Last night I went to the book launch party for A Hand of Knaves, the short story anthology that features a story of mine called “The Best Heist Yet”. I confess I was feeling a little nervous — my imposter syndrome was registering off the charts, and I didn’t know anyone there (except my bestie, who came along for moral support and took some pics for me — thanks, mate!).
I felt better when we first arrived and found the dealers room, where people were selling books they had written. I picked up the third book in the Antipodean Queen series (I reviewed the first one here if you want to check it out) and another that the author described as a sci-fi murder mystery. Whee!
I didn’t have to worry about the launch either — it was a lot of fun and everyone was lovely. There were three readings (which were amazing and didn’t help with the imposter syndrome any), plus champagne (which offset the effect of the readings). And I got to sign ALL THE BOOKS.
It was a ton of fun, and made me wonder why I haven’t done this sooner — all of my book launches for my own books have been strictly online affairs. It also drove home that I really should join the local author community and, you know, get out of the house more. I’ll definitely look into that.
After I finish this next book I’m reading. 😉
Rogues, thieves, pirates and ne’er-do-wells abound in speculative fiction. Sometimes heroic, sometimes villainous, often somewhere in between, rogues are as likely to steal one’s heart as one’s purse, and show little remorse while helping themselves to either.
So why do we love them? Because they’re imperfect, fallible, and even vulnerable under that carefully-maintained, world-weary exterior.
Rogues represent something we rarely see in our daily lives: ordinary people prepared to take on the “powers that be” by way of guile and subterfuge. But are they only in it for the loot, or are they–deep down–romantic at heart?
It’s always exciting and nerve-racking (nervousciting?) releasing a book into the world — even a novella. For those that have missed me going on about it, Guardian Angel is an urban fantasy set in Sydney, featuring a handsome movie star lead, his friends, and his impossibly perfect new fiance. You can read an extract from the story here.
Guardian Angel is both a new project and an old one. It first began its life in about 2004, when I began to experiment with longer-form fiction — until that point, I hadn’t had the stamina for anything beyond a few thousand words. (The original draft was about 15,000 words, and I was incredibly proud of myself at the time; of course, when I sat down at the end of last year to revisit and re-draft the story, it ended up at around 20,000 without me even trying. What can I say? I talk a lot more than I used to!)
Even though Guardian Angel is shorter than one of my novels, I have sought to give it the same care and attention as one of them — which means …
My obligatory thank you speech
Thanks to those who read the original version of Guardian Angel what feels like a thousand years ago now. Becca, I’m still waiting to see you publish — or self-publish — something of your own. You can do it. I believe in you! And thanks to Craig, who read the revised version of this story and helped me make it even better. You’re the bestest bestie a girl could ever want.
Also, thank you, love and cupcakes to my wonderful editor, Lauren Clarke, who asks all the hardest questions, spots even the tiniest inconsistencies, and only made me cry a little bit. (Kidding!) You’re worth your weight in gold, lady. And the cover is brought to you by the very clever Kim from KILA Designs; if you’re looking for an ebook or paperback design, you can find her on Facebook.
Thank you, as always, to my friends and family for putting up with my frequent absences and blank stares, for feeding me coffee and Bad Chicken, and for playing board games and keeping me sane: Mum, Dad, Kristy, Ali, Craig, Karen and Cassandra.
And finally, thank you to my son, who is now almost nine (wut?!). You make me laugh when I’m sad, amaze me with your quick-wittedness, and fill our house with love and wonder. Also, just so you know, little in this world makes me happier — or more conflicted — than when you beg to read “just one more chapter” at bedtime. I hope you never lose that passion for reading.
To celebrate the release of Guardian Angel, I’m giving away a $20 Amazon voucher. To enter, click the link below and perform any (or all) of the actions to score entries. The competition closes on 25 May.
Can her light hold back the night?
There are two things actor Jordan Woodrow always swore were true: that there was no such thing as love at first sight, and that he could never love a fangirl. But after he met Brianna at a convention, everything changed.
Now, hallucinations creep at the edge of his days and nightmares scuttle through his sleep, and only Brianna can keep them at bay. When she is with him, everything is fine. No, it’s better than fine—it’s perfect.
Why can’t his family and friends see that?
P.S. A sneaky announcement
As well as working on Guardian Angel, I had another project on the go. Also a novella, this one comes out on 5 May — so next Saturday — and will be released under my Tammy Calder pen name. Please note that Tammy writes erotica*, so, unlike Guardian Angel, this link is for adults only. Not for kids. And definitely not for my mother. (Hi, Mum!)
Now that you’ve been warned, here is the link for more information on Tammy’s books. Possessed: His Ghostly Game, an urban fantasy ghost erotica, has been out for a few years, and Kiss of the Succubus, a high fantasy erotica, is now available for pre-order.
* Yes, I refer to my erotica pen name in the third person. Shush.
It’s here! It’s here! False Awakening, the second and final book in the Lucid Dreaming duology, releases today. The buzz of releasing a book never gets old, and I’m especially excited to be able to share this story with you as Melaina is my favourite leading lady so far (don’t tell Isla). I’m going to miss the sound of her not-so-delicate footfalls as she stomps her way through my imagination. She’s left some big boots to fill.
Before we get to the excerpt-y goodies, I’m going to be self-indulgent and say a few thank yous. Feel free to scroll right on past if the sight of an author blubbering on screen bothers you. :p
Firstly, let me fire the party cannon for my excellent support team. Stacey Nash, Kim Last and Craig Lawrie, who read the drafts in various states and gave me valuable advice and encouragement—thank you. I adore you all. Group hugs! Also, thank you to my wonderful editor, Lauren Clarke, who has an eye for plot holes, asks all the hardest questions and spots even the tiniest errors. Seriously, you guys—she noticed that an apostrophe was the wrong font. An apostrophe. She is truly my people.
The cover is brought to you by the aforementioned Kim. She has done all my book covers to date; her eye for design and her talent for turning my bumbling suggestions into something beautiful leave me constantly in awe. If you’re in need of a cover designer, look up ‘KILA Designs’ on Facebook.
Thank you to my friends and family for putting up with my inattention and vacant looks, for letting me rant over Messenger, and for waving pompoms most enthusiastically: Mum, Dad, Kristy, Ali, Craig, Karen, Cassandra, the BC09 girls (especially Nicole, Isla’s biggest fan!) and the AOR girls.
And finally, as always, thank you to my son, Nathaniel. There is more laughter in my life when you are with me.
Summary from Goodreads
How can you fight your nightmares when they’re real?
Melaina, half-human dream therapist, just wants her life to return to normal. Yes, her Oneiroi father is in prison and, yes, the place she worked burned down, but she has a cute boyfriend and a new house. She beat the bad guy. She’s earned a break. Right?
Unfortunately for Melaina, people are still getting possessed by nightmare spirits; the police are investigating her past; and the bad guy’s brother, the Morpheus himself, is coming to town to demand answers. When a deranged ex-nurse checks himself out of hospital on the same day her cousin runs away from home, Melaina is dragged into a fight not just for her life but for her soul.
Createspace | Amazon (coming soon)
Enter for a chance to win:
* A $20 Amazon gift card
* One of five ebooks of Lucid Dreaming (book one)
Leander studied me from the other side of the trolley. I could see the shadows of fatigue under his eyes, which shocked me. Leander never looked tired. Cocky and self-assured? Yes. But tired? No. Not even when Ikelos had bound him with barbed wire. Despite his relaxed manner, increasing the hold of Daniel’s memory over the dream and destroying so many blights was draining him. And he was too proud to admit it.
I clenched my jaw and took a breath. I’d wanted to look for matches and maybe some reams of paper, but we didn’t have time. Another blight was about to hatch. “Alright.” I pulled several packets of nails down and tossed them onto the top of the trolley with a sick feeling. I’d seen enough news stories to know real-world lunatics packed their bombs with shards, to cause additional damage. “Can you get this up there, and then explode it?” I glanced at the nails. “From a d—”
The floor erupted beneath us.
Tentacles, each as thick as one of Leander’s well-muscled thighs, smashed through the floor. The blight hadn’t been as helpless as I’d assumed … and corruption hadn’t been the only thing it had been spreading. My cheek burned as a shard of floor tile sliced it, blood welling. The trolley tipped and I ignored the pain, lunging forward to steady it before its contents spilled into the sticky darkness below. Leander leaned over and gripped the frame, placing one hand on either side, his fingers brushing against mine as I let go. His grim gaze held mine for a moment, and then his wings pumped. Air washed over me as he lifted the overstuffed trolley into the air, towards the central body mass of the blight.
For a second I felt relief as he carried the improvised bomb above the thrashing tentacles. Then one of those tentacles slid around my waist, barbs as long as my palm tearing through the scorched armour of my motorcycle leathers. I gasped and prised at them with bare hands, trying to wiggle free but succeeding only in cutting my palms. Above me, the muscles in Leander’s back worked as he strained to haul the trolley upwards, ignoring the now-free baby blight buzzing around him like an oversized mosquito. He was dragging the bomb up there with brute force. Pain caused my vision to blur, but not before I realised he was going to ignite the trolley’s contents while he was holding it. The damned fool Oneiroi had no idea what would happen.
The tentacle dragged me towards the jagged hole in the floor. I didn’t look down, not wanting to see what awaited me. The wet smacking sound and the putrid smell were bad enough. Sweat beaded on my brow and I set my jaw against the pain, blinking to clear my vision, staring up at Leander.
He drove the end of the trolley into the breeder blight’s wet mass, leaning against the handle to brace it there as he conjured a spark in one hand.
The spark descended towards the makeshift bomb.
I cried out, using the last of my energy to fling a shield, a wall of force, between Leander and the trolley.
Fire and exploding chunks of meat raining down around me. My vision blackened, and I tumbled out of the dream.
For another excerpt, see this post from May.
Today I was honoured to introduce Sharon M. Johnston, networking queen and fellow Aussie Owned book blogger, at the launch of her new release, Shattered.
Shattered is book two in Open Heart, a modern day sci-fi/superhero young adult series set in Brisbane, Australia. I originally reviewed the first book, Divided, when it was released under a different name. Still, I just re-read it this week and the review is still valid if you want to investigate.
Now, those who know me will know that I am kinda sorta terrified of public speaking. But I managed to squeak my way through introducing Sharon and didn’t faint or anything, so I call that a win. (She, on the other hand, did brilliantly!)
You can find Sharon’s books on Amazon if you want to investigate further. As part of a launch day deal, Shattered is currently 99 cents (US).
DIVIDED: AN OPEN HEART NOVEL
Sharon M. Johnston
Publication Date: November 24 2015
New Adult Science Fiction Romance
A new heart should mean new life, instead it’s a living nightmare.
Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, she has the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull her new dream world. Yet, life starts to unravel when Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab, but she can’t ignore the strange instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed. Torn between love and the obsession, Mishca must decide between the two men. But as the organization responsible for her weird powers moves in, she’ll have a lot more to worry about than romance.
Find Divided on Goodreads
SOMEONE MUST DIE so I can live. I’ve come to terms with that. Before it turned my stomach, thinking about my donor’s death, but now I’m used to it. Most likely, it’ll be a car accident or a drunken fall. It won’t come from illness or any other natural causes that corrupt human organs and make the deceased ineligible to be a donor. A violent, painful death will be my savior. It’s the only way I’ll ever get my new heart.
I open my eyes and stare upward, hoping the white fluffy clouds splotched against the blue sky will distract me from my imaginings of people dying. I guess I’m not as used to the idea of getting someone else’s heart as I thought. The harsh Australian sun makes me squint.
I swing my legs around and hoist myself upright on the stadium bleacher, looking over the sports field. Readjusting my tank top strap that had slipped off my shoulder, I try to conjure up happier thoughts. At least I won’t be responsible for the person who dies, even if I get a new heart out of the mess.
Yeah, happier thoughts.
Sharon has one BIG prize bundle as part of the celebrations! You could win:
- Heart Marcasite Earrings
- $10 Amazon Gift Voucher
- Owl Christmas Decorations
- Dinosaur Christmas Decorations
- Owl Pen
- Heart Pen
About the Author
SHARON JOHNSTON is a New Adult author from sunny Queensland, Australia. She specializes in intriguing stories and soulful contemporaries across category boundaries. Working as a PR specialist by day, in her spare time she writes, blogs for YAtopia and Aussie Owned & Read, spends time with her fur babies, and plays computer games with her family. She’s also been trailed by women wanting to know where she buys her shoes.
I am super-excited to be taking part in the blitz for How to Save a Life by Lauren K. McKellar. This woman is one of my rocks in the writing community; she’s also incredibly, incredibly talented and has made me cry on more than one occasion. (Because of her writing, not because she’s been mean or whatever. I don’t think she has a mean bone in her body.) I’ve read a couple of excerpts from How to Save a Life now, and I’ve already laid in a stock of tissues in preparation for when I get my grabby hands on this book. Which, by the time this post goes live, I will have.
I’M NOT JOKING.
If that’s not enough of a recommendation, then there’s also a giveaway if you scroll to the bottom of the post. 🙂
Title: How To Save A Life
Series: Emerald Cove #1
Author: Lauren K. McKellar
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 21 July 2015
Life is not a love song …
I learnt the hard way that labels stick. Laura took “lovely”, and the teacher branded me “lady-like”.
It stuck with me, even through my high school years. It felt like that was all I’d ever be.
Until everything changed.
Lia the liar.
Lia the lost …
Now the choices are endless. But I don’t want to be any of those either.
My name is Lia Stanton. And this is my story.
Buy it now
She walks up the stairs, and straight away my heart leaps from my chest, beating a staccato that raps into my throat, the pulse point at my wrist, all throughout my body. I go from steady to strung-out in the blink of an eye.
“Mum,” I call, and this time on the staircase, she spins around.
“Yes?” She frowns.
Don’t go up there,
I try to say the words, but my stupid voice won’t work. My mouth moves, but no sound comes out, and Mum tilts her head to the side. “Lia …”
I try to scream so loud my lungs hurt, and still, nothing.
Don’t go into your bedroom.
You can’t see that.
It will ruin you.
“Lia, you’re normally such a sensible girl.” She sighs and turns her back, then walks up the stairs again.
My voice mightn’t work but my feet do, and I charge after her, leaping up those stairs two at a time. She floats down the hall toward their room, and I run, run as fast as I can, and grab onto her shoulder just as she tightens her grip on the door.
“Lia, will you drop it?” She turns to face me. “I’m just going to see if your father is home. What harm could I possibly do?”
My stupid voice is without once again, and as I try to yell at her, to tell her that no, she shouldn’t go in there, that seeing what’s behind that door will destroy her—
She twists the handle.
She opens the door.
And she screams.
And straight away I’m back on the couch, hearing that blood-curdling noise that chills me to my very bones, that signifies the start of the end of life as I know it. I race up the stairs to try help her, to try and make it stop, but when I get there she has collapsed in the hall.
And nothing I try to do will fix that.
Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card!
Lauren K. McKellar is the author of romance reads that make you feel. She lives by the beach in Australia with her husband and their two dogs. Most of the time, all three of them are well behaved.
Cadence Anderson has the perfect definition of happily ever after . . .
Until she doesn’t. A freak earthquake shatters her life as surely as her home, taking away everything she holds dear. She wakes in a hospital to find that her beloved husband and infant daughter have been killed, crushed by the earthquake’s wrath. Disoriented, injured, and alone, Cadence refuses to accept the loss. So when a man claiming to be her guardian angel appears and offers her a chance to go back in time to save her family, she doesn’t need to give it a second thought. She accepts.
Thrust back eleven years, she now faces the ordeal of high school all over again. But this time, she’s armed with all the knowledge of her adult life and the determined to do everything better, from preventing the loss of her best friend to avoiding her original, drama-inducing boyfriends. She’s focused solely on Austin, her future husband, and is content to bide her time until she meets him again.
But then James Gordon crosses her path. Cadence wants to remain single, but James has his sights set. He is determined to win her over, and he’s very hard to resist. As Cadence starts to develop unwanted feelings for him, she realizes he threatens to disrupt everything, changing the future and distracting her from her original goal. Now, Cadence must choose: deny the unpredictable and exciting path James offers her, or stay true to the life she had and is trying desperately to resurrect. Second chances are more complicated than they seem.
Deceptive Cadence combines the soaring emotion of a heartfelt romance with the innovative storytelling of magical realism, crafting a uniquely moving, intricate tale about love and loss that asks: what would you do if given the chance to right all your wrongs?
Enter to win a great bookish bundle!
A steady beep brought me out of unconsciousness. My eyes felt heavy. I struggled to open them. The distinct aroma of cleaning products hung in the air. My brain switched on as I realized where I was and forced my eyes open. The beeping sped up. White walls encircled me in the hospital room; directly across from me was a closed bathroom door. I was completely alone. Where was my family? My husband? My baby daughter?
I tried to sit up, but my whole body writhed with pain. I moaned, and a second later, a nurse dressed in aqua scrubs burst into the room.
“It’s all right. Just don’t move,” she said in a soothing voice.
I wanted to ask a million questions, but I couldn’t form any words. She gently pressed me back onto the bed and checked me over. I watched her; she seemed to avoid looking directly into my eyes. As I followed her movements, I became aware of the cast on my arm. My right leg was bound and raised in a sling, and I appeared to have large bolts sticking out of my thigh.
“What happened?” I finally managed to utter.
The nurse slowed. “You have a fractured femur, ulna, and radius. You also sustained substantial head trauma, which is why you’ve been unconscious for the past few days.”
“Few days?” I groaned. “What day is it?”
“But how? The last thing I remember was . . . was . . .”
I didn’t actually know. Monday was a haze. I’d come home from university and found my husband, Austin, had cooked dinner, and our eighteen-month-old daughter, Melody, was bathed and in her pajamas. I’d been so surprised. I kissed him, his dark scruff tickling my nose, and felt as if I’d never be happier. We’d sat and eaten together, enjoying our family time. Our little Melody rambled about this and that, while Austin told me about his day.
“There was an earthquake,” the nurse said.
I snapped back into focus. “But we don’t live near a fault line.”
The nurse dropped her gaze. “It was an accident. Your leg was crushed under a ceiling beam, and your arm broke when you hit the floor.”
“When I hit the floor?”
“You were found wedged between your bed and the collapsed wall and roof.”
I tried to remember. Austin and I had put Melody to bed at her normal time, and a few hours later, we’d gone to bed. How had I ended up on the floor? I rubbed my forehead.
“Where’s my family?”
“Your parents arrived yesterday,” she answered.
“My parents?” I lived a long way from my parents, clear across the country, in Perth. For them to come last minute like that . . .
“Where’s my husband?”
The nurse didn’t answer.
“Where’s my daughter?” My voice rose.
Again, no answer.
The beeping sped up. “Where are they?”
A doctor—wearing a white coat and carrying a clipboard—entered the room, my parents right behind him. Mum rushed forward and grabbed my hand. I felt sick. Before the doctor even said it, I knew what had happened.
“Your husband was found holding your daughter in her room. We believe it was fast . . .”
I couldn’t hear any more. My ears buzzed. My heart ached.
“No.” I pulled my hand free. “No! I don’t believe it!”
“Cadence, honey,” Mum said as tears streamed down her face. “Austin is gone. He died trying to protect you and Melody.”
“Melody! Where’s Melody?”
Mum sobbed uncontrollably. Dad stepped forward to grab her shoulders.
“I’m sorry, Cadence.”
I gasped, feeling as if my heart had been ripped from my chest. “No! I don’t believe you! I’m dreaming. This has to be a dream. It can’t be real.” I closed my eyes tightly. “Wake up, Cadence, just wake up.”
Mum’s hand squeezed my arm as she continued to sob. But I couldn’t wake up from it. It was all real.
My eyes shot open, and I threw up. The nurse rushed to clean me, but I shoved her away. The beeping from the heart monitor increased.
“Cadence.” Mum grasped my shoulder. “Breathe, honey.”
“No, no!” I pushed her away, trying to pull free of my restraints. “I don’t believe it. I want to see them, now.”
“Nurse,” the doctor said firmly.
The nurse grabbed my drip, and the next thing I knew, the world became hazy.
About Katie Hamstead
Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.
After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dogs.
She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She now works as an Acquisitions Editor to help support her family. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.
Written by nine authors, Never Be Younger is a Young Adult collection of Shakespeare retellings. From Othello to Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet to The Winter’s Tale, each story has been crafted with a new spin.
From the halls of a high school to hip night clubs to the depths of space, Never Be Younger gives Shakespeare’s classic plays and sonnets a fresh spin for a new audience. Nine authors pay tribute to the Bard by taking his timeless tales to new heights, entrancing readers all over again. A Shakespeare story by any other name still reads as sweet.
All proceeds from the sales of Never Be Younger go to United Through Reading, a charity dedicated to uniting military families through reading.
To Undreamed Shores by Cortney Pearson
I bask in the brisk air, hands aching while the pocket of pain still gnaws at my shoulder.
“That moon shines on those other places, just like it does here in Bohemia. I want to see it from somewhere else. To see what it’s like, knowing something so constant is with me no matter where I go.”
Cove stares at the moon. After several moments he says, “I have something I’d like to show you. Will you come for a ride with me?”
“What, you mean now?”
He laughs, “Yes, now.”
“But I’m—” Sweaty, dirty. Dreadfully behind on this order. If I have any chance of going with Christabel in a few weeks, I’ve got to step it up—I haven’t even started on her pots yet.
Cove takes my hand and, as with last night, I’m instantly aware of how smooth his skin is against the rough spots on mine.
Enter for a chance to win a suite of prizes, including a Nook, several books, an Amazon gift voucher, and more!
About the Authors
S.M. Johnston: Star Crossed Lovers and A Gargoyle’s Prom Nightmare
Jessica L Pierce: A Day of Errors
Jessica is a somewhat crazy – yet loving – blond. She lives in Green Bay, WI, hates the cold, and loves her completely awesome camo coat. She is passionate about football, baseball, photography and writing, and won’t go near cooked peas. (Raw peapods are fine.)
She is a student at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, and will graduate in December 2015 with a degree in Communication with emphasis in Journalism. She is a sports photographer and her work can be found at: http://www.studio52photos.com
Cortney Pearson: To Undreamed Shores
Cortney Pearson is the author of Phobic and Such a Secret Place, a mother, musician, and a lover of pink and sparkles.
E.L. Wicker: Star Crossed Lovers & A Gargoyle’s Prom Nightmare
E.L. Wicker lives in Hampshire, England with her husband and two children. Fueled by the bossy voices in her head, she writes New Adult fiction with a side of romance. You can find E.L. on Twitter, and her website.
Nicole Zoltack: Any Way the Wind Blows
Nicole Zoltack loves to write in many genres, especially romance, whether fantasy, paranormal, or regency. When she’s not writing about knights, superheroes or zombies, she loves to spend time with her loving husband and three energetic young boys, with another little one on the way. She enjoys horse riding (pretending they’re unicorns, of course!) and going to the PA Renaissance Faire, dressed in garb. She’ll also read anything she can get her hands on. Her current favorite TV show is The Walking Dead.
Olivia Hinebaugh: Mark The Music
Olivia Hinebaugh spends her free time writing. Obviously. The rest of her time is spent playing and reading with her two young children. She also loves: watching Sia’s music videos, quoting Mean Girls, and folding laundry. She actually really does. You can find Olivia
Adrianne James: A Witch’s Life
Growing up Adrianne James couldn’t get her hands on enough books to satisfy her need for the make believe. If she finished a novel and didn’t have a new one ready and waiting for her, she began to create her own tales of magic and wonder. Now, as an adult, books still make up the majority of her free time, and now her tales get written down to be shared with the world.
During the day, Adrianne uses her camera to capture life’s stories for clients of all ages and at night, after her two children are tucked up in bed; she devotes herself to her written work. Adrianne is living the life she always wanted, surrounded by art and beauty, the written word and a loving family.
As a New Adult Paranormal (and sometimes contemporary) author, Adrianne James writes strong women, powerful magic, and love that lasts a lifetime.
Christina June: The Scarf
Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and the world’s most rambunctious four-year-old.
Nineteen-year-old Olivia Dean has the perfect reputation, the perfect boyfriend, and an increasingly perfect CV. She has it all, until Christian breaks up with her in public, calling her out as a self-gratifying sexoholic: the kind that plays solo. But Olivia doesn’t masturbate all night — the only thing she does is sleep … right?
Now all the boys on campus seem to want her attention for the absolutely wrong reason — including resident hottie, Logan Hays. He’s pulling out his best moves to gain her attention, so resisting his sexy charm is hard work. With rapidly slipping grades, a disturbingly lurid reputation and demanding parents, Olivia must discover the truth behind her rumoured sleeping problem. If she doesn’t, the perfect life she’s worked so hard for may slip away, including the one person who has Olivia breaking all her rules — Logan.
What do you do when you’re asleep?
Shh! is a story about acceptance, learning to trust and in turn love while facing life’s unexpected difficulties.
NB: This book is of a mild heat level, and contains no explicit sex scenes.
At five p.m I was starving. After just the muesli bar for breakfast, I’d skipped lunch to avoid a potential repeat of this morning, which meant my stomach had jumped into full riot mode. Nervous about facing my fellow students, I pulled my big girl panties up and marched myself to the dining hall. It was early, so I wasn’t all that brave, if I were being totally honest with myself. The place should have been near empty.
There were half a dozen people in the common room, watching some crappy reality television show. I scooted around the back of the seats and up into the dining hall. Dinner smelled delicious — burgers — if my senses served me right.
Twirling my meal card around my fingers, I strolled right up to the servery and stood in line. The girl in front of me turned and I tossed a confident smile her way. She smiled back. The line wasn’t moving yet as dinner hadn’t officially started, but people began flowing in, increasing the number of voices in the room. I swiped my clammy hands on my jeans. This was the first time in more than a year that I’d come down to dinner alone. Generally I came with Christian and being alone was a little daunting. It was all cool, though. Savvy should turn up soon, then I wouldn’t look like a loner. She never responded to this morning’s text and I hadn’t seen her since Saturday night, but that wasn’t uncommon if she’d hooked up with a guy. Especially with how busy I’d be this year. She knew my Sundays were reserved for study, so she didn’t usually bother me then, and today we’d been at classes. Still, it was a little weird. She could have at least called to chat about Christian, surely she knew like everyone else.
My tummy grumbled like a truck moving at high speed. I glanced at the clock; it read five-thirty p.m. The line started moving, thank the lord. I glanced over my shoulder, and surprisingly the line curled all the way around the edge of the hall. Everyone had to be famished tonight, not just me.
I kept my eyes to the front and walked through the servery where I built my own burger: meat, egg, tomato, beetroot, no lettuce, and a slathering of tomato sauce — perfect. As I emerged out the other side, my gaze slid over the line, looking for someone who might join me, and the weirdest thing happened. Not a soul met my gaze. It was like they all deliberately looked the other way, or were engrossed in such deep conversation that they didn’t see me.
I’d never had problems with friends. People just … well … they liked me. It had always been that way. I liked everyone, and they all liked me back.
My tummy churned for reasons not associated with hunger. What the heck had I done wrong? I walked over to one of the many empty tables and set my tray down, then flicked my phone out of my pocket and pretended to check my texts. Savvy had replied and I’d missed it.
Sorry I missed breakfast. Catch you at dinner.
A string of girls who I knew — we’d all been freshers together last year — walked right past me, talking softly as if they thought I couldn’t hear, but when people are talking about you, it’s not hard to tell. And those girls were most definitely doing just that. The glances my way every few seconds were a dead giveaway when everyone else in the room was deliberately avoiding my gaze.
I ducked my head, and studied my phone again. Whatever was going on, it was weird. I was the captain of Oxley’s hockey team, netball team, in the social committee, and even campaigning for the university’s student council. I had lots of friends.
Savannah’s giggle sounded like it came from somewhere behind me. Thank gosh. I really needed to talk to her and figure out what was happening. The whispers and stares, the fresher at uni this morning, Dane on Saturday night, sexploits — Oh my gosh. Christian. I glanced over my shoulder, raising my hand to call Savvy over, but my heart dropped into my stomach.
Savvy was attached to Dane’s hip. Her arm hung around his waist and his rested on her shoulders. Christian walked in step with them and the two guys wore massive grins. I hadn’t seen Christian that happy since … well, since I couldn’t remember. I suppose now that I thought about it, lately he’d been kind of cranky and tired. Always tired.
I swung back around in my seat, hoping they hadn’t seen me, and there someone had sat in the chair opposite me: the tool from this morning. He stared like I was some porn star he’d just paid to watch. And he smelled like a brewery; not to mention his eyes looked a little glassy.
Those same eyes locked on my mine and he placed his flattened palm on his chest like he was about to dive headfirst into a heartfelt apology. Which frankly, he owed me. His hand circled over his left pec, going for his heart, but then it moved to the other side and — ohmygod did he just tweak his nipple? My heart pounded a little faster and I glanced away. The entire dining hall looked at us. But he was like a train wreck. I couldn’t stop my gaze sliding back. His hand trailed down his chest and disappeared under the table in the general direction of his groin. He moaned, then his arm started moving slow at first and increasing in speed, all the while his dark eyes held my gaze. Then the crazy guy rolled his eyes back in his head and yelled, “Yes. Aaa—aa—ash. Yes!”
He arched his back. What in hell’s name was this freak doing? It was like that old nineties movie where the chick faked an orgasm in the middle of a café, except this was some dude in the centre of the Oxley College dining hall and I wasn’t entirely sure he was faking it.
Spent, he flopped in the seat, his arms hanging beside it, then snapped his head forward again and his face split in a stupid grin as he pushed his chair back, placed an arm across his waist, and freaking bowed.
The whole room full of people thought this idiot was funny.
I couldn’t move. It was as if the air had frozen around me and I was a statue unable to even blink.
“My impersonation of the one and only Olivia Dean,” he shouted, loud enough for the whole room to hear.
Couldn’t the ground just open up and swallow me already? My cheeks burned so hot they should have caught fire. Blood rushed past my ears so loud that I couldn’t hear anything; my stomach lurched.
I was going to throw up.
I needed to get out of there, right now. Whatever held me in place snapped free. I shot to my feet and high-tailed it out of the dining hall, past a million staring faces. The common room was no more than fuzz at the edge of my periphery, Front Courtyard much the same. I cut across the back of block F and made a beeline for K, then darted up the stairs and into my room.
Whatever was going down, it looked like I was the centre of a joke I didn’t find funny or nice.
- Signed paperback of Shh!
- $10 Amazon Gift Card
Author of the Collective Series; Forget Me Not and Remember Me. And Oxley College Saga; Shh! and Wait!
Eleven Weeks, book two in the Crazy In Love series
Lauren K. McKellar
Genre: Contemporary Romance (New Adult)
Cover Design: KILA Designs
One heartbeat …
Stacey is good at pretending.
She pretends that the boy she’s in love with doesn’t exist.
She pretends that she’s happy to live and die in this small town.
She pretends that her life is carefree while her best friend’s world crumbles before her very eyes.
But Stacey’s got a secret …
And it’s going to ruin everything.
Read my review of Eleven Weeks here. (Hint: I LOVED IT!)
Interview with Lauren
Where did you come up with the inspiration for Eleven Weeks?
The idea for Eleven Weeks was sort of twofold, I guess. First, I’d decided I wanted to do a novella to make the Crazy in Love series a three-book experience. My good friend and writerly co-conspirator Stacey Nash (also an author, of a whole heap of talent) suggested I write about Stacey and Michael.
At first, I was hesitant. A few people had noted that they found the character of Stacey (the best friend of my protagonist, Kate, in The Problem With Crazy) to be a little unlikeable, but then it gave me the best plan ever. I could use this to show why at times she was a little distant or hostile. This could be Stacey’s redemption!
I believe a lot of things happen to make us the way we are, and hopefully this gives people some insight as to why Stacey wasn’t always there for Kate in book one of the series.
Who is your writing hero?
If I could be any author, it would be hands down Colleen Hoover. I adore her work, and I love her style – for me, writing is all about producing books that make people feel, and that’s what her titles always do to me, by the bucket-load! I don’t want to be the next Proust or Malouf – I just want to offer people escapism and connect with them emotionally. If I can come even halfway close to that, I’ll be stoked.
What’s next for the Crazy in Love series?
Well, book three, The Problem With Heartache, is out on 26 February, and will see Kate do a little bit of a road trip as she travels to America with a massive rock ‘n’ roll band. It’s a dual POV book, which was a really fun challenge for me, as I’ve never written from a masculine perspective before. It was super fun.
Beer or wine: Wine.
MC or paranormal: Oh, tough one! Most likely MC, but I do love me some good paranormal reads!
Indie or traditional: I’m hybrid published, so I’d say both!
Chocolate or candy: Chocolate … but right now I’m on a health kick, so please don’t tempt me!
Rock or pop: Bit of both please. There’s no reason I can’t have a side of Taylor Swift with my alternate music!
The warm sun beats down on my face. I open my eyes, fighting the stickiness that falling asleep while wearing mascara brings. I run my tongue along my teeth, the gross feeling of furry and—
I inch my leg behind me, hoping to feel his warmth. Maybe we can make this work, somehow. Michael seems to think we can.
One inch: warm bed sheets.
Two inches: the bed cools.
Three inches: nothing.
I flip over. His side of the bed is empty, the quilt pulled up, and the sheets tucked in, as if he had never even been there in the first place.
On his pillow lies a note, man-scrawl scratched across its surface in blue hotel-room pen.
I’ll keep your secrets.
I just won’t be one.
About the Crazy in Love series
The Crazy in Love series consists of three titles: The Problem With Crazy, Eleven Weeks and The Problem With Heartache.
Links to Book One: The Problem With Crazy
Lauren K. McKellar is an author and editor. Her debut novel, Finding Home, was released through Escape Publishing on October 1, 2013, and her second release, NA Contemporary Romance The Problem With Crazy, is self-published, and is available now. She loves books that evoke emotion, and hope hers make you feel.
Lauren lives by the beach in Australia with her husband and their two dogs. Most of the time, all three of them are well behaved.