I Read YA Week Interview with Melissa Landers!

I am so insanely excited to bring you the second interview with an excellent YA author, information pills Melissa Landers! She is one of my favorite authors and a huge influence on my own writing. I am so pleased and honored to have her here on What A Nerd Girl Says and I’m ready to jump right in so let’s do this!

ABOUT MELISSA LANDERS

Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, price she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives just outside Cincinnati in the town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio”.

You Can Find Her:

Her Website / Her Twitter / Her Facebook / Her GoodReads / Her Instagram

HER BOOK

Add Melissa’s fantastic sci-fi novel on GoodReads and buy a copy at your local bookstore or on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Book Depository!

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

HER INTERVIEW

Nerd Girl: Why do you write YA?

Melissa: Quite simply: because I want to. There’s so much to enjoy as a YA author: a supportive writing community, enthusiastic fans, limitless story possibilities. I’m having a lot of fun writing for this market. Maybe that’s a selfish reason, but it’s true. :)

Nerd Girl: What are some of your own favorite YA reads?

Melissa: For me, nothing tops Harry Potter. The series started as middle grade and transitioned to YA in a smooth, seamless way that mirrored Harry’s growth. I enjoyed these books so much, and now I’m reading them to my children. It’s great to share that love of the series with them.

Nerd Girl: Describe your latest work in five words or less.

Melissa: Let’s battle an intergalactic mafia!

Nerd Girl: What advice would you give aspiring science fiction authors, especially those who want to dive into space/alien stories like yours?

Melissa: Don’t be afraid to get WEIRD. In this genre, weird is good! I’ll bet Frank Herbert’s friends gave him the side-eye when he said, “I have a story idea about a desert planet where giant sandworms poop out an addictive drug called spice!” But look how that turned out. Dune is (IMO) the gold standard for science fiction.

Nerd Girl: Both the Alienated series and Starflight do such a wonderful job of balancing a science fiction story and fun and awesome romance. How do you balance the two of them when writing?

Melissa: Thank you! Over time, I’ve learned to become more aware of that balance. My natural inclination is to veer toward romance, (I love making characters fall in love!), so I have to remind myself during the plotting stage not to let the romance take over. It helps to have an experienced editor in my corner. She’s good at pointing out imbalances. In fact…she just sent me an edit letter for Starfall, so I’m going to say “goodbye” and get to work. :)

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Thank you, again, Melissa, for joining us! We were so happy to host you during I Read YA week! I can’t wait for United this summer! EEK!

And you guys, don’t forget to head to my instagram, to enter my I Read YA Week giveaway! It runs until May 8th and includes two contemporary YA ARCs and a ton of signed swag!

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Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour: Spotlight on Kristin Halbrook!

Hello all! I hope you are all enjoying the awesome blog tour that’s been going on for the Ontario Teen Book Fest, dosage which is going on THIS Saturday! Don’t forget to head on down because its going to be amazing. And if you can’t make it to the event, case stick around, learn a little about the amazing Kristin Halbrook, and enter our giveaway!

But first, some reminders of the details of this epic event.

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When:

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

9:30 am to 5 pm

Where:

Colony High School Branch Library
3850 E. Riverside Drive
Ontario, CA 91761

This event is a completely free and un-ticketed event! Priority seating WILL be given to teens, but come one, come all! There will also be giveaways and raffles at the Fest, also free! Also, keep scrolling to find a giveaway held by us bloggers!

You can visit the website, to see the full schedule of the day by visiting the official Ontario Teen Book Fest website.

Books WILL be available for purchase at the event, available from Once Upon a Time Bookstore :) They are an amazing company so definitely bring your books from home, but try and support Once Upon a Time by purchasing a book!

Its going to be an incredible event and I’m honestly counting down the days! I hope you can come along for the ride, in the days leading up to the event.  Check out the full blog tour here!

Official Blog Tour Schedule

February 22nd – Spotlight on Andrew SmithWhat A Nerd Girl Says

February 23rd – Spotlight on Alexandra MonirThe Consummate Reader

February 24th – Spotlight on April TucholkeAdventures of a Book Junkie

February 25th – Spotlight on Alexis BassA Traveling Book

February 26th – Spotlight on Marissa MeyerRead Now Sleep Later

February 27th – Spotlight on Sara Elizabeth SantanaMovies, Shows and Books

February 28th – Spotlight on Robin ReulRecently Acquired Obsessions

February 29th – Spotlight on Katherine KottarasiFandoms Collide

March 1st – Spotlight on Stephanie DiazMy Fangirl Chronicles

March 2nd – Spotlight on Virginia BoeckerThe Reader’s Antidote

March 3rd – Spotlight on Mary McCoyBook You Very Much

March 4th – Spotlight on Brad GottfredSeeking Bazinga

March 5th – Spotlight on Michelle LevyMy Fangirl Chronicles

March 6th – Spotlight on Elana K ArnoldRead Now Sleep Later

March 7th – Spotlight on Kristin HalbrookWhat A Nerd Girl Says

March 8th – Spotlight on Jessica BrodyThe Windy Pages

March 9th – Spotlight on Nicole MaggiNite Lite Book Reviews

March 10th – Spotlight on Jay AsherA Bookish Escape

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Today’s Spotlight Features:

Kristin Halbrook

Taken from her website: When I was little, I wanted to be a writer, the President of the USA or the first female NFL quarterback. Despite being able to throw a wicked spiral, I didn’t really grow to the size needed for the NFL. Then, as I got older and studied more, I came to realize there were better ways to effect positive change than becoming president. The first one, however, stuck. Even when I was pursuing other dreams, I always took time to write here and there.

When I’m not writing or reading (which is what I do all day, in all of my work), I’m spending time with three pixies, my Mad Scot soulmate, and one grumpy cocker spaniel; traveling across oceans and time; cooking and baking up a storm; and watching waves crash and suns set on the beach. I currently live, love and explore in The Emerald City, though I occasionally make wispy, dream-like plans to move to Paris or a Scottish castle one day (if just temporarily).

Her Website / Her Facebook / Her GoodReads / Her Twitter / Her Instagram

Her Books

Kristin is the author of a couple amazing contemporary YA novels, but her most recent release, Every Last Promise, will be featured today!

Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn’t supposed to. But she hasn’t told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night—about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.

Now Kayla’s coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything—and everyone—she ever cared about.

Find His Books at Your Local Bookstore of the Following Links:

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iBooks / Book Depository

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The Interview

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Nerd Girl: Give us a short pitch of your most recent novel

Kristin: At a party, Kayla Martin saw something terrible she wasn’t supposed to see. Now, she needs to decide to either stay silent, and be able to remain in the home she loves, or speak up and lose everything she has.

Nerd Girl: What is something you’ve learned about writing since becoming a published author?

Kristin: Everything takes times. A lot of time. Writing a novel, editing a novel, the whole publishing process. But that time isn’t a bad thing; novels become better when they’ve had time to rest, when the author has had time to rest. Coming back to a project after a period away brings freshness and clarity that can be lost when focus in incessant. The book will wait while you live your life!

Nerd Girl: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Kristin: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” That’s a (summarized) quote by Anton Chekhov. I didn’t receive it personally, of course, but it’s been a guide to me throughout my entire career as a writer. I think the quote holds a double punch; it’s phrased beautifully, showing the power of each word in a sentence, and it’s giving great show-don’t-tell advice.

Nerd Girl: What is one of your favorite memories from when you were a teenager?

Kristin: Sitting in a garage at night with friends, listening to someone strumming the guitar against the sound of rain on the rooftop, arguing about nothing in particular or cuddling with partners, or eating and drinking. Or all of the above.

Nerd Girl: Your book Every Last Promise tackles the very serious and very relevant issue of sexual assault and speaking up about it. Why did you write about this?

Kristin: All of my fiction tackles topics that are personally important to me, whether because I or someone dear to me experienced them, or because they are (unfortunately, too) prominent in the various segments of our national and/or world culture. A large number of small town sexual assaults were in the headlines as I was writing and revising Every Last Promise, and I started to wonder about the people in those towns: what they were thinking and feeling, whether they supported the victim, how hard it must have been for the victim to stand up against their very small, local culture. That last question, especially, was one I wanted to explore. Victims are silent for a variety of reasons, and understanding those reasons makes us all better advocates for those who need us.

Nerd Girl: Who have been some of your biggest influences?

Kristin: Melina Marchetta, Stephanie Kuehnert, and Meg Rosoff were three of the YA authors I read early in my writing career who taught me that yes, I can write YA. I have a story to tell. I can tell this contemporary, realistic tale with literary language and it will find a home. But all the influences that led up to me becoming a writer and writing the way I do would fill a book on their own! I’ve been a ready pretty much forever, and every book influenced me, somehow.

Nerd Girl: Who are some of your favorite authors to read?

Kristin: Again, there are so many! I’m currently on an adult women’s upmarket fiction kick, so I’m really into Paula Hawkins and Ruth Ware and Gillian Flynn. But I also love coming across a gorgeous YA contemporary, or a sweeping YA fantasy, especially if it’s based in an ethnically diverse setting. I recently enjoyed The Smell of Other People’s Houses and I’m really looking forward to reading The Star-Touched Queen, out next month.

Nerd Girl: Have you ever had a fangirl moment with an author or celebrity?

Kristin: Not really, but I recently dreamed that James McAvoy bought all my daughters’ Girl Scout cookies and I was fangirling on him pretty hard, there. Both for just being James McAvoy, but also for taking all those boxes of cookies off my hands.

Nerd Girl: Who is your fictional crush?

Kristin: Lately, I’ve been devouring books about terrible people, hee, so haven’t crushed on anyone in a long time, but I’ve always loved Gilbert Blythe. Oh, and Jonah from Jellicoe Road.

Nerd Girl: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!

Kristin: Thanks so much for having me. I’m really looking forward to the Ontario Teen Book Fest; it will be a blast!

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The Giveaway!

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One winner will receive an official Ontario Teen Book Fest poster signed by ALL attending authors!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour: Spotlight on Andrew Smith

I am so pleased to, visit web yet again, approved bring the official Ontario Teen Book Fest blog tour to What A Nerd Girl Says and other amazing Southern California bloggers! This event is one of my absolute favorite events of the year and I’m sure this one is going to be just as great, even not better, than previous years!

When:

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

9:30 am to 5 pm

Where:

Colony High School Branch Library
3850 E. Riverside Drive
Ontario, CA 91761

This event is a completely free and un-ticketed event! Priority seating WILL be given to teens, but come one, come all! There will also be giveaways and raffles at the Fest, also free! Also, keep scrolling to find a giveaway held by us bloggers!

You can visit the website, to see the full schedule of the day by visiting the official Ontario Teen Book Fest website.

Books WILL be available for purchase at the event, available from Once Upon a Time Bookstore :) They are an amazing company so definitely bring your books from home, but try and support Once Upon a Time by purchasing a book!

Its going to be an incredible event and I’m honestly counting down the days! I hope you can come along for the ride, in the days leading up to the event.  Check out the full blog tour here!

Official Blog Tour Schedule

February 22nd – Spotlight on Andrew SmithWhat A Nerd Girl Says

February 23rd – Spotlight on Alexandra MonirThe Consummate Reader

February 24th – Spotlight on April TucholkeAdventures of a Book Junkie

February 25th – Spotlight on Alexis BassA Traveling Book

February 26th – Spotlight on Marissa MeyerRead Now Sleep Later

February 27th – Spotlight on Sara Elizabeth SantanaMovies, Shows and Books

February 28th – Spotlight on Robin ReulRecently Acquired Obsessions

February 29th – Spotlight on Katherine KottarasiFandoms Collide

March 1st – Spotlight on Stephanie DiazMy Fangirl Chronicles

March 2nd – Spotlight on Virginia BoeckerThe Reader’s Antidote

March 3rd – Spotlight on Mary McCoyBook You Very Much

March 4th – Spotlight on Brad GottfredSeeking Bazinga

March 5th – Spotlight on Michelle LevyMy Fangirl Chronicles

March 6th – Spotlight on Elana K ArnoldRead Now Sleep Later

March 7th – Spotlight on Kristin HalbrookWhat A Nerd Girl Says

March 8th – Spotlight on Jessica BrodyThe Windy Pages

March 9th – Spotlight on Nicole MaggiNite Lite Book Reviews

March 10th – Spotlight on Jay AsherA Bookish Escape

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Today’s Spotlight Is:

ANDREW SMITH 

Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Grasshopper Jungle (2015 Michael L. Printz Honor, 2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Carnegie Medal Longlist) and Winger. He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. The Alex Crow, a starred novel by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, is his ninth novel. He lives in Southern California.

His Website / His Facebook / His GoodReads / His Twitter / His Instagram

His Books

There are actually so many that he’s written, and all of them are absolutely fabulous. I encourage you to follow him on GoodReads and add ALL of the books. However, I am spotlighting Stand-Off since its his most recent release :)

It’s his last year at Pine Mountain, and Ryan Dean should be focused on his future, but instead, he’s haunted by his past. His rugby coach expects him to fill the roles once played by his lost friend, Joey, as the rugby team’s stand-off and new captain. And somehow he’s stuck rooming with twelve-year-old freshman Sam Abernathy, a cooking whiz with extreme claustrophobia and a serious crush on Annie Altman—aka Ryan Dean’s girlfriend, for now, anyway.

Equally distressing, Ryan Dean’s doodles and drawings don’t offer the relief they used to. He’s convinced N.A.T.E. (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) is lurking around every corner—and then he runs into Joey’s younger brother Nico, who makes Ryan Dean feel paranoid that he’s avoiding him. Will Ryan Dean ever regain his sanity?

Find His Books at Your Local Bookstore of the Following Links:

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iBooks / Book Depository

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The Interview

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Nerd Girl: Tell us about your current work in progress. What can we expect from you in the future? 

Andrew: I just submitted a novel to my editor, and I’m not really allowed to give specific details about it at this time, but I can say it’s a crazy speculative futuristic space opera-ish kind of thing. With a giraffe in it. I put the giraffe character in the book as a nod to my friend Jandy Nelson.

 

Nerd Girl: Your most recent release is STAND OFF, the sequel to Winger: what made you decide to continue Ryan Dean’s story?

 

Andrew: Probably it was pressure from readers. I still get emails every day from people of all ages, all over the world, about WINGER. Also, I really missed those characters, and writing STAND-OFF was so fun.

 

Nerd Girl: Ryan Dean struggles a lot with anxiety and PTSD in the second book in STAND OFF, after what he experienced in WINGER. As someone who struggles with similar mental issues, it felt very realistic and relatable. Was it hard to write him with this change in his personality, and did you have to do any research in order to write it the way you did?

 

Andrew: Ha ha! Been there, done that, too. Also, I never actually used terms like PTSD or anxiety in the book, I only wanted to key in on the feelings Ryan Dean was going through, and I think that made those experiences more relatable on a broad level for readers.

Nerd Girl: What is your writing process like? How do you balance writing full length novels with working your job as a teacher? How do you keep yourself motivated?

 

Andrew: Whenever I teach writers, I stress that self-discipline is an invisible but perhaps most important ingredient in what we produce. It’s easy to talk about craft, mechanics, and technique, but if you don’t get off your butt and hit the keyboard, absolutely none of that matters. It’s very difficult at times, and time exists in finite quantities, so you just have to make sure what you’re doing is going to get you where you most want to be. But as far as my personal writing is concerned, I motivate myself by building puzzles into my stories, and by always trying to do something I’ve never tried, and something that nobody else is doing. At least, I try.

 

Nerd Girl: Seeing as this is a teen book fest, I’d like to ask what were some of your favorite books as a teenager? Also, what are some of your favorite current teen reads?

 

Andrew: I read a wide range of thick, weird books when I was a teen. I remember reading–on my own–books like MOBY DICK by Herman Melville, THE IDIOT by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and FOUNDATION by Isaac Asimov.

Current YA that I’ve enjoyed (and I hope you know my favorite author is A.S. King, so I’ll spare you the expected list of all her titles): THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER by Tim Federle and THE MEMORY OF THINGS by Gae Polisner. But I don’t think those are out yet.

 

Nerd Girl: What is one thing you learned about writing that you didn’t learn until after you got published?

 

Andrew: Like most people who get published, I didn’t know ANYTHING about the publishing industry when I got published. But, as far as writing goes, I think that working with the amazing editors I’ve had the opportunity to work with has taught me to recognize some of the common mistakes that young writers make in terms of craft, and this has definitely helped me to be a better, more efficient, writer.

 

Nerd Girl: You get the phone call that you’re getting published: what is your reaction? How did you celebrate?

 

Andrew: I kind of passed out, I think. And nobody in my family knew I’d been writing all those years. So I took my wife and kids out to dinner and told them what was going to happen.

 

Nerd Girl: You’ve often said that you don’t necessarily write books FOR teens but ABOUT teens…so why did you choose to write about teens? And why do you think its important to make the point that your books aren’t necessarily just for teens?
Andrew: Some of my favorite books ever have adolescent protagonists: THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain, ‘SALEM’S LOT by Stephen King, and Cormac McCarthy’s ALL THE PRETTY HORSES and THE CROSSING. I’ve always liked writing about the adolescent experience for two main reasons: First, adolescence is universal; it’s something we’ve all gone through, and second, I think we all look back on our teenage years as being some of the most significant, shaping years in our lives; times we tend to think about every day.

 

Nerd Girl: What is one of your favorite moments from when you were a teen?
Andrew: Stealing my dad’s car, ditching school, and driving to the beach.

 

Nerd Girl: Last question, who is your fictional crush?
Andrew: Oh gosh. I’d have to say Buffalo Bill from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

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The Giveaway!

One winner will receive an official Ontario Teen Book Fest poster signed by ALL attending authors!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Announcement! Ontario Teen Book Fest Authors!

Yay! Its almost that time again! Time for my favorite event of the year, try the Ontario Teen Book Fest. The first time I attended it was nearly three years ago and each and every year, I’ve become more involved and more connected and attached to this event. Courtney, the youth services librarian, and the rest of her crew, always put on an amazing event. I’m incredibly excited about the lineup for this event, especially since I’m in it this year!

Where Teens and Books Meet!

When: March 12, 2016
9 am to 5 pm

Where: Colony High Branch Library
3850 East Riverside Drive
Ontario, CA

More information will be coming! Check out the official blog tour, starting February 22nd, kicking off on THIS blog, for more information, including giveaways. You can also visit the official TBF website here, to find out more about sponsors, how to purchase books, all about the panels and more!

For now, let’s meet this year’s line up! Click the authors’ names to check out their websites and learn more!

Authors: 

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Elana K Arnold

Jay Asher

Alexis Bass

Virginia Boecker

Jessica Brody

Stephanie Diaz

Brad Gottfred

Kristin Halbrook

Michelle Levy

Nicole Maggi

Mary McCoy

Marissa Meyer

Alexandra Monir

Andrew Smith

April Genevieve Tucholke

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Moderators

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E. Katherine Kottaras

Robin Reul 

Sara Elizabeth Santana

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Who are you most excited about? I hope to see you all there, and make sure to come back on February 22nd for the blog tour kick off!

November Book Wrap Up!

Books Pledged to Read in 2015:

150

Am I On Track: 

16 books behind

Books Read So Far: 

121

Total Books For November:

6

Leveled 

Winter

How I Found You

Body Check

Pride and Prejudice (Re-Read)

Pure (Re-Read)

Elixir (Re-Read)

Deity (Re-Read)

Magnus Chase: The Sword of Summer 

Apollyon (Re-Read)

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Re-Read)

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Tuesday Top Ten Launch Day Edition – Ten Things You Should Know About The Awakened!

Happy Release Day to me!

Official Awakened Cover

That is probably one of the weirdest and most surreal things I’ve ever typed up on this blog. I’m seriously blown away by that!

But its today! Today, order  The Awakened is a real book out in the real world! All over the world, decease people can go online and buy a copy of MY book, either in Kindle and paperback format! This is crazy to me. But also it feels amazing. This is what I’ve spent most of my life hoping for. Working my ass off for. I’m glad its finally here.

Have you gotten your copy of The Awakened yet? Its okay! I’ve provided a beautiful link here for you ;)

Even better! In just half an hour, I’ll be starting my SIX HOUR Twitter party extravaganza. If you don’t follow me on my author twitter yet, you definitely should! I’ll be on Twitter from noon PST to 6 pm PST, celebrating the release of The Awakened. I’ll be answering any and all questions you have, and reading alongside anyone else who is reading it! I’m going to be sharing snippets from The Awakened and even smaller ones (but still cool) from the rough draft of The Awakened 2. I’ll have giveaways, including signed bookmarks, signed posters and Kindle copies of the book.

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Definitely come and check it out! You don’t have to stick around for the whole six hours so come by anytime, shoot a question my way, anything! I’ll be happy to chat with all of you!

Now moving on to this week’s Tuesday Top Ten. Today is a special one, since today is my release day! So excited! Today I’m sharing ten things you should know about The Awakened before you read it! There are NO spoilers below, so don’t be scared to go beyond this part!

Also below is the schedule for the blog tour! SO many amazing and fantastic blogs are participating, sharing in The Awakened celebration and hosting me as a guest writer or in interview form. There is also information for the giveaway as well! It runs until December 12th so get those entries in!

Now, let’s get to it!

The book is about zombies…sort of

For so long, I hesitated to compare the Awakened to zombies but there are similarities for sure. They’re both undead, and they both crave one thing: human flesh. However, the Awakened don’t really have the same origin as zombies and that’s a huge plot point in the novel. And they’re smarter. They’re reflections of their old selves, but their overwhelming hunger outweighs that and makes them the monsters they are.

Zoey and Ash aren’t perfect. 

I’ve had beta readers and reviewers and several people tell me, I loved the book but Ash drove me insane or god I got annoyed with Zoey. And I’m okay with that! I want you to feel that! Both of these characters are incredibly flawed! They’re 18 years old and kind of sheltered, very taken care of, until the world goes to sh*t and so they mess up a lot. They make a lot of mistakes. And that’s okay. That’s a huge part of the book, having these two figure out what the hell they are doing.

The bombing was an accidental scene. 

I didn’t intend to bomb every major city as part of a plot point. I remember watching The Walking Dead with my boyfriend at the time and saying, jokingly, “Why don’t they just nuke everything? Why do they just let it get out of control?” Well, because my brain can’t shut off, it got me thinking and I wondered, what if they DID bomb everything? Where would you go? What would be the consequences of that? And that’s why I wrote it in.

“Nightmare” by Set It Off is the unofficial theme song. 

I was having SUCH a hard time at the beginning of this novel. I had this idea and for me, it was very risky. I don’t write science fiction! I’ve always stuck to romance! So this was out of the box for me and I was feeling doubts about actually accomplishing it! I went to a concert where Set It Off was opening, the first time I actually saw them. They played Nightmare and it just immediately stuck to me, and that song, plus the entire Cinematics album was on repeat while I wrote.

All the settings are done by research not experience. 

I have not been to ANY of the settings that are in the novel. I know, crazy right? I was originally going to have Zoey from Los Angeles, since I’ve lived here in Southern California my entire life but my book before The Awakened took place here so I needed a break for sure. So New York, and all the other settings, were researched. It was hard at times. I forgot that Zoey and her companions would be FREEZING at times because it was winter. Winter isn’t much of a thing here so that was actually genuinely tough! There is a setting that appears at the very very end of the book, and I have been there. That setting is way more important in the second book and I’m glad I’ve actually BEEN there LOL.

The Awakened was supposed to be a standalone. 

When I originally started writing the book, I had no plans to write more than the one book. As I continued to write, however, I realized I had created a world and a scenario much, much bigger than just one book and I realized I’d have to split it in two. People keep asking if it’ll be a trilogy but I think I’d lose my mind if I attempted that LOL. It’ll be two books and that’s it!

Zoey and Ash used to be Kate and Nate. 

Kate. And. Nate. Did I ever mention how absolutely AWFUL I am at naming characters? I am truly truly awful at it. I would just name all my characters the same thing if I could because names are baffling to me. It took me a second to realize their names rhymed and I was so horrified at myself. So I changed Nate to Ash. Then eventually I changed Kate to Zoey. I tend to do that a lot, change character names. I like change and I get tired of names quickly. I almost changed it from Zoey too until my friends were like, NO. I’m so glad they keep me in line…

The 5th Wave, Alienated and Unremembered were the biggest influences on the book. 

I love all three of these books so much and they all had huge influences on The Awakened. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey did a lot for the survival part, especially since my characters are teenagers like Cassie. It was beyond helpful. I LOVED using Alienated by Melissa Landers to incorporate the romance between Zoey and Ash, but also still make it about the science fiction. Though Alienated is definitely more romance, it was so helpful. I think one of the most helpful though was Unremembered Jessica Brody. Its SO science fiction but it has a heavy foot in reality, in the reality we know and it showed me that I could totally write this book. It had a HUGE influence on this book.

The Awakened gave me the confidence to write more science fiction. 

I honestly didn’t think I could write science fiction before this book. I still sometimes don’t think I can do it. The book I wrote about this one is called Benched and is a new adult sports romance novel. Much shorter, and felt much easier to me. But I do feel the confidence to take these ideas I have and go with it. I’m currently working on the sequels to both The Awakened and Benched but I have an idea for a sort of space/robot/cyborg story about a girl named Nadia, who is the last human, the last princess, left in existence, surrounded by robots and cyborgs, until she finds out maybe she’s not. Its daunting but I really believe I can tackle it.

The sequel to The Awakened will open the world even more. 

The Awakened focuses a LOT on the main characters and their own problems, their own survival. Its very very centered on them, and for good reason. Its all about Zoey and her companions. However, in the sequel, its going to be very much about the rest of the survivors as well. Its going to be much more about the bigger picture. This is SO daunting to me but I’m excited for it. I’m excited to open up this world and exploring the bigger consequences of everything that has happened.

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I hope you guys enjoyed that and that you enjoy reading The Awakened! I am so excited that its out today. Don’t forget that there is a great giveaway going on, hosted by me, which has no effect on me saying its great ;)

Up for grabs is a signed book, poster and bookmark, more signed posters and bookmarks and kindle editions of The Awakened!

Giveaway Graphic

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour for interviews, guest posts and more!

November 26th: Reading and Reviews / What A Nerd Girl Says

November 27th:  Living Within Fiction

November 28th: Lisa of Literature / Seeking Bazinga

November 29th: Chloe’s Book Nook / Book and Movies Addict

November 30th: Tine’s Reviews / Escape from Realities

December 1st: What A Nerd Girl Says / The Book Academy / Bookish Wonderland

December 2nd: Recently Acquired Obsessions / Morgan Reads

December 3rd: Case Maynard, Author / Movies, Shows and Books

December 4thBout of Bibliophilia

December 5th: Tesairie’s Book Reads / iFandoms Collide

December 6th: Just One of Those Bibliophiles / A Traveling Book / Endlessly Readings

December 7th: My Life in Blog / Erin Rhew Books

December 8th: Metamorphic Books / Knightingale Reviews

December 9th: Reading Over Sleeping / Always and Forever Fangirl

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