Category Archives: Blog tour

After the Book Deal: “Do I Really Need a Headshot?” – Guest Post from The Night Gardener author Jonathan Auxier

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I am a huge, huge fan of middle grade author Jonathan Auxier. His debut novel, Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyesis one of my all-time favorites — and his newest, The Night Gardener,is equally delightful as it is chilling. So of course I am thrilled to be hosting an exclusive guest post today from Jonathan, as part of his blog tour series “After the Book Deal.” I’ll let Jonathan explain more:

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Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier

Night Gardener, TheThe Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel, The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!

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Day Two – Do I Really Need a Headshot?

Yesterday we discussed how to find a community in the publishing world; Today, we will focus on how to present yourself to that community.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an author in possession of a debut novel must be in want of a “platform.” Writing a good book isn’t good enough—authors also need to have an engaging narrative about themselves. This isn’t a new thing: writers like Byron, Dickens, Twain, and Hemmingway, all had carefully-crafted identities that supplemented the reading experience.

Peter NimbleYour Superhero Origin Story –  When you get down to it, every book in history pretty much follows the same pattern: author gets an idea, writes it down, re-writes it a bunch, publishes it. But that’s only half the story! The other half is about what makes an author tick—why did they write the story in the first place? Just like every superhero has an origin story, every writer needs to find the story of their inspiration.

Readers love to know the stories behind the stories. Steven King was a frustrated English teacher whose wife rescued his manuscript from the trash. Rowling was a single mother on public assistance who got an idea on a train. EL James wrote Twilight fan fiction that she self-published into a blockbuster. The thing to note in these examples is that they’re all 100% true.

Your job as a new writer is to do some soul-searching and figure out why you started writing in the first place—and what that says about you as a person. Be warned that if you don’t do this yourself, your publishers will do it for you … and you may not like the result. When I was selling my first book, every publisher I talked to wanted to focus on the fact that I wrote screenplays. But I knew I didn’t want that to be part of my author identity (mainly because I didn’t want to write screenplays anymore). And so I instead shifted the conversation to talk about things that were more essential to my identity: my own struggle with literacy and a lifelong passion for the Golden Age of children’s literature. (Also, yo-yos!)

The Adventure Continues – Once you have an “origin story” that is both true and compelling, it’s time to focus on your ongoing mission. Authors have been given a (slightly) more public role in culture—and what they do with that role matters to readers. So do some soul-searching and ask yourself:

If I could say one thing to every person in the country, what would it be?

This is usually what people mean by your “platform.” Writers are expected to talk to schools, libraries, bloggers, newspapers. People will ask you about your platform … a lot. So don’t pretend to care about literacy/bullying/fanfiction/religion/etc unless you actually do care! Because you’ll likely be talking about that same topic for the rest of your career.

This may sound obvious, but your public identity should make sense in the context of your books. In my case, I have built a platform that combines my passions for Golden Age children’s books and literacy education—which means I spend a lot of time talking about how to get kids reading the classic books that inspired their favorite contemporary stories. This message is as applicable to my new book (The Night Gardener) as it was to my first.

Jonthan Auxier Headshot - web squareA Picture Is Worth 1000 Words – This sense of identity goes beyond talking points; it should also be reflected in how you present yourself. I am not saying every author needs a makeover—quite the opposite. What you want is a look that is consistent with your public identity. If you’ve fixed on a self that is authentic, this shouldn’t be too hard. Neil Gaiman always wears black—which I suspect he wore long before he was “Neil Gaiman.” For the last decade, I have almost exclusively worn button-down Oxfords and thrift-store blazers (this made me the subject of constant ridicule in sunny Los Angeles). When I published my first book, I didn’t change up that look. Why would I when it fit so well with my identity as a slightly-absentminded children’s writer? All I did was buy some slightly less wrinkled Oxfords and one or two new blazers.

Another note on this same topic: one of the first things you will be asked to do is provide your publisher with a headshot for the catalog. I would recommend hiring a professional photographer straightaway. Many authors (myself included) start with a homebrewed headshot only to get an “official” headshot later. The problem with that is then you’ve got two pictures of you floating around—one amateur and one professional. And trust me, every time that amateur one crops up, you will cringe.

In my case, my homebrew headshot was so ridiculously bad, that I dedicated a page of my website to mocking it … you should definitely check it out J

Crafting a public self you can life with is complicated but incredibly important. The bigger challenge, however, lies in learning how to conduct yourself online—which is what we’ll talk about tomorrow at Charlotte’s Library. Swing by and spread the word!

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JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores this May. You can visit him online at where he blogs about children’s books old and new.

UK Book Review Swap & Contest: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

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Today, I am thrilled to be participating in a cross-continent blog tour for The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith. The book chronicles an unlikely romance between two teens — one living in the U.S., and one living abroad in the U.K.

Which is why it’s fitting that today, I’m not sharing my review of The Georgraphy of You and Me. I’m sharing U.K. blogger Jenny’s review — and she’s sharing mine!

Once you’ve read Jenny’s review below, you can read my review over at Jenny’s blog, Wondrous Reads. Then keep scrolling down below for your chance to win a copy of The Geography of You and Me.

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The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Reviewed by Jenny of Wondrous Reads

geography of you and meI have a varied reading relationship with Jennifer E. Smith’s books. I absolutely loved The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight but thought This is What Happy Looks Like was only okay. The Geography of You and Me falls somewhere between those two books, and it’s my second favourite of her books I’ve read so far.

Jennifer E. Smith has a knack for writing romantic stories. Her teenage characters are always believable and easy to like, even though sometimes they do seem a little too wise beyond their years. In this instance, Lucy and Owen have both had to grow up quite quickly, thanks to their respective home lives and personal circumstances. Owen lost his mum in a car accident, and Lucy’s parents have constantly travelled all her life, leaving on her own for long periods of time as she got older. Both lead a somewhat lonely life, Owen because he’s become estranged from his friends and Lucy because she has no friends to speak of. When they first meet each other in a broken elevator, a spark ignites inside them and suddenly they’ve found friendship and a shot at something more.

Owen and Lucy are this author’s most complex characters I’ve read about so far, and each of them has a lot going on in their lives. They also both love to travel, which is a hobby I have no attachment to whatsoever. I couldn’t care less about visiting other places or the actual travelling to get there but, even though I personally feel this way, I still enjoyed Lucy’s travels to Europe and Owen’s road trip across the US. Jennifer E. Smith brings these places to vibrant life, from New York to London, from Seattle to Edinburgh, everything is beautifully described and it’s easy to believe you’re actually there, walking up a hill in Scotland or going for a coffee in NYC. Talk about a book taking you away from your everyday life – this one certainly does that.

The only aspect of this novel I didn’t fully fall for was the relationship between Owen and Lucy. Unlike Oliver and Hadley in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I never felt that instant connection and all-consuming chemistry when it came to Owen and Lucy. To me they always seemed more like friends, two people with a shared circumstance who didn’t know each other well enough to want to keep in touch across continents and time zones. Like I said, I liked them both, but to me they were never that couple who I rooted for. I’m sure other readers feel the exact opposite to me, and I’m interested to know what other people think of their relationship.

The Geography of You and Me is a great book for anyone who likes this genre of YA, one you’ll read in almost one sitting and savour for its brilliant writing and ability to take you to another location entirely. Jennifer E. Smith is one of the best contemporary YA writers out there and I look forward to reading more from her. I still have The Comeback Season and You Are Here sitting patiently on my bookshelf, so I think they’re my next port of call. Oh, and if you haven’t yet read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, *please* do. It’s so, so good!

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The Geography of You & Me is in stores now – but you can win a copy right here!

Just head to the Rafflecopter form HERE for details and how to enter.

Prizes can only be mailed to addresses in the U.S.

Contest ends at midnight (PT) on Tuesday, April 29th.

Blog Tour: Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley Official Playlist

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Today, I am thrilled to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley - easily one of my favorite new books of the year!

As part of our stop on the blog tour, we bring you the Official Ask Me Playlist (which you can listen to on Spotify, except for one song which you can find here.) Plus, Kimberly shares some commentary on the playlist, as well!

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ask meMy writing playlist for ASK ME was actually pretty much the same playlist that makes up the chapter titles. I seriously did listen to every one of those songs on repeat. But, there are a few songs I would add to that as my “get myself going” songs, so those are the ones I’m going to list here. Do note, however, that there are other songs I hold near and dear but wouldn’t, for various reasons, work for ASK ME. So this is just a small list of some of my favs. In Spotify, these are saved to my “Random Songs I Like” list.

  • The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars
  • Johnny Got a Boom Boom by Imelda May
  • Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
  • Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple
  • L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. by Noah and the Whale
  • In the Cold, Cold Night by the White Stripes
  • Jockey Full of Bourbon by Tom Waits
  • Human Fly by Nouvelle Vague
  • Her Morning Elegance by Oren Lavie
  • Somebody that I Used to Know by Goyte
  • Dirty Boulevard by Lou Reed
  • If I Knew You Were Coming I would Have Baked You a Cake by The Fontane Sisters

And that truly is a random list, isn’t it? Music was huge to me for this book. I can’t always listen and write, but for this one, I *had* to listen while I wrote.

Exclusive Q&A with The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare author M.G. Buehrlen

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Today, I’m pleased to present an exclusive Q&A with author M.G. Buehrlen as part of the official blog tour for her new book, The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare, which is in stores now. Learn more about the book and the author below, but first check out our interview:

57 lives of alex wayfareThough set in the present day, 57 LIVES obviously deals a lot with the past. What sort of research did you explore for the historical aspect of this book?

Tons! And then tons more! Actually, a lot of the historical scenes in the book were time periods I had already studied and researched, some in college, some on my own. I chose them in particular because I knew the most about them at the time, and I knew I could really dig in and make those time periods come to life. Now I’m doing even more research to nail the historical periods Alex will be traveling to in Book 2. But that’s OK because I’m a total historyphile. I can’t get enough of it!

How did you choose which parts of history to include in Alex’s past lives?

Not only did I choose points in history I had previously researched, but I chose locations I’ve actually visited. I lived in Chicago for a while, and many of the places mentioned in the book are places I’ve been or worked or lived. I walked those streets myself. Same with rural Missouri and Cincinnati, Ohio. I wanted the reader to really feel like they were there, so I infused my own memories of those places into the narrative to make it feel more real. There’s only so much detail you can include when you’ve never visited a location yourself. You can’t include the smells or the sounds or the exact color of the sunlight (which is different all across the globe) unless you’ve been there and experienced it for yourself.

mg buehrlenAside from writing, you also run the AMAZING website YA Books Central (one of my favorites!) — how do you think being so immersed in the YA lit world helped your writing of 57 LIVES? What (if any) challenges do you think it added to the writing process?

Running a review site like YABC definitely helps me zero in on what kinds of books are selling, as well as which of those books are getting good reader feedback. I can see what readers are railing on over and over again and then avoid those pitfalls in my own writing. It’s extremely helpful! On the other hand, being so immersed in the book world is kind of daunting and can put a damper on creativity. I’m surrounded by authors and books all day, every day. So it starts to seem like everyone’s published a book and getting published isn’t that big of a deal. It isn’t until I talk to someone outside the book world that I realize, hey, getting a book published IS a big deal! I should be super proud of this moment! :)

What is next for Alex?

She’s busy adventuring in my draft of Book 2, which isn’t quite finished yet. I’ve got to get a move on it because the book hits shelves Spring 2015. Meep! She’s headed to many more time periods, and she’s about to get smacked with a few more twists she didn’t see coming. The agony!


Favorite decade?

This one. Because that’s when all my dreams came true. *awwwww*

Must-have writing snack?


Favorite Disney movie?

I love so many! But I’d have to say “Robin Hood.”

The beach or the mountains?

Lake Michigan beach, please.

Song that can always get you dancing?


Name 5 things currently on your desk (or in your writing space), and share a photo, if possible

Here’s my YABC desk right naow!

MGB desk(I have the same glass desktop from IKEA!)

Thanks, MG! And here’s more about her book:

One girl. Fifty-seven lives. Endless ways to die.

For as long as 17-year-old Alex Wayfare can remember, she has had visions of the past. Visions that make her feel like she’s really on a ship bound for America, living in Jamestown during the Starving Time, or riding the original Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair.

But these brushes with history pull her from her daily life without warning, sometimes leaving her with strange lasting effects and wounds she can’t explain. Trying to excuse away the aftereffects has booked her more time in the principal’s office than in any of her classes and a permanent place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Alex is desperate to find out what her visions mean and get rid of them.

It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who knows more than should be possible about her, that she learns the truth: Her visions aren’t really visions. Alex is a Descender – capable of traveling back in time by accessing Limbo, the space between Life and Afterlife. Alex is one soul with fifty-six past lives, fifty-six histories.

Fifty-six lifetimes to explore: the prospect is irresistible to Alex, especially when the same mysterious boy with soulful blue eyes keeps showing up in each of them. But the more she descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. Ever.

And will stop at nothing to make this life her last.

About the Author:

When she’s not writing, M.G. moonlights as a web designer and social media/creative director.

She’s the current web ninja lurking behind the hugely popular website,

a social network for YA (and kids!) book lovers. The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare is her debut novel. M.G. lives nestled away in Michigan pines, surrounded by good coffee and good books, with her husband and son and three furbabies. Say hello on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Connect Online:

Order The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare from these links:

Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Indiebound | The Book Depository | Waterstones

Blog Tour: Read an exclusive excerpt from White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Today, we are thrilled to be hosting an official stop on the blog tour for White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout, the sexy and exciting first book in a brand-new series.

white hot kissAnd to whet your whistle, we have an EXCLUSIVE excerpt from the book (which is now in stores).

Read the excerpt from White Hot Kiss HERE!

Meanwhile, here’s more about the book:

One kiss could be the last.

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

#StoryCrushTour Q&A with The Beginning of Everything author Robyn Schneider

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Today, I am so thrilled to be hosting a Q&A with The Beginning of Everything author Robyn Schneider as part of the #StoryCrushTour! The Story Crush Tour will bring some of your favorite YA authors to five different cities, starting next month. But before that happens, we are thrilled to be hosting one of the official blog tour stops – featuring, of course, Robyn!

SC_W14_BloggerGraphic_Final_BeginningOfEverythingLet’s start with the obvious question: how old were you when you were first traumatized by a visit to one of the Disney theme parks?

You weren’t? Okay, how about this. In the beginning of your book, one of the characters has a VERY traumatic experience on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland. While I expect you’ve never experienced something like that … what is your worst experience at a theme park?

Actually, I was pretty traumatized at Disneyland California Adventure a couple of years ago. I almost choked on Tower of Terror when my necklace charm flew up into my (wide open and screaming) mouth on the drop.

You first learned about this interview via Tumblr (our Tumblr, in fact) and you commented that you would begin preparing excellent GIFs for all your responses. So here goes. Hit me with your best GIF. Let’s have it.

I think this one’s pretty great:


But if you’re more for the cute animal variety, may I recommend:


Let’s talk a bit about the characters in THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING. How did each character come into being? Which one was first, and how did the others follow?

Ezra popped into my head fully formed, this broken, self-sorry boy cast adrift after experiencing his personal tragedy. I wrote the first two chapters in one sitting. Cassidy was harder. I only ever got to know her through Ezra’s point of view, and he’s not exactly the most reliable narrator. I’m still figuring her out, even now, but I think that’s what she would have wanted. Toby, though, was always Toby. He just appeared in the first chapter as if by magic (or, possibly, literary time travel).

robyn schneiderSince your book is told from the perspective of a teenage boy, can you tell us a bit about getting into that voice?

The truth is, I wrote a book that was so emotionally autobiographical that I had to force myself to fictionalize it somehow. For me, writing from the male perspective isn’t any more difficult than writing from the female perspective. We’re all just stories in the end, and stories don’t have genders.

I’m not sure if this subject is taboo (I mean, we ARE doing this Q&A at the behest of your publisher) … but can we talk about the title? I mean, THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING is fine … but when I first read this book, I had one of the old ARCs with your original title: SEVERED HEADS, BROKEN HEARTS. And I feel as if this was a much more original, witty title. But I can see why behind-the-scenes publishing folks may have been concerned. What are your thoughts on the change-up?

I really loved the idea of calling the book Severed Heads, Broken Hearts, which is still the title throughout Europe, but it’s the punch line to a joke you only hear after reading the novel. Before, it’s just confusing. Before, it might be about zombies. So it had to go. I’m a sucker for F Scott Fitzgerald, so I love that the new title comes from his most misremembered line. It’s honestly perfect.


Favorite cake flavor?

I consider cake to be a vehicle for frosting, so the cake doesn’t matter, so long as there’s chocolate frosting.

Favorite Doctor?

John H. Watson. Although I suspect you were talking about Doctor Who, in which case, David Tenant.

Go-to karaoke song?

I don’t karaoke. Ever. I’m terrified of singing in public.

Must-have writing snack?

Coffee. Although, in my life, coffee isn’t so much a snack as a major food group.

Song that always puts you in a good mood?

“Do You Remember” by Ane Brun.

Favorite social media medium? (You can only pick ONE!)

Twitter, definitely.

Thanks, Robyn! And check out the entire #StoryCrushTour:

story crush tour

Book Review: Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. by P.K. Hrezo

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Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. by P.K. Hrezo takes readers on an adventure through the future and the past, with a dose of self-discovery and romance tossed in for good measure.

butterman time travelOne part science fiction + One part romance + One part rock-n-roll = One heckuva good time.

Welcome to Butterman Travel, Incorporated; a full service agency designed to meet all your exclusive time travel needs. We’re a family owned and operated business with one hundred years of experience. A place where you can rest assured, safety and reliability always come first.

Anxious to attend some special event from the past? Or for a glimpse of what the future holds?

You’ve come to the right place. We’re a fully accredited operation, offering an array of services; including, but not limited to: customized travel plans, professionally piloted operations, and personal trip guides. *Terms and conditions do apply

Use our Web conferencing to contact our frontline reservation specialist, Bianca Butterman, who will handle all your inquiries in a professional and efficient manner, offering a tentative itinerary and free fare quote, so you can make the most of your time trip.

We look forward to serving you at Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.

The concept of Hrezo’s book is fun and imaginative — a time travel agency! — and Bianca, the spunky young heroine, is a character readers will relate to. She has plans and ambitions, but at 17, is still figuring out exactly who she is in this world.

Together, she and time travel customer Tristan Helms (who also happens to be the “it” boy of pop music) embark on a fast-paced trip with plenty of hiccups along the way that provide for surprises and a page-turning quality that will keep readers on their toes.

Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. is not without fault. At times, the book is bogged down with detours and scenes that probably could have benefited from some traditional editing (the book is self-published) and would have kept the pace from slowing down so drastically. Likewise, there are instances of drug use that seem superfluous and unnecessary. (And while drug abuse is a subject of the book — it feels as if this behavior is too often excused.) The book IS targeted to NA readers, but with a 17-year-old protagonist, plenty of YA readers will be intrigued and should take note of this mature subject matter before diving in.

Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. is available now. Look for a sequel soon.

Today’s book review is part of the official blog tour for Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc.

Blog Tour: Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc by P.K. Hrezo

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Today, we’re delighted to host a blog tour for Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. by P.K. Hrezo as part of the official blog tour. See all of the blog tour stops HERE and be sure to keep reading to learn more about a fun blog tour contest!

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Guest Post from PK Hrezo, author of Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc.

Time Traveling Teens Anonymous (TTTA)

buttermanbannerHi, my name’s Bianca Butterman, and I’m a teen time traveler.

My webbies give me a hard time in the chat rooms and think I’m a spoiled brat. They say—there you are with your own family time-craft at your beck and call—can go almost anywhere, anytime, so why aren’t you giddy and giggly instead of being all serious? They don’t get it.

That’s why I’m here today, at TTTA, hoping to get a little support for the kinds of things I go through. I mean, it’s not like there’s a lot of us out there, right? And here’s the thing—I don’t mind the routine time-craft maintenance (I love it actually,) I’m talking about dealing with snotty secretaries on Web conferencing when they call for their oh-so-important bosses and treat me like some kind of naïve doofus. I know more than they ever will about time travel, but they act like they’ve earned some kind of holier-than-thou badge just because they work for rich jackasses.

There’s a lot of stress involved when it comes to messing with time strings, and some passengers just don’t understand what we go through to avoid possible paradoxes.

And then there’s the fact I live in the middle of nowhere and see the same people in town, day in day out, because nobody in their right mind would ever move to the Arctic. Translation: no hot guys.

Or how about having time traveling parents who spend more time plotting coordinates and mapping time-ports than watching their only daughter score big in holographic Evil Dead 14. And by the way, what the hell’s a movie night, right? I see my webbies talking about them and for a few minutes I get super envious and jones for the kind of life where you can relax, eat popcorn, and veg out with the fam, sans work related activities.

But then all of a sudden it hits me and … I remember … I just witnessed the swearing in of the U.S.’s first woman president in the year 2020. Before I was even born. And that’s pretty effin’ cool. *sigh*

*Blinks eyes slowly* So what are we all doing here at this pathetic meeting feeling sorry for ourselves, when we can be planning our next time trip? Come on! We’ve got places to go, people to see, and timelines to penetrate.

From PK:

Thank you so much for having me here today and featuring my book!

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Enter the BUTTERMAN (TIME) TRAVEL, INC. Blog Tour Contest!

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butterman time travelAbout Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc:

We are a full service agency designed to meet all your exclusive time travel needs. Family-owned and operated, we offer clients one hundred years of time travel experience. A place where you can rest assured, safety and reliability always come first.

Anxious to attend a special event from the past? Or for a glimpse of what the future holds?

You’ve come to the right place. We’re a fully accredited operation, offering an array of services; including, but not limited to: customized travel plans, professionally piloted operations, and personal trip guides. *Terms and conditions do apply

Conference us directly from our Website. Our frontline reservation specialist, Bianca Butterman, will handle all your inquiries in a professional and efficient manner, offering a tentative itinerary and free fare quote, so you can make the most of your time trip.

We look forward to serving you at Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.

Book Links: GoodreadsAmazon Kindle  | B&N

pk hrezoAbout the Author:

PK Hrezo is a native Floridian whose life could easily be a Jimmy Buffet song. She shares her home with her firefighter husband and their two children. When not creating characters and their worlds, PK can be found at her other job of rearranging passenger’s itineraries for a major international airline. The only hobbies she loves more than traveling, are reading, writing, and music, and when the four are combined she exists in total bliss.

She blogs regularly at PK HREZO: Fearless Fiction

Blog Tour: Something Real by Heather Demetrios

Something Real by Heather Demetrios is one of my favorite books of 2014 so-far — so I’m especially excited to have Heather stopping by for an exclusive guest post today, as part of the blog tour for Something Real. The book is in stores now, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, do so immediately. 

Well, read Heather’s guest post first — a survival guide to reality TV — then go pick up Something Real and start reading!

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something realIn my debut novel, Something Real, my main character Bonnie™ (or Chloe, as she likes to be called, since her name is trademarked by MetaReel Productions) has to live every high school girl’s nightmare: her entire life is exposed to the whole world (oh wait, that’s everyone’s nightmare). That girl fight she got in with one of her sisters? You can find it on Netflix. That time she swallowed half her parents’ medicine cabinet? Read about it in her mom’s tell-all.  Everywhere Chloe goes and everything she does is up for grabs. If it’s not MetaReel sticking their cameras in her face while she tries to eat breakfast, it’s the Vultures—paparazzi that park outside her house and her school, waiting for a shot that makes her look like she has a baby bump. As someone who was literally born on television, Chloe will be the first to tell you: it’s survival of the fittest.

Don’t google yourself—like, ever

This is probably the number one rule for surviving reality TV “stardom.” Anyone who has experienced even the tiniest bit of notoriety—heck, anyone period—knows that the Internet is the high school equivalent of bathroom stall slander. Chances are, someone, somewhere, is writing something that’s either untrue, uncool, or flat-out mean. And instead of it being written in Sharpie on the back of one stall, whatever’s on the Internet is out there for literally the whole world to read. If Chloe googles herself, she knows she’ll see some pretty awful stuff about her past (the infamous Pill Incident) and a bunch of crap about her present (no, for the millionth time she’s not pregnant!). Basically: google at your own risk.

Avoid the Cray-Cray

MetaReel, the company that produces her family’s show, Baker’s Dozen, will do anything for the right shot. Whether it’s staging surprises meant to freak Chloe out or creating drama in order to catch explosive family arguments, MetaReel will stop at nothing to keep the show’s ratings sky-high. If you find yourself in a similar reality TV hell just remember this: you don’t have to play by their rules. Say No sometimes, hide out in places where they’re not allowed to film, and refuse to let them exploit the people you care about.

Stick Close to Your Besties

Here’s the deal: being on reality TV for your senior year of high school (not to mention for most of life) is pretty tough. The only people who are going to help you get through are friends who have absolutely negative zero interest in becoming reality TV stars. Luckily, Chloe has two BFF’s: Tessa and Mer (not to mention her brother, Benton™). Tessa’s no-nonsense outlook on life helps Chloe keep it real while Mer’s all-caps exuberance turns everyone’s frowns upside down. These are the kind of friends that won’t judge you when you seriously consider going homicidal on your TV crew and they’ll be the first to defend you against camera phones and evil talk show hosts.

Find a Janitor’s Closet

…or an equally acceptable place to make-out with your boyfriend. Don’t even think about romantic dinners or trips to the local theater. PDA is all fine and well for people that won’t see their lovin’ on the front cover of a glossy tabloid. But this, unfortunately, doesn’t apply to Chloe and your new book boyfriend, Patrick Sheldon. Let’s be honest—it doesn’t take a genius to imagine all the horrible episodes reality TV could make of your relationship. Imagine the following on camera, and you’ll see what I mean: the first time your boyfriend meets your parents, your first kiss, that hot and heavy make-out session in his car, that really private conversation about really private things that are now no longer really private because it got aired on national television. You catch my drift.

Invest in Good Disguises

They probably won’t work, but it’s kinda fun to get a Groucho Marx mask or a pair of fabulous sunglasses that make you look like a 1970’s movie star. Wigs aren’t a bad idea, either, and it’s even more fun to try them on at a Dollar Tree store with a boy that makes you swoon.

Let Your Inner Anarchist Out

A little subversion never hurt anyone (spray paint, wire cutters, and duct tape optional).

Follow these tips and, like Chloe, you’ll be able to live the life you want, whether or not the cameras are rolling.  

 *          *           *

Demetrios Author PhotoAbout Heather:

Heather Demetrios, originally from Los Angeles, now lives in Brooklyn and various imaginary locales. She is the recipient of a PEN New England Discovery Award for her debut YA novel about reality TV “stardom,” SOMETHING REAL (Macmillan/Henry Holt), and is the author of the upcoming EXQUISITE CAPTIVE, a smoldering fantasy about jinn in Los Angeles (#1 in the DARK CARAVAN fantasy trilogy from HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray), both out in 2014. She is currently working on her second novel for Macmillan, a love story about a young combat veteran and a girl trapped in their small town, both struggling to escape the war at home. When she’s not hanging out with her characters, Heather is working on her MFA in writing for children and young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

About Something Real:

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

Book Review: Neverwas by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed & Larkin Reed

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Today’s review is part of the official blog tour for Neverwas by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed & Larkin Reed. See our review for the first book in this trilogy, Amber House, here.

What began as an intriguing ghost story in Amber House becomes a truly genre-defying thrill ride in the new sequel from authors Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed, Neverwas.

neverwas“I was sixteen the second time I had my first kiss….”

At the end of AMBER HOUSE, Sarah made a choice that transformed everything–and now she must choose it all again.

Things are very different–better–for Sarah and her family: her Aunt Maggie grew up; her parents are happily married; her grandmother died after a long, productive and respected life. But other things are different too, and not for the better.

After growing up in the free country of the Pacific Northwest, Sarah Parsons has settled in at Amber House, the stately Maryland home that’s been in her family for generations. But the world surrounding the House feels deeply wrong to Sarah. It’s a place where the colonists lost the 1776 Insurrection, where the American Confederation of States still struggles with segregation, and where Sarah is haunted by echoes of a better world that she knows never existed.

Her friend Jackson shares these visions of a different world–and together, they manage both to remember the way things ought to be, and to plan a daring mission that will reset the universe once again. Sarah must figure out what has changed, and why, and how she can fix it–how she can find her way to another otherwhen.

Once again, family and doing what’s right are at the heart of this captivating story — but the authors have really gone above and beyond the ghost story premise they began with in Amber House. With Neverwas, the authors have crafted a truly frightening alternate reality — far more scary than the ghostly aspects of this series.

This “other when” is richly imagined, with an alternate history in which the United States never came to be; in which the Nazis took over Europe and have their sights set on the world; in which slavery endured far longer; where women are not as equal as they should be. The authors have taken a “what if” concept and gone in a fascinating direction. In some ways, learning more about this horrifying “other when” was one of my favorite parts of reading Neverwas.

But the plot to fix this world and get back to the right course of history offers up even more motivation for turning the pages. As a reader, you want to know how Sarah will fix this future — and at what point in the past did everything change for the worse.

Neverwas is a captivating read, full of action and intrigue — and a fascinating premise expertly executed. Look for it in stores on Tuesday.