Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Book Review: Bad Romeo (Starcrossed #1) by Leisa Rayven


Bad Romeo (Starcrossed #1)  by Leisa Rayven
Publication Date: December 23rd, 2014
Genres: New Adult, Adult, Romance, College, Contemporary
Warnings: Sexual content, language
Format: eARC from NetGalley
When Cassie Taylor met Ethan Holt at acting school, sparks flew. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy about campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing, Cassie and Ethan's romance seemed destined. Until he broke her heart and betrayed her trust. Now the A-list heartthrob is back in her life and turning her world around. One touch at a time.
Cast as romantic leads once again, they're forced to confront raw memories of the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their secret college affair. But they'll also discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks 

Bad Romeo  is a book about second chances. And maybe third chances. Cassie is about to be thrown back into the world of Ethan Holt when he's chosen to play the leading man in a production where she's the leading lady. This all seems very deja vu to her and throughout the book we go from past to present in order to piece together this pair's rocky history.

I really enjoyed this one! I gave it 4.5 stars because it had everything I adore; getting to figure out things for myself, cute guys, a strong female main character and... cute guys. Why not 5 stars you may ask? There were a couple of small things I didn't like very much and although I thought about giving this book 5 stars I couldn't ignore those small things. Fairly, I took points away but let's start with what I did  like. Which is most of the book.

This was the perfect 'you-don't-know-what-you-have-until-it's-gone' story. It was so easy for me to become Cassie whilst reading from her perspective. I've honestly never felt so empathetic towards a main character but I really liked it. I felt everything she felt, enough to make it real for me. What I liked most about this book was the back and forth between Cassie and Ethan's past and present. It showed such a contrast and it was as if they'd morphed in to each other over the years they'd been apart. The reader is able to sort of piece together what happened as they go along. The present day chapters are full of questions whereas the past chapters hold answers and it all flows really well. I wasn't left with a bunch of unanswered questions by the end.

Cassie, pre-'that night', was a wonderful character. She was equal parts caring and head-strong and I didn't grow to like her, she was just likable from the start. It's what she does best; make people like her. She did annoy me at times because it become very clear that at first she was unable to let people not like her. That was her main character development, she eventually realised that that doesn't matter as much as what she thought of herself and whether she liked herself. Ethan played a huge part in this by calling her out. After 'that night' she became bitter in an attempt to keep feelings at bay. She became everything Ethan used to be; cold, emotionally unavailable and very good at faking indifference.

I loved Ethan's character for the most part. He was the complete opposite of Cassie and after that one night their characteristics were switched. As I said, it was such a contrast to read about both the past and the present. Past Ethan was moody and unwilling to put any effort into a relationship that may  break him whereas Present Ethan was hard to not like. He seems to have done a whole 180 and he's now open with his feelings and willing to fight for what he lost. He was complex to say the least but the great thing was that we got to learn about him over time. OH AND HE READS. *fans self* It was hard to hate him for what he did when I read about how he turned out because he was just trying so hard. He seemed to have really worked to change himself and he reveals something towards the end that made me kind of annoyed at Cassie for not even giving him the chance to talk. But then there's my girl-power side which is all "NO. MAN BAD. NO." because what he did was a little awful.

The other characters were good, not very complex but then again they're like background actors. You enjoy them whilst they're in the scene but once they're off stage they pale so the leads can shine. I think that's how all 'others' should be in books, too many times I've preferred the best friend to the main character or the funny one that just shows up to poke fun. I love those characters but I'd like to focus on the main story and not be waiting for that other character to be written into the chapter. I can't tell if that makes sense or not.

The back and forth between Cassie and Ethan gave me LIFE. I loved the banter and I laughed numerous times, especially when Cassie would be in her head with the reader hearing her thoughts. Most of my favourite quotes at the bottom of this post are from her although most of them do sound a tad strange out of context. I adore it when the MCs can banter back and forth, it makes things more interesting especially when the subjects the book is dealing with are more serious. Here's a quote, Cassie is on the phone with her overprotective mother and Holt is over so they can study together;

"Hurry up, Taylor! I think your bed has put my back out. I can't get up!" I'm going to kill him!

And here's a quote from the same scene when Cassie stands up to her mother; *wipes away proud tears*


"Mom just stop. Whether or not I have a man here is none of your business. I'm an adult now, and I don't need your approval for my every decision. Now, I love you, but I have a very good-looking man in my bed and I have to go."


The sexual tension in this book. Oh my goodness I was about ready to spontaneously combust. There's this one scene where their class is sat around smoking and holy crap.  That's all I'm going to say... Comment when you get to that scene/if you've read that scene because it was ridiculously hot.


There was a totally unrelated scene where Ethan is talking to his sister and I just have to quote it here because even though Ethan comes across as tough and indifferent the way he is with his sister is so normal and childish;

Her voice is muffled by the wood when she yells, "You are such a tool!" Holt snatches the door open and whispers, "Oh, and by he way, I haven't told Mom and Dad that Cassie and I are together, so if you could keep your giant trap shut, that'd be sweet. Thanks."
Do I recommend this book? Absolutely. I'd say 16 years and older would be okay but please check the warnings at the top! If you're uncomfortable reading about that sort of thing then you'll know not to pick this one up. Overall it was a really satisfying read and I can't wait for Broken Juliet. Give me my very own Ethan Holt and I'll never ask for anything ever again.


*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review with no compensation.

Favourite Quotes

"In fact, a million years ago we used to be good friends. Back when I still thought her brother was born of a human mother and not spawned straight from Satan's asshole."

"Holt is... captivating. Like a rare, exotic panther; equal parts beauty and power. Enigmatic without even trying."

"The first time I saw him, I was simulating anal sex with someone I'd just met."

"...and I think the upstairs neighbor dances naked in the moonlight while he sacrifices small animals, because seriously, the dude is weird."

"For a moment, we're united in our freakish normalcy. Our unremarkable unremarkableness."

"Of course, Holt doesn't know that. I open my mouth to tell him I'm riding Connor like a rodeo bronco..."

"Sometimes he's behind my eyes, weeping and exposed, and he's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. But it was an act. He's an actor. And he's very, very good.

"With much effort, I stop myself from petting his crotch."

"Methinks the gent doth protest too much."

"The cautious part of me is whispering that being with him is like wearing the world's most comfortable pair of shoes that sometimes catapult you headfirst into a wall."

"If you look up the word "awkward" in a dictionary, there'd be a picture of this moment."

"I will not lose this damn bet, just because he decided to dress like a hot-bodied edible man treat."

"A kaleidoscope of regret fills his eyes. "Cassie, I felt like a ghost while I was away from you. I was. Now, I want to feel real again."

"I look back at Holt's ass as I try to figure out what to say, because I'm betting that if I stare at it hard enough, the secrets of the universe will be revealed to me."

"There are various whoops of approval around us, but we ignore them. It's kind of easy when all my focus is directed at resisting the urge to become a slutty limpet."

"He looks at me like I've accused him of liking Adam Sandler movies."

Saved the best for last there. I laughed for ages at that one.


Happy Release Day and a Giveaway! Until Midnight (Alienated #1.5) by Melissa Landers



Until Midnight by Melissa Landers
Publication Date: December 23rd 2014
Cara and Aelyx only have one day to spend together before he returns to earth and she travels to Aelyx's home planet, L'eihr. Homesick and worried about the upcoming year apart, Cara is desperate to make these final hours count. Worst of all, Cara is missing Christmas, stuck on board an alien spaceship. When Aelyx learns that Cara is forgoing her favorite holiday, he tries to recreate Christmas in space by researching traditional earth customs…but a few things get lost in translation.

Can't wait any longer for Invaded ? Well this Alienated  novella/short story should just be enough to tide you over until February.

I'll pass you over to Melissa Landers so she can tell you about this wonderful ebook. 


UNTIL MIDNIGHT is here…and it’s FREE!
  

Happy Holidays, everyone! I’m Melissa Landers, author of the Alienated series, and I have a present for you—a brand new e-short from Disney Hyperion!

UNTIL MIDNIGHT takes place onboard an intergalactic transport, soon after ALIENATED ends and before the sequel INVADED begins. The story details Aelyx and Cara’s last day together before he returns to Earth to mend the alliance and she continues to his home planet. It’s sweet and romantic, and as a bonus, it includes a four-chapter preview of the sequel, which releases February 3rd.

Oh, and did I mention the best part? IT’S FREE!

You can download UNTIL MIDNIGHT from the following e-tailers:

Google Play: http://bit.ly/1v06kVd

*If you live outside the USA, no worries. I’ve uploaded the story to Scribd for you. (The only downside is it doesn’t include the bonus preview chapters, due to technical reasons from the publisher.) Link: http://www.scribd.com/AuthorMelissaLanders

To celebrate this new release, I’m offering TWO lucky winners an autographed swag pack complete with a personalized bookplate, mini-poster, bookmarks, and stickers—open internationally! Just fill out the rafflecopter form below.

Best of luck, and happy reading!

GIVEAWAY!






Melissa Landers writes romantic science fiction for teens and the young at heart. To learn more, or just to say hello, visit her at www.melissa-landers.com




Saturday, 20 December 2014

Stacking the Shelves #11

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we can share what books we've accumulated in the past week.

So this week... I signed up for NetGalley. Someone take my laptop away from me. Some of these are also from Bookbridgr. Like two of them.

For Review












Bad Romeo (Starcrossed #1) - Currently reading
The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) Crying bc it was a partial ARC
Ticker - Currently reading

...Seriously someone come and remove all my electronic devices. NetGalley is my new favourite. Super excited about these!!!! Are there any books here that you're looking forward to? :)


Friday, 19 December 2014

Cover Reveal! Breaking Series by Juliana Haygert

Today I have the new covers of the Breaking series by Juliana Haygert for you! I think they're gorgeous. These were designed by Najla Qamber Designs!


Breaking Free (The Breaking Series, #1)
(Previously titled Breaking The Reins)
Release date: August 2013
Genre: NA, contemporary romance
Horses, mansions, tea parties, and lies are twenty-year-old Hannah Taylor’s life. To others, her family and her relationship with Eric is perfect. But she knows the truth. She lives it. After a fire takes her grandma’s life and kills her horse, Hannah’s immaculate life spirals out of control. Her father disapproves of her decision to run her grandma’s ranch instead of focusing solely on learning the family business; Animal Control brings her Argus, a mistreated horse that she can’t turn away even though she’s not ready for another horse; and her boyfriend, Eric Bennett, a world famous polo player, becomes possessive and authoritarian. Despite her best efforts to disguise it, Hannah grows wary of him. Then, Leonardo Fernandes struts onto the polo scene. A cocky rookie with a messy life of his own, he’s drawn to Hannah and isn’t afraid of showing it, even when Eric makes it clear she is his and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Hannah suffers for Eric’s jealousy. The abuse only gets worse when Leo steals the title of best polo player in the world from Eric. But the title isn’t enough for Leo. He wants Hannah too, and she can’t deny her attraction to him either. Somehow, she must find a way to break free from abusive Eric before he breaks every bone in her body.

_____________________


Breaking Away (The Breaking Series, #2)

(Previously titled Breaking Fences)
Genre: NA, contemporary romance
Release date: June 2014

All Beatriz “Bia” Fernandes wants is to prove herself—to her family and friends—though it’s hard to prove anything with an overbearing father and three famous polo-playing older brothers. After her acceptance into college results in a heated family argument, the Brazilian girl leaves everything behind to find her own American dream. College life away from home is perfect until the people she believes to be her friends turn on her. With lies and rumors threatening to suffocate her, Bia turns to her only freedom. Riding. But one thing gets in the way of her escape. Garrett Blackwell and his bad cowboy attitude. Working at the ranch is his obligation, bugging Bia is his newfound hobby. His thick skin and easy grin don't hide what Bia already knows—this misunderstood and lonely cowboy fights his own demons. Brushing horses’ coats and mucking out stalls shouldn't be this sexy, and it isn’t long before he becomes a part of her distraction. However, escaping won’t solve her problems, and it’s up to Bia to break down the fences around her and prove her strength—not to her family and friends, but to herself … and for Garrett. Because standing on her own doesn't have to mean standing alone.

** Companion novel of Breaking Free. Can be read out of order.**


____________________

 

Breaking Through (The Breaking Series, #3)

Genre: NA, contemporary romance
Release date: June 2015

From the outside, Hilary Taylor has it all—beauty, money, a caring family, good friends—but inside she’s struggling, full of fears. Events from the past forever changed her, and though years of therapy have helped, she still has a long way to go…. No matter how much progress she’s made, Hil isn’t sure she’ll ever be able to trust men again. Especially one who sees her as nothing more than a pretty face. But Hil knows it's time to face her fears, and the best way to do that is to start small.
To Guilherme Fernandes life is about three things: polo, parties and pretty girls—only one of which he takes seriously. Gui is too focused on his polo career to waste time on relationships, however he can’t help but be intrigued by the beautiful yet troubled Hil. So when she decides she'd like to learn more about horses, Gui is happy to find himself in the right place at the right time. But what was supposed to be a one time thing, soon turns into a weekly date.
As Gui helps her discover a new found love for horses, Hil’s guard begins to crumble. The more support Gui offers, the more she wants to accept...and the more the lines of friendship blur. Despite knowing better, Hil can’t help it as Gui slowly breaks through the walls she’s built. Now she has to decide if she’ll stop him there, or if she’ll finally let her fear go and allow Gui to reach for her heart.
** Companion novel of Breaking Free and Breaking Away. Can be read out of order.**


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting--but equally gratifying--life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.

Co-founder and contributor at NA Alley (www.naalley.com)
Subscribe to Juliana's newsletter to stay up-to-date with new releases: http://eepurl.com/CKsmX


Book Blitz and Giveaway! Gingerbread Man Serial by Lee Strauss



RUN RUN RUN (Gingerbread Man #1) by Lee Strauss
Publication Date: December 31
Genres: Mystery Sci-fi/ Romantic Suspense
College girl meets boy online.
A killer targets girls like her.
She's next on the list.
The boy wants to save her.
She thinks it's him.
It's worse than they both think.


RUN RUN RUN is the first part of a three part episode - Gingerbread Man - in the romantic suspense series, A Nursery Rhyme Suspense by Amazon best-selling author Lee Strauss. 

Episode release dates:
1) Run Run Run - December 31
2) As Fast As You Can - January 7
3) You Can't Catch Me - January 14

Gingerbread Man (ep 1-3) complete - January 28

RUN RUN RUN is available for PREORDER on Amazon!

Buy on December 31

Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

Excerpt:

SAGE

“I met this guy,” Teagan said quietly. “He said something that kind of creeped me out.”
I blinked several times as I processed this and twisted to face her. “You’re online dating?”
She shot me a horrified look. “No! It’s not a dating site. It’s a campus chat room.”
Nora swung her legs around and returned to a sitting position. “What’d he say?”
“Well,” Teagan began, “he told me that there had been a rape and that I should be careful.”
I didn’t get it. “Why does that creep you out?”
“Because he told me about the rape before it happened.”
What? Nora and I chimed in together. “Before?”
I leaned forward and asked, “He predicted the rape? How?”
Teagan shrugged. “Maybe he’s psychic?”
“Or,” Nora began, “he did it. His way of playing with your head.”


AS FAST AS YOU CAN



YOU CAN’T CATCH ME


Read all three episodes by January 14 or wait until January 28 for the compete boxed set.

GINGERBREAD MAN
(episodes 1-3 complete)



Book Blitz and Giveaway! Spark Rising by Kate Corcino



Spark Rising by Kate Corcino
Publication date: December 15th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
All that’s required to ignite a revolution is a single spark rising.Two hundred years after the cataclysm that annihilated fossil fuels, Sparks keep electricity flowing through their control of energy-giving Dust. The Council of Nine rebuilt civilization on the backs of Sparks, offering citizens a comfortable life in a relo-city in exchange for power, particularly over the children able to fuel the future. The strongest of the boys are taken as Wards and raised to become elite agents, the Council’s enforcers and spies. Strong girls—those who could advance the rapidly-evolving matrilineal power—don’t exist. Not according to the Council.
Lena Gracey died as a child, mourned publicly by parents desperate to keep her from the Council. She was raised in hiding until she fled the relo-city for solitary freedom in the desert. Lena lives off the grid, selling her power on the black market.
Agent Alex Reyes was honed into a calculating weapon at the Ward School to do the Council’s dirty work. But Alex lives a double life. He’s leading the next generation of agents in a secret revolution to destroy those in power from within.
The life Lena built to escape her past ends the day Alex arrives looking for a renegade Spark.

INTERVIEW

Tell us about Spark Rising.

Spark Rising is a post-apocalyptic adventure set in the southwestern United States of the future. It’s the story of Magdalena Gracey, a young woman with the power to create and manipulate the only form of electricity left in the world, and Agent Alejandro Reyes, a man trained from childhood to be an elite soldier for the ruling government. He’s sent to investigate a report of an illegal Spark living in the desert. But Alex has his own agenda. And if the two of them can learn to work together instead of killing each other, they might have a chance at sparking a revolution…and love.

What gave you the idea for your main character in Spark Rising?

I’m not sure I ever really have ideas of characters. I sort of get lost in a daydream that just comes to me, and they are there, fully formed. Some are more vocal than others. Some daydreams I jot down. Some I let go. Lena and Alex grabbed hold of me when I was supposed to be writing something else and wouldn’t let me let go—which isn’t surprising, considering the characters of Lena and Alex are two very driven, stubborn, obsessive characters. They wouldn’t let me forget them even if I tried.

Would you say you know your characters well?

I’d like to think I do, although they do surprise me sometimes. They’ve also been known to fight back. If I’m not true to a character, they stop cooperating and the story flow stops until I get back on track. Alex, my male MC, is a huge pain in the ass and is very, very good at doing this to me (which should surprise no one who reads Spark Rising!).

Where did you get the idea for Spark Rising?

It just came. I actually sat down with an old, unfinished classic fantasy manuscript. I was determined to finish it. But when it came time to write, I found I was jotting notes about a completely different story—it wasn’t even the same genre. Lena and Alex wanted their story told.

What was the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

Editing. Absolutely. I had done beta rounds. I had revised it five times—heavy revisions where I cut thirty thousand words. I felt pretty confident. Ha HA! My editor, who is amazing, sent me a ten-page email shredding it. Having never been through the process, I was devastated. I printed it out and read it and cried and swore up a storm. And then I put it away for a week. Once I’d calmed down, I was ready to look at it objectively and make my revision list and go through it very methodically. But that first look—oh, that was brutal! It’s also the most important part. You’ve got to have an editor you trust, and one who is willing to make you cry if it means your manuscript is better at the end. Someone who tells you what you want to hear or is afraid to tell you what you need to hear is doing you ZERO favors.

What inspired Spark Rising?

In the days before the story came, I’d seen two sets of photos online. The first was an abandoned town in the desert that was being buried by sand. The second was a series of various city skylines from around the world showing what the night sky would look like if there were no lights, no electricity. I was blown away. Because yes, they’re both gorgeous. But the devastation of that loss of civilization…wow. Even in devastation, there would be beauty so long as we are the kind of people who have the capacity to see it. That’s the big "what if?” What kind of people are able to see the beauty?

Do you see yourself in any of the characters of Spark Rising?

Hmm. Not much, no. I think Lena has some of my negative qualities—the bossiness, the tendency to jump to conclusions. As her story moves on through the greater arc of the series, I think she’ll reflect a little more of me, as she discovers and fights with her maternal instinct. Alex has my extreme pragmatism and love of profanity, also not necessarily good qualities. Jackson? He has too much light in him to be a reflection of me!

What made you decide to end Spark Rising the way you did?

*laugh* It originally had a very different ending. By the time I'd made other changes that really were very necessary, the ending I wrote originally didn’t work. The ending it has now is actually the third ending written, I think. Those last two chapters changed A LOT.

What inspired the character of Lena?

Lena came to me fully formed, just a damaged, tough, ballsy, tiny little redhead. I think she’s rooted in my desire to explore life’s complications from that New Adult period of transition and upheaval. Who we love. Why we love. How we choose to express and live with that, even through the dark times. How do we carve out something that is entirely our own, or even believe we’re worthy of it, through all of the demands of society and family? And what is family, anyway?

I also really love exploring issues of perspective—what is the right choice for one person isn’t the same for another, and that’s okay—in womanhood, in relationships, in faith. I like the big, complicated, meaty issues that often cause darkness and angst. They’re the root of so many misunderstandings, but I like mistakes. I believe in second chances. Lena’s damaged heart provides a wonderful way of exploring those themes.
                       
Do you have any thoughts on Alex's behavior throughout Spark Rising?

Ohh, Alex. *laugh* He’s a badass, broken man. He’s just as damaged as Lena, but he’s dedicated himself to one idea, to one cause, and is willing to do absolutely anything to further it. His love for Lena takes him by surprise. It’ll be really interesting to see how the battle between his sense of responsibility to the revolution that he founded and his feelings for Lena will play out. I think the battle will be as fascinating as his motives.

Who's your favorite character?

That's subject to change without notice! I love them all, even my villains. But I do have a soft spot for both Jackson and Marissa. They are both genuinely good characters, and in a post-apocalyptic world that's a hard thing to be.

Were you aware of how Spark Rising would end when you started it?

Not when I started writing, no. The first chapter came to me and I wrote that in a mad flurry, then I stopped and created a skeleton outline to guide me. So I didn’t know the end when I started, but I had it very soon afterward. I plotted the end of the book and of the series, too.

How many books long will the Progenitor Saga be?

Originally, I’d planned five main novel-length books. It may stretch slightly longer, but no more than seven. But they’re long, and it takes a while to write them, so I also plan to release collections of related short stories and novellas in between the novels. The shorts are about secondary characters, or side events, or past events and will all stand alone. The first collection, Ignition Point, is already out. In fact, readers responded so well to one of the characters in Ignition Point that I’ve written him into the second book. So, if you read it…yes, Ghost does return!
                                               
Are your settings based on real places?

Some of them are, yes. Lena’s home at the beginning of Spark Rising is a real gas station between Albuquerque and Santa Fe that I used to visit regularly when I lived in New Mexico.

Some of them are based on places that exist only in conspiracy theories, so whether you believe they’re real or not depends on if you believe in the theories about the existence of high-speed underground trains and DUMBs (Deep Underground Military Bases). *grin* After I read some of them online, I had a “what if” moment, and much of the novel is grounded in that jumping off point.
                       
Do you have any writing rituals?

I always start a writing session by re-reading the last three paragraphs that I wrote. And I always end a session in the middle of a scene, with bulleted notes telling me what I was thinking as I finished.

And I try like crazy to stay off of Facebook!

Do you listen to music as you write, and if so what music?

I don’t. I have to have general background buzz—the TV going or coffeeshop business—but I can’t deal with songs and lyrics. They distract me. There are too many story ideas embedded in them.

If I’m struggling with a scene, I’ll listen to music when I’m driving and the ideas will flow. I go for a drive and blast the music. The choice of music is really eclectic and depends on character and scene that I’m trying to get into—Lena is all hard rock and R&B, women artists with attitude. Alex is sexy jams. If you think of a song that brings to mind a dark, sexy, confident man smirking and growling at you, I may have used it, or I need it. E-mail me!

Can you tell us about your writing process?

When I start a new project, I write the first chapter. That gives me a sense of who the people are and what’s at stake. Then I stop and write a bare-bones bulleted outline, including the ending. Then I feed that skeleton outline into my own story diagram that I hand-draw onto a huge sheet of construction paper—all of this has to be by hand. The diagram is where details start to appear, and they're separated by character point of view. Then I can use the diagram to go to Scrivener and create my chapter folders and parse out the details into something resembling a novel outline. They're short, because I need the story arc, but I fill in the details by the seat of my pants.

And then I can write. *grin*

Did you always want to write books when you were a child?

Yes. I've always been telling stories. Family legend has it that I was kicked out of a denominational preschool because of a story that was particularly upsetting. So, not only was I telling stories, but they were always controversial! I've been writing the stories down since I was able to write.
                       
What inspires you to write genre fiction?

The people who read it! Science fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance—there may be differences among their readers, but the one thing they have in common is a willingness to lose themselves in a story, a joy in the fact that they have a story to lose themselves in, that I just don’t see in other areas. We’re wholly, unselfconsciously committed to our genres, and I find that beautiful.

When I was in my master’s program for Creative Writing, I had a conversation with another student that really sealed the deal for me. He was sneering at my desire to write genre fiction and telling me that I was limiting myself. “You know you’ll never write the Great American Novel writing that stuff.” And perhaps he's right. But the thing is, I’m not interested in literary elitism. If I can write a book that takes a reader—one reader—out of all of the everyday stress and noise of life and give them another world to lose themselves in, a world rich enough that they want to get lost in it? Well, as far as I'm concerned, I have written a pretty damn great novel, even if critics hate it.

Is there a message in Spark Rising that you want readers to grasp?

There are messages in the greater story arc of the series that I'd love to discuss, but they'd be spoilery. For Spark Rising, I think the message I hope readers take away is that we’re all worthy of being loved for who we are, for all that we are, even the dark, ugly parts of us. And that the only way to find that love is to be honest about who we are, especially with ourselves.

What book are you reading now?

I’m reading two books—I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who does that! I’m reading When Dark Falls by Pippa Jay, which is an awesome superhero deco-punk story, and I’ve just started Maven, a New Adult scifi novel by S.A. Huchton that seems amazing.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on the follow-up to Spark Rising, and I’m about at the 20% point. I’m also noting possible secondary characters and ideas for the between-novels short story collection that I’ll be starting as soon as it’s finished so it can come out before the novel, while I’m still working on revisions and edits.

And I’m participating in a group scifi/PNR series, The Complex. My contribution doesn’t come out until 2016, but I’ll be fitting in writing that after this novel, as well.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I was always interested in storytelling, and I was always read to. My Dad read aloud to my older brother and me, but he read the books he wanted to read instead of children’s books. So by the time I was five or six, I’d been exposed to The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, Isaac Asimov, Ben Bova.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?  

Sure. The following scene is from the sequel to Spark Rising, when Lena is trying to root out a conspiracy to hurt her. In true Lena fashion, she acts first and thinks later, taking an opportunity to grab and force a conspirator to tell her the truth—and when she’s confronted, she’s too angry and frustrated to be nice.

Footsteps in the hall outside made her tense. She stood, readying herself, but when the door swung in, it was to admit two familiar men.
Two angry, familiar men.
“What are you doing?” Thomass pale blue gaze had swept down to Marc on the floor and back to Lenas face in a mere second. Behind him, Jackson closed the door and slipped around them both to stand behind Marc.
“Rooting out the conspiracy you and Alex were so content to wait out. Its not just a few rogue Guardians, Thomas. Its Guardians and Agents and Senior Wards. Its not ‘an infection,like you said. Its a cancer. And its spreading.” She hated that her voice sounded so petulant, but dammit, shed been through enough. Shed earned the right to be a full partner in the revolution. Shed trusted them. Shed given them what they needed. Shed never expected to find herself in the position of being so thoroughly fucked.
In every sense of the word. Alex had no reservations about using their physical connection to soften her to an idea.
Thomas stepped closer, his voice soft and even. “Theres a reason we wanted to wait—”
I don’t care, and it doesnt matter.” Lena spoke over him, her voice harsh. He started to continue, raising his own voice slightly, but she talked over him. “Theyve moved it up. The attack on me. Moved it up to take advantage of Alex’s absence.” She tilted her head at him, willing to take a dig to pay him back for all of the disappointment shed experienced over the last three months. “I suppose that tells you all you need to know about what they think of your leadership, doesnt it?”
Dont do that, Lena. Its not his fault.
Thomass eyes narrowed. He stepped past her.
She spun on her heel to track him, watching as he stood over Marc. His toes were close enough to tap Marcs ear.
Tell me.” The two words were all he said, but they seemed to chill the room by several degrees.

Hmmm. I think she made Thomas mad, huh? That Lena, always a diplomat. *laugh*


Did you have to travel much to research your book(s)?

I traveled some. I drove up to the Albuquerque area first, to take pictures of the area to supplement my memory. I recently had a girlfriends roadtrip to the Taos and Rio Grande gorge area for more pictures as I write the second book.

I’d love to take a driving tour of the Idaho and Washington areas, as quite a bit of action will take place there, as well. I need to make that happen!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. You can fix just about anything, but you can’t fix something that doesn’t exist.

Treat the people you meet with respect, whether they are editors, bloggers, readers or other writers. Writing is a calling, yes, but it’s also a profession. Be professional.

And for Indies…edit! Seriously, save your pennies and pay for professional editing by someone who has worked in your chosen genre as an editor. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. “My friend the English teacher” is not a professional editor. I’m not criticizing English teachers—I was one! It’s just a different skill set altogether, and you can’t appreciate the differences until you’ve experienced them. Hire a professional, and then listen to the advice you are paying for no matter how much it stings!

How about advice for readers?

Oh, gosh…I don’t know. Readers are awesome. They’re the reason I do this, and I have such huge anxiety about their experiences with the book. I know I’m not alone in that. So maybe that would be my advice: remember that authors are people, too, and try to remember to be patient and kind. That’s not to say you can’t have an honest, visceral reaction to something, even if it’s bad. I’ve thrown books across the room, too, and I’ve given honest reviews that were less than ideal. Just perhaps keep in mind that we’re doing this for you, even when we get it wrong.

What were the challenges in bringing Spark Rising to life?

There was definitely a research challenge—I love science and I’ve always read science fiction. But I knew nothing about the inner workings of electricity and electrical components, and I certainly had no working knowledge of new theories in nanite technology. Even though I was creating something fantastic, I needed to have a bed of knowledge from which to stretch.

The other huge challenge is the scope of themes, especially with women’s roles and faith. Lena, and other characters, make assumptions about other groups of people, as we all do, that are wrong. Those assumptions are slowly sifted through and revealed through the greater series arc. I’m afraid people will—ha ha!—make assumptions about what I mean in the meantime, that I’m criticizing deeply held beliefs. It’s not so, and that’s rough for me to think about.

Do you think you’ll ever kill off some characters? Which characters would you find hardest to part with?

Ohhh, boy. So, it’s a complicated, post-apocalyptic world. And it’s in a state of revolution. I have to assume that not everyone will make it. And it’s going to be extremely hard to part with anyone. I love my characters—all of them. Even the characters that others hate, I try to offer excuses: “Well, you see, he has all of these issues that fuel his decisions…” *laugh*

What genre do you consider your book(s)?

They are clearly post-apocalyptic/dystopian. I prefer to call them futuristic fantasy. Yes, they’re rooted in scifi, but there is an element of the fantastic that works into them. As far as categories, Ignition Point, the collection of related short stories, straddles the line between YA and NA. I consider Spark Rising to be NA. The series itself will sit on the border of NA and Adult fiction. Lena has a lot to work her way through, but the series will see her grow through her struggles with her identity, fear of failure, and first love.

Obviously, your story is genre fiction. What do you think of New Adult stories being told in genre fiction?

I love that New Adult is starting to push the accepted definition of what constitutes “New Adult”. It amuses me that a genre that started by defining itself is now so rigidly defined by powers-that-be. New Adult has to be X,Y, and Z in the first person! Those stories are great. I love them, too. But, in my opinion, New Adult is defined more by a sense of voice and of self-discovery and of someone facing huge choices than by college, or contemporary time period, or first-person POV, or even sex. There are so many fabulous paranormal and now scifi New Adult stories being told by both traditionally-pubbed and indie authors! It is growing organically into other genres and it’s amazing to watch and, hopefully, to be a part of that growth.

What do you think is the draw of the “strong female character”?

Well, I think we all like to root for someone who can handle herself, who isn’t afraid to face the bad guys, and who reminds us of the internal strength we have or we’d like to have. Personally, I really prefer the flawed female character. *laugh* Don’t get me wrong—Lena can kick some ass. She has to be able to, in her world. But I love that she is flawed. She leaps before looking, she’s mouthy, she makes shitty decisions and then has to live with the consequences. She obsesses…oh, how she obsesses! She’s not always likeable. She’s a twenty-four year old young woman figuring out where she belongs, who she loves, and what she wants, special powers or not. It’s important to me that she isn’t a caricature of strength on that journey.

Do you ever experience writer's block?

Yep. I call it writer’s block when I have drained the creative well. I believe that we all have a finite amount of creative energy to work with, like a reservoir, and we have to take time off to let it replenish. I do that by reading, by listening to music, by watching certain TV shows or movies. I think those activities aren’t taking away from writing time, they’re an important part of making writing possible. When I write obsessively and exclude them—BLOCK.
                       
Do you write an outline before every book you write?

Yes. I’m a hybrid writer. I plot the arc of the story, and then I pants the details.

Have you ever hated something you wrote?

All the time. I think it’s an important part of my process. Or my anxiety!
                       
What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?

Anything with a fantastic element. Scifi, futuristic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, classic—I love it all! 

GIVEAWAY




Kate Corcino is a reformed shy girl who found her voice (and uses it…a lot). She believes in magic, coffee, Starburst candies, genre fiction, descriptive profanity, and cackling over wine with good friends. A recovering Dr. Pepper addict, she knows the only addiction worth feeding is the one that follows the “click-whooooosh” of a new story settling into her brain.

She also believes in the transformative power of screwing up and second chances. Cheers to works-in-progress of the literary and lifelong variety!

She is currently gearing up for publication of Ignition Point and Spark Rising , the first books in the Progenitor Saga, a near future dystopian adventure series with romantic elements, science, magic, and plenty of action.