Handpicked by Dani Oden
Publication date: August 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
College freshman Jill Holloway takes one look at the stuck-up girls going through sorority rush and nearly returns her borrowed dress and heels. Against her best judgment, she ends up falling for the prestige and parties, and snagging a bid from a top house. After moving in, she quickly grows skeptical of her too-perfect sorority sisters. She tries to ask questions, though no one will take time from their busy social calendar to give her any real answers.
Jill wastes no time digging for everything she’s not supposed to find, and soon comes face-to-face with a big and bloody secret hidden in her sorority’s basement. She knows she’s in over her head, but taking off so soon would raise the perfectly-plucked eyebrows of her suspicious new sisters. She’s stuck until she can make a smooth exit.
But the closer she gets to leaving, the more it becomes clear that it won’t be as simple as she hoped. A tempting fraternity guy, a best friend who needs her, and new details about what has really been happening in the basement have her questioning what her next move should be, and whether or not it’ll be worth the risks.
HANDPICKED is a New Adult coming of age, with elements of suspense and romance.
Under a moonlit, starless sky, I joined the crowd of passing girls who’d just been released from preference parties at neighboring sororities. Recruitment counselors lined the sidewalks, forbidding us from talking and herding us toward the biggest lecture hall on campus to fill out our preference cards. If I wasn’t in the middle of it, I would have thought that hundreds of dressed up young women walking silently in rows might seem a little creepy, but who was I to judge? I was one of them. One of us.
At the end of the block, below a streetlight, was a line of guys in dress pants and collared shirts. A couple of them were all disheveled and wrinkly, clearly out of their element in the nice clothes, though for the most part they were a hot bunch. I tried not to stare but one in particular, with grayish pants, a light blue shirt and a face that rivaled the boyband posters that hung in my old locker, was particularly difficult to look away from.
When the wave of girls I was with passed, they handed each of us a rose with a crookedly cut tag tied on with ribbon. My cheeks burned as the one in blue held his back as a few girls went by and then handed it directly to me, smiling.
I wanted to stop and say something, but the sea of girls behind me pushed me along, forcing me to keep walking. I settled for a smile, the best one I could muster through shaky lips and soggy eyes. Once I was down the block, I peeked at the tag hoping to see his name, but all it said was, Congratulations on completing rush, from the gentlemen of Nu Mu Chi. We hope to see you at our parties this year.
I made a mental note to go to every single one of them.
‘On Writing’ with Dani Oden.
Where did your interest in writing come from?
My interest in writing goes wayyyy back. I have memories of dictating stories to my mom and then illustrating the pages she wrote with stick figures. I was around four or five at the time. When I got older, my dad had a home office so I’d go in at the end of his work day and use his typewriter to type up my stories. It was only a matter of time before it turned into something bigger!
How did you come up with the setting and plot for HANDPICKED?
HANDPICKED takes place in a university Greek system, with the majority of the action in a sorority house. I was a member of a sorority when I was in college and for me it was a fantastic experience. But, like everyone else, I’ve heard all the buzz about what people think happens behind their closed doors, so I wanted to explore the rumors, and both confirm and contradict some of the stereotypes.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Oh my gosh! This book was a great exercise in editing. The first draft was over 90,000 words, while the final version is just shy of 65,000.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
Building playlists for the project I’m working on! For HANDPICKED, I listened to a lot of Paramore, Alexz Johnson, Hey Monday and Marianas Trench. I try to find music that evokes the same moods I’m trying to create.
What was the toughest part about this process?
I had a few challenges with plotting HANDPICKED, but it was nothing compared to figuring out what I wanted to do after I finished it. I probably spent just as many hours writing it as I did researching independent publishing, traditional publishing, small presses, agents, etc. Ultimately, I’m happy with the decision I made to independently publish.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Unplug your modem J
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
THANK YOU for reading! And, please don’t be strangers – I can’t wait to hear from you!
Book Blitz organised by Xpresso Book Tours.