interview · promotion · young adult

Interview with Liz Kerin, author of THE PHANTOM FOREST

Hi friends!

Today I’m so excited to host Liz Kerin, debut author of The Phantom Forest (coming out July 16!). Look below for an interview with her–about writing, reading, and more!

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1. What did you find most difficult about writing your debut novel?
I worked on this book for 7 years, and every time I thought I was finished with it, I proved myself wrong! I was constantly adding to the mythology and trying to find new ways enrich the plot/connect the characters. Then, once I was satisfied with it and my editor got his hands on the MS, the 2nd most difficult thing was revising these crazy worldbuilding constructs I’d spent years developing. I was really afraid of pulling one thread and having it all unspool into spaghetti! But thankfully, every time I pulled a thread, I found a way to weave things back together. The edits on this book also took a lot longer than I thought they would. I challenged myself every step of the way and even though there was a lot of uphill marching and self-doubt, I know I emerged a much stronger writer and I now have the tools I need to write my 2nd book a lot faster!
2. Have you always been interested in writing YA?
I absolutely love writing YA, although I do also write for adults! I’m a screenwriter and a playwright as well, and my work in those mediums skews more adult. When it comes to YA, I enjoy darker themes and flawed characters. I like fresh new mythologies that represent bigger philosophical questions. When I was a teen reader, this was the stuff that interested me the most, so I often think about what I would have wanted to read when I was 14 or 15! I’m less interested in contemporaries, and in fantasy I don’t really vibe with fairy-tale retellings, princesses, or high-court medieval drama. If I was going to write a YA fantasy, I knew I’d want to write something a little weirder and off the beaten path.
3. Are there any writers who have influenced and inspired your writing?
Growing up, my two favorite books were The Giver and A Wrinkle in Time. I read them cover to cover dozens of times and own several editions of each! I even tried to write a musical based on The Giver when I was 12 (spoiler alert: it tanked). The world building Lois Lowry and Madeleine L’Engle were capable of just blew my mind. I feel like The Phantom Forest is a beautiful homage to both of my favorite books as a child: there’s a strange dystopia that poses big philosophical questions, and a darkly whimsical fantasy world where the impossible becomes possible. As an adult, I became an enormous Margaret Atwood fan. I started with The Handmaids Tale in college and voraciously read the rest of her works throughout my 20s. I love speculative fiction so much and I hope to explore that sub-genre in my own work over the coming years!
4. What is one recommendation you’d give to aspiring writers?
Don’t be afraid of change. Find a good critique partner and let them drag you across the coals early on. Remember that people aren’t giving you notes for their health (and if they are, that’s a little weird!). They genuinely want to help you make your story better. Even if it’s stressful, take a deep breath, hear them out, and consider every suggestion. On the flip side, you also don’t have to take every single note you’re ever given! Use the ones that suit your vision. Remember that when you try to write for everyone, you risk connecting with no one.
5. How would you describe the main character, Seycia, in three words?
Fierce, faithful, and flourishing.
6. If you could meet any fictional character, who would you pick and why?
I want to go to a fancy wine bar with Buffy Summers and complain about the burden of destiny and boys (both living and dead). And then when the fancy wine bar inevitably gets overrun by vampires, she’ll protect me (and I’ll totally help slay if she’ll let me).

7. What is the last book you read?
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Thank you so much for joining us on the blog, Liz!
MORE ABOUT THE PHANTOM FOREST:
Every tree in the sacred Forest of Laida houses a soul. Though each of those souls will return to the mortal world for many future lives, not all of them deserve to.

Seycia’s father told her this story as a child — a story of the most holy place in the Underworld, The Forest of Laida, where all souls go to rest before embarking on a new life. But Seycia’s father is dead now, and his killer has put a target on her back.

After being chosen for her village’s human sacrifice ritual, Seycia is transported to the Underworld and must join forces with Haben, the demon to whom she was sacrificed, to protect the family she left behind from beyond the grave. In this story of love, survival, and what it means to be human, Seycia and Haben discover that the Underworld is riddled with secrets that can only be unlocked through complete trust and devotion, not only to their mission, but also to one another.

Links to preorder: Amazon ; Barnes and Noble
promotion · young adult

Cover Reveal: Don’t Kiss the Messenger

Hey all! Today I’m very excited to bring a super cute cover reveal to all of you! It’s YA, it’s romance, and it’s a retelling–if you’ve been here long enough,  you’ll know I’m immediately attracted to anything that’s an interesting retelling, so I am already a huge fan!

book: don’t kiss the messenger
author
: katie ray
For most of her teenage life, CeCe Edmonds has been dealing with the stares and the
not-so- polite whispers that follow her around Edgelake High. So she has a large scar
on her face—Harry Potter had one on his forehead and people still liked him. CeCe
never cared about her looks—until Emmett Brady, transfer student and football
darling, becomes her literature critique partner. The only problem? Emmett is
blindsided by Bryn DeNeuville, CeCe’s gorgeous and suddenly shy volleyball
teammate. Bryn asks CeCe to help her compose messages that’ll charm Emmett.
CeCe isn’t sure there’s anything in his head worth charming but agrees
anyway—she’s a sucker for a good romance. Unfortunately, the more messages she
sends and the more they run into each other, the more she realizes there’s plenty in
his head, from food to literature. Too bad Emmett seems to be falling for the wrong
girl…

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book involves one fiercely scarred girl who
wants the new guy in town, the new guy who thinks he wants the new girl, and the
new girl who really isn’t sure what she wants, and the misunderstanding that brings
them all together. You’ll laugh, you’ll swoon, you’ll fall in love.

 

KR_EHS1_DontKisstheMessenger FINAL COVER

Check back next month for an amazing author guest post and a book review!

 

giveaway · promotion · young adult

GIVEAWAY and Spotlight: Ultimatum by K.M. Walton

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Ultimatum was released March 7, 2017! Check the bottom of this post for a chance to win a copy of the book!

From the author of Cracked and Empty comes a gripping, emotional story of two brothers who must make the ultimate decision about what’s more important: family or their differences.

It’s not Oscar’s fault he’s misunderstood. Ever since his mother died, he’s been disrespected by his father and bullied by his self-absorbed older brother, so he withdraws from his fractured family, seeking refuge in his art.

Vance wishes his younger brother would just loosen up and be cool. It was hard enough to deal with their mother’s death without Oscar getting all emotional. At least when Vance pushes himself in lacrosse and parties, he feels alive.

But when their father’s alcoholism sends him into liver failure, the two brothers must come face-to-face with their demons–and each other–if they are going to survive a very uncertain future.

read an except from ultimatum:

I watch the nurse jab the needle into my father’s arm. He doesn’t make a move. He hasn’t made a move on his own in days. I look over at my brother, Vance, and his head is down, lost in his phone. I close my eyes and just focus on breathing.

I feel a gentle squeeze on my shoulder. “That should make him comfortable, Oscar. I’ll be right out in the hall if you need me,” the nurse says.

Vance told me that since Dad had this thing called a living will with a do-not-resuscitate order, there are no IVs or breathing tubes or anything else that will help to keep him alive longer. His liver is in failure, and he doesn’t have time to wait for a transplant. He will not be coming home from this place.

I nod. “Thank you,” I say to the nurse. Why can’t my brother put down his phone and be present?

“How long now?” I whisper. I read her name tag: Barbara.

She purses her lips into a tight smile. “I wish I could tell you. Definitely not today.”

“Tomorrow?” This is the end of day two here at the hospice, and I’ve been told multiple times that he’s not in pain, that they’re doing everything they can to make him comfortable. But I’m not convinced. How do they know he’s not in pain?

Barbara tilts her head and looks back at my comatose father. “Maybe, maybe not. He’ll leave when he’s ready.”

I want to jump up and shake her. She’s a damn hospice nurse! How can she not know? I want her to know.

I want her to tell me when he will die.

Sitting here watching him fail like this, so close, is harder than watching him live. I want it to just be over. I’m done.

“How many times does she have to tell you that she doesn’t know?” Vance asks after she leaves.

I turn away and ignore my brother.

“I know you hear me,” Vance says.

I lift my eyes and stare into his. To annoy him, I put in my earbuds and turn up the volume as loud as my phone allows. He shakes his head, indicating that he can hear the Mozart. Good.

My head fills with the layered richness of Symphony No. 29, and I let my eyes slide closed. While I’m into everything from baroque to classical to romantic, Mozart has always been my favorite. When I listen to his music, I’m taken out of my life.

My life right now consists of being trapped in this damn room with my brother and watching my father slip away one labored breath at a time. If I count the freckles on Dad’s arm one more time, I may start drooling.

I steal a peek at Vance, and he’s still glaring at me. When isn’t he? Having Mozart drown out him and his never-ending dickhead ways is helping right now. I turn and gaze out the window.

Vance has never understood me—and he never will. Even down to the music I listen to. When we were in middle school, he’d make fun of me because of it. I can still see him playing an imaginary violin with wild, insulting movements, doing everything in his power to look weird.

Were Vance and I ever close? I blink and realize the answer. No, we’ve never been close—despite only being ten months apart.

I scroll back as far as I can remember, and my hands tighten into fists.

I think it’s the classic “he took my place as the baby” situation. Vance resents me—like, my very existence. He couldn’t be any more unbrotherly. In fact, I’d say he stands firmly behind enemy lines. Let’s just say that if I needed saving on the battlefield, Vance would probably let me bleed out.

My brother is an attention junkie, and apparently I robbed him of having our parents’ complete and undivided focus. He has never verbalized this to me, of course—that would involve a deep conversation between us. This is all pure guesswork on my part. But I know I’m right.

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GIVEAWAY & SPOTLIGHT: My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

title : my kind of crazy

author : robin reul

About the Author:

Robin Reul has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Though she grew up on movie sets and worked for years in the film and television industry, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing young adult novels. And unlike Hank, she does not know how to ride a bike. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter. My Kind Of Crazy is her first novel. Find her at robinreul.com

book summary :

A promposal that (literally) goes up in flames sparks a friendship that might be just crazy enough to work

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break.  It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens.  A lot.  Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing.  Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

read an excerpt from the book :

So here’s the thing. It’s not like I woke up this morning and said, “Hey, I think I’ll light the 100-year-old Eastern Red Cedar tree in front of Amanda Carlisle’s house on fire today.” Because I don’t know about you, but when I wake up, my mind doesn’t go straight to arson. Honestly, the first thing I focus on is how fast I can get from my room to the bathroom without my dad’s girlfriend, Monica, trying to chat me up while I’m awkwardly standing there in my boxers.

            I’d read online that how you ask a girl to Prom can completely make or break a guy’s chances. I wanted to do something special that Amanda would never forget. Apparently it worked, just not the way I intended. ‘Use sparklers to spell out PROM’ the article on the Internet said. There was even a picture with them all lit up on the ground. Totally idiot proof.

I snuck into her yard like a ninja under the cover of darkness and tried to jam the sparklers in her lawn, but the soil was hard and unyielding. I looked around, desperate, and then I spied a nice soft patch of mulch underneath the cedar tree near the side of her yard. It was perfect, and the sparkler slid in easily. A few minutes later, I had them all lined up just like I’d seen in the picture, and once they were lit, yelled, “Amanda!” I actually had to call out twice because she didn’t hear me the first time. Then she came to the window and gazed down as the sparklers fizzled down to the ground and–boom!

Turns out that was fresh pine mulch underneath that cedar. Pine trees produce turpentine, so I might as well have lit those sparklers in a pool of gasoline for how quickly the mulch caught fire.

I didn’t know what to do, so I ran. Which is why I’m now hiding behind a bush across the street in her neighbor’s yard. This is definitely going down in history as the most epic promposal fail ever. And then, as if things couldn’t get more catastrophic, they do.

Baseball is practically a religion where I live in South Coast Massachusetts. People take their Red Sox pretty seriously, and the die-hards decorate their trees with red and blue streamers every season in a show of support. The Carlisles are no exception. And it doesn’t take long for the flames to catch and race the length of those ribbons into the dry branches above.

From where I’m crouched down, I have a perfect view of the Carlisle house. I can see Amanda’s eyes widen and her jaw drop open as she observes the quickly escalating situation in her yard. She pulls away from the window, I’m guessing to call the fire department. We should probably talk about Prom some other time.

            With things clearly going south, I do what any sensible person would do: I get the hell out of there. Of course, a sensible person wouldn’t have put sparklers in a pile of fresh mulch directly under a highly flammable tree. Hindsight is 20/20.

So in the most casual way possible, I hook my backpack – which is loaded with empty sparkler boxes – over my shoulders, hop on my bike, and pedal away from the scene at what I hope passes for a normal speed. Cool as a cucumber, that’s me.

I reason for a brief moment that, perhaps, Amanda didn’t actually see me there. Even if she did, she doesn’t know me all that well so she might not recognize me. I am wearing black jeans, and my Batman hoodie conceals my medium-length, stick straight brown hair, so I am sort of camouflaged. Not to mention, those flames were pretty distracting.

The fire station is about five streets away, near the library. I start to worry that the firemen won’t get there fast enough and Amanda’s whole house might burn down. I know I’m a lame-ass chicken shit for hightailing it out of there, but the last thing I need is Dad on my case for something else. As far as he’s concerned, I can’t do much right. I would like to say he’s just being an asshole, but lately I’ve been wondering if he’s onto something.

            I consider turning around and heading back to Amanda’s, which would be the right thing to do, but I swear I’m about to piss myself with fear so I pedal faster, listening for the sounds of approaching police sirens. For good measure, I jerk my bike off the main road, cutting through the back alleys toward home.

giveaway details :

use the rafflecopter link below to enter to win two copies of My Kind of Crazy between april 1 and april 30

open to U.S. and Canada only
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or, go to one of these links to buy yourself a copy:

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GIVEAWAY & SPOTLIGHT: The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever

Yeah, that’s the title of an awesome book that’s coming out, not me trying to get everyone else to agree that one movie is the best.

the greatest zombie movie ever

author: jeff strand

About the Author:

Jeff Strand wrote the script for the short film Gave Up the Ghost, which has zombies in it for a few seconds, and was an associate producer on the short zombie film Chomp. In the event of an actual zombie attack, he would run around crying and screaming, “We’re all doomed!” and contribute very little to everybody’s chances for survival. He’s written a bunch of other books, including I Have A Bad Feeling About This and A Bad Day for Voodoo. Check out this website at jeffstrand.com

book summary:

After producing three horror movies that went mostly ignored on YouTube, Justin and his filmmaking buddies decide it’s time they create something noteworthy, something epic. They’re going to film the Greatest Zombie Movie Ever. They may not have money or a script, but they have passion. And, after a rash text message, they also have the beautiful Alicia Howtz—Justin’s crush—as the lead.

With only one month to complete their movie, a script that can’t possibly get worse, and the hopes and dreams of Alicia on the line, Justin is feeling the pressure. Add to that a cast of uncooperative extras and incompetent production assistants, and Justin must face the sad, sad truth. He may actually be producing The Worst Zombie Movie Ever…

read an excerpt from the book:

“I don’t want to make terrible movies anymore. I want them to be big. I want them to be important. I want them to be longer than ten minutes.”

“All right,” said Gabe.

“We should change our filmmaking process. We should write a script first.”

“I thought you always said that following a script would restrict your creativity on the set, and that the best ideas are those that filmmakers generate on the spot.”

“I’ve said a lot of things over the years,” said Justin. “This time we need a script. We don’t have to stick to it word for word, but we should have one.”

“Is there a blister on my tongue?” asked Bobby, sticking out his tongue. “I can’t tell if it’s a blister or just a piece of fry.” Justin and Gabe couldn’t understand what he was saying, since his tongue was sticking out, but they’d known him long enough to get the general idea.

“It’s a piece of fry,” said Justin.

“It won’t come off. Why won’t it come off?”

“Okay, fine,” said Gabe. “We’ll have a script.”

“And a budget.”

“Dude…”

“You can’t make the greatest movie ever without a budget,” Justin told him.

“Now we’re making the greatest movie ever? I thought we were just making one that didn’t suck.”

“Do you know how old George Romero was when he made Night of the Living Dead?”

“Late twenties.”

“Right. So we’ve got a while to catch up. That example didn’t really make the point I was trying to make. What I’m saying is that we should be ahead of the curve. We should be making movies that people can’t believe were made by fifteen-year-olds. I want people to be stunned at what we’re making. I want people to accuse us of being genetically enhanced.”

“I’m all in favor of that,” said Gabe. “I just feel like we should set our sights a little lower. We keep saying we want to make a zombie movie. Maybe instead of the greatest movie ever, we make the greatest zombie movie ever.”

“The greatest zombie movie ever would, by definition, also be the greatest movie ever.”

“Point taken.”

“Zombie movie. Good choice, Gabe. And we’re going to commit ourselves to this project. No safety net. No excuses not to finish. Nobody is going to say this isn’t a real movie.”

“I really can’t get this fry off my tongue,” said Bobby. “The cheese is like superglue.”

Gabe ignored Bobby and shrugged at Justin. “Okay. So if we’re doing a real movie, how do you propose we raise the money?”

Justin stared into Gabe’s eyes with a steel gaze, and then after a dramatic pause said, “Any…way…we…can.”

“Such as?”

“I don’t know. Crowdfunding. A bake sale. Insurance fraud. We’ll worry about that later.”

“I think we should worry about it a little bit now.”

“I’m in an ambitious mood. Don’t bother me with reality right now.” Justin picked up a fry and dipped it into the runniest patch of chili. “We can do this. We can make a three-hour epic that will revolutionize the film industry.”

“Three hours?”

“At least.”

“How about we make half an epic and go for ninety minutes?”

“Actually, we should let the story decide for itself how long it needs to be.” Justin ate the fry. “Are you in?”

“I don’t like that you’re giving the story a consciousness of its own.”

“Are you in?”

“I’m in,” said Bobby.

“Gabe?”

“I’m going to Indiana for the summer, remember? The day after school gets out.”

“Okay, so that gives us a month. We can do it. Are you in?”

“You’re insane.”

“Are you in?”

“You’re also deranged.”

“Are you in?”

“You’re insane, deranged, and scary.”

“Are you in?”

As he had many times during their ten years of friendship, Gabe looked resigned to his fate. “Yeah, I’m in.”

Bobby seemed to notice something behind Justin. He smiled. It was a wicked smile, the kind of smile a person gets when the thoughts currently floating in their brain are nothing but the purest evil.

“What?” Justin asked, the evil aura making him suddenly uncomfortable.

“I know who we should cast in the lead.”

“Who?”

Bobby pointed to a booth at the other end of the restaurant. “Alicia Howtz.”

GIVEAWAY RULES & INFO: 

enter with the rafflecopter link below to win one of two copies of The Greatest Zombie Ever 
U.S. & Canada only

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Explosion Luck Tibetan Thangka Wearable Art Pendant Necklaces and Feng Shui jewelry

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The Best Holiday Gift Guide 2015-2016 by www.ExplosionLuck.com

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All Language Alliance, Inc provides best Certified Translation Services!

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Giveaway + Book Blast: Up the Tower by J.P. Lantern

 

SUMMARY :

Disaster brings everybody together. A cloned corporate assassin; a boy genius and his new robot; a tech-modified gangster with nothing to lose; a beautiful, damaged woman and her unbalanced stalker—these folks couldn’t be more different, but somehow they must work together to save their own skin. Stranded in the epicenter of a monumental earthquake in the dystopian slum, Junktown, there is only one way to survive. These unlikely teammates must go…UP THE TOWER.

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR :

J.P. Lantern lives in the Midwestern US, though his heart and probably some essential parts of his liver and pancreas and whatnot live metaphorically in Texas. He writes speculative science fiction short stories, novellas, and novels which he has deemed “rugged,” though he would also be fine with “roughhewn” because that is a terrific and wonderfully apt word.

Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.

CHECK OUT AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL!

“Hey, Smellson!”

Samson ignored the jeer, focusing carefully on opening the box. He was twelve years old and he did not want to screw this up; being twelve was important, and people took the things you did seriously so long as you did them well.

“Smellson, hey!” The Crowboy banged his crowbar on the dusty ruins of the factory line where they had set up the six crates from their haul that morning. “Don’t blow us up, okay? I don’t want to die with your stench clogging me up, yeah?”

Again, Samson ignored the other boy, trying to concentrate as he eased his longtool through the gap in the crate before him. He very well could blow himself up; he could blow them all up. Inside the GuaranTech crate he tinkered with was a copbot.

Copbots blew up all the time. If their main processors or power source were damaged, they blew up. If they were being captured, they blew up. If they ran out of ammo and couldn’t refill within about ten minutes, they blew up. When they blew up, they incinerated everything in about a hundred foot radius. The warehouse was not big enough for the Crowboys to keep their distance and still work in the role of protection as they had been hired. So they were in the blast zone as well as Samson.

The copbots, deactivated, were precious and valuable. Strangely, they were valuable precisely because they were so hard to deactivate. A copbot was made almost entirely out of self-healing nanotech, and with enough time, it could repair from almost any wound to its metal shell. So, to keep this sort of power out of the hands of the gangster conglomerate that ran Junktown, the Five Faces, and any other sort of competitor, the copbots had a very liberal self-destruct mechanism.

This is what Samson worked against.

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