girls deserve. And I really enjoyed writing that transformation.

I'll bet. And I completely agree with your assessment of Watson. You also do an excellent job of providing unique character detail while not giving away too much plot. Did the story come to you fully formed, or did it develop as you went along?

I pretty much just started with a central premise. I’ve always adored the mystery genre, in part because, as Imogene says, you know that whatever burning questions you have, they’ll be answered if you just hang in there till the last page. That’s such a satisfying narrative, when you think about it! So then, I wanted to write a “detective” who truly believes in that comforting narrative structure, to the point where she uses it as a guide to navigate her own story and her own mystery. That was Imogene, and the story came from her and grew from there.

Definitely an intriguing way to put a twist on the familiar. In addition to writing novels, you've published short fiction in a lot of reputable publications. What do you like most about writing short fiction and why?

I like that it’s a totally different exercise from novel writing. There’s this quote about short stories; it’s kind of famous and I can’t believe I don’t remember where it comes from, but it basically compares short stories to an owl pellet, the bits that the owl can’t digest. Bones, fur, feathers, claw. It says that a short story is everything the juices of time cannot digest. From the outside, that sounds gross, but I think it’s lovely. A short story is everything that can’t be done away with, everything that’s absolutely necessary within a human experience.

A beautiful analogy--and one I'll have to remember. What are some of your current projects?

I’ve just finished the first draft of my next book, a YA contemporary, and I’m so incredibly excited about it. It has tiny New Mexican ghost towns and performing mermaids and LGBTQ romance, and if HOLLOW PLACES is about loneliness, then this book is about feeling trapped. It’s about the snares life sets for us and the kind we set for ourselves, and about believing someway, somehow, that we’re strong enough to climb out of them.

We are indeed! Thanks Rebecca, for such engaging and insightful answers.

To get your paws on THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES, feel free to click the links below:

Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound