The time it was about the Reality Bites panel

Attending Ontario Teen Book Fest became a sure thing as soon as I saw that Kasie West was going to be one of the authors attending. As the event got closer, Kasie was sick, but she kept assuring me she would be there. 

I got up to the library just before 2. Traffic was stupid and I couldn’t find parking because the area that was indicated by the event map was closed off. I parked in some random lot with other people and we all hoped we wouldn’t get tickets.

I saw Jessica Brody in passing and guarded the men’s room door for Lauren Miller before making my way to the Reality Bites panel. Kasie saw me lean into the doorway and ran out to say hi. We chatted for a couple of minutes before the panel started.

Michelle Levy was the moderator and she introduced the authors: Aaron Hartzler, Kasie West, Elizabeth Ross, Maurene Goo, Katie Finn and Cecil Castallucci.


After the introductions, each author talked about their books and then Michelle asked questions.

Are there characters based on you?

C: I have a character, Rose, who lived in my apartment in New York. When I lived there, across the street was where the Russian consulate lived, so if I threw a ball, it was technically in Russia. That book is the closest to what has been ripped from my life.

KF: I thought that in this series there wasn’t, but I realized that I lifted an entire situation from college. A lot of stuff from my Morgan books are from my real life. I didn’t realize it until they were published.

M: This book has a lot of my life. There are a couple of chapters based on my life. One was awesome because I got to make fun of the people who made my life miserable. Which you can do when you’re 30 and out of school for a long time. I did let Holly have more articulate thoughts and feelings than I did. It was fun to channel them into something fun.

E: Well, I haven’t worked at an agency, but there’s definitely a pressure on girls to be attractive. More specifically, I worked in Paris when I was a teenager, so I drew from that. This Paris is the Paris from my imagination.

KW: When I started writing, I purposely tried not to draw from my own life. As I would go back and read them, I would see myself. Now I don’t try. I have based a 16 year old girl on my husband.

A: Obviously my character is me. There are a couple of characters who are people put together.  {He then started talking about his upcoming contemp “What We Saw” which is about a girl who has been molested by a group of sports players.}


Are your characters based on anyone?

KW: Every time my mom reads my books, she always asks if that’s how I see her. I have a great mom, but apparently we need mom angst in our books.

MG: Everyone thinks they’re in your book. A lot of my friends would ask. It’s a weird territory, people are always looking for themselves.

C: When I was in a band, guys would always come up to me and ask if it was about them. It was always the song about liking someone and the guy who asked was never the right guy. I’ve started saying yes to people, because they’re seeing something from the book in themselves and we’re all pulling from personal situations.

To Katie: have you ever gotten revenge in real life?

No. It’s been so fun to write. With revenge in the title, of course there’s going to be a war. I read a lot of revenge books before starting and it never ends well. No one ever says “I got revenge and now I’m happy.” There’s a proverb that says before you’re going to start on a road to revenge, dig two graves.

To Katie: was there anyone that you thought of before starting?

KF: Is it bad that I don’t have any enemies? I would love to have a nemesis without knowing.


Who is your favorite secondary character in your book?

C: I’m going to pick Tin Star. Heckleck is not a good person. He’s sort of scary insect, but he has a real big heart. Something happens to him and it was really hard to write.

KF: There’s a character in the 1st book who we don’t see, but he’s become a main character. It went from a love triangle to something else. Someone on Twitter said that it was now a love rhombus and that’s really true. His showing up changed the trajectory of the series.

M: There’s a character named Elizabeth and I initially made her have a weird best friend. The relationship between Carrie and Elizabeth became authentic. It’s fun to have a character who says snobby things.

E: I like Isabel. At first she’s a total brat, but you realize that she’s also trapped. She wants to do greater things for herself. There’s a lot of depth to her and it was fun to write.

K: I have a weakness for funny guys. I married my husband because no one had made me laugh like he did. In this book, it’s one of her brothers, Gage.

A: My favorite is my grandmother. She’s a real steel magnolia and would say the most outrageous things.

To KW: your main character is a tomboy. Where do you fall in the makeup spectrum?

In the middle. I like the girlie moments, but I grew up with rough and tumble people. I like sports. I married a 6’8″ basketball player.

To KW: Do you have tall children?

No! My oldest is only 5’8″. I’m disappointed by their average height.  {there was a lot more to this}


What is the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten or given?

C: Put your best ears on, especially when it comes to critique. Sometimes we only hear “this is horrible and stupid.” If I can put my best ears on, I can be brave and get rid of the bad stuff.

E: Read like a writer. Read critically. The books that you love, read them again and really look at them.

KF: I’ll say the opposite. Read the things you don’t like. If you don’t connect, figure out why and try to fix it.

C:  Even reading something you don’t like can help you find your style.

E: Read outside of your comfort zone.

KW: I would say read a lot and write a lot.

A: Yes to all of that. And I’ll add that there is no one way to be a writer. Go to school or don’t. Go to workshops or don’t. Just write a lot.

MG: Turn off all of the noise. Especially with YA, people are always talking about being a writer. New trends and who got signed and how many books were sold. I wrote this book in a vacuum and it was ignorantly blissful. Now with the pressures of being a published author, I had to tune all of it out. I was the most happiest when I was writing for me.

A: Comparison is the crowbar that will ruin everything you love. Keep your eyes on your own work. It may have been said in kindergarten, but it’s true now.

C: When you’re working, read things that nourish you. I had to read for doing panels and it felt like homework. It took away from being playful.


Which came first: book or character?

C: For Tin Star, it was the character. I had an image of a girl deciding if she was going to survive by eating alien food and being abandoned.

KF: Weirdly the title came first. I knew that I wanted revenge. It really came first. I had the second title before the first title.

MG: 100% the character. Holly came to me when I was filling out a Facebook thing about 24 things you didn’t know about me.

E: It was the concept of the agency and then the idea of a teenage girl being part of it.

KW: Most of mine are character. In The Distance Between Us it was the setting. I would have to sit in front of a porcelain doll shop for 30 minutes while waiting for my daughter in guitar lessons and I thought it would be the coolest place for a book.

A: It was the plot. I knew I wanted to write about it. In the Twitter conversation that was sparked, everyone’s humanity was stripped away. {There was a lot a lot about this, but it was captivating and I didn’t get a word of it}


What Harry Potter house would your main character be in?

MG: Everyone wants to be Gryffindor, but we can’t be. I would say that Holly would be in Slytherin.

C: Ravenclaw

KF: Gemma would have the same thing that happens to Harry. She’s really kind of two sides.

E: I haven’t read Harry Potter.

KW: Charlie would be Gryffindor.

A: 16 year old Aaron would not have been allowed to read Harry Potter and 40 year old Aaron hasn’t read them. 

There were a few more questions, but I didn’t get them. From there, the panel was over and we were directed to go to the cafeteria for the signing. They had us line up outside and we just started to wait. 

After a couple of minutes, they let us in. It was one long table and we were able to go up to each individual author to get things signed. I stopped at to say hi to Gretchen before getting in line for Kasie. 


And when I got up to Kasie, I seriously held up the line. I was easily there for 10 minutes.  We chatted about The Fill-In Boyfriend {which is amazeballs} and arcs and other super sekrit things that were definitely “off the record”. We finally got around to her signing my arc and she said that it would be the first art of FiB that she signed.

And then this happened…

2 3

I apologized to the people behind me. Thanked Kasie a zillion times and told her to get better soon.

From Kasie, I went over to Katie Finn.  I had an arc of Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold that I wanted to get signed. When I got to her she told me that it was sort of a hot commodity because the covers had be redesigned and the second book wouldn’t have the arc cover.

{I don’t have pictures of Katie signing or the book because I’m fail}

After that, I sort of hurried out to get back home.  Next year, I’m definitely going to plan on attending the entire event. It seemed to be well ran.  There were a lot of volunteers/staff available to answer any questions or direct me where I needed to go.  I look forward to seeing how it grows.


The time it was Girls Gone Sci-Fi

When the Girls Gone Sci-Fi tour was announced, I was so excited to see that there was going to be a San Diego date. Of course we were going to attend.

Michelle and I got to the store early and bought books before heading to the bakery for delicious pastries. Added bonus: getting odd looks by people walking by when we sat up our IG photo shoot.


We hung out around the store for a while, chatting it up. The authors came in around 6:45. They thought the signing started at 7, so they were looking for a bit of a pre-show. Claudia came out and chatted about her Star Wars book. She couldn’t really talk about it, so a fangirl conversation about Star Wars as started…which somehow transitioned to a conversation about poop.


It was then opened up to an odd Q&A about random things.

What’s your favorite holiday?

M: It used to be Christmas, but I’m getting older, so I’ll say Thanksgiving.

JK: I don’t like that because I always get stuck doing dishes.

C: Yeah. I like that. We had 45 people over last year.  When you have that many people, doing dishes is easy.

JB: Yhanksgiving.

Favorite Netflix binge watch?

JB: Friends

M: I watched Supernatural S1-9 in two months.  I wasn’t writing.  I had some down time waiting for edits.

C: I watched two and a half seasons of Scandal. Lately I’ve been watching Star Trek: Next Generation because I have a German exchange student with me and he’s never seen it.

JK: My husband and I made a pact that we wouldn’t watch the new season of House of Cards until I came back from tour. I’ve been checking the recently watched page every day.


Favorite author?

C: The only one I almost died over was Suzanne Collins. {There was a story about Australia, a bookstore without any copies of Mockingjay and then finding a copy on a high shelf and climbing up something rickety}

JK: For fantasy, Robin Hobb. {There was more to this}

M: My favorite book is Jane Eyre and that’s easy because she’s dead. Alive,  I’ve got too many. It’s like picking a child.

JB: The two that are on my auto buy: Sophie Kinsella and Rainbow Rowell.

If you could be any animal, what would it be?

JK: An orca, but not at Sea World.

JB: I would not be a turtle, but only because I just found out that if she saw me in the middle of the road on my shell, she would just swerve around me. I think I would be a dog in my own home. They’re so spoiled. There have been times that we’ve been watching a movie while sitting on the floor because they’re on the couch and we don’t want to disturb them.

M: I would want to be a dolphin, but I would like to be at the top of the food chain.

C: A well loved house pet is what you get when your karma is good.


Favorite book cover?

JB: Brodi Ashton’s Everneath

M: The original cover for Across the Universe

JK: These Broken Stars and This Shattered World. I like covers with stars on them.

C: {I didn’t get her answer}

Favorite book to media adaptation?

JB: The Devil wears Prada

M: Lord of the Rings

C: The Hunger Games books. I think they did a great job. The people who have only seen the movies were concerned about how nothing was happening.

JK: Princess Bride. It’s the perfect tone and perfect cast.

C: Clueless for Emma.

The event started right at 7:30 and Maryelizabeth introduced everyone.


JB: I put this group together because we’re all female authors who write sci-fi, but also to celebrate the community of YA. We’re all from separate publishing houses.

We’re going to do something different, we’re each going to introduce each other and share some fun facts. I’ll be introducing Melissa. Melissa graduated from Munich and still swears in German. Her celebrity crush is Harrison Ford and she’s never been to california.

M: When Jessica Khoury signed the deal for her first book, she paid off her $115 library fine. In 3rd grade she spent 2 weeks in detention for biting another kid. And yes, she simply walked into Mordor.

JK: Claudia started writing fanfiction at 11 and hasn’t stopped. Her hometown was so small, her graduating class had 28 people. She can’t tell the Kardashians apart and hopes that will always true.

C: Jessica is really squeamish about belly buttons. She ran the slowest recorded mile in her elementary school. She secretly wanted to be a member of the Spice Girls.

JB then said there were going to be games for the audience, but we needed to know about the books. So, each author gave summaries.

The first game was called snippets. Audience members would pick a page and each author would read a few lines from that page.


The next game was called book boyfriends and it’s like The Dating Game. They called up audience members and had a bachelorette ask questions. It was adorable. Trivia was next. Melissa read questions about the books and correct answers were given candy.


It was then opened to book related Q&A

To JK: Vitro was given a cover change, which do you like more?

JK: The original cover was gorgeous and I thought it captured everything, but I love this new one too.

Internet or milk chocolate?

C: What kind of monster are you?

M: She said milk chocolate so I’ll pick internet and have dark chocolate

JK: I’ll say internet so we can all complain about no chocolate.

Favorite scene to write?

M: The kissing scene in Alienated. They are both so hyper-competitive, so it made sense that it would be a competition.

JB: There’s a scene in a cab and they’re fighting all over the cab. Every time I got to put the cab’s voice I would giggle.

C: There is sort of a funny scene in the beginning and Marguerite is trying to figure out how socially inept Paul is.

JK: For me, a lot of scenes that were my favorite were things that happened to me while I was doing research. {She then told a story about holes in the ground, someone hunting aardvarks and having a black mamba climb all over him}


For C: why Russia?

This idea came to me while on book tour. A lot of the initial dimensions came from the books that I had with me. I had  just finished a book and my head was filled with Russia.

Do you feel pressure to make the science part realistic?

JB: I’m definitely on the fictional side. I hate doing research, so I would make it up. There are a lot of things that are accurate. I base them on things that futurists believe will be real in 50 or 100 years.

M: People who know me know that I don’t like to get anything wrong ever. I do my very best to nail it. I like to get it right.

JK: I start with an experiment that is already happening and I try to see where it could go wrong.

C: I’ve always enjoyed reading about science. There’s a reason why Marguerite is an art person. If she was a science person, there would be long passages about math.

It was then time for the signing. Michelle was first in line, but by the time I got over to her, someone had walked up and stopped right in front of her, so we were 2nd and 3rd.

I got to Claudia first. She told me that she didn’t have a lot of swag, but did I want a bookmark. I said yes because they’re gorgeous.

c1 c2

Jessica was next. I think I said hi to her, but not much else.  I started struggling with my stuff, so I was turning around to put books down and pick up books and it was a mess.


When I got to Melissa, the other Jessica told her my twitter handle. Somehow that started Jessica and I talking about my reading the end of Unchanged when I got to the store.  I feel like such an a-hole because I’m not sure I even said anything to Melissa. o_O

ml1 ml2 ml3

We continued the conversation about my habit of reading the ending of books first. Michelle told Jessica how Tamara Ireland Stone made me promise not to skip and read the ending of Every Last Word before she sent me an arc. That prompted Jessica to say that AJ was hers.  Which made me pinky swear with her…

{There may or may not have been a conversation on Twitter about AJ and me possibly sharing Bennett in order to get AJ. Jessica had to pinky swear that she would never ever ever give Bennett to anyone. We did pinky swear, but I’m still not sure I’m prepared to give up any part of Bennett. Even if AJ is lovely.}

jb1 jb2

I thanked Jessica {thankfully, I thanked someone} and we hugged. Then Keiko found us and we chatted for a bit before heading out.

This tour is a lot of fun. It’s unique and I love that they have a different format than other tours. If you get a chance to see this tour, I highly recommend it.

The time it was Mystery Twitter Theater

MTT banner

You guys.

I just found out I’m a suspect in a crime. Christina from Ensconced in Lit was murdered yesterday and her body has been found on Twitter. Apparently the killer made off with a super-epic LIARS, INC. prize pack and now everyone thinks maybe it was me.

But it wasn’t me because I was at home reading.  I know that’s not the most reliable alibi in the world, but you guys believe me. Right?

Will you help prove my innocence? Head over to Paula Stokes’s blog for all the information about the crime. If you can figure out who the real killer is and how they did the deed, Paula is going to award YOU the super-epic LIARS, INC. prize pack, which includes a hand-painted tote, a signed book, a deluxe swag pack, and additional mystery prizes.


Maybe I’ll do a little investigating myself. After all, that prize pack is kind of to die for.

Or should I say to kill for…


#MysteryTwitterTheater was created to celebrate the release of LIARS, INC. a twisty YA mystery/thriller!

7For fans of Gone Girl, I Hunt Killers, and TV’s How to Get Away with Murder.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called “Captivating to the very end,” Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

The time it was the February real book recap {2}

Hi everyone! Here we are for the real book recap!

15realbookchallengenewsletterFor the month of February, I read a total of 21 books and 9 of them were real books.

1 2 3

4 5 6

7 8 9

I went back to school in February because it turns out I’m only 6 or so classes away from a second bachelor’s degree. So, while I was reading a lot of short stories and plays, I wasn’t reading the things I wanted. I shouldn’t be upset about 21 books, but after January’s awesome number, it was a bit of a let down.

With this month’s books, my new total is 28.  I need to read 122 real books to meet my challenge goal.

How many books did you read in February? Which was your favorite?

The time it was about Finding Mr. Brightside

I read Finding Mr. Brightside on a whim and absolutely fell in love with it.  It was exactly what I didn’t know I wanted at the time. So obviously, when it came time to be part of the blog tour, I may have lost my mind a bit agreed.

FindingMrBrightside BlogTourBanner

Before we get to Jay’s hilarious interview, let’s check out the book.

3Abram and Juliette know each other. They’ve lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don’t really know each other—at least, not until Juliette’s mom and Abram’s dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don’t speak.

Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a few months later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite her to Taco Bell. To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins.

Sounds good, right?


1. Where did the idea for Finding Mr. Brightside come from? 

To trust or not to trust that a primary care physician can see the lack of serotonin/dopamine in your brain by shining his flashlight-o-scope in your ear, etc.? That is the question, but I have my Hippocratic doubts that their answer won’t be sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline. I wanted to write a book about two teens with a complicated history who manage to a) realize the side effects of their hastily prescribed meds maybe aren’t for them and b) help each other overcome them in a realistic but not-too-depressing way.

I also wanted an excuse to do some questionably tax-deductible research at the beach.

2. Why do you love Abram and Juliette and why should readers root for them?

Things I love about Juliette:

-Turns everything into a competition but isn’t desperate about it, just making things more interesting

-Overachiever with habits anyone can relate to—e.g., Starbucks, avoidance of people

-Paranoid sunscreen applier who still expects to be tan (so she can win the Who’s Tanner? competition)

-Takes care of her dad in her own “Is it me, or have you not changed your clothes this week?” way.

Things I love about Abram:

-Woos girls with Taco Bell, whale documentaries, and microwave popcorn

-Dwells primarily in the present, not the past/future

-Encourages his mom’s pursuit of a) happiness and b) the next Candy Crush level

-Wins stuff like the Who’s Tanner? competition without even trying

3. What was the weirdest thing you googled while doing research?

Definitely trolling the Adderall and Paxil forums.

The Adderall people are like:

CrackAintWhack147: Are you kidding me, CVS won’t fill my prescription early?! Anyone tried Costco???

Overstimulated01: Costco=no-go. Their pharmacists are stricter than my wife’s parole officer.

CokeHooverer66: Try the Kroger on Sawmill Road, ask for Ralph, and thank me later.

The Paxil people are like:

Blah999: I feel really blah again today. Am I supposed to feel so sleepy hollow? (I can’t tell if that joke is funny.)

Zzzquilzzz: I don’t even know where I am right now, but I feel nothing.

EmptyInside53: I also feel nothing.

4. Without spoilers, was there anything you had to cut that you wish you could have kept?

Nothing major, but I never want to cut any jokes. They’re like my children, and I’m like that awful parent who always sees the best in them, even when they’re sucking all the helium out of a scene to make their voices sound “funnier.” These days, my solution is to cut and paste them into Evernote, then promise I’ll be back for them as soon as I can. Eventually they go up for adoption on Twitter, where, unfortunately, nobody retweets them.

5. Describe Finding Mr. Brightside in 5 words. 

Love, sex, drugs, beach? Hollaaaaaaa.

Speed [ish] round:

1. You get the call/email/letter that says you’re being published for the first time. Describe the next 5 minutes. 

Me: “Mom, guess what? I GOT A BOOK DEAL!!”

Mom: “OH MY GO — wait, honey, are you driving? You know how I feel about talking on the phone and driving.”

Me: “Actually just pulling into the driveway.”

Car in lane beside mine: *Honks at me for going 30 in a 65*

Mom: “What was that?”

Me: “My neighbor.”

Mom: (Skeptical pause.) “Did you really get a BOOK DEAL??!!”

And so on….

2. What three things would you take to a desert island?

1.Solar-powered, waterproof smartphone with built-in WiFi and custom Finding Mr. Brightside phone case.

2. Selfie stick: Sure, the wild boars will make fun of me, but little do they know it doubles as a spear.  And think of the selfies we could take together, just me and my boars.

3. My girl: Is it messed up to drag her to the island with me when she could lead a perfectly normal life back home? Of course, that’s why I’m not going to tell her I’m the one who requested she be summoned.

4. What is the one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?

Dear Hopelessly Naîve Jay:

-Just because you’re going to be published, doesn’t mean you need to feel like you should be on social media ALL THE TIME, okay? Relax.

-You have many gifts, but redoing your WordPress website is never going to be one of them.

-Unless you’re trying to institutionalize yourself, don’t read your reviews. Do I look like I’m joking?

-You and Mom will never be able to figure out the mysteries of your Amazon ranking, okay? It’s best to not go up and down this path repeatedly.


Older, Wiser Jay

5. You wake up and discover you are Bella in Twilight. You know how it plays out. What do you do differently? {Thanks to Bookish Broads for letting me use this question}

Hi, I’m Bella. I’m going to move back to Florida, get some hobbies, and fall in love with the idea of giving birth to a sense of humor—an immortal one that doesn’t suck (blood, etc.). Once I’ve delivered—the labor, as you can imagine, will be excruciating—I’ll create a can’t-skip online dating profile that attracts mortals, man-beasts, and, of course, vampires for miles. I’ll date them all—every single one—but not in a skanky way, I’ll just be looking for great book recommendations and worldly experiences from every walk of life. Zombies, too? Hellz yeah—call me!

Eventually, I’d like to settle down AT COLLEGE and wait for the rest of my brain to mature before making any unnecessarily adult decisions, like having an actual baby or whatever. My roommate will probably hate me, but because of all this personal growth, I’ll have a better understanding of where she’s coming from.


5027222Jay Clark is the author of Finding Mr. Brightside, which author Jerry Spinelli (Stargirl) calls “one of my favorite YA books ever,” and The Edumacation of Jay Baker, which Booklist praised in a starred review: “The magic lies in the telling.” When he isn’t writing, Jay enjoys thinking seriously about getting a golden retriever puppy but then having second thoughts about it, playing tennis as if something important is at stake, and complaining about his monthly Starbucks expenses when they’re fully within his control. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.


Huge thanks to Macmillan for the invite and to Jay for taking the time.  Make sure you’re checking out his website, following him on Twitter, liking his Facebook page, and adding all of his books to your Goodreads TBR shelf.

And click here to see the rest of the tour stops for all sorts of goodies.

Now. Need to get your greedy hands on this book? {Hint: the answer is yes.} Macmillan is so nicely offering up a copy.  Contest is US only and additional giveaway rules are here.

**Good Luck!!**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The time it was about Micah vs Max

I think by now everyone knows my undying love and affection for Paula Stokes, right? Not only does she write some of the best book boyfriends stories, she’s an amazing person and hasn’t filed a restraining order on me yet.

Today’s post is a pretty awesome comparison of two of her latest boys: Micah from The Art of Lainey and Max from Liars Inc. Before we get to the survey the boys answered, let’s check out their books.

16068910Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?


18009950Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called “Captivating to the very end,” Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

They sound good right? And now let’s welcome Paula and the boys:


Micah vs. Max: a not-so systematic comparison of my contemporary book boys

Paula: So marketing types will tell you that to be successful you have to have a brand, you have to be a romance writer or a mystery writer or a writer of slightly speculative cyber-thrillers, but not all three. Whoops. Call me a rebel. But one day when I was sitting around wondering if my lack of commitment to a genre was going to sink my publishing career, someone told me that a brand can be a lot of things—like a certain voice or prose style or setting, etc. And so I’m pretty sure my brand involves the creation of hot book boys. Yep, I have you covered for the next few years whether you like punk-rockers, surfers, tennis pros, soldiers, stunt guys, or adorable Danish palace guards. You’re welcome.

Below, widely adored Micah from THE ART OF LAINEY faces off with newcomer Max from LIARS, INC. in what we can all agree are extremely essential categories. Be gentle. Max doesn’t have a mohawk so he’s clearly at a disadvantage to start with.

                                                            Infinite Repeat_cover               18009950

Cover thoughts? Whose idea was it to use a picture of me from 9th grade? Those are Pres’s shoes, but that’s not my scary shadow—I swear.
So then what do you actually look like? I’m like 5’ 8” with a dark brown mohawk and hazel eyes. And tattoos. And an eyebrow ring. I’m about 6’1”, with brown eyes and messy brown hair. I wear a shark’s tooth pendant that my real dad gave me.
Where do you live? Hazelton. It’s a (fictional) suburb of St. Louis, MO. Vista Palisades. It’s a (fictional) beach town outside of L.A.
Tell me about your girlfriend. She’s a socially clueless soccer star, with a big heart. She’s a morally flexible martial arts badass, with a big heart.
And what about your fam? Just me, my mom, and my little sis, Trinity. I’m adopted, so there’s my parents, Ben and Darla, and my three little sisters, Amanda, Ji Hyun, and Jo Lee.
Your classmates voted you… Most likely to get arrested. (My classmates kind of suck). Most likely to drop out of school and become a roadie for the all girl hardcore band Kittens of Mass Destruction.
When you’re angry or upset you… Get something pierced. Go surfing.
Your bad habits are… Smoking, tagging things, saying stuff that’s supposed to be funny but sometimes ends up being mean. Lying, falling asleep in class, saying stuff that’s supposed to be funny but sometimes ends up being mean.
Your claim to fame is… I got in a fight with the school security guard in fifth grade and was suspended until the end of the year. I lived on the streets for almost a year after I ran away from a foster home.
Your favorite Taylor Swift song is… You’re kidding me, right? The one that goes: “Weeee are never ever everrrr getting back together.” What? My sister is 11. She listens to Taylor in the car on the way home from school.
When you grow up, you want to be… A pastry chef. Uh, I’m not sure yet. Maybe a surfing instructor?
At a party, you’re the guy who… Takes over the DJ duties. I don’t go to very many parties.
The last time you dressed up for Halloween you were… Iron Man About 8 years old.
The first time you kissed a girl you were… 15 Terrified.
For your birthday you want… I think Lainey would punch me if I answered this honestly… Not to go to prison for something I didn’t do.
Oh, and last but not least, your best feature is… Um, the HarperTeen people told me I should stop talking about that in public ;) Probably my girlfriend. Or my family. But I don’t know. Read my book and tell me what you think!

Paula: Other than the mohawk, I feel like this is a pretty fair fight. Yes, Micah is adorably tattooed and pierced, but Max has that fresh from the ocean look about him. And he doesn’t smoke. And both boys are fantastic kissers and super-sweet to their little sisters, so basically you can’t go wrong.

Stacee: But Micah bakes…Plus, I’m a huge fan of his three best features, so I think he wins.  Also, he’s mine, I have proof.


6549373Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She started out writing historical fiction under a pen name and is now branching out into other YA genres.

When she’s not working (rare), she’s kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She’s petted tigers, snuggled snakes, snorkeled with stingrays, and once enjoyed the suction-cuppy feel of a baby elephant’s trunk as it ate peanuts from her palm. Her future goals include diving with Great White sharks, learning Krav Maga, and writing a whole slew of novels, not necessarily in that order.


Huge thanks to Paula and the boys for taking the time. Make sure you’re checking out Paula’s blog {she posts a lot of awesome things}, following her on Twitter and Instagram, liking her Facebook page, and adding all of her books to your Goodreads TBR shelf. There’s also a pretty epic website for Liars Inc.

And now for the giveaway! Paula is so graciously donating one of her books.  Winner gets to choose between The Art of Lainey or Liars Inc.  US winner will get a signed copy, international winner will get a copy from The Book Depository and a signed book plate. Additional giveaway rules are here.

**Good Luck!!**

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The time it was about Ontario Teen Book Fest {2}

It’s time for Ontario Teen Book Fest and that means it’s time to spotlight one of the authors who will be attending! I basically begged Sara to let me have Kasie West. You know, because Kasie.  Before we get to all of Kasie’s awesomeness, let’s check out the upcoming event!

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Ontario Teen Book Fest is absolutely free and tickets are not necessary.  It’s being held at Colony High School 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761.  The event is being sponsored by Once Upon a Time and additional info can be found at the event website.

And now Kasie! Here’s some info on her upcoming book, The Fill-In Boyfriend

18660447When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Sounds good, right? {Hint: It’s so so so so good.}


1. Where did the idea for The Fill In Boyfriend come from?

Ah, ideas, where do they come from? Sometimes I actually have fun or exciting answers to this question, but this time it’s quite boring. I am a huge fan of the ‘pretend to be my boyfriend for a while’ trope. I don’t care how many times I read it or see it, I love it every time. So I thought I should try my hand at it. It was a lot of fun.

2. Why do you love Gia and why should we root for her? 

Gia is kind of a brat at first. She’s selfish and shallow and really out for herself. But I think maybe we’ve all had those moments in our lives when we were less than we could’ve been. And this is Gia’s journey to discovering that she can be more and be better and I think we can all get behind a person who is genuinely trying.

3. Were there any scenes that you had to cut that you wished would have stayed?

I wish. I know that sounds funny to say that I wish there were scenes I had to cut, but let me explain: I write on the short side. I actually have the opposite problem. I’m always trying to add scenes. When I’m done with a story I have to look back and really think about what more the main character needed to learn and do so that I can flesh out the story more.

4. What makes a good villain?

Someone who is just as three dimensional as all the other characters. Someone who has reasons for doing what they’re doing and who thinks those reasons justify their behavior. My favorite villain of all is Loki and I think it’s because Tom Hiddleston did such a good job of making us understand him and in a way feel for him even though we knew what he was doing was wrong.

5. Describe The Fill-In Boyfriend in 5 words.

Fun, Flirty, Friendship, Family (wow, I honestly did not mean to make those all start with an F. Now I feel like my fifth one needs to start with an F too and I can’t for the life of me think of another F word.) ……Fake? (as in, fake boyfriend. Ha.)

Speed {ish} round:

1. You get the call/email/letter that says you’re being published for the first time.  Describe the next 5 minutes.

Shock. Laughing hysterically. Calling my husband. Calling my best friends. Walking back and forth from the kitchen to the laundry room a hundred times for no apparent reason. Sheer joy.

2. What three things would you take to a desert island?

Books (does that count as 1?), chocolate, sunscreen (I’m soooo white)

3. You can only read one book for the rest of your life.  What is it?

That is a completely unfair question. How can I pick one?

4. What is the one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?

To not always look for the next stage to be happy. Because in each and every stage there is rejection and heartache but also happiness and joy to be found. So I just want to live in this stage and be happy in it because if I can’t be happy in this stage, I won’t be in the next.

5. You wake up and discover you are Bella from Twilight.  You know how it plays out.  What do you do differently? {Thanks to Bookish Broads for letting me use this question!}

It’s been so long since I’ve read those books that it’s actually kind of fuzzy how it turns out. But, what do I do if I’m turned into a vampire? I can answer that question. Be awesome. I think I wouldn’t be a “vegetarian”. Is that mean? That’s mean. Never mind, I totally would. I’d go get me a harem and live as an all powerful queen of my vampire boys. Ha.

6. What is the one question {and answer} you wish someone would ask you? 

You guys are always so good at asking questions that I never feel like you missed anything. But I do love to talk about my family and how they are my life. I have 4 kids. 3 daughters and a son and they are the reason I breathe. They keep me humble and grounded and also are the stars of my happiest memories. And of course, I have an awesome husband who supports me so I can do what I love. Without him, I couldn’t write another book. I couldn’t have written the 5 I already did. I’ve been sick for the last couple weeks with the flu so I think I’m feeling especially sappy and grateful today.


5027236I write YA. I eat Junior Mints. Sometimes I go crazy and do both at the same time. My novels, published through Harper Teen are: PIVOT POINT, its sequel SPLIT SECOND (Feb 2014), and THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US (a contemporary novel). I also have two more contemporaries, ON THE FENCE coming out July 1, 2014, and THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND coming out the summer of 2015. My agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.


Huge thanks to Kasie for taking the time, especially when she was sick! Make sure you’re checking out her website, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page, and adding all of her books to your Goodreads TBR shelf!

And if you’ve made it this far, you’re being rewarded with a giveaway {which is US only}!

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Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour for other author interviews!

Official Blog Tour Schedule

February 28th: Spotlight on Kasie West — Adventures of a Book Junkie

March 1st: Spotlight on Melissa Landers — What A Nerd Girl Says

March 2nd: Spotlight on Brad Gottfred — Recently Acquired Obsessions

March 3rd: Spotlight on Catherine Linka — Read Now Sleep Later

March 4th: Spotlight on Debra Driza — Read Now Sleep Later

March 5th: Spotlight on Katie Finn — Fearless Kurt Reads YA

March 6th: Spotlight on Claudia Gray — A Bookish Escape

March 7th: Spotlight on Shannon Messenger — People Like Books

March 8th: Spotlight on Lauren Miller — The Thousand Lives

March 9th: Spotlight on Mary Elizabeth Summer — What A Nerd Girl Says

March 10th: Spotlight on Anna Carey — The Reader’s Antidote

March 11th: Spotlight on Sherri Smith — Movies, Shows and Books

March 12th: Spotlight on Elizabeth Ross — Kid Lit Frenzy

March 13th: Spotlight on Jessica Khoury — The Consummate Reader

March 14th: Spotlight on Maurene Goo — The Windy Pages

March 15th: Spotlight on Cecil Castellucci — Nite Lite Book Reviews

March 16th: Spotlight on Jessica Brody — The Romance Bookie

March 17th: Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil — Movies, Shows and Books

March 18th: Spotlight on Aaron Hartzler — Fangirl Feeels

March 19th: Spotlight on Michelle Levy — The Consummate Reader