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1. 2015 Denver Comic Con Highlights

I can’t believe the 2015 Comic Con is over! It was super exhausting but incredibly fun. It’s not every day that Lou Ferrigno hugs you, you know? I mean, how can you not love being in a place with costumes like this:

Spaceballs

Or signing books with awesomesauce authors like Amalie Howard!

Amalie Howard and Me

Or having your kids attend their very first Comic Con!

Comic Con booth

Or being told that the Barnes & Noble booth of Comic Con sold out of your book! Luckily, they found more copies for the next day!

Barnes and Noble Booth

I was lucky enough to be on some amazing panels with authors like Dan Wells, Jim Butcher, Amalie Howard, Sherry Ficklin, Tyler Jolley, Stant Litore, Gail Wagner, DelSheree Gladden, Stephen Graham Jones, Sue Duff, and many more. I met so many fantastic people from fellow authors to fans, to fellow sci-fi nerds, and I already can’t wait for next year! But first…I need a nap. ;)

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2. 2015 Denver Comic Con Highlights

I can’t believe the 2015 Comic Con is over! It was super exhausting but incredibly fun. It’s not every day that Lou Ferrigno hugs you, you know? I mean, how can you not love being in a place with costumes like this:

Spaceballs

Or signing books with awesomesauce authors like Amalie Howard!

Amalie Howard and Me

Or having your kids attend their very first Comic Con!

Comic Con booth

Or being told that the Barnes & Noble booth of Comic Con sold out of your book! Luckily, they found more copies for the next day!

Barnes and Noble Booth

I was lucky enough to be on some amazing panels with authors like Dan Wells, Jim Butcher, Amalie Howard, Sherry Ficklin, Tyler Jolley, Stant Litore, Gail Wagner, DelSheree Gladden, Stephen Graham Jones, Sue Duff, and many more. I met so many fantastic people from fellow authors to fans, to fellow sci-fi nerds, and I already can’t wait for next year! But first…I need a nap. ;)

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3. It’s Time For #ReadorWriteAnywhere

read or write black
Summer is about to begin and I’m trying to get as much writing done as possible before the kids are out of school!

But just because it’s summer doesn’t mean we should stop reading and writing. I’ve teamed up with the YA Chicks and many participating authors on a global campaign to encourage readers, writers, students, and teachers to share pictures all of the places—both ordinary and extraordinary—where they are reading and writing. This is open to all readers/writers of both middle grade and young adult books!

You can also take part in…
A MONSTER GIVEAWAY!

I’ll be giving away a copy of my new release STRANGE SKIES:

strange skies
Plus, there’s more! Every author participating in this campaign is giving away books, critiques, swag and/or Skype visits. Win a critique of your first chapter or fabulous YA books!

So are you ready?

Drum roll…

Denver Nature and Science Museum

Here are my 5 clues:
1. This place is in the capital city in Colorado.

2. There is a fabulous planetarium here which helped inspire my BURN OUT series.

3. Aside from the T-Rex in this picture, there are currently unicorns, mermaids, and dragons in this place.

4. I would normally do my writing or reading in the cafe area of this place, but the T-Rex made for a cooler picture.

5. My kiddos love coming here, and are especially captivated by the gemstone exit.

Can you guess where I am?

Once you’ve figured out where I’m reading, head over to the YA Chicks site and:

Officially enter the giveaway by inputting each author’s name and your guesses about our locations. Every author location you guess correctly increases your chances to win.
For even more chances, post a picture of yourself reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag).

For writer prize packs:

Post pictures of yourself writing in a fun location on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere. Then follow the directions on the Rafflecopter giveaway to let us know you did it.
For even more chances, gather your writer friends together and post a group shot with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). And hey, since you’re already together, why not host a write-a-thon?

For teacher prize packs:
Post pictures of your class reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). Then let us know you did it when you enter the Rafflecopter. If you don’t have a Twitter or Instagram, you can email your picture directly with the picture pasted directly into the email (no attachments–we won’t open them) AND the subject, “Read or Write Anywhere.”

You can also check out the YA Chicks Read or Write Anywhere lesson plan, available on their site.

Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and READ OR WRITE ANYWHERE!

#ReadOrWriteAnywhere

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4. My Top 5 Fave Scenes from STRANGE SKIES

The awesomely fantabulous (yes those are words) Jaime Arnold hosted me today on her Two Chicks on Books blog where I dish on my 5 favorite scenes I wrote in STRANGE SKIES. It’s the last day to enter to win both BURN OUT & STRANGE SKIES so hurry over there!

Also, I’m still immensely grateful for the reviews coming in this week for my book. Here’s a snippet of reviews below and thank you so much for all your support. Readers rock!

“The sequel to 2014’s Burn Out proceeds at breakneck speed…ever- increasing stakes and a solid cliff-hanger ending will have thriller fans hanging on every word.” — Booklist review

“Wow! What a fantastic second book if I’ve ever read one. I loved Burn Out and Strange Skies keeps up the Sci-FI goodness that Kristi Helvig executed in the first book. It was fast paced and explosive…Kristi Helvig is definitely on my top list for authors of Sci-fi.”— Library of a Book Witch review

“An action-packed and sexy sequel to Burn Out. I can’t tell you how much I love how snarky this book is. It has really sarcastic moments that I just find charming and hilarious. If you haven’t already picked up this trilogy, do it now!” — review from Brittany’s Book Rambles

“STRANGE SKIES was a thrilling, heart-pounding sequel that you don’t want to miss…if you like thrilling dystopians with action and adventure, and a fight for survival, with an awesome cast of characters, then STRANGE SKIES should definitely be your next read, as it does not disappoint!” —Addicted Readers review

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5. My Top 5 Fave Scenes from STRANGE SKIES

The awesomely fantabulous (yes those are words) Jaime Arnold hosted me today on her Two Chicks on Books blog where I dish on my 5 favorite scenes I wrote in STRANGE SKIES. It’s the last day to enter to win both BURN OUT & STRANGE SKIES so hurry over there!

Also, I’m still immensely grateful for the reviews coming in this week for my book. Here’s a snippet of reviews below and thank you so much for all your support. Readers rock!

“The sequel to 2014’s Burn Out proceeds at breakneck speed…ever- increasing stakes and a solid cliff-hanger ending will have thriller fans hanging on every word.” — Booklist review

“Wow! What a fantastic second book if I’ve ever read one. I loved Burn Out and Strange Skies keeps up the Sci-FI goodness that Kristi Helvig executed in the first book. It was fast paced and explosive…Kristi Helvig is definitely on my top list for authors of Sci-fi.”— Library of a Book Witch review

“An action-packed and sexy sequel to Burn Out. I can’t tell you how much I love how snarky this book is. It has really sarcastic moments that I just find charming and hilarious. If you haven’t already picked up this trilogy, do it now!” — review from Brittany’s Book Rambles

“STRANGE SKIES was a thrilling, heart-pounding sequel that you don’t want to miss…if you like thrilling dystopians with action and adventure, and a fight for survival, with an awesome cast of characters, then STRANGE SKIES should definitely be your next read, as it does not disappoint!” —Addicted Readers review

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6. Strange Skies Is Here!!!!

It’s finally here!!!! You can grab a copy of STRANGE SKIES today! Where, you ask? Well, how Amazon or your fave local bookstore? Plus, if you get it today, I’m mailing you a signed bookmark…just send your addy to my contact page or email me at kristi (at) kristihelvig.com. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it, and feel free to email your thoughts when you finish—I love hearing from readers. Thanks so much for all your support! :)

strange skies

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7. Strange Skies Is Here!!!!

It’s finally here!!!! You can grab a copy of STRANGE SKIES today! Where, you ask? Well, how Amazon or your fave local bookstore? Plus, if you get it today, I’m mailing you a signed bookmark…just send your addy to my contact page or email me at kristi (at) kristihelvig.com. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it, and feel free to email your thoughts when you finish—I love hearing from readers. Thanks so much for all your support! :)

strange skies

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8. Friday Fun: Reviews of STRANGE SKIES and Giveaway!

STRANGE SKIES is out in a few days!!

excited4

The Rock Star Book Tour continues, so check out these links for a chance to win both BURN OUT & STRANGE SKIES! Beth at Curling Up With A Good Book said, “Strange Skies has everything that I love in a sequel…the introduction of new characters, continuing breath-taking romance, and unimaginable secrets that are revealed in the perfect moment.” Read the whole review and enter to win here. Over at Such a Novel Idea, I answer what I’d pack if I were leaving Earth for good (hint: you know chocolate is involved)!

Alicia at Addicted Readers says that STRANGE SKIES is “…action-packed sequel that kept me on my toes and flipping the pages faster then I could read them.”  Another review came in this week from someone who isn’t on the official tour and I have to include it here because the entire review made me smile. Brittany’s Book Rambles called STRANGE SKIES: “An action-packed and sexy sequel to Burn Out. It keeps the same fast-pace that started Tora’s journey and it seems that these characters can never catch a break. Tora continues to be a badass and I love her so much. This book is officially released in 7 days and I’m already dying for the third book.” Brittany asked me to do a Q & A over on her blog and I will do another giveaway there so stay tuned.

Over on my Facebook author page, I’m counting down to the release of STRANGE SKIES with one fun fact per day: some facts so far involve how a Matt Damon movie caused me to have to change my planet name and the song that inspired the series, so check it out for more fun facts and a giveaway next week! And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter on the right for special giveaways and news on what I’m up to next! HAPPY FRIDAY!

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9. Friday Fun: Reviews of STRANGE SKIES and Giveaway!

STRANGE SKIES is out in a few days!!

excited4

The Rock Star Book Tour continues, so check out these links for a chance to win both BURN OUT & STRANGE SKIES! Beth at Curling Up With A Good Book said, “Strange Skies has everything that I love in a sequel…the introduction of new characters, continuing breath-taking romance, and unimaginable secrets that are revealed in the perfect moment.” Read the whole review and enter to win here. Over at Such a Novel Idea, I answer what I’d pack if I were leaving Earth for good (hint: you know chocolate is involved)!

Alicia at Addicted Readers says that STRANGE SKIES is “…action-packed sequel that kept me on my toes and flipping the pages faster then I could read them.”  Another review came in this week from someone who isn’t on the official tour and I have to include it here because the entire review made me smile. Brittany’s Book Rambles called STRANGE SKIES: “An action-packed and sexy sequel to Burn Out. It keeps the same fast-pace that started Tora’s journey and it seems that these characters can never catch a break. Tora continues to be a badass and I love her so much. This book is officially released in 7 days and I’m already dying for the third book.” Brittany asked me to do a Q & A over on her blog and I will do another giveaway there so stay tuned.

Over on my Facebook author page, I’m counting down to the release of STRANGE SKIES with one fun fact per day: some facts so far involve how a Matt Damon movie caused me to have to change my planet name and the song that inspired the series, so check it out for more fun facts and a giveaway next week! And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter on the right for special giveaways and news on what I’m up to next! HAPPY FRIDAY!

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10. Rockstar Book Tours STRANGE SKIES Kick Off!

rockstar book tour

I’m so excited to announce the start of the Rockstar Book Tour for STRANGE SKIES hosted by the amazing Jaime Arnold at Two Chicks on Books. Check the link for the list of dates, and we’ll kick off today with an interview I did over at Dark Faerie Tales in which I answer how long I’d last if I were in Tora’s position (hint: not that long). Huge thanks to all the awesome bloggers who signed up to help with the release of STRANGE SKIES! Enter to win BURN OUT and STRANGE SKIES on the tour…and sign up for my newsletter for an extra chance to win a signed copy of both books!

 

 

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11. Rockstar Book Tours STRANGE SKIES Kick Off!

rockstar book tour

I’m so excited to announce the start of the Rockstar Book Tour for STRANGE SKIES hosted by the amazing Jaime Arnold at Two Chicks on Books. Check the link for the list of dates, and we’ll kick off today with an interview I did over at Dark Faerie Tales in which I answer how long I’d last if I were in Tora’s position (hint: not that long). Huge thanks to all the awesome bloggers who signed up to help with the release of STRANGE SKIES! Enter to win BURN OUT and STRANGE SKIES on the tour…and sign up for my newsletter for an extra chance to win a signed copy of both books!

 

 

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12. Countdown to STRANGE SKIES

I can’t believe it’s almost April 28th which means this:

strange skies

is almost here! I’m doing a countdown over on my Facebook author page, where I’m sharing a fun tidbit each day leading up to the release. Today, I mention a similarity I have with my main character, Tora. I’ll also be giving away prizes so check it out!

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13. Countdown to STRANGE SKIES

I can’t believe it’s almost April 28th which means this:

strange skies

is almost here! I’m doing a countdown over on my Facebook author page, where I’m sharing a fun tidbit each day leading up to the release. Today, I mention a similarity I have with my main character, Tora. I’ll also be giving away prizes so check it out!

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14. Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt!

scavengerhunt450-1

It’s here—welcome to the Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt!!! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours! It ends at noon on April 5th.

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all—160 books total!! I am a part of the awesome TEAL TEAM:

Team Teal (2)

but there is also a red team, a blue team, a gold team, a green team, an orange team, a purple team, and a pink team. That’s a lot o’ books to win!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Somewhere in this post, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the TEAL team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 5th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
http://amyplumbooks.com/wp-content/themes/Amy-Book1/images/amy-events-feb2015.jpg
Today, I am hosting fabulous author, Amy Plum, on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt! Amy Plum is the author of DIE FOR ME, a YA series set in Paris. The first three books—DIE FOR ME, UNTIL I DIE, and IF I SHOULD DIE—are international bestsellers, and have been translated into thirteen languages. The fourth and fifth books are digital novellas, entitled DIE FOR HER and DIE ONCE MORE. Amy’s newest series is a duology: AFTER THE END and UNTIL THE BEGINNING.
Amy grew up in Birmingham, Alabama before venturing further afield to Chicago, Paris, London and New York. An art historian by training, she can be found on most days either daydreaming or writing (or both) in a Parisian café.
Find out more info about Amy by checking out her website or buy Amy’s books here.
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
http://www.amyplumbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/finalcover.png

Amy Plum, international bestselling author of the Die for Me series, delivers a heart-pounding adventure perfect for fans of Michael Grant, Veronica Rossi, and Alexandra Bracken. Until the Beginning brings this duology to a stunning and captivating conclusion. Juneau has been searching for her people and for answers . . . and she is about to find both in the exhilarating sequel to After the End, which Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of the Legend series and The Young Elites, called “Wonderfully riveting.”

When Juneau’s clan disappeared, she lost so much more than her friends and family. She soon discovered everything she thought she knew about her life was a lie. Her people’s gifts were actually secret abilities that others wanted, desperately enough to kidnap an entire village.

Juneau and her new companion Miles’s cross-country journey to find her clan has led them to a game preserve in New Mexico. Now Juneau’s people are finally within reach, and she will stop at nothing to save them. But she has a target on her back too, because unbeknownst to her she is the key to unlocking everything. To rescue her people—and herself—Juneau must discover what she, and her abilities, are truly capable of.

Amy’s bonus material today is an exclusive interview with Miles Blackwell of AFTER THE END and UNTIL THE BEGINNING. Enjoy!
Interviewer: Hi Miles. It’s so nice to have you here today. Please take a seat and help yourself to the cookie tray, water, whatever you’d like.
Miles: Smiles broadly. Thanks for having me.
Miles takes a bottle of water and spends a few seconds perusing the offerings of the cookie tray before choosing-chocolate chocolate chip. He settles in his chair and looks around at the room, which is completely empty except for two chairs and the refreshment table.
Miles: So what is this place anyway?
Interviewer: It’s a place away from time and space. A neutral place.
Miles: Like that pure white space in the Matrix where Laurence Fishburne shows Keanu Reaves how to fight?
Interviewer: Exactly.
Miles: Looks around at the nothingness and nods. Cool.
Interviewer: In the real world, the events in AFTER THE END and UNTIL THE BEGINNING have already happened. But even I don’t know where you came from to join us today.
Miles: Starts to say something.
Interviewer: Don’t tell us. No spoilers please, even for me.
Miles: Smiles. Gotcha.
Interviewer: Okay. First question. Why do you think it is that Amy Plum’s readers are considerably less impressed with you than with Jules Marchenoir or even Vincent Delacroix from her DIE FOR ME series?
Miles: Stares at interviewer. Excuse me?
Interviewer: Ignores his astonishment and looks down at notes. I have a few examples here from Goodreads, if you’d like. Let’s see: Jenna says, “JULES! Ma chérie. Mon amour! Your heart needs fixing and maybe I can help!”
CrazyBookReader says, “I looove Jules!!!! Like a lot!! If Kate doesn’t want him, can I have him??”
Bungle Midnight Reads says, “Oh Jules! How I love thee, let me count the ways.”
Interviewer looks up at Miles, who sits there dumbfounded. Interviewer looks back down at her notes.
As for Vincent, Janel says, “Vincent is so romantic!!!” Interviewer looks up at Miles. That was with three exclamation points.
Noel says, “VINCENT!!!!” This time with four exclamation points. “He’s so amazing! Plus he’s SMEXY!”
Miles: Gobsmacked. What the hell is SMEXY?
Interviwer: Disregards Miles’s comment and continues. Inger says, “Vincent is so perfect! I mean come on! Vincent All The Way!!”
Miles: Shifts uncomfortably in his chair. Okay, enough examples. I get it.
Interviewer: As for you, let’s see…Brandi of Brandi Breathes Books says, “I didn’t connect with Miles, he didn’t show me his heart or anything to make me relate to him…”
Miles: Interrupts. Holy crap! Has no one ever heard of character growth? There are TWO BOOKS. Count ‘em. TWO. And honestly, I’m happy that Amy didn’t make me perfectly loveable from the very first chapter. My excuses to Vincent and Jules, but THAT’S JUST NOT REALISTIC. Actually no excuses at all to Vincent and Jules. Those guys can keep going around showing their hearts and being all relatable. I’m fine being myself. Takes a big bite of cookie.
Interviewer: Okay, how about this one? Tabitha of Bows & Bullets Reviews says, “Miles is a normal dickheaded teenage boy. He’s done some stupid things and is altogether too cocky for his own good, but he’s a good guy, hiding deep (very deep) under that asshole exterior.”
Miles: Chokes on cookie and starts coughing.
Interviewer: Walks over to hit him on the back and hands him his bottle. Are you okay?
Miles: Takes a long swig of water and clears his throat. Interviewer returns to her seat. Miles leans over to catch his breath and ruffles his hair back with one hand before looking up at the Interviewer. So this is a place out of time and space where you can toss any old offensive quotes at your interviewee without shame?
Interviewer: Smiles. Yes.
Miles: Shakes his head in dismay. Okay. First of all, those guys are French. Which gives them automatic sex appeal. I’m sure they totally play up those stupid accents and do all sorts of Frenchie things like complimenting girls on their clothes and spouting pretty words and romantic poetry and giving them flowers at every possible occasion. But get them off the pages when the author’s not looking, and I’m sure they leave their dirty underwear lying around on the floor and don’t replace the toilet roll and have farting competitions or whatever.
Interviewer: Do you leave your dirty underwear lying around on the floor?
Miles: Never. Crosses arms. Looks intently at cookie plate.
Interviewer: So you think readers prefer these guys to you because they’re French and the author made them unrealistically romantic.
Miles: Well, that’s a starter. But also, Amy made them perfect from page one. Okay, maybe not perfect, but …how would you say it in romance book terminology? “An element of sexy dangerousness?” “Flawed in a way that makes the readers’ hearts melt?” To be quite honest, I agree with Tabitha. When AFTER THE END starts, I’m a bit of a shit. Lifts hand to mouth. Am I allowed to say shit in a YA interview?
Interviewer: I think Tabitha already burst the clean-interview bubble with her colorful review. Plus I’m against censorship. Say anything you want.
Miles: Smiles, relieved. Cool. Okay. It’s not like it was my choice or anything, but Amy Plum just happened to start the book when I was at my least charming. Which totally puts me at a disadvantage when you weigh me against those French zombie guys.
Interviewer: Are you, Miles Blackwell, comfortable using the word zombie in a negative sense? Stares at him intensely.
Miles: Didn’t you just specify no spoilers?
Interviewer: Sly smile. I stand corrected.
Miles: So anyway, when the first book starts, I’m getting kicked out of school just months before graduation.
Interviewer: Would you like to tell us why?
Miles: Sheesh! Don’t hold back with the hard questions.
Interviewer: I won’t. Thanks.
Miles: Fine. I had been ‘behaving badly,’ as the school faculty put it. Brought alcohol and drugs to school. Drugs being pot, okay? Not like crack or anything.
Interview: Bringing illegal substances to school.
Miles: Yes. And then I cheated on an exam. And all that together got me kicked out. So my dad forced me to work in the mailroom at his pharmaceutical company as a kind of punishment, and when the book begins I’m doing that and spending the rest of my time playing video games since I’m banned from leaving the house besides for work.
Interviewer: I agree. Couch potato? Mailroom job? That’s not a very sexy way to start a book series.
Miles: Right?
Interviewer: So why don’t we skip ahead a bit, and you can tell us how you met Juneau.
Miles: Oh, come on!
Interviewer: This is your opportunity to prove yourself, like I said. So just be honest.
Miles: Okay. Speaking really quickly. I tried to kidnap her in order to impress my dad who had his men out searching for her.
Interviewer: That is honest. But I’m afraid it’s not helping your case much.
Miles: I said I TRIED to kidnap her. And then I got to know her. And I changed my mind and ended up playing chauffeur as she had me drive her halfway across the United States with her pet raven, who by the way shat in my back seat. Not that I haven’t forgiven him, but still…
Interviewer: Okay. Let’s back up a step. What is up with all this bad behavior? I have to say, at this point I’m siding with Brandi. I wouldn’t be relating to you much either.
Miles: You know what it’s like to be an eighteen-year-old guy?
Interviewer: No, I don’t. Points to chest with pen. Boobs.
Miles: You can say boobs in a YA interview?
Interviewer: I can. Being the owner of said boobs.
Miles: Looks embarrassed. Okay. Let’s stay away from body part conversations. You’ll have to take my word for it. Being an eighteen-year-old guy is hard enough. And before you say it…I know Vincent and Jules are the same age as I. But you see…they really AREN’T. They’re really like a century old, which is freaking weird…
Interviewer: Raises eyebrow. Is there a reason you feel so strongly about the topic of immortality?
Miles: Mimics Interviewer’s eyebrow-raising move. Spoilers.
Interviewer: Shrugs. Touché.
Miles: What I mean is, those guys had decades to learn about life. To understand who they are. To come to terms with their place in the world. I’ve had eighteen freaking years, and the last two were spent alone with a father who cares more about his work than his family.
Interviewer: What happened two years ago?
Miles: Suddenly looks like a vulnerable little boy. Speaking in a voice so low it’s almost a whisper: That’s when my mom abandoned us after trying to kill herself. Lowers his head to cradle it in his hands.
Interviewer: Is silent for a while. That sheds a different light on your…behavior.
Miles: Wipes his eyes. Looks back up. Takes a sip of water. Sighs. Listen. I’m not looking for pity here. Just saying I was in a completely different situation than they were. Anyway, there I was at the beginning of Book 1 wallowing around in my suck-filled life when suddenly I find myself with this girl who is unlike anyone else I’ve ever met. At first I think she’s crazy. And then she infers that she’s magic or something and I KNOW she’s crazy. And then she tells me her own messed-up story and I feel a bit bad for her and I let down my guard. And then she drugs me, makes out with me, reads my mind, and steals my car.
Interviewer: I’d like to just clarify something in that timeline. You were not, in fact, under the influence of the oracle drug she gave you when you initiated that make-out session in the tent.
Miles: Hesitates. No. Not officially.
Interviewer: Good. I’m glad that’s clear.
Miles: The only reason I’m telling you this is to explain that we had a rough beginning. But then things happened. And I began to see Juneau for who she really is.
Interviewer: Which is?
Miles: Blows out puff of breath, and then looks interviewer straight in the eye. Juneau is one of the strongest people I know. She has an almost suicidal sense of loyalty and responsibility toward those she loves. She is magic. Or not really magic…it’s this whole earth magic, Yara, communicating with nature thing that she has a gift for.
But that isn’t even slightly the most important thing about her. She is like…
Miles looks around the room, as if searching for words, finds them, and then puts the stare back on the Interviewer. Juneau is like a force of nature. She swept me off my feet, pulled me along in her wake, and forced me look at myself for who I really was. She made me decide whether I was going to choose to use the strength inside me—strength I didn’t even know was there—to become a force for good like her, or wimp out and return to my sad little chicken-shit life.
 Interviewer: And you chose…?
Miles: Are we talking seriously now, or is this still just a lighthearted YA interview about book boyfriends?
Interviewer: At this point, I couldn’t be more serious.
Miles: Sits straight up in his chair, and suddenly he no longer looks like the typical swoony teenage boy. He drops his casual act and there’s something almost noble about him. Okay, then. Look me in the eyes and tell me how you think I chose.
Interviewer: For once, speechless.
Miles: A corner of his lips rises slightly, and there is a light in his eyes that wasn’t there before. Of course I could tell you. But that would be a spoiler.
Interviewer: No, no. I think it’s pretty clear. Can I ask one last question?
Miles: Shoot.
Interviewer: Puts her pen and pad down on the floor and leans in toward him. Do you consider yourself a man in love?
Miles: Gives a cryptic smile and then stands up. I’d love to stay and chat, but there’s someone I need to get back to. Starts to leave. Then stops and turns back to face the Interviewer. No, wait. I’m going to answer that question.
He looks down at his feet, takes a deep breath, and looks back up at the Interviewer. When I wake up my first thought is of her. Every moment I spend with her seems like a gift. One I don’t deserve, but one I would fight to keep. I spend my time thinking of ways to make her happy. When I make her smile, I feel like I’ve flipped the switch that turns the stars on. And when I make her laugh, it’s like I singlehandedly created springtime.
Interviewer: Picks jaw up off the floor. Clears throat, and presses hand hard against chest in order to speak. Miles Blackwell, what was that you were saying before about the French having an unfair advantage by using pretty words? Because that sounded suspiciously like poetry to me.
Miles: Opens a door that suddenly appears, and turns to face the Interviewer with a good-natured grin. I’m ready to take on those French ladies’ men any time they want. As far as I’m concerned, Vincent and Jules, it’s time to bring it. We’ll let the readers decide who’s the best man.

Thanks, Amy…and Miles. :) Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Amy Plum, and more! Oh, did I mention yet that I love Cadbury mini-eggs SO much that I could eat 11 of them at once? Anyway, I digress—add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the TEAL team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize! And check below for an extra contest where I’m giving away a signed paperback of my YA sci-fi novel BURN OUT, plus a signed hardcover of the upcoming sequel, STRANGE SKIES!

CONTINUE THE HUNT
 
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, Page Morgan!
Extra giveaway: Enter here for an extra prize of signed copies of both books in my YA sci-fi series, BURN OUT and STRANGE SKIES!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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15. Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt!

scavengerhunt450-1

It’s here—welcome to the Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt!!! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours! It ends at noon on April 5th.

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all—160 books total!! I am a part of the awesome TEAL TEAM:

Team Teal (2)

but there is also a red team, a blue team, a gold team, a green team, an orange team, a purple team, and a pink team. That’s a lot o’ books to win!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Somewhere in this post, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the TEAL team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 5th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
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Today, I am hosting fabulous author, Amy Plum, on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt! Amy Plum is the author of DIE FOR ME, a YA series set in Paris. The first three books—DIE FOR ME, UNTIL I DIE, and IF I SHOULD DIE—are international bestsellers, and have been translated into thirteen languages. The fourth and fifth books are digital novellas, entitled DIE FOR HER and DIE ONCE MORE. Amy’s newest series is a duology: AFTER THE END and UNTIL THE BEGINNING.
Amy grew up in Birmingham, Alabama before venturing further afield to Chicago, Paris, London and New York. An art historian by training, she can be found on most days either daydreaming or writing (or both) in a Parisian café.
Find out more info about Amy by checking out her website or buy Amy’s books here.
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
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Amy Plum, international bestselling author of the Die for Me series, delivers a heart-pounding adventure perfect for fans of Michael Grant, Veronica Rossi, and Alexandra Bracken. Until the Beginning brings this duology to a stunning and captivating conclusion. Juneau has been searching for her people and for answers . . . and she is about to find both in the exhilarating sequel to After the End, which Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of the Legend series and The Young Elites, called “Wonderfully riveting.”

When Juneau’s clan disappeared, she lost so much more than her friends and family. She soon discovered everything she thought she knew about her life was a lie. Her people’s gifts were actually secret abilities that others wanted, desperately enough to kidnap an entire village.

Juneau and her new companion Miles’s cross-country journey to find her clan has led them to a game preserve in New Mexico. Now Juneau’s people are finally within reach, and she will stop at nothing to save them. But she has a target on her back too, because unbeknownst to her she is the key to unlocking everything. To rescue her people—and herself—Juneau must discover what she, and her abilities, are truly capable of.

Amy’s bonus material today is an exclusive interview with Miles Blackwell of AFTER THE END and UNTIL THE BEGINNING. Enjoy!
Interviewer: Hi Miles. It’s so nice to have you here today. Please take a seat and help yourself to the cookie tray, water, whatever you’d like.
Miles: Smiles broadly. Thanks for having me.
Miles takes a bottle of water and spends a few seconds perusing the offerings of the cookie tray before choosing-chocolate chocolate chip. He settles in his chair and looks around at the room, which is completely empty except for two chairs and the refreshment table.
Miles: So what is this place anyway?
Interviewer: It’s a place away from time and space. A neutral place.
Miles: Like that pure white space in the Matrix where Laurence Fishburne shows Keanu Reaves how to fight?
Interviewer: Exactly.
Miles: Looks around at the nothingness and nods. Cool.
Interviewer: In the real world, the events in AFTER THE END and UNTIL THE BEGINNING have already happened. But even I don’t know where you came from to join us today.
Miles: Starts to say something.
Interviewer: Don’t tell us. No spoilers please, even for me.
Miles: Smiles. Gotcha.
Interviewer: Okay. First question. Why do you think it is that Amy Plum’s readers are considerably less impressed with you than with Jules Marchenoir or even Vincent Delacroix from her DIE FOR ME series?
Miles: Stares at interviewer. Excuse me?
Interviewer: Ignores his astonishment and looks down at notes. I have a few examples here from Goodreads, if you’d like. Let’s see: Jenna says, “JULES! Ma chérie. Mon amour! Your heart needs fixing and maybe I can help!”
CrazyBookReader says, “I looove Jules!!!! Like a lot!! If Kate doesn’t want him, can I have him??”
Bungle Midnight Reads says, “Oh Jules! How I love thee, let me count the ways.”
Interviewer looks up at Miles, who sits there dumbfounded. Interviewer looks back down at her notes.
As for Vincent, Janel says, “Vincent is so romantic!!!” Interviewer looks up at Miles. That was with three exclamation points.
Noel says, “VINCENT!!!!” This time with four exclamation points. “He’s so amazing! Plus he’s SMEXY!”
Miles: Gobsmacked. What the hell is SMEXY?
Interviwer: Disregards Miles’s comment and continues. Inger says, “Vincent is so perfect! I mean come on! Vincent All The Way!!”
Miles: Shifts uncomfortably in his chair. Okay, enough examples. I get it.
Interviewer: As for you, let’s see…Brandi of Brandi Breathes Books says, “I didn’t connect with Miles, he didn’t show me his heart or anything to make me relate to him…”
Miles: Interrupts. Holy crap! Has no one ever heard of character growth? There are TWO BOOKS. Count ‘em. TWO. And honestly, I’m happy that Amy didn’t make me perfectly loveable from the very first chapter. My excuses to Vincent and Jules, but THAT’S JUST NOT REALISTIC. Actually no excuses at all to Vincent and Jules. Those guys can keep going around showing their hearts and being all relatable. I’m fine being myself. Takes a big bite of cookie.
Interviewer: Okay, how about this one? Tabitha of Bows & Bullets Reviews says, “Miles is a normal dickheaded teenage boy. He’s done some stupid things and is altogether too cocky for his own good, but he’s a good guy, hiding deep (very deep) under that asshole exterior.”
Miles: Chokes on cookie and starts coughing.
Interviewer: Walks over to hit him on the back and hands him his bottle. Are you okay?
Miles: Takes a long swig of water and clears his throat. Interviewer returns to her seat. Miles leans over to catch his breath and ruffles his hair back with one hand before looking up at the Interviewer. So this is a place out of time and space where you can toss any old offensive quotes at your interviewee without shame?
Interviewer: Smiles. Yes.
Miles: Shakes his head in dismay. Okay. First of all, those guys are French. Which gives them automatic sex appeal. I’m sure they totally play up those stupid accents and do all sorts of Frenchie things like complimenting girls on their clothes and spouting pretty words and romantic poetry and giving them flowers at every possible occasion. But get them off the pages when the author’s not looking, and I’m sure they leave their dirty underwear lying around on the floor and don’t replace the toilet roll and have farting competitions or whatever.
Interviewer: Do you leave your dirty underwear lying around on the floor?
Miles: Never. Crosses arms. Looks intently at cookie plate.
Interviewer: So you think readers prefer these guys to you because they’re French and the author made them unrealistically romantic.
Miles: Well, that’s a starter. But also, Amy made them perfect from page one. Okay, maybe not perfect, but …how would you say it in romance book terminology? “An element of sexy dangerousness?” “Flawed in a way that makes the readers’ hearts melt?” To be quite honest, I agree with Tabitha. When AFTER THE END starts, I’m a bit of a shit. Lifts hand to mouth. Am I allowed to say shit in a YA interview?
Interviewer: I think Tabitha already burst the clean-interview bubble with her colorful review. Plus I’m against censorship. Say anything you want.
Miles: Smiles, relieved. Cool. Okay. It’s not like it was my choice or anything, but Amy Plum just happened to start the book when I was at my least charming. Which totally puts me at a disadvantage when you weigh me against those French zombie guys.
Interviewer: Are you, Miles Blackwell, comfortable using the word zombie in a negative sense? Stares at him intensely.
Miles: Didn’t you just specify no spoilers?
Interviewer: Sly smile. I stand corrected.
Miles: So anyway, when the first book starts, I’m getting kicked out of school just months before graduation.
Interviewer: Would you like to tell us why?
Miles: Sheesh! Don’t hold back with the hard questions.
Interviewer: I won’t. Thanks.
Miles: Fine. I had been ‘behaving badly,’ as the school faculty put it. Brought alcohol and drugs to school. Drugs being pot, okay? Not like crack or anything.
Interview: Bringing illegal substances to school.
Miles: Yes. And then I cheated on an exam. And all that together got me kicked out. So my dad forced me to work in the mailroom at his pharmaceutical company as a kind of punishment, and when the book begins I’m doing that and spending the rest of my time playing video games since I’m banned from leaving the house besides for work.
Interviewer: I agree. Couch potato? Mailroom job? That’s not a very sexy way to start a book series.
Miles: Right?
Interviewer: So why don’t we skip ahead a bit, and you can tell us how you met Juneau.
Miles: Oh, come on!
Interviewer: This is your opportunity to prove yourself, like I said. So just be honest.
Miles: Okay. Speaking really quickly. I tried to kidnap her in order to impress my dad who had his men out searching for her.
Interviewer: That is honest. But I’m afraid it’s not helping your case much.
Miles: I said I TRIED to kidnap her. And then I got to know her. And I changed my mind and ended up playing chauffeur as she had me drive her halfway across the United States with her pet raven, who by the way shat in my back seat. Not that I haven’t forgiven him, but still…
Interviewer: Okay. Let’s back up a step. What is up with all this bad behavior? I have to say, at this point I’m siding with Brandi. I wouldn’t be relating to you much either.
Miles: You know what it’s like to be an eighteen-year-old guy?
Interviewer: No, I don’t. Points to chest with pen. Boobs.
Miles: You can say boobs in a YA interview?
Interviewer: I can. Being the owner of said boobs.
Miles: Looks embarrassed. Okay. Let’s stay away from body part conversations. You’ll have to take my word for it. Being an eighteen-year-old guy is hard enough. And before you say it…I know Vincent and Jules are the same age as I. But you see…they really AREN’T. They’re really like a century old, which is freaking weird…
Interviewer: Raises eyebrow. Is there a reason you feel so strongly about the topic of immortality?
Miles: Mimics Interviewer’s eyebrow-raising move. Spoilers.
Interviewer: Shrugs. Touché.
Miles: What I mean is, those guys had decades to learn about life. To understand who they are. To come to terms with their place in the world. I’ve had eighteen freaking years, and the last two were spent alone with a father who cares more about his work than his family.
Interviewer: What happened two years ago?
Miles: Suddenly looks like a vulnerable little boy. Speaking in a voice so low it’s almost a whisper: That’s when my mom abandoned us after trying to kill herself. Lowers his head to cradle it in his hands.
Interviewer: Is silent for a while. That sheds a different light on your…behavior.
Miles: Wipes his eyes. Looks back up. Takes a sip of water. Sighs. Listen. I’m not looking for pity here. Just saying I was in a completely different situation than they were. Anyway, there I was at the beginning of Book 1 wallowing around in my suck-filled life when suddenly I find myself with this girl who is unlike anyone else I’ve ever met. At first I think she’s crazy. And then she infers that she’s magic or something and I KNOW she’s crazy. And then she tells me her own messed-up story and I feel a bit bad for her and I let down my guard. And then she drugs me, makes out with me, reads my mind, and steals my car.
Interviewer: I’d like to just clarify something in that timeline. You were not, in fact, under the influence of the oracle drug she gave you when you initiated that make-out session in the tent.
Miles: Hesitates. No. Not officially.
Interviewer: Good. I’m glad that’s clear.
Miles: The only reason I’m telling you this is to explain that we had a rough beginning. But then things happened. And I began to see Juneau for who she really is.
Interviewer: Which is?
Miles: Blows out puff of breath, and then looks interviewer straight in the eye. Juneau is one of the strongest people I know. She has an almost suicidal sense of loyalty and responsibility toward those she loves. She is magic. Or not really magic…it’s this whole earth magic, Yara, communicating with nature thing that she has a gift for.
But that isn’t even slightly the most important thing about her. She is like…
Miles looks around the room, as if searching for words, finds them, and then puts the stare back on the Interviewer. Juneau is like a force of nature. She swept me off my feet, pulled me along in her wake, and forced me look at myself for who I really was. She made me decide whether I was going to choose to use the strength inside me—strength I didn’t even know was there—to become a force for good like her, or wimp out and return to my sad little chicken-shit life.
 Interviewer: And you chose…?
Miles: Are we talking seriously now, or is this still just a lighthearted YA interview about book boyfriends?
Interviewer: At this point, I couldn’t be more serious.
Miles: Sits straight up in his chair, and suddenly he no longer looks like the typical swoony teenage boy. He drops his casual act and there’s something almost noble about him. Okay, then. Look me in the eyes and tell me how you think I chose.
Interviewer: For once, speechless.
Miles: A corner of his lips rises slightly, and there is a light in his eyes that wasn’t there before. Of course I could tell you. But that would be a spoiler.
Interviewer: No, no. I think it’s pretty clear. Can I ask one last question?
Miles: Shoot.
Interviewer: Puts her pen and pad down on the floor and leans in toward him. Do you consider yourself a man in love?
Miles: Gives a cryptic smile and then stands up. I’d love to stay and chat, but there’s someone I need to get back to. Starts to leave. Then stops and turns back to face the Interviewer. No, wait. I’m going to answer that question.
He looks down at his feet, takes a deep breath, and looks back up at the Interviewer. When I wake up my first thought is of her. Every moment I spend with her seems like a gift. One I don’t deserve, but one I would fight to keep. I spend my time thinking of ways to make her happy. When I make her smile, I feel like I’ve flipped the switch that turns the stars on. And when I make her laugh, it’s like I singlehandedly created springtime.
Interviewer: Picks jaw up off the floor. Clears throat, and presses hand hard against chest in order to speak. Miles Blackwell, what was that you were saying before about the French having an unfair advantage by using pretty words? Because that sounded suspiciously like poetry to me.
Miles: Opens a door that suddenly appears, and turns to face the Interviewer with a good-natured grin. I’m ready to take on those French ladies’ men any time they want. As far as I’m concerned, Vincent and Jules, it’s time to bring it. We’ll let the readers decide who’s the best man.

Thanks, Amy…and Miles. :) Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Amy Plum, and more! Oh, did I mention yet that I love Cadbury mini-eggs SO much that I could eat 11 of them at once? Anyway, I digress—add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the TEAL team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize! And check below for an extra contest where I’m giving away a signed paperback of my YA sci-fi novel BURN OUT, plus a signed hardcover of the upcoming sequel, STRANGE SKIES!

CONTINUE THE HUNT
 
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, Page Morgan!
Extra giveaway: Enter here for an extra prize of signed copies of both books in my YA sci-fi series, BURN OUT and STRANGE SKIES!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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16. SPRING 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt Authors!

Hello Everyone!

I’m so excited to be part of the 2015 Scavenger Hunt and want to introduce the Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt Authors!

We have eight outstanding teams this season. I am going to be a part of #TeamTeal! The Scavenger Hunt runs from April 2nd through April 5th beginning and ending at noon Pacific time on those days.

If you’ve never been a part of the hunt before you should give it a try. It runs like a giant blog hop, introducing you to new YA authors and books along the way. There are tons of prizes including a grand prize for each team. If you win one of the grand prizes you will get a book from each author on that team! For more information and to make sure you get hunt updates, sign up for news on the #YASH website.

Not only will I be hiding an exclusive never-before-revealed sneak peek of STRANGE SKIES, which doesn’t release until April 28th, but I’m giving away an extra cool prize on my blog: a paperback copy of BURN OUT and an advance hardcover of STRANGE SKIES! You don’t want to miss out on this fabulous and fun event, but play fast because the hunt is only live for three days.

And now, here are the teams! (Hint: If you click on the image you can get a close up)

Blue Team 1 Pink Team

Team Gold (2)

Team Green

Team Red 1

Team Teal (2)
Team Orange

Team Purple 1

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17. SPRING 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt Authors!

Hello Everyone!

I’m so excited to be part of the 2015 Scavenger Hunt and want to introduce the Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt Authors!

We have eight outstanding teams this season. I am going to be a part of #TeamTeal! The Scavenger Hunt runs from April 2nd through April 5th beginning and ending at noon Pacific time on those days.

If you’ve never been a part of the hunt before you should give it a try. It runs like a giant blog hop, introducing you to new YA authors and books along the way. There are tons of prizes including a grand prize for each team. If you win one of the grand prizes you will get a book from each author on that team! For more information and to make sure you get hunt updates, sign up for news on the #YASH website.

Not only will I be hiding an exclusive never-before-revealed sneak peek of STRANGE SKIES, which doesn’t release until April 28th, but I’m giving away an extra cool prize on my blog: a paperback copy of BURN OUT and an advance hardcover of STRANGE SKIES! You don’t want to miss out on this fabulous and fun event, but play fast because the hunt is only live for three days.

And now, here are the teams! (Hint: If you click on the image you can get a close up)

Blue Team 1 Pink Team

Team Gold (2)

Team Green

Team Red 1

Team Teal (2)
Team Orange

Team Purple 1

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18. Advanced Copies of STRANGE SKIES Up for Grabs

Hola!

I was originally going to do a Top 7 post this week, and I’m moving it to next week because something amazing happened today. Kat Kennedy from Cuddlebuggery organized an amazing 60+ blog tour in support of #LastListEgmont for today, March 2nd. Check out various interviews and guest posts by yours truly as well as other Egmont authors. We are blown away by the generosity and pure awesomeness of Kat and all the bloggers who participated. To highlight just a few, Jade at the BedtimeBookworm asked me the hardest part of writing a sequel, Shannon at ItStartsAtMidnight asks me what kept me (mostly) sane during the sequel drafting and she’s doing at INTERNATIONAL giveaway of STRANGE SKIES, and Erin at TheBookNut asks about my writing rituals and is also doing an INTERNATIONAL giveaway of STRANGE SKIES. If you follow me on Twitter (you are, right?), then you’ll see the other interviews and giveaways as I tweet them. Good luck and see you next week for my Top 7 post.

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19. Welcome Margo Kelly, Author of Who R U Really?

Hi all–I’m so excited to help announce the release of Margo Kelly’s WHO R U REALLY? I love to hear about “path to publication” stories and Margo was kind enough to share her experience with us today. After you read about her inspiring journey, don’t forget to enter the Goodreads contest below…and then go check out Margo’s book!

Margo Kelly’s Path to Publication

In January, 2009, I decided I wanted to change careers and pursue a long forgotten dream of becoming a published author. Sound familiar? I purchased Janet Evanovich’s HOW I WRITE and Writer’s Digest’s GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, and I began my research into the industry.

Six months later, I finished my first manuscript, MANIFESTED, and I started sending out query letters. The rejections flooded in. I had tough skin. I knew rejections were part of the process, but one of the form letters pushed me over the edge. I struck a match and sent the rejection up in flames. (Yes, that was back in the days of snail mail.) Then I took a deep breath and went back to querying.

I also started writing my next manuscript. I read more books on the craft of writing, subscribed to magazines and journals that would help me better my skills, wrote flash fiction to tighten my story telling, and connected with two great critique partners that I met through online communities.

A year later, in August, 2010, I had finished my second manuscript, THE EDUCATION OF THIA, and began to send out query letters. The requests for partials and fulls came in right away! I was so excited! But then rejections followed. I paid attention to the agents’ feedback, because I wanted to improve the story and make it saleable, but it was tricky, because while one said, “The main character is too naive” another said, “The main character sounds too adult.” I revised none-the-less.

With a bright and shiny polished version of the story, I headed off to my first writer’s conference. I met up with my critique partner, Melissa, and we had an absolute blast. Plus, two agents at the conference requested my full manuscript, and I just knew one of these fabulous agents was going to offer me a contract. Yes-sir-ee!! I went home too excited to work on any writing. I was waiting to hear from the agents.

More than a month later, I sent very polite follow-up emails to the two agents from the conference. Both responded, explaining how busy they were (of course, I understood, I wanted them to take care of their current clients first, that made sense). But I was demoralized. I couldn’t seem to start a new manuscript. So I pulled out MANIFESTED and dusted it off. I figured I could work on rewriting it and improving it until I found my writing mojo again.

Three months later, one of the conference agents emailed to tell me she’d decided to shelve my manuscript, unread. She was no longer looking for new clients. By the summer of 2011, the second conference agent emailed and apologized for the delay in reading my manuscript. She said the writing was great, but it didn’t excite her enough to offer me representation.

My tough skin had been broken, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue down this publishing path. Then I was diagnosed with a rare 12mm lesion in the middle of my brain. After a lot of time and money, the specialists decided there was nothing they could do about it. I had to reevaluate my life, my priorities, and my goals. What if my time was limited here on earth? How would I want to spend it? Through self-evaluation, I realized writing was still important to me, and as a result I refocused my efforts with great fervor.

On November 11, 2011, I sent out eleven queries for BUT HE LOVES ME (formerly known as The Education of Thia). A dream agent from my dream agency requested a partial the same day (it was a Friday). Monday, she requested the full. Wednesday, she requested a phone call. Thursday, we discussed ideas for revisions. I loved all of her suggestions, and my mojo exploded! She said if I could accomplish these revisions, she’d offer me formal representation. I wanted it! I got to work, and I was on fire! I sent her the revised manuscript about a week and a half later (I know, it sounds like I rushed it, but I’m telling you: I was ON FIRE!!). She read it right away and requested more revisions. I got right back to work. I was still excited about the process, and I was thrilled to think that someone had caught the “vision” of my story. While I was busy working on more revisions, she surprised me and mailed me a contract! YES! Not to mention, in the time I was working with her on revisions, other agents had requested partials and fulls. Out of respect, I contacted them to let them know I’d received an offer. One of the agents told me I’d be nuts to not accept the offer from this great agency.

On December 12, 2011, I signed with Brianne Johnson of Writers House. I’ve been smiling ever since, because I have the best agent from the best agency.

From there, we finalized revisions and made another title change before sending the manuscript out on submission. It took a while to sell, partly because the main character’s age put the story on the fence between middle-grade and young adult. However, Jacquelyn Mitchard of Merit Press (an imprint of F+W Media) saw the “merit” in the story and made an offer. With another title change and more revisions, the book, WHO R U REALLY?, will finally be published on September 18, 2014.

Now I’m polishing my next manuscript, and I’ve already started writing another. The publishing process certainly requires persistence and patience, but the future is so exciting.

*************************

Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Follow her online:
Website: www.margokelly.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargoKelly.author
Twitter: @MargoWKelly
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/margokelly

Scheduled Appearances:
September 26, 2014 – 5pm – Book Signing at Hastings in Meridian, Idaho
September 27, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Hastings on Overland in Boise, Idaho
October 3, 2014 – 7pm – Book Launch Party at Hyde Park Books in Boise, Idaho
October 11, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Barnes & Noble in Boise, Idaho

**************************

Who R U Really?

When Thea discovers a new role-playing game online, she breaks her parents’ rules to play. And in the world of the game, Thea falls for an older boy named Kit whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his near-suicidal despair. Soon, he’s texting her, asking her to meet him, and talking in vague ways about how they can be together forever. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the very fate her parents feared most. Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

who r u really

 

“Kelly has painted a realistic picture of how a smart girl can get caught up in something dangerous online. … Guaranteed to give readers goosebumps.” — School Library Journal. (http://www.bookverdict.com)

“Thea’s mistakes, while frustrating to encounter, are frighteningly plausible, and the relationships among characters are well–fleshed out, especially between mother and daughter. Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner.” — Kirkus Reviews (www.kirkusreviews.com)

Who R U Really? will be published in hardcover and e-book versions by Merit Press (F+W Media) on September 18, 2014.

Win a copy of Who R U Really? on Goodreads here:  https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/103716-who-r-u-really

Buy online:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Merit Press

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20. Interview with SURVIVAL COLONY 9 Author, JOSHUA DAVID BELLIN

 

As a fellow-sci fi writer and nerd, I’m so excited to have Joshua David Bellin on the blog today to discuss his new sci-fi release, SURVIVAL COLONY 9. First, here’s the cover of his fab book:

SC9 Cover medium

And here’s what Survival Colony 9 entails:

In a future world of dust and ruin, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn struggles to recover the lost memory that might save the human race.

Querry is a member of Survival Colony Nine, one of the small, roving groups of people who outlived the wars and environmental catastrophes that destroyed the old world. The commander of Survival Colony Nine is his father, Laman Genn, who runs the camp with an iron will. He has to–because heat, dust, and starvation aren’t the only threats in this ruined world.

There are also the Skaldi.

Monsters with the ability to infect and mimic human hosts, the Skaldi appeared on the planet shortly after the wars of destruction. No one knows where they came from or what they are. But if they’re not stopped, it might mean the end of humanity.

Six months ago, Querry had an encounter with the Skaldi–and now he can’t remember anything that happened before then. If he can recall his past, he might be able to find the key to defeat the Skaldi.

If he can’t, he’s their next victim.

It sounds amazing, right? Joshua was kind enough to answer some questions for me about his release, so the following is all you wanted to know about Joshua (just kidding, but it is five things that I wanted to know about him) :)

 

Your story involves a chilling description of a post-apocalpytic world. Where did you get your inspiration for Survival Colony 9?

 

Everyone thinks I’m making this up, but the basic outlines of my world came to me in a dream. Desert landscape, small groups of camouflaged people (the survival colonies) moving across the waste, and a mysterious, terrifying threat constantly in the background. (That turned into the Skaldi.) Generally speaking, my dream-ideas are like everyone else’s: they seem great for about five seconds after I wake up, but then I realize it wouldn’t actually make such a good story to have giant rabbits nibbling popcorn on Venus. But in this case, the dream-work paid off!

 

I don’t think you’re making that up because my book came to me in a dream too! That’s so cool when it happens like that. So, as a fellow sci-fi author and fan, I loved the show Firefly and wondered whether there are any similarities between the Skaldi in your world and the Reavers in Firefly (which terrified me by the way)?

 

Okay, this is kind of embarrassing, but I’ve never watched Firefly—which is even more bizarre since Joss Whedon was in my graduating class at Wesleyan. But what I’d say about this, based on a quick Googling, is that the Skaldi are as terrifying as the Reavers but even more inhuman. Cannibalistic races are one of the oldest fears of Western civilization: just look at Homer’s Polyphemus, or at the reports of cannibalistic tribes in Columbus’s letters. The Skaldi play off that fear, in that they consume human bodies and then mimic them. But whether they were themselves human at one point, as the Reavers seem to be, is something I’m not going to reveal!

 

I just geeked out a little (okay, a lot) about you going to school with Joss Whedon. Also, you need to watch Firefly ASAP! For the aspiring writers out there, can you tell us a little about your path to publication? (e.g. getting an agent, finding a publisher, etc.)

 

Depending on how you look at it, I’ve been on the path since age eight, when I attempted to write my first novel. So that’s roughly forty years. I mention this because the myth of instant success can kill writers, leading them to give up if their dreams don’t come true overnight. In my case, if I’d given up at any point during the forty years it took me to develop my craft, I wouldn’t be here.

In a narrower sense, my path to publication was fairly routine: I finished Survival Colony 9 at the tail end of 2011, signed with one agent but had to part ways with her (long story), then revised the book again and found my current agent in late 2012. From there, it was roughly three months until acceptance. That makes it sound easy, but believe me: even in that narrower timeframe, there were plenty of rejections and moments of crisis. If there’s anything to learn from my experience, it’s this: bumps in the road are not a negative reflection on the quality of your manuscript. They’re just a natural part of the process.

 

I completely agree and feel like the bumps in the road have made me both a stronger writer and person in general. So moving on to your writing process—do you have a set writing schedule or routine? Any favorite snacks or beverages that are a must-have while you’re writing?

 

I used to try to write every day, until I realized that I was driving myself to distraction for no good reason. Some writers can write every day; I can’t. So these days, I write when I can—mostly summers when I’m not teaching—and I focus on the positive (hey! I’m writing!) instead of the negative (ugh! I’m not writing every day).

So far as routine, I’m the kind of writer who needs a distraction-free environment. No TV or play list or open browser or anything. No kids (I have two of them). Maybe a ginger ale or some pretzels to snack on, but nothing elaborate. Pretty boring in its way. But writing is so individualized, I think everyone has to find what works best for them and go for it.

 

Agreed and I’ve written posts about why I think it’s fine not to write every day (and can even benefit a writer). Most writers are obsessive readers, so what are a few of your all-time favorite authors or books (any genre)?

 

I’m a total reading chameleon, which comes from having well-stocked bookshelves growing up and earning a Ph.D. in English in my twenties. So here are a few of my favorites:

Epic fantasy: The Lord of the Rings
Classic sci-fi: The War of the Worlds
Non-fiction: Walden
Speculative YA: The Hunger Games
Realistic YA: The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened
Middle Grade: Blubber
Baseball: The Celebrant
Modernist: To the Lighthouse
Postmodern: Slaughterhouse-Five

And so on. Anyone interested in my favorite book by an antebellum Native American author? Because I could tell you. (Okay, it’s A Son of the Forest by William Apess. I couldn’t resist.)

 

Great picks, and how cool that you’re a fellow Ph.D. too! BONUS fun sci-fi question: What is your all time favorite sci-fi movie? And why?

 

I’m going to cheat and list two. One is Star Wars, largely because I’m a complete dork but also because it came out when I was twelve and changed my life. (Mostly by turning me into a complete dork.) The second is Alien, because it has such an inspired monster and it’s such a perfect blend of sci-fi, horror, and social/political commentary. The emergence scene is still unsurpassed in the history of sci-fi cinema, in my humble opinion.

 

Oh, I love both of those movies! Thanks so much for joining us today, Joshua, and congrats on your book release! Find out more about Joshua below, including where to grab his book today:

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). He taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to writing fiction. Survival Colony 9 is his first novel, but the sequel’s already in the works! Josh is represented by the fabulous Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency.

Josh loves to read (mostly YA fantasy and science fiction), watch movies (again, mostly fantasy and sci-fi), and spend time in Nature (mostly catching frogs and toads). He is the self-proclaimed world’s worst singer, but plays a pretty mean air guitar.

Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.

Links:

Website: http://www.joshuadavidbellin.com
Blog: http://theyaguy.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheYAGuy
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/joshuadavidbellin
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7393959.Joshua_David_Bellin
Survival Colony 9: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18457362-survival-colony-nine
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Survival-Colony-Joshua-David-Bellin/dp/1481403540/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1393982949&sr=1-1&keywords=survival+colony+9

 

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21. Interview with David Kazzie of THE IMMUNE

Hi all…happy belated 2015! I’ll be doing a 2014 summary post shortly and realize I’m a little late with it, but if you follow me on Twitter, you know my website was recently hacked and it took some serious doing to get it back. Make sure to sign up (on the righthand side of the blog) for my newsletter if you haven’t already, because in a few weeks I’m giving away an advanced copy of my sequel to BURN OUT courtesy of my publisher!

I thought I’d start off the year with an interview from a funny and fabulous author–David Kazzie. If you don’t know David, he is the creator of the hilarious So You Want to Write a Novel video (and others) which can be seen here. He also writes novels—his newest, which looks amazing, is called THE IMMUNE.

Unraveling: The Immune Series, Volume 1

Here is a blurb:

This is the way the world ends.

On a warm summer night at Yankee Stadium, a terrifying plot to bring humanity to the brink of extinction is set into motion.

And as the deadly Medusa virus sweeps the globe unchecked, three people – an obstetrician dealing with the death of an expectant mother, a football star past his prime, and a soldier harboring a terrible secret about her own future – struggle to save what they hold most dear in a world crumbling around them.

Amazingly cool concept, right? I had some questions for David and he was kind enough to answer my questions, so enjoy the interview and then go check out his book!

 

1. The concept of The Immune is fascinating, especially given the recent panic about ebola. Where did you get the idea for the story?

I’ve loved stories about the apocalypse for as long as I can remember, and I had always wanted to write my own. I wanted to make it as realistic as possible, and I always thought that a pandemic was the most likely suspect if something like that were to ever happen. And I think deep down, we’ve all wondered if we would have what it takes to survive in a world like that.

The problem I wrestled with for a long time was that the apocalypse was all I had – I didn’t really have a story to tell. I just had these characters wandering around, not really doing anything other than eating canned goods and sleeping in other people’s houses during these pointless road trips.
Then I noticed something common to many post-apocalyptic stories – the main characters were often already single or didn’t have any real family, so they didn’t really lose anyone that close to them. So I played with that idea for a while, and it hit me – what if the main character got a hint that his child may have survived as well, but he didn’t really know for sure, and it would take a lot of work to find out. I think that would be maddening, possibly even worse than knowing for certain your loved one’s fate, especially in this post-apocalyptic world where there’s no power, no Internet, no cell phones, no real way to find someone. Plus, a scenario in which a parent and child both survive a pandemic that spares virtually no one opened a lot of storytelling doors.
When I had that, the main storyline for The Immune was born.
2. That’s a really cool angle, and as a parent myself, I can really relate to it. So speaking of pandemics, what research did you have to do for the story? I’d imagine it would be hard to call up the CDC and ask how to wipe out the population with a virus. ;)
It’s not hard to call the CDC! What is hard is dealing with all the paperwork after federal agents come to your house afterwards. HAHAHA JUST KIDDING.
I read two books that gave me most of the information to get me started – Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone, about the origins of the Ebola virus, and Germs, Genes and Civilizations: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today, by David Clark, which taught me about the mechanics of epidemics and why pathogens act the way that they do.
 Reading those books taught me that it’s not much of an intellectual leap to get to a pathogen that could do what the Medusa virus does in The Immune, particularly if someone twisted enough wanted to engineer one.
I also found I had to research a number of other issues that are germane to the story, mainly because I am not terribly bright. I learned about military operations, human fertility, alternative sources of energy, even how to properly filter drinking water in the wild.
3. Well, I hate to disagree but you’re obviously bright—though I remember feeling the same way when doing astrophysics research for my own book. One of the scary things about your book is the realism behind the science in it—for instance, everyone who follows the news about the flu or ebola knows just how fast a virus can spread. It makes the premise of your book very believable. Moving on to publishing questions, I noticed you’re releasing the story as several shorter stories rather than one. What prompted your decision to do this?
This was by far the most difficult decision I had to make. The complete novel is very long, about 180,000 words, way beyond the traditionally expected word length for commercial novels. I was also aware that it had been more than three years since I published my first novel, The Jackpot. The idea of releasing this new one novel into the wild, getting just one shot at drawing in readers, was a bit terrifying, so I started thinking about what I could do that would be fun for readers, but could also give me a few more chances to reach readers.
I studied the book again, and it hit me that the book has three very natural breaking points and four very distinct sections. I asked myself if there was a trilogy there, but that didn’t seem quite right. You do have the overarching story arc, Adam’s search for his daughter, but you also have these distinct mini-stories within each section. I guess they could be called subplots, but because of the book’s overall length, there was a lot of meat on those bones.
I talked to my agent about it, and we decided it was worth the risk.
I had these four beautiful covers designed, each of which really captured the essence of each section – and which together I think capture the overall story arc. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I’m also conscious of the fact that it could all blow up in my face!
4. I’ve only seen the first cover but I love the feeling of desolation that it captures. Speaking of putting this out as a series, more and more authors today are considering the hybrid route, where they pursue both traditional and self-publishing. What did you find most challenging and most rewarding about self-publishing this book?
Well, the truth is that my agent did shop this book for a long time to the New York publishers. It didn’t work out.
The most challenging thing was accepting the fact that the book was not going to sell to a traditional publisher as I had hoped. I really wanted to see this book in a bookstore. I know my agent believed in the book. It’s tough to get this far in the process, to have the editors from these publishing houses saying these nice things about the book, but coming up short so close to a lifetime dream.
That said, one of the most rewarding things has been the speed in which I’ve been able to bring this book to market. We got our last rejection around Thanksgiving. By December 22, Part I was up for pre-order. The fact I can even play with an idea like splitting it into four parts is kind of mind-blowing. I got to pick the covers. The book that’s going out to the world is the book that I envisioned when I wrote it.
5. The control part of the process (and the speed) seems so appealing, though I’m also a big believer in attaining lifetime dreams, so I hope your reach yours soon!  And now, onto the “fun question” (well, my idea of fun anyway) :) A virus has wiped out much of humanity and you’re isolated in a remote location until it’s safe to go outside. What 3 things (aside from water and food) would you want with you?
1. My family
2. Some good books
3. A scary heavily armed dude who owes me his life standing guard outside
I love my family but I’m totally with you on the scary heavily-armed dude! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog, David, and I hope everyone buys THE IMMUNE (after they read your bio and follow you on Twitter).
More about David:

Kazzie HeadshotDavid lives with his family in Virginia, where he works as a novelist and lawyer. His first novel, THE JACKPOT, was a No. 1 legal thriller on Amazon and will be published in paperback in Bulgaria in 2015. David is also the creator of a series of short animated films that have more than 2.5 million hits on YouTube and were featured in the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. 

Follow David on Twitter: @davidkazzie

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22. Egmont’s Last List

It’s a bittersweet time for me as an author. As STRANGE SKIES, my sequel to BURN OUT, is getting ready to launch into the world on April 28th, my publisher Egmont USA is closing its doors. I learned so much from the awesome team there, especially my fabulous editors Greg Ferguson and Alison Weiss. I feel quite lucky that my release date was moved up so that my book will still be published, and am excited to share it with my readers. There are other Egmont authors in my same situation and we’ve banded together to support each other as our books release. We are the last ones—the last authors published by Egmont USA, a publisher that gave many of us our start. The awesome Sarah Cross started a Tumblr site dedicated to Egmont’s last list, and I wrote the introduction over there, so come check out Egmont’s entire Spring ’15 list over at Egmont’s Last List.

I will also be giving away an ARC of STRANGE SKIES to one lucky newsletter subscriber in the next two weeks, so make sure to sign up on the sidebar. Finally, YA author, Aimee Henley, tagged me to write a Top 7 post, so that will be up later this week!

 

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23. Advanced Copies of STRANGE SKIES Up for Grabs

Hola!

I was originally going to do a Top 7 post this week, and I’m moving it to next week because something amazing happened today. Kat Kennedy from Cuddlebuggery organized an amazing 60+ blog tour in support of #LastListEgmont for today, March 2nd. Check out various interviews and guest posts by yours truly as well as other Egmont authors. We are blown away by the generosity and pure awesomeness of Kat and all the bloggers who participated. To highlight just a few, Jade at the BedtimeBookworm asked me the hardest part of writing a sequel, Shannon at ItStartsAtMidnight asks me what kept me (mostly) sane during the sequel drafting and she’s doing at INTERNATIONAL giveaway of STRANGE SKIES, and Erin at TheBookNut asks about my writing rituals and is also doing an INTERNATIONAL giveaway of STRANGE SKIES. If you follow me on Twitter (you are, right?), then you’ll see the other interviews and giveaways as I tweet them. Good luck and see you next week for my Top 7 post.

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24. Egmont’s Last List

It’s a bittersweet time for me as an author. As STRANGE SKIES, my sequel to BURN OUT, is getting ready to launch into the world on April 28th, my publisher Egmont USA is closing its doors. I learned so much from the awesome team there, especially my fabulous editors Greg Ferguson and Alison Weiss. I feel quite lucky that my release date was moved up so that my book will still be published, and am excited to share it with my readers. There are other Egmont authors in my same situation and we’ve banded together to support each other as our books release. We are the last ones—the last authors published by Egmont USA, a publisher that gave many of us our start. The awesome Sarah Cross started a Tumblr site dedicated to Egmont’s last list, and I wrote the introduction over there, so come check out Egmont’s entire Spring ’15 list over at Egmont’s Last List.

I will also be giving away an ARC of STRANGE SKIES to one lucky newsletter subscriber in the next two weeks, so make sure to sign up on the sidebar. Finally, YA author, Aimee Henley, tagged me to write a Top 7 post, so that will be up later this week!

 

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25. Interview with David Kazzie of THE IMMUNE

Hi all…happy belated 2015! I’ll be doing a 2014 summary post shortly and realize I’m a little late with it, but if you follow me on Twitter, you know my website was recently hacked and it took some serious doing to get it back. Make sure to sign up (on the righthand side of the blog) for my newsletter if you haven’t already, because in a few weeks I’m giving away an advanced copy of my sequel to BURN OUT courtesy of my publisher!

I thought I’d start off the year with an interview from a funny and fabulous author–David Kazzie. If you don’t know David, he is the creator of the hilarious So You Want to Write a Novel video (and others) which can be seen here. He also writes novels—his newest, which looks amazing, is called THE IMMUNE.

Unraveling: The Immune Series, Volume 1

Here is a blurb:

This is the way the world ends.

On a warm summer night at Yankee Stadium, a terrifying plot to bring humanity to the brink of extinction is set into motion.

And as the deadly Medusa virus sweeps the globe unchecked, three people – an obstetrician dealing with the death of an expectant mother, a football star past his prime, and a soldier harboring a terrible secret about her own future – struggle to save what they hold most dear in a world crumbling around them.

Amazingly cool concept, right? I had some questions for David and he was kind enough to answer my questions, so enjoy the interview and then go check out his book!

 

1. The concept of The Immune is fascinating, especially given the recent panic about ebola. Where did you get the idea for the story?

I’ve loved stories about the apocalypse for as long as I can remember, and I had always wanted to write my own. I wanted to make it as realistic as possible, and I always thought that a pandemic was the most likely suspect if something like that were to ever happen. And I think deep down, we’ve all wondered if we would have what it takes to survive in a world like that.

The problem I wrestled with for a long time was that the apocalypse was all I had – I didn’t really have a story to tell. I just had these characters wandering around, not really doing anything other than eating canned goods and sleeping in other people’s houses during these pointless road trips.
Then I noticed something common to many post-apocalyptic stories – the main characters were often already single or didn’t have any real family, so they didn’t really lose anyone that close to them. So I played with that idea for a while, and it hit me – what if the main character got a hint that his child may have survived as well, but he didn’t really know for sure, and it would take a lot of work to find out. I think that would be maddening, possibly even worse than knowing for certain your loved one’s fate, especially in this post-apocalyptic world where there’s no power, no Internet, no cell phones, no real way to find someone. Plus, a scenario in which a parent and child both survive a pandemic that spares virtually no one opened a lot of storytelling doors.
When I had that, the main storyline for The Immune was born.
2. That’s a really cool angle, and as a parent myself, I can really relate to it. So speaking of pandemics, what research did you have to do for the story? I’d imagine it would be hard to call up the CDC and ask how to wipe out the population with a virus. ;)
It’s not hard to call the CDC! What is hard is dealing with all the paperwork after federal agents come to your house afterwards. HAHAHA JUST KIDDING.
I read two books that gave me most of the information to get me started – Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone, about the origins of the Ebola virus, and Germs, Genes and Civilizations: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today, by David Clark, which taught me about the mechanics of epidemics and why pathogens act the way that they do.
 Reading those books taught me that it’s not much of an intellectual leap to get to a pathogen that could do what the Medusa virus does in The Immune, particularly if someone twisted enough wanted to engineer one.
I also found I had to research a number of other issues that are germane to the story, mainly because I am not terribly bright. I learned about military operations, human fertility, alternative sources of energy, even how to properly filter drinking water in the wild.
3. Well, I hate to disagree but you’re obviously bright—though I remember feeling the same way when doing astrophysics research for my own book. One of the scary things about your book is the realism behind the science in it—for instance, everyone who follows the news about the flu or ebola knows just how fast a virus can spread. It makes the premise of your book very believable. Moving on to publishing questions, I noticed you’re releasing the story as several shorter stories rather than one. What prompted your decision to do this?
This was by far the most difficult decision I had to make. The complete novel is very long, about 180,000 words, way beyond the traditionally expected word length for commercial novels. I was also aware that it had been more than three years since I published my first novel, The Jackpot. The idea of releasing this new one novel into the wild, getting just one shot at drawing in readers, was a bit terrifying, so I started thinking about what I could do that would be fun for readers, but could also give me a few more chances to reach readers.
I studied the book again, and it hit me that the book has three very natural breaking points and four very distinct sections. I asked myself if there was a trilogy there, but that didn’t seem quite right. You do have the overarching story arc, Adam’s search for his daughter, but you also have these distinct mini-stories within each section. I guess they could be called subplots, but because of the book’s overall length, there was a lot of meat on those bones.
I talked to my agent about it, and we decided it was worth the risk.
I had these four beautiful covers designed, each of which really captured the essence of each section – and which together I think capture the overall story arc. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I’m also conscious of the fact that it could all blow up in my face!
4. I’ve only seen the first cover but I love the feeling of desolation that it captures. Speaking of putting this out as a series, more and more authors today are considering the hybrid route, where they pursue both traditional and self-publishing. What did you find most challenging and most rewarding about self-publishing this book?
Well, the truth is that my agent did shop this book for a long time to the New York publishers. It didn’t work out.
The most challenging thing was accepting the fact that the book was not going to sell to a traditional publisher as I had hoped. I really wanted to see this book in a bookstore. I know my agent believed in the book. It’s tough to get this far in the process, to have the editors from these publishing houses saying these nice things about the book, but coming up short so close to a lifetime dream.
That said, one of the most rewarding things has been the speed in which I’ve been able to bring this book to market. We got our last rejection around Thanksgiving. By December 22, Part I was up for pre-order. The fact I can even play with an idea like splitting it into four parts is kind of mind-blowing. I got to pick the covers. The book that’s going out to the world is the book that I envisioned when I wrote it.
5. The control part of the process (and the speed) seems so appealing, though I’m also a big believer in attaining lifetime dreams, so I hope your reach yours soon!  And now, onto the “fun question” (well, my idea of fun anyway) :) A virus has wiped out much of humanity and you’re isolated in a remote location until it’s safe to go outside. What 3 things (aside from water and food) would you want with you?
1. My family
2. Some good books
3. A scary heavily armed dude who owes me his life standing guard outside
I love my family but I’m totally with you on the scary heavily-armed dude! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog, David, and I hope everyone buys THE IMMUNE (after they read your bio and follow you on Twitter).
More about David:

Kazzie HeadshotDavid lives with his family in Virginia, where he works as a novelist and lawyer. His first novel, THE JACKPOT, was a No. 1 legal thriller on Amazon and will be published in paperback in Bulgaria in 2015. David is also the creator of a series of short animated films that have more than 2.5 million hits on YouTube and were featured in the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. 

Follow David on Twitter: @davidkazzie

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