The time it was a monthly wrap up

So, I’ve never done a proper monthly recap.  I mean, I have posted the monthly recap of the real book challenge, but I haven’t really been keeping up on that and I probably won’t continue.  I decided to try doing my own sort of wrap up.  Who knows if it will become something I do regularly, but let’s give it a try, shall we?

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What did I read?

For the month of June, I read a total of 28 books.

1 2 3 4 56

7 8 9 10 1112

13 14 15 16 17 18

19 20 21 22 Print 24

25 2627

My 28th book was a beta read for something that comes out next year, so there isn’t a cover.  {And please disregard the wonky sizing. I don’t know why it’s being so difficult.}

What did I get?

I got several pretties in the mail. Thanks to Books for Trade, I was able to complete some of my collections.  Extra huge thanks to author friends and awesome publicists for sending me prizes! {Hello, gorgeous Six of Crows package}

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What did I do?

Interviews:

Fangirled Over:

Special Stuff:

What’s coming up in July:

  • Interviews with Mary Pearson, Jessica Day George, Amanda Panitch, and Rachel Goodman
  • Fangirling over Mary Pearson, Tamara Ireland Stone, Gretchen McNeil, Robin Benway, Jessi Kirby, Michelle Painchaud, and Corey Taylor
  • SAN DIEGO COMIC CON!!!

It didn’t feel like I was that busy in June. How was your month?  Did you go to any signings? What pretties did you get in the mail?

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Tell me everything.

The time it was a Top Ten Tuesday

If you follow this blog sort of regularly, you would know that I’ve never participated in a weekly meme.  Some of them seem fun, but also a bit of work. At the same time, I love the idea of lists and forcing you to read sharing books that I’m obsessed with.

I saw a few people chatting about this on Twitter, but then I saw Jen’s instagram photo with this week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday {created by The Broke and the Bookish} and figured this was a perfect time to jump in.  So let’s do this, shall we?

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Top Ten Books I’ve read in 2015 {these are not in any order}

1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo — Honestly, I don’t know what to say about this one.  It has everything you have come to love from Leigh’s books.  She gives us banter and world building and characters like no one else can.  Multiple POVs normally irritate me, but I found myself engrossed and dying to know more from each one of them. And while it was a bit of a slow burn, it has one hell of an ending.  If you liked the Grisha books, you’ll enjoy this one as well. I can’t wait to see her at SDCC and flail all over her.

2. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff — Let me start this by saying that sci-fi is not my bag, baby.  Not that I won’t read it, but it will never be my first choice.  I was incredibly wary of this book.  From it’s size, to it’s subject matter, to the unwavering hype…I went into this sort of expecting to be let down.  Was I ever wrong.  It hooked me from page one and I greedily devoured all 600+ pages.  The format is unique, the story is awesome, it’s a book that I will need all of the copies.

3. Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke — After reading April’s books, I knew that I would be on board with anything she puts out.  Imagine my surprise when I learned there would be a compilation of scary short stories by authors that April picked out.  Count. Me. In.  I did get to beta read Anita’s story a while ago and just going off that, I knew it was going to be amazing.  And it was.

4. Damage Done by Amanda Panitch — I’m a huge fan of mindfuckery and this book provided it like whoa.  It was a story that I couldn’t figure out.  I had three different theories while reading and none of them were correct.  When I got to the ending, I was stunned.  I do think that this is going to be something that people either love or hate.  The subject matter is a bit touchy, but it was captivating.  I still think about this book and it’s been over a month since I finished it.

5. Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young — Just…read everything Suzanne does.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

6. The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi — Again, contemporary is not one of my favorites and I’m quite picky about the books I do read in the genre.  This book was told in alternating past/present chapters and I loved it. It was such a unique way to tell the story.  Couple that with an awesome set of characters and I was sold.

7. Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby — I loved Golden by Jessi, so I was pretty excited about this one when I heard about it.  Heartbreaking and swoony and I don’t know why I waited so long before I read it.

8. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray — This was another one that I waited to read.  In fact, I waited almost a year…I picked it up because I was going to be seeing Claudia at a signing and wanted to make sure I enjoyed the book before I bought it.  I think I was a bit concerned with the time travel-y part of it, but this book was glorious and I’m nearly rabid for the second one.

9. Simon vs the Homo Sapians Agenda by Becky Albertalli — If you haven’t read this one, get yourself a pack of Oreos and settle in for one of the best books of the year. Seriously.

10. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone — A perfect book about a girl trying to fit in and finding the friends who help her do just that. This will easily be one of by top 5 of the year. Go read it now.

So…that was definitely a bit harder than I was expecting. There are at least 5 more books I could have added to the list. Probably 10 more.

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What have been your favorite books this year?

The time it was incomplete

Any time Jennifer Niven is doing a signing in SoCal, I’m going to try to go. When I saw the date at The Grove, it was a sure thing. Even more so when all of the foreign copies of All the Bright Places I ordered showed up before the signing. Turns out her appearance was part of a panel for More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, so I was extra excited because I’ve heard so many good things about it.

Michelle and I got up to the store just after 5. We followed a couple of people into the event area and even though it was closed off, they sort of started a line. So of course we waited.

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Lita came around at about 6 and let us into the seating area and we were able to get front row. We chatted for a bit with her about upcoming events and various baked goods. All of the authors got there just after 7. Lita introduced the authors and then each author gave an elevator pitch for their books.

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H: Adam just turned 25 and yesterday was in the NYT and LA Times for a book that has 5 stars. He’s going to tell us about how he came to be a writer.

AS: I didn’t have the traditional author training. I didn’t go to college and I don’t have an MFA. I had too much debt and got a job at BN and was working at the cafe and hand selling children’s books. I ended up getting a job at Books of Wonder. I tell people that I built my own MFA.

I may have written some slash HP fan fiction. I’m not Team Harry/Draco like everyone else.  I think Harry and Cedric is where it’s at. They had something.

AH: When did you start writing?

AS: Maybe when I was 20? It started out as a dystopian trilogy and it was about people who were hunting down homosexuals.

AH: How many pages did you write?

AS: 10 pages. There was nothing going on and at one point, the dad pulled out a gun that he didn’t have before and shoots the mom.

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AH: How long did it all take?

AS: It took 2 months to write and then it was about 1 year of edits before it sold.

JCW: what does “leteo” mean?

AH: it is the Spanish word for leafy and I had been calling it the Leafy Institute. {I’m not entirely sure that I heard this right because I thought he said something about a river in Hades. I could be making something up.}  John Corey Whaley said it didn’t sound cool enough.

JN: Are you a pantser or a plotter?

AS: My second book was really outlined. For More Happy Than Not, I knew what needed improvement. I knew what was going to happen in the next chapter, so that’s how I kept going forward.

JN: I think they tell you how they want to be written.

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AH {to Jennifer}: What do you do?

JN: I think it’s different for every book. I started with non-fiction, so I had to outline everything.   When I switched to fiction, I had written a 40 page outline before getting started. My mom asked me later how it was all going and I told her that it was all over the place and my characters were doing whatever they wanted. She said, “Welcome to fiction.”

AS: Did you have to disconnect your emotions with All the Bright Places?

JN: I had a writer ask me how I did it without crying and to be honest, I cried a lot. I did sort of start autobiographically, but then they became Finch and Violet.

H {to Aaron}: Your first book is autobiographical, but now you’ve written this novel that is based on something real. Do you think that’s a good starting spot?

AH: I think for me it was the first story that had to get out of me first. It wasn’t that it was easy to write, but when I sat down, I knew that’s what had to happen.

JN: This was the story that I’ve been carrying around with me. I wrote it without anyone knowing.

AS: The emotional resonance is there.

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H: What’s been the biggest surprise of all of this?

AS: It’s still sort of crazy. It’s amazing and all I’ve ever wanted. We were too poor to go on vacation and now I’m all over the place, going places I’ve never been.

H: But you were afraid to fly.

AS: Yeah. I took a 44 hour Amtrak ride to miss the plane. Yesterday I took 2 planes in the morning and now I don’t need anyone to hold my hand or distract me with People Magazine’s Who Wore it Best. By the way? It’s always Rihanna. She always wears it best.

JCW: I always get asked where do you think your characters are right now? I really don’t know because I made them up and I don’t think about them any more. Do you view your characters as real people after the book is over?

H: My second book takes place 3 months after the first one. Is your story over?

AS: People survive, so I could continue, but I don’t know if it would be interesting. My biggest fear is that I don’t think I could tap into Aaron’s voice again. I do try to see them as people, but as for where they end up, I don’t know.

JN: I’ve heard from a lot of readers who give me alternate endings. A lot of readers will write them and send them and the main theme between them is that it’s all a dream.

AH: All the people in this book are still alive and most of them got to choose their names. I wrote an afterword because a lot of people wanted to know more.

I didn’t think of the characters afterwards. A great friend of mine says that we write the same 6 characters over and over again.

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What was your inspiration to continue with the trials of publishing?

AS: I think I’m scrappy. I’m not trying to make light of how poor I was, but I was really poor. I wanted to work with this idea about how sexuality was a choice. People think that you’re gay just to piss off your dad.
I like to think I would be good at therapy, but it’s not true. Writing is all I wanted to do.

H: I think we should talk about diversity. Tell us about your mom and dad.

AS: My mom is Puerto Rican and my dad is hella white.

JCW: Like see through white.

AS: Wait. I’ll retract the hella.

My publisher asked about the main character being Puerto Rican and gay and they wanted to change something because they thought it was too much. There’s a stereotype that Puerto Ricans always shake maracas or always speak Spanish and it’s horrible.

AH: We’re finally rounded a corner about not whitewashing the books. {There was a lot more to Aaron’s comment, but I was really intrigued by this conversation and just listened instead of typing.}

JN: Same with mental health.

H: If you have a story with a personal element, don’t shy away from it.

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What has been the absolute best moment?

AS: This one…is what Jennifer told me to say.  {There was more to this also.  Something about signing the first finished copy to someone}

From there, we were lined up row by row.  While Adam was signing, Lita asked if I had books for anyone else.  I told her Jennifer and she said I could go over to Jennifer.

She stood up and we hugged.  We talked about the foreign edition covers and how they’re so pretty.  She said she wished she could write something in each language the book was in, but that she would write something different in each one. Then she pointed to her copy of AtBP and asked if I wanted to heart a couple more Finch chapters. So, of course, that’s what I did.  I made a comment to Michelle that it didn’t seem as effective to heart Finch’s name when it was in pen instead of a marker, so Jennifer handed me the marker she was signing with.

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While she was still signing, I slid over to Adam.  He asked if I had read the book yet and I said not yet, but that I was irrationally excited for it.  And I love the hashtag he wrote.

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I went back to Jennifer to get all of my books.  We took a photo together while holding the books and then hugged again.  From there, Michelle and I headed out.

As always, the events at The Grove are top notch.  They’re organized and well run. This group of authors was a lot of fun.  So much, in fact, that this post is really sort of incomplete.  It doesn’t come close to capturing the laughs and charisma of the panel. If you get a chance to see any of them, definitely do it.

The time it was about Dirty Thoughts

By now, you should know about my undying love and affection for Megan Erickson, right? I greedily devour her words and I’m always wanting more. When I saw the invite for the Dirty Thoughts blog tour, I couldn’t agree fast enough…and I even asked to do an interview instead of the options that were given.

Luckily, Megan was willing to do it! Before we get to her answers, let’s check out her new book!

DirtyThoughts_CoverCal Payton has gruff and grumbly down to an art…all the better for keeping people away. And it usually works. Until Jenna MacMillan-his biggest mistake—walks into Payton and Sons mechanic shop all grown up, looking like sunshine, and inspiring more than a few dirty thoughts.

Jenna was sure she was long over the boy she’d once loved with reckless abandon, but one look at the steel-eyed Cal Payton has her falling apart all over again. Ten years may have passed, but the pull is stronger than ever… and this Cal is all man.

Cal may have no intention of letting Jenna in, but she’s always been his light, and it’s getting harder to stay all alone in the dark. When a surprise from the past changes everything, Cal and Jenna must decide if their connection should be left alone or if it’s exactly what they need for the future of their dreams.

Sounds good, right?

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1. Where did the idea for Dirty Thoughts come from?

So MAKE IT RIGHT is the second book in my Bowler university series, which is a complete New Adult series out now. Max Payton is the hero in that book and… I loved him. Absolutely, I fell head over heels in love with Max and his two brothers, Cal and Brent, and even his jerk of a dad, Jack.

Then I found that my readers fell in love with the whole Payton family too. I got some emails and messages about writing their stories and really, that’s how this whole series came about. It was very reader-driven and that excites me. I hope I did them justice to everyone who wanted their stories!

2.Why do you love Cal and Jenna and why should we root for them?

I love Cal because he’s gruff and stubborn but has a huge heart. He doesn’t even realize it. And Jenna has grown up a lot since she left Tory. She’s wiser and more mature and she knows what she wants.

They made me so happy to write, because Cal can be a little too serious and can play the martyr card, but Jenna doesn’t let him get away with it for long. She really is his Sunshine. And I hope readers root for them to be together because ultimately, they are better, happier people when they are together.

3. What was your favorite part about writing this book?

This is a romance, and yes, I loved writing the sexy times between Cal and Jenna and all their interactions. But I think my favorite part of writing this book were the scenes between the brothers—particularly Cal and Brent. They have such fun banter.

4. Without spoilers, were there any scenes that had to be cut that you wish could have stayed?

Actually no. I write short and I rarely have deleted scenes that don’t make the final cut. That’s such a boring answer!

5. Describe Dirty Thoughts in 5 words.

Sexy
Fun
Family
Love
Dirty

Speed [ish] round:

1. Tell us about your writing area.

My bed! I write in my bed, usually with a cat snugged up against me

2. What is one question you wish people would ask you and what is the answer?

What’s your favorite part of your career? My answer is: Telling the stories I love and meeting other bookish people.

3. What is your go-to guilty pleasure thing to eat?

White cheddar popcorn

4. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Pantser

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

I actually never read these books! I know, so crazy, right? So I don’t know what happens in these books. But I know Bella’s a human and Edward’s a vampire, right? So I’d ask him to bite me, so I’d turn into a vampire, because IMMORTAL and then I’d ditch him to become Queen of the Vampires like in the movie Blade. I’d also keep the werewolves around to do my bidding.

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6879435Megan Erickson grew up in a family that averages 5’5” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.

She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Huge thanks to Avon Impulse for letting me do an interview when it wasn’t on the list and squishy hugs to Megan for always taking the time to flail with me.  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.

Dirty Thoughts came out on 6/16 and you can buy it at HarperCollins | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Amazon

Now go check out the giveaway below for a chance to win a gift card!

**Good Luck!!**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The time there was live music

Going to Tamara’s launch party for Every Last Word was a definite thing. Awesomeboss is super awesome, so I knew it wouldn’t be a problem taking time off if I needed to. Turns out the launch ended up being on a Sunday and we were able to make a weekend trip.

We had plans to leave Friday and then see a concert, but everything sort of fell through. We ended up seeing our NOH8 family on Saturday and working LA Pride for the day.

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We started on the road to SF around 4 and immediately hit traffic due to a brush fire on the side of the freeway. What should have taken us about 15 minutes, took us well over an hour.

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Traffic finally cleared up and we finished the drive. We stopped just outside of the city and got a hotel room. Sunday morning we woke up and went into downtown to do some touristy things. We went to Fisherman’s Wharf to look for an amazing restaurant we ate at last time we were in SF, but neither of us could remember exactly where it was or what it was called.

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We headed over to Lombard Street and then to Gilman Street before heading toward Lafayette, which is where the event was taking place.

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Turns out the library was only about 20 minutes from where we were, so we went to the movies to kill some time. We got back got the library around 2 and at 2:30, headed in to see where everything was taking place.

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I ended up running into the Hyperion publicist in the bathroom and I may or may not have verbally accosted her. I very awkwardly explained that I saw Tamara RT the photo of her saying that she was on her way to the launch party. I’m pretty sure I didn’t properly explain that my stalker-like tendencies are not in the creepy KH way. (And clearly I cannot be left unsupervised.}

Around 2:45, we headed into the space where the event was taking place. I ended up seeing Tamara and we chatted for a minute and hugged a couple of times and she thanked us for coming up. They were still setting up, so we left them to finish.

I ran into Veronica when I bought my book and chatted with her for a second. Then went to the on site coffee shop to settle in and wait. They let us in right at 4pm. It seemed that sound check took a little longer than they expected. There was a guy on the stage playing guitar and singing.

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There was even a wall set up like Poet’s Corner with all sorts of poetry tacked to it. They had loose paper and a variety of pens so you could add your own words to the wall.

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Veronica came out at 4:25 and introduced Tamara. While Tamara was adding her mic, Veronica talked about the poetry wall. They wanted 3 words that matter to each person. The winner for the gift basket would be chosen from the wall.

Tamara had a list of people she wanted to thank before the event started, so she did that first. Then she talked about the book.

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It’s about a girl named Samantha and from the outside she looks perfect, but on the inside she’s broken.

While I was writing this, it seemed like I was running into all of these talented teens. I was sitting with my book club and we were out to dinner and there was a band. It turned out to be a local teen and I was so impressed with how talented he is.

She introduced Henry and he came up onstage to play the John Mayer song “Say”.

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V: I had the honor of reading this book several months ago. Then she sent me a copy in preparation of this and I just have to say I couldn’t love it more. What was the inspiration, the first spark for this book?

T: Poet’s corner was a real place to me. I love the idea of somewhere to go. In high school I wish I had somewhere to go that made me feel safe. It was mostly inspired by a close family friend who was diagnosed with OCD at 12. I felt so bad for all of the things that she was going through. I wanted to write the story for her and for other special minds. We tend to think that mental health has a stigma and I hope we can get rid of it.

V: I have to say that the relationship between the main character and her therapist is fantastic.

T: It’s based on their relationship. They found a great therapist that she could really confide it and it’s beautiful.

V: I’ve read a lot of fantasy and such amazing world building, but nothing has ever felt more real than poet’s corner. Was poetry your entry into it?

T: I don’t think I’m a poet, but I love to write. If something was bothering me, I had my notebooks and my pen and I would just write and write and write. When I was in middle school and we moved a lot. I was the new kid 8 times. I didn’t have friends, I had words.

The idea of these kids meeting on Mondays and Thursday to read poetry to each other was perfect.

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V: Tell us about your relationship to music

T: I always listen to music. For this I listened to a lot of acoustic guitar. I can’t listen to music with words when I write because the words will battle with the words in my head.

V: Do you have a playlist?

T: There are 4 total. We’ve revealed 2. There’s my playlist. And Sam’s that she made for AJ. There will be one for Caroline and there will be one made by the girl who inspired the book. That one is my favorite.

V: I was these characters to be real.

T: I do too.

V: Tell me AJ is here.

T: *shrugs*

V: Tell us about your research.

T: I was terrified to tackle this subject. I wanted to make sure I got OCD right. I read a lot of blogs from teens who were dealing with it and shared their words. I talked to 4 different therapists. I spent a lot of time with the girl who inspired it.

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V: Let’s talk about the poetry. It seems so different from writing a novel and there’s poetry from different characters. What was that like?

T: Definitely challenging at first. I didn’t want to write the poetry. I told my editor that we could crowd source the poems from real teens. I had so much fun once I got brave and decided to do it.

Once I had Emily in my head, I knew that her home issues would be what she would write about. Since they aren’t on the page that much, I tried to make it easy to get to know each character through their words.

V: What’s your writing process? What does it look like to be a writer?

T: Not like this. I’m never this clean. I did a lot of outlining for this one. Much more than other books. I knew a lot of the beginning, middle and end. I wrote an extensive synopsis and outline and stuck to it.

V: I remember seeing you an one author thing and you had such a glow. It seemed like it was joyful to write.

T: It was. When it doesn’t feel joyful, it’s sad because you love writing. Some books aren’t easy.

V: I think it’s a great representation of high school. You did such a good job of showing the amazing relationships.

T: I wanted her long term friends to evolve. They don’t always, but at least one did.

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V: What do you think makes a good book? An emotional journey?

T: I like books that change me, change the world and the way I see things. I love that we as authors can put words down and make people do that.

Tamara then introduced Claire and she came up and sang Colbie Caillat “Try”.

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After that, it was opened up to the audience questions.

Do you think this book is relevant in helping the stigma?

T: I hope so. It’s a positive look at medication and a therapist relationship. I purposely made her a swimmer because there’s the idea that people just have to exercise more and that’s just a myth.

Will you talk about your high school experience with Oak Leaf?

We had a school newspaper and by senior year I was editor in chief. It was the place I went when I was having problems with my friends or if a boy dumped me. I just thought about it when I did a blog post about it.

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What would you say to someone who is struggling with mental health?

It’s great that you’re saying you’re struggling. Go get help. Find something that works for you, whether it’s medication or talk therapy or cognitive behavior therapy. There’s a lot of great people who want to help.

V: This beautiful novel is going to open minds. It’s because of stories like this that we can talk about it.

T: We talk about physical health all the time. It’s part of our body. They all work differently and it’s great. I play with the words normal and crazy. I’m not normal and it’s great. I like my brand of crazy.

With social media, how do you become a better friend?

T: There’s a social media event that happens in the book. It’s easy for people to forget that we’re talking to real people. It doesn’t matter if its someone you’re going to see in a hour. It’s a tough world for our kids.

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After that, Tamara had a surprise for us, but we weren’t allowed to share anything about it. Just know that it was awesome and lovely.

Tamara then thanked everyone for coming and for reading her words before telling us to head downstairs for the reception.

I quickly grabbed Veronica and asked her to sign my book. I explained that we were both working in the morning and I was trying to sneak in. She said absolutely. {Disregard the fact that the photo doesn’t really match what I just said. I realized I didn’t get a photo of Veronica, so I took one later.}

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I sort of left Veronica with Hubs while I took my books over to Tamara. I also explained that we were getting ready to leave and asked if she would quickly sign my books. As she was signing, she asked how I liked the surprise and I said I loved it. {It’s really amazing and I can’t wait for it to be released.}

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She asked if we were coming down to the reception and when I hesitated for a second, she said I really should. That she had something for me and it was down there. So of course I said yes.

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We got down there and they had a photo booth so Katie {who I got to meet, YAY!!} and I did a Charlie’s Angels pose, complete with explosion in the background.

Tamara came down shortly afterwards and made her way to the signing table. I waited with Katie and after she got her books signed, I told Tamara that I just wanted to hug her before leaving. We ended up taking a couple of photos and she announced to everyone that I drove up from San Diego. She told me that she would work on writing a fourth book so I had another launch party to attend.

As always, Tamara is lovely and both her Veronica are some of my favorite people. They definitely make it worth any drive.

If you haven’t gotten your greedy hands on Every Last Word, you definitely need to do it ASAP.

The time I didn’t have a title

I saw the event for Lindsay Cummings and Stephanie Diaz about two weeks after I had finished reading The Murder Complex. After that wretched cliffhanger ending, I knew I had to get my greedy hands on book 2. Bonus points for getting it signed.

Hubs and I got down to Mysterious Galaxy just after 6pm. This was the first time he had been at the new store and I was trying not to herd him to all of the best sections.

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They set up the chairs around 7 and we quickly grabbed front row. And then settled in to wait.  Keiko got to MG around 7:15 and Hubs gave up his seat so we could sit together. Lindsay and Stephanie got there right at 7:30 and they started with talking about their books, then sort of did an in-conversation type thing.

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S: How did you come up with the idea?

L: I wanted to try to murder someone. I wrote this when I was 19 and I read an article where all of these deaths were taking place in a small town. I was bed ridden for 2 years for chronic fatigue and I was pissed off at life and I decided to kill everyone.

S: I’ve always been obsessed with space. {there was a lot more to this answer}

L: Should I ask you a question now? Do you write full time?

S: I do now.

L: See, this is what it’s like to be an author.  It’s always like “should I take a shower?” “Should I wash my hair?” “Should I ask you a question?”

S: My writing schedule is so bad. Well, not really. I’m working on something now. But sometimes I just want to binge watch things on Netflix. {This prompted an entire conversation to be had about what they like to binge watch}

L: Coming to book signings are so fun because it’s all a bunch of nerds.  You just mention Netflix and everyone is like “Oooooh.”

S: So yeah. My schedule. I’m trying to force myself to start and then be done writing by 5pm, but I take a lot of breaks.  Like I’ll go to the library or just leave the house.

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S: Which book was the hardest to write?

L: This book sucks. I mean it’s good now, but I had to rewrite this book 5 complete times. Not like “just fix this section”, like “this is terrible.” And then I cried and wrote a second one. Then that one wasn’t acceptable and then cried and started a third one.

My first book was rejected 120 times.  When I was about to write the book for the fifth time, I took out that first book and sort of reworked it and they were like “we love it”. So what is now The Murder Code was the first book I ever wrote.

S: I was told by two different agents to develop it, but then a different agent said it was good. The hardest one was the third book. I have the hardest time with beginnings. I’ll rewrite them like 100 times.

L: Writing is a lot harder than people realize. Like 1 out of 10 days I’ll feel creative and maybe 1 out of a million sentences are great.

If you could be any character that you made up, who would it be?

L: I would be the boy character because it would be awesome to wake up and not have to do my hair. But I would like to be Zephyr’s head because he’s sort of an assassin.  Wait.  What am I even saying?

S: The worlds we write are sort of horrible, so I don’t want to be any of them. There’s a girl named Skyler and she’s a pilot and she’s pretty cool.

5

How did you go from deciding to write a book to where you’re at?

L: The first thing you have to realize it that people are going to tell you no and you have to say no right back. My dad is a non-fiction writer, but I never read it. I have a friend who was self-published and she told me to go to a writing conference and I went. It was sort of a crash course on how it happened.

S: I tried getting published at 11. I started querying at 11 and it was historical fiction and it’s horrible. My older sister was also trying and I got tips from her, but a lot of it was internet research. I had a lot of people critiquing it. It wasn’t until the 3rd book, which is Extraction, that I got an agent. So I racked up a lot of rejection letters.

L: Even after getting an agent, you’ll still get rejections.

S: We’ve both written a sci-fi western type book and both of our publishers said no, so we’re both looking at other publishers.

L: Even when you’re a NYT best seller, they can tell you no.  Like Beth Revis.  She wrote an amazing NYT best selling series and wrote a different book and her publisher passed on it.

Was there a scene in the book that you hated writing?

S: There’s a death in evolution that I had been planning from the beginning, but when I got to it, it was bad.

L: There was a death in The Murder Complex that I was bummed about. I loved her and she was the comic relief, so of course she had to die.

6

What are you reading now?

S: I read more books when I’m on deadline. I just read An Ember in the Ashes and The Wrath and the Dawn and More Happy than Not.

L: I’m on a gothic kick, so I’m on the third book of Maureen Johnson’s series.

What book do you wish you could read first again for the first time?

Both: Harry Potter.

Do you outline?

L: I also have a middle grade series and I have to outline for that because it’s a crazy intricate thing. I hate outlining. I send the publisher an outline, but the book they get has absolutely nothing to do with it. It’s like wearing a bra that is too tight.  And I’m sure that every man in the audience can relate to that.

S: I also hate outlining, but I’m sort of a mix. I wasn’t planning on it being a trilogy. I had a paragraph for each book and that’s it.  So, I’ve gotten better at it.

8

What is your education background?

L: None. I didn’t go to college. {Asks husband:} How long did we go to college? 5 days? Maybe a semester? We met in collage and I just didn’t want to go to class.  I just wanted to hang out with him. I don’t have a degree or anything, but I was good at English.

S: I went to SDSU and studied film. I like screenwriting, but it’s really about reading and writing.

L: The more you read, the better you’ll be as a writer.  There’s nothing more satisfying than reading a great line and wanting to write something better.  It’s very motivating.

Is there any way you get in touch with your character?

S: I have soundtracks that I listen to, a lot of movie soundtracks.

L: I interview my characters. I’ll write things like what’s your favorite gum or hair style. Stupid questions like that will get the background. And then I’m all over Pinterest.

S: To an extent, I think everyone gets inspiration from the people they know. I try not to do too much of that, but sometimes I’ll use someone’s name and then I’ll kill them.

L: I get inspiration from movies. I watched Hanna and she’s literally Meadow, so I watched that like 20 times.

7

Have you met before?

L: never in person before.

From there, it was time for the signing. I was sitting right were the line started, so I was able to be first. I got up to Lindsay and Stephanie was showing Lindsay some text messages she had just gotten.  When Lindsay started signing, she asked if I had been to MG before and I said yes.  She said the store was really nice.

l1 x az

After that, I chatted with Keiko for a few minutes before heading home to pack for San Francisco. As always, the staff at MG was awesome. Lindsay and Stephanie were chatty and giggly and definitely amusing to watch.

The time it was about Every Last Word

As you all know by now, my love knows no bounds for Tamara Ireland Stone and all of her boys words {Bennett Cooper is mine, I have proof}.  After devouring the arc that Tamara sent me, I asked if she would be available to do an interview and she said yes!

Before we get to her answers, let’s check out the book, shall we?

23341894If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

Sounds good, right? {IT’S SOOOOO GOOD}

right

1. Where did the idea for Every Last Word come from?

I first became interested in telling a story about a teen with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) when a close family friend was diagnosed four years ago, at age twelve. It was heartbreaking to hear how the disorder affected her. She couldn’t sleep. She felt powerless to a stream of negative, often terrifying thoughts. And her group of friends unknowingly made things harder. I couldn’t imagine dealing with something so intense, especially at such a young age.

I wanted to learn more about OCD, and she was eager to share her experience in hopes of helping other teens understand what it was like to live in an active, occasionally frightening mind like hers.

But I think she’d agree that Every Last Word isn’t a story about a girl with OCD. It’s really a story about self-acceptance, learning to drop your guard, and surrounding yourself with people who like you for exactly who you are, flaws and all.

2. Why do you love Sam and AJ and why should we root for them?

I love Sam’s willingness to dig deep to truly understand herself. She’s afraid of her brain, but she’s also passionate about figuring out how it works and learning to control it. I find that admirable.

I love how AJ speaks his mind. He’s an open book, and while he’s never mean about it, he says what he thinks. Sam, by contrast, keeps everything inside.

It’s not an instant attraction. Sam certainly finds AJ’s singing and acoustic guitar playing adorable (because, come on, who wouldn’t?), but that’s not why she’s drawn to him. They actually first connect over a shared love of words.

Throughout the story, they make each other brave. AJ helps Sam finds her voice. Sam helps AJ fight his biggest fear.

They’re imperfect individuals. Together, they make each other stronger. I can’t imagine a better reason to root for two people.

3. Without spoilers, were there any scenes that had to be cut that you wish could have stayed?

Not really. I certainly cut a lot, but I’m happy with everything I pulled.

I tend to overwrite. The content often feels right at the time, but with a bit of distance, I realize it’s not working or aiding the plot. So I chop it.

But it’s never wasted time. All that writing helps inform who I want the characters to become, how they all interact with each other, how the story progresses. Even if those words don’t live on the final pages, they did an important job.

I probably cut the most around the scenes between Sam and her therapist, Shrink-Sue. It was really important to me to get the client/therapist relationship right, and it took a long time and many tries to get the text to match the relationship I had in my head.

I wanted to honor therapists, especially those who work with teens. And I wanted Sue to be a role model for readers who might be looking for someone to trust and confide in. I think I worked harder on those scenes than any other part of the novel.

4. Describe Every Last Word in 5 words.

Self-acceptance and true friendship.

Speed {ish} round:

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

The English language really needs a word for that laughter-through-tears emotion. Because that.

For much more than 5 minutes.

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

My husband and my two kids. (You didn’t say I was stranded. Vacation!)

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

Gloria Steinem’s Revolution from Within.  My 20-year old copy is tattered, dog-eared and highlighted, and I still learn something new about myself every time I read it.

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

Don’t overthink it.

Overthink the writing and the story—get that part right—but don’t overthink the rest of the stuff that goes along with it.

5. You wake up and find that you’re Bella in Twilight. You know how it plays out. What do you do differently? {Huge thanks to Bookish Broads for letting me use this question!}

Listen to Edward and remain human. Dating a vampire is interesting. Being one? Meh.

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4792225TAMARA IRELAND STONE is the author of Time After Time and Time Between Us, which has been published in over twenty countries to widespread acclaim, and hailed as “an exciting debut novel” by Booklist and “a warm, time bending romance” by Publishers Weekly. It has been optioned for film by CBS Films.

Her next novel, Every Last Word, is about a teen girl with OCD who’s hiding part of herself from the world, until she discovers a secret poetry club that changes her in unexpected ways. Every Last Word releases on June 16, 2015.

A former Silicon Valley marketing executive, Tamara enjoys skiing, hiking, and spending time with her husband and two children. She lives just outside of San Francisco.

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Huge thanks to Tamara for not filing a restraining order always taking the time. 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.

Now.  Haven’t had a chance to pre-order this gorgeous book? Well, I’ve got a copy up for grabs! Giveaway is international, book will be coming from TBD, and additional giveaway rules are here.

**Good Luck!!**

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