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Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Soulmated by Shaila Patel (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Welcome to another feature for Celebrating Debutantes 2017. Today I’m joined on the blog by new author Shaila Patel to answer few questions about her debut novel, Soulmated. This book introduce a diverse cast of characters and a refreshing plot about people called empath who can sense and manipulate emotions.

Following the interview with Shaila is her bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of Soulmated.

Also, don’t forget to check the giveaway at the bottom and enter the rafflecopter form for a chance to win fabulous a copy of Soulmated from Shaila.

Here’s my interview with Shaila. Enjoy reading!

Interview with Shaila Patel

Where did the idea for Soulmated come from? What are some ways the story has changed since you first came up with it?

I’d been thinking of how emotionally perceptive my mom was one day and thought that if there were such a thing as an EQ test (where the E stood for emotional and/or empathic intelligence), my mom would score through the roof. She’s always had this uncanny ability to read my feelings—and as a teenager, it had been highly annoying!
Naturally, my writer-mind imagined what it would be like if empaths (people who read emotions) really existed and what that must be like for two young people falling in love.
When I’d first come up with the idea, my focus had been on Liam and his mom (both empaths), but when Laxshmi, his non-empath love interest, came into play, I realized that my focus had been slightly off. Dating at that age is hard enough because as teenagers, we’re just learning how to read and understand body language in that context. So imagine being an empath and knowing how your date is feeling, but not knowing why. It would be quite frustrating not to know why your date felt awkward, embarrassed, hurt, or whatever. You’d be second guessing everything while you tried to fix it—if you didn’t have the courage to just come right out and ask, that is. Realizing this, it changed a lot of how I dealt with my two main characters in their scenes together. I just couldn’t pass up the goldmine of tension this created and made quite a few revisions. The story really became about them after that.

I love books that promotes diversity, and Soulmated has cross-cultural one. Could you tell us more about the Indian and Irish culture in Soulmated? What prompt you to write characters with different backgrounds?

Writing characters with different backgrounds wasn’t really a conscious decision. I’m Indian-American, so writing my heroine, Laxshmi, who looked like me and dealt with some of the same issues I dealt with while growing up seemed like a no-brainer. I still wanted to challenge myself and offer something different to readers. Making Liam Irish gave me a chance to stretch my writing skills and create an unexpected character.
Being born and raised in America, my brain pretty much splits cultural differences between East and West, and that’s where I decided to draw the line between how I portrayed my cultural aspects of the story. So as an example, most of my friends and I weren’t allowed to date, but for most teens who are American or Irish, dating is a pretty common thing. It changes how you talk about the subject with your parents, how you view relationships between boys and girls, and even how you interact with the opposite sex. For Laxshmi, balancing between the two cultures is a constant juggling act. For Liam, those difficulties don’t exactly exist. Since Liam and his parents are only in America to search for his empath soul mate, I chose to play off the differences between them by contrasting “typical” Western culture against hers. Much of the portrayal of his Irish-empath culture will be in later books when they visit Ireland. I’d touched a bit upon the Whelan’s cultural history in Book 1 and hope to delve deeper in subsequent books.

What kind of research went into crafting the Soulmated world? Did your background in medicine helps in your writing?

The largest bulk of the research went into learning Irish-English—its syntax, grammar, and slang. I went to Ireland twice for research for the series and location-scouting for Book 3, and I hope to go again someday soon! I tried to make Liam’s voice as authentic as possible, and even with the help of an Irish editor, I suspect it might not be enough for some readers and too much for others. It was a risk I had to take to be true to the story.
For Soulmated, my medical background doesn’t really factor in, but I can say that Liam’s mum Moira, a psychologist, may have benefited from it. She approaches most things very scientifically, and you could say that my background in the sciences helped me with that. I’m excited because Moira plays a greater role in that regard in Book 2!

If you can sense and manipulate another person’s emotions like Liam. Who would you manipulate and why?

My day job is at a pediatric office. If there were a way I could manipulate a child’s emotions and make them not so miserable when they’re sick, I’d certainly try! And while I’m making a list, I’d love to manipulate those haters in any long line who refuse to wait patiently and then take it out on the poor employee who couldn’t do anything about it. (That irritates me to no end!) I’m sure my list could grow longer the more I think about it. Lol!

For readers who are on the fence about reading Soulmated, what can you tell them about it that might help them decide?

For starters, I’d be honored if someone were considering buying my book, and as a reader myself, I know that certain sub-genres are immediately attractive while others may not be. As a story, Soulmated has to be categorized in order to be sold, and sometimes those categories don’t quite fit the book. If someone needed specifics to help them make a decision, I’d say Soulmated was a character-driven young-adult romance with paranormal elements that include empaths and psychics. It’s a (planned) four book series that will delve deeper into the empath culture as that becomes a bigger part of the plot. The series will also take place in three different countries: the United States, Ireland, and India. Hope that helps!

You’re working on the second book, but what else do you see yourself working on? Do you think you’ll stick with urban fantasy or branch out into something else?

Yes, I am working on book 2, but I’m also working on a contemporary adult romance using my pharmacy background. In that series, I tackle prescription drug abuse, criminal distribution, corruption amongst prescribers, and unethical pharmaceutical industry behavior. I’m quite excited about it, and I see myself working on that alongside with the rest of the Soulmated series for the foreseeable future.
As for future YA projects, an idea for a science-fiction romance/thriller is marinating in my head at the moment. Who knows where my imagination will take that!

Thanks so much Shaila!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever-after, Shaila Patel’s younger self would finish reading her copy of Cinderella and fling it across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Soulmated is her debut novel and the winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards for Young Adult. She loves books, craft beer, tea, and cozy window seats—but she’ll read anywhere. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or online gushing about her favorite books.

Find Shaila

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Soulmated
Author: Shaila Patel
Publisher: Month 9 Books
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Pages: 340
Format: Paperback, eBook

All eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan—an Irish royal empath—wants to do is stop the frustrating search for the elusive girl destined to be his soul mate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and give the couple legendary powers, painting a bullseye on Liam’s back—and hers.

All Indian-American Laxshmi Kapadia wants is to free herself from her traditional mother’s ultimatum: graduate from high school early and go to medical school, or have her marriage arranged. Neither allow her to pursue her dreams of a career in dancing or of falling in love.

When Liam moves in next door to Laxshmi—a non-empath, he’s immediately drawn to the purity of her emotions, and she sees in this charming Irish boy a future with the freedom to follow her heart. But Liam’s father will never consent if she’s not The One. And Laxshmi’s mom won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. But hiding their relationship can’t keep them from becoming targets of dark and ancient group determined to destroy the soulmated.

What will these two risk to choose their own fate?

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | BAM | BookDepo | IndieBound | GoodreadsGoogle Play | Kobo

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

    • Copy of Soulmated by Shaila Patel

The Rules:

  • Open International where Book Depository ships
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends July 16th, 2017
  • Prize will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

2 Comments »

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Takedown by Corrie Wang (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Happy Friday everyone!

Today I am interviewing new author Corrie Wang on the blog as part of Celebrating Debuntantes 2017 blog event. Corrie answers few questions about her debut novel, The Takedown, and about social medias and Internet.

Following the interview with Corrie is her author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of The Takedown. And for a chance to own a signed copy of the book and other fabulous swags, check the bottom of the post for the special giveaway and enter the rafflecopter form.

Here’s my interview with Corrie. Enjoy reading!

Interview with Corrie Wang

Congratulations on The Takedown! What has been the most surreal thing about seeing The Takedown as published story? What’s the best part and the oddest?

Thank you! Everything about seeing The Takedown published has been surreal!! But right at the top was the first time I signed copies for two younger readers. It was such a magical experience. Granted, I signed on the wrong page and wrote inappropriately long inscriptions, but we were giggling and high fiving and I could have lived in those five minutes forever.

And the best and oddest parts are one and the same.

When I lived in NYC and was a writer but not yet an author, I attended lots of YA panel discussions and book events. After the panels were over all the authors would go off into this little room and I wanted into that room SO bad. What were they talking about? What writerly gossip were they hearing that I couldn’t? Were there snacks?

The first time I stepped into the green room at YALL WEST this past April, it just felt so tingly and incredible and like holy cow, I made it here. And look! That’s an author I love… drinking coffee. I’m pretty sure I’ll never get used to it. That I’ll always be at author events or parties thinking A. This is so frickin’ cool. And B. Who let me in?

PS there are snacks. And they’re baller.

The Takedown deals with some sensitive themes such as slut shaming, and bad effect of Internet or social media. As a writer, do you feel a sense of responsibility in putting this into the story? If so, how do you deal with this?

I think slut shaming and dealing with unwanted male attention is such a common issue for teens, and women in general, that it should naturally be showing up in more stories. I didn’t go into The Takedown wanting to write an “issue book” – where characters encounter or deal with * blank * issue and then need to persevere. I just wanted to write a page turning thriller with realistic characters.

I used to manage this massive nightclub on the Lower East Side in NYC. One weekend we hosted an after-prom party, and monitoring it as a GM, YA author, and mama bear was life changing. I write upper YA so this was exactly my audience, and my first thought was that we as authors were getting it SO wrong. The level of sexual, tech, and logistical savviness emanating from those kids was light years more advanced than what YA fiction (at that time) gave them credit for. My second thought was that for a party without alcohol there was SO MUCH VOMIT.

I love that Kyle talks about diva cups, and not wanting to be married until she’s at least 38, and using home electrolysis to get the hair off her toes. The conversations I have with my girlfriends about sex/life/career are so different than most of what I see reflected in standard media that this is the responsibility I feel. I want to write us out of these boy-centric, we’re either cast as nerds or skanks, good girls or mean girls, pigeonholes that we’ve been crammed into.

The Takedown shows how Internet can easily ruin’s someone’s life. As an author, what is your stand on this?

Ahh the internet. I use it. I Google the crap out of everything. I also wish it didn’t exist so I could go back to not clutching and swiping at this device that rarely leaves my hand throughout the day. Do I see how it is wonderful and begets important social movements not to mention connects us with peeps round the world we might otherwise not know?

Absolutely.

Do I see how it equally makes us armchair activists who no longer see their friends in real life?

Same.

Do I think we can be crushed by one poorly worded or ignorant tweet?

One hundred percent.

Do I also think at some point someone will do a major hack and we’ll all be forced to survive without our timewasting crutches?

Any day now.

What were some of the pleasant surprises you experienced from using social media as an author?

Early on, unbeknownst to me, my editor gave Sara Shepard an ARC of the book and she tweeted at me that she was reading and loving it. It was totally out of the blue and launched a fantastic friendship. I still sometimes fangirl when we’re email back and forth thinking: I’m writing to m*therf*cking SARA SHEPARD!! (And now I’ve made that weird).

And honestly, even more than social media, EMAIL has been the biggest treat of my debut year. Before the book launched a few authors wrote to tell me how much they liked the novel and I’ve struck up some really wonderful friendships. Britta Lundin’s Ship It is coming out with Disney FreeForm in 2018 and she will be a FFFL (Fast Friend For Life, y’all). Follow this girl now, ’cause there will be a line around the block to connect with her once Ship It hits shelves.

And on a not name dropping note, I love, love, LOVE the bookstagram shots that readers have been posting. I own a food truck in Charleston, SC. A typical day involves sweating my butt off in a tiny trailer slinging rice bowls. But then ding! Someone in Pennsylvania tags me with a gorgeous shot of my novel. I adore it that my little book is having its own wild life while I’m, like, washing rice.

Do you have a favourite scene to write in The Takedown? What scene are you most proud of, and why?

I’ve read The Takedown countless times by now, and the final scene with Kyle and her mom still makes me tear up. I’m very close with my mama, so mother daughter relationships get me, period. But family is TRICKY. Kyle and her mom used to be very close, but as she’s grown up they’ve sorta stopped liking as much. So I loved writing that penultimate chapter where they let the years of grudges and slights slip away for a few minutes, and Kyle’s mama reaffirms that even though she might not always like Kyle, she loves her more than anything and always, always will. It was important to me that the book wrapped there for Kyle. Not with the boy. Not with the friends. But with her mom. Of all Kyle’s relationships, that’s the one that will develop and change, strengthen and become more complex, and also carry through for the rest of her life.

If one of your characters could turn the tables on you and write a story based on your teenage years, what would the title of that book be? What would be the first line?

Mac would probably write it, and the title would be Flakita en un gran mundo.

First sentence, Once there was, like, a girl who thought she could change the world by writing op eds to her local newspaper.

Or Sharma would write it and the title would be: Corrie

First sentence: Girl went to high school, #graduated, #thankgoodnessthatsover.

Where do you see your writing will go after The Takedown? Do you think you’ll stick writing for young adult or branch out into something else?

Oh I definitely have more YA stories to tell. I’m currently polishing up a draft that’s a little further forward in time than The Takedown and explores gender and relationships but with lots of bad assery. It’s gonna be the bomb! (FYI people don’t say that anymore, Corrie). But it will be. After that, I have a middle grade that I’ve been fast and furiously jotting down between revisions and drafts and early food truck mornings. I CANNOT WAIT for y’all to get your hands on it. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had writing. So yes, lots, lots more to come.

Thanks so much Corrie!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Corrie Wang is passionate about libraries, road trips, and eating all the food, everywhere. Corrie grew up in Buffalo but spent her formative years in Brooklyn, where one of her last paying gigs was managing a three-story nightclub on the Lower East Side. ​

She currently lives in Charleston, where she and her husband Shuai Wang own and operate Short Grain food truck— named one of Bon Appetit magazine’s Top 50 Best New Restaurants 2016 and a 2017 semi-finalist for a James Beard Award. The Takedown is Corrie’s debut novel.​

And fyi it’s pronounced Wong y’all.”

Find Corrie

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: The Takedown
Author: Corrie Wang
Publisher: Freeform
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover

Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club and a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.

Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible—take something off the internet—all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint.

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | BAM | BookDepo | IndieBound | Goodreads | Publisher

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Copy of The Takedown by Corrie Wang
  • Temporary tattoos and
  • a few “fck them small betches” Takedown bracelets
     

The Rules:

  • Open US
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends July 14th, 2017
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

1 Comment »

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Under Locker and Key by Allison K. Hymas (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Welcome to another feature for Celebrating Debutantes 2017. Today I’m joined on the blog by new author Allison K. Hymas to answer few questions about her debut middle grade novel, Under Locker and Key. This book is like mission impossible for middle grade readers.  It’s fun, clever and captivating story for everyone to enjoy.

Following the interview with Allison is her bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of Under Locker and Key.

Also, don’t forget to check the giveaway at the bottom and enter the rafflecopter form for a chance to win fabulous prizes from Allison.

Here’s my interview with Allison. Enjoy reading!

Interview with Allison Hymas

Can you tell us a bit about your journey with Under Locker and Key? Did you know right away that this was your story, or did you discover it as you write? And how was the publication process goes for you?

Under Locker and Key had a strange process for me, since it was a book that I didn’t take seriously for a long time. I first started it as part of an assignment for a college class on writing for children and adolescents. I had to develop a middle grade character, and that’s when I first met Jeremy. I liked him so much I wrote a short story about him, and I liked that story so much (and other people did too) that I turned that short story into a novel.

I worked on Under Locker and Key in my spare time as a backburner project when my other writing projects got too hard or I just needed a break. It was fun and easy for me to write; it fit my voice and style well. But I didn’t think it would go anywhere. Then, one of my teachers encouraged me to workshop it in his class, and that’s when I started to think that maybe I could publish this silly, fun story I’d just worked on for fun.

So I entered the book into a state-wide writing contest. I lost. In response, I queried agents like crazy out of determination and a little bit of spite. A couple agents responded, I chose the one I liked best, and she helped me find a publisher. It’s still strange, but not unwelcome, that the silly book I wrote but didn’t expect to publish ended up becoming my debut novel.

Why middle-grade? Do you think it is easier to write for younger audience than YA and adults?

Under Locker and Key was the first MG novel I’ve even drafted. As for why middle grade, I’m still not sure why I enjoy writing it so much. I suppose I like the fun I can have with this age group. Middle schoolers are at the beginning of a transition; they’re not yet teens, but they’re not elementary school children either. They’re losing their childhood identity and gaining a new one, which means that some, like Jeremy, can try to invent themselves as whatever they want. That means I can write adventures with heroes and villains as the kids try to decide who they’re going to be but don’t yet have the self-consciousness of teens about how that’s all going to work for them.

I don’t know if it’s easier to write for a younger audience, but I know it works well for me. I like humor and adventure, and Jeremy’s, a middle grade voice, comes easily to me.

What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in writing Under Locker and Key? Are there any fun things you discover during your research?

I’ve learned a lot about how to break the law while writing about Jeremy’s adventures. I have not picked a real lock (yet) or cracked the combination on a locker (yet), but I know how to do all these things in theory. I learned is that it’s not much like the movies. Picking locks takes a long time, and figuring out a locker combination takes quite a bit of patience and luck. You can climb through an air duct but they’re cramped, dark, and dirty. I’ve also been learning a lot about real-life hacking for later books.

However, my favorite thing that I’ve learned is how to lie convincingly and how to recognize a liar. Too much eye contact or not enough eye contact, touching the nose and near the mouth…clues like those. I can actually use this research in my life!

Do you have a favourite scene to write? And what scene are you most proud of, and why?

My favorite scene to write was the climax. I won’t give spoilers here, but I loved the way the story came together at the end in a nice, dare-I-say-clever solution.

But the scene I’m proudest of is the scene in the band room, when Jeremy is hiding from Becca. Some writers have to push their characters into trouble. Not me—Jeremy gets himself in trouble and I go crazy trying to figure out how to haul him out of the fire yet again. This scene gave me so much grief because I couldn’t figure out how to realistically resolve it for the longest time, but in the end, it worked out and because it was tricky, it turned out better than I expected with more suspense.

If Jeremy could turn the tables on you and write a story based on your younger years, what would the title of that book be and what would be the first line?

Oh, my. That’s a scary thought. I was pretty energetic and got into some trouble as a young child, but by the time I was Jeremy’s age I had mellowed out and was the shy, quiet girl in class who liked to read and write. I suppose the title would be something like Born to Be Mild and the first line would be, “See that girl reading over there? She has some stories to tell, some of them true.”

Are you working on other stories as of the moment? Could you tell us about it?

I’m working on a couple other stories. One is a sequel to Under Locker and Key, and the other is a YA science fiction about a boy who goes into other people’s dreams and learns that a girl in his town is in danger.

Thank you!

Thanks so much Allison!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As a middle schooler, Allison K. Hymas was a law-abiding citizen (except for the occasional offense of reading under her desk when she should have been listening). She now holds an MFA from Brigham Young University and currently lives in Utah. Under Locker and Key is her first novel. Allison is hard at work writing Jeremy Wilderson’s further adventures.

Find Allison

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Under Locker and Key
Author: Allison K. Hymas
Publisher: Alladin
Publication Date: April 18, 2017
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Eleven-year-old Jeremy Wilderson teams up with his rival crime fighter to stop the stealing spree that’s wreaking havoc on Scottsville Middle School.

Jeremy Wilderson is not a thief. In fact, he is his middle school’s one and only retrieval specialist. Confiscated cell phones, stolen lunch money—he’ll discretely retrieve it before the last bell rings. Business is good, and if it weren’t for the meddling of preteen private investigator Becca Mills, he’d be happier than a gym teacher on dodgeball day.

But a new job shatters his comfortable lifestyle. Now, thanks to Jeremy, the master key to the schools’ lockers is in the hands of an aspiring crime kingpin who doesn’t exactly have Jeremy’s strong moral character. Soon not even combination locks can protect the students’ textbooks and jackets. Retrieving the key is too big a job for one crime fighter, and only one person wants the key returned as much as Jeremy does: Becca Mills.

Lockers are being robbed, the teachers are looking for the culprit, and the only person Jeremy can turn to is the girl who most wants to see him in the principal’s office. Will Jeremy be able to trust Becca enough to get the key back in the right hands? Or could he end up in detention until the end of high school instead?

Book Links

Book Page | Amazon | B&N | BAM | IndieBound | Goodreads

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Signed copy of Under Locker and Key by Allison K. Hymas
  • Under Locker and Key Bookmark
  • Retrieval Specialist” pair of sunglasses 

The Rules:

  • Open International
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends July 12th, 2017
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

2 Comments »

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Welcome to another feature for Celebrating Debutantes 2017. Today I’m joined on the blog by author Sally Pla to answer few questions about her debut middle grade contemporary novel, The Someday Birds. This especial book will give readers not only memorable characters but also beautiful story that is heartwarming, hopeful and fun.

Following the interview with Sally is her bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of The Someday Birds. And for a chance to own a signed copy of the book and some bird related swags, check the bottom of the post and enter the rafflecopter form.

Here’s my interview with Sally. Enjoy reading!

Interview with Sally Pla

Can you tell us a bit about your journey with The Someday Birds? When did you first come up with the idea and what were the timescales involved between the first draft and the novel being accepted for publication?

​When my three sons were young, we took them on many summer-vacation road trips across the country. From our home in Wisconsin, we went west to Yellowstone one summer, and east to Colonial Williamsburg the next. These trips weren’t very easy on my middle son, who’s autistic. He likes the comfort of his home, and doesn’t like change. When we traveled, he subsisted mainly on chicken nuggets, to the point his big brother said something that struck me deeply one day. He jokingly said, “Nate, with all the chicken you’ve eaten on our trips, you should write a travel journal and call it ‘Chicken Nuggets Across America.'”

The idea stuck in my head — a journal of surviving change.

It was years before I actually sat down to write, but that was the seed. I thought it would be a humorous, lighthearted tale, based on our family experiences. But as I wrote, the story got deeper and richer. It turned into a true tale of my heart.

Regarding the timescale: It took me nine or ten months to finish the first-draft manuscript. I started Feb-March 2014, finished and found an agent in November, went on submission in March 2015, struck a book deal in May 2015. The book was published a year and half later in Jan 2017. I think that’s a fairly standard publishing time frame.

The Someday Birds is both charming and heartwarming story that is full of hope and ha​s​ a strong focus on family. How much of this does reflect on your own life?

​My family, like Charlie’s, is eccentric, humorous and quirky — but in different ways. Getting through tough times with humor and pragmatism, and facing challenges with honesty: this is important to me in real as well as fictional family life! ​

Charlie is such a charming and sweet character. How did you go about putting yourself in his mindset especially with his condition? What are the challenges you encounter in writing his story?

Interestingly, Charlie’s voice came to me, one day, clear as a bell. I didn’t have to do a thing to put myself in his mindset. I started out thinking I was writing to honor my autistic son’s life experience. But I think I was honoring my own. As a result of writing The Someday Birds, I reflected back deeply on my own childhood. ​

What is your favorite part about writing your debut novel, The Someday Birds?

​I love the process of writing, the sense of immersion and flow. Now that the book is finished, I love ​
​getting fan letters from young readers. and talking to them during school visits. There is nothing like meeting students who are so excited to talk about their own stories.

What is the message that you want readers to pick up from The Someday Birds?

​That the important movement of “We Need Diverse Books”​
​includes a need for “NEURO-Diverse Books”​ as well. I just met with 250 6th graders today. I asked, “Who here knows or knows of someone with autism?” Every single hand was raised. We don’t have enough books written from neuro-diverse perspectives, and I hope many more writers join me in trying to rectify this.

Also, the message that living life fully entails risk — and is worth the risk. That we live in confusing and stressful times, but when you get out in the world, there is so much kindness and caring to be found, even in the most unexpected strangers.

You’re currently working on your second novel, JOHN LOCKDOWN IS IN THE BUILDING. How’s it coming along? Do you think you’ll stick writing middle-grade contemporary or branch out into something else?

JOHN LOCKDOWN IS IN THE BUILDING is due out with HarperCollins in Feb 2018, and I am so excited about it. The hero, Stanley, is sharply funny, highly anxious, and afraid of EVERYTHING. He’s also a comics trivia fanatic, and there’s a wild treasure hunt in the book that challenges Stanley to the max. Comics are also interspersed throughout the story.

I have a young children’s picture book coming out with Lee & Low in 2018 as well — BENNY, THE BAD DAY, AND ME. It’s about two little brothers, one with autism, during a very grumpy day.

And I’m working on a YA novel, currently. I’d love to try my hand at adult literary fiction some day… Many plans!

The one thing I think my work will always include, in one way or another, large or small, is the notion of neurodiversity.

Because it’s a big, varied, unusual world out there. And fiction of diversity helps us make our embrace of it wider — and better.

Thanks so much Sally and congratulations for getting many books deals. I’m looking forward for those in the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sally J. Pla is the author of The Someday Birds (HarperCollins 2017), a Junior Library Guild Selection and starred Publishers Weekly review. Kirkus called it “hopeful, authentic, and oddly endearing. Booklist called it “a delight from beginning to end.” A second middle grade novel, John Lockdown Is In the Building, as well as a children’s picture book, will publish in 2018. Sally lives near lots of lemon trees in Southern California, where she’s hard at work on the next story.

Find Sally

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: The Someday Birds
Author: Sally J Pla
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Charlie wishes his life could be as predictable and simple as chicken nuggets.

And it usually is. He has his clean room, his carefully organized bird books and art supplies, his favorite foods, and comfortable routines.

But life has been unraveling since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan. And when Dad gets sent across country for medical treatment, Charlie must reluctantly travel to meet him. With his boy-crazy sister, unruly twin brothers, and a mysterious new family friend at the wheel, the journey looks anything but smooth.

So Charlie decides to try and spot all the birds that he and his dad had been hoping to see together in the wild. If he can complete the Someday Birds list for Dad, then maybe, just maybe, things will turn out okay…

Equal parts madcap road trip, coming-of-age story for an unusual boy, and portrait of a family overcoming a crisis.

Book Links:

Amazon | B&N | BookDepo | IndieBoundGoodreads | Publisher

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • signed copy of The Someday Birds + some bird-related swag

The Rules:

  • Open US/CA
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends July 6th, 2017
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

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Blog Tour: Karmic Hearts by Jhing Bautista (Character Interview + Review)

Welcome to my stop on Karmic Hearts Blog Tour! I have read the book few weeks ago and I had fun meeting Karmina (Mina) and Cupid, so imagine my delight when I discover that I got the chance to interview one of them. I originally wanted to interview Cupid but then I realized that that would be very spoiler-y. Good thing Mina agreed to answers my questions. So if you’d like to know more about her, be sure to check out her answers to my questions below.

Following the interview is my review for the novel, Karmic Hearts.

Also don’t forget check out the tour schedule at the end to read more reviews, Q&As, guest posts, and other fun posts.

Enjoy reading the interview!

Character Interview with Karmina Joan of Karmic Hearts

To start things off, can you please introduce yourself so everyone will know more about you?
Hello! I’m Karmina Joan. I wrote The Fall of Icarus before I got into an accident and Remembering Cupid after I woke up from the coma. And yes, Remembering Cupid was based on the dream that I had when I was in a coma.

What led you into writing? Was it a lifelong ambition, or the result of some type of turning point in your life? And why write about angels?
I’ve loved reading since I was a little kid. I used to read a lot, from novels, poems, and short stories to product brands, flyers, and advertisements. Publishing a book is one of my many lifelong ambitions. I’ve always wanted to write my own story and hold my own book, something that I’ve now achieved.
I’ve always been fascinated with angels. And when I began watching Supernatural, that fascination intensified. So I decided to write a story about them. But since my niche is romance, I incorporated romance.

Let’s say you meet Cupid today. What are the things you want to tell or ask him?
I’ll probably ask him to enumerate the reasons why he fell for me. He said so, in my dream. I don’t think I’m that special to make the angel of love himself defy the laws of heaven to be with me.

If Cupid could ask you one question about why you wrote his story the way you did, what would he want to know the most?
He’ll probably ask if the ending would be the same, the sad ending… if he didn’t insist that I change it!

What is one thing that surprised you the most about Cupid?
His naivety. He knows a lot but he still has so much more to learn. And he’s also very stubborn! I thought angels were supposed to be obedient. Apparently, he’s the exception.

If we could snoop in your room, what books would we find on your shelf besides The Fall of Icarus and Remembering Cupid?
I’m not a big fan of romance paperbacks. I like reading them online. But because I already write about romance, umay na ako sa romance. So you’ll probably find mystery/thriller and fantasy books on my bookshelf.

Are you working on any projects right now? What can we expect from you in the near future? Any other angel stories in the works?
Aside from writing articles for our company’s blogs, my boss also asked me for a personal favor. His girlfriend, who happens to be my fan, has a cousin (also my fan) who looks a lot like Cupid, but the total opposite. My boss wants me to set him up with someone, in exchange for letting me have my own page on our site. Should be easy, right? The problem is that Eros is really, really, really shy. So yeah, he’s my current project.
As for writing stories, I’m trying. But I don’t have anything solid yet. And I don’t think I’m ready to start another angel story. Need to get over Cupid first. Haha!

Personal Thoughts:

Karmic Hearts is a light-hearted, and heartwarming story about a girl who had an encounter with the Angel of Love.

Karmina Joan is a writer. She loves writing stories about love, destiny, and fate. She believes that everyone has a purpose in life, and she thought sharing her stories is her higher call. Little did she know that she has a different part to play. When the Angel of Love Cupid suddenly enters her life, she found herself playing matchmaker. She has one year to match six pairs of soulmates and fill a jar of love. Can she finished her task before the deadline?

“I figure I could use some of it in my story. It was the kind of thing that I could only imagine when I was younger. Some of my theories were downright ridiculous so I didn’t really believed in them. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t write about them to make someone else believe.”

Jhing Bautista adds in just right amounts of myths, theories, and fantasy to make Karmic Hearts interesting. She added few refreshing concepts like the love strings and mixed them with old onces – fate, destiny, soul-mates and more. There are some interesting thoughts too about love, life, and destiny which mostly from Cupid’s point of view.

“If everything is unfair in this world, then doesn’t that make it fair?”

Cupid as a character is so much fun to read. I like his sense of humor and insightful comments. Not only he is charming and witty but also smart. Though there are times that I don’t agree with his decisions, I still think that he stays true to his character, after all playing the Angel of Love means overly romantic to the fault.

The only mild complaint is the predictability of the plot. Though I haven’t read many stories with Cupid as one of the main characters, I still easily figure the twist and turns of the story. I’m only few chapters in when I guess the big twist in the end, and few more chapters about Karmina’s role in Cupid’s life. Maybe, having read too many fictions and fantasy stories makes this one easily predictable for me, but nevertheless an enjoyable read.

Overall, Karmic Hearts is a light read that is perfect for those who love cute romance. It is delightful, romantic and heartwarming. Something every romance lovers will surely enjoy reading.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Karmic Hearts
Author: Jhing Bautista
Publisher: Summit Books, Pop Fiction
Publication Date: May 09, 2017
Pages: 241
Format: Mass Market Paperback

Love. Magic. Fate. Best-selling romance novel author Karmina Joan writes about them all. She believes that every person has a purpose, that every soul has a destiny to fulfill. She thought hers was simply sharing her stories.

Her story unfolds with Cupid, the Angel of Love himself. He brings with him a mysterious vessel and a message from on high. It turns out Karmina has a bigger purpose after all–a mission that will make or break humanity as we know it.

As Cupid teaches her the tricks of his trade, Karmina unknowingly gives him something unexpected in return–something that angel of love will find oddly familiar. This may become the one flaw in an otherwise perfect plan that destiny has in store for them.

Does love truly conquer all or are there limits to what humanity can do in the name of love? Witness as Karmina struggles to find the answer before time runs out on true love.

Book Links: Goodreads | WattPad

Follow the rest of the tour!

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Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Poison Kiss by Breeana Shields (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Welcome to another feature for Celebrating Debutantes 2017. Today I am interviewing author Breeana Shields about her debut novel, Poison Kiss. This YA fantasy made it to the top of my TBR pile the moment I read the blurb – about a girl assassin who kill by kissing her targets.

Following the interview with Breeana is her bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of Poison Kiss. And for a chance to own one, check the bottom of the post for the special giveaway. Breeana is giving away a signed hardcover copy and it is open to all. How cool is that? But before that, here’s my interview with Breeana. Enjoy reading!

Interview with Breeana Shields

Congratulations on Poison Kiss, which has been out for a few months. What has been the most surreal thing about seeing Poison Kiss as published story? What’s the best part and the oddest?

Thank you! After several months, it’s still surreal to see a photo of a stranger reading Poison’s Kiss. The best part is receiving emails from readers letting me know they loved the book—it’s so wonderful to connect through stories. The oddest part is feeling like the book doesn’t really belong to me anymore. It’s out there living its own life and doing its own thing.

What was the inspiration for Posion Kiss? What drew you Indian mythology such as Visha Kanya?

A few years ago, I was listening to a lecture series on espionage and covert operations when the instructor mentioned a legendary figure in Indian folklore—the poison damsel, a woman fed poisons from childhood so that she gradually becomes immune but is toxic to any man she lures as her lover.

It was just one sentence in an eighteen-hour course, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What a terrible choice to make for a child—sentencing her to a life that she’s powerless to leave and isolating her forever from true human connection. I wondered what would happen to a girl who was turned into an assassin, but wasn’t cut out to be a killer. How would that life affect her? How would it break her?

When I was still thinking about it several months later, I knew I had to write the story.

When you started writing Poison Kiss, what was important for you in creating the story and the main character? Did any of them change from your initial inception to the final story that ended to the publication?

Marinda was always the most important part of the story for me. I wanted to write about a girl who had been turned into a deadly weapon, but didn’t have the temperament to be a killer. That was a far more compelling story idea for me than an a hard-as-nails, kick butt heroine that we usually think of when we hear “assassin”.

It was a really tricky balance, though, because it’s hard to write a character that has lived a life under the thumb of people who are controlling her entire world view and insulating her from any kind of knowledge that might make her rebel, without having that character come off as naïve. Marinda is really smart, but she only knows what she’s been told and she’s always been punished for asking questions. With another personality type—one like Iyla’s for example—that life might make the character rather merciless and tough. But Marinda temperament and her relationship with Mani make her react differently. Trying to strike that balance—lack-of-knowledge vs. naivety—is something I worked on a lot.

Do you have a favourite scene to write in Poison Kiss? What scene are you most proud of, and why?

I love every scene that features Kadru. She was so much fun to write and the scenes with her were effortless.

If we could snoop in your room, what books would we find on your bedside?

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale, which is an old favorite that I’m re-reading, and a stack of Advance Reader Copies of soon-to-be-released books from colleagues.

Without giving anything away, what can you tell us about the sequel for Poison Kiss?

Yes! It’s called Poison’s Cage and is told from duel perspectives—both Marinda and Iyla get a POV in this book. I hope readers will enjoy it!

A huge thank you to Breena for taking the time to answer my questions.  I’m looking forward to the continuation of Marinda’s story in Poison’s Cage.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Breeana Shields is the author of the recently released young adult fantasy, Poison’s Kiss (Random House, BFYR) and its forthcoming sequel, Poison’s Cage (Random House BFYR, Spring 2018). She graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in English. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves traveling, eating good food–especially if it’s pasta or chocolate–and spending time with her husband, her three children and an extremely spoiled miniature poodle.

Find Breeana

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Poison’s Kiss
Author: Breena Shields
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover, Paperback

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It’s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya—a poison maiden—is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she’s really working for. And thread, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

Book Links:

Amazon | B&N | BD | IndieBound | Target | Goodreads | Publisher

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Signed Hardcover Copy of Poison Kiss

The Rules:

  • Open International
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends June 28th, 2017
  • Prize will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

6 Comments »