Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The In Between blog tour



‘The In Between’ Blog Tour

The Book
The In Between
By: Catherine Converse

Synopsis
Two girls with opposing backgrounds join a secret intelligence agency located deep in the earth, where their psychic dreams are used to prevent murder. As the girls form a unique friendship, they begin to dream about the same serial case, triggering a chaos that spirals through the agency tunnels, and proves the lives they need to save are their own.

Trailer
 

I asked our AMAZING author Catherine Converse for an interview with the character that was the hardest for her to write.

I now present to you DANNIKA!


CATHERINE: What made you join Impire Intelligence Agency?

DANNIKA: You got a better idea for a girl like me? Everyone thinks I'm trouble, nuts, going nowhere. When Bethie approached me, I figured, what do I have to lose?

CATHERINE: Do you think you made the right decision?

DANNIKA: Are you kidding me? IPA is way better than life up in the city. People might think I'm crazy down here, but they respect my gift. I offer something valuable to them. And they take care of me. And, quite honestly, Bethie is way more of a mother than either of my own have ever been.

CATHERINE: How was it wanting to be with Bain all those years, that computer screen the only thing between you?

DANNIKA: Ha! Okay, so I know I'm blushing at that question. Not even sure I'm okay with you asking, but well, I guess it could qualify as our version of internet dating, only more intense, and we had to work together. To save lives. And we almost always succeed. There's a lot of adrenaline in that, so I guess, our emotions are pretty amplified toward one another most of the time. But getting to see him in person, in real life, touching him, seeing his face in person. It all just solidified what I already knew. He's my man, no doubt about it.

CATHERINE: So what about the Ram? What do you think about that whole situation?

DANNIKA: Well, clearly, the Ram is a complete idiot. He was careless, and downright evil. To be honest, I'm more worried about his accomplice, Rens. He seems to have a unique intelligence about him. Something different. I can't really place it, but he was the one who escaped, so he's the one I would watch.

CATHERINE: What's the deal with ring you gave to Adie?

DANNIKA: Well, from what I know, my birth mother sent Daylea and me gifts on our 'sweet' sixteen, if you can really call it that. Daylea got some gorgeous necklace and I got the ring. I asked my adoptive mother if that meant I might get to meet my birth mother, and she said, "No, she just wanted you to know that she still cares about you." Whatever! I kept the ring, but couldn't accept that my birth mother would send us a gift, but not give us the gift of herself.

CATHERINE: What did you really think of Adie, when IPA first brought her on?

DANNIKA: That girl was ridiculous. So, I don't know, ordinary. I thought she was going to be nothing but a big pain. But turns out, she was the only one who let me just be myself, and sort through stuff. That girl has been there for me more than anyone else has ever been that I can ever remember. Her friendship style is different, not distant, but, like, reflective. She just sits there quietly while I sort through stuff, even if it's not always pretty on my part. I admire her. Don't want to be her or anything, she's way too goody goody and honestly, kind of boring, for that, but I admire the heck out of her.

CATHERINE: Do you hope to find your real mother someday?

DANNIKA: I don't know. Maybe? I guess so? Would I be a bad person if I didn't? I dream about her all the time. And it freaks me out. Because, I have psychic dreams, right? About people who are murdered. And every time I dream about my birth mother, she is murdered. Yet that dream is the only one where we don't run interference, and yet it keeps coming back, and my mother might still be alive. It's just...hard.

CATHERINE: Where do you see yourself at IPA in ten years?

DANNIKA: Working above ground. In the field. I mean, don't get me wrong, I LOVE the underground Headquarters and the Wilderness, and have a lovely new friend at Research, but Bain can't work down here, and I want to be with him, so I guess, ultimately, I want a life with him, and that will have to be above ground.

CATHERINE: Well, Dannika, thanks so much for your time. I'm so happy for you to be with us. I hope everything at IPA works out the way you are hoping!

DANNIKA: Yeah. This was cool. Thanks. I hope IPA gets a clue, about where I am most valuable, and where I belong.

CATHERINE: I imagine they've figured out that's worthwhile. I'm willing to bet what you have to offer is more than worthwhile.

DANNIKA: Thanks. Seriously. I hope you're right.



Genre
Young Adult Sci-fi/Fantasy Action Suspense

Recommended Age Group
For Readers Aged 13 Years & Up

Length 
297 Pages

Publisher
Golden Dot Publishing 
Average Rating
4.5 of 5 Stars

What People Are Saying About It
"...immediately captivated. There are only a handful of books that
have done this to me in the past and they have become BLOCKBUSTER MOVIES
(Harry Potter Series, Twilight, and Hunger Games). I hold this book in
the same regards as these others...The imagination of this author is unbelievable!" -Amy Dewey, NC, Amazon Reviewer

"... a riveting page-turner filled with unexpected twists, action, suspense, raw
emotion, and thankfully some romance that is refreshingly engaging and
sincere. I'm eagerly awaiting the next adventure!" -Michael, MT. Amazon
Reviewer.

"The way that the "Visionaries" can see the future and try to stop murders is very cool...and then it gets all twisty and action-packed. I was riveted to my Kindle from the first page to the last and OMG that was a crazy ending!! I need the next one NOW!" --Indie Book Reviewer

"..."FREAKINFFANTABULOUSLYAMAZING" I don't feel that totally says it about it, ...I loved this book, words can't describe my amazement towards it." -Cassie, Goodreads Reviewer

"The In Between takes you on a thrill ride reminiscent of The Matrix and The
Hunger Games. The author draws you in through the two widely disparate
lead characters...you find yourself breathless to see what happens
next." -- J. Lake, Montana

"I loved this book! I read so much YA paranormal/fantasy/ sci-fi it all starts to seem sorta the same after a while. Not with this book! Author Catherine Converse creates a wholly original world and characters that felt refreshingly new." --Indie Book Reviewer

"...Converse captures the reader's hearts with characters we can all relate to, while providing vivid descriptions of locations that makes you yearn to be there. You won't want to miss out on this exciting tale that easily warrants you to keep the pages turning."
-- K. Gardner, Montana

Links
Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0092QF3UA
Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/TheInBetweenSeries?fref=ts
Goodreads
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15869701-the-in-between
Smashwords


The Author
Catherine Converse

Biography
Catherine Converse lives with her husband and four amazing children in beautiful Montana. She studied Business at Carroll College and graduate work in Marketing Communications at West Virginia University. Her love of writing took off in her years working as a marketing consultant using creative writing to sell. Now she uses it to take readers on an adventure, or to share her passions. If not writing, seeking out readers, interacting and thanking her amazing supporters, or musing on motherhood chaos, Catherine loves most to be playing with her family – indoors and out, and focusing upward to show God her gratitude for such a blessed life.


Links
@catconverse
Amazon Author
The Schedule
December 1
Andi’s Young Adult Books
http://andisyoungadult.blogspot.com/

December 2
A Little Bit of R&R

December 3
Author Jinni James

December 4
Universana

December 5
Indie Designz
http://www.indiedesignz.com/blog

December 6
Book Nerds Across America

December 7
Ever and Ever Sight

December 8

Book Crazy

December 9

Books, Brownies and Barkers

December 10

Dina's Thoughts

December 11
Krystal Clear Book Reviews
http://krystalclearbookreviews.wordpress.com/

December 12
R&M Fab Book Reviews
December 13
The Library at the END of the Universe

December 14
Sassy Cassie's Reviews

December 15
Bex 'n' Books

December 16
Brianna Lee Book Reviews

December 17
Kerri Williams- Writer of Romance

December 18
Recent Reads

December 19
Books Complete Me

December 20
Read Between The Lines

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: An Unexpected Angel by Janet K Halling

 
An Unexpected Angel by Janet K Halling
Published Date: October 2012
Publisher: Cedar Fort Inc

The Story:
Ella Davies, is focused, independent, and driven. Her hard work is finally paying off and she is on the brink of great success. But what no one knows is that her frantic drive is born not from a desire to succeed, but from a need to forget – forget her past, forget her guilt, and mostly, forget the tragedy that changed her life forever.

Ella’s strategy seems to be working but on Christmas Eve she meets Cohen, a strange man with an even stranger purpose. Cohen catapults Ella back through time and forces her to confront not only her own pain, but the pain of those long since passed. In the process, Ella learns about courage and compassion and that in the darkest hour, no one is ever alone.

My Review:
It's the season, at least for me, to read Christmas stories.  I cried so much reading this one!  It was perfect and so good.  The twist on a Christmas classic is the Christmas Carol - you know the one with Scrooge, Marley, Ghosts of Christmas.  But I love this re-telling. 
 
About the Author:
Janet Halling discovered her love of writing at the age of six when her story of a lonely duck won a first grade writing contest. She has a degree in Marketing Communications and lives with her family in northern Utah. She is currently working on her next novel. 

Online Content
JanetKHalling.com
Facebook.com/Janetkhalling
Book trailer on YouTube
TV interview (Recorded 11/27/12 for Good Things Utah ABC4)
Amazon book page


An Unexpected Angel – Excerpt (All rights reserved)
                 Somewhere there was a rhythmic humming—a kind of a swooshing sound that increased and decreased in volume at regular intervals. She couldn’t remember where she was. Her whole body ached, and her head felt as if it would explode.
                Ella groaned and opened her eyes. She was still in the gym, lying crumpled against the weight machine. The treadmill had stopped, and the rhythmic sound was coming from the man riding the spinning bike, which sat nearby.
                Her fingers trembled as she felt the goose egg on the side of her head. Her face was on fire, probably scraped on the belt, and her knees were bloody, also from the belt.
                Suddenly she stiffened. There was a man riding the bike! A man riding the bike. While she had been lying there unconscious. Had he just sauntered in and climbed on without seeing her at all or had he viewed her inert form without concern? That was cold, even for New York City. Gingerly, she turned her head to look at him.
                It was the clerk from the deli, and he didn’t stop pedaling as he glanced her way. “Oh good, you’re awake.”
                She stared up at him in mute astonishment.
                He reached for his water bottle and took a long drink. “I’m glad you woke up on your own,” he said pleasantly. “I was about ready to pour this in your face, so you can thank me for sparing you an unexpected shower.”
                Ella grasped the weight machine and pulled herself slowly to a sitting position. Her head was throbbing, and her stomach lurched. “I could sue you for failing to come to the aid of an injured person,” she snapped rather feebly.
                The man studied her contemplatively. “Hmmm, yes, you would think of that, wouldn’t you? But I’m not too worried, Ella. You’re not going to sue me and we both know it.”
                She opened her mouth to snarl a retort but stopped abruptly. “How do you know my name?” she demanded. “And what are you even doing here? You don’t live in this building.” She hesitated, realizing she wasn’t sure. “Do you?”
                He jumped off the bike and held out his hand. “You should get up. Want help?”
                She shrank away from him. “Don’t touch me! Who are you, and how do you know my name?”
                “Well, it’s simple really. My name is Cohen, and I’m your guardian angel.” He broke into a brief but rapid tap dance routine and finished with flair. And with jazz hands.       
                Ella stared at him in perplexed silence, unsure if he was a hallucination or just crazy. “Uh-huh. Right,” she finally said, groaning as she pulled herself to her feet. A wave of nausea hit her, and she stopped, doubling over and willing herself not to vomit. She for sure had a concussion.
She tried to think. Should she go to the hospital? Or maybe just go home and try to sleep? She didn’t know. She made a move toward the door, but Cohen tap-danced over to block her path.
                “Get out of my way,” she snapped at him with more bravado than she felt.
                He grinned. “Can’t do that. You and me, we have business tonight.”
                For the first time, she felt a small dart of fear. Cohen wasn’t exactly menacing, but he certainly was strange. If he attacked her, would she have the strength to fight him? If only her head would stop hurting!
                “What do you want?” she asked.
                “I already told you, I’m your guardian angel. Well, not technically an angel, but that word will serve as well as any other. Anyway, I’m here to help.”
                “Sure. Like you helped me when I was unconscious a minute ago? If that’s your kind of help, no thanks.”
                “No, not that kind of help, silly.”
                “Look, whatever you’re on, whatever you’re offering, I’m not interested. Just leave me alone, please? I’m sore and tired, and my head is killing me. I need to go lie down.”
                “Oh, right. That.” He made some sort of vague gesture and instantly her nausea subsided and the pain in her head vanished.
                Chills raced up and down her spine, and she stared at him, “Wait . . . what’s . . . what’s going on?”
                “Okay, no more joking around.” Cohen looked suddenly serious. “Here’s the deal. You need help and there’s a lot you need to learn. Only you’re far too stubborn to admit it. You might not even know how much help you need. But I know; so here I am.”
                The pieces were starting to fall into place. “Wait . . . Christmas Eve . . . guardian angel. This is some kind of a joke, right?” she said before adding sarcastically, “What’s the matter, Jacob Marley was busy? Clarence already got his wings? Or wasn’t he on duty tonight?”
                He grinned. “Both good men. But you got stuck with me. Although, all things considered, maybe it’s me who got stuck with you. You can be quite unpleasant, do you know that?”
                Ella snorted derisively. “So when does the Ghost of Christmas Past show up? Or is he waiting for me upstairs?”
                “Dickens took some liberties. It doesn’t exactly work like that. At least, this time it won’t.”
                 “You have exactly one second to get out of my way or I’m going to start screaming at the top of my lungs!”
                Cohen cocked his head to one side and gave her a brief shrug of resignation. “Okay then, you win. Can’t say I didn’t try.” He stepped smoothly to one side and swept his arm in a wide arc toward the door. “Be my guest.”
                Throwing him what she hoped was a withering glare, Ella marched past him, flung open the door—and stepped into a nightmare.


Janet has sent me a physical copy, so I'm going to give it away!  I want others to enjoy this sweet Christmas story.

Review: All I Want by Jolene Perry, Kaylee Baldwin, Rachael Anderson



All I Want by Jolene Perry, Kaylee Baldwin, Rachael Anderson
Published Date: October 2012
Publisher: HEA Publishing
Genre: Christmas

The Story:
Pretty Near Perfect by Jolene Perry
The last thing Norah needs is to be attracted to anyone – especially in her deceased fiancĂ©'s parents' home. Collin’s starting a new career, and has no business getting involved – especially while staying with his roommate’s family, who very kindly offered to take him in for the holidays. Unfortunately, you just don’t always pick the most convenient time and place to fall for someone.

Six Days of Christmas by Kaylee Baldwin
When Natalie goes home with her best friend for Christmas, she expects plenty of quiet time to work on a winning ad so she can turn her dream internship into her dream job. Instead, she gets time-consuming Christmas festivities, a house full of children, and Jimmy, her best friend’s brother - someone who makes her question everything she’s always thought she wanted.

Twist of Fate by Rachael Anderson
When a postcard meant for Kenzie winds up in Ty's mailbox, Ty's faced with a decision. Should he tell her that her fiancĂ© is breaking up with her and let it ruin her favorite holiday, or should he do what he’s wanted to do since he met her - make a move and hope that he can win her over before she discovers there won’t be a wedding after all?
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My Reivew:  First off, I know this isn’t YA, but it was a good clean read, I’d even let teens read.  It’s great to get 3 good Christmas stories in one book!  Each one has a different, but good meaning. 

In Pretty Near Perfect - my favorite of the three, Norah is trying to move past the death of her fiance, but his family invited her for Christmas.  Not to mention that they put her in his own room, which hasn't been changed.  The brother of her dead fiance, invites his roommate to come for Christmas too.  One thing leads to another and Norah starts to fall in love with Collin. 
 

Be sure to enter the awesome giveaway!
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Friday, December 14, 2012

BIR 2012- Easy by Tammara Webber

The Best of 2012- Lynn's pick, Giveaway and Author Interview- Easy
by Tammara Webber

Goodreads/Author Website /Amazon/Barnes&Noble/IndieBound/Kobo/iBookstore

First published: May 25, 2012
Republished by Penguin/Berkley on November 6, 2012




Why I picked this book

  This book is one of many firsts for me.  Last June I had just bought my first electronic reader and was dying to try it out.  This book popped up highly rated and I decided to take a chance on an author I had never heard of before.  It was my first digital book purchase and my first time reading an Indie Author.  Needless to say I was blown away by this book.  When I joined this blog last summer this was my very first novel to review.  You can find that here: Easy Review.  The review shows up a little wonky since I hadn't yet realized that what I saw in my draft post wouldn't look the same as when it was published but none the less I got to share my love for this book.  This author was also my very first author signing last summer when she made a rare appearance at a Barnes & Noble.  I drove a ways to make it and then became ridiculously tongue tied but it was still as great experience.


  Easy does an amazing job of taking a serious subject matter, dealing with it, but not making the book so heavy that it is hard to enjoy.  There is a romantic subplot that helps balance the darker tones in the book.  It is a book of empowerment and the many kinds of relationships in one's life that help us through dark times.  Each character is written very well so that they jump off the pages.  I plan to share this book with my own daughter when she is a little older.  I think it would make a fabulous mother/daughter read for more mature teens.

Author Interview

Tammara Webber was very gracious to let me interview her.  She is currently extremely busy finishing up her author promotions for Easy's rerelease with Penguin/Berkley as well as writing the last book in her Between the Lines series  It is another great series that I recommend you reading.  She has posted repeatedly that Easy is a stand alone book and she will not continue the story of Lucas and/or Jacqueline.  You can find books she recommends on her Author Goodreads Account.

1. All of your characters, side characters included, manage to feel authentic rather than flat or two dimensional.  Do you plan out all the details about your characters before you write a book or do they sometimes surprise you while you are writing?  Which characters have surprised you the most?

Thank you- what a wonderful compliment.   I plan as many details as I can, but most of it is like meeting someone for the first time.  You know what he looks like and how he speaks right away, and you may have preconceived notions from what others think of him, but you don't really know him.  Characters don't show me who they really are until I start writing them.  Reid (BTL series) surprised me the most.  He wouldn't let me decide what he was capable of or who he was going to be- in any of the books.  Kennedy (Easy) surprised me, too, in both positive and disappointing ways.

2. Are there any fun interests/hobbies/peculiarities etc. that you know about the central characters of Easy that didn't make it into the book?  If so would you give us any?

I didn't delve into Jacqueline's musical performances or Lucas's marital arts training because I wanted to focus on the story, though obviously those things take up time for each of them, and are important aspects of their lives and personalities.  If I learn/know something about a character that adds to the depiction of a particular character, I attempt to work it into the story, to flesh the character out all the more.

3. Writing a book is an amazing process of sharing your soul with a reader.  When a book is read there is a connection between the writer and reader where a new story is created since the reader now brings in their own background, preferences and life experiences that will result in their unique responses and interpretations.  As a writer can you describe what that feels like to have a story you've created take on new meaning to your readers?  Are you sometimes surprised with how the reader might change or connect with your stories?  Is it hard to have the meanings that are important to you misinterpreted or misunderstood?  By the way, thank you so much for opening yourself up and sharing your work.  I am sure I can speak for many of your readers when I say thank you for taking that hard step.

I try not to get too concerned about misinterpretation, because the book is out of my hands by that point.  Conversely, some readers will latch onto something so subtle that I didn't expect anyone to catch it, and they'll comprehend it so thoroughly that it stuns me.  Both of these extremes are evidence that when you're writing, you have to write for yourself.  You simply cannot make yourself understood by everyone.  There's also no such thing as a book, song film or piece of art that touches every individual reader/listener/viewer.  I was recently talking to a guy I know in RL who'd read my first two books.  He commented how angsty-romantic they are - a little derisively.  I just said, "I guess I'm not writing for you," and shrugged.

It's a rush when people connect with what I write, wether they're a member of my "demographic" or not.  I've read and loved young adult lit for years, and I'm not a young adult.  I can't care about the opinions of readers who don't get what I'm trying to say - either because they disagree fundamentally with what I'm saying or how I've said it, or they were expecting something I didn't give them.  I write how I write.  It would be harmful to me as a writer to try to connect with every reader, let alone an impossible goal.  I'm very thankful for the readers who find meaning, escape, entertainment, or healing in what I write.

4. Your male characters always read distinctly male wether we are reading from their perspectives like in your Between the Lines series or reading about them in Easy.  This is a struggle for many authors when writing from or about a character of the opposite sex.  How do you accomplish this?  Do you have any advice for writers in this regard?

I can't know what it is to be male, but I believe gender is relative to environment, not just biology and genetics.  I hate it when someone says, "That's not something a boy/guy/man would think/say/do."  We're all individuals, and stereotypes are often wrong.  When I write as one of my guys, I try to think from inside his shoes.  Think of it this way: characters are almost always going to sympathize with themselves, right?  That's what human beings do!  If you can't sympathize with him, you can't write him - not convincingly.

5. Your book Easy is about a serious subject matter yet you walked the line between dealing with the major issues while keeping it from being too dark and heavy perfectly.  How hard was this to accomplish?

The issue was the reason I wrote the book, and writing those scenes was difficult - but writing the romance was familiar ground.  I had to keep my eye on both, and not allow either to take over.  I made them, I hope, equally important - because though some people think romance is fluffy subject matter, it's simply not.  Love can help us survive the horrible ways life weighs us down, and seeking that comfort, both emotionally and physically, is basic human nature.  Love can be our one safe place, and maybe the only time we're fully in touch with our innermost selves.  I wanted to twine that belief through the story, including the ugly, painful parts, because that's what love does in real life.  It doesn't take the bad stuff away, it just makes it bearable.

6. Is it as hard for you to let go of your characters when you finish a book as it is for your readers?

Probably not- I mean, I absolutely immerse in that story for months.  I'm usually ready to do the next thing when I'm done.  I'm the same way as a reader, though - I prefer stand-alone novels.  I get bored reading the same two characters in book after book, even if I love them.  Because then they either have the hardest lives ever (which is exhausting after a while, as a writer or a reader), or the books become progressively boring.  Conflict is required for a story.  Smart people eventually want somewhat boring, satisfied lives - not lives full of rash decisions and constant upheaval.  I want the same for my characters.  I won't give someone cancer or a major depression to inject conflict for the sake of a sequel,  but I also won't write two of them living happily, having the occasional argument about how to fold the bath towels.

7. Who are a few of your favorite book crushes and where can we find them?  On the same note, who are some of your favorite heroines and where can we find those?

It's occurred to me since becoming an author (and getting feedback on my own heroes) that I may be a little odd about this.  I don't have book boyfriends/crushes.  I don't want that guy for myself - I want him for her.  I fall in love with couples.  That's why, if I can't get both characters, I can't really love the book as a romance.  I have to want the two of them to work out.  Even when there's a love triangle, I look at the leftover guy and think, "Who does this guy need?  Who needs him?"  (Unless he's an intolerable ass, in which case he can just BE alone, lol.)

Favorite couples: Darcy and Elizabeth (Pride and Prejudice, Austen).  Adam and Mia (If I Stay/ Where She Went, Forman.)  Katsa and Po (Graceling, Cashore).  Wes and Macy (The Truth About Forever, Dessen).  Adam and Lori (Endless Summer, Echols).  Caleb and Maggie (Leaving Paradise, Elkeles).  Anna and TJ (On the Island, Graves).  Keenan and Donia (Wicked Lovely series, Marr).  Ron and Hermione (Harry Potter series, Rowling).

My favorite heroines: Emma (Emma, Austen), Bianca (The Duff, Keplinger), Aislinn (Wicked Lovely series, Marr), Lennie (The Sky is Everywhere, Nelson)

Enter giveaway below for a copy of Easy!

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BIR 2012- My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick- Character Interview and Giveaway


The Best of 2012- Lynn's Pick, Giveaway & Character Interview From My Life Next Door
by Huntley Fitzpatrick

GoodReadsAuthor WebsiteAmazonBarnes&NobleIndieBound

Published by Penguin
Published on June 14 2012




Why I picked this book
I am the only blogger here who's favorite genre is contemporary fiction.  It shouldn't be a huge surprise then that my two favorite books from 2012 would both be contemporary fiction books.  This particular book had made it to my to-read list this past summer when our blogger Kendra read the book.   After reading her review on GoodReads I knew I had to read the book next.  She posted her review of the book on this blog earlier this year and you can find it here: Kendra's review


Description from Goodreads:

A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.


  If you missed out on this gem then I highly recommend you go pick up this book.  I love watching two people fall in love and I also love when characters are crafted really well.  The Garretts are written so that I know exactly what it feels like to spend a day at their house with each of them.  There are many characters here that will steal your heart.  You also won't be able to guess which direction the book will take next.  

Huntley Fitzpatrick was generous enough to let us interview her two main character's, Samantha and Jase.  There are some possible spoilers for those who haven't yet read this book so reader beware.


Character Interview


Jase, you are a straight forward and open guy who doesn't play games.  That is very refreshing- the world needs more nice guys.  In general, who inspires you the most and who are your heros?



Jase: Oh man.  (Looks at Samantha.)  Isn't 'nice guy' supposed to be the kiss of death?
Sam: Not in this case.
Jase: (Smiling) I'll take your word for it.  Uh...how cliched is it to say my dad?
Sam: Seriously cliched.  Maybe forgiveable under the circumstances.
Jase: Yeah...I mean.  He always was.  But...until this thing happened, I just saw his everyday struggles.  Not his hard times in high school, even though I knew they were there.  Now I see his...extraordinary struggles.  So he's even more of a hero to me.  (clears throat).

Samantha is right, nice is definitely a compliment in this case.  Samantha, how has meeting Jase and getting to know the Garretts changed you?  Were they what you expected?  What surprised you the most about them?

Sam:  I guess the first two questions have sort of the same answer...no one is quite how you expect them to be, how they look from a distance.  More messy , more real, more...I guess the biggest surprise to me was that I turned out to be that way too, because I knew them.  As for what surprised me the most about them...that it was so easy to walk in and belong.

Jase, what made you decide to climb up Samantha's trellis that first night that was different than any other time you had seen her?  What were you expecting to find and how was she different than what you expected?

Jase: It was an impulse.  I mean, I'd had it before.  I'm not sure I know why THAT night.  I'd been training with my dad, and he'd been telling me about how important it was to go with your gut and... just go for it.  That when you overthink...you lose this moment.  And I looked up, and there she was and...I just kind of went for it.
Sam:  Very Nike, Jase.
Jase:  See, I'm not good at explaining these things.  I figured she'd just shut me down and that would that, to be honest.

Samantha, how do you feel about where you and Jase are right now in your relationship?  What do you hope changes and stays the same?

Sam:  Um...well...(glances at Jase).   Now I'm not good at this.  We've been a lot of different places, already.  And...they've all been...well, in retrospect...right for us to be a couple-to grow together.  Whatever changes...that's what I hope to stay the same.

Sam, how is the relationship with your mom?  How has everyone dealt with the fallout from the accident?  How are both families handling your relationship?

Sam:  Mom is mom.  I mean.  She's much less distracted now that she's not campaigning but there will always be something she's working for...right now it's the yard and the house and me going to college.  I caught her filling out one of my applications last week.  (sigh)  So there's that.
Jase:  Let me guess.  On the west coast, right?
Sam:  Oxford.

Jase, I am a big fan of your loving family.  I would have been just as enthralled with them as Sam if I had lived next door.  How are they doing?  Is your dad recovering well and how are the rest of them?

Jase:  Thanks.  You're welcome to adopt any given one of them at any given time.  No, seriously.  Thanks.  Dad's okay.  He's got a lot of work ahead of him, but (shoves hand through hair).  He's used to work.  I mean, we're work.  Life's work.  All that.

How are things with Tim, is he still clean and sober?  What is he up to these days?

Sam:  Speaking of work.  Yes, so far so good.
Jase:  Not always easy.
Sam: For Tim and with TIm.  He's thinking of actually heading back to school.  But he's got some drama of his own going on.  Girl drama.  Other Drama.  So we'll see what happens with that.

Hopefully one day Tim will get to update us all on his life in more detail.  I've heard rumors that it might be a possibility in the future (side eyes Huntley).  What about Nan?  Has she made any overtures?  What are you hoping for in the friendship?

Sam:  (scrubbing at face with hands).  I don't know.  I'm not sure if we can get back to that.  If we should.  I mean...I want to...but then I wonder if I really knew her or if she knew me.  Or maybe she did and she just didn't want to.
Jase:  Sam, you know it's not that,.
Sam:  It's weird to be closer to Tim than Nan.  Again.  I guess.  But in some ways, it's not weird at all.  LIke spending so much time watching the Garretts from a distance and then being...just there.

Well, were out of time for today but thanks guys for stopping by and giving us an update.  It was great to hear from you!  And I'll keep my fingers crossed that Huntley might one day share more of Tim's story with us.

Now for the giveaway!  Enter below and the winner will receive a copy of My Life Next Door.
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Thursday, December 13, 2012

BIR 2012: The Farm by Emily McKay - Interview and Giveaway





I received a copy of this book at BEA back in June. After a few weeks, I decided to pick it up and read it even though the release date wasn't until December. It has been high on my list of faves ever since.
I haven't actually written a review for this book yet (although one will go up after all of the BIR goodness), but I don't need a review to tell you this book is amazing! I could not put it down.
I have a great interview with Emily McKay (which she thought might be too wordy, but I think is just perfect) as well as two prizes to giveaway.

A little bit about the book:
Life was different in the Before: before the Ticks began devouring humans in a deadly swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined “for their own protection.” These days, we know what those quarantines are–holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…
And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

This book is Emily McKay's debut in the YA world. You wouldn't know it by reading The Farm. Not that Emily is a novice when it comes to writing. She has a number of Romance genre books published. But she makes the transition from Contemporary Romance writer to YA dystopian-type/Vampire apocalypse so flawlessly, it is hard to believe that she hasn't done it before.

Emily writes such edge of your seat grab you and hold on scenes, that you feel like you are right there experiencing with the characters. And speaking of characters, McKay's are so real and multi-dimensional, she makes them come alive. And the story itself, although dystopian/apocalyptic as are so many other books out there, is unique. McKay has found a way to keep things fresh and interesting, and not like any other book out there.  I have been waiting with bated breath for the sequel since July. And since The Farm just came out recently, I have a long time to wait. *sigh*

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BCM:  Being a romance writer, and having many books out in that genre, what made you decide to write a YA novel? And not just a YA novel, but a dystopian urban fantasy type YA novel? That is a far cry from romance. And you do a wonderful job. I love it when authors step outside of their safety zone, or what they are known for, and do something completely different. 

EM: Okay, don’t laugh, but I think there are actually a lot of similarities between romance novels and the kind of post-apocalyptic novel I wrote. Romance novels are all about hope, about love. They are the most optimistic of all genre fiction. Yes, some dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels are super grim, a lot of them have an underlying message of hope for the future. The very idea that there will a post apocalypse, that there will be anything after, is a very hopeful and optimistic idea. So at their core, romance novels and my little post-apocalyptic YA have that optimism in common.
Having said that, it was still a big stretch for me as a writer. The whole time I was writing the book, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do justice to the story and to the characters. It took several drafts of the book (all of which my agent read  and then sent back to me saying, “No, we’re not there yet.”) before I reached the point where I realized, “Yes, this is different than anything I’ve ever written. But it’s still just a story and I know how to tell a story. Just do what you know and trust yourself and your process.”


BCM: How did you come up with the idea for The Farm? Did a lot of research go into the scientific part of the story? 

EM: I first had the idea for The Farm while in a writer’s workshop on world building. The presenters were talking about how a fictional world needs to be consistent to be believable. That every detail in the world needs to make sense. I thought about all the vampire novels in which the vampires (who are stronger, faster, smarter and tougher than humans) are the ones living in hiding. I thought, “Why don’t they just take over and farm humans as food?”
That was the spark of the idea for the book. That was almost four years ago. I worked on the proposal for almost two years, ironing out all the details of the world where The Farm takes place. One of the big problems for me was that I couldn’t just accept Vampires as mythological creatures. I wanted their existence to make sense to me in a scientific way. I needed to understand how a vampire would be biologically possible in a way that made sense to me.
One day, about a year after I had that initial idea, we were watching this show on Nova (love Nova!) about epigenetics. (In my very unscientific understanding, epigenetics are like the instructions attached to every creatures genetic code. They tell genes when to turn on an off. This is how you can have a human and a cow with an almost identical genetic code.) So, I was sitting there watching this show and thought, “This is how my vampires change from humans into vampires. This could make sense to me.” Now, of course, in real life, epigenetics is way more complicated than I make it seem and it takes a couple of generations for changes to take place as opposed to a couple of days.
But one other interesting thing came about from that show. Some of the studies that are helping researches understand the causes of autism involve epigentics. They look at identical twins one of whom has autism and one doesn’t, but who (obviously) have identical genetic code. 
I had already decided that Mel was on the autism spectrum when I saw the show, so it was just a case of several things coming together all at once. It’s really nice when that happens.

BCM: Your characters are so multidimensional and real. Are any of them based, even slightly, on anyone you know, or did they just make themselves known to you? I am sure you get a lot of questions about her, but Mel – she is just so compelling, and I love the insight into her thoughts even if I didn’t always understand them.  Can you tell us how becoming a Vampire will affect her with her being so severely autistic?

EM: Thank you for the lovely compliment about my characters!
I usually don’t have a very romanticized view of character development. My characters don’t really “just come to me.” To me, the characters have to serve the story and the plot. Having said that, with this book, these characters seemed more fully formed right out of the box than in any other of my books. For example, they all just came to me with names already attached. Usually when I start a book, I’ll have one or two characters who come to me with a name and I just know that’s right. This time, it was everyone. No one had to be “Sue (***maybe. Or maybe Suzy?***)” for half the book because I hadn’t settled on a name yet. 
Strangely, the only character who is really based on a someone from my life is Stoner Joe. Back when I was in high school, there was this guy in my neighborhood who was kind of like Joe. I didn’t know him that well. I don’t even remember his name (Tony maybe?). But every scene with Joe in it, I thought of that guy. 

I’m so glad you enjoyed Mel’s chapters. They were difficult to write. I’m sure there will be people who say, “Well, she doesn’t seem like an authentic autistic person to me.” But, she’s not strictly autistic. That’s not her only characteristic, you know? With in the context of the book, I tried to honor her as a character and to do justice to the story. So far, a lot of people have responded well to her. People seemed to be left wanting more of her. That was a big concern for me when I was writing the book. Because her chapters are a little harder to read, I never wanted people to feel like they were a chore.
To answer the rest of your question, yes, things will be extremely different for her in the next book. The way she experiences the world has changed. She’s capable of more and less than she was before. Plus, she’s been separated from everyone she loves. Yikes! Lots of changes for her. But one thing that is for certain, she’s still at the heart of the problem. Both she and Lily are more determined than ever to fight the good fight, but they have to do that in different ways.

BCM: Ticks vs. Vampires: obviously there is a large population of Ticks out there seeing as just about everyone alive turned into one. Where to the vampires fit in? How large of a vampire population is there in this world, and will they be playing any other major roles in future books?

EM: In my world, Ticks are like hyenas. They’re pack animals. They hunt and live in social packs. Vampires, on the other hand, are solitary creatures who are very territorial, much like the big cats. So while there can be a lot of Ticks in the world, there’s only so much territory for the Vampires to share. So there are only a couple hundred vampires in the whole world. Each vampire is fiercely protective of his or her hunting grounds.
In terms of origin, the vampires evolved naturally, but the Ticks were made. The virus that caused them was genetically engineered under the guidance of the vampire Roberto. When he did that, he created problems not only for the humans, but for the vampires also. So far, we’ve seen the repercussions of his actions in the human world. We’ve only seen the ripple on the surface of what’s going on in the vampire world. So, yes, the vampires will very much play a part in the coming books.

BCM: Will The Farm be a trilogy? And how long do we have to wait between books. I, personally, am dying here. I read The Farm soon after returning home from BEA, and then realized I had to wait what seemed like forever before the book was even released. And now I have to wait even longer for the sequel. *sigh* LOL

EM: My plan is for The Farm to be a trilogy that’s supplemented by on-line content. Starting in January there’s going to be fun Twitter campaign, which will give readers a glimpse into how the virus spread. How we get from where we are now to the events in The Farm. If you want to start following the handle now, it’s @EscapeTheFarm https://twitter.com/EscapeTheFarm. But the posts won’t start until sometime in January.
Also in January, I’m going to release a short novella that shows Lily and Mel arriving at the Farm. I’m hoping to do other shorts for Carter, Sebastian, and maybe a few other characters as well. As for the sequel, that won’t be out until November of 2013. But like I said, I’m going to keep offering little tidbits of the world to help pass the time.

BCM: Once you are done with that story, will you continue to write YA along with Romance? Do you have any other ideas for future YA books/series? 

EM: I have so many YA ideas! I also write YA under the name Ivy Adams with two friends of mine, Tracy Deebs and Shellee Roberts. Ivy Adams is working on a contemporary YA called The Charmed Life of Bailey Rhodes that’s about a girl making peace with the death of her best friend. Then I have a couple of ideas for other contemporary YA rom-coms (one that’s a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, but set in the world of competitive high school robotics), as well as another big, urban fantasy type YA series.
I feel so blessed that I have so many ideas. Finding the time to write them is the problem. 

BCM: You are currently working on the sequel to The Farm, which I am extremely ecstatic about. Are there any sequels to any books you are looking forward to?
Or excited about, or want to see written?

EM: I recently read The Host, which I know you've said you read [I did read it, numerous times, and love it! - Kendra] and loved it. I can't wait for the sequel to that book! How about the rest of you, what are you excited about?
(Enter a comment with what you would like to see as a sequel, or are waiting on - It could just help in your entries for the prizes. ;)

BCM: Did you always want to be a writer? If you were not writing, what do you think you would be doing?

EM: Yes, I pretty much always wanted to be a writer. I think I wanted to do this before I even knew that all those books I loved were written by people. 
I did have a brief stint as a middle school teacher. I enjoyed teaching (and still love doing workshops and speaking in public), but I’m an introvert, so that’s not an ideal fit. Being around all those people all day long was exhausting to me. I felt like I had nothing left at the end of the day.
If I had to give up writing now, I’d …. Well, first I’d cry. A lot. Then maybe I would try to get a job  somewhere else in the industry. I love books too much to walk away completely.

BCM: Who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite books? Female and male characters? What type of books do you like to read/favorite genres?

EM: Oooh, great question! Who doesn’t love talking about their favorite books?
Obviously, Harry Potter is one of my favorite series. The books are brilliantly plotted and so complex. I think I could geek out about Harry Potter for hours and hours. To me, one of the coolest things about the series is how Rowling brought it every time. I think each book is a little better than the last. Each book is a little more complex, a little more layered. There are side characters who are relatively minor but who have these beautifully complex character arcs. It’s just brilliant. I think she’s the greatest genre writer alive today.
I just love Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody mystery series. I think she’s just one of the greatest genre writers of all time. I love every character in that series. I love watching Amelia and Emerson’s relationship develop and progress. I love watching Ramses start out as a baby and grow into a man and a romantic lead in his own right. (Does it sound creepy when I say that?)  My daughter and I have been listening the series from audible when we’re in the car. She just loves them, so it’s fun that we can share that.
I also adore Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books. It’s another series where I feel like he brings it over and over again. The world is complex and scary, but you desperately want the characters to fight and win against incredible odds. He’s a writer who’s no afraid to make you really care a character and then kill that character if it serves the story. He’s brilliant.
If you’re talking strictly romance (‘cause that’s my background), I love Suzanne Brockman, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Mary Balogh. If you’re talking straight YA, I really like Kody Keplinger, Jenny Hahn, and Simone Elkeles. Oh, and Ann Brashear. I thought her book, My Name Is Memory was fantastic (and highly underrated). I also just read The Host by Stephanie Myers and really loved it. That’s another book that was underrated.

BCM: What types of things do you like to do in your spare time (do you actually have any, with deadlines and children and such? LOL)?

EM: I don’t have a ton of spare time. Lol! But I love to bake! My sister and I joke that it’s our way of managing our OCD. Also, I’m kind of an eco-nut. So we do some organic gardening, composting, etc. And we just got yard chickens this past spring. We have four Buff Orpingtons. They’ve been laying eggs for about a month now and that’s fun. It’s an excuse to get off the sofa, go out in the yard and interact with other living creatures for at least a few minutes every day. 

BCM: Before we go, is there anything else you would like to tell your readers about, well, anything?

EM: Nope. Just be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Oh, and be sure to check out my lovely new website: www.EscapeTheFarm.com and just for kicks, my ancillary website www.NPDCO.org (for more information about the events leading up to The Farm.) I love to get mail from readers. You can email me at Emily <at> EmilyMcKay <dot> com. Also, if you want to win great swag, sign up for my Green Team at http://www.escapethefarm.com/green-teams/

BCM: Thanks so much for taking the time  to do the interview, and for writing one of my favorite books not just of the year, but ever. 

EM: Thank you so much for having me and for loving The Farm! I really appreciate it!
Also, I’ll be giving away a signed copy of The Farm and a Vampire Apocalypse Survival Kit today, so be sure to comment! [Emily has also offered a Vampire Apocalypse Backpack to be included in the giveaway. Check out the pic. Isn't it super cute!]


 

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