Friday, February 28, 2014

Blog Tour: Giveaway & Review: Some Like It Wild (The Wild Ones #2) by M. Leighton

I am very happy to be participating in the Some Like It Wild Blog Tour today! Some Like It Wild is the second in The Wild Ones series from author, M. Leighton. This was my first novel from Leighton and I'm excited to share this giveaway and my thoughts on the book with you.

Some Like It Wild (The Wild Ones #2) by M. Leighton
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Berkley Trade
384 Pages


First was The Wild Ones. Now, the next book in M. Leighton's Wild Ones series...

How far will a good girl go for the bad boy she loves?

Laney Holt is a preacher’s daughter. A good girl. Her only goal was to get married, have babies, and live happily ever after, just like her parents. Only that didn’t happen. The two people closest to her betrayed her, and Laney’s dreams came crashing down. Now she’s left with an empty space she doesn’t know how to fill. Until she meets Jake Theopolis, a daredevil with a death wish who has heartbreaker written all over him.

Jake has no interest in thinking beyond the here and now. All he wants out of life is the next rush, the next �feel-good” thing to keep his mind off the pain of his past. His latest rush? Showing Laney there’s more to life than being a good girl—and that going bad can be so much fun. Her only concern now is how she can ever hope to satisfy the wild side of a boy like Jake. She’s looking forward to trying. And so is Jake.

If you love The Wild Ones, you'll be just as wild for M. Leighton's Bad Boys series which includes Down to You, Up to Me, and Everything for Us. 

Thanks to the lovely people at Berkley Trade, I have one copy of SOME LIKE IT WILD to offer a reader. The only catch is that you have to have a US/CA address. (Sorry international folks!)

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“I’ve got a thing for forbidden fruit, Laney Holt. Consider yourself warned.”

Laney Holt should have listened when the infamous Jake Theopolis warned her to stay away. His reputation in their small town was notorious – something a good little preacher’s daughter should definitely stay away from. But Laney was tired of being good. All that got her was a cheating fiancé and lying best friend. Laney’s ready for danger and she’s got her sights set on Jake.

Some Like It Wild is my first book from Leighton and I will say that I enjoyed it. Jake was entertaining from the start. From his introduction at the fair to the kissing booth then seeing Laney years later, I enjoyed getting in his head. He was straightforward and said what he was thinking at all times. You gotta admire that in a man. And he was a fireman…need I say more?

Laney, on the other hand, I went back and forth with. I liked her spirit and how she didn’t want to be this meek little girl. She wanted excitement and she went looking for it. But then when something scared her or challenged her, she retreated back into herself, let others control her life. Her ex-fiancé cheated on her, but she considered taking him back. Her best friend lied to her, yet she took her back like nothing happened. Her parents pushed her toward the ‘safe’ and she let them. When she finally does grow a backbone, you just want to shout ‘finally!’.

Speaking of the best friend and ex-fiancé, I was not a fan of the side characters. Her best friend was a horrible person and her ‘I only did it to prove it to you’ excuse was, I’m sorry, complete bullshit. I don’t know how Laney could ever trust her again. The ex-fiancé was your typical joe college asshole. And Laney’s parents, especially her dad, were extremely condescending and overbearing. They didn’t once care what their daughter wanted, they just wanted what was best for their family image. 

The banter between Laney and Jake was hilarious. I loved the way they played off of each other and how Jake was able to bring her out of her comfort zone. It was a very easy and cute read. The only thing about the writing that threw me a little was how every thought the characters had ended in an exclamation point.  I know that I don’t think in an excited tone every second of the day. So that was a little hard to red. But overall, I liked it and I wouldn’t be opposed to reading more from the author. 
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review.
Big thanks to Berkeley Trade for allowing me partake in this tour.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Blog Tour: Giveaway & Interview: SOMETHING REAL by Heather Demetrios

The lovely Heather Demetrios is joining us on the blog today with a great interview, and a giveaway of her debut novel, SOMETHING REAL. I am so happy to have her with us today, and I hope you love her interview answers as much as I do! You can find the other tour stops listed here.

SOMETHING REAL by Heather Demetrios

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt
403 Pages

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show's cancellation, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it's about to fall apart . . . because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™'s mom and the show's producers won't let her quit and soon the life that she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

Heather Demetrios' Something Real is the winner of the Susan P. Bloom PEN New England Discovery Award.

Thanks to the lovely people at Macmillan, I have one copy of SOMETHING REAL to offer a reader. The only catch is that you have to have a US/CA address. (Sorry international folks!)

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What is your favorite part of SOMETHING REAL?

I love this question! I don’t think anyone has asked me this yet. My favorite part involves a red T-shirt. I can’t say more without spoiling anything, but it was a really important moment for me because it deals with something I care a lot about. And it makes me cry, which is so weird because I wrote it, which makes me sound like I think I’m an awesome writer but that is not what I’m saying. I just love Benny so much. Anyway, when you read it, you’ll know what I mean. 

Are you working on any projects currently?

Yes, quite a few! I’m really excited about my book from HarperCollins that comes out this October. It’s called EXQUISITE CAPTIVE and is the first in a YA fantasy trilogy about jinn. It’s been so much fun to write and there aren’t really many books about jinn, so I’m excited for it to be out there. It’s about so many things, too: trafficking, revolution, race, class, power, love…and it’s got fast cars, too. 

I also just finished revisions for my second book Macmillan novel, called I’LL MEET YOU THERE. It comes out next winter and is about a young Marine who comes home after losing a leg in Afghanistan and a girl who’s struggling to leave her going-nowhere life. It’s a romance, but it’s gritty and deals with some pretty tough stuff. It’s very, very close to my heart. 

And, of course, I have a few super secret works-in-progress that I’ll tell people about once that don’t look like amorphous blobs of ink.  

Is there a certain idea or emotion that you want to project to your readers? If so, what is it?

You know, when I was talking to my web designer, he wanted me to find something—a throughline or emotion or idea—that is the same in all my books so that he could create a site that tells that story a bit. It took me a minute, because my books are all so different, even different genres. I realized, though, that they’re all about a character who is constrained in some way, stuck in a situation that she or he needs to get out of. It’s about trying to be free. I guess I want my readers to see that whether you’re a girl stuck on a reality TV show or a jinni in a bottle, you own yourself and you have to fight like hell for what you want and who you are. Kick ass and take names. 

What do you find most enjoyable about writing?

I love revising. Some people might think that’s kind of weird, but I love whittling a story, making it better and better and better. But, in general, it’s so great just to be able to tell stories for a living, to live in my imagination 24-7. I’m so grateful to be able to do that. Creating new worlds, new characters, getting into the nitty gritty of what it means to be human—it rocks. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write, write, write. Every day. Every. Single. Day. Don’t get discouraged—your first drafts will suck and you’ll have lots of rejection…but it’s okay because it’ll get better. You have to love to write to write and love to read, too. You should be reading A TON. And write something original, something you’re passionate about. Trends will get you nowhere. Also, read Bird by Bird. It will kinda change your life as a writer. 

What, for you, is the most memorable line SOMETHING REAL? What does that line mean to you, or why is it that that line stands out to you?

I feel like each time I look at it, something new will pop for me, depending on how I’m feeling. I guess this one sums up the book for me, though: “I’m not Bonnie™ or Chloe. I’m the essence of her, the nontrademarked person the camera can never capture and my parents have no right to sign over. There is a sovereign nation encased in this skin that MetaReel can never trademark.” This is Bonnie™, my protagonist, thinking about her identity and what’s been taken from her—and what can never be taken from her. She’s up against so much: her parents, this huge TV corporation, the media in general…In the book, she quotes Walt Whitman and, to me, this is what life is all about. He once said, “Dismiss whatever insults your own soul.” I love that because that’s pretty much why I wrote the book. There are things about reality TV that insult me on a soul level and I had to write about it. 

Do you ever struggle with writer's block, and if you do, how do you shake yourself out of it?

I don’t like to use that term because I think it can be really crippling. Sometimes I just feel stuck or like I’ve got nothin’ in me. That usually means I’m overdoing it, like I haven’t taken some time to rest and refill the creative well. That’s when I know I need to get outside, go to a museum, see a play or something. Music really helps, too, and collaging a character’s emotions or doing something else that’s visual. I love the book Art and Fear: it deals with this issue really well. 

What kind of novels do you enjoy reading?

YA, of course. That’s my favorite. Really good contemporary, like e. Lockhart or lush fantasy, like Laini Taylor. I also love really epic books when I read adult lit, books that draw you into a world and let you stay a while (YA is so quick!). I adored The Night Circus, The Shadow of the Wind, and The Invisible Bridge. These are some of my recent favorites. I’m a huge sucker for Russian lit. If you haven’t read The Master and Margarita, get yourself to a bookstore, comrade! Pick up War and Peace while you’re at it. No, really. It’s awesome. 

Are there any elements in your story to which you relate personally? Did you add any of yourself, or life experiences into the story?

There are always parts of yourself that are in a book, I think, no matter how well you’ve disguised yourself. Bonnie™’s desire to travel is a huge part of who I am, but I also think that someone in her position would really yearn for adventure and distant lands. The book is set in the part of California where I went to high school, so people from that area will certainly recognize little things, like the fact that there really is only one acceptable place to get a Pepsi Freeze. And Schwartz is loosely based on my favorite teacher, David Menendian. He was one of my English teachers and I dedicated the book to him. 

What surprised you most when publishing SOMETHING REAL?

That so many guys have liked it! I thought that if the cover didn’t put them off, then the female proto would, but I keep hearing from guys that they are digging it. I love that! My next Holt book is pretty dude friendly, so I’m curious to see what they think of it. I actually had a former Marine read it and he was feeling it, so that gives me hope. 

Big thanks to Heather for inviting us to join the tour, and for answering my questions wonderfully. Also--thanks to Ksenia, and the other great people at Macmillan for sponsoring the tour and our giveaway!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Blog Tour: Giveaway, Guest Post & Review: UNDER THESE RESTLESS SKIES by Lissa Bryan

Today, I am posting as part of the UNDER THESE RESTLESS SKIES Blog Tour. It is an honor to have Lissa Bryan again on the blog today. As a big fan of her work, I am happy to promote and share my thoughts on her latest work!

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 20, 2014
Publisher: The Writer's Coffee Shop

Will Somers has always thought himself unlovable. When he encounters a creature of myth and magic, he seizes the chance to finally have a wife and family of his own. Emma is a selkie—one of the immortal fae-folk of the sea—bound to Will by the magic of her kind, and eager to learn about life on land. She has to learn to adapt quickly to human customs, because Will is headed for the court of Henry VIII, to serve as the king’s fool. It’s a glittering, dangerous world, where a careless word can lead to the scaffold and the smallest of gestures is loaded with political implications. Anne Boleyn is charmed by Emma’s naïveté and soothing selkie magic and wants Emma for her own fool. Can Will protect his newfound love from the dangers that lurk in every shadow? Circa regna tonat: around the throne, the thunder rolls.

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Writers are the only people who can tell you they hear voices without getting locked up in a little padded room. My head is an apartment building inhabited by a wide assortment of beings, human and supernatural, living and dead, terrestrial and alien. On occasion, one of them comes down to the lobby and demands to see the manager. If they get loud enough, I can’t ignore them any longer and find myself getting engrossed in their story.
It’s hard for me to think of it in terms of “creating” a character, because it seems like they form on their own without much conscious intervention from me. And as they form, a story grows around them, the story they want to tell. Or, I’ll think of a story – almost invariably planted with that fecund question “What if…?” – and the person to tell that tale seems to appear from the ether.
Of course, realistically, I know I must be doing it, but it’s such an organic part of storytelling that it’s automatic. I don’t really create a “character.” I create a person. Every person has their own backstory, their hopes and dreams, their preferences, quirks, phobias, and flaws.  In the course of a story, we peel back the layers, revealing the person beneath the face they show to the world. 
Every character is on a journey in a story. They’re searching for something, or they are going to learn a powerful lesson, or they are going to discover traits within themselves they didn’t know they had to help them deal with adversity. Along the way they acquire scars, both mental and physical, and they have to deal with them in their own way. 

It’s the job of an author to peel back those layers while the characters are on that journey. Did I mention I love my job?

It's not a stretch to say that Lissa Bryan is an auto-buy author for me. From fanfiction to original fiction, Lissa has amazing talent that shows in every word she writes. Under These Restless Skies was no different. This is a book that provides intrigue, romance and drama at every turn. 

Will Somers was born with a crooked back that has kept him from many joys in life. He has come to terms with the fact that he was a true burden on his family, and now as a man, he will live his life alone as King Henry VII's fool. He does not expect to come across a lovely woman on a beach whom he will make his wife. He gives her a name, Emma, and teaches her to be human as she is actually a creature of the sea, a selkie. Little does he know that danger lurks in every corner of the court, and it will take more than a fool's wit to keep them alive.

I truly loved this book, but that was no surprise--I love all of Lissa's work. Will and Emma were such a sweet couple, and their intentions were so good. It's impossible not to be intrigued by the description of their lives in Henry's court. The characterizations were well done for all of the mentioned characters. Each and every one was fully rounded, and by the end of the story, it felt as though I truly knew them. I love when an author can do that!

This is a pretty long book, but the size is not something to be held against it. The pace and plot of the story really works for the length. There is not a time that it seemed too slow, or too fast. There was always a point to hold my attention. The author is very skilled at keeping her audience captivated.

I do not know much about Henry VIII, nor Anne Boleyn for that matter. I learned a lot about their lives, and the story of their marriage through this novel. Though some of the story is fiction, specifically Emma the selkie, Lissa must've done a great deal of research to create this story and I am highly impressed. After finishing this play on history, I really would like to learn more about Anne and Henry as theirs is a story that is strangely fascinating.

I would definitely recommend Under These Restless Skies, and all of Lissa's other works. She provides readers with excellent tales that will leave them wanting more. Her prose is strong, and promises to entertain. There has no been a moment, in all of the works that I've read by her, that I have been bored or wished for the story to end. Lissa is a magnificent writer, and I cannot wait to read her next book!
Big thanks to Lissa for the great guest post, and to TWCS for asking me to join in this tour!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Guest Post from Anne Leonard, Author of MOTH AND SPARK

I am very happy to welcome Anne Leonard to Book Jems today to promote her fantasy debut, MOTH AND SPARK! She joins us with a wonderful guest post about the importance of patience when reading and writing!

MOTH AND SPARK by Anne Leonard
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 20, 2014
Publisher: Viking Adult
384 Pages

A prince with a quest. A commoner with mysterious powers. And dragons that demand to be freed—at any cost.

Prince Corin has been chosen to free the dragons from their bondage to the Empire, but dragons aren’t big on directions. They have given him some of their power, but none of their knowledge. No one, not the dragons nor their riders, is even sure what keeps the dragons in the Empire’s control. 

Tam, sensible daughter of a well-respected doctor, had no idea before she arrived in the capital that she is a Seer, gifted with visions. When the two run into each other (quite literally) in the library, sparks fly and Corin impulsively asks Tam to dinner. But it’s not all happily ever after. Never mind that the prince isn’t allowed to marry a commoner: war is coming to Caithen. 

Torn between Corin’s quest to free the dragons and his duty to his country, the lovers must both figure out how to master their powers in order to save Caithen. With a little help from a village of secret wizards and a rogue dragonrider, they just might pull it off.


For this guest blog post, I thought I would do something a little different and talk about a readerly and writerly virtue: patience. In daily life, patience is something that I need to practice more and which seems increasingly hard to do in the face of the flood of information around me. Wait until Wednesday for my UPS package? OK, sure, but I’m going to watch the tracking updates in case it comes early.  Irritated with the point someone is making? I’ll just look at something else on my phone. We’re in a culture which continues to increase in speed, and the more one expects something to come soon, the harder it is to be patient. 
One of the comments I’ve seen from early readers of Moth and Spark is that it’s a bit slow at first. My first reaction was “What? There are a dozen dead bodies by the end of the first chapter!” But I do write with a slower, more deliberate pace than many writers. Much of this pacing probably comes from reading nineteenth century novels and from an academic background which values consideration and devalues hastiness.
But since I started thinking about this, I’ve realized that this is also a preference of mine. I’ve read several books recently that rushed by with the protagonist in one danger after another. It seems like the first chapter can’t end without a death, a chase, a knife fight, or so on, and the second chapter has to pick up immediately. Then, after that first frantic breath, it slows down a little.
As a reader, I’m finding myself increasingly dissatisfied with this. Books that start out fast and continue fast and just zip along in the reading leave me feeling unsatisfied at the end. I finish the book, and it’s like coming down from a blood sugar rush. It’s as though I’ve gobbled a package of chocolate chips instead of eating a truffle one small bite at a time, letting the chocolate melt, savoring the tastes. (As an aside, characters who rush headline from one adventure to another can start looking pretty stupid for not thinking through things. And for me, once the protagonist is stupid, the game is over.)
For me, part of the pleasure of reading is the immersion. I don’t want to rush back into my own world. I want to spend some time somewhere else, to linger in this new place where I don’t know what will happen next. I want to explore. Of course I want events and changes in my story as much as anyone else, but I’d rather ease into them than merge onto the freeway at 80 miles an hour on page 5. When I drive fast, I don’t see anything except what’s immediately around me.
It’s really easy for readers to get impatient. Whether it’s anticipating the behaviors of the characters and wanting them to get on with it, flipping to the next chapter to see if the story stops being stalled, or harassing George RR Martin for the next installment of Game of Thrones, readers often lose patience pretty quickly. I do this too. I’m especially aware of that tendency in myself when I pick up a big fat slow book that takes a while to unfold. But as a reader, I am trying to practice patience and take the book on its own terms.
As a writer, I also need to practice patience. Mostly this is patience with my writing process: patience to wait when the well runs dry, patience to think through something before writing a lot of words that will later be cut, patience to finish a scene fully instead of rushing on to the next one. But it’s also patience with my own story. I need to have the patience to let the story take me where it wants to go.
I’m not talking here about plot ideas. I’m fully capable of letting lots of plot ideas take over and ending up with a knot that I can’t untangle. I need to have less patience with some of those. I’m talking about the “aboutness” of the story. It has its currents, and when I try to alter the flow, bad things happen. To continue with the watery metaphors, I get beached or capsized, there’s a flood, or I cause a beautiful waterfall further downstream to dry up. Then I arrive where the waterfall should be, wonder what the hell happened to it, and have to go back to knock down the dam.
I get to choose how to tell the story. But I don’t always get to choose the story that’s being told. Just as I need to allow the story to be told on its own terms when I’m reading, I need to allow it its own terms when I’m writing.

Do you ever lose your patience when reading, or writing?

Thank you to Anne for the lovely, thoughtful post! And thank you to Chris and the other kind people at Viking/Penguin for offering the opportunity to host Anne today!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

ARC Review: Feel the Rush (Hard Feelings #2) by Kelsie Leverich

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: NAL Trade
416 Pages

The New York Times bestselling author of The Valentine’s Arrangement continues her sizzling series with a new novel of a plan that goes awry—in the arms of a soldier....

Picking the wrong men is a talent Meagan Mitchell has perfected. She’s sweet, confident, beautiful— and single. With her thirtieth birthday sneaking up on her, she needs a new plan. No more Mr. Wrongs or Mr. Bads. It’s time to find Mr. Safe....

Army captain Reed Porter lives for the thrill—an Airborne Jumpmaster with a rush addiction. He’s sexy and playful, and he quickly tempts Meagan with his rich Southern drawl and sinful looks. But slowing down and settling down are not on his agenda, making him exactly the type of man Meagan wants to avoid.…

As their undeniable attraction heats up, Meagan has to decide if she’s willing to risk everything on a chance at love with a reckless charmer. Is she brave enough to bet her future—and her heart—on Mr. Thrill?  Or will Reed finally learn that the feeling of a safe landing is just as addicting as the rush of the fall?

“Sometimes, the things we’re afraid of, the things that scare us the most, are the things that give us the biggest rush.”

Meagan Mitchell is turning 30 and it’s scaring the shit out of her. She thought by this age she would be married with children and she couldn’t be farther from it. So, she makes a decision. Done are the Mr. Wrongs, the bad boys. She needs the safe ones. Moving across country with her best friend seems to be a good start. However, she didn’t expect someone from her past. She didn’t expect Reed Porter.
Reed Porter is instantly attracted to Meaghan the moment he helps get her kitten out of a tree. She’s feisty, sarcastic but a little sweet around the edges. And she’s refusing him at every turn. Challenge accepted. The only problem: he doesn’t remember Meagan from the one night they shared together eight years ago. 

To say this book surprised me would be an understatement. The first in this series was just okay and I honestly probably wouldn’t have continued the series if I hadn’t received this book from the publisher, but I’m so glad that I did. Meagan surprised me. She stuck to her guns, standing by what she wants, and having fun playing with Reed. She knows she should stay away, but something about him is just so damn charming. And charming he is. Reed was just…so dang swoonworthy. He lives for the now, for the thrill. He knows he’s not right for Meagan, that she deserves more, but he’s just having too much fun.

Meagan was living in fear of the future while Reed was living in fear of the past. Their chemistry was so electric it jumped off of the page. I enjoyed reading every part of their relationship. I loved seeing how they fell for each other because, sadly, in a lot of books that part gets lost in favor of the drama.  We got to see Reed’s exterior melt away and Meagan embrace a future of not knowing. Set with the armed forces as a background, these two just wormed their way into my heart. There was a ton of laughter, some sadness, and a whole bunch of swooning. This book was just what I needed right now and I loved every minute of it. 
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Blog Tour: Giveaway & Interview: Unforgotten (Unremembered #2) by Jessica Brody

I am so happy today to welcome Jessica Brody to Book Jems for an interview, and give away her upcoming novel, UNFORGOTTEN, and its prequel UNREMEMBERED. Find more information on this blog tour, and the other blogs participating here!

Unforgotten (Unremembered #2) 
by Jessica Brody
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
416 Pages

Some memories are better left forgotten... 

After a daring escape from the scientists at Diotech who created her, Seraphina believes she is finally safe from the horrors of her past. But new threats await Sera and her boyfriend, Zen, at every turn as Zen falls prey to a mysterious illness and Sera’s extraordinary abilities make it more and more difficult to stay hidden. Meanwhile, Diotech has developed a dangerous new weapon designed to apprehend her. A weapon that even Sera will be powerless to stop. Her only hope of saving Zen’s life and defeating the company that made her is a secret buried deep within her mind. A secret that Diotech will kill to protect. And it won’t stay forgotten for long.

Packed with mystery, suspense, and romance, this riveting second installment of Jessica Brody’s Unremembered trilogy delivers more heart-pounding action as loyalties are tested, love becomes a weapon, and no one’s memories are safe.

The kind people at Macmillan are offering one (1) paperback of UNREMEMBERED, and one (1) hardcover of UNFORGOTTEN to one lucky winner. This giveaway is US/Canada only!

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1. Describe UNFORGOTTEN in ten words or less.

More action, more memory manipulation, more sci-fi stuff, more kissing.

2. What kind of books do you read in your free time? Do you have any recent favorites?

I read mostly YA. I love young adult. The plotting is usually faster and the voice is usually really relatable. Plus I have so many author friends who write YA so I try to keep up on all their awesome releases! 

Recently, I loved WINGER by Andrew Smith, PRODIGY by Marie Lu, and FRACTURE by Megan Miranda. 

3. What are you currently working on?

Ooh! I’m so excited about all the things coming up. Some I can talk about, some I can’t. 

I can say that I just finished writing book 3 in the UNREMEMBERED trilogy. It’s still currently UNtitled, but I think we’re getting closer to a title! (At least my editor can’t call it UNFINISHED anymore! She thought that was really funny when the book was 2 months late!) 

I am contracted to write another contemporary standalone for Macmillan, my publisher, so I’ll be starting that really soon. I do already have an idea that my editor and I both love so I’m excited to get back to my contemporary roots and write something that doesn’t include scientifically-altered heroines and romps through time and space. 

4. How do you write a novel; are you a plotter, or a by-the-pants writer?

I was recently on a panel with Neal Schusterman and he had the best answer to this question. He said, “I never start writing a novel, until I’ve tricked myself into thinking I know exactly what’s going to happen.”

The key word here is trick. Because all authors know that even if we plot our hearts out, there are always unexpected plot points hiding around the bend ready to jump out and surprise us. And the longer you work on a character, the more she starts to think for herself and make decisions for herself and want to have a say in the way the story unfolds. Those pesky characters!

And similarly, I never start writing a novel until I’ve tricked myself into thinking it’s going to be the easiest book I’ve ever written. It never is.

So as much as I am actually a plotter (I use a screenplay plotting method called SAVE THE CAT, based on the book by Blake Snyder), I have to be a panster too. I’ve learned that one of the best qualities of a writer is flexibility. You have to learn to let go of what you think is going to happen (or what you’ve tricked yourself into thinking is going to happen) and embrace what the book will become on its own. 

5. Did you always know how the series would play out, or did it change as you wrote? How do you work through changes?

When I first sold the trilogy, I had a long synopsis for book 1 (about 7 pages) and two short synopses for books 2 and 3 (about a page each.) Although many things changed within those synopses, there were two constants that never changed: The beginning of each book and the end of each book. 

I always knew book 1 would end the way it did, I always knew book 2 would end the way it did, and book 3...well, I actually never included the ending in the synopsis. But in my head, I always knew it had to end one way and no other way. 

So yes, for those who have read book 2, UNFORGOTTEN, I did have that shocking ending planned from the very beginning. Sorry!

Like I said before, changes are inevitable when you’re writing a manuscript. And yet still, every time, I go through a stage of struggle, where I fight to keep the book exactly how I’d planned it to be. But those scenes never turn out well—they always feel forced and clumsy—and I usually end up cutting them and succumbing to the pull of change in the end. 

6. Have you incorporated any of your own life experiences into UNFORGOTTEN, or the other novels in the UNREMEMBERED series? 

You mean apart from my ability to run faster than a car, speak every language on earth, and travel through time? No, not much. 

Haha. Just kidding. 

I think it’s unavoidable that a piece of me will end up in every single book, but there was actually a very specific scene that I stole from my own life experience in book 2, UNFORGOTTEN. 

When you’re reading the book, you’ll come to a kind of creepy, unnerving scene in a New York City subway station. That exact thing happened to me in real life. It was pretty scary. Of course, I didn’t have superhuman abilities to resolve the situation like what happens in the book. But I definitely wished I did!

That’s what’s kind of cool and cathartic about being a writer. You get to take your own bad experiences, add a little sci-fi fairy dust, and transform them into exactly what you want.

7. Which character do you think you are most like, or which character would you most like to be?

I definitely have Cody’s sarcasm and sense of humor and Seraphina’s overly analytical brain. But I wish I had Sera’s looks! I would LOVE to have purple eyes!

But in truth, I’m not sure I’d want to have any of my character’s lives. I put them through a lot of crap. I don’t need that! Writing about it is hard enough!

8. What challenges did you face while writing this story?


I laugh because the answer is “all of them.” All the challenges. If there was a challenge to be had, I faced it.

This book was SO difficult to write. I cried so many dang times, it’s embarrassing. I thought it was the most difficult of the series. And then I wrote book 3...

When you take memory manipulation, throw in some time travel, and futuristic technology, what you get is...challenge.

But honestly, I think the toughest part of writing this book is the fact that it was book 2 of a trilogy. The middle of any book is the toughest part for me. And this entire book was one big middle!

9. Did you have to do any research for this novel?

I’ll be honest. I’m not a huge fan of research. I’d rather just make stuff up. But because a big chunk of this novel takes place in the 17th century, I had to get over my disdain for research and actually do some. I wanted to make sure that all of the scenes that take place in that time period felt authentic.

I actually took an entire online course about Early Modern England, so I could familiarize myself with the cultural and societal elements of that time. And I spoke on the phone with a renowned professor of Early Modern England who helped me sort out some of the more specific details that are included in the book. 

And okay, I’ll admit it, it was kinda fun. Maybe I should research more often.  

10. What are some tips you have for those looking to publish their stories?

Practice makes perfect. It’s not just a cliché, it’s the truth. 

Write. Every. Day. Hone your craft. You can’t just pick up a cello and expect to play a Beethoven sonata, you have to practice. Writing is the same. It takes time and work and lots of practice and mistakes. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t judge yourself too critically. Just keep at it. 

I have tons of other tips about writing and getting published on my website: 


I am so thankful for Jessica for letting me pick her brain, and to Ksenia and the wonderful people at Macmillan for allowing me to participate in this blog tour! Look for my review of UNFORGOTTEN in the upcoming week!
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