Why I chose not to self-publish before, and why I’ve done it now

Back in 2013, I blogged about the four reasons I chose to publish the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy through a small press rather than to self-publish. To summarise:

  • I wanted someone else to edit my book
  • I wanted someone else to do all of the other things that are required when publishing a book (cover design, typesetting, etc)
  • at the time, Amazon’s royalty payments to Australians involved sending cheques in US dollars; I wanted someone to electronically transfer me royalties
  • and because, in all honesty, I felt like it would give me a sense of validation.

And then, in October last year, I blogged about the reasons I was no longer with said small press. I suppose in hindsight I could have saved myself a lot of stress if I’d just self-published in the first instance, but I gained so much valuable experience in releasing the three books through Turquoise Morning Press that I don’t regret the decision.

In the four months since then (wut?!), I’ve self-published not one but four books. To be frank, that was an utterly insane decision, but I was already locked into the release date for Lucid Dreaming, which I’d decided to self-publish in the meantime, and I wanted to get the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy back on the market as soon as I could. I was just lucky my designer could work to those timeframes.

Now I’m out the other side I can finally think and breathe again. So how do those four reasons stack up?

Editing 

Obviously, with the trilogy, I got the external editing I was after. But I re-read and re-proofed each book myself as well, before self-publishing; I didn’t just upload them as they were, because there were a few tiny stylistic things I wanted to change. Normally it’s impossible to edit — even to copy edit — your own work, but when you take a several-year gap between finalising them and re-reading them it is a lot easier to be objective.

For Lucid Dreaming, several awesome friends critiqued it for me, and then I paid for it to be edited by a professional editor who is also a good friend. This was money well spent.

Cover and design

I paid for all four books to be professionally designed by another good friend. This was also money well spent. I can slap together a teaser or a meme just fine, but the finer points of cover design completely escape me, and there’s no doubt that all four book covers are beautiful and have a similarity of appearance that ties them together.

I expect I could learn how to do paperback and ebook layouts (though not the Smashwords table of contents procedure — I tried to read the instructions and my brain turned to mush). But the value to my mental health and stress levels of having someone who gets how it’s done and can apply a theme to the entire book was immense.

As for how to navigate Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords and Createspace, I managed to muddle through. Practice makes perfect, and by now I’ve had a lot of practice!

Amazon royalty payments

Now that Amazon Australia exists, Amazon pays via direct deposit. Hallelujah!

Validation

Well, this is a tricky one, isn’t it? I’ve read some excellent blogs by authors much more successful than me, in which they say that no matter how successful you are, there’s always someone doing better than you. Once the heady rush of having a three-book deal wore off, I found that I spent a lot of time qualifying my success to people. They’d be gleeful and I’d be self-effacing. So I guess in a way I never got the validation I was after.

The upside and the way forward

There are definitely perks to self-publishing, most of which won’t be a surprise to anyone. Being able to control the various design decisions mean that I adore all four of my covers, rather than having to compromise on and have less input into ones designed at someone else’s expense. Live sales reports are a mixed blessing (and can be downright depressing unless you’re a smash hit), but there are advantages there if you want to test out different forms of advertising to see what sales effect they have.

So, after all that, would I publish with a small press again? No, I wouldn’t. Although self-publishing the way I want to, with more professionalism than I can bring to bear, costs money, I’d rather do that. Small presses are a mixed bag, and the Amazon-dominated market is unkind to them. (It’s what killed TMP.)

Would I publish via traditional publishing, were the opportunity to present itself? Yes, because they can offer something I can’t get via self-publishing: market reach. The idea of being a hybrid author (one that does both traditional and self-publishing) has a huge amount of appeal to me.

Have you tried multiple avenues for publishing your books? Which worked best for you?


 

Isla3_Front_smlMelpomene’s Daughter, the final book in the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy, is once again available at all good (and some evil) online book retailers. You can find the buy links for it, and the rest of the series, here.

Isla struggles to embrace her fae nature while preserving her humanity in the final, exciting instalment of the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy.

Isla has spent months persuading the Canberra fae that she isn’t a tyrant like her mother, trying to prove that—despite her mixed blood—she’s human, not a monster. That she’s one of them, not one of the high fae who enslaved them.

But a vision of a fresh-dug grave warns that someone is going to die.

When the Old World fae once again move against her family, seeking revenge for old wrongs, Isla will stop at nothing to keep those she loves safe. She just wants to be left alone. But to win that right for herself, her family and all Australian fae, she must cross the oceans and take the fight to the country of her birth.

Isla must prove she really is Melpomene’s daughter after all.

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Mystery in Love: Good or Bad?

SmallTownCLM-MD As part of the Small Town Charm, Love and Mystery boxed set blitz, some of the many fabulous authors have stopped by to talk about love in mystery. I’d love to hear what you think too — please leave a comment! Julie Anne Lindsey

Julie Anne Lindsey. I’m a huge fan of mystery, amateur sleuths, cozies and all sorts of who-done-its with a witty heroine and a circle of friends and family that draw me in to sequel after sequel. You could say I’m obsessed. (You shouldn’t, but you wouldn’t be wrong!) In fact, I write cozies as much as I read them. One thing I never leave out is a little chemistry between my heroine and a man smart enough to keep up with her. There’s just something about throwing love into the mix that ups all the stakes. On the one hand, what wouldn’t we do for love? On the other hand, what complicates things faster than a new romance? Right? Watching the heroine juggle her real life, career, family and a budding murder investigation is great fun. Watching her do that while hoping not to ruin things with a cute new friend is just fabulous. I vote for Love in Mystery!

Jennifer AndersonJennifer Anderson. Yes, yes, yes! A little mystery can add to the angst. The longing looks. The…mystery that is love! And I think in most love stories there is a drop of mystery. Of course, you do have those stories where the heroine is in love with a guy and she’s not sure if he’s killed someone, but I think that’s an entirely different question! In my personal life, which isn’t a story no matter how much I think it is, I like a little mystery. Being married for almost 15 years and with the same man for 20, I’ve found you need a little mystery to keep the spark there.

MagdalenaScottMagdalena Scott. Good, as long as the mystery will end well for the parties involved. I love an element of mystery in a romance novel. Maybe it’s the challenge of keeping the reader guessing and providing a pleasant surprise at the end of the story. I have done that to some extent in most of my stories, and I think sometimes it was almost unintentional. That likely stems from my own enjoyment of a nice surprise. It doesn’t need to be a gift, or expensive, but maybe just an evening when my guy decides to cook and invite me over. On days when I’ve “slaved” at the laptop for 10 to 12 hours, a home-cooked meal for which I have no responsibility is a fabulous gift. Back to mystery, I always loved reading Agatha Christie. Perhaps not one of her best-known books, but one of my favorites, is The Man in the Brown Suit. Definitely a mystery, definitely a romance, and definitely sigh-worthy.

Giveaways

Enter for a chance to win one of two fabulous ebooks: Prince Charming (Honey Creek Royalty, Book 2) by Jennifer Anderson, or Reinventing Chloe by Julie Anne Lindsey
Enter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card
OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!

The boxed set

Small town America has its charm—not to mention its fair share of romance and mystery! Everyone knows small towns have their own unique charm, that’s why they make fabulous settings for stories! Turquoise Morning Press presents the best of their small town settings—all in one volume, and for one very small town price! From Drakes Springs, Florida, to Briny Bay, North Carolina, to Wheeler, Texas, where a little romance and a lot of murder and mystery take center-stage—and then to Honey Creek, Ohio and Legend, Tennessee, where home-grown romance blooms, and love lives right next door. Eight fabulous authors share their views of small town charm, love and mystery in this eight book boxed set—providing you with a satisfying glimpse into the lives and stories of the quirky characters who live in these charming settings.

Release date: September 2, 2014 ISBN: 978-1-62237-334-5 Retail Price: $5.99     Promotional Price: $0.99

TURQUOISE MORNING PRESS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE
IBOOKS
| KOBO | SMASHWORDS | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS

Love & MysteryThe books

Bloom by Julie Anne Lindsey In a town filled with her past, she never expected to find her future. Seven years ago Cynthia left Honey Creek with a broken heart. Three years ago Mitchell arrived with one. If they let it, love will find a way to bloom. Julie Anne Lindsey really brought me back to the books that made me love to read. Amazon Reviewer, 5 Stars; Bloom is one of those romances that transports you back in time. Amazon Reviewer, 5 Stars

Buried in Briny Bay by Bobbye Terry Roxie Turner finds herself up to her neck in trouble her lifelong nemesis, Georgia Collins, is discovered buried in the town’s landfill. Worse, with her characteristic Southern sass, Roxie has been saying she’d kill Georgia for more than twenty years. I had Janet Evanovich, Julie Garwood, Jill Shalvis and Pamela DuMond all grouped together for this category. But I think the crazy sisters, Roxie and Trixie just had to come out on top. What a feel good book Buried in Briny Bay was, as it kept me smiling from the first page till the last. Another Look Book Reviews Award, Best Book to Bring on Smiles

Midnight in Legend, TN by Magdalena Scott. Midnight Shelby has grand ideas to help her adopted hometown, and she’s not going to let a stick-in-the-mud realtor get in her way. I loved this book and highly recommend it. I must warn you, however, that [Magdalena Scott] will quickly become addictive. Brenda Tulley of The Romance Studio, 5 Hearts

Murder at the Blue Plate Café by Judy Alter Small towns are supposed to be idyllic and peaceful, but when Kate Chambers returns to her hometown of Wheeler, Texas, she soon learns it is not the comfortable place it was when she grew up. Alter serves up a delicious whodunit by stirring up a healthy serving of suspense and a splash of romance, then bakes them to downhome perfection. Add an appealing protagonist, and you have Murder at the Blue Plate Café. Highly recommended. Polly Iyer

Shades of the Future by Suzanne Lilly Mariah Davis loves animals, running, and her hunk of a boyfriend, Kevin Creamer. Everything looks bright for her until the day she finds a pair of sunglasses that allows her to see the future. Suzanne Lilly weaves an engaging world populated with charming and eccentric characters that readers will want to visit again and again. Brenda Hiatt, award-winning romance and young adult author

Heart to Heart by Jan Scarbrough When Jeremy’s aunt gives him a second chance, he must decide if he believes in the unbelievable and the pet psychic who teaches him about faith…and love. If you want a humorous, sweet book for a quick read at the pool or beach, this is it. Ms. Addie is still stirring up things in the town of Legend, even after her death. Amazon Reviewer, 4 Stars

Rebuild My World by Cheryl Norman More than anything, Taylor Drake wants her life back. Suffering from the agoraphobia that has plagued her since a brutal attack, the once confident and successful photographer now cowers behind closed doors with a loaded pistol. …Ms. Norman is a gifted storyteller. I loved Rebuild My World and eagerly turned the pages, excited to see what event would next happen to keep this story moving. Not only is it well plotted, but the characterizations draw you into the lives of these people. Ms. Norman tells a compelling tale that keeps you guessing. Vine Voice Amazon Reviewer, 5 Stars

Ice Princess by Jennifer Anderson Mya Newman never minded the routine or quiet that came with living in Honey Creek, Ohio. For her senior year, she craves something exciting to happen instead of it melting into a cookie cutter routine like the previous years. …a wonderfully emotional short story with just the right balance of sweetness and sadness. I recommend it to anyone who relishes a charming story of love and friendship. LASR Review, Great Read! 4 Stars

The authors

Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. Julie writes sweet romance for Honey Creek Books, the Calypso series with Lyrical Press/Kensington and pens the The Patience Price Mysteries for Carina Press/Harlequin.

Bobbye Terry is a multi-published author of romantic comedy, fantasy and suspense—writing where southern charm sometimes meets macabre reality. Her awards include Eppie finalist and two-time finalist of Detroit’s Bookseller’s Best Award.

Magdalena Scott lives in her own fantasy world of Magdalenaville, Indiana, and spends her time writing stories with small town settings. Magdalena knows that life in a “burg” is seldom dull—if you’re paying attention. She is the Amazon bestselling author of the Ladies of Legend romance series.

Judy Alter, award-winning author, penned the five books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series. With Murder at the Blue Plate Café, she moved from inner city Fort Worth to small-town East Texas to create a new set of characters in a setting modeled after a restaurant that was for years one of her family’s favorites.

Suzanne Lilly writes lighthearted young adult stories with a splash of suspense, a flash of the unexplained, a dash of romance, and always a happy ending. Her short stories have appeared in numerous places online and in print. She lives in Northern California where she reads, writes, cooks, swims, and teaches elementary students.

Jan Scarbrough is the author of the popular Bluegrass Reunion series, writing heartwarming contemporary romances about home and family, single moms and children, and if the plot allows—horses. She is an Amazon bestselling author of the Ladies of Legend contemporary romance series and a RWA Golden Heart finalist.

Cheryl Norman turned to fiction writing after a career in telecommunications and won the 2003 EPPIE award for her contemporary romance, Last Resort. A mention in Publisher’s Weekly called her one of ten new romance authors to watch. She resides in Florida and is currently writing the Drakes Springs romance series.

Jennifer Anderson wears the hats of Mommy, wife, cat owner, author, and marketing coordinator. She has lived either coast, but has spent the majority of her life in the Midwest, where she says her heart grows with the love of family and friends, and where she finds inspiration for her young adult and romance stories.


Excerpt and giveaway: ‘Restless in Peaceville’ by Pippa Jay

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Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising…from the grave…

Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems…

But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one of the undead?

And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunter who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.

Lycaon Press | Bookstrand | Omnilit | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Giveaway

Enter to win a zombie heart necklace and a $5 gift gard to Breathless Press/Lycaon Press
(open 1st September to 1st October, open internationally)!

Excerpt

I suppose I should count myself lucky they hadn’t started carving me up, and that I’d gone for an overdose rather than throwing myself in front of a truck or out of a window. I’m in damn good condition…for a corpse. Still in one piece as far as I can ascertain, and that ain’t easy to determine, let me tell you. You know how an arm or a leg goes after you’ve sat on it for a while, cutting off the circulation? But before the blood flow starts again and you get pins and needles? That numb heaviness? My whole body is like that. Like every part of me is full of lead.

Also, the not breathing is weird. I take a couple of breaths out of habit, for the familiar feeling of air moving in and out of my chest. After that I don’t bother. It takes too much concentration and there are other things I need to focus on. Like, what do I do next, for instance?

So, what, I’m just gonna lie here?

It’s an option, but I’d probably give the next person who opens up my drawer a heart attack. I don’t want another death on my conscience. Not when I already have my own.

I put my hands up against the metal above me, and leave dents in it. Whoa. Gonna have to watch that. Clearly, I don’t need a lot of muscle or effort as a zombie, which is good because I never had the first and never gave the second. I try again, but more hesitantly, and push myself outward. The drawer slams open so fast, wheels screeching, that it reaches its full extent hard enough to slam my skull into the drawer front, and then rebounds until it’s almost closed again. That should’ve hurt, but it didn’t. I touch my skull, half expecting it to be cracked in two, but there’s nothing. Not even a dent…or a lump for that matter. But when I twist my head to look, the drawer front looks like it got beat by a baseball bat. That’s gonna be one hell of a giveaway.

I reach up and use just one finger to push the drawer wider. This time I roll out until my upper half is free of the drawer. That should do. Careful not to squeeze too tight, I grip the sides of the slab I’m lying on. I’m not sure about sitting up, because clearly I don’t know my own strength any more, and the weird all-over numbness means I can’t sense what I’m doing, or how much pressure I’m using. There’s no pain to tell me when I might be damaging myself, if that’s possible.

Okay, this is it. I push myself upright easily enough, but can’t stop myself slumping forward. Everything feels heavy. My head too heavy for my neck, my shoulders too heavy for my torso. Still holding the sides, I drag one leg up until my knee touches my chin, and then the other. I shuffle ’round until both feet drop to the floor, pulling my legs with them. I have plenty of strength but pretty damn poor coordination. It’s kind of hard to synchronize your moves when it’s like someone has attached weights to every bit of you. Won’t this be fun?

So I’ve got my feet on the ground. I stare at them and wiggle my toes. Back in the afterlife, they moved easily and in sequence. Now they just jerk. There are bruises and needle marks in both my arms, probably from them trying to pump a ton of drugs into me to bring me back. My skin is pale, only one shade away from stark white, with a bluish tint. Oxygen deprivation, I’d guess. I thought I’d be gray. Maybe that happens later. For now, I can probably pass for just being sick, if I can get my coordination together and get out of here.

With that objective in mind, I lurch to my feet and fall flat on my face, luckily with one arm preventing my nose from getting smashed. Not that it hurts, but I really don’t need to make myself look any worse. I push back onto my hands and knees, grab the edge of the table beside me, and then pull myself up slow and easy. At least I’m standing, even if I am swaying like I’m still getting hit by the alcohol. For the first time, I get a good look of where I’m at.

The morgue. I’ve seen enough cop shows to recognize it. Never expected to be in one, least not and be aware I was. The table I’m hanging onto is one of those where they lay a body, clean it, and slice it up to figure out who or what killed you. I guess I should be grateful they hadn’t got to that stage with me. Trying to stitch myself up with zombie fingers and with all my innards falling out would have been tricky.

About Pippa

Pippa JayAfter spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include a YA science fiction novel—Gethyon—published through BURST (Champagne Books), two self-published short stories (Terms & Conditions Apply and The Bones of the Sea), and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Google+ | Wattpad | Amazon

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Interview: Vincent Morrone, YA and NA author

In case you missed it, last Tuesday I interviewed Vincent Morrone over at Aussie Owned and Read.

Aussie Writers

With me today is Vincent Morrone author of young and new adult fiction (including an urban fantasy, which everyone who knows me will be aware is my favourite and my best).Welcome, Vincent!

Your two books are a contemporary new adult, Just Breathe, and an urban fantasy young adult, Vision of Shadows. What drew you to these different genres? Do you have a favourite? (Genre to write, that is; I’m not asking you to choose between your book babies. You know, unless you want to.)

Vincent Morrone Author Pic Vincent Morrone

It’s not as much the genre as it is the story of each. I like romance, but to me there has to be more than straightforward romance. I need there to be a paranormal aspect or a killer on the loose or something else going on.

I’m also a fan of characters and both Vision of Shadows and Just Breathe have…

View original post 1,037 more words


Double Cover reveal: ‘Ex-Factor’ and ‘Unbreakable’ by Elisa Dane

Ex Factor
by Elisa Dane

Release Date: 22 April 2014

Nevaeh Evan’s life is uprooted after her father’s death, when she moves in with her aunt and cousin, Livvie. Her plan to lay low at her new high school isn’t working. Her friend’s jerky boyfriend keeps asking her out, the guy she likes treats her like garbage, and the thought of tumbling again makes her want to hurl.

So when her aunt pushes her into joining the elite X-FACTOR cheer leading squad, Navaeh goes along with it.

But Nev feels she doesn’t deserve to be happy. Not after what happened the night her father died.

*
Bodie Scott knows about grief all too well. Critically injured in an alcohol related accident the year before, Bodie struggles with the fact that he’ll never play football again, and he’s so far behind in credits he can’t see straight. That is, until he meets Nev. Haunted by their bloody pasts and wary of a shared future, Nev and Bodie turn to one another for comfort and support, and realize they’re not so alone after all. And when the party scene at school threatens the life of a loved one, the two stop at nothing to keep the past from repeating itself.

Unbreakable
by Elisa Dane

Release Date:
10 June 2014

Perception is everything to sixteen-year-old Olivia Brown. With her freakishly hot boyfriend, volunteer work at the local animal shelter, successful beauty channel on YouTube, and well-earned spot on X Factor Cheer’s elite level five Diamond Girl team, Livvie’s the girl every other girl wants to be. At least, that’s the illusion she’s aiming for.

But Livvie’s seemingly perfect life is anything but. Lying about the bruises her boyfriend gives her, and cowering beneath his raging temper becomes a regular way of life until she unwittingly witnesses her drunken neighbor beating his step-son, the town bad boy, Reid Tate.

*

For Reid, vulnerability is the enemy. Opening up, and letting people in gives them the power to disappoint. Growing up with a co-dependent mother and an abusive alcoholic father, Reid has endured all the disappointment he can stomach.

But when his pretty, do-good neighbor witnesses his step-dad beat him to within an inch of his life, and not only call the cops but keeps quiet at school about what she saw, Reid wonders if maybe, just maybe, he’s found someone he can finally trust.

About the Author

I’m a lover of books (YA & Adult romance), chocolate, reality television,and am a proud mother to three All Star cheerleaders. Woot!I write Contemporary YA romance with cheerleaders. Yep. I write what I know, and it’s my hope that my stories will not only take you on a romantic journey that will warm your heart, but that you’ll find a new respect and interest in the sport of Cheerleading you may not have had before.

Author Links:

   

Cover Reveal Organized by:

Excerpt and giveaway: ‘Uncovering Cobbogoth’ by Hannah L. Clark

Uncovering Cobbogoth (Cobbogoth #1)
by Hannah L. Clark

Release Date: 13 May 2014

Norah Lukens needs to uncover the truth about the fabled lost city of Cobbogoth. After her archaeologist uncle’s murder, Norah is asked to translate his old research journal for evidence and discovers that his murder was a cover-up for something far more sinister.

When she turns to neighbor and only friend James Riley for help, she realizes that not only is their  bitter-sweet past haunting her every step, but James is keeping dangerous secrets. Can Norah discover what they are before its too late to share her own.

Excerpt

“Nor? ” James rubbed the sleep from his eyes with the heel of his hand. One look at me, however, and he was wide awake. “What is it? Is it Gram?”

“No. No, not that,” I croaked, guilt rushing through me for causing him more worry.

The panic left his eyes, and he squinted at me.

I shuffled self-consciously. I knew I looked terrible. I’d been up crying half the night after my argument with Uncle Jack about James breaking my heart. Finally, I snuck out my window, climbed down my cherry tree, and headed to the fire station to see James.

“Hey, Riley! Cut the lights, man!”

James glanced back into the dark, communal bedroom where the rest of the night shift firefighters slept.

“Come here.” He took my hand, closed the bedroom door and, in stockinged feet, led me down the hall. A moment later, we were sitting side by side on the stairs. James still held my hand, and I hoped he’d never let go. I watched as he reached into his shirt pocket, fishing around until he found a piece of peppermint gum.

He offered me half. I shook my head, so he stuffed the whole thing in his mouth. Then he turned those kind, piercing eyes on me.

Growing warm under his gaze, I cleared my throat. “I-I’m so sorry to wake you up,” I started. “I hoped you’d still be awake. It’s just . . .”

James mindlessly ran his thumb in circles over my knuckles. I lost my train of thought. Blinking, I took a deep breath and plunged on. “My uncle . . . he wants me to stop spending time with you. I mean, I can still help with Gram and everything, he just doesn’t want us hanging out any other time.” I sucked in another unsteady breath. “But I—I can’t let that happen, James. You’re my only friend.”

James was quiet for what seemed like forever. I prayed he wouldn’t just shrug his broad shoulders and shuffle back to bed.

To my relief, he reached up, rumpling his chocolate curls with his free hand. “Did he give you a reason why?” he asked, avoiding my eyes. I shook my head. “I think he’s afraid you’ll end up hurting me—that you’ll break my heart. You know how protective he is.”

He was silent again, this time longer.

Stupid, Norah! Why had I come here? Why did I think James would even care about this—that it would upset him at all?

Finally, James let out his breath. And the next moment, he was pressing the back of my hand to his lips.

I swallowed my shock. I’d never imagined that his lips could be so warm and soft. The contact sent a shock straight to my heart.

“What do you think?” James mumbled a moment later, still contemplating my hand. “Do you think I could hurt you?”

I wanted to burst into tears all over again. “I don’t think, James, I know. But it would be worth it.”

James chuckled this time, resting his forehead against my temple. “Now that’s a compliment.”

I smiled. Having him so close—smelling the fresh peppermint on his breath—was a fierce mixture of agony and ecstasy. They were feelings I’d never imagined I could feel.

“I’d never hurt you, Nor,” James whispered at last, and his breath tickled my neck. “Not really.”

About the Author 

Hannah L. Clark is the author of the YA fantasy-adventure “Uncovering Cobbogoth.” It is the first book in a planned 7 book series. It will be released by Cedar Fort Publishing on May 13, 2014.

Hannah lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with her husband and son.

Author Links:

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Giveaway

1 $50 Amazon gift card (INT)

You can also click here to enter to win a print copy from Goodreads!
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Review: ‘Twelve Steps’ by Veronica Bartles

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Twelve Steps
by Veronica Bartles

Release Date: 25 March 2014

FINAL Twelve Steps 1800 x 2700

Sixteen-year-old Andi is tired of being a second-class sibling to perfect sister Laina. The only thing Andi’s sure she has going for her is her awesome hair. And even that is eclipsed by Laina’s perfect everything else.

When Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with Laina, Andi decides enough is enough, and devises a twelve-step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina and get the guy.

Step 1: Admit she’s powerless to change her perfect sister, and accept that her life really, really sucks.

Step 4: Make a list of her good qualities. She MUST have more than just great hair, right?

Step 7: Demand attention for more than just the way she screws things up.

When a stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster, Andi realizes that her twelve-step program isn’t working. Her prince isn’t as charming as she’d hoped, and the spotlight she’s been trying to steal isn’t the one she wants.

As Laina’s flawless façade begins to crumble, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine.

Last year, Aussie Owned and Read hosted a pitching contest called Pitcharama. Each of us shortlisted our three favourite pitches, and these were then requested by various press editors. Twelve Steps was one of our entries. I originally had it as one of my three, but Sharon guilted me into giving it to her because it was contemp and that’s not my usual genre. (When Lauren said “there were tears, tantrums, stealing, and a little name calling“, this was the book she was referring to.)

Next time I will be hardened to Sharon’s big-eyed Puss in Boots routine. :p

Anyway, needless to say, I’m thrilled beyond measure that Twelve Steps was picked up, and — even though it’s not my usual genre — I leapt at the opportunity to receive a review copy as part of this blog tour.

Twelve Steps tells the story of Andi and Laina, sisters who attend the same high school. Laina’s best friend, Jarod, has had a crush on Laina for about as long as Andi has had a crush on Jarod. And so the sibling rivalry ensues.

This is the sort of story that, if it hadn’t been handled deftly and with humour, could have gone horribly wrong. Both girls are gorgeous and popular, but neither of them fully appreciates how lucky they are. Both, it becomes apparent fairly quickly, view the other sister as the more popular one. And Andi, our leading lady, can be quite sly and manipulative to get what she wants. Only one person sees through her act, and that’s Dave.

Fortunately, Andi has a good heart and instead of turning into the wicked sister she could have become, she (mostly) uses her powers for good rather than evil — especially once she realises there’s more going on than the usual teenage drama. She genuinely wants what’s best for Laina, which completely redeems her and the story.

Also, she has a great sense of humour (once of her defence mechanisms when she’s upset), which I appreciated. 🙂

Twelve Steps is a great story of sibling rivalry, unrequited love and growing to be comfortable with who you are. I give it five stars.

Five stars

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About Veronica

As the second of eight children and the mother of four, Veronica Bartles is no stranger to the ups and downs of sibling relationships. (She was sandwiched between the gorgeous-and-insanely-popular older sister and the too-adorable-for-words younger sister.) She uses this insight to write stories about siblings who mostly love each other, even while they’re driving one another crazy.   When she isn’t writing or getting lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, Veronica enjoys knitting fabulous bags and jewelry out of recycled plastic bags and old VHS tapes, sky diving (though she hasn’t actually tried that yet), and inventing the world’s most delectable cookie recipes.  TWELVE STEPS is Veronica Bartles’s first novel.

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