The time it was about Sisters’ Fate

I’ve been a fan of Jessica Spotswood from the very beginning.  I mean, she had me at witches.  But, it’s not just witches because Cate is a fantastic main character and Finn is about as swoony as they come.  Plus magic.  It’s totally win win.

I did have the chance to meet Jessica once and even though it was at The Bookstore Which Shall Not Be Named, it was still awesome.  Since then, I’ve devoured the Cahill Witch Chronicles series like crazy.  Thankfully, I’ve always been able to get my hands on an arc and Jessica has been so nice in letting me email her with all of my flails when I was done with them.

It goes without saying that when I got the email from Jessica inviting me to be part of her mini-blog tour, complete with an excerpt, I jumped all over the chance.  Before we get to the awesomeness, let’s check out the book, shall we?

17620113A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.

Sounds good, right? {It’s amazing}

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If you haven’t read Star Cursed yet, do not continue.  There are serious spoilers below.

This excerpt comes from chapter 5, where Cate encounters Finn for the first time since Maura erased his memories of her. They’re at the Christmas bazaar in Richmond Gardens, and Cate is working at the Sisters’ booth, and it’s all a bit heartbreaking.

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“Sister Cate?” The words are unfamiliar, but the voice isn’t.

I drop the clockwork dragon onto the pile of scarves as I turn.

Finn’s ears are flushing red, the way they do when he’s embarrassed. His brow is furrowed, the space between his eyebrows pulled into the upside-down V that my fingers itch to smooth. His coppery hair is messy as ever, as though he’s run his hands through it a dozen times since it last saw a comb.

But behind his wire-rimmed spectacles, his eyes are different. Not full of love or want. He doesn’t look at me like I’m his anymore.

My heart breaks all over again.

“Brother Belastra.” I choke out the words. They feel foreign, too formal on my tongue. “How are you?”

He gives me a smile that reveals the tiny gap between his front teeth, but it’s only polite. The smile he’d give a stranger, a customer at the bookshop. “Very well, and you?”

“Fine.” I’m not fine. I pull my elbows in tight, folding my arms across my chest. “Are you enjoying the bazaar?”

“Yes. I’ve been hunting down a gift for my sister.” He examines the wares. “Are any of these yours?”

I laugh, short and staccato, before I realize he won’t know his question is ridiculous. “Er, no. I’m a terrible seamstress. I prefer to spend my time in the gardens with my hands in the dirt—or now that it’s winter, in the conservatory.”

It’s futile, testing him like this. He won’t know. Won’t remember the way he snuck out and met me there and kissed me senseless. But—

“I remember,” he says, and hope blooms through me, bright and lovely as an April tulip.

“You do?” My voice is too sharp, too desperate.

“Your father told me. We were—I don’t quite remember.” Finn frowns, the V in his forehead deepening. “He said you weren’t the scholarly sort, that you preferred gardening to books. Funny that you’ve ended up in the Sisterhood.”

Funny? An ache cuts through me, bitterer than the December wind. “I could say the same for you.”

Finn glances over his shoulder. There are no Brothers in the vicinity. He gives me another bland smile, but now his eyes are curious. “I’ve always liked books.”

What is the point in this? What am I trying to prove? I know I’m being foolish, and yet—

“But you’ve never been the Brotherly sort.” My voice is so low, he has to lean over the booth to hear it.

He stares at the ground, shifting his feet. “I confess, of late, I’m not entirely certain what sort of man I am.” His tone is rich with disgust. What must he be feeling, having found himself a member of the Brotherhood, with no notion of why?

“What do you mean?” I ask, then flush. In his mind, we barely know each other; I’ve been an occasional customer at his mother’s bookshop, nothing more. Nothing to invite confidences. But I can’t bear the notion that he’s confused and alone and—damn Maura for doing this to him.

“Nothing.” Finn straightens, running both hands through his hair. “I’m sorry to have bothered you.” His voice has gone starched and his shoulders stiff as he remembers the proprieties.

I reach out, fingertips just brushing his wool cloak. “You’re no bother. If I can do anything to help—”

“That’s very kind of you. Very—neighborly.” He barely glances at me as he pulls his hood up and steps away. “Thank you, Miss Cahill.”

Neighborly? I watch him blend back into the crowd, my eyes blurring with tears.

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Jess1blog-200I heart books, yoga, tea, cardamom cookies, the color pink, board games, theatre, twirly dresses, and bells chiming the hour. I’m frighteningly enthusiastic.

I grew up in a tiny one-stoplight town in Pennsylvania, where I could be found swimming, playing clarinet, memorizing lines for the school play, or—most often—with my nose in a book. I’ve been writing since I was little but studied theatre in college and grad school. Now I live in Washington, DC with my brilliant playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey.

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Huge thanks to Jessica for the invite! Make sure you’re subscribing to her blog, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page and adding all of her books to your Goodreads TBR shelf.

Now.  Want to get your greedy hands on an arc before it comes out? Jessica has so nicely offered up a signed copy.  Contest is US/Canada only, additional giveaway rules are here.

**Good Luck!!**

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The time it was the end of a trilogy {6}

There are so many trilogies ending this year!  I know how it feels as a reader to have the excitement of finding out what the final outcome to the story will be while simultaneously weeping inside because it’s over. I thought it would be fun to see how authors think and feel about ending their trilogies.  So, I’ve contacted some writers about doing guest posts to talk about the other side of it.

I’m pretty sure everyone knows about my undying love and affection for Susan Dennard.  I’m so thankful I had the chance to meet her at SDCC, even though it was brief.  Somehow that sort-of-chance meeting has turned into an awesome friendship and I cannot wait to see her again to fangirl all over her in a manner that she deserves.

I contacted Sooz about doing a guest post in honor of Strange and Ever After and she agreed! Before we get to her post about her writing process, let’s check out the book!

17902141In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus…all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.

Sounds good, right? {OMG IT’S SO GOOD}

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And now, everyone welcome Sooz to the blog!

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Everyone knows the idea of a “character arc”—the character that starts a book will grow and change based on the story. Thus, the character at the end of a book is a different (hopefully improved) person.

But one thing I’ve discovered since writing the Something Strange and Deadly series is the idea of an “author arc.” The Susan who sat down to write Eleanor’s story 4.5 years ago was not the Susan who finally typed The End 3 years later.

Writing ain’t easy. Writing a series is even harder. Writing a series with characters who suffer a lot is even HARDER. I’m a “method writer”—I become my characters as I draft. I feel everything they feel. I triumph with them, I cry with them. So I guess it’s no surprise that I would grow alongside Eleanor.

Just as Eleanor learned to dive into the battles head-on, I learned to dive in too. Okay, so she was fighting the Dead and I was battling the words on the page, but the emotional struggle sometimes felt just as intense.

And just as Eleanor learned to face her fears, I learned to embrace them too—my fears of failure, of rejection, of watching everything I cared about get crushed and forgotten. Turns out if Eleanor can aim for the knee, so can I. ;)

But the most important lesson of all that I learned from Eleanor—from Daniel, Jie, Oliver, and Joseph—was that I always have a choice. I can choose to let the world run my life or I can choose to run the world. And when I stumble and fall, it’s my choice whether I stay down or claw my way back up. I can choose to be the victim, or I can choose to be the driving force—and just like Eleanor, I choose the latter.

Strange and Ever After was the hardest book for me to write on an emotional level. All the heartache and horror Eleanor experienced—I lived that right alongside her, and goodness! I have never cried so many tears in my life writing a book! But I embraced it—I didn’t shy away from digging deep and pushing my prose hard.

Could I have done that 3 years ago when I wrote Something Strange and Deadly? Nope. I wasn’t strong enough, I wasn’t self-aware enough, and I sure as hell wasn’t brave enough.

But just like Eleanor, I learned to seek the flames in the darkness. And I learned to shape the world into what I want. As Eleanor says in Strange and Ever After: “My life. My choice.”

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Susan2I’m a 30-year-old reader, writer, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. I used to be a marine biologist, but now I write novels. And not novels about fish either, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues (I really like swoon-worthy rogues).

I live in the Midwestern US with my French husband and Irish setter, and you can learn more about my crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on twitterfacebook, or Goodreads.

My debut, Something Strange and Deadly,  is now available from HarperTeen along with its sequel, A Darkness Strange and Lovely. The final installment in the series, Strange and Ever After, will release 7/22/14. Plus, my new epic fantasy series–Truthwitch–will release from Tor in fall 2015!

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Huge thanks to Sooz for always being so awesome and taking the time.  Make sure you’re checking out her website, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page, subscribing to her newsletter {really, definitely do this}, and adding all of her book to your Goodreads shelves.

Now, I was able to get my greedy hands on an extra arc of Strange and Ever After and I want you to have it.  Not only is Sooz’s trilogy one of my top five favorites, SaEA holds the extra special title of the only book that has ever made me cry.  Contest is international and additional giveaway rules can be found here.

**Good Luck!!**

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The time it was about the other side of a tour

If you’ve ever gone to one of the Fierce Reads tour stops, more than likely you’ve seen Molly Brouillette.  She’s a publicity manager for Macmilan and probably one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.  When I saw her during the latest Fierce Reads tour stop in San Diego, Michelle and I were briefly catching up with her.  Somehow we got on the topic of getting Molly’s side of the tour and she agreed to do an interview!

So, without further ado, let’s welcome Molly to the blog!

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1. Please give us the details on your job.

In a nutshell, my job is to help people find out about Mac Kids books (picture books through young adult). This can range from securing reviews and features in traditional media outlets to setting up blog tours to planning (and attending!) author tours and festival appearances. There’s a lot of variety but the gist of it is that I get to talk a lot about books, which I’d probably be doing even if I didn’t get paid for it!

2. Now describe your job in 5 words.

Fun. Rewarding. Chaotic. Nerdy. Awesome!

3. Describe a typical day while on tour.

Well, it’s not nearly as glamorous as it may sound! We usually wake up early, head to the airport where (if we’re lucky) we have enough time to grab a quick, usually unhealthy breakfast before flying to our next city. Upon arrival, there is usually a short period of downtime to check into our hotel and nap/relax/catch up on email before we head to our event. We precede every event with a blogger interview and follow each panel with a signing and when crowds are big, they can last quite a while! If we all have energy after the event, we try to have a nice dinner together, but sometimes we are exhausted and end up ordering room service by ourselves. Then the next morning we wake up and do it again!

Airport Escalator- I think Dallas

4. Can you tell us the absolute best and the absolute worst that has happened while on tour?

The best is really any time I get to see fans getting really excited about meeting their favorite authors- the Austin Teen Book Festival last year was a particular favorite event because there were literally thousands of teenage fans and they were all crazy excited. I overheard two girls get in a fight about Mal vs. The Darkling in the bathroom, and I witnessed a very adorable love connection between two adorably awkward fans of Ann Aguirre’s Razorland Trilogy. It was heartwarming, even if it did make me feel about 100 years old!

The worst… I got pulled aside in the security line at the Albuquerque airport last fall and had to undergo a really extensive search in a back room by a gruff woman named Officer Trout. She was actually really nice, but wouldn’t tell me why I’d been detained, and the whole process took so long that I came thisclose to missing the flight. The authors had gone on to the gate, but they’d confiscated my cell phone so I couldn’t communicate with them and I was panicking that they wouldn’t get on the flight. She did let me out just in time, and finally informed me that my HAND LOTION had somehow set off their sensors as a possible explosive. Still not sure how that happened but needless to say, I don’t bring that lotion on tour anymore!

5. Who has been the most fun author to work with?

Oh, that’s like picking a favorite child. Impossible! I don’t know if YA authors are just generally awesome people or if Macmillan has just gotten really lucky, but every author I’ve toured with has been fantastic in a different way. Anna Banks never fails to make me giggle at her inappropriate jokes. There is no morning too early for an airport heart-to-heart with Emmy Laybourne and Leigh Bardugo. SA Bodeen can throw down football smack talk with the best of them, even if she IS a Green Bay fan. Jessica Brody is the #1 best person to go to Target with in the world. Ava Dellaira inspires me with her perfectly-themed outfits for every city. Leila Sales can really spice up a car ride with a Matchbox 20 sing-along…I could go on and on. The bottom line is, getting to know these people whose writing I so admire is the absolute biggest perk of this job.

June Fierce Reads With Space Needle

6. What is your must have when traveling? Do you have a plane routine?

Snacks!! There’s nobody in the world that’s immune to becoming ‘hangry’ so I always try to have an arsenal of snacks with me on the road to keep everyone’s blood sugar pumping. My personal favorite is salt & vinegar chips, but I also try to bring healthy snacks and sweets to make sure there’s something for everyone.

As for the plane, we actually try not to have everyone sit together- when you spend this much time traveling in a group, you have to grab ‘alone time’ when you can. I don’t want anyone to feel pressure to chat when they’d rather be reading, sleeping, writing, etc.

7. What is your favorite part of your job?

Seeing fans, particularly kids and teenagers, get excited about reading. I’m immensely jealous of today’s teenagers- there was nothing like the Fierce Reads tour when I was growing up, and there certainly was no online community of YA fans like there is now. For some reason, most of my friends weren’t huge readers and I always wished I had more people to talk about books with.

Forcing Authors to Pose with Jack Daniels in Nashville Airport

8. What’s coming up for you?

Next week is San Diego Comic Con, where I’ll get to hang out with Leigh Bardugo, Ann Aguirre, and Marissa Meyer! After that, I have a little break before the two legs of Fall Fierce Reads will be here before I know it- I can’t reveal where we’ll be going yet, but it’s going to be a blast.

Speed [ish] Round:

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

Books! A toothbrush! Sunscreen! (Boring, but I’m very dedicated to oral hygiene and also very fair!)

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

Torture! But I’d have to go with my all-time favorite, Gone With The Wind. Scarlett O’Hara is kind of a hot mess, but I love her dearly.

3. Who are your favorite swoony boys?

Michael B Jordan and the guy who plays Bennett on Orange is the New Black! HE-llo! Or for book boyfriends, I’m all about Sturmhond from the Grisha Trilogy and Niko from Monument 14. Sturmhond is just so charming and witty, and the latter reminds me a lot of my real-life boyfriend (who should probably get a shout-out among all this swooning).

4. Favorite Darcy: Colin Firth or Matthew McFadden?

Firth forever!! Not even a question!

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Huge thanks to Molly for taking the time! You can follow her on Twitter for more shenanigans.  Make sure you’re checking out the Fierce Reads website, Twitter and Facebook page to get the scoop on all of the awesome things!

The time I tried again

Queen of the Tearling came really highly recommended.  I’ll admit that I did DNF the book after 30% or so, I didn’t connect with the main character and just couldn’t get into the world. When I saw that Erika Johansen was going to be at Warwick’s, I told  Michelle that she needed to read it and tell me if we were going.  After she finished the book, she was gushing about it and told me that I needed to read just a bit further than I did for it to really get interesting.

So I tried again and she was right.  I ended up really enjoying the book {changing my 1 star DNF review to 4 stars}.  Michelle ordered the books and we were 1 & 2.

We got down to La Jolla early and killed time eating.  We got back to the bookstore right before they closed to set up for the event.

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They reopened at 7pm and Erika was already there.  The event was listed as starting at 7:30, so we asked about book 2 made some small talk for a bit.  One of the employees asked if we wanted to get our books signed while we were waiting for other people to show up, so we did.

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She told us that early copies of book 2 should be out by the end of the year and laughed at our mustache post it notes.  She even moved my post it from the flap side to the page she signed.  After she signed my book, I asked if I could get a photo with her.  Erika said yes, but asked that I didn’t post it on any sort of social media sites.  I said that I wouldn’t and then mentioned that I was working on a blog post, would she rather there not be photos.  She said that blogs were fine, she just had a problem with Facebook and Twitter and didn’t have any social media accounts.

The event officially started around 7:15 or so.  Erika started by talking about how she got the idea for the story. In 2007, Erika was in second year of law school and saw Obama give a speech on tv. She had a dream about ships going over the horizon and had an idea about what would happen if someone got into power who really wanted to do right.

Wrote over two years while in law school. Out of law school at 2009 which was the worst time, new lawyers weren’t being hired.

Went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and had confidence destroyed because she was trying to write literary fiction. Decided to work on what she wanted to. It was important to write a heroine who wasn’t pretty. There’s an entirely different set of problems that women who are not standardily pretty have to deal with.

Erika then asked how many people had read the book and gave a synopsis to the book.

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I wanted it to not have a romance. She has better things to do. Even in books like The Hunger Games, romance is being pushed in when it’s not needed. I was told by the publisher to up the romance, but I find it insulting to women. Publishers assume that women wouldn’t read the book if there wasn’t a romance.

I’m always asked about the main character talking about not being pretty. Growing up as a teenager who wasn’t attractive, it came at me 30 times a day.  You could be having a great day and then something would be said and all of the self-confidence is gone.

Erika then read part of chapter one before opening it up to a Q&A.

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How did you come up with the concept?

I needed an outlet for my political views and it’s always been writing. I needed something that I could shape. I wanted to have a queen who had power, not a ceremonial position.

What happened before?

It’ll be told in future books. I’ve read several hilarious negative reviews. I love when authors don’t tell me everything. The comparable thing would be the American revolution. No one ever thinks of it the way it’s explained in dystopian books. I’ve purposely constructed it as a mystery. It’s enough to follow the story, but not with all of the answers.

The film rights were optioned so early and Emma Watson was immediately attached. Do you have any issues?

I always figured that it wouldn’t be my book. I do talk to the screenwriter every couple of days, but only because he has so many questions. Hollywood has the right to fill in the holes to what I haven’t told yet.

They told me early on that because it was such a huge project, they would never attach a plain looking actress to it. I’m happy that Emma Watson is attached because she projects intelligence and my main character is smart. That aspect is important to the story. I was secretly hoping for Ellen Page. I think she’s gorgeous, but she’s not classically gorgeous.

I thought the Harry Potter movies were just okay. I didn’t think they did the books justice. But the production company has done other movies that I loved.  I think it’ll be a good movie. I don’t have an artist’s ego, it won’t kill me to have it changed. If it’s entertaining, I’ll enjoy it.

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Are you well read in fantasy?

My genre is horror and I tried so hard to be a horror writer. {There was more to this, I missed a bit while taking photos}

Favorite horror author?

Stephen King. He’s my favorite author. Always and forever.

Are there other writers who influence you?

It’s books more. For this one, it’s Dune. I don’t want to say that I stole it, but the beginning of each chapter has a bit of the story that is like written history. {There were several other books mentioned, but I couldn’t type fast enough}  I  think about what I wanted to see and look for ideas.

How difficult was it to get published?

It was easy. I got so lucky. At the Iowa workshop, agents walk around every ten minutes. I gave my literary fiction book to one and 6 weeks later, got the letter that it was horrible. And it was.  I kept writing because if I don’t, I can’t sleep. I went back to the same agent because I appreciated her honesty. I understand that it’s very hard for many people, but it was sort of like magic. Now I get to write for a living.

My life changed overnight.  I thought I would sell the book for a small amount and have a small core group of fans who would buy everything I wrote.  I asked my agent to send me an email with the number because I knew I would wake up and think it was all a dream.

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Do you have the rest of the book mapped out?

I do now. I’ll have a mediocre outline, but it’ll change because all of my great ideas come while I’m writing.

Do you want it to extend past book 3?

It already has. When I have a block, I’ll work on other things. There are other characters who have some interesting stories, that may or may not be more interesting than my main character’s story.  They deserve to be told in more detail than just a back story. It just depends on whether or not it’ll be published. They’ve told me that I can write forever and I don’t see myself running out of ideas.

What about your magic?

I know it all. It’s all mapped out in my head. I don’t like the info dump, it’s like the author got into the main character’s head and is controlling them like a robot.  I don’t like rule based magic. I love the Harry Potter books more than almost anything, but I didn’t like that there were so many rules to it. I like magic to be magic.

How long did it take you to write?

4 years, but 2 years I was in law school and I was only writing maybe 1 hour a week. Books 2 and 3 have to be written in a year.

What did you find most difficult while writing?

Plot. Character is easy. I’m most interested in how people change, I’m not a plotter. I need to come up with more ideas, my books are never going to be action packed because it’s not interesting to me.

How does a character death effect you?

This just happened. I cried at the end of this book. The reaction that the reader has is usually the reaction the author has. I’m getting to the part of the book where characters have to die and even though they’re characters I care about, the book demands it.  If the book demands it, then it’s easy.

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Do you have a favorite character?

Father Tyler. I am a stone cold atheist and writing about someone who was so religiously devout was interesting. My friends were laughing. It’s fun to write about someone who’s beliefs are so different from mine.

You wrote from 4 character’s point of view, how did you decide?

I take a look at the scene and decide who will be the most fun to tell the story. Usually it’s the character who knows the least. If the reader knows, but the character doesn’t, it’s fun.

Is it hard to create a different voice for each?

Hard only because I’m not a fan of the info dump. I can’t have a character just tell everything. No one thinks like this, so it’s difficult to create characters without giving exposition.  My editor always points out places where I could write some exposition, but I just can’t. I have to stay true to myself.

With that being the last question and our books already being signed, Michelle and I slipped out of the store while the rest of the audience lined up.  Queen of the Tearling is an interesting read.  I highly suggest it — and definitely make sure you give it a chance or you might miss something.

The time it was about Everything Leads to You

I have always loved Nina LaCour’s words.  She has such a lyrical way of writing that I’m pretty sure I would read her grocery list.  I was able to get my greedy hands on an arc of her newest book, Everything Leads to You and devoured it.  So, of course when I was invited to be part of the blog tour, I jumped at the chance.

Before we get to Nina’s guest post, let’s check out the book, shall we?

18667779After being entrusted with her brother’s Los Angeles apartment for the summer as a graduation gift, Emi Price isn’t sure how to fulfill his one condition: that something great take place there while he’s gone. Emi may be a talented young production designer, already beginning to thrive in the competitive film industry, but she still feels like an average teen, floundering when it comes to romance.

But when she and her best friend, Charlotte, discover a mysterious letter at the estate sale of a Hollywood film legend, Emi must move beyond the walls of her carefully crafted world to chase down the loose ends of a movie icon’s hidden life, leading her to uncover a decades’ old secret and the potential for something truly epic: love.

Sounds good, right? {Oh man, it’s soooo good.}

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And now, here’s Nina discussing romance!

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Emi’s relationship with her ex-girlfriend Morgan is tumultuous. Because Morgan isn’t able to make up her mind about them, they’ve broken up and gotten back together half a dozen times. Emi doesn’t want to humiliate herself by taking Morgan back yet again, but she can’t help herself: she spends far too much time hoping things will work out between them.

I’ve never had an on-again-off-again relationship. (In fact, I’ve been with the same girl since I was nineteen!) One of the wonderful things about writing fiction is that it makes me think about different life experiences and try to imagine what it feels like for people to go through things that I haven’t. However, I believe that emotions are universal, and that, in many instances, loss is loss and heartache is heartache. And I also believe that after a loss often comes an opportunity to allow in something—or someone—new.

In this case, Morgan’s belief that the world is vast, and that its vastness means she needs to move on from Emi in order to see who else is out there for her, leads Emi to discoveries she may never have made if her heart hadn’t been broken in this particular way.

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kngbknmripvfo113htgu_400x400Nina LaCour grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has tutored and taught in various places, from a juvenile hall to Mills College, where she received an MFA in Creative Writing in 2006. She is the author of the award-winning Hold Still and widely acclaimed The Disenchantments. Formerly a bookseller and high school English teacher, she now writes and parents full time.

Nina lives with her family in Oakland, California.

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Huge thanks to Nina for taking the time to share this with us and to Dutton for the invite.  Make sure you’re checking out Nina’s website, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page and adding all of her books to your Goodreads shelves.

Haven’t had a chance to pick up this gorgeous book? Well, I’m giving away my arc.  Contest is international and additional giveaway rules are here.

**Good Luck!!**

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The time it was all women

I had heard a lot about Jojo Moyes and was interested in her books, so I took a chance and requested it on NetGalley. I was approved and really enjoyed the story, so when I saw that she was going to be at Warwick’s, I convinced Michelle that we needed to go.

We got into La Jolla early and ended up wandering around after picking up our books. We found a great cafe/bakery and bought gourmet treats. Michelle spotted the Kate Spade store and we killed some time there.

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We ended up getting back to Warwick’s around 6:30. The line of women who were attending the signings quickly got pretty long and we were let in at 7pm. Michelle and I had reserved seats, and we ended up in the third row.

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The event started right at 7:30. Jojo came in and said that she was feeling much less frazzled because she was able to get a full day off to spend in La Jolla.

She wrote One Plus One because she wanted to a write a mother who wasn’t a problem. If you read fairy tales, they’re usually dead. In the classics, they’re stodgy like Mrs. Bennet. Wanted something where the relationship between the kids and the mother wasn’t a problem. A family that might not be a conventional unit, but they’re together.

She wanted to touch on the idea of something about the divide of people with income. Writing a road trip is one of her favorite things. She loves the idea of a crazy road trip where the people can’t get away from each other.

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After the synopsis, she mentioned that it was her first number 1 and she was going to LA tomorrow to meet with someone about maybe making movie.

She told a hilarious story about losing a button on her way to a meeting with MGM for Me Before You. She’s been working on the script for the last 9 months and just watched some footage of A list actors being Will.

{Note: I did miss some of the questions and details in some of the answers.  That is entirely my fault.}

Do you know someone like Will?

Yes. He was a bit of a composite. At the time I had two people who needed 24 hour care and was constantly thinking of quality of life. I also have a friend for 20 years and he has a degenerative disease. We always took him out with us and a lot of scenes were things I had to remember. Things like if we were sitting at a bar, his head at to be at the same height or it would look weird.  Or if there were stairs to get to the bathroom, he would have a worse night that if he stayed in because he wouldn’t want to do a fireman’s lift.

How much control do you have over the movie?

So far so good. We’re on draft 11. One of the things in the contract is that the ending stays the same. I know that a lot of people have different experiences in Hollywood, but I’ve been really lucky.

How do you come up with the ideas?

They are everywhere. One of the best things about being an journalist is that I can pull a story out of anyone. I could take the five of you in the front row and talk to each of you for 20 minutes and have a full novel out of you. Everyone has a relative who behaves badly or a best friend who lies all the time and no one confronts her or a family secret that no one talks about.

Some times it comes from the news. I remember hearing about a rugby player who became a quadriplegic after an injury and eventually begged his parents to go to assisted suicide.

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Do you have a favorite book that you’ve written? And favorite author?

For the most fun, Me Before You. I could see the characters so well, that I could put them in any situation and know what they would do.

I love Kate Atkinson and George RR Martin.  If you would have told me that I was going to be reading books about dragons, I would have never believed you.  Now I just need 3 months of free time to read them because they’re so long.  Nora Ephron is my comfort read.

How does the relationship with your editor work?

There is not an original word in my books that has stayed. I edit myself and will work on it until I have the perfect scene. My American editor is the best I’ve ever worked with. If she tells me that something doesn’t work, then it doesn’t.

Something might be grammatically incorrect, but sounds correct. If you were to fix it, it would loose the rhythm, the magic.

When you write your book, do you write with an ear for listening?

No. I write with an eye for cinema. I tend to lay in my office, sometimes I’ll nod off. I’ll play the entire scene in my head and when it’s all worked out, I’ll sit down and write it.

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When you write, do you know where it’s going?

I always have a rough idea, but I always plan for twists. I don’t think you can have these things without knowing about it.

I know authors who will go off and just write, but I would die. Even if it’s just 5 sentences.

Do you have characters who stay with you when you’re done?

I wrote a prequel to the girl you left behind. I so enjoyed revisiting Sophie. Will and Lou have really stayed with me. Maybe it’s because everyone talks to me about them.

Is there a significance to the title?

Partly due to maths and Tanzie.  Also because the story is about two strong, singular people who come together.

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How long does it take to write a book?

It varies. Usually about 3 months of marinating. The Girl You Left Behind was a year and a half. Two days after I turned it in, I took it back and deleted half of it.

Is it challenging balancing kids and writing?

Yes. Yes. Yes. I still don’t feel that I have the right balance. I try not to feel guilty. I have been going through the west coast buying presents and sending them back to the kids.  I’ve been buying $12 of Lego blocks and spending $40 to FedEx them home.

I wake up at 6am up to work. I don’t like it, but it means that I can get 500 words done every day before the kids get up. Sometimes, that’s all there is.

{She then told an adorable story about her husband waking up earlier to make her coffee and putting a pillow behind her head and telling her to go!}

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What does your husband do?

He writes books on technology. I’m not really sure what they mean, but if my Mac breaks down, he can fix it.

After that, we were lined up for the signing.  You handed your book to the events manager and she handed it to Jojo.  When it was my turn, Jojo looked up at me and said hi.  I said hi and thanked her for coming.  When she handed me the book back, she said that she hoped I enjoyed it.

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Jojo Moyes is charming and charismatic.  She can tell a story on the page, or in person and is definitely someone to check out if you get a chance.  I know I’ll be looking into reading her other books.

The time there were maps

I got an arc of Kiss of Deception from Macmillan and devoured it. As I said in my review, after finishing it, I started stalking following Mary Pearson to make sure I was at her launch party.

Michelle and I got down to Mysterious Galaxy early to have a pre-date snack at Starbucks. We got into the store around 5 to bother Rob peruse the signed books.   We ended up seeing Alethea and she told us how it was her birthday and driving down from Pasadena was one of her birthday presents.

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Mary got to the store around 6:45 and started setting up a snack table filled with awesome. We were also given raffle tickets for a mystery prize.

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Mary came out at 7:15 and said that she had a lot of different people in the audience.  She told us that when she said the name of a certain group of people {family, neighbors, writers, bloggers, friends} that we belonged to, we had to clap.

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She wrote Kiss of Deception because it was 180 degrees away from the Jenna Fox books and she wanted to try something different. She wrote down all of the inspiration before writing so she could answer that question when people asked. She sent off a list of about 15 items to her editor to see if there was interest.

Some of the items were: lack of technology, lost civilizations, women’s intuition, romantic at heart and believing in true love. She told a story about meeting her husband at 16 while at church camp and how he invited her to his parent’s anniversary party for their first date. She then gave the synopsis of the book.

She specifically kept the reader in the dark about the identity of the prince and assassin because she wanted everyone to give the characters a chance without their labels.  It was then opened up to questions.

This isn’t a question as much as a statement.  I’m really impressed with social media for not spoiling the ending.

Yes. And I’ve been thanking everyone for doing it. My publisher sent out so many arcs and it’s been great that everyone has kept the secret.  I didn’t think the ending was a huge twist, but I’m starting to see that everyone thinks it really is.

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Is this your first trilogy?

Well, the Jenna Fox books was sort of a series. I always said that I wouldn’t write a series, but it’s so fun. You have this whole landscape to work with.  I wrote 50 pages and then a synopsis and that’s what it sold on. I told them that it probably wasn’t going to be the same as the synopsis because I didn’t know most of the characters.

How did you come up with the world?

Well, first I came up with the characters. I have the world all in my head, but this is a spoilery question. It’s sort of a pseudo medieval fantasy. {There was more to this, but I was taking photos}

Have you set a release date for book 2?

No specific date yet, but it’ll be the same time as this, next year.

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Do you read your reviews?

I do. Sometimes it’s painful. I have to say that the bloggers have been so supportive. I try to avoid the bad ones, but you don’t know until you’re in the middle of it. I know that not every book is for everyone.

How do you go about the publishing process when you’re a new author?

Publishing has changed since my first book. I sold my first book in 1998. I didn’t have an agent and went through the slush pile. I don’t think you can do that now.  I would say to take your time. You only get to be a debut author once. Make sure you have the book that you’re in love with and then find an agent.

Did you have to find your voice for these characters?

Yes. It probably took me about 50 pages, but you get to know them when you go through revisions. I struggled with writing in past tense, so you’ll probably find mistakes in this book.

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What do you love most about Lia and why should the reader root for her?

She had a sense of herself. She knows her values and she isn’t a doormat.  My mom always told me to never be a doormat.  I love that she’s tough, but compassionate. I love that she’s kind of reckless.  She confronts people who are bigger than her, better armed than her, but doesn’t back down.

Women tend to hold back until they reach that certain point, until they’re really mad and then they roar.  My mom was that way.

Do you base your characters off people you know?

They are always a conglomerate of people. I have some great women in here who have that great attitude that Lia does, but she also becomes her own person.

Where do you come up with names?

That takes me a long time because it has to be right. I wanted something a bit plain, even though her full name is different. I look at baby name books, I also look at name origin websites. I’ve used the phone book too. I try to use different consonants so they don’t all sound the same.

Do you like the covers?

Yes. I’m always so nervous about covers because I used to be an artist, so I’m sensitive to it. I think I got really lucky. And look, it’s got a map!

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After that, Mary started to set up for the signing.  While everyone was putting their chairs away, she asked, “Who was the person who said they were going to roll around in the maps with me?” I raised my hand and she came around the podium to hug me and thanked me for coming.  {*squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*}

There was a pretty good crowd, so while we waited, Michelle and I ate some of the delicious cake pops.  We talked with Mary’s daughter who told us that the cake pops were made by a neighbor’s daughter {they were amazing.}

When I got up to Mary, I started unpacking the books that I had.  She confirmed my name and thanked me again for coming.  I had been going back and forth with keeping the arc or giving it away and finally decided to keep it.  So, she signed my arc {on the left} and shiny new finished copy {on the right}.

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While she signed, I loaded up on swag.  Then it was Michelle’s turn to get her things signed.  We chatted a bit more {mostly about Mary going to SDCC} before saying goodbye to everyone and leaving.

As always, the staff at Mysterious Galaxy was phenomenal and accommodating.  And Michelle was a lovely date.

Some of you know how picky I am about my high fantasy books…this one definitely hits my top 5 favorite fantasy books.  The fact that Mary is charming and so friendly just makes it better.  If you haven’t read Kiss of Deception, you’re really missing out.  I cannot recommend this book enough.