Guest Post: Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything (& Giveaway)

I am SO excited to bring you this super fun guest post from Everything, Everything author Nicola Yoon! If you haven’t heard the news, the rights to Nicola’s amazing debut have been optioned for film by MGM!! So freaking exciting! I asked Nicola if she’d tell us some of the songs she’d like to see on the soundtrack to the film. Plus, Nicola was nice enough to sign the copy of the book I bought when I met her at the Decatur Book Festival (she is SO nice) AND donated a copy of the EE audiobook for the giveaway, so you should definitely stick around to end of the post and enter to win it!

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I don’t listen to music while I’m writing​,​ but music definitely influences​ me​​​​. Usually when I’m writing a book, there are just a handful of songs or albums that I’m listening to on repeat. I’m a total lyrics person, Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoonso a particularly good lyric can really inspire me. For example, when I was writing EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING, ​I kept coming back to ​a few lines in Noel Gallagher’s “If I Had a Gun”​:

Hope I didn’t speak too soon
My eyes have always followed you around the room
‘Cause you’re the only God that I will ever need
I’m holding on and waiting for the moment for my heart to be unbroken by the sea

I love all​ the​ lyrics​ in this song, but it’s the “waiting for the moment for my heart to be unbroken by the sea” part that really gets me. It’s epic​. ​It’s a little bit mysterious. It speaks to a big, big love that can only be moved by something as vast as the sea. For me, it really encapsulates Olly​’s​​ feelings for Maddy.

I’ve always said if I could write a book that made you feel as intensely as a four minute song​ can​, I would be a very happy writer. Hopefully, I’m getting closer to this the more I write. Any type of art can influence any other, and inspiration can come from unexpected places. For me, music is definitely one of those places.

THE PLAYLIST

“​If I Had a Gun​”​ by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
​”​Pieces​”​ by Andrew Belle
​”​Four Minute Warning​”​ by Radiohead
​”​Videotape​”​ by Radiohead
​”​I Need My Girl​”​ by The National
​”​Graceless​”​ by The National
​”​Hannah Hunt​”​ by Vampire Weekend
​”​Rehab​”​ by Amy Winehouse
​”​This Place Is A Prison​”​ by The Postal Service
​”​Mezzanine​”​ by Massive Attack
​”​Angel​”​ by Massive Attack
​”​Extraordinary Machine​”​ by Fiona Apple

Unfortunately, the two Radiohead songs are not on Spotify, but you can find them on YouTube – listen to “Four Minute Warning” and “Videotape” for the full experience!

ABOUT NICOLA

Nicola YoonNicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads

THE GIVEAWAY

There are two prizes (a signed hardcover and the audiobook); the first winner chosen by Rafflecopter will have their choice of the two and the second winner chosen will get the second prize.

Terms & Conditions:

  • This contest is open to US residents only.
  • The giveaway will run until October 22, 2015 at midnight CST.
  • You must be 18 years or older, or have parents’ permission to enter.
  • I will check all of the entries for the chosen winner. If any of them have been given and you haven’t actually done them, you will be disqualified.
  • If the winner does not respond to my e-mail within 48 hours, I will choose another winner.
  • I am not responsible for any items lost in the mail, and I cannot replace anything that is lost. I’m sorry.

Giveaway Enter

Interview with Jennifer E. Smith (& Giveaway!)

Recently, my new blogger friend Brittany from Brittany’s Book Rambles and I buddy read Jennifer E. Smith’s new book, Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between (my review) and loved it. I was fortunate enough to interview Jen at last year’s Decatur Book Festival, and now I am fortunate enough to bring you a follow up interview about her latest book. Brittany also has a fun interview from Jen over on her blog! AND I’ve got a little fortune FOR YOU. I won the April #NOVLBox curated by Jen, which contained copies of all three of her main books (The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightThe Geography of You and Me, and This Is What Happy Looks Like), all three of which I already owned (I LOVE Jen). So I’m going to share the love! Stick around to the bottom of the post and click over to Rafflecopter to enter to win all three paperback copies!

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Last year at the Decatur Book Festival, we talked about how Hello, Goodbye is more of a goodbye versus your other books which are one big hello. Can you talk about the differences in writing that – how this relationship was already in full swing versus at the very beginning, etc.

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. SmithYes, it was a lot of fun to write a book that was set up a bit differently than my last few.  With STAT, HAPPY, GEOGRAPHY, the characters are just meeting each other, and the book is really about the first steps of their relationships, the getting to know each other part.  But this one is about a couple that’s been together for two years, and they’re getting ready to part ways.  So it’s a deeper relationship right off the bat, which means more emotion, more baggage, more intensity.  And no matter how the night ends, they’re both leaving for college in the morning, which means they’re going to have to say goodbye.  The question is just whether it’s goodbye for now or goodbye forever.

Can you talk briefly about the journey you’ve been on from last year (when there wasn’t even a title to the new book) to almost publication date?

I think at this time last year I had finished the book itself, though we were probably still editing it. But that year between getting to the end of the book and waiting for it to come out is always an odd one.  On the one hand, the heavy lifting is over, and you’re just working out the details.  On the other, you’re excited for people to start reading the book, so it feels like a very long time to wait until it’s officially out in the world.

We had a tough time with the title on this one.  It’s the first time in a while that I really couldn’t think of anything, and it took a very long time and a whole lot of brainstorming to get to HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BEWEEN. I absolutely love it, but it’s a little weird for me too, since this is the first time I didn’t come up with one of my titles myself.  My editor and her assistant thought of this one, and I’m very, very grateful to them.

As for the cover, that was a fun process. The picture on this one is actually a real engagement photo, which I think makes it feel that much more realistic. I always feel really lucky to have the covers that I do, since I really love the style, but I think this one is particularly great.

For those who haven’t read the new book, can you give us a little insight into Clare and Aiden’s relationship and why they’re making the decision to either split up or try for long distance?

Well, they’ve been together for a couple years, but they’re about to head off to colleges at opposite ends of the country – Clare to New Hampshire and Aidan to California – and while neither of them really wants to break up, the idea of staying together in the face of all that distance seems daunting.  Clare is more pragmatic; she thinks it makes sense to end things now on their own terms, rather than slowly drifting apart, which she thinks is inevitable.  But Aidan is an optimist, and he believes they can survive it, even when so many others don’t.  At the start of their last night, they still haven’t managed to agree on what to do. So they basically have twelve hours left to decide…

Distance (and travel) are always a big influence in your books. Splitting characters apart allows for a lot of developments for the characters and their relationships. What is it about distance that appeals to you in regards to your writing?

Honestly, I think a big part of it is that I don’t like to write bad guys. I prefer to let time and fate and circumstance be the obstacles in my stories.  But I’m also fascinated by those same themes – time and distance, chance and serendipity – and so they’re a lot of fun for me to explore, and I tend to keep returning to them in different ways.

What draws you to the contemporary/romance genre?

Mostly, I think it’s just what I tend to gravitate toward as a reader, so it was only natural that I’d end up writing it too. That said, I don’t really think of my books as romances. I realize they have couples on the cover – and hearts! – but the family elements to the stories are really important to me too, so I think of them more as just realistic fiction.

Has your writing style/preferences evolved as you’ve continued to write books?

I hope so! I’d like to think I’m always growing and evolving as a writer.  But the crazy part of this process is that every single time I sit down to start something new, it feels like I’m learning to do it all over again for the very first time, which can be thrilling in its own way, but also really challenging.  If there are any shortcuts to this whole writing thing, I certainly haven’t figured them out yet!

And like I asked last year, what book(s) are you reading right now?

I just finished A LITTLE LIFE, which absolutely wrecked me, and I can’t stop thinking about it. It might be one of the most impressive novels I’ve ever read.  It’s a really tough read, but so, so beautiful. I loved it.

I also just read BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME, which is so important, and I think everyone should read it at some point.

I’ve read a few great YA books this summer too: P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU by Jenny Han, ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL by Jesse Andrews, and SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli, among others.

And I’m in the middle of READY PLAYER ONE right now, which I’m enjoying so far!

One more fun one: if you could have been the original author on any book, which would it be and why?

HARRY POTTER, of course!

Thanks, Jen!

Make sure you head over to Brittany’s blog to see the other part of the interview!

ABOUT JEN

Author Photo_Jennifer E Smith

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Storm Makers, You Are Here, and The Comeback Season. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and currently works as an editor in New York City. Her writing has been translated into 28 languages.

Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook Goodreads

THE GIVEAWAY

(THANK YOU TO THE NOVL FOR SENDING ME THESE BOOKS IN THE NOVL BOX!)

Terms & Conditions:

  • This contest is open to US residents only.
  • The giveaway will run until September 24, 2015 at midnight CST.
  • You must be 18 years or older, or have parents’ permission to enter.
  • I will check all of the entries for the chosen winner. If any of them have been given and you haven’t actually done them, you will be disqualified.
  • If the winner does not respond to my e-mail within 48 hours, I will choose another winner.
  • I am not responsible for any items lost in the mail, and I cannot replace anything that is lost. I’m sorry.

Giveaway Enter

Local MS Author Interview: Justin Harrison (& Giveaway)

Hi, lovelies! Today I’m featuring local, to me, author Justin Harrison, who self-published his debut novel SKUL last year – which is full of werewolves, soldiers, and lots of action! Check out the interview and let Justin tell you a little more about himself, his book, and his experiences self-publishing a novel. After you read the interview, be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY (yay giveaway!) to win a signed copy of SKUL. Also, don’t forget to check out SKUL on Goodreads and see what it’s all about!

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Describe yourself in three words. First off, Stefani, THANK YOU for the opportunity to talk a little about myself and my book, SKUL. I’ve been a fan of this blog for quite some time and have found several “next reads” while perusing your articles.  Secondly, ahhh, describing myself in three words is incredibly difficult, and I’ll not be throwing out any quirky words here that will force your readers to google their meanings.  I’m also assuming you don’t want something as mundane as short, fat, and bald?  Considering, how about 1) loyal, 2) unfiltered, and 3) dedicated.  And, of course, that’s not in any particularly order.

SKUL by Justin HarrisonDescribe your book in three words. Again, all but impossible, but I’ll try: 1) thriller, 2) spec-ops (I know, I’m taking a liberty with the word count here by using my friend, the hyphen), 3) werewolves.

Obviously, I could spend ALL DAY talking about SKUL as it excites me, and I believe in it.  But, you wanted three, so there they are.

Tell us how you got into writing. To be honest with you, there was not any one thing. It was a gradual process that started way, way back when I was in junior high, really.  I’m 39 now, so I’ve got some miles on me…not as many as some but definitely more than others.  You and some of your readers may remember the old gaming system, Nintendo?  I’m not talking about the stuff they have today, but the original system.  Not long after it hit the market, they produced a game called The Legend of Zelda.  By today’s standards, it is an archaic game, but the story that came with it sucked me in and never let go.  I can still remember sitting in class and trying to “write” a fantasy-type story to match Zelda.  They were horrible.  I mean, really, really bad, but I just enjoyed it in a strange way.  My writing that I do today is still influenced in some way, shape, and form by that first “game” story.

What was it like to self-publish a novel? What?  No word count?  I kid, I kid.  Self-publishing was both an awesome experience and one of the most nerve-shattering ventures I’ve ever undertaken.  Because it’s yours from cover to cover, you can either look like a champ or a chump when you release it to the public.  That bit of knowledge sat in my gut like a sliver of molten lead and forced me to do everything I could to do the best job possible.   Two very important things I did was get a group of beta readers to help with the editing and storyline along with finding an artist to put together my cover and blog art.  My friends James Madaris and Leighton Tate played an incredible hand in making SKUL as readable as it is.  Additionally, my friend and cover artist Marc Lee (look him up on Facebook as Coffee and Perspective) absolutely KILLED the cover.

To be good at your craft – whatever that may be – you have to study it, which I did in spades.  I read as many self-published works as I could.  There are a TON of great writers out there going the self-publishing route nowadays, so this wasn’t that hard.  The thing I found, however, was that many otherwise awesome works were hard to read for various reasons.  Most of these would have required simple fixes to greatly improve readability.  I worked hard to mitigate those mistakes.  SKUL ain’t perfect, no doubt, but I’m proud of what one man and a group of willing friends were able to accomplish.  My beta readers who I lovingly refer to as the Red Ink Army kick mucho booty.  Lastly, self-publishing and writing anything for anyone is a very humbling if not terrifying experience.  You’re basically splaying yourself open and showing the world your soul in a lot of ways.  I had to learn to accept the bad reviews for what they were – a chance for my craft to mature into a better product.

What were the best and worst things of the writing process? Best – without a doubt, developing the characters. The core group of five SKUL operators – Dane, Jed, Twitch, Tweeker, and Toad – I have come to know like old friends.  Creating their lives, dealing with their faults and short-comings, and intertwining their interactions as friends and teammates in a hierarchal, militaristic setting is, without question, the most rewarding part of the whole process.  Worst?  If I may take yet another liberty, can I use the term Hardest?  There’s really not a “worst” part of writing, in my opinion; but, there is a hardest part.  The hardest part for me is keeping the storyline both colorful yet crisp and fluid.  You may have noticed, but I don’t write anything short.  I can literally turn an old beer can in the woods into society’s microcosm of bilious wretch, eating away at its shell from within.  That’s pretty extreme, and I don’t really write like that, but you get the point.  

Tell us about your day job. By day, I’m a Bone Marrow Transplant pharmacist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. What that basically means is that I make a LOT of chemotherapy for patients throughout the hospital ranging from both solid tumor disease states to those with hematological/blood disorders such as ALL.  Not to be flippant but some of the stuff we have to mix/make kinda feels like you’re in Post-O.W.L.s Potion’s class.  How’s that for a tip o’ the hat to my main man, Harry Potter?  To be sure, it’s a great job albeit one filled with both sadness and elation in equal measure.  Honestly, there are a lot of days that I’d like to be out of that job; because if I am, that means we’ve finally kicked cancer’s ass.

Which writers inspire you? All of them. Seriously though, it’s really a smattering of the usual suspects – Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and J.R.R Tolkein – plus some lesser known but equally righteous authors like Jim Butcher, Will Scott, Larry Correia, and Stephen Michael Fuchs. But, really, ALL OF THEM inspire me to some extent.

What’s been your best experience as an author so far? The first time (and, the countless times since) I was asked to autograph a book that I wrote was pretty damned cool. Stuff like that along with having folks from all walks of life come up and engage you in a conversation regarding your book, what you were after at ____ point in the book, or to simply ask when the second one will be published make the late nights, early mornings, and mere minutes of free time taken up with writing absolutely worthwhile.

What’s your favorite book? C’mon, Stefani…that’s like asking what’s better Miller Lite or Bud Light, New York or Chicago style pizza, Chevy or Ford when we all know the answer is a craft beer IPA served with a whooooole lotta “yes, please” to either style pizza. But, I do have a Ford with nearly 300,000 miles currently having its transmission rebuilt, so take all that with a grain of salt.  Really though, I can’t answer the question with any sincerity.  There’s just too many good-to-completely-awesome books out there to pick just one.  What I will say is I’m a certified Star Wars NERD and think of the Harry Potter series as ground zero for completely imaginative writing.  I know, I know, but here me out.  I grew up with the original Star Wars saga (don’t talk to me about how bad they missed the mark on the latest bunch).  When my friends were wanting to be Superman, Spiderman, or something equally ridiculous, I wanted to be a Jedi Knight.  Still do, as a matter of fact; so much so, I’ve read nearly all the Star Wars stuff out there and think the Darth Bane trilogy is an unknown gem with regards to the Old Republic ; particularly in reference to the dark path Sith Lords go down.  Ok, I admit revealing that might have cost me some cool points.  Likewise, what Rowling did time and time again – that being capture an entire world audience with her writing – simply amazes me.  And, I think she’s about to do it again.  Sooner rather than later, and I Can. Not. Wait!

Any advice to other self-published authors? Yeah…just write the damned book. What I mean is, don’t get bogged down and intimidated by sales or being told “no” by books stores.  They have a bottom line to meet, and with all the virtual media outlets these days, they aren’t prone to give a newbie a cut until the book is vetted by the public.  This is tough to do, and I’ve fallen prey to it, myself.  I’m not sure what I really expected with all this.  I mean, I know what I wished for – books flying off Amazon’s virtual shelf so fast they couldn’t keep up – but, that’s not realistic.  Not for a first-time author with no publishing house machine.  So, just write the damned book.

Write YOUR book, and take satisfaction in the fact you’ve done something a huge portion of the public would never – could never – do.

Oh…and, don’t skimp on the cover.

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SKUL is available to buy on Amazon!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justin HarrisonJustin Harrison is the author of the new militaristic thriller/paranormal fantasy series, SKUL. Long considered a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, he’s desperately hoping to change the trend with his writing.

He lives in Brandon, MS, with his beautiful wife, two awesome children, and two hard-headed Labrador retrievers; all who manage to tolerate his mindless ramblings and incoherent gibberish well enough to be labeled saints.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter

GIVEAWAY

Click on the photo below to enter the giveaway. It will run from July 30 – August 20 at midnight. Open to US residents only! I’m sorry but this book is HUGE and would cost like a million dollars to ship internationally!

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My True Love Gave to Me – GIVEAWAY

I am a big fan of giving. I like buying presents for people all year round, but obviously, this time of year brings out the giving in everyone. So I want to give something to you guys, who have given me such wonderful and really, really appreciated support on my blog. I love you all.

I’ve decided to do a giveaway for a copy of My True Love Gave to Me, which I reviewed on my blog through a series of mini reviews of all twelve stories. Here’s the links to all of my mini reviews from the book. Make sure you stick around for the giveaway at the bottom!

My True Love Gave to Me

Rainbow Rowell’s “Midnights” – Such a wonderful way to start off the book. One of my favorites.

“The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link – Somewhat annoying writing style but pretty cool story

Matt de la Peña’s “Angels in the Snow” – This one kind of felt like a Lifetime made-for-TV movie. Just kind of cheesy and lots of drama and all that jazz.

Jenny Han’s “Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me” – A cute story with a sweet, hopeful ending but a whiny and spoiled main character

Stephanie Perkins’ “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown” – SWOON. That is all.

David Levithan’s “Your Temporary Santa” – This story kind of made me feel melancholy even though it’s about Santa and Christmas.

Holly Black’s “Krampuslauf” – I liked the characters, the story, the magic, the uniqueness, the writing style, everything. One of my favorites.

Gayle Forman’s “What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” and Myra McEntire’s “Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus” (in one review) – Surprisingly, I liked Gayle Forman’s story. Myra McEntire’s wasn’t one of my favorites but was still enjoyable.

Ally Carter’s “Star of Bethlehem” and Laini Taylor’s “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” (in one review) – “Star of Bethlehem” was forgettable and kind of stupid. “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” was one of the stories I loved the most for the epic fantasy aspect, but it did have its problems.

Alright, here’s the giveaway! Click on the picture below to be taken to Rafflecopter to enter. The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL as long as The Book Depository delivers to you. Yay! You can check whether TBD delivers to you HERE. The giveaway will END on January 7, 2015 at Midnight CST. Also, because I know some of you have already read/own My True Love Gave to Me, you can still enter. If you win, you can choose a book from TBD/Amazon for $15 or less! ❤ you guys.

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