Book Blitz ~ ‘Scratched’ by Marie Long.

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Scratched by Marie Long
(The Anderson Brothers, #2)
Publication date: August 4th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Romance
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SYNOPSIS

Twenty-four year old Kevin Anderson lost the opportunity to end his senior year at the University of Washington as the Huskies’ all-star point guard, and sought out one last opportunity to put his extraordinary basketball skills to use: by training for a chance at the pros.

But when he’s not on the court, Kevin has only two things in his life that gives him happiness: spinning records at the local clubs, and Trinity Brown.

Trinity attends almost every one of Kevin’s deejay gigs, but Kevin is uncertain if her love for him is genuine or a fangirl’s simple admiration. Kevin takes that chance and hopes that she will see beyond the celebrity persona. But when fall classes start up again, their busy schedules press their relationship.

Kevin doesn’t want to give up on her–on them. He hopes the happiness they had will rebound once more.

But when he learns the truth about Trinity, Kevin must decide if it is worth everything–and everyone–he cares about to save her, or forfeit this exhausting game of love.

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What’s in my Beach Bag?

Back in May, I received a newsletter from Harlequin books that had a fun, summer-themed feature with some of their authors: “What’s in our bags?” Well, with summer in full swing, I thought it would be fun to share what’s in my bag, too!

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Photo by Marie Long

My summer beach bag necessities include my Vera Bradley towel, a bottle of water, SPF 50+ suntan lotion, my favorite pair of Corona beach sandals, and lots of Romance and New Adult reading indulgences in ebook and paper format.

What are you packing in your beach bag this summer?


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Prizes: (US/Canada)
*iPod Shuffle*
*$15 iTunes Gift Card*

A Rafflecopter Giveaway ~


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Marie Long

Marie Long is a novelist who enjoys the snowy weather, the mountains, and a cup of hot white chocolate. She’s an avid supporter of literacy movements like We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Marie has shared a fondness and interest in the New Adult genre since its popularity boom in 2009. And now, as both a reader, and debut RWA author of New Adult fiction, Marie dreams to keep this fascinating genre going strong.



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Book Blitz ~ ‘Choosing Happiness’ by Melissa Stevens.

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Choosing Happiness by Melissa Stevens
Publication date: July 21st 2015
Genres: Adult, Romance
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SYNOPSIS

Jake and Andrea met once. When Andrea was in college, Jake came with her brother Ben who was visiting on leave from a deployment in Afghanistan. Now, years later, Jake gets a job in Ben’s home town to be close to his best friend. He hadn’t counted on Andrea. The attraction he’d felt then was still there. And this time he wasn’t headed back to a war zone where he could very well be killed.

Andrea is drawn to the man who calls Ben brother. Something about him speaks to her, but she’s not sure what. She falls into things head first, but when something makes her question how fast things are going she slams on the breaks. Can the two of them figure out what’s going on with them before it’s too late?

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He quickly fixed two cups of hot cocoa, but before serving he ducked around the corner. She was sitting on the couch with the blanket pulled over her lap. “Have you ever tried Bailey’s in your cocoa?”

“No. Is it good?”

“I like it, want me to bring you mine and let you try it before you decide?”

“If you don’t mind, please?”

“If I minded I wouldn’t have offered.” He carried his cup of cocoa to the sofa and let her take a sip.

“Oooh, that’s good.”

“Want me to add some to yours, too?”

“Please, that would be great.” She kept his warm cup cradled in her hands, her shivering had stopped.

Jake quickly doctored the second cup of cocoa and returned, sitting down on the sofa near Andrea. He was careful not to jar her enough to spill the cocoa. “Do you want to trade? Or do you want to keep that one?”

“I already have this one and it’s almost half gone so I might as well keep it.”

Jake held his arm out. “Do you want to come over here and let me help warm you up?”

She scooted over and slid under his arm, lifting the blanket to cover his lap too, so he could help the heat build underneath. He pulled her close against his side and curled his arm around her. They sat quietly, drinking their cocoa for a few minutes, until Andrea started laughing.

“What?” Jake frowned down at her, confused.

“We’ve got to be crazy. Sitting here, still dressed for the wedding, sipping cocoa at nearly three am.”

“Well, I considered getting you out of the dress, but thought I’d be a gentleman and let it warm up in here first,” Jake quipped, causing Andrea to laugh harder. “I love your laugh,” Jake squeezed her against him in a quick, one-armed hug. “It makes me feel good.”

“What a sweet thing to say.” She stretched up to kiss him on the cheek. Draining the last of her cocoa, she set the empty cup on the coffee table in front of them. Pulling the blanket up to her shoulders, she curled into him, resting her head against his chest. “You smell nice.” She wiggled a little, trying to get comfortable.

“Make yourself comfortable.” He looked down at her, amused.

“I’m working on it. You’re warm, like Ben.”

“You do this to Ben?”

“Not anymore, but I did when I was younger. I was always cold and he was always so warm. I would curl up against him and steal some warmth. He never really knew what to make of it.” She admitted reflectively.

“I imagine not.” He wasn’t sure what to make of it himself. Not knowing what else to do, he slipped the arm that had been around her under the blanket and started rubbing up and down her side. He didn’t know why he did it, just that it seemed right. After a couple minutes she kicked off her shoes and pulled her legs up and curled them beside her. Jake started rubbing his hand up and down her leg. “Hmm… No hose.”

“No, I hate those things.”

“Probably would have been at least a little warmer in them though.”

“True. I wasn’t planning on staying out quite so late or in the cold as long when I got dressed though.”

“So you froze.” He ran his fingers along her thigh, back and forth against the hem of her dress, sending another shiver though her body. “You still cold?”

“No, not anymore.” She moved against him, as if silently asking for more.

Jake continued to play his fingers lightly over her skin, teasing her with his touch until he had finished his cocoa. He carefully slipped out from under the blanket, tucking it around her, and stood. Picking up hers, he took both mugs into the kitchen and set them in the sink. On the way back, he took off his suit jacket and hung it and his tie over the back of a dining chair.

Unfastening his collar, Jake returned to the couch. Sitting beside her, this time he kicked his own shoes off and sat sideways, one leg bent in the seat as he leaned against the arm. He invited her to curl up against him. “Come here.”

She crawled closer, dragging the blanket with her, and laid against his chest. He pulled the blanket around her, tucking it around her feet and put his arms underneath to wrap them around her.

“How’s that? Warm enough?” He liked that she trusted him enough to put herself in his arms.

“It’s nice, but not at all what I thought you meant when you said you wanted to take me home.” She looked up at him with half lidded eyes.

“It’s not, but it’s still a little cool in here, besides I’m enjoying this too.”

Andrea got a mischievous glint in her eyes as she started to wiggle, moving her arms around his sides.

“What are you up to?”

“Nothing much.” She struggled a moment, pulling the ends of his dress shirt and the t-shirt underneath free from his slacks. When she managed to untuck them all the way around she slid her hands underneath, against his skin. “Mmmm, much better.” She played her fingers back and forth over his skin. Pushing herself onto her knees, she stretched until her lips met his. She kissed him eagerly, using her mouth to let him know she was ready to move faster.

Jake ran his hands along the hem of her dress, caressing the bare skin as he slowly inched the fabric up her legs.

Engrossed in the deep kiss, Andrea let her fingers curl. They dug into his skin as she pulled herself against him. She squirmed, moving into his hands as he touched her and pulling herself back into him again, as though she couldn’t decide which touch she wanted more.

Jake continued to slowly slide her dress up, running his fingers lightly over her soft skin on either side of her body as he went. It wasn’t until she arched her back, leaning into him that he realized he’d reached her waist. He broke the kiss and looked at Andrea, confused.

She smiled mischievously again, amused by his confusion.

“Don’t tell me you’ve been naked under that dress all night long?”

“Would you like it if I were?”

“Girl, I’ve wanted you since the first time I laid eyes on you, before I knew who you were. It drives me crazy thinking of you with no panties on under that little dress all day. On the side of the highway, changing that tire.” He felt himself growing hard at the thought. “In the church while Ben said ‘I do’. All that time at the reception hall, and sitting next to me at the diner.”

Andrea laughed at how his voice deepened with desire as he spoke and the hard feel of him pressing against her. “It’s a good thing I was wearing some then, wasn’t it?”


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I’m often asked if I base my characters on people I know. No. Each character’s personality is different. I do sometimes steal mannerisms, haircuts, personal preferences, but more often than not it’s what the character has told me about themselves and yes, they actually speak to me.

Sometimes I’ll be sitting in a restaurant with my family and over hear something at the next table that makes my mind spin. It may give me an idea or it may just sound so much like one of the people living in my head that they end up saying something similar in the future.

I may see someone somewhere who inspires my physically, and actually for Jade’s Peace, Steve was inspired by my mental image of what Model Jeremy Aaron’s personality might be like. I kept a picture of him on my desktop and when I had doubts about how Steve might behave, how he would react to something I could look at the pic and I just knew. Often, though I don’t need a visual aid. With Jade, she spoke to me, and told me things I didn’t have planned at all. She started out as an only child. And I was writing along and she says to me, “Watch out, my brother will be here tomorrow.” My immediate thought was, “You don’t have a brother.” She was adamant though and replied, “Yes I do and he’ll be here tomorrow.” Sure enough, he showed up, and I had to go back and fix a few things but I’ll admit, he made the story better.

I find that my best stories, at least to me, at the ones where I start out with a vague idea of the story, I have two characters and a rough ending, (Hey, this is romance, they always end up together, right?) and let the characters tell me their story as I go along. The characters always seem more alive when they lead their own stories.


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Prize Open INTL
*Paperback copy of Choosing Happiness*

A Rafflecopter Giveaway ~


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Melissa
Melissa Stevens

Melissa was born and raised in Arizona, she’s spent her entire life living across the southern half of the state. She’s found that, along with her husband and three children, she prefers the small towns and rural life to feeling packed into a city.

She started reading at a very young age, and her love for series started early, as the first real books she remembers reading is the Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Through the years she’s found that there’s little she won’t read, and her tastes vary from westerns, to romance, to sci-fi / fantasy and Horror.

She’s been writing since 2009, and enjoys nearly every minute of it.


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Book Blitz ~ ‘State of Alliance’ by Summer Lane.

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State of Alliance by Summer Lane
(Collapse Series #5)
Publication date: January 30th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Post-Apocalyptic
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SYNOPSIS

There is no such thing as safe. 

For Commander Cassidy Hart, staying alive is only one of her day-to-day problems. As a newly minted Senator of the State of California, she must travel to Monterey Bay with the hope of bringing an agreement between the militia forces and the Pacific Northwest Alliance as the United States desperately battles against the shadow invasion forces of Omega.

But Monterey is not what it seems. The threat of another Omega attack looms on the horizon, and Commander Chris Young – the love of Cassidy’s life – is not the only important person in Cassidy’s life who is keeping secrets. Assassinations, betrayal and startling revelations lie ahead.
The war is now. Fight or die.
Choose your side.

The fifth installment in the international bestselling Collapse Series, a YA/NA post-apocalyptic romantic adventure.

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Monterey and Cassidy Hart 

By Summer Lane 

To write State of Alliance, it was very important that I get some serious firsthand experience of the location that I was writing about. The book begins in Sacramento, eventually taking Cassidy to the coastline. I lived in Sacramento for nine years, so I definitely had a good idea of the geography of the “City of Trees,” as it’s called. For Monterey, however, I needed to walk the streets, count the steps, smell the air, see the ocean and feel the temperature. I needed to know what Cassidy would feel here. I needed to take this beautiful little coastal town and turn it into a post-apocalyptic warzone. (Sorry, Monterey. You’re not the first town to fall prey to my storylines!)

I traveled to Monterey in November of 2014 to scope out the area. I visited Fisherman’s Wharf, overlooked the Presidio of Monterey, walked through the halls of the Carmel Mission, strolled down the sidewalks at Cannery Row and dipped my hands into the cold water of the Pacific Ocean in Pacific Grove. I kept track of road names and avenues. I recorded temperatures and studied the bay. Most importantly, I researched the Naval Postgraduate School, where a large portion of Cassidy’s story takes place.

As a writer, I can honestly say that getting out of the office and actually researching a subject or location is one of the most refreshing and inspiring experiences. It gives you a sense of realism that you can translate into your writing. I highly recommend it, and I loved every minute of researching for State of Alliance!


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Prizes: 13 eBooks:

The Soul Thief, Majanka Verstraete
Trigger, Jill Meengs
Dead Girl Walking, by Ruth Silver
Spirit Warrior, by DEL Connor
Fractured Dream, by KM Randall
The Green Dagger, by Kelly Hess
Jacob, King of Portalia, by Casey Cubb
A Reaper Made by Liz Long
The Road by G. Michael Hopf
The Death, by John W. Vance
Last Woman by Jacqueline Druga
Realm of the Unknown by James McPike
Element Wielder, by Cesar Gonzalez
1 paperback of The Lost and the Wicked by Cesar Gonzalez
1 signed copy of Day Zero by Summer Lane

$10 Amazon Gift Card
Summer Lane
Summer Lane is the author of the international bestselling Collapse Series and Zero Trilogy. She owns WB Publishing and Writing Belle, an online magazine dedicated to the Art of Storytelling. Summer is also an accomplished creative writing teacher and professional journalist. She lives in the Central Valley of California where she creates her stories and shares them with the world.

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Book Blitz ~ ‘Walled’ by Anne Tibbets.

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Walled by Anne Tibbets
(The Line #2)
Published by: Carina Press (HQN)
Publication date: December 1st 2014
Genres: Dystopia, New Adult

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SYNOPSIS

Freedom means making brutal choices.

Rebel lovers Naya and Ric have survived one year in hiding, raising Naya’s twins from infants to toddlers in the shadow of the brutal Auberge dictatorship. They’re alive, and they’re together, but the city is crumbling around them and the haunting memory of Naya’s dark days on The Line have never fully left them. Living in isolation won’t be an option forever.

When a mysterious revolutionary seeks their help to infiltrate Auberge’s electronic heart and shut it down, it’s an opportunity—it’s risky, yes, but if it works they’ll get out of the city and taste freedom for the first time. Naya needs this. They need this.

Beyond the broken walls of Auberge, Naya and Ric find the paradise they’ve always longed for. But with anarchy reigning and Naya’s children lost amidst the chaos, they’ll need to forfeit their post-apocalyptic Eden…or commit an unspeakable act.

Book Two of Two.

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“You don’t have to do this,” Ric whispered.

I swallowed the terror in my throat and licked my lips with my dry tongue.

The elevator stopped, and I heard the sound of a tiny bell as the doors slid open.

“We can find another way,” he said.

I stepped through the open doors and drew my pistol.

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~ Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ B&N ~

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Yes, New Adult is a Thing, Can We Move on Now?

Every time an editor or agent tweets that New Adult is just a marketing gimmick or a fad, somewhere in the universe, an author dies.

Okay, so maybe he or she doesn’t die – maybe they’re just clutching their chest, or banging their head on their desk, or bashing their laptops with a baseball bat.

The truth is, nobody knows for sure if New Adult has staying power. So far, there have been great successes in self-publishing New Adult, particularly in Contemporary Romance, and traditional pubs are catching up quickly. Even after Publisher Weekly reported that New Adult was an actual thing [http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/63285-new-adult-matures.html], there are still those who are unwilling to accept it.

Part of me wonders if these naysayers were also the ones who predicted ebooks would destroy publishing as we know it. Or, maybe they’re just slow adapters, the kinds of people who resent their iPhone upgrades (I’m guilty of this myself), or maybe they understand that the publishing industry can be fickle, and just like in Project Runway, one day you’re in – the next, you’re out!

Whatever their reason for refusing to believe that New Adult is real, if they keep up with the disapproval, they sure aren’t helping! All they’re doing is hurting a lot of feelings from a lot of hard working authors and being negative, and in my limited life experience, being a pessimist makes you a good at creating Dystopia, but isn’t very useful otherwise.

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Anne

Anne Tibbets

Anne Tibbets is an SCBWI award-winning and Smashwords.com Best Selling author. After writing for Children’s television, Anne found her way to young/new adult fiction by following what she loves: books, strong female characters, twisted family dynamics, magic, sword fights, quick moving plots, and ferocious and cuddly animals.

Along with CARRIER, Anne is also the author of the young adult fantasy novella, THE BEAST CALL and the young adult contemporary, SHUT UP.

Anne divides her time between writing, her family, and three furry creatures that she secretly believes are plotting her assassination.

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~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter ~ Website ~

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Book Blitz organised by Xpresso Book Tours.

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Book Blitz ~ ‘Day Zero’ by Summer Lane.

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Day Zero by Summer Lane
(The Zero Trilogy #1)
Publication date: October 10th 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult

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SYNOPSIS

Elle is a survivor.

Since the collapse of modern society, she’s been living in the remains of downtown Hollywood, California, foraging for food and fighting for her life.

And then everything changes.

After she is forced out of her home, she heads north. What she finds is a group of bunker survivors, unlikely comrades, and the hope of a safe haven. Together, they journey toward the dregs of civilization, facing starvation, imprisonment and death.

They are alone, but they are ready.

Day Zero begins today.

Day Zero is a novella, the first installment in The Zero Trilogy, a novella series complementing the international bestselling Collapse Series.

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~ Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ B&N ~ Createspace ~

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Writing about Post-Apocalyptic Hollywood and Santa Monica

Writers of post-apocalyptic fiction have the interesting task of taking the world in which we live and transforming it into an entirely different reality. For Day Zero, I chose Hollywood and Santa Monica, California, as the primary setting for my novella. Why those two cities? For one, I’m very familiar with them. I’ve spent a lot of time in southern California, visiting the Walk of Fame and Santa Monica Boulevard. It’s always best to base fiction on the legs of reality, so I went with what I knew.

I also recall asking myself the question, What would happen if Hollywood became uninhabitable? It’s interesting to think about the city without the glitz and glamour, with only the threads of civilization hanging on. I researched and visited famous places like Wilshire Boulevard, the Santa Monica Pier and Millions of Milkshakes on Santa Monica Boulevard. I believe grounding a story in something that exists makes it relatable to the reader – and fun for the author!

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INTL Giveaway

A pack of eBooks including:

    • Dead Girl Walking, by Ruth Silver
    • Fractured Dream, by K.M. Randall
    • Spirit Warriors: The Scarring by DEL Connor
    • Eyes of the Enemy by Kelly Hess
    • Jacob, King of Portalia by Casey Club
    • Destiny Gift by Juliana Haygert
    • Aftershock by Roberta Trahan

~ A Rafflecopter Giveaway ~

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Summer

Summer Lane

Summer Lane is the author of the international bestselling Collapse Series, which includes State of Emergency, State of Chaos, State of Rebellion and State of Pursuit. The fifth installment, State of Alliance, is releasing January 2015. Summer is also the author of The Zero Trilogy and an upcoming survivalist/science fantasy series coming in 2015. She owns WB Publishing, Writing Belle Magazine, and is an accomplished creative writing teacher and journalist.

Summer lives in the Central Valley of California, where she spends her time writing, teaching, and writing some more. When she is not writing, she enjoys leisurely visits with friends at coffee shops, dates to the movies, hiking in the mountains and strolling on the beach.

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~ Goodreads ~ Twitter ~ Website ~

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Book Blitz organised by Xpresso Book Tours.

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Release Day Event ~ ‘Every Time I Think of You’ by Tracey Garvis-Graves.

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We’re celebrating the release of Every Time I Think of You by best selling Author Tracey Garvis-Graves! Check out how Tracey came up with the idea for the book and take a peek at the excerpt below. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Title: Every Time I Think of You
Author: Tracey Garvis-Graves
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Romantic Suspense

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SYNOPSIS

Thirty-year-old Daisy DiStefano has two people she holds dear: the grandmother who raised her, and her three-year-old son, Elliott. But when Daisy’s grandmother is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Daisy must take steps to protect herself and her child.

Despite a thriving career in San Francisco, thirty-six-year-old Brooks McClain has returned home to spend what little time his mother has left before she succumbs to the deadly disease that is ravaging her. The seasoned investigative reporter has taken a position with the local newspaper and been on the job less than twenty-four hours when he’s summoned to cover the death of Pauline Thorpe.

Brooks is all business, but the more time he spends with Daisy DiStefano, the more invested he becomes; there’s something about a single mother, a defenseless child, and an unsolved crime that has stirred Brooks’s protective instincts like nothing ever has before.

And when the unthinkable happens, Brooks will do whatever it takes to clear the name of the woman he’s fallen for and the child he’ll protect at any cost.

Romantic and suspenseful, Every Time I Think of You shows how far two people will go to fight for the ones they love, and the life they’ve always imagined.

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~ Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Amazon Canada ~ Amazon Australia  ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Apple ~ Kobo ~

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Teaser 1

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An idea was born. 

One of the questions I’m often asked is, “How did you come up with the idea for this book?” My books are fairly plot-driven, and Every Time I Think of You was no different. I could see the opening scene in my head like a movie so I knew what the inciting incident – in other words, the event that would send the main characters’ lives in another direction – would be. But in this case, my opening scene was the result of not only plot, but also a character. I have wanted to write a book where the main character was a crime reporter for a while now. I tend to gravitate toward heroes who are regular guys, and I wanted to see what would happen when I put this particular hero into various situations (and a little hot water). What would he do? How would he react? What, exactly, was he made of?

However, if main character Brooks McClain was going to be a crime reporter, that meant I had to come up with a crime (which ultimately, I’d have to solve). I’ve never written a book with a mystery or suspense element before, but I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that get in the way of telling this story. I’ve said time and time again that I never want to be an author who writes the same book over and over, but with that motto comes challenges. I have to deal with the discomfort that comes from tackling something different than I’ve done before, and often this means learning new things.

I have a love/hate relationship with research. I keep telling myself I’m going to write a book that doesn’t require as much research, and then I write a book that requires extensive research. I should really start listening to myself! Some of the things I did in the name of research for Every Time I Think of You included taking a four-hour firearms safety course and learning how to load and shoot a gun, which was something I didn’t have any experience with.

I also studied ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, by reading memoirs and poring over countless websites dedicated to the disease. Although the timing of the recent ALS ice bucket challenge is merely a coincidence, it makes me happy to know that this devastating illness is receiving such an outpouring of support from the general public.

I studied addiction, specifically methamphetamine addiction. What I learned was heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and often tragic. In total, I read six memoirs about addiction and read countless online articles. I watched a fascinating Frontline documentary from PBS about methamphetamine addiction and its effects on law enforcement and the community.

I reached out to a criminal defense attorney in California so that I could gain an understanding of that state’s legal processes, and I spent several hours in person and on the phone with my cousin Jack, who is a detective with the Des Moines Police Department. Jack was instrumental in explaining the outcomes of all the different scenarios I proposed (naturally, I named the detective character after him). I interviewed three different crime reporters (who all told me slightly different things), and one of them saved me from a potentially embarrassing gaffe. In Every Time I Think of You, I include an actual newspaper article written by Brooks McClain. Newspaper reporters use the Associated Press Stylebook to ensure that their articles are written correctly whereas The Chicago Manual of Style is the go-to guide for fiction writers. The crime reporter who proofed my article had me make a small tweak so that it was correct in form.

I spoke to a nurse, to make sure I got the details of Daisy’s DiStefano’s work schedule correct. There were less significant things I needed the answers to, such as what kind of jewelry a nurse would be permitted to wear to work and what floor she might work on if she were involved with a particular patient.

In addition to the factual research necessary to write this story, I also had to choose the path I’d take to solve the crime. I learned that there were a few different ways I could handle this: One, I could write the story in such a way that the reader would probably not know who committed the crime until the very end. Two, I could choose the slightly-less-suspenseful route and let the reader be privy to clues that would allow them to guess the identity of the perpetrator much earlier. That way, I could let the focus of the story rest on how the person would be brought to justice. I chose option two because I felt it would lend emotional resonance and depth to the story.

Now that I knew how I’d tell the story, I needed to concentrate on the characters. I usually have a pretty good outline in place before I sit down to start writing. This method doesn’t work for everyone, but for me it helps to have a roadmap of sorts so that I don’t waste too much time writing myself into corners. This is not a spoiler because you know from the blurb that the book deals with the aftermath of the death of Daisy’s beloved grandmother. However, once I was about a fourth of the way through the first draft, I realized that the character I’d chosen to commit the crime didn’t actually do it.

I fought it for a while, but the more I got to know these characters, the more I realized my inner muse was right. This person couldn’t have done it.

Delete, delete, delete, delete. Sigh.

The real perpetrator had a motive, but it was subtle and at first I couldn’t see it. And the person who I’d originally intended to commit the crime was actually somewhat responsible. But it will be up to the reader to draw their own conclusions about what transpired that evening in Daisy’s grandmother’s apartment, because the opening chapter of the book is narrated by Daisy’s three-year-old son, who has a very limited ability to explain it. I actually first wrote this opening chapter from the point-of-view of Daisy’s grandmother, Pauline. It gave the book a much darker tone than I wanted so I scrapped it and decided to let Elliott take the reins.

There is also one final plot thread that I chose not to tie up with a big red ribbon. Initially I wrote a paragraph that would have explained why a certain character made the choice that he did, but then I realized it wasn’t necessary. Readers are smart and book discussions are extra fun when there’s a bit of speculation involved.

I’m not an especially fast or prolific writer, and that’s fine with me. Between the research and the actual writing time, this book took fourteen months to complete, and there were times I wanted to pull my hair out. I’d told my husband there were a couple of twists I was hoping to pull off, but wasn’t sure I knew how to accomplish them. I told several people that writing this book made my brain hurt (but one of the readers who received an advance copy told me she kept saying to herself as she read it, “This book is so smart!”). When I hear feedback like that, it tells me that everything I did in the name of Every Time I Think of You was worth it.

I hope you enjoy Brooks and Daisy’s story.

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I glanced at my watch. “I need to get going.” I stood and Daisy followed me toward the door. “Don’t hesitate to call the police for any reason. Pay close attention to your surroundings. Keep your door locked. Don’t ever open it without the chain on.” I paused, once again struck by how alone she seemed. Was anyone watching out for her? “Listen, I don’t mean for this to sound as sexist as it’s going to, but is there a guy around?”

Rarely did I ask such a personal question, especially when the answer was absolutely none of my business.

And I’ll admit to being more than just professionally curious as I waited for her answer.

“There was, but not anymore,” she said. “It’s just Elliott and me. We’ll be okay. When someone knocks, I look through the peephole. If I don’t recognize the person, I leave the chain on when I open the door. I also bought a gun.”

She said that last part with such nonchalance that it took me a second to process it.

“You what?” I probably said it with a little more force than I should have.

She looked taken aback. “Shane helped me pick it out.”

I was speechless. “I’m sorry, but you don’t—”

“Look like the type of person who would own a gun?”

It was hard to argue with that statement when it was exactly what I was going to say. “Yes.”

“I didn’t buy the gun because I wanted to. Frankly, I would rather not own one. They scare me,” she said. “But I bought one anyway because the thought of looking something evil right in the eye and knowing that I’m more than likely going to come out on the losing end of it terrifies me. The fear that I’ll be assaulted, or raped and left for dead, or worse yet, that someone will try to harm my child, is the reason I have this gun. That’s the type I am.”

I saw her then, really saw her. Five foot seven, maybe, but small-boned. She was wearing a fitted V-neck T-shirt that emphasized her slight build. I could see the prominent ridge of her collarbone and the deep hollow at the base of her throat that I suddenly couldn’t stop looking at. She’d be no match for anyone. If she wanted a gun, I was hardly in a position to tell her she couldn’t have one.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I was out of line. It’s really none of my business what you do.”

“It’s okay. Pam reacted the same way you did. But I’m doing everything I can to be a responsible gun owner. I’ve signed up for the safety class so I can learn how to handle the gun. How to shoot it. I’ll apply for the permit as soon as I have my certificate. I’ll go to the shooting range, and I’ll practice.”

Taking her to the shooting range was something I could do to help her. It would also give me a chance to spend time with her, which was something that was becoming more appealing by the minute. I could feel the boundary between witness and reporter starting to blur, but I really didn’t care. It had been a while since a woman had sparked my interest the way Daisy had. “You don’t have to justify anything to me. It sounds like you’re doing everything right,” I said. “I’ll let you know if I hear anything on the case.”

“I would really appreciate that.”

Elliott put down his coloring book and ambled across the room.

Daisy lifted him into her arms. “You look tired, buddy. Are you ready for your nap?”

“I’m not tired,” Elliott said, yawning and rubbing his eyes.

“Oh, my mistake,” Daisy said, smiling at him. “I think we’ll try a nap anyway, just in case.” She looked at me. “Thanks for stopping by.”

“It was no problem. I’ll see you soon.”

As I stepped into the hallway she said, “Brooks?”

I turned around. “Yes?”

“Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but you seem to genuinely care about my safety, and I want you to know that I appreciate it. I need all the help I can get.”

I met her gaze and held it for a moment. “You aren’t reading it wrong at all. Take care, Daisy.”

She smiled and it illuminated her face, making every feature even prettier. She closed the door, and I made my way down the hall.

It was true that I cared about Daisy’s safety. Maybe Scott DiStefano had never abused or neglected Elliott, but Daisy’s decision to arm herself made me wonder what he’d done to her.

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ONE WINNER WILL RECEIVE (INT):

ONE signed copy of On the Island, Covet, and ETITOY. Also included, a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Also, the winner will receive an ARC of Tracey’s next work-in-progress, The Girl He Used to Know (an adult contemporary second-chance romance novel). And finally, Tracey will either use the winner’s name in The Girl He Used to Know (first name or last name only, or the actual real name if comfortable) OR the winner can suggest a name for a character.

**The restrictions to this are that it will not be the name of a main character. It will be a supporting or minor character. Also, this is a fictional character. It is not a character based on the winner.

~ A Rafflecopter Giveaway ~

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Tracey Garvis-Graves

 Tracey Garvis-Graves

Tracey Garvis Graves is a New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA Todaybestselling author. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Timesbestseller list, has been translated into twenty-seven languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author ofUncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, and Cherish. She is hard at work on her sixth book.

Tracey loves to interact with her readers and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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Book Blitz ~ ‘The Undead: Playing for Keeps’ by Elsie Elmore.

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The Undead: Playing for Keeps by Elsie Elmore
Published by: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication date: September 3rd 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

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SYNOPSIS

When an undead woman with serious de-comp issues stalks sixteen-year-old Lyla Grimm, her hope of rescuing her rock-bottom reputation takes a back seat. Especially once Lyla’s new talent of resurrecting the dead draws the attention of Eric, a Grim Reaper with a guitar and a chip on his shoulder.

While Lyla navigates the gossip-ridden halls, Eric works to gain her trust and discover why Death’s clients aren’t staying down. If she passes on her gift, his death-messenger destiny might be altered. But the closer he gets to Lyla, the less sure he is of his plan. The dead are way easier to deal with than the living.

Gossip explodes, the Grimm family implodes, and desperation sets in. Death wants the gift and a soul. Lyla and Eric face hard choices with hidden consequences. Sometimes life’s choices aren’t really choices at all.

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The Undead: Playing for Keeps Excerpt

Chapter 2 : Eric

 

“Of all the places,” I mutter. Cornfields and pastures fill the passenger side window in a tortuous repeat. Mile after mile of nothingness. And inactivity. And boredom. “I’m in a small hellhole located in the middle of can’t-find-it-on-a-fucking-map. This is just perfect.”

I pull over and my headlights frame the tall green sign that proclaims the city limits for Martin. A thatch of dead grass surrounds the base of the pole.

“Bet that resembles the residents of this fine town,” I shout. No one’s ever around to hear me or respond.

I roll down the window and the scent of grass and dirt rolls in. There’s no exhaust, no cigarette smoke. The purity of the air confuses my lungs.

Just hours ago, I was in the beautiful and busy paradise of Miami, Florida, where anger, envy, and sin pollute every taken breath and every exposed mind. It’s one of my favorite places. There’s enough activity there to keep someone busy every hour of the day, which is why I want to return. Idle time has painful effects.

Only one car passes while I’m parked on the shoulder, contemplating my purgatory that now goes by the name of Martin.

The passenger handle clicks and the door opens. Deon lowers his head and peers in. “Heard you were coming.” He smiles and the dashboard lights give his teeth a red glow. “Welcome to Martin.”

I shrug. “Yeah. I’m here.”

“So why you?” he asks, his smile not fading.

“Beats the hell out of me.” Exhaust mixes with the night air and enters through the open car door. I take a deep breath.

“No, seriously, this is my territory. Why you?”

I survey my new terrain. Moonlight reveals more nothingness. “I’m not fighting you for it. I was sent. I didn’t have a choice.”

“No one really has a choice.” He slips his frail frame into the passenger seat and closes the door.

“What are you doing?”

“Going for a ride.” He taps the dash twice. “I’ll show you around.”

Understanding the territory will help. I pull back onto the road and my headlights only compete with the moon’s glow until we get closer to civilization. If you can call this actual civilization.

“You’re here as a punishment, aren’t you?”

“Judging by the look of this place, I’d say yeah.”

Deon laughs and adjusts the navy ball cap he wears low on his head. “Everyone knows about you.”

“Really?” I want to take back the word, or rather, my tone. It sounded as if I was interested.

“You’re too messy and over-the-top. You attract attention. And you’re undisciplined.”

I huff. “You finished?

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The evolution of The Undead: The importance of editing after time has passed

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Photo Credit: Flickr by Jennifer Donley

 

Writing blogs often suggest letting your manuscript rest between edits. That time allows the story to become fresh again and offers you distance from your work.

The Undead began as a tale told only from Lyla’s vantage point. Her troubles at school were chronicled in detail, along with the tension at home, and oh yeah, the awakening of her ability to resurrect the dead. Eric was a character, but not a main character because we never understood his motivations.

When my editor read my ms for the first time, she had many questions about Eric and suggested I offer more information about him. He was too mysterious, in an incomplete and frustrating way. His motivations were not understood. What did he want? What did he need? I thought long and hard about how to show more of him. But the trouble with showing more about another character written in first person is the fear of info-dumping or labored conversations to include the pertinent past information.

To develop Eric’s character more and make his motivations central to the story, I gave him a voice of his own. And boy did he take off.  I could barely keep up with everything he wanted to do and say. His depth of emotion ran deeper than I expected.

Without someone suggesting I offer more and allowing my work to rest, I wouldn’t have thought to push that way.

Having a CP, beta reader, and/or an editor read your work and offer feedback are critical steps for your story. Sometimes a suggestion or question is enough to turn your tale into something deeper and stronger. Especially if you’ve given it enough time.

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Elsie

Elsie Elmore

Elsie Elmore lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.
She loves the color red, has an appreciation for chocolate and coffee that borders on obsession, writes stories that challenge the laws of nature, and wishes fall temperatures would linger year round.

Elsie is a member of several writing organizations: RWA, SCBWI, and WSW. The Undead : Playing for Keeps is her debut novel.

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Book Blitz organised by Xpresso Book Tours.

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