Beyond The Cabin: author interview & review

I’m very excited for today’s book and for the author I’ll be interviewing! The author happens to be a dear friend…who happens to be a retired FBI agent!

Today’s book is Beyond The Cabin by Dana Ridenour.


  • Publisher: Deeds Publishing (June 13, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1944193944
  • Amazon * BN

FBI SPECIAL AGENT LEXIE MONTGOMERY goes deep undercover to investigate the Earth Liberation Front, a domestic terrorism group operating in the South Carolina Lowcountry. As Lexie struggles to infiltrate the ELF, she soon realizes everything may not be as it seems in the Lowcountry. Lexie’s investigation spirals out of control and places her life in danger after someone in her trusted inner circle reveals her undercover identity. Now Lexie must work to bring those responsible to justice … if only she knew who she could trust.

 


 

Interview with Dana Ridenour

1. Congratulations on publishing a second book! How do you feel?
Thank you. I’m thrilled with how Beyond The Cabin turned out and I’m excited for people to read it. Launching a book is exhausting but also exhilarating. 
2. Was it different writing Beyond the Cabin than your first book Behind the Mask?
I was still working as an FBI agent when I wrote Behind The Mask, so I couldn’t necessarily write every day.  I would get busy and have to put my writing on the back burner. I retired from the FBI the day Behind The Mask was released. With Beyond The Cabin, I was retired, so I was able to write every day. This made a huge difference for me.  Beyond The Cabin flowed easier for me, probably because I was able to write every day and for as long as I wanted. I learned so much from writing Behind The Mask, so I incorporated all that I learned when writing Beyond The Cabin. Overall writing the second book was much easier.
3. What’s your writing technique?
I write by the seat of my pants. If I use an outline it is a very loose outline and I don’t feel obligated to stick to the outline. If the characters tell me to take the story down a different path, I tend to listen to my characters. I have to be careful not to paint myself into a corner because I am writing a series. When I’m in full writing mode, I try to write six days a week.  I usually take one day off to completely clear my head, but I don’t like to take more than one day off when writing. My schedule can be anywhere from three hours to a full day of writing.
4. What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on the third Lexie Montgomery book.  Beyond The Cabin was a bit darker than Behind The Mask, so the third book opens with Lexie picking up the pieces after she experienced some unexpected and horrific events in Beyond The Cabin. I’m working with screenwriter Michael Lucker and I’m happy to report that both books are in development for television, so fingers crossed!


Tawney’s Review:  It was good to get back into Lexie’s world and follow her again going undercover.

I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough as Lexie is swept into another investigation, this time with the domestic terrorism group Earth Liberation Front. This book was darker than the first book, which made it an intense read that couldn’t be put down. You could tell that Dana brought her knowledge from her time at the FBI into the book because every detail was well described and there’s a connection with the characters. They felt real especially Captain Meade, who I liked immensely. Beyond the Cabin felt real and gritty. You rooted for Lexie with every turn of the page.

Should you read it? Yes! From the very first page Dana hooks you with relatable characters and a mystery that keeps you guessing until the final chapter.

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Check out my review of the Behind the Mask here!

Check out an interview I did with Dana here!


 

Biography

Dana Ridenour is a retired FBI agent.  She is the author of two FBI undercover novels: Behind The Mask and Beyond The Cabin.

Ridenour graduated from Meade County High School in 1984, then attended the University of Kentucky.  After two years at the University of Kentucky, she changed her major to Police Administration and transferred to Eastern Kentucky University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1989.  Ridenour earned her Juris Doctor in 1992 from Chase College of Law.

Over the years, Ridenour has been employed in a wide variety of jobs including first mate on a tour boat (her favorite job), lawyer, and Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Ridenour entered on duty with the FBI in November of 1995 and retired in April of 2016 after over twenty years of service.  Ridenour was assigned to four different FBI Field Divisions and had the opportunity to work a wide variety of cases to include multi faceted narcotics investigations, domestic sex trafficking of minors, and violent crime.  Over the years, Ridenour was a proud member of the FBI’s Evidence Response Team where she and her team traveled to New York City in response to the 9/11 World Trade Center attack.  The highlight of Ridenour’s career came in 2003 when she attended and passed the FBI’s prestigious undercover school, thus allowing her to work as an undercover FBI agent.  This undercover certification opened the door for Ridenour to work a series of long term, deep cover cases focusing on domestic terrorism.  Ridenour had the rare experience of working a long term undercover investigation with her husband who was also an FBI agent.

Ridenour attributes her law enforcement career to her father and her love of books to her mother. Her mother instilled a love of reading from a young age.  It was her mother who also encouraged her to keep a journal while working as a Special Agent with the thought that one day a novel would materialize from the experiences.  Ridenour’s writing is a reflection of her career and life experiences.  Although she enjoys a wide variety of genres, her literary influences are her favorite southern writers such as Pat Conroy, Dorothea Benton Frank, and Anne Rivers Siddons.  Ridenour’s favorite novel is Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides which she has read many times.

An award winning author, Ridenour lives in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina with her wonderful husband. She is currently writing the third Alexis Montgomery novel.

Follow her on Facebook * Twitter * Website
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Release Day Blitz: The Hummingbird Heart by A.G. Howard

Today I'm excited that THE HUMMINGBIRD HEART by A.G. Howard is available now and that I get to share the news!

If you haven’t heard about this wonderful book by Author A.G. Howard, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a 5 AMAZING Prizes courtesy of A.G. and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


About The Book:

Title: THE HUMMINGBIRD HEART

Author: A.G. Howard

Pub. Date: August 15, 2017

Publisher: Golden Orb Press

Pages: 339

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Find it: Golden Orb PressGoodreads

Set 19 years after The Architect of Song:

Shortly after escaping a circus tragedy, young Italian orphan, Willow Antoniette, seeks refuge at The Manor of Diversions—a holiday resort in England born of a ghost story. For eleven years, she’s raised alongside the children of the resort’s owners: Julian, his twin brother, Nick, and their younger sister Emilia. Now that Willow is of marriable age, she's determined to escape finishing school along with everyone's efforts to make her a proper lady. The only man she wants to spend her life with is Julian, after all. Yet how can she tell him, when he thinks of her as nothing but a friend?

As a machinist and engineer, Julian Thornton prefers a governable life. He can't allow his ever-deepening attraction for Willow to distract from his amusement park plans to lure a younger, wealthier clientele to their family's resort. In hopes to escape Willow and find investors, Julian sets off on a transatlantic ocean liner headed for the St. Louis World’s Fair, unaware Willow has secretly stowed away on the same ship.

A tiny, mute orphan named Newton and a pair of haunted Italian shoes bring Willow and Julian face to face on deck. Forced to work together to solve the mystery of Newton and his vindictive, ghostly companion, Julian and Willow can no longer fight their untapped passions. However, time to admit their true feelings is running out, for the ghost and her murderer have enlisted them as unsuspecting pawns in a karmic game of cat-and-mouse that could cost all of them their lives.


 

Optional Info:

Title: THE ARCHITECT OF SONG

Author: A.G. Howard

Pub. Date: August 15, 2016

Publisher: Golden Orb Press

Pages: 425

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Find it: AmazonGoodreads

A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower – intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

International and NYT bestselling author, A.G. Howard, brings her darkly magical and visual/visceral storytelling to Victorian England. The Architect of Song is the first installment in her lush and romantic Haunted Hearts Legacy series, a four book gothic saga following the generations of one family as – haunted by both literal and figurative ghosts – they search for self-acceptance, love, and happiness.

New Adult: Recommended for ages 17+


Excerpt:

In the dream, Willow was a child again. With each barefooted step around the stacks of baggage in steerage, she found them taking on new shapes: pyramids of clowns, bears, horses and feathered performers, all balanced atop one another. She was back at the circus, albeit a much hazier and dimmer rendition than she remembered. She skipped along the center ring, excited to be home at last. Grit and discarded trash snagged between her little toes. A spotlight clicked on to illuminate a trunk. From within came a thumping sound, and girlish giggles.

“Tildey!” Willow cried out, racing across the distance to find her doll, her pigtails slapping her face and neck upon each bounding step. The creak of abandoned trapezes swung overhead, cutting intermittently through a thick cloud of fog. Yet it wasn’t fog. It was tobacco—a stench that seeped into her leotard, her tights, her very pores, until she could taste it coating her tongue like bile.

The spotlight shifted from the trunk to a trapeze just above her where a shape took form in the light: a graceful silhouette in a shimmery leotard and glistening tutu.

“Mama?” Willow whispered in the dream, forgetting Tildey for the chance to see her mother perform once more.

The trapeze vanished into thin air but the aerialist continued a controlled descent toward her, held in place by harnesses attached to the center pole. A face came into view, painted white like a clown, with bloody eyes and a hollow of a mouth—stretched wide on a perpetual scream. Willow yelped and squeezed her lashes shut, willing away the creature … for it was not Mama.

When she opened them again, the freakish performer exploded into a flock of hummingbirds made of ink. They skittered around Willow, buzzing wings scraping her skin and hair, imprinting tattoos everywhere they touched. She screamed and stumbled backwards, bumping into the trunk which was somehow right behind her. A tinkly, off-key lullaby drifted from inside the giant box. The lid shook and shuddered, as if something wanted out.

Whimpering, Willow tried to back away, but her feet grew heavy. She looked down and ballet shoes, covered in steel spikes, swallowed them up. The empty harness that had held the ghastly aerialist slithered toward her like a snake, coiling itself around her legs and arms to hold her in place.

On the final haunting strains of music, the trunk’s lid popped open, and out from the midst rose a hunched old man, holding Nadia’s haunted shoes upside down. Blood and water gushed out of them—a stench of copper and stagnancy—and the man laughed with a voice that gnawed into her bones like a thousand snarling wolves.


 

About A.G. Howard

A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would've happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.

When she's not writing, A.G.'s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads


 

Giveaway Details: All International

(1) Grand prize: Signed set of The Architect of Song & The Hummingbird Heart PB

(1) First Place prize: Signed The Hummingbird Heart PB

(1) Second Place prize: Signed The Hummingbird Heart poster

(3) Third – Fifth Place prizes: Signed The Architect of Song & The Hummingbird Heart swag pack sets

Ends on August 22nd at Midnight EST!

Enter here!

 

A Map For Wrecked Girls Blog Tour

I’m excited to be part of A Map For Wrecked Girls Blog Tour!

Let’s take a look at the book!


  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Books (August 15, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735228116
  • Order: Amazon * BN

Emma has always orbited Henri, her fierce, magnetic queen bee of an older sister, and the two have always been best friends. Until something happens that wrecks them.

I’d trusted Henri more than I’d trusted myself. Wherever she told me to go, I’d follow.

Then the unthinkable occurs—a watery nightmare off the dazzling coast. The girls wash up on shore, stranded. Their only companion is Alex, a troubled boy agonizing over his own secrets. Trapped in a gorgeous hell, Emma and Alex fall together as Emma and Henri fall catastrophically apart. To find their way home, the sisters must find their way back to each other. But there’s no map for this. Can they survive the unearthing of the past and the upheaval of the present?

For the first time, I was afraid we’d die on this shore.


Tawney’s Review: I’ve always been close to my sister, she’s my twin and that could be why, but I love books about sisters. Emma and Henri aren’t only just close sisters, they’re best friends.

A fun vacation turns to a nightmare when they go on a boat ride with boys and get into a wreck. Not only are they stranded on a deserted island but their relationship wasn’t like it use to be. I love the alternating timelines. The reader gets flashbacks to the time where the girls relationship took a turn for the worst and why, to their current predicament on the island.

Taylor does a wonderful job at describing the trials of living on an island with little resources. Especially being on the island with a boy. Alex was a wonderful secondary character that might be more likable than the sisters. The description of the island was beautiful but left a foreboding that paradise isn’t so paradise after all. I did find the relationship of the sisters a bit twisted but the pace and the intriguing mystery kept me reading.

Should you read it? Yes! This was a dark tale of two sisters and their relationship unwinding. It takes a deserted island to piece it back together. This was a page turner that I enjoyed immensely.

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About Me:

I adore atmospheric settings, dangerous girls, and characters who sneak out late at night. I live in Northern California, not far from San Francisco, with a law degree I’m not using, one dog, and many teetering towers of books.

A Map for Wrecked Girls, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and my first young adult contemporary thriller, will be published August 15, 2017 by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin.

I’m represented by Melissa Sarver White of Folio Literary Management.

Follow: Instagram * Twitter * Blog

 

 

Review of Solo by Kwame Alexander

I love music. I immerse myself with music on the bus, while exercising, while writing, or relaxing on the beach reading a good book.

Today’s book is full of music in a poetic fashion. Let’s take a look at Solo by Kwame Alexander!


  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Blink (August 1, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 0310761832

From award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander, with Mary Rand Hess, comes Solo, a YA novel written in poetic verse. Solo tells the story of seventeen-year-old Blade Morrison, who knows the life of a rock star isn’t really about the glitz and glamour. All the new cars and money in the world can’t make up for the scathing tabloid covers or the fact that his father is struggling with just about every addiction under the sun—including a desperate desire to make a comeback and regain his former fame. Haunted by memories of his mother—who died when Blade was nine—and the ruin his father’s washed-up legacy and life have brought to the family, Blade is left to figure out life on his own. But, he’s not all alone: He’s got the friendship of a jazz-musician mentor, Robert; the secret love of a girlfriend, Chapel; and his music. All may not be well in the Morrison home, but things are looking up for Blade, until he discovers a deeply protected family secret—one that further threatens his relationship with his family and has him questioning his own identity. Thrown into a tailspin, Blade decides the only way he will understand his past and begin his future is to find out the truth behind the music and himself. He soon sets out on a journey that will change everything he thought to be true. His quest lands him in Ghana, stuck in a village just shy of where answers to the secret can be found. There, Blade discovers a friendship he couldn’t have imagined, a people founded in family and community, and a reconciliation he never expected.

With his signature intricacy, intimacy, and poetic style, Kwame Alexander explores what it means to finally come home.

Solo features a stunning dust jacket with embossing and gloss.


Review: This book is a poetic read with music verse chapters that had me turning every page.

Blade was a wonderful character to follow. He’s the son of a celebrity and it isn’t all the glitz and glam most people think it is. Drugs and alcohol causes a rift between him and his father and when Blade confronts him about his behavior a secret is revealed that turns Blade’s world upside down.

Alexander does a wonderful job at writing in the point of view of a teenager. We are taken on a ride of discovery with Blade through emotional terrain. We first start of in the glamours rock life Blade knows in Hollywood but it moves halfway into Ghana, a place far beyond what Blade is use to. It’s refreshing to see him out of his element.

Alexander’s poetic writing is beautiful and the description vivid. The book flows with each page and you can’t help but connect with Blade. His musical journey through his struggles to understand his family turn to an understanding on the blessing for what his life is and the changes it brings to him and his father. This book is filled with discussions of wealth, poverty, race, addiction and many more concepts that bring this book to life and adds such a great depth to the story.

Should you read it? Yes! A wonderful read about music, family, love and a character that stays with you. Prepare for all the emotions!

starstarstarstarstar


About the Author:

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 24 books, including THE CROSSOVER, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and the Paterson Poetry Prize. Kwame writes for children of all ages. Some of his other works include THE PLAYBOOK: 52 RULES TO HELP YOU AIM, SHOOT, AND SCORE IN THIS GAME OF LIFE; the picture books, ANIMAL ARK, OUT OF WONDER and SURF’S UP; and novels BOOKED, HE SAID SHE SAID, and the forthcoming SOLO.

Follow Kwame on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and his blog!

Blog Tour: No Good Deed by Kara Connolly

I'm so excited to be part of the blog tour for NO GOOD DEED By Kara Connolly. This book was a fun read and I just couldn't put it down.

Girl power rules supreme when a modern girl finds herself in the middle of a medieval mess in…

“This cheeky take on the Robin Hood legend is pure fun. Connolly’s swashbuckling debut will satisfy any adventure fans.” –Booklist

“This fresh take on the Robin Hood mythology…is well worth it.” —Publishers Weekly

Debut author Kara Connollyreimagines the legend of Robin Hood in NO GOOD DEED (Delacorte Press / On sale July 18, 2017 / Ages 14 and up). Perfect for fans of Dorothy Must Die, a modern girl finds herself in the middle of a medieval mess with only her smart mouth and her Olympic archer aim to get her home.


Let's take a look at the book!

 

NO GOOD DEED by Kara Connolly

Delacorte Press | On sale July 18, 2017 | Ages 14 and up

Hardcover: 978-0-385-74393-8 | $17.99 | 352 pages

Ebook: 978-0-385-37323-4 | $10.99

Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Sherwood Forest is filled with bandits, the king is away at war, and the local sheriff is determined to lock Ellie up. It’s a story as old as the ages–and Ellie knows it well, but the details are a little different from the cartoon. It’s not until a handsome knight lends her a bow and a quiver of arrows that Ellie might have a fighting chance of surviving.

Finding her way home—that’s another story, entirely.

NO GOOD DEED is an action packed adventure filled with time travel, high stakes—and a dash of romance.


Review: I like retellings especially when it comes to some of my favorite stories like Robin Hood. I also like books on time travel like Outlander. But what I love the most is gender bending twists on retellings!

This book has all of those and much more.

Ellie is awesome at archery Olympic hopeful but when she becomes lost in the caverns of Nottingham and ends up in medieval England the fun begins! As with anything in time travel, adapting to this new world  doesn't go well. She makes an enemy with the Sheriff, which is familiar, because Ellie seems to be reenacting Robin Hood even if she doesn't mean to.

Ellie was a strong character and I loved following her through medieval England. All her mishaps and good intentions made the pace flow. The description was great immersing the reader into the medieval times. I especially liked that Connolly made it known Ellie and the people of medieval England had a hard time understanding each other. I also loved that the book focused on Ellie and her Robin Hood escapades. No romance overshadowed the story. It was refreshing.

Should you read it? Yes! A great twist to the Robin Hood story with action and wit!

starstarstarstar


 

 

 

 

 

KARA CONNOLLY loves history, though she's never time traveled. She lives and writes in Arlington, Texas. To learn more about Kara and her books go to her blog or follow on Twitter and on Instagram.

###

NO GOOD DEED by Kara Connolly

Delacorte Press | On sale July 18, 2017 | Ages 14 and up

Hardcover: 978-0-385-74393-8 | $17.99 | 352 pages

Ebook: 978-0-385-37323-4 | $10.99

Delacorte Press is an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, the world’s largest English-language children’s trade book publisher. Random House Children’s Books is a division of Penguin Random House, LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.

Visit us online @RandomHouseKids | facebook.com/randomhousekids |Instgram @RandomHouseKids | RandomHouseKids.com

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Follow the tour!

17-Jul Joyousreads http://www.joyousreads.net
17-Jul Cafinated Reads http://cafinatedreads.com 
18-Jul Istyria book blog http://istyriabookblog.com
18-Jul My Guilty Obsession http://myguiltyobsession.blogspot.com/
19-Jul Stories & Sweeties http://storiesandsweeties.com
19-Jul The Book Monsters http://thebookmonsters.com/
19-Jul Urban Fantasy Investigations http://urbanfantasyinvestigations.blogspot.com/
20-Jul Seeing Double In Neverland SeeingDoubleinNeverland
20-Jul Love is not a triangle http://www.loveisnotatriangle.com
20-Jul A Backwards Story http://abackwardsstory.blogspot.com
21-Jul Take Me Away… http://takemeaway02.blogspot.com/
21-Jul Feed Your Fiction Addiction http://feedyourfictionaddiction.com
24-Jul Beauty and the Bookshelf http://beautyandthebookshelf.com
24-Jul Mom With a Reading Problem http://www.momwithareadingproblem.com
25-Jul Teen Lit Rocks www.teenlitrocks.com
25-Jul Peace Love Books http://readingwithstyle.blogspot.com
26-Jul Bumbles and Fairy-Tales http://bumblesandfairytales.blogspot.com
26-Jul The Hollow Cupboards thehollowcupboards.blogspot.com
27-Jul Adventures of a Book Junkie http://toofondofbooks.com
27-Jul A Midsummer Night’s Read http://www.amidsummernightsread.com 
28-Jul Gone Pecan https://gonepecanla.wordpress.com
28-Jul Mommy Ramblings http://www.mommyramblings.org
31-Jul By Valia Lind http://valialind.wordpress.com
31-Jul Pandora’s Books www.pandorasbooks.org
1-Aug Cracking the Cover http://www.crackingthecover.com 
1-Aug Jessabella Reads www.jessabellareads.org
2-Aug A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM HTTP://ADREAMWITHINDREAM.BLOGSPOT.COM
2-Aug Bookish Lifestyle www.evie-bookish.blogspot.com
3-Aug Twinning for Books https://twinningfortwins.wordpress.com
3-Aug Ms. Yingling Reads http://msyinglingreads.blogspot.com
4-Aug Lisa Loves Literature http://misclisa.blogspot.com/
4-Aug She Dreams in Fiction http://www.shedreamsinfiction.com/
4-Aug Zach’s YA Reviews www.zachsyareviews.com

Pre-Pub Adventure: July

It’s Pre-Pub Adventure and today we have some new authors joining us!

Every month we follow authors on their publishing adventure. Have you ever wondered how authors prepare for a book release or what they are working on while also getting ready to publish a new book? How do they multitask? What is publishing like? Find out on Pre-Pub Adventure as we follow authors to publishing their books.

Please welcome authors Liara Tamani and Heather Kaczynski!


Liara Tamani

      

1. Welcome to the publishing adventure! Please tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you! Being a debut author definitely feels like an adventure. So many exciting things to take in. My name is Liara Tamani and I’m from Houston, Texas—H-town! (Gotta represent.:)) When I’m not writing or reading, I’m usually dancing, doing yoga, or hanging out with my five-year-old daughter and boyfriend. I love hanging out in parks, being in nature, but summertime in Houston makes that a little hard. It’s hot as hell! When the Houston heat is in full force, I like to spend time in museums and restaurants that have good tacos and margaritas. I’ve recently tried to take up skateboarding, and I have a ton of big bruises on my legs if that’s any indication of how it’s going.:)

Here’s a longer bio with more details about my background.  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16294201.Liara_Tamani

2. Tell us about your book? How did you come up with Calling My Name? I just love the cover!

I basically wrote this book to heal my teenage self. Like Taja, the protagonist of Calling My Name, I grew up in a very loving and religious family in Houston, Texas. My family was always in church—Bible study, choir rehearsal, Sunday school, Sunday service, sometimes second and third Sunday services, Vacation Bible School, church conventions, etc. Also like Taja, I had a lot of doubts and questions about religion but quickly learned that I wasn’t supposed to have these doubts and questions, that their presence meant I might not be saved. So I dealt with them internally, fighting against the fear of hell, which was very real to me at the time. And when I became sexually active in my later teenage years, my fears were compounded by guilt and shame. Let me tell you, it wasn’t fun.

 While Calling My Name is not my story, it was definitely born out of these struggles. And now I couldn’t be happier that this book will soon be out in the world and in the hands of teenagers, especially girls, who unfortunately struggle with sexual shame and guilt a lot more than boys. I want to help change that! But Calling My Name is not just about spiritual and sexual freedom; it’s about departing from one’s family and community teachings to find one’s own way.

3. Give us an insight of your main character Taja? What does she do that’s so special?  

Omg, the beautiful, soul-searching Taja. She’s so incredibly strong and radiant. I totally wish I had the strength to choose my own path when I was in high school, but I didn’t. That came much later in life for me. If I had read about Taja’s journey as a teenager, it would’ve saved me from a lot of suffering. Through her curiosity and thoughtfulness, her interior life is on full display. And the emotional journey she goes on is inspiring. I can’t wait for y’all to meet her!

Follow Liara on her blog * Instagram * Twitter * Facebook


Heather Kaczynski

    

1. Welcome to the publishing adventure! Please tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you! I live in Huntsville, Alabama, which – if you’ve heard of it at all – you might know as the home of Space Camp. Before I was ten years old, I moved about every year and a half growing up because my dad was in the military – almost a different school for every grade. None of us figured we’d set down permanent roots in Alabama, but it’s home I’ve known the longest. Being the home of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, growing up here helped develop my love of science, space, and sci-fi. We literally have a lifesize replica of the rocket that took men to the moon that you can see from all over town. The space program always seemed incredibly present and relevant in my life.

I also went to college here, where I got a degree in biology with a minor in exercise physiology, because I thought I wanted to be a physical therapist. Little did I realize I’d develop panic disorder in college and faint at the sight of blood (or, as I discovered, in first aid class) so a medical career was out. However, I lucked out and found a job working at a military library not long after graduation. To my good fortune, because it turned out to be the perfect place for me. I wrote Dare Mighty Things not long after I started that job, and I love putting books in the hands of kids who crave them.

I balance my day job and writing career with parenting my preschooler, so right now I watch a lot of cartoons and read a lot of picture books. (And write blog posts while she plays with trains at my feet.) In my precious moments of spare time, I’m obsessed with Bioware games – I’m still slowly working my way through Mass Effect Andromeda.

2. Tell us about your book? How did you come up with Dare Mighty Things? The cover is gorgeous by the way!

Dare Mighty Things is about a girl in the near future who dreams of making history by exploring space and seeing things no other human ever has – except in her world, America hasn’t trained any new astronauts for years, and her dream seems impossible. But when she gets an impossible chance to win a spot on a mission to the far reaches of space, she’s determined to win, no matter what.
The seed for the book, oddly, came to me in a dream. Right after I graduated college, I’d been determined to do Camp NaNo to get away from writing sterile lab reports and re-learn how to write fiction. The night before, I’d gone to bed without any ideas but figured I’d come up with one in the morning. And when I woke up, a single scene had left a lasting impression on me, and as I lay there trying to reconstruct it, Cassie and her entire story just filled my head. I sat down to write it and it flowed like nothing else I’d ever written. The seedling scene idea I’d dreamt about didn’t even make it into the final book, but it is in the sequel – so I can’t say anything about it just yet!
I wrote the book around a time that NASA was facing a Congressional budget crisis, and that weighed heavily on my mind. This may seem odd, I know – but when your whole city’s economy, identity, and future is linked to the space program, it’s big news. People were worried. It was a sad time for science and the idea that budget (or possibly greed) was the limiting factor for humanity’s advancement formed a core of the book. I wanted to encourage girls to love science and to go after their dreams, that they were achievable, and that other girls weren’t the enemy – but could prove valuable allies.

And then of course the rest of it was just me fangirling over the space program, adding in things I loved and things I’d pulled from research of space programs all over the world. It was just a fun book to write and I hope it comes across that way in the reading.

3. What is your writing quirk? 

I find I really have to get in the “zone,” and once I do, time has no meaning. I’ll put on headphones to listen to my book’s particular soundtrack (every book I write requires one), but eventually I have to turn it off as it gets distracting. And then I’ll look up and realize seven hours have passed and I should probably blink my eyes once or twice. It’s very hard for me to write in short snippets, so I have to force myself if I’m on deadline to use whatever time I may have.

Follow Heather: Blog * Twitter * Instagram * Tumblr


Nic Stone

     

1. What have you been up to since we last checked in?

Trying to keep my head on my shoulders? Does that count? LOL!

Let’s see… I went to ALA Annual which was kind of a whirlwind, but really cool at the same time. I got to sit in on both the Printz Award reception and the Coretta Scott King Awards breakfast, and I’m sure I looked like a kid in a candy store at both, they were just so magical!

Since then, I’ve just been home working on revisions for my Fall 2018 release (another YA contemporary) as well a new project I’m not allowed to talk about yet. Oh, and gearing up for what looks to be a rollercoaster of a Fall. Also planning my launch, which will be at the Center for Civil and Human Rights here in Atlanta, GA on October 17th at 6:30pm. **hint hint**EVERYBODY COME!**

2. I love your makeup tutorials on Instagram that coincide with books! What spurred you to do these lovely posts?

HA! It was all a fluke! I got mu copy of Nicola Yoon’s THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR last year and thought: Wow this color palette is really pretty! I should put it on my face! Took and posted a picture, and voila—the idea was born. Hoping to expand on it a bit soon. Stay tuned…

3. Do you write full-time or part-time? How do you manage to get the words?

I kind of… write when I can. I don’t have a technical job other than writing, but I do have two small kids, one of whom is home with me all day, every day. So I write during naptimes/while the little is eating/whenever I have more than five minutes to get words down. And for me, the words come in these squeezed times because they have to, lol. It also helps that when I’m driving/carpooling/running errands/folding laundry/etc., I’m constantly thinking about the stories I’m working on. A lot of the legwork happens away from the page.

Follow Nic: Twitter * Instagram * YouTube


 

Amanda Foody

pre-pub-3

 

1. Your book is one week out until it’s published! How do you feel?

I feel pretty good. I’m not too nervous, not too overwhelmed. A lot of that is because I moved and started a job last week, so I haven’t had much time to work up any nerves. I’ve been focusing all my extra energy on finishing Ace of Shades and ensuring it is the best book it can be.

2. What have you done to prepare for the release?

I’ve been trying to keep up with social media accounts–there have been a lot of wonderful photos of DOTBC on Insta lately. I’m also planning a different giveaway for each day leading up to release for a week straight. There are some really fun prizes, like DOTBC-themed eye shadow pallets and also gift cards. Those will be held via my newsletter.

3. What secret talents do you have?

I can juggle! Three items at a time, though I’d love to work my way up to more. Perhaps if I learn to juggle knives I would be qualified to perform at the Gomorrah Festival in DOTBC myself.

Follow Amanda: Twitter * Tumblr * Pinterest * Instagram


S.F. Henson

1. How has your July been treating you?

July has been hot. And busy. But mostly hot! This month I finished up my edits, got a little work done on my WIP, and started preparing for my launch. I did squeeze in time to take a mini vacation, and I picked up some awesome books:  One Shadow on the Wall, by Leah Henderson, One of Us is Lying, by Karen McManus, and Letters to the Lost, by Brigid Kemmerer.

2. What does your writing process look like?

I recently started http://www.youngadultwriters.com/story-analyzer/ing Scrivener, so my process has changed. I always start by sketching a quick query from the idea. It just helps me stay focused on the core story as the manuscript develops. I do initial research–look up pictures of my setting, study the weather, figure out where my character lives, etc–so that it’s clear in my mind while I’m writing. This step is also called “procrastination.” Then comes the actual writing. If I hit 15,000 words, then I know a story is a keeper. Doesn’t seem like much, but I edit as I go, so that 15k is usually a victory. I like to send to my CPs in small chunks as I write, then get betas when I finish the manuscript. After a couple rounds of betas, my last step is to run the manuscript through the YA Story Analyzer for polishing. (I love that thing!). Then off to my agent and cue constantly refreshing my email while I wait for her thoughts.

3. Your book releases in 3 months, what are you doing to prepare for that release? 

3 months! It seems like so much time until you start doing things. I’m done with my edits and am planning my launch, setting up a mini-tour, and working on a secret project that I might unveil next month! Oh, and trying not to freak out about the fact that people will be reading my book soon. No one prepares you for how scary it truly is to put your book into the world. Eep!

Follow S.F. Henson: Twitter * Goodread *Facebook


Until the next adventure!

Release Day Blitz: What to Say Next Review

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (July 11, 2017)
  • Language: English

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they?  I don’t even understand.
 
DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David.  Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

Amazon * BN *


Tawney’s Review: What To Say Next had been on my TBR list for a while now and I finally had the chance to read it. I adored this book.

The characters Kit and David are strong with what life had dealt them. Kit’s dad died and David has autism. When an unlikely friendship spurs the book takes off into a sweet friendship that blossoms. Buxbaum does a wonderful job at separating the voices with Kit’s and David’s point of view. You can’t help but connect with them and root for them all the way.

Buxbuam did a wonderful job at showing David’s autism.It was a great read on a subject often overlooked. It felt real and genuine. She put’s humor into the book in the right places so the book doesn’t become too serious and keeps it light hearted. Though at times this book could be painful to read because of the reality of teenage cruelness. But that brings the emotion to the story and Buxbaum let’s the story flow engaging the readers.

Should you read it? Yes! A wonderful read that invests you on page one and brings on all the emotions.

starstarstarstar

**Huge thanks to Delcorte Press for providing the arc!**


About the author: 

Julie Buxbaum is the New York Times best selling author of Tell Me Three Things, her young adult debut, and the critically acclaimed novels The Opposite of Love and After You.  Her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Julie’s writing has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times. She is a former lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young children, and an immortal goldfish. Visit Julie online at and follow on Twitter.