Monthly Archives:: April 2015

Special Announcement from Cora Carmack!

April 29, 2015 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

HERE’S THE SCOOP!

Fans of Cora Carmack’s Rusk University, we have a SUPER exciting announcement:

 

ALL CLOSED OFF Coming 2016

ALL CLOSED OFF, Book 4 in the Rusk University Series, is coming!!!

 

Check out this message from Cora!

*WARNING: This letter contains spoilers for All Broke Down. If you haven’t yet read that book, read at your own peril. SECOND WARNING: this letter talks about fictional characters as if they are real people. Sorry I’m not sorry. THIRD WARNING: The letter below broaches a serious topic that could be a trigger for some people*

 

Hello beloved readers!

The first person who read one of my Rusk University books was my older sister. I gave her All Lined Up when I finished, and her first question was “Are Ryan and Stella going to be together?”

At the time, I told her no. I had plans for both of them that included their own storylines. I thought they were too much alike. They’d make great friends. They might even hook-up, but in the end… I couldn’t envision anything serious for them. So I actually rewrote some of their scenes trying to make that aspect of their connection more obvious. And still, when All Lined Up released, amidst the chatter about sweet Carson and sassy Dallas, I had people asking if Stella and Ryan were next. I denied it again (and again and again).

But sometimes in writing, the stars align and a character will become bigger and more real than you could have possibly imagined. It’s a wonderful experience, but in Stella’s case it was also incredibly heartbreaking. While I was writing All Broke Down, the news was inundated with information about the Steubenville rape trial and other tragedies and injustices like it. Tragedies where women have been violated first by an attacker, then by judgmental and hateful people, and finally by a justice system that repeatedly fails survivors of sexual assault. Having grown up in Texas, where too often football stars are treated like gods and can get away with just about anything, it hit particularly close to home. And since All Broke Down featured a passionate activist heroine, I felt compelled to reference this chronic dark underbelly of elite sports.

I can remember vividly sitting on my couch, brainstorming how I would incorporate such an event into the book. I had thought the assault would happen to an unknown character, and maybe I would focus on the way it divided the team and the school and the town. But like I said… Sometimes a character will become bigger and more human than I anticipated. And it sounds crazy, but in my mind, I felt Stella push her way forward and say, “Mine. This is my story.” I immediately began to cry. Sob, really. Because I loved her as a character. She was hilarious and strong and didn’t take crap from anyone. She was everything I always hope to be. And I didn’t want her to go through that. Even as I cried, my brain began to tell me that it made sense. Stella was vibrant and enjoyed a wild party. She was not afraid of her sexuality, and she had no problem with casual sex. She was the kind of girl that probably had a reputation. The kind of girl who could be heinously and violently taken advantage of, and people would STILL blame her. Because she was in the wrong place, wearing the wrong clothes, behaving in the wrong way. But just because it COULD happen to her, didn’t mean I wanted it to. But once again, Stella was there in my head saying, “Someone needs to tell this story. And I’m strong enough to do it. Let me.” And when Stella chose her story, she also chose the man I’d been adamant wasn’t right for her. Because as it turns out… Those two characters who I thought were too alike aren’t so alike anymore. And Stella needs Ryan to help her hold on to that vibrant and strong girl she was before.

So I let go of all the plans I had for her, and allowed her to tell me her story, which is about more than just sexual assault. It’s about the aftermath. Depression. Shame. Guilt. Anger. Injustice. Victim-blaming. Slut-shaming. It’s about the way that kind of event can change everything– how you relate to people, how you think, how you dream, how you love. It’s about the way the rest of the world moves on to the next big tragedy, and you’re still left holding the broken pieces of who you used to be, with no idea how to put them together again or even if you want to. It will be the most difficult story I ever tell. And the most important. Because it’s a story that belongs not just to Stella, but to millions of people around the world. It’s a story that belongs to a new person every 107 seconds*. And that’s just in the United States. Think about that for a moment. 107 seconds. Stella’s story won’t be any easier to read than it will be to write. But I hope you’ll help me drag this story into the light.

So now I’ll step off my soapbox and just tell you about the book…



ALL CLOSED OFF:

Stella Santos is fine.

Maybe something terrible happened to her that she can’t even remember. And maybe it drives her crazy when her friends treat her like she’s on the verge of breaking because of it. Maybe it feels even worse when they do what she asks and pretend that it never happened at all. And maybe she’s been getting harassing emails and messages for months from people who don’t even know her, but hate her all the same.

But none of that matters because she’s just fine.

For Ryan Blake, Stella was always that girl. Vibrant and hilarious and beautiful. He wanted her as his best friend. His more than friends. His everything and anything that she would give him. Which these days is a whole lot of nothing. She gets angry when he’s there. Angry when he’s not there. Angry when he tries to talk and when he doesn’t.

When Stella devises an unconventional art project for one of her classes all about exploring intimacy—between both friends and strangers—Ryan finds himself stepping in as guinea pig after one of her subjects bails. What was supposed to be an objective and artistic look at emotion and secrets and sex suddenly becomes much more personal. When he hits it off with another girl from the project, Stella will have to decide if she’s willing to do more than make art about intimacy. To keep him, she’ll have to open up and let herself be the one thing she swore she’d never be again.

Vulnerable.

*****

ALL CLOSED OFF will be releasing sometime in early 2016. I don’t have a date yet for several reasons. The first and most important, is that I want to do this story justice. And as such, I have no intentions of rushing the process. Secondly, I’ll be returning to indie publishing for the remainder of the Rusk series. As you can probably tell, this story means a great deal to me. And by having the ultimate control over everything from timing to editing to price, I’ll be able to ensure that I’m able to create exactly the story I envision. Unfortunately, that means you won’t be seeing the paperback of ALL CLOSED OFF on the shelves in most stores. Nor is it currently available for pre-order. But I hope you’ll add the book on goodreads, follow me on social media, and/or join my newsletter. I promise to shout it all over the place when I have a set release date or pre-order links.

Thank you for listening as I told you the evolution of Stella’s story. When it’s finished, I hope you will feel as passionately about it as I do.

All my best,

Cora Carmack

 

*Statistic from RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network)

 

#WhenitHappened banner

And an opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s…

Stella’s experience is only one story of many. She was with someone she trusted when it happened, and the only memories she has are pieced together from her own blurred recollections and the things people have told her. Not everyone’s experience with sexual assault is the same. Each person reacts, copes, and overcomes differently. And while this book is about one specific character’s journey, I would like to tell as many sides of this story as possible. As Stella grapples with her thoughts and emotions she’ll be searching for advice, for comfort, for a place where people understand her and can identify with what she’s experiencing. There will be room for truth within the fiction, and if you’d like that truth to be yours, this is your chance.

If you have a story like Stella’s, and you want your voice to be heard….

If there’s something you wish more people understood about what you’ve gone through….

If there’s something you’d like to tell people struggling with a story like yours…

I’d like to give you the opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s. Use the hashtag #WhenItHappened and let your voice be heard on your own by posting on your own social media, or if you’d rather I share your words fill out this google document and tell me your story. You can fill out this form anonymously or not. I’d like to begin this discussion now because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But my hope is to include as many stories as possible within the book itself.

So many have stories of #WhenItHappened. Your voice and your story deserve to be heard. I’m listening.

#WhenItHappened Google Form: http://goo.gl/forms/4VRjWgZYSW

 

HeadshotABOUT Cora Carmack:

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She now splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City and spends her days writing, traveling, and spending way too much time on the internet. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too.

 

 

 

Website ** Twitter ** Facebook **Newsletter **Author Goodreads

 

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PLAY ON – Promo Post (Blog Tour)

April 20, 2015 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

I am so excited to share with you the excerpt for PLAY ON today for my stop on the blog tour! I have been anxiously awaiting this book since I first heard about it and cannot wait for everyone to get their hands on this book and read it!

play on cover

Title: Play On

Author: Michelle Smith

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

 

Synopsis: In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.

 

Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma’s flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius, she’s also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there’s something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek–he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.

 

As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa s pain, it forces him to look beyond the facade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything–maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.”

Pre-order Links and Goodreads:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Goodreads

EXCERPT:

In this scene, Marisa’s reporting for her first training session at the Braxton family’s flower shop, and Austin is in charge of the grand tour.

~

I clap my hands together and start for the first display cooler. Marisa’s shoes squeak against the floor as she follows me. “All right, then,” I say on an exhale, turning to her. She stares up at me, all bouncy ponytail and bright eyes. “We’re supposed to be training. So, first things first. Flowers: how much do you know about them?”

She giggles, and dang it, she needs to stop. Please make it stop. All these little things she does that make my stomach do weird flip-flops are going to turn into big things, and big things are a lot harder to ignore.

“It’s safe to say I know a bit about flowers,” Marisa says. “Your mom gave me one heck of a quiz during my interview to make sure I knew my stuff. She even asked what my favorite flower was and how often I’m supposed to change vase water. I mean, really?”

I twirl my finger, signaling for her to continue. “And your answers were…?”

She tilts her head to the side. “Purple roses. Every two-to-three days. Do you think I’m an amateur?”

Even if I did, it wouldn’t matter. I’d train her all day, every day as long as she kept smiling at me like she is now. But that smile falters as her gaze falls to the floor. She clears her throat and says, “Before we moved here, my mom was obsessed with gardening. She taught me everything I know.”

Her voice dips. Before I can ask if she’s all right, she shakes her head and looks back to me, her eyes not nearly as bright, but still as piercing as they were before.

I shrug and force a smile of my own. “Looks like we have something in common. My momma’s a gardening freak, too.” As if owning a flower shop didn’t already give that away. Strike two, Braxton.

She steps to my side, her arm brushing against mine as she gestures to the cooler. “Anyway, continue, Floral Prince. Teach me your ways. I’m sure you know much more than I do.”

I narrow my eyes. “You’re makin’ fun of me, aren’t you? Is it the apron? Because I’ll have you know, I’m rockin’ this apron.”

She grins. “I would never make fun of a prince,” she says seriously and curtsies. The girl freakin’ curtsies.

I cross my arms. “All right, feisty pants. I see what you did there.”

Her jaw drops. “You did not just call me feisty pants. What are you, sixty? Who even says that?”

“I do, obviously. And what I was going to say is, you can’t put whatever flowers you want in the cooler. This is where we keep the special order arrangements and loose flowers. Single roses and stuff like that.”

Instead of replying, her lips curve up again. My heart hammers against my chest. No matter how tough he acts, every guy dreams of someone looking at him this way. Like every word out of his mouth is coated in gold, even if it’s the cheesiest thing that person’s ever heard.

No one’s ever looked at me this way before, not even Jamie. It’s killer. And it’s kind of freaking me the hell out because I’d never even seen this girl until a week ago, and she’s got me acting like an idiot.

“What—” I cough to cover the crack in my voice. “What’s that look for?”

She shrugs and moves past me toward the cooler. In its reflection, I see her staring at the arrangements, her fingertips pressed lightly against the glass. “I like your voice,” she says. “It’s laid-back. Easy-going. Like you have all the time in the world.” She faces me again. “And your accent’s kind of to die for. But you can pretend I didn’t say that.”

About the Author:

author photo michelle

Michelle Smith was born and raised in North Carolina, where she developed a healthy appreciation for college football, sweet tea, front porches, and a well-placed “y’all.” She’s a lover of all things happy, laughs way too much, and fully believes that a little bit of kindness goes a long way.

 

Michelle lives near the Carolina coast with her family.

 

 

Author Social Media Links:

 

Website |Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr

 

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a paperback copy of the book (US only)!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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The (Rocky) Road to Recovery: My Journey So Far

April 18, 2015 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

The last few months have been… interesting. Now that I have insurance, I have been in and out of doctor’s offices, blood work drawn, trips to the pharmacy have been more than I can count – but it’s all part of a process. It’s all part of being healthy again, living a new life and on the road to recovery.

On February 12, 2015 – I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

My entire life changed in that office. For awhile, I didn’t even feel like it was real. This couldn’t be my life. I was healthy, active and while yes, I could have eaten better at times, I tried my best to live a healthy lifestyle despite a hectic work life and balance school.

It didn’t matter. My blood glucose fasting results were a sky high level of 236. Any higher, and there was a very real chance I could have headed to the hospital because my glucose was too high. That’s a very scary thought and one that pushes me daily to get myself onto a healthy diet, keep active and make sure I take meds to help control my diabetes.

It’s barely been two months since I’ve been diagnosed. In that time I have:

– seen my numbers drop from the high 200’s to the 100’s (with a couple hypoglycemic episodes in there)

– started on two medications for diabetes, with insurance denying a third

– I attend my first diabetes class Tuesday morning

– Tackled a fabulous vacation and did well on my first big trip as a diabetic

– Proudly wear a medic alert bracelet

But it hasn’t been easy. Not at all. I still have not been able to cry over this diagnosis, because in a lot of ways – it doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t seem like this is my life. But it is. This is my life and I have to live it in the best way that I can to keep myself healthy. I have seen what out of control diabetes can do to people and I don’t want to go down that road.

I have had people tell me to my face that I “need to get on that” without understanding the negative impact it has on me. I’ve had people tell me that it’s because of all the sugar I’ve had that caused it, nope. That’s not it either. I have a family history of it, it’s genetic.

Recently, I’ve had someone I was close to decide to cut me out of their life because I was unable to make it to an event due to the fact that I was sick from the diabetes. I had been dealing with highs and lows and numbers bouncing all over the place, feeling weak and like I may pass out and realized, I have to stay home. I have to take care of myself and cannot risk an ER trip.

So, I stayed home.

Then I was berated, belittled, accused of some pretty nasty stuff and now feel like I have been cut from their life. All because I needed to take care of myself, because I was sick. Because I knew that had I pushed myself more than I already had, I would have ended up in the hospital.

This diagnosis is hard.

It means that I have had to make major changes to my life immediately. It means that I have had to give up things I loved, change my diet completely, test my sugar, learn my limits and make sure I take my medications every day at the same time so I don’t get worse.

Diabetes means that I have had to learn who really stays at my side and supports me, or who walks away. It means that people I thought I was close to had no idea I had diabetes until I mentioned it randomly. It means that I have had to say no to things I wish I could do because I am battling a low moment or I feel sick from the medications.

Most of all, it means learning to take care of myself. Learning that I have to take care of me and put my health first. It means that I can’t ignore the symptoms or a high or a low and that I have to act quickly. It means that there are days where no matter how well I eat and stay active, I’ll still have a high. Diabetes means that I have a life long, chronic illness.

It’s not going to go away. Yes, it can (and will) get better with management – but it’s been a long two months. Two months in and I still have so much to learn.

The most important lesson I’ve learned so far?

Take care of myself, no matter how hard it is, no matter how draining it can be. I have to take care of myself so I can be healthy for life and for my loved ones.

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