Blog Tour: The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard (Guest Post + Dream Cast)

Hey everyone! I’m super excited to be on the blog tour for Amalie Howard’s The Almost Girl! Amalie is amazing, and so is this book! You can check out my review here! Today, I’ve got a guest post from Amalie to share with you, in which she discusses her character inspiration for The Almost Girl! First, here’s more about the book:

The Almost Girl 17 year-old Riven comes from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, a parallel world to Earth. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier and in a race against time to bring Caden home, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

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“A high-octane thriller. SF and dystopia fans will be right at home with this book and its fierce, capable heroine.” ~ Publishers Weekly

“Amalie Howard writes a fast paced and thrilling story with a kick butt, authentic heroine and a brilliantly crafted world.“ ~ Eve Silver, author of Rush

“The Almost Girl is a feminist tour de force. It is filled with powerful, interesting female characters. Riven is one of my favorite fictional characters ever; she is fierce, passionate, funny and smart. This sexy, fast-paced story is impossible to put down. A must read! Fans of Divergent will love it!“ ~ Kim Purcell, author of Trafficked

“A riveting union of science fiction thriller, romance, family drama, and conspiracy theory, The Almost Girl had me wishing I could crawl inside the pages and join Riven on her epic journey between parallel worlds. Amalie Howard’s writing is sharp and smart. I’m definitely craving the next installment!” ~ Page Morgan, author of The Beautiful & The Cursed


Guest Post: Character Inspiration & Dream Cast for The Almost Girl

By Amalie Howard

When I was initially doing the character study for Riven (whose name means ripped apart), I knew that I wanted her to be fierce. After all, she becomes a General of an army at fourteen and she comes from a very tough universe, so she has to be the result of that. In Neospes, there’s no room for softness and emotion. Those are the things that can get you killed. As a result, Riven is the perfect product of her environment. She’s a very intense character. I needed her to be powerful, highly skilled, focused, and mature.

My inspiration for Riven’s character came from a few different sources. The first was Max from Dark Angel TV series. I loved the fact that Max was so capable and fierce, but was also so guarded. I wanted my character to be similar—especially as she navigates the new terrain of a parallel universe that is the complete opposite to her own. Like Max, Riven has to learn how to trust and how to love while still being strong and lethal. My second source of inspiration was Leeloo from the movie The Fifth Element, one of my all time favs (and yes, I know I’m a total nerd). I love that scene where Leeloo takes out the Mangalores singlehandedly. She, like Max, is fierce, but in a different way. She’s built to be the Earth’s defender—the fifth element—and she has to learn about who we are as humans before she’s able to do the job she was created to do. I liked her inner fragility when it came to learning about love, and I wanted Riven to have the same sort of feel—hard and unapproachable on the outside, yet soft and curious on the inside. Last but not least, there’s definitely some Ellen Ripley in there, but it’s the Ripley from Alien Resurrection, where she has inherited some of the alien traits. She’s so awesome during that basketball scene in the mess hall on the ship. I loved her innate confidence and unflappable nature. I wanted Riven to have some of those qualities. Highly trained, she knows who she is and what she can do.

Like all of these amazing, multi-faceted heroines, I wanted to create a dynamic character who is forced to question everything she is and everything she knows. A soldier first, Riven is hard on the outside but still vulnerable on the inside—I wanted readers to relate to her struggle throughout the novel to let go of all her rules and be a girl. We build so many walls to keep from being hurt that we don’t allow ourselves to connect with others. As a character, Riven has to dig down deep to embrace her emotions against everything she has been taught. In the end, is she brave enough to learn how to trust her heart? Will she always be the tough, invulnerable soldier? Or will she find a balance between the two?


RIVEN – Astrid Berges OR Imogen Poots

riven 1riven 2


CADEN – Brenton Thwaites or Nicholas Hoult

caden 1 caden 2


SHAE – Sienna Guillory



AURELA – Charlize Theron



Riven’s Father – Michael Fassbender

riven father


Era Taylor – Famke Janssen



Amalie Headshot About Amalie:
AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island (Trinidad & Tobago) where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 25 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts.

An aspiring writer from a young age, Amalie’s poem “The Candle,” written at age twelve, was published in a University of Warwick journal. At fifteen, she was a recipient of a Royal Commonwealth Society Essay Award (a global youth writing competition). A Colby College graduate, she completed simultaneous Honors Theses in both French and International Studies, and graduated Summa Cum Laude/Phi Beta Kappa. At Colby, she was cited for research and criticism in Raffael Scheck’s article, “German Conservatism and Female Political Activism in the Early Weimar Republic,” and his subsequent book, Mothers of the Nation. She also received a distinction in English Literature from the University of Cambridge (A-levels) as well as a certificate in French Literature from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. Traveling the globe, she has worked as a research assistant, marketing representative, teen speaker and global sales executive.

She is the author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 Amazon bestseller and a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. She is also the co-author of the adult historical romance series, THE LORDS OF ESSEX. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children.

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Blog Tour: Entrusted by Allegra Gray (Guest Post + Giveaway)

Hey everyone! I’m so excited to be a part of the blog tour for Entrusted by Allegra Gray (September 8, 2015, Silverthorne Entertainment). Today, I have an awesome excerpt and a fun guest post to share with you, plus a giveaway! First, here’s more about the book:


To protect her country’s future, she’ll have to commit treason…

ENTRUSTED by Allegra Gray is a stunning historical Young Adult masterpiece of suspense, hope, and determination. This story follows orphaned Audrey as she’s tasked with keeping ancient relics safe from tyrannical hands and their unholy deeds. With the help of a charming adventurer, Tobias, Aubrey must do all she can to protect the relics she’s been entrusted to guard…even if it costs her life.


Orphan Audrey Thorndale longs for the peaceful life of a convent, but with a younger brother to care for and England’s religious houses falling one by one to Henry VIII’s Reformation, she’ll have to find another way to serve God and country. The Abbot of Glastonbury, aware of Audrey’s dilemma and loathe to see the great treasures of his abbey looted and destroyed, suggests a plan that could save Audrey, the relics, and even the future of Britain…but if she agrees to it, she’ll have to commit treason.

Second son and sometime adventurer, Tobias Seybourne has never left an opportunity unexplored. He’s won the favor of the king, and is aiming for knighthood, when Abbot Whiting offers him the chance of a lifetime—partner with Audrey, and protect England’s greatest legend. Most importantly? Do it without ever giving the king a reason to suspect more devious purposes simmer beneath Tobias’s charming façade.

With help from the abbot, Audrey and Tobias set in motion a plan to ensure that when the abbey walls crumble, one particular treasure will be safely hidden elsewhere.

But as the abbot points out, the king’s minions keep close account of their plunder, and the contents of Glastonbury’s repository are well documented.

With the king’s men bearing down fast, someone must take the fall…

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And now for the excerpt! Enjoy!

“You are worried that Glastonbury is in peril, and the treasures it holds will end up in the king’s coffers.”

“Yes—and no.” He eyes me. “It’s more complicated than that. You must not repeat anything you are hearing right now.”

“No, Father Abbot. Never.” If there is one thing I am, it is loyal.

“When I combine what I know—what I, myself have seen and heard—with what the monks who have already lost their homes tell me, I see a future in which certain relics of Glastonbury never make it to the king’s coffers, but are destroyed instead.” He shakes his head sadly. “The idea that the holy relics would go into the king’s hands was disturbing enough, but to destroy them? Sacrilege.

“Again, I must emphasize the importance of not repeating this conversation—to anyone. Not even Sam. The Treason Act is too loosely interpreted these days to take chances.”

I gulp, cursing myself for giving in to curiosity. Now it is my hands that tremble. I should tell him to stop, that I don’t want to hear any more, but my tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth. I should never have asked what was troubling him. And yet, I have the sense we have set on an irrevocable course, and I must see it through.

Finally, I pry my tongue loose. “I appreciate your honesty, Father Abbot.”

“Should Glastonbury fall, the treasures that can be measured in gold and silver will most certainly find a new home—whether it be the royal treasury or a pilferer’s stash. It is the others that trouble me.”

He rubs his temples, as though even thinking hurts. I begin moving about the room again, straightening things, dusting surfaces…the little, normal, everyday movements that I know, somehow, provide the backdrop of comfort that Abbot Whiting needs right now.

“You remember those visitors from Walsingham? They informed me that the shrine there, the shrine to the Virgin, which the king himself has visited, has been destroyed. The statue of the Virgin removed, the shrine itself despoiled, and the buildings looted. The same happened at Roche Abbey this summer.”

Finally, it sinks in, and I know exactly which of Glastonbury’s relics—one with no value in gold, but still of immeasurable worth—is troubling him so.

I stop dusting. My tongue, now loosened, does not have the sense to stop.

“If Glastonbury falls, what will become of King Arthur?”

And now for the guest post! Enjoy!

Fiction, History, and the Tower of London

Warning / (*minor spoiler alert*): The post below does contain some references to events that happen in Entrusted, Book 1 of the Relic Guardians series. There are NO major plot reveals, but I do talk a little bit about what I envisioned was going on “behind the scenes” when I was researching and writing the book.

Entrusted GP 1 

In Entrusted, the main character, Audrey, is held prisoner for a few weeks in the Tower of London. This is, of course, the same place where many of England’s most notable prisoners have been held—often because they posed a threat to the ruler at the time, regardless of whether proof existed that they’d committed any crime.

In the days before forensics and paper trails (or digital trails), a few whispers and rumors could constitute treason, if the monarch had reason to suspect. Prisoners could also be used as leverage…e.g., by holding an innocent wife or child, they might eke a confession out of the husband, in exchange for the promised release of his loved ones. Although it’s not explicitly used as a plot device in Entrusted, I kind of envisioned that this would be one reason they would hold Audrey—in the hopes that one of the other key characters would be arm-twisted into saying something they otherwise wouldn’t.

If you’ve had the good fortune to visit the Tower of London, you might think of creepy stone passages and torture devices. I first visited at the age of 13, and that is definitely what made an impression on me—not the crown jewels, or the impressive suits of armor (well, those were pretty cool, too). I’m not the only one… see the still below from the movie “The Tower of London” from 1962, in which “The twisted Richard III is haunted by the ghosts of those he has murdered in his attempt to become the King of England.” (

Entrusted GP 2 

However, the reality is that the Tower of London was not originally built to be a prison, and not all of its “prisoners” were treated equally. In fact, it was a royal residence for many years, and had buildings for a number of administrative functions. Thus, when it was used as a prison, the prisoners were accommodated wherever it was convenient to put them at the time, and also befitting their station. There was a certain prestige that came with nobility, and some prisoners had suites of rooms, family members, and even servants to join them. For these “lucky” ones, their stay was like being under a modern-day house arrest.

Of course, being of noble blood was no guarantee you wouldn’t eventually lose your head on the executioner’s block. But some, such as Henry VIII’s first wife, were eventually released and allowed to retire in the countryside. As for torture, the Privy Council had to sanction the use of torture, so it was not used indiscriminately; between 1540 and 1640, the peak of imprisonment at the Tower, there were 48 recorded cases of the use of torture. That’s not to say there weren’t some unrecorded cases…

One the most infamous and chilling tales of the Tower of London is that of the two young princes who “went missing” while there. (If you are a fan of Philippa Gregory’s books, you’ll recognize this event in The White Queen).

Shortly after the death of Edward IV in 1483, the notorious murder of the Princes in the Tower is believed to have taken place. Edward V’s uncle, Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, was declared Lord Protector because Edward was too young to rule. Traditional accounts have held that the 12-year-old Edward was confined to the Tower of London along with his younger brother Richard. The princes were last seen in public in June 1483, and many historians suspect they were murdered later that summer. At any rate, they were never seen again, and the Duke of Gloucester was proclaimed King Richard III in July. Bones thought to belong to the two princes were discovered in 1674 when the 12th-century forebuilding at the entrance to the White Tower was demolished; however, the reputed level at which the bones were found (ten feet) would put the bones at a depth similar to that of the recently discovered Roman graveyard found a few hundred yards to the north. No one can say for certain what happened. (You can find more detail at

A blog post is not the place for a full accounting of all the interesting historical events that occurred at the Tower of London, but there are many books and websites devoted to the topic for those who wish to know more. (And if you’re in the area, by all means, take a tour!).

I’ll conclude by saying that when I sat down (okay, flopped down on my office rug) to research the Tower of London for the scene(s) in Entrusted, I definitely got sucked in to the vivid history and speculation surrounding this famous landmark.

The more I read, the more I was reminded of the phrases “truth is stranger than fiction” and “you can’t make this stuff up.” Of course, being a fiction writer, I have to try… :)


Join the Entrusted Blog Tour September 7th to 18th! One grand prize winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Enter HERE or through the form below!

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Visit any or all of the following blogs for your chance to win!


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AuthorAbout the Author:
Allegra Gray grew up with her nose in a book and her head in the clouds—that is, when she wasn’t focused on more practical things like, say, learning calculus. Perhaps all those stories inspired a spirit of adventure, because at the age of seventeen she embarked on a career journey that has (so far) included serving as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, grad school at Virginia Tech, teaching English, and managing defense contracts in the Middle East. The best thing about this breadth of experience? When she tried her hand at writing novels like the ones she’d always loved, she recognized at once that she’d found a true passion. Her forthcoming series, The Relic Guardians, is genre-bending mainstream/historical suspense, inspired by her long-held desire to unveil things obscured by the mists of time. Allegra is also the author of four historical romances, including the “Daring Damsels” trilogy of Nothing But Scandal, Nothing But Deception, and Nothing But Trouble.

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Author Spotlight: While You Were Gone by Amy K. Nichols (Guest Post)

Hey everyone! I’m so excited to have Amy K. Nichols, author of While You Were Gone (August 4th 2015, Knopf Books for Young Readers), here with an awesome guest post! First, here’s more about While You Were Gone:

While You Were Gone An artist without a cause meets a rebel without a clue.

Eevee is a promising young artist and the governor’s daughter in a city where censorship is everywhere and security is everything. When a fire devastates her exhibition—years in the making—her dreams of attending an elite art institute are dashed. She’s struggling to find inspiration when she meets Danny, a boy from a different world. Literally.

Raised in a foster home, Danny has led a life full of hurt and hardship until a glitch in the universe changes everything. Suddenly Danny is living in a home he’s never seen, with parents who miraculously survived the car crash that should have killed them. It’s like he’s a new Danny. But this alternate self has secrets—ties to an underground anarchist group that have already landed him in hot water. When he starts to develop feelings for Eevee, he’s even more disturbed to learn that he might have started the fire that ruined her work.

As Danny sifts through clues from his past and Eevee attempts to piece together her future, they uncover a secret that’s bigger than both of them. . . . And together, they must correct the breach between the worlds before it’s too late.

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And now here’s Amy’s guest post! Enjoy!

The Duplexity Series: When Fact and Fiction Collide

By Amy K. Nichols

A funny thing happened while writing While You Were Gone, the second book in my Duplexity series: I ran into the real world.

The story begins, literally, with a bang. At the beginning of Now That You’re Here, sixteen-year-old Danny Ogden is at the Patriots’ Day parade when back-to-back explosions throw the world into chaos and catapult him into a parallel universe. I first wrote that scene sometime around 2008. In fall of 2011, I sold the book to Knopf, finished up edits the following summer, and, by spring of 2012, was drafting book two.

On April 15, 2013, back-to-back explosions ripped through the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring hundreds more. I remember being sick to my stomach as I tracked Twitter updates and news alerts. I’d been working on a scene in While You Were Gone that dealt with the aftermath of the explosions at the parade when the horrific reality of the events in Boston broke into my fictional world. I stepped away from the story and asked, How can I possibly write this when real people are suffering from an uncannily similar event? It took me a long time to gather up enough nerve to finish working on that scene.

On June 5 of the same year, the Guardian published an interview with NSA informant Edward Snowden, bringing to light sweeping surveillance operations conducted by the U.S. and U.K. governments. I watched the news unfold, my writing interrupted. By this point I was finishing up the second book, which takes place in an alternate Phoenix, where people are monitored by a massive surveillance apparatus. Just as with the explosions, the seeds of this story had been conceived way back in 2008. And here again I was watching reality play out against the pale imitation I’d created in fiction.

Needless to say, I was a bit freaked out. I mean, what a strange coincidence, right? Or maybe it wasn’t coincidence. Maybe I’d tapped into some greater unifying force, or maybe I’d been picking up on societal trends on a subconscious level. When I mentioned the parallels to my mentor, he shook his head and said, “The ideas are out there, floating in the ether.” Was there something to that whole “collective consciousness” idea after all? Whatever it was, it got me thinking. If there was some kind of larger conversation going on, what did I want my contribution to be?


I raise some big questions in the Duplexity series. Now That You’re Here asks, What if there really are parallel universes? What if you could trade places with your parallel self? What if you like that world better than yours? While You Were Gone asks, Which is more important, security or freedom? What if you lived in a world where you’re always being watched? What if there are consequences for not only what you do but also what you think? While I explore these questions—which clearly are rooted in the realities of our world—I don’t have the answers. What I try to offer through these stories, though, is hope. The world can be a scary place. Sometimes people get hurt. The actions of one person can unleash a reaction that turns the whole world on its ear. Sometimes, though, that reaction leads to change. Sometimes good is born out of the bad. Sometimes all it takes is one person to shine a light of hope, both in fiction and in the real world.


AmyNicholsBWsquare About the author:
AMY K. NICHOLS lives on the edge of the Phoenix desert with her husband and children. In the evenings, she enjoys sitting outside, counting bats and naming stars. NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE is her first novel and WHILE YOU WERE GONE is her second.

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Blog Tour: The Secrets of Attraction by Robin Constantine (Guest Post)

Hey everyone! I’m so, so excited to be on the blog tour for Robin Constantine’s upcoming release, The Secrets of Attraction (April 28th 2015, Balzer + Bray). I adore Robin! She’s amazing, kind and a fantastic writer! The Promise of Amazing was one of the first contemporary books I read as a newbie blogger – and one of the reasons I fell in love with contemporary! So I’m beyond excited to help her celebrate her second book’s release! For my blog tour stop, I have an awesome guest post from Robin! First, here’s more information about the book:

Set in the same world as The Promise of Amazing, this smart, surprising, and romantic follow-up to Robin Constantine’s debut novel follows two New Jersey teens as they become friends and fall in love. Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, Sarah Mlynowski, and Jennifer E. Smith.

Madison Pryce thinks she’s got everything figured out—she’s working on a portfolio for a summer art program and hanging with her friends. Plus she has her hot boyfriend, Zach. But then a visit from a family friend turns Maddie’s life upside down.

Jesse McMann is still reeling from a breakup that shattered his heart and his band. Then pride (and some goading from his bass player and fellow barista) forces him to find a new drummer—and the inspiration to write music again.

Kismet arrives in the unlikely form of Grayson Barrett, who tries out for Jesse’s band, and whose girlfriend is BFFs with the cute girl who orders a chai latte after yoga every Thursday: Maddie. What Jesse and Maddie thought they knew about the secrets of attraction and the rules of romance changes once they start falling for each other.


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And now here’s Robin’s guest post! Enjoy!

My Ten Favorite Romantic Comedies

By Robin Constantine

Like Jazz in both The Promise of Amazing and The Secrets of Attraction, romance is my favorite fantasy. While I know finding true love tips from a movie is nonsensical, I am a huge sucker for a big Hollywood ending! Whenever I’m feeling low, even watching just a few moments of a rom-com can lift my spirits. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order – the ones that I can catch at any point and continue watching!
Letters to Juliet
RC1 Okay, so Sophie’s fiancé is a jerk from the moment you meet him, and some of the plot points are predictable, this movie is such a sweet, visual feast I can forgive its flaws. Italian countryside – need I say more? The performances by Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave make this a captivating watch again and again.
Bridget Jones’s Diary
RC2 Who doesn’t want to hang out with Bridget Jones? Add a love triangle that contains Colin Firth AND Hugh Grant? Win-win, sitch.
Just Wright
RC3 Two words. Queen Latifah. This slow-burn romance is such fun from start to finish. It’s hard not to cheer when the (w)right girl follows her dreams AND gets the guy.
RC4 This gem is over twenty years old but it stands the test of time. The characters – main and supporting – are so deliciously flawed you can’t help but be riveted as they navigate their way through weddings, family gatherings and doomed romantic tanglings. Anyone who has commuted to work on a train should watch this for one of the best, guaranteed-to-sweep-you-away romantic moments ever on film, imho.
The Hundred Foot Journey
RC5 While the romance here is mainly with food and pursuing your passion, the subtle flirtation that blossoms between Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon is charming. It’s also a visually stunning film and stars Helen Mirren and Om Puri, who have quite a feisty chemistry themselves as competitive restaurant owners.
About a Boy
RC6 I’m not sure this would be classified as a rom-com (is there such a thing as a brom-com?), but this is one of my favorites so I had to include it. Hugh Grant is a cad (really there’s no other word here) in this film, but a loveable cad who changes his ways and opens his heart (and gets the girl) by the end. The scene where he joins little pre-Skins Nicholas Hoult on stage to play Killing Me Softly is just the BEST.
French Kiss
RC7 I want Meg Ryan’s hair! Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline start out as adversaries in the beginning of this film. She thinks he’s rude, he thinks she’s uptight – a match made in heaven. With incredible locations like Paris and Cannes, I can’t help but swoon. Watching their relationship grow and change in this movie is magic.
The Holiday
RC8 So let me see, if I rent a cottage in Surrey, do you think it comes with Jude Law? Yes, please. Love this holiday movie any time of the year!
What If
RC9 Who knew Harry Potter could be a romantic lead? (although the scene in The Goblet of Fire when he asks Cho to the Yule ball is one of my favorites) Daniel Radcliffe is so wonderful in this movie. He and Zoe Kazan have the most adorable chemistry in this perfectly paced friendship-to-love romance.
You’ve Got Mail
RC10 In this case, I guess I did save the best for last. This may be my favorite rom-com ever. As a matter of fact, after I write this post, I think I’m going to watch it again. Another adversaries-to-love romance, with BOOKS!! And letter writing (okay, email exchanges) And Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks! I love it for The Shop Around the Corner, alone. Then, there’s that ending… “Don’t cry Shopgirl” …sigh. Perfect.

What are some of your favorites?


robin_about_smallAbout Robin:
Robin Constantine is a born-and-raised Jersey girl who moved south so she could wear flip-flops year-round. She spends her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, eventually, but not without a lot of peril, angst, and the occasional kissing scene.

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Sunday Street Team: Second Position by Katherine Locke (Guest Post + Giveaway)


Sunday Street Team is hosted by Nori @ ReadWriteLove28

Hey everyone! Today, I have Katherine Locke, author of Second Postion, here with a guest post! First, here’s the cover and synopsis for Second Position:

Second PositionFour years ago, a car accident ended Zedekiah Harrow’s ballet career and sent Philadelphia Ballet principal dancer Alyona Miller spinning toward the breakdown that suspended her own. What they lost on the side of the road that day can never be replaced, and grief is always harshest under a spotlight…

Now twenty-three, Zed teaches music and theatre at a private school in Washington, D.C. and regularly attends AA meetings to keep the pain at bay. Aly has returned to D.C. to live with her mother while trying to recover from the mental and physical breakdown that forced her to take a leave of absence from the ballet world, and her adoring fans.

When Zed and Aly run into each other in a coffee shop, it’s as if no time has passed at all. But without the buffer and escape of dance—and with so much lust, anger and heartbreak hanging between them—their renewed connection will either allow them to build the together they never had…or destroy the fragile recoveries they’ve only started to make.

Book One of the District Ballet Company


Ready to step back to the barre with Zed and Aly? Get a cup of tea and follow the links!


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Don’t forget! You can check out the prequel novella TURNING POINTE at Carina Press right here! See Zed when he danced, how they got together, and what happened years before SECOND POSITION starts!

And now here’s Katherine’s guest post! Enjoy!

SECOND POSITION author Katherine Locke’s Five Favorite New Adult Romances

Hi, everyone! Thanks for stopping by on this blog tour. My New Adult romance SECOND POSITION comes out 4/13 from Carina Press and I am excited for you to read it! (Links etc at the bottom)

Until then, however, I thought I’d drop a few book recommendations on your lap to keep you happy and well-read! Here are my five favorite New Adult books you should definitely pick up. (As a disclaimer, I should say most of these books have adult language and situations and are 18+ ;))

Faking It by Cora Carmack: This is the second book in Cora Carmack’s first New Adult series (other titles: Losing It and Finding It) and it remains one of my favorites. Cade’s trying to get over his unrequited crush, and Mackenzie (Max) is trying to convince her parents that she has her life together. Since Max’s real boyfriend is…less savory, shall we say and definitely not the guy you bring home to your parents, she convinces Cade to pretend to be her boyfriend. Except…maybe Max is exactly who Cade needs to get over his heartbreak and get him out of his rut, and maybe Cade is exactly who Max needs to start living her life honestly. Except, maybe, they aren’t faking it at all… This is one of the rare books where the heroine is JUST as swoony as the hero is. I love Max. She’s all mine. So is Cade but I can share!

I See London by Chanel Cleeton is the first in the International School series and boy did I enjoy this series. I recommend starting at the beginning with this book. Maggie, an American, decides to go to an international school in London for college where she finds herself surrounded by wealth way beyond her own, and significantly over her head with the guys around her. Especially when it comes to Samir, a French-Lebanese student who likes to be frustrating. Oh, and he also likes to kiss her. And he’s a really good kisser. I love Chanel’s writing and this whole series was beautiful, fun, and oh man is Samir swoony. Swoon for days.

Boomerang by Noelle August is a fun little ride that definitely opens with a bang. So to speak. Mia and Ethan wake up in the same bed after a crazy night out, and when they head out to their respective days…they show up at the same internship. Turns out they’re competing for the same job at the end of the summer. Just imagine the awkward seeping through the pages at this point. Oh, and internship rule: they can’t date. But that’s easier said than done, obviously, and the crazy wild path of a marketing internship & post-college romance is fantastically done. And I love how comfortable Mia is with her body. It’s remarked upon several times and rightfully so because it’s so unusual. Yes for body-positive heroines!

Everly After by Rebecca Paula is dark, moody, and deeply romantic. In full disclosure, Rebecca’s one of my critique partners and I couldn’t have written Second Position without her. Everly After is the story of Everly, an American heiress, who is trying to leave her hard-partying ways behind and hide from the real life in France. But that’s easier said than done. Beckett’s a war journalist on leave after an assignment that went downhill. When they run into each other, they can’t help the attraction, but they also can’t undo their pasts. There’s no such thing as clear sailing in this book. I loved Everly After from the first time I read it. This is a book about messy people who make mistake, after mistake, after mistake, and they fall down more than they get up (even if that’s not physically possible.) The romance sparks right off the page and to your surprise, you’ll find yourself rooting for Beckett and Everly to be okay. The writing is exquisite too.

Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler: Full disclosure, I beta-read this one too! But that doesn’t mean I can’t recommend it because I LOVE LIZZIE. This book’s about Lizzie, a college student who suddenly becomes the guardian to her two younger brothers after their parents are killed in a car accident. She has to pull her grades up and keep her scholarship suddenly, which throws her directly into the path of her TA Connor. He can’t really dress himself but whatever, Lizzie can see past that. This isn’t your typical student/teacher relationship, and Lizzie’s definitely not getting a Substitute Mother of the Year Award. But she’s doing the best she can, and the realness of Connor and Lizzie’s relationship keeps you turning pages. You’ll miss your stop on the train for this one.

Have a favorite NA? Leave it in the comments!

And now here’s the giveaway, courtesy of Katherine! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below!

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Katherine LockeAbout the Author:
Katherine Locke lives and writes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she’s ruled by her feline overlords and her addiction to chai lattes. Her dayjobs always vary, but in the past she’s worked in nuclear weapons abolition activism, lead poisoning prevention and education, and food safety programs at a mushroom farm. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, and when she’s not reading, she’s tweeting about reading and writing. She likes her heroes boyish and her heroines with dirty mouths. She secretly believes most books are fairytales in disguise. Her debut novel, SECOND POSITION, arrives in April 2015 from Carina Press.


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Blog Tour: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (Guest Post + Giveaway)

Hey everyone! I’m so excited to be a part of Aisha Saeed’s blog tour for her debut novel, Written in the Stars (Out now)! For my blog tour stop, I have a guest post from Aisha! Plus, there’s an awesome giveaway! First, here’s some more information about Written in the Stars:

Written in Stars coverThis heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Book Depository | IndieBound

And now here’s Aisha’s Guest Post!! Enjoy!

Balancing Two Cultures

by Aisha Saeed

When my parents emigrated from Pakistan to the United States, they were the first in their families to leave behind their ancestral lands. It is a huge leap of faith to leave behind not only your family and friends, but also everything you know for the hope to create a better life for yourself and for future generations. It’s a leap of faith I’m so thankful they took.

Growing up, just like the parents in Written in the Stars, my parents also valued their cultural heritage. Because of the value they placed on remembering where we came from, I can speak two Pakistani languages, have a closetful of salwar kamizes [traditional Pakistani clothing] that I wear to special events and on holidays, and can make many South Asian dishes including a mean biryani. Beyond just the physical traditions such as clothing and food, I also appreciate the many Pakistani values my parents imparted upon me, like the emphasis on family and community. Growing up in the United States with our relatives overseas, our Pakistani American community became our family. We went to each other’s homes for dinner each week (much like Naila did), and we relied and turned to each other for support when things were tough. For my parents, these weekly meetings with their friends helped anchor them in the familiar in what was a beloved but often unfamiliar new country.

Despite all the benefits of growing up with two cultures, it was not without its challenges. Because my parents were not born and raised in the United States there were many cultural things they didn’t understand. For example, most children know what Valentine’s Day is, but I didn’t so I ended up being the only kid in kindergarten without any cards to hand out. My parents also didn’t go to schools like mine growing up, so prom and football games were completely foreign, and consequently, a bit intimidating for them to consider allowing me to go to. It was sometimes a little rough, wanting to do things my classmates did but not being able to because of the cultural divide that separated us.

I found myself turning a great deal to people who really got just how hard it was to balance these two worlds: my Pakistani-American friends. Much like Naila turned to her boyfriend Saif, I relied on these friends to understand the unique challenges we faced. We gave each other advice and by leaning on one other we made our way through navigating two cultures we appreciated and valued but that could be very different from each other at times.

Now that I’m an adult, I am thankful to have found a happy balance between my parents’ culture and my American culture. It was a balancing act and it wasn’t always easy, but now I feel immeasurably blessed to have the benefits of both in my life and to be able to enjoy the best of both worlds.


And don’t forget to enter the awesome giveaway we have for you! Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

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Aisha-Saeed-author photoAbout the Author:
Aisha Saeed is an author, mama, lawyer, teacher, and maker and drinker of chai. She is also the Vice President of Strategy for We Need Diverse Books™. Aisha has been blogging for over a decade and her writing has also appeared in places such as The Orlando Sentinel, BlogHer, Muslim Girl Magazine, and Red Tricycle. She is also a contributing author to the anthology Love Inshallah

While Aisha loves writing about a variety of topics, her main passion lies in channeling her inner teen. Her debut YA novel WRITTEN IN THE STARS will be released in 2015 by Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books. She is represented by Taylor Martindale at Full Circle Literary Agency.

When Aisha isn’t writing or chasing her two little boys, you can find her reading, baking, doodling henna patterns, or daydreaming about eight consecutive hours of sleep.

You can connect with Aisha at her website, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Tumblr.


Written in the Stars Blog Tour Schedule

YA Highway – 3/24

IceyBooks – 3/25

Jessabella Reads – 3/26

Alice Marvels – 3/27

Pandora’s Books – 3/31

Pop! Goes the Reader – 4/2

The Young Folks – 4/6

Forever Young Adult – 4/7

Cuddlebuggery – 4/8

Perpetual Page Turner – 4/9

The YA Bookworm – 4/13

Author Spotlight: Grunge Gods and Graveyards by Kimberly G. Giarratano (Guest Post + Giveaway)

Hey everyone! I’m so excited to have Kimberly G. Giarratano, author of Grunge Gods and Graveyards (May 2014, Red Adept Publishing, LLC), here with an awesome guest post today! First, here’s some more information about Grunge Gods and Graveyards:

GrungeGods CoverParted by death. Tethered by love.

Lainey Bloom’s high school senior year is a complete disaster. The popular clique, led by mean girl Wynter Woods, bullies her constantly. The principal threatens not to let her graduate with the class of 1997 unless she completes a major research project. And everyone blames her for the death of Wynter’s boyfriend, Danny Obregon.

Danny, a gorgeous musician, stole Lainey’s heart when he stole a kiss at a concert. But a week later, he was run down on a dangerous stretch of road. When he dies in her arms, she fears she’ll never know if he really would have broken up with Wynter to be with her.

Then his ghost shows up, begging her to solve his murder. Horrified by the dismal fate that awaits him if he never crosses over, Lainey seeks the dark truth amidst small town secrets, family strife, and divided loyalties. But every step she takes toward discovering what really happened the night Danny died pulls her further away from the beautiful boy she can never touch again.

Goodreads | Amazon

Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

And now here’s Kimberly’s guest post! Hope you guys enjoy it!


Romance Shmomance

by Kimberly G. Giarratano

Hello lovely readers. Valentine’s Day is here, so …hurray? I guess your perspective all depends on what stage of a romantic life you’re in — new relationship where everything is sexy times and city dates or married life where everything is minimal time and take out. When I was single, I used February 15th sales as a way to score chocolate on the cheap. Now, I’m married and my husband will probably come home from work with a box of Russell Stover or flowers from Costco. The latter is more likely.

Anyway, real life isn’t very romantic. At least, my real life isn’t. Thus, I get bogged down when writing romance scenes, particularly in YA. There’s a fine line to walk between toe-curling romance and downright cheese. Because I’m always afraid of coming across as lame, I tend to favor snarky, antagonistic romances between characters (ala Blair and Chuck, or Veronica and Logan). Unfortunately, as I learned in edits, my characters come across as not liking each other, a big no-no when writing a romantic subplot, and thus unlikeable to readers. My biggest pitfall, besides the antagonism I unintentionally insert, is the dialogue. I’m not one to write sappy lines, so I compensate with sarcasm.

In my novel, Grunge Gods and Graveyards, my romantic lead, Danny, became a bit of a flirt. But that took revisions to master. Take out snark. Insert hotness. So easy when you write it that way, isn’t it? But it wasn’t easy to do in early drafts. I’m not a guy, obviously, so there was a lot of me tapping my husband’s shoulder and asking, “When you were seventeen, would you say this?” And him shaking his head.

Most readers will tell you they like a slow burn when it comes to their romantic entanglements. Not only does the getting-to-know-you scenes help develop characterization, but it also builds sexual tension which is key for good romance. Insta-love isn’t very satisfying to read nor write. It’s also not realistic. I want to think, “That could happen to me” because the authentic emotional connection is what makes me swoon. Isn’t that why we read romance to begin with? Because deep down we want to feel as loved and desired as those main characters and that’s not gonna happen if there’s no believable buildup.

Even as I write this, I’m struggling with an early draft of a romantic mystery. The two main characters need to meet, fall in love and be willing to sacrifice everything for each other in about 35,000 words (it’s a novella). Even though I know in my head that I’m supposed to be taking the advice I outlined in this blog post, I still find it difficult to write a romantic scene. I’m constantly striving for realism and that’s not always easy to do. Because let’s face it — the average woman’s life is as romantic as a box of Russell Stover and bouquet of roses from Costco.

So, what say you lovely readers — What makes for a great literary romance? And if you’re a writer, how do you tackle a romance scene?
Thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. And remember, on February 15th, all that delicious chocolate goes on sale.

Oh! and as an added goody, I’m giving away an ebook (Kindle, Nook, iTunes, Google Play or Kobo) of Grunge Gods and Graveyards to one lucky reader. Please comment to win. And if you’d like to know when my novella, The Lady in Blue, will be available, consider signing up for my newsletter. I’ll only email you when the book is on its way.



Kim - HeadshotAbout Kim:
Kimberly G. Giarratano, a forever Jersey girl, now lives in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and small children. A former teacher and YA librarian, Kimberly adores Etsy, Jon Stewart, The Afghan Whigs, ’90s nostalgia, and (of course) everything YA. She also speaks Spanish, but is woefully out of practice.

Kimberly always dreamed of being a published author. Her other dream is to live in Key West, Florida where she can write in a small studio, just like Hemingway.


Goodreads | Red Adept Publishing Profile

Blog Tour: Shutter by Courtney Alameda (Guest Post + Giveaway)

Shutter BlogTourBanner
Hey everyone! Welcome to my stop on the Shutter Blog Tour! Today, I’m pleased to share Courtney’s Top Ten Favorite Horror Projects with you. First, here’s the cover and synopsis:

ShutterHorror has a new name: introducing Courtney Alameda.

Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She’s aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera’s technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn’t exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she’s faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Click here to read an excerpt of Shutter!


And now here are Courtney’s Top Ten Favorite Horror Projects! Enjoy!!


Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens . . . are things I don’t much care for (okay, okay, maybe the whiskers on kittens. I’m not heartless!) Most of my favorite things skew along the creepy spectrum, and my favorite books, movies, and video games are no exception. For today’s Top Ten Tuesday installment on Pandora’s Books, I’m counting down my favorite horror (or horror-esque) projects of all time. It was difficult to cull only ten creative works from the myriad of things I have experienced and loved, but the following projects are things that have really affected me over the years.

Here now, I present to you my top ten favorite horror projects of all time (or of thus far):

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I have long loved the ethereal, creepy, and at times gory artwork of Tom Bagshaw, who tackles everything from pop culture to Japanese monsters like the kuchisake-onna (pictured above).

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My favorite YA horror novel is Rick Yancey’s peerless The Monstrumologist, in which twelve-year-old Will Henry and his mentor, Dr. Pellinore, must face a pod of ravenous anthropophagi. Gracefully written and truly terrifying, it took home a Printz Honor Award in 2011.

Shutter 3
There are few manga/anime series more violent than Kohta Hirano’s Hellsing, in which a revived Dracula (Alucard) teams up with a descendant of Abraham Van Helsing to battle modern-day Nazi vampires. Bloody good fun.

Shutter 4
I waited a long time to see Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, mostly because I took one look at the movie poster and wrote the film off. But one night in October 2013 my curiosity got the better of me, and within the first five minutes, Cabin in the Woods rocketed to the top of my favorite horror films list. Somehow the film manages to the humorous, frightening, and oh-so-meta . . . often all at the same time. Favorite scene? The elevator bank.

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I’ll admit The Walking Dead has petered out for me in season five, but the first and third seasons were action-packed and gutsy (literally and figuratively). The Governor is one of my favorite antagonists in television, and I feel he met his end a little too soon.

Shutter 6
Stephen King’s The Mist (a novella included in Skeleton Crew) was the first horror novel I ever read. Upon finishing, I stopped, considered the novella for a few moments, and then turned back to page one. As an adolescent, I found solace in the scary, so it’s probably no surprise that I now write thriller/horror for young people.

Shutter 7
The X-Files was my absolute favorite television show as a kid—I refused to miss an episode, no matter how late it kept me up on a school night (or how badly it frightened me). To this day, I have Mulder’s I Want to Believe poster hanging in my home, and Eugene Tooms still scares me witless.

Shutter 8
I talk about Ridley Scott’s Alien quite often, and even wrote an entire blog post on what I learned about writing horror from the film.

Shutter 9
My favorite video game franchise of all time is Capcom’s Resident Evil series, with Resident Evil 4 being the most frightening and engrossing installment, in my opinion. There’s nothing quite like being pursued by an army of angry villagers armed with pitchforks, all of whom are infected with a parasite that resembles H.R. Giger’s facehugger from Alien. Add black-clad priests chanting “Morir es vivir” to that picturesque scene, along with bag-faced men wielding chainsaws and a lake-dwelling creature known only as El Lago, and you have one helluva of a ride.

Shutter 10
Finally, my list of favorite horror projects couldn’t be complete without mentioning Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which remains one of the most unsettling novels I have ever read. Aside from Sherlock Holmes, no other character from classic literature has been re-imagined or portrayed in other creative works as often as Dracula has—and with his mesmerizing presence on the page, is it any wonder?



And now, thanks to the amazing people at Macmillan, we have a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a hardcover copy of Shutter! US/CAN only! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below!

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Courtney AlamedaAbout the Author:
Courtney Alameda’s spent her entire career trying to con and cajole people into reading great books. A veteran of the big-box bookstore trenches, Courtney now works as a librarian for the prettiest library you’ve ever seen, where she spends her time ordering large stacks of YA books, doing readers’ advisory, and dressing up as various mythical creatures for a variety of library events.

Courtney has an affinity for brightly colored lipstick, urban exploration, cosplay, video games, and Twitter. If she’s listening to music, it’s usually Florence + the Machine, Marina and the Diamonds, Rodrigo y Gabriela, or Jason Graves. Her addiction to Dr. Pepper is legendary.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Brigham Young University. She is represented by the amazing and talented John M. Cusick of Greenhouse Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with a legion of books and a tiny, five pound cat who possesses a giant personality.


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Blog Tour: The Outlanders by Erin Rhew (Guest Post + Excerpt + Giveaway)

Hey everyone! I’m so excited to be a part of Erin Rhew’s blog tour for her second novel, The Outlanders (October 21, 2014)! For my blog tour stop, I have a guest post from Erin. Plus, there is an awesome excerpt and a giveaway! First, here’s some more information about The Outlanders:

With King Jesper dead and Prince Wilhelm mortally wounded, Halfling prince, Nash, and the Fulfilment, Layla, assume the throne of Etherea. They must contend with a new Prophecy Candidate who asserts her position, and Layla is surprised to find her fate intertwined with this challenger. Facing a myriad of choices, Nash and Layla’s decisions affect not only their own futures but that of two kingdoms.

Unbeknownst to the Ethereals or the Vanguards, a slumbering menace stirs in the south, awakened after centuries of slumber. The mysterious Outlanders, a force shadowed in mystery, sit poised to tip the balance of power, sending ripples of fear throughout both warring kingdoms.

Elder Werrick proved a formidable foe, but Layla may yet meet her match in the monstrous Outlander queen. This mistress of the dark’s plans, rooted in revenge and ancient lore, now threaten the livelihood of all three kingdoms.

Racing against time, Layla travels to the Borderlands—home of the Voltons and Ecclesiastics—to discover as much as she can about the war, the First Ones, and the prophecy itself. Lives teeter in the balance, kingdoms sit on the cusp of ruin, and a beast, greater than any she’s ever faced before, plots a catastrophic attack.

Goodreads | Amazon

You can also purchase The Prophecy (Book #1) here

Now here’s Erin’s guest post, in which Erin discusses All of the Changes! Enjoy!

Thank you, Meredith, for hosting me on your blog today! I just re-released my debut novel, The Prophecy, on Oct. 1, 2014 through BookFish Books, and its sequel, The Outlanders, released on Oct. 21, 2014 from the same company. In addition to that, the story has undergone a cover change, and I’ve had a name change. So, Meredith asked me to explain to you all the changes that have been going on in my life.

So, yes, in the last little bit, my life has been turned upside down, inside out, and every which-a-way. I guess I’ll start with the best news—I’M GETTING MARRIED!! Ironically, I met my dream man, the OMG-is-he-even-real-he’s-so-awesome Deek Rhew, on Twitter!
First time meeting

We started out as critique partners in a critique partner group. Since I’m the resident grammar nerd, Deek asked me to edit one of his short stories. I started making notes in the margins, and when I got the piece back to see his changes, he’d replied. We began a whole conversation in those margins. After that, we moved to emailing, followed by texting and Facetime. Why didn’t we just date like a normal couple, you may ask. Well, we were separated by a little thing called…the entire United States. Deek lived on the Pacific Coast, and I lived on the East Coast. After a bit, we decided it was time to meet in person—to see if we related as well in real life as we did through the iPhone screen. I’m terrified of flying, so Deek flew to me. We got along even better in person than we did online—a true match. Poor Deek spent months flying back and forth, practically living on two coasts. On one visit, he made his country-long trek to see me run a half marathon at the beach. The day after the race, we took a hand-in-hand stroll through the sand, the ocean rolling against the shore. He pulled me to a gentle stop, dropped down to his knee, and asked me to be his wife. I said yes. How could I not? The man I believed only existed in dreams and novels wanted to marry me!!

Cross Country Which leads me to my next big change…Deek and I no longer wanted to be separated by a whole country. We yearned to live in the same place so we could be together all the time. But who should move? Deek had only ever lived on the West Coast, and I’d only ever lived on the East Coast. Because we’re adventurous people, we decided to split it down the middle. We agreed that I would move to the West Coast for a while, and after that, he’d come back to the East Coast with me for a bit. Fair trade. We each would get the opportunity to meet one another’s friends and family as well as try our hand at living in a different place—which neither of us had ever done. So, we packed up my meager belongings and travelled by car (remember I’m terrified of flying) across the continental United States.
What a great adventure that was! We had such the blast! We arrived at Deek’s house and tried to make it our home. But it was just too darn big. We both agreed we wanted something smaller (the upkeep on a big house is just ridiculous), so we sold it and moved again! Now, we live in an adorably quaint, small town and rent the most beautiful Victorian you could imagine. I’ve lived in a lot of dwellings (homes, dorms, apartments, etc.), and each one took a while to feel like home. Not the Victorian. It instantly felt like home, even before we moved our furniture into it.

The next set of changes occurred in my professional career. I’d been working for BookFish Books for about a year, and I just loved the work of our cover artist, Anita Carroll. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to go to BookFish’s website and check out the covers, but you should. Anita is a GENIUS!! I asked her if she would be willing to design a cover for my sequel, The Outlanders. She agreed and asked to read my books. I don’t know if it’s standard procedure for a cover artist to read the book before designing a cover, but I’m thrilled she did. When I presented my concept to her, she got to work immediately. I think her intimate knowledge of my world and characters contributed to the greatness of her design. Once I saw the cover, I just knew The Prophecy had to be redone as well. Anita agreed. Let me tell you, my friends, I am totally in love with these covers in a way I didn’t know possible!!

So, we decided to re-release the books with the new, marvelous covers! The Prophecy re-released on Oct. 1, 2014, and The Outlanders released on Oct. 21, 2014. Even better, Anita designed print covers for each, and they BOTH come out in print form on the one year anniversary of The Prophecy, November 15, 2014! I seriously can’t wait to hold these books in my hand. I may even pet them. My preeeecccciiiiooouuuussss!

Fun EngagementWhen I began this journey as an author, I had no idea where the path would lead. But I’ve met amazing people (like you, Meredith), had epic experiences, and fallen in love with the man of my dreams. All-in-all, it’s been a good ride, but the adventure is just beginning!

Now, here’s a fun excerpt from The Outlanders! Enjoy!

Everything about Mia felt wrong. The girl, who looked so much like Layla, just happened to be where Samson could find her and came with him to the home of her enemy without any resistance? Whole generations of Ecclesiastics searched for entire lifetimes and never found the Fulfillment, yet Samson encountered two potentials in short succession. She couldn’t pinpoint the reason for her unease, but something tickled the back of her mind, inching toward the surface with painstaking sluggishness.
“I don’t understand why she would just come with you to Etherea.” Layla struggled to keep her voice level and calm to avoid raising Samson’s hackles.

“She didn’t have anywhere else to go. Vance killed her family in Vanguard.”

Layla made a mental note to confirm Samson’s version of the story with the information Nash managed to extract from Mia. “If she’s a Vanguard, why would she come with you to Etherea?”

“You came here,” Samson shot back, his inexplicable protectiveness for the mystery girl heightening her concern.

She treaded with care. “Well, some insane man in a black and purple robe stole my brother, so I didn’t really have a choice.”

Mia stared at the young man before her with a mixture of curiosity and weariness. She understood why others found him so handsome—rich, dark hair and those shocking green eyes. If she succeeded, he would be her…she stopped herself, determined to keep her mind clear. She had to give off an air of mystery, to lure the Ethereals into her web so they followed her plan. More than anything, she needed them to follow her plan, so much depended on it. She could not slip up. She could not make a mistake.

Taking a steadying breath, she refocused her thoughts and slid her amethyst colored eyes across the prince in front her. She wouldn’t even think his name or give any indication she already knew about him. She had to forget how much she’d been told about him…how much she’d been told about them all. Feigning ignorance factored into her plan.

“Who are you?” he asked, after spending an inordinate amount of time regarding her.

She noted how his gaze bounced from her eyes to her hair and back again. As planned, her appearance intrigued him. Though he’d asked a different question, she heard the real one layered beneath it. He wanted to know why she resembled the proclaimed Fulfillment. That question would then lead him to an inevitable one…could Mia be the Fulfillment instead of Layla? And if she were the Fulfillment, what did that mean for him? For Wil? For Layla?

“I’m Mia.” She almost grinned, pleased she’d answered his question but given him nothing more. When his lips twisted, her grin broke into a full smile at his evident irritation. “And you are?”

He hesitated. “Nash, brother of the king.”

“The injured king?” He flinched, a subtle movement most might miss, but she caught it.

“According to our friend, Samson, you’re an Outlander.”

“He found me in the Outlands.” The less Nash knew, the better.

Frustration flickered across his face, marring his otherwise handsome features. She smiled to herself, not trusting his patience should her lips turn up yet again.

“Sooo,” he dragged out the word. “Are you an Outlander?”

“No. I’m a Vanguard.”

Nash cocked his head to the right. “Why were you in the Outlands then?”

“I went to escape Vance’s oppression.” Mia stared at the wall behind him until her vision blurred. She willed tears to form. Given the pressure she’d been under, summoning them proved easier than she expected. When the familiar tight burning started near her lids, she blinked at the prince. He shifted in his seat. Mia wanted to snort at his reaction. Tears always made men uncomfortable. “Vance killed my family.” She paused and swallowed, hoping he believed she needed a moment to collect herself. “I ran as far as I could and ended up in the Outlands. Samson found me.”

Nash cleared his throat and shifted again; she increased the flow of her tears in reply. “What do you know about the Outlands?”

“Very little.” She sniffed. Looking as pathetic as she could manage, she attempted to wipe her eyes, an impossible feat given her bound hands. Nash frowned as his gaze landed on her restraints. She bid him to unbind her hands, and for a moment, she believed he might. To her disappointment, he gripped the side of his chair until his knuckles turned white and left her tied up. Mia ground her teeth.

“Do you believe you are the Fulfillment?” Nash kept his voice steady despite the turmoil she read upon his face.

Mia waited a moment to respond, both to further escalate his frustration and to collect herself. In this moment, she needed to be most convincing, to begin what she’d been tasked to set in motion. She gestured with her chin, drawing Nash’s attention to the blazing “F” upon her upper arm. The dark purple birthmark matched the shade of her eyes.

“The First Ones speak for themselves.”

Nash shook his head. “It’s too obvious.”

Mia’s head jerked back. She struggled to maintain her composure as his reaction, so unexpected, derailed her careful planning. Her mind racing, she grappled for a response.

“Too obvious?”

“Yes. See, Mia—” His clear distaste tainted the sound of her own name. “I know about the First Ones.”

“Who do you think you are? An Ecclesiastic?” She smirked at him, acting like she retained complete control, but her insides knotted. She couldn’t lose her ability to direct the conversation.

To her surprise, Nash laughed, though she noted no pleasure in it. “The Prophecy states, ‘In a time of war, when the land is divided amongst the two, she, with raven black hair, purple eyes, and a special blessing from the First Ones shall bring peace.’”

“I think everyone in the three kingdoms and in the Borderlands is familiar with The Prophecy.” Mia rolled her eyes for effect. “What’s your point?”

“My point is, the special blessing wouldn’t be something as simple as a birthmark. If it were, the First Ones would have just said raven black hair, purple eyes, and an ugly purple ‘F’ on the upper arm.” He flicked his hand toward her arm. “Special blessing is vague, indicating something mysterious. There is nothing mysterious about your birthmark.”

Mia’s heart pounded as she felt the tables turn and the conversation slip away. “And there is something mysterious about her?”

The word her hung between them for a moment. Mia took another deep breath, worrying she’d pushed him too far. Beneath his shirt, she saw Nash’s muscles ripple and hoped she’d managed to touch a new nerve.

Mia clenched her teeth. She hated acting this way, so out of character, but she had to press on. No one could know the truth. She had to win this game…

And finally, don’t forget to enter the giveaway by filling out the rafflectoper below!

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ErinAlbert_AuthorPhotoAbout the Author:
Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the “Grammar Police.” A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side.

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2014 Debut Author Bash: Kiki Sullivan (Interview + Guest Post + Giveaway)

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Hey everyone! Welcome to my stop on the 2014 Debut Author Bash! I’m so excited to be hosting Kiki Sullivan, author of The Dolls (September 2, 2014, Balzer + Bray). Today, I’m pleased to share with you an interview with Kiki, as well as a guest post from Kiki. First, here’s the epic cover and synopsis:

The Dolls Cover Eveny Cheval just moved back to Louisiana after spending her childhood in New York with her aunt Bea. Eveny hasn’t seen her hometown since her mother’s suicide fourteen years ago, and her memories couldn’t have prepared her for what she encounters. Because pristine, perfectly manicured Carrefour has a dark side full of intrigue, betrayal, and lies—and Eveny quickly finds herself at the center of it all.

Enter Peregrine Marceau, Chloe St. Pierre, and their group of rich, sexy friends known as the Dolls. From sipping champagne at lunch to hooking up with the hottest boys, Peregrine and Chloe have everything—including an explanation for what’s going on in Carrefour. And Eveny doesn’t trust them one bit.

But after murder strikes and Eveny discovers that everything she believes about herself, her family, and her life is a lie, she must turn to the Dolls for answers. Something’s wrong in paradise, and it’s up to Eveny, Chloe, and Peregrine to save Carrefour and make it right

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And now here’s the interview!

Question: Describe your book, using no more than three adjectives. Go!
Answer: Steamy, suspenseful, Southern (Do I get extra credit for the alliteration? I could also say sexy and stylish!)

Question: Why Louisiana? In what ways does the setting aid the plot?
Answer: I’ve always been fascinated by the culture of rural Louisiana, and in particular the way voodoo traditions shape daily life in some parts. (Did you know, for example, that jazz music—long associated with Louisiana—is a legacy of voodoo?) In THE DOLLS, the main characters (Eveny, Peregrine and Chloe) come from a magical tradition called zandara, which is a spinoff of voodoo, created by their ancestors more than a hundred years ago. It made sense to me that their great-great-great-grandmothers would have begun as voodoo queens in New Orleans, and when they decided to create their own brand of magic, they moved – but they stayed close to where they’d come from, because they, too, were drawn to the magic of New Orleans.

Question: The Dolls cover is crazy gorgeous. Do you think it fits with the story? In what ways?
Answer: Oh my goodness, I am in LOVE with the cover. In LOVE. And yes, I think it’s absolutely perfect for this book. Peregrine and Chloe are style-obsessed (and use their magic to supplement their wardrobes, naturally), and the high-heeled shoe on the cover is exactly the kind of thing they’d conjure up! The snake on the heel (who in fact looks a lot like Peregrine’s pet snake, Audowido) is a great touch that hints at the creepiness underneath the surface in Carrefour, Louisiana. Basically, I think the cover screams stylish, sexy and a little dangerous, which is exactly what I hope readers will feel from this book.

Question: Craziest thing you’ve had to Google for a work in progress?
Answer: Ha! Good question. Probably all of the herb magic searches I’ve done. If someone didn’t know me, they could form a very incorrect opinion of my own love life thanks to my search history (i.e. “Herbs to make a boy love you,” and “Herbs to make everyone lust after you.”). Of course zandara is a fictional form of magic, but I wanted to keep the herbal uses true to real-life forms of voodoo, hoodoo and the like.

Question: What books would you recommend to a reader who loved yours, and wants to read something similar?
Answer: My publisher is promoting this as Pretty Little Liars meets Beautiful Creatures, and I think that’s pretty apt. So those two series are great fits for people who love The Dolls, as is Rachel Hawkins’s fabulous Hex Hall series. Of course I’d also recommend that readers pick up the sequel to The Dolls, which will be out next year. (I’m writing it now!)

Question: What book are you currently reading?
Answer: I’m reading Aprilynne Pike’s Wings series as well as The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. On the non-YA side, I’m listening to Sarah Jio’s Morning Glory on CD. I love listening to audiobooks during long car rides!

Question: Which book was your favorite read of 2014 (so far)? Are you looking forward to any new releases in particular between now and 2015?
Answer: I’m just beginning Kevin Emerson’s The Far Dawn, which is great. And I’m excited to read three other books from HarperCollins, which are on my desk right now, waiting for me to dive in: Liz Czukas’s Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless, Jeff Hart’s Undead with Benefits and Gretchen McNeil’s Get Even. My problem is that when I start a good book, I find it really hard to focus on my own writing. I obsessively have to finish reading before I can do anything else! So because I’m on deadline, I’m on book restriction until the sequel to The Dolls is done. Otherwise, I’ll never finish!

Question: What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Answer: I love outlining, because I get to go through the plot really quickly, but nothing is set in stone. I just get to keep asking myself, “And then what? What happens now?” Those are very exciting questions for me. My least favorite part of the process? Revising!

Question: Biggest writing quirk?
Answer: I write best in silence! Some writers like listening to music, but I find it impossible to have music on, even in the background, without singing along with – and thinking about – the lyrics! I’ve tried classical music without words, and that works a bit better, but I still write better without anything but the sounds of my characters in my head!

Question: As a debut author, do you have any advice for other debut authors?
Answer: Start connecting with readers ASAP! I wish I’d taken my own advice earlier in the process, but now I’m really enjoying getting to know readers and potential readers via Twitter and Facebook.

Question: Are you working on anything new?
Answer: Yep! The sequel to The Dolls, which will be out next year! I’m about halfway done. It’s so fun to be spending time with Eveny, Peregrine and Chloe again! Thanks for taking the time to find out about me and The Dolls!

In addition to this amazing interview, Kiki also wrote a guest post about the magic and voodoo of New Orleans! Hope you guys enjoy it!

I’ve always been fascinated by New Orleans and its history, mystery and magic. There are a few cities in the world that seem to throb with their own special energy, and I believe New Orleans is one of them. And while my novel, THE DOLLS, is set in a fictional town an hour outside the Big Easy, I was very drawn to the idea of writing about characters whose families hailed from the city and who brought with them some of its magical traditions.

In THE DOLLS, the main characters practice a form of magic called zandara, which is derived from voodoo. More than a century ago, the girls’ ancestors decided to leave their voodoo roots behind and start something new, based entirely on herb magic and communication with the spirits in the nether (the world between life and death, where spirits sometimes become trapped). Creating zandara allowed me to get a bit creative with some of the magic, something that is detailed much more in the sequel, due out next year. (I only had so much time in this book, because Eveny spends a portion of the book learning exactly what’s making the eerie town of Carrefour tick.) Inventing zandara also allowed me to write about magic with disrespecting voodoo, which is a very serious religion to some people. I’m fascinated by it, and the last thing I would want to do is inadvertently insult those who practice it.

But because the girls’ ancestors came from a voodoo tradition, I wanted to make sure that zandara was rooted in reality, so I took a fabulous fact-finding trip to New Orleans, where I had the chance to become immersed in the legends, practices and culture of the voodoo community. I spent time at the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum (, right in the heart of the French Quarter; wandered through graveyards at night; and even visited with a real-life voodoo priestess, right in the midst of her endless jars of herbs and potions.

One of the fascinating things I learned – something that made it into the book indirectly – was that today, some voodoo practitioners in New Orleans allow themselves to be possessed or filled with spirits at dawn on the day of Mardi Gras. Later, as they sing and dance in the parades, you can hardly understand them because they’ve been taken over by spirits. But to an untrained observer, they simply appear drunk. Others go into the homes of the townspeople, and they hold bloody bones over the homes of their children to warn them against falling in with a bad crowd. So be sure to look for a Mardi Gras possession ceremony late in THE DOLLS. Although it’s not directly based on real voodoo practices, it’s inspired by the traditions of New Orleans.

Another thing I found interesting is that in New Orleans, the history of voodoo is intertwined with the history of the Catholic church in America. This isn’t something that comes into play in the book, but I was fascinated to learn that the city’s most famous voodoo queen, Marie Laveau (for whom Pointe Laveau Academy is named in THE DOLLS) is said to have attended Catholic mass seven days a week throughout her life! When Laveau was alive – through most of the 1800s – “voodoo hid in plain sight,” Jerry Gandolfo, the owner of the museum, told me. In fact, many voodoo practitioners still use statues of Catholic saints on their altars.

If you’re interested, the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Musuem has a great web site, where you can learn much more about the traditions of voodoo in the Big Easy. But again, in THE DOLLS, the girls practice zandara an hour outside of New Orleans, so what they’re doing is a bit different – less rooted in religion, more rooted in herb magic. It might be interesting to compare and contrast the forms of magic… and of course I’m always open to hearing about the things that YOU find the most interesting about magic, especially as I write the sequel to THE DOLLS. (You can reach me at, or you can tweet me at @sullivan_kiki.)

I’m not an expert in voodoo, but it fascinates and enchants me. I am, however, hopefully an expert in zandara, the fictional form or spirit-based magic that shapes the fate of Carrefour, Louisiana as well as that of Eveny Cheval and her new friends. As the Dolls would say… Mesi, zanset.

kikisullivan_authorAbout the Author:
Kiki Sullivan is the author of The Dolls series. Like the main character Eveny Cheval, Kiki used to live in New York and now calls the American South home. Unlike Eveny, she finds it impossible to keep her rose garden alive and has been singlehandedly responsible for the unfortunate demise of countless herbs. She may or may not have hung out with queens of the dark arts, strolled through creepy New Orleans cemeteries at night, or written the first book of this series with a red-headed Louisiana voodoo doll beside her computer.

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Finally, thanks to the lovely Kiki, we have an AMAZING giveaway for you guys! One lucky winner will receive a SIGNED, finished copy of The Dolls!

So, the rules:

-Giveaway is US Only

-Winner has 48 hours to respond. If winner does not respond, a new winner will be selected.

-You must be 13 or older to enter OR have your parents’ permission.

-I am not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.

-I reserve the right to change any rules as I see fit for each individual giveaway

*The above giveaway rules were borrowed and modified from Jessica @ Just a Book Lover.

With that being said, I wish you luck! May the odds be ever in your favor!

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