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ATO- Shawn McGuire part 2

#ATO Tuesday is here again lovelies! And I’ve got a special treat for you today. This author kicked off the ATO this year and now she’s back again for part 2 of her takeover. Welcome back Shawn McGuire with her fantastical amazing The Wish Makers series and her AWESOME SAUCE covers! Take it away Shawn.

First let me shout out a big “THANKS!” to L.H. for letting me do a second ATO. These are so fun. I love reading about other authors. While I was pondering what to talk about this time, Mandy and Crissy took over my take over! (They’re the main characters from STICKS AND STONES and the soon-to-be-released BREAK MY BONES.) They have a tendency to do that to me. “We’re going that way, girls,” I’ll say and point. “Um, no,” they’ll say, “you need to follow us this way.” Then Crissy will give me an eye-roll or Mandy will try to tempt me with something yummy from her kitchen. So, Mandy and Crissy, have at it!

Mandy: Shawn, you get to talk all the time.

Crissy: Yeah, the books are about us so we should get to talk about them now and then.

Mandy: The story is about your wish this time.

Crissy: Yep.

Mandy: Shawn, why did you decide to give Crissy a wish this time?

I didn’t decide. The universe decides what wish gets granted. At least that’s what Desiree claims. And don’t you think that Crissy was deserving of having a wish come true? I mean, her home life and that boyfriend of hers?

Crissy: I think I was deserving. So, thanks. Or should I thank Desiree? Either way, things are going better now.

I know and I’m really glad.

Mandy: Like mine, you wishes journey wasn’t exactly smooth sailing.

Crissy: That’s kind of the thing with wishes though, isn’t it? They get granted, things go sort of carppy for a while, and then it ends where it’s supposed to.

Mandy: Carppy?

Crissy: My little sister repeats what I say so I’m trying to keep it clean.

Okay, I have to say something here as the author. Drama, tension, conflict, being mean to the characters makes for a better story.

Crissy: Really mean.

I’m sorry. But if you would’ve just skipped off into the sunset it would’ve been a really short and supremely boring story.

Mandy: I agree. Sorry, Crissy.

Crissy: We already knew that Desiree has a nasty side. Apparently Shawn does too.

I’m a very nice person. You know that. Sometimes, though, a person has to hit rock bottom before they can start climbing their way out of the pit.

Crissy: Whoa, that’s deep. *rolling my eyes* You’re just trying to justify your deep-seeded need to take out your frustrations on poor, unsuspecting wish makers.

Mandy: Nice, Crissy. Maybe you should be a psychiatrist instead of a photographer.

Just doing my job.

Mandy: I heard a rumor.

Crissy: I try not to listen to rumors.

Mandy: I know, but I heard Desiree is getting a wish in book #3! Shawn, is this true?

It is, but let’s focus on Crissy’s story for now, okay?

Crissy: She’s going to take a shot at Desiree? Oh, I’m so there. Payback is a bit—not nice thing.

Focus, Crissy. We’re talking about you right now. You know, one of my writer friends told me that she thought your story could save lives.

Crissy: Really? That would be sort of awesome.

Mandy: I read BREAK MY BONES. I agree. It’s kind of intense in places, but the way you learn to defend yourself against Brad…

Crissy: Are you crying?

Mandy: Maybe.

I cried.

Crissy: So why do you think this could save lives?

Mandy: Duh! You totally learn to defend yourself, as in fought off an attacker self-defense. And you learned that it’s okay to say no even after you’ve already said yes. And that it’s even okay to say no to your boyfriend.

Crissy: Is it okay to say no to my best friend?

Of course it is.

Crissy: Cool. But I was kind of joking.

It’s important for girls (and guys) to protect themselves physically and sexually. But it’s also important to stand up for what you believe in. I’m proud of you for doing both, Crissy.

Mandy: I like in the story how you decide you don’t want to live your life the way your mom and sister expect you to. Everyone should be able to decide what’s important and right for themselves and then fight for it. I’m proud of you too, Crissy.

Crissy: Thanks. Couldn’t have done it without you. And a few other people in my life.

We’re taking up a lot of space on L.H.’s blog. Maybe we should wrap this up.

Mandy: Okay. But there’s more we could talk about.

We’ll talk more later. Maybe you two can take over my blog sometime.

This was a lot of fun but seriously, BREAK MY BONES deals with some topics that I feel very strongly about. Things like living your life the way that you want to live it. Deciding for yourself who and what you are, what you stand for, and what you want to do with your life. (I know, that’s hard for a kid. It’s hard for adults sometimes too.) The other really important topics in this book are dating abuse and rape. Everyone is the ruler of her or his own body. No one should ever be pressured into doing things they aren’t comfortable or ready to do. No means no even if yes was already said. And it keeps meaning no until yes is said again. It’s a huge topic and my ultimate wish is that this book touches the life of kids and maybe, yes, saves a life.

Here’s a short excerpt from BREAK MY BONES. I hope you read it. And if you do, please, tell me honestly what you think of it.

Shawn

BREAK MY BONES – Chapter 1

A car with a loud muffler pulled into the parking lot of the Lakeside Drive-In. Only one car in town sounded like that. Brad’s 1980-something Camaro. His baby. I slouched way down in my seat and watched out of the corner of my window as he pulled into a spot across the lot from where Mandy and I were parked. I’d told him I’d be home all night tonight. If he saw me here, he’d be mad. Accuse me of lying to him.

He and his cousin got out of the Camaro and went up to the order window. Brad knew the cook and always ordered at the window so he could say hi. Then he’d let one of the rollerbladed serving girls bring the food to his car. He stayed at the window this time and waited for his order—almost certainly a triple bacon cheeseburger, no onions, and monster-size chocolate cherry malt. Good. That meant he was taking his food to go. A few minutes later with bags in hand, they went back to the car and Brad peeled out of the lot. I watched him drive away and only sat up once he was far out of sight.

I felt Mandy staring at me the whole time. If I had looked, I would’ve seen that frown. The one she wore every time the topic of Brad came up. This time all she said was, “Good thing he doesn’t know my car, hey?”

“Yeah,” I exhaled and closed my eyes, listening for the sound of that engine. Even though I couldn’t hear it anymore, I couldn’t relax. He could come back. I’d left instructions with Mom to call me immediately if he stopped by the house. Lakeside wasn’t that far away, Mandy could have me home in less than five minutes if he was there waiting.

One of the servers rolled up to the car with our food and attached the tray to Mandy’s window. The smell of French fries and deep-fried cheese curds swirled in the air around the car and my stomach rumbled.

Mandy smiled as she handed me my mug of root beer, but the smile didn’t reach her eyes. She was waiting for me to say something, to defend myself. The last thing I wanted was to get into yet another discussion about why I should break up with Brad. I’d heard it many times. Her vote had been registered.

My throat practically cried with relief as the foamy, vanilla and licorice goodness slid down. I pressed the icy mug against my neck. Hottest freaking June in years and our A/C was out. Again. When Mandy called, asking if I wanted to get a root beer at Lakeside, our dinky-town Minnesota version of a Sonic, I jumped at the chance. The ride in her chilly car felt like a reward for being shackled to two five-year-olds and a baby all week.

She held her mug out to me in a toast. “To your first week of babysitting. How was it?”

BOOK BLURB:

Untitled Everyone makes mistakes. Crissy’s just might kill her.

Seventeen-year-old Crissy Sheets was so sure Brad was the one, she believed him when he swore the first bruise was an accident. She believed him when he told her he loved her after the second. Now trapped in an abusive relationship with no idea of how to get out, she’s all but given up on ever having the life she dreams of. With little to lose, Crissy wishes for a better future.

She’s told her wish has been granted, but nothing has changed. Her house is still a dump, her mother is still drinking, and Brad still wants to control her every move. Then Lance moves into the house across the yard. He’s hot, chivalrous, and wants to help Crissy break free. Will standing up for herself push Brad too far?

AUTHOR BIO:

Shawn McGuire started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that’s episode IV) as a kid: she couldn’t wait for the next one so wrote her own episodes. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then. She grew up in the beautiful Mississippi River town of Winona, Minnesota, the small town that inspired the setting for Sticks and Stones and Break My Bones. After graduating college she moved to the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin (Go Pack Go!) where she lived for many years. She and her family now call Colorado home and when not writing or reading, Shawn enjoys cooking and baking, crafts, interior decorating, and spending time hiking and camping in the spectacular Rocky Mountains.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3231214.Shawn_McGuire

https://www.facebook.com/shawnmcguireauthor

Love the teaser chapter and I love Crissy and Mandy. Such fun characters and most certainly on my TBR list! Come back for next week’s ATO!

Later lovelies  <3 always LH

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ATO- Ann Videan

 Hey lovelies! Time again for the #ATO We’ve got another cool one today: Ann Videan and her new YA series Song of the Ocarina!

Take it away Ann!

What do movies, involvement of future readers, and bad-boy rock stars in New Zealand have to do with my stories?

I often tell a story, when I speak as an author, about my emotional reactions while watching the movie Back to the Future in 1985.

I found my life’s inspiration in the scene where Marty’s dad receives his box of books. I remember watching Biff running in the front door, carrying a large cardboard box yelling, “Mr. McFly! Mr. McFly, this just arrived… I think it’s your new book.” The whole family gathers around to admire George’s first novel.

In my mind, a choir sang Hallelujah as he brought forth the first volume from the box. I remember thinking, as I sat in the dark of the theatre, “Someday, I’m going have my own box of books, just like George McFly.”

As a fun aside, I went to college at Arizona State University in the late 1970s with the actor who played the role of Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson). Tom and I were movie buddies, and I adored his sense of humor. He now does stand-up comedy and voice-over work, among many other creative endeavors. I saw him for the first time on the big screen in Back to the Future and I was thrilled to witness his big break.

I actually experienced my own George McFly moment in 2011 when I received my box of Rhythms & Muse, my first self-published women’s fiction novel.

Not only was finishing a book a thrill, but the experience of self-publishing — doing everything myself except editing and front-cover art — also brought me a new skill set to provide to clients. I’ve owned Videan Unlimited, my own home-based marketing firm, since 1996. Now, in my day job, I help other writers and entrepreneurs write, edit, self-publish and generate word-of-mouth marketing.

This broad marketing background led to a unique aspect in the writing of my pending second novel, Song of the Ocarina. Before I get into all that, though, let me give you a quick synopsis to give you an idea of what it’s about. Here’s the blurb:

SOcoverArt

“Desperate to understand her place in the world, teenage musical prodigy Lark Tūrehu unwittingly follows her handsome music teacher Noel Stone into the parallel realm of Delfaerune. With her extreme height and long, silver-white hair, she already considers herself a freak in her Queenstown, New Zealand university, so how can she possibly deal with the added burden of her role as the Noble Fae’s leading musical spell caster?

Not only must she retrieve and master the Kura Ocarina to earn the title of the realm’s “Maestra,” but the faefolk expect her to use the ancient wind instrument to save the human race from extinction at the hands of the Dark Fae.”

This first book in my Delfaerune Rhapsody series represents writing in a new genre for me. It’s a new-adult fantasy — geared to readers aged 18 to 25. So, from a marketing perspective, I felt I needed to look at some different, creative avenues to involve my new audience members. A key aspect of word-of-mouth marketing involves engaging your audience in the process of what you’re creating. So, as I went along, I started asking future readers and young adults I encountered to provide input into the story, with the promise of including their name on my Acknowledgements page.

I requested and received input for a set of Roshambo (rock, paper, scissors) symbols and hand gestures for my Fae characters’ use. Readers sent in their favorite songs to add to Lark’s ever-present iPod playlists. They also shared recipes to feed my vegetarian Fae at parties and events described in the story.

A unique marketing aspect for my Rhythms & Muse story in 2011 was a complementary music CD of five original songs I composed and performed. I plan to compile an original music “soundtrack” for Song of the Ocarina, too. This time, though, I will enlist the talent of a couple young rock bands to help me create the music. You can also watch for a Spotify playlist of all the nearly fifty songs that come up in the story.

Through all this input and exploration I discovered I love, love, love creating new worlds, especially for young-adult fantasy stories. In this series, I got to create a fresh, unique world where music joins with Earth energy to conjure balance among all creatures, extinct and mythical creatures talk and live peacefully, and the Dark Fae bad boys — like Mikk, Kert and Axyl — pattern themselves after burned-out human rock stars.

The setting played a key role in the story as well. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect setting than New Zealand in which to place my story. My family visited the country in 2008, and I completely fell in love with everything about it. The beauty. The power of nature everywhere. Its straightforward people. Its sense of other-worldness. The sheer magic of the place spoke to me.

It helped me develop the way the magic works — or doesn’t — in a fantasy world. If you’d like a full description of how the magic works, here’s a link to a Song of the Ocarina excerpt from my ANVidean.com blog

So, now you know how my writing was influenced by Back to the Future, bad-boy rock stars, and New Zealand. I hope you enjoy the input provided by my future readers once the book is complete. Watch for it next month on Amazonat www.tinyurl.com/ANVamazon.

Win my second copy of Song of the Ocarina!

When I open my box filled with copies of Song of the Ocarina, I will lift out a copy for me, of course. The next copy I lift out could be yours…signed, sealed, and delivered. J

If you comment about this post on either Ann Narcisian Videan’s or L.H. Nichole’s blogs or Facebook pages, you become eligible to win the second copy of this new-adult fantasy adventure. It’s book one in my pending Delfaerune Rhapsody series.

We will pick the winner at random from among the comments received on these sites:

1174-ann.cropAnn Narcisian Videan is the author/singer/songwriter of Rhythms & Muse a women’s fiction novel and accompanying music soundtrack. Currently, she’s writing the Delfaerune Rhapsody Series, a trilogy of young-adult fantasy adventure novels about an 18-year-old New Zealander who discovers she’s the fae musical prodigy who must retrieve and master three ancient instruments to save her worlds. Ann also serves as a fiction editor for sweet-romance publisher Desert Breeze Publishing, writes and edits marketing content for authors and visionary entrepreneurs, and offers a 30-year marketing background focused on strategic word-of-mouth consulting. Find her at anvidean.com, videanunlimited.com, her blog and LinkedIn

 Alright alright! What a cool post right? Not gonna lie, I’m one of Ann’s critique partners, so I’ve read this book with a red pen. I gotta say, it’s a good one! Perfect for Fantasy lovers.

late lovelies

<3 always LH

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ATO- Brenda Hiatt

  Hi again lovelies! Today is the second week of my Author Takeover–also know as the ATO Brenda Hiatt is one of the fantastical authors in my writers critique group AND her newest book STARBOUND just released! I have already had a sneak peak, and let me tell you…..WOW!

But you don’t want to hear from me. You want me to let Brenda takeover. Say no more, Brenda the blog is yours!        18374994

Let me just say upfront that I LOVE young adult books! Not only as a reader but as a writer, because after 15+ books for adults (mostly historical romance) I was pretty burned out—and starting a YA series I’d had in the back of my mind TOTALLY rejuvenated my joy in writing! This month I’m excited because I’ve just released Starbound, the third book in my new Starstruck series. To celebrate this momentous event, I’ve decided to offer the first book, Starstruck, for just 99 cents for the whole month of June!       BH-Starcrossed-300x450 To give you an idea of how strongly I identify with my nerdy heroine, Marsha (M to her tiny handful of friends), I thought I’d share a story about my own teen years… Do you remember your first real “crush”? How about your first huge embarrassing moment? Were the two linked in any way? Mine were! I was 13 years old, a freshman in high school, and totally infatuated by the cutest guy in the whole world (to my 13-year-old sensibilities, anyway). I mean, I obsessed about this boy! He had these dreamy blue eyes and wavy blond hair… I was sure the Carpenters’ song “Close To You” was written just about him! I went as stalker as a girl without a driver’s license could go, even convincing my mom to drive past his house once or twice (since he didn’t live within biking distance). When I discovered that he went to the gym to shoot hoops near the end of his lunch period most days, I started sneaking down that hallway every day and peeking through the window in the gym door to watch him play…in a sleeveless shirt! Oh! Be still my newly-awakened heart! I wove so many fantasies about the two of us, fantasies about how he would suddenly realize I was the one he’d been waiting for all his life. How all the other girls would be jealous when they saw us holding hands. How we’d happily start planning our future together. Okay, maybe he didn’t actually know my name yet, but I was sure it was just a matter of time before he woke up to the fact that we were Destined to be Soulmates.        starbound_promo One day after lunch I made my customary stop by the gym to spy on him playing basketball…but he wasn’t there. I stood outside the door, disappointed and undecided. I peaked, then peaked again, hoping he might make an appearance after all. Finally, despondent, I gave up and turned away—only to see him coming down the hall toward me! Someone cool would have just nodded, smiled and walked on her way, pretending she had somewhere much more important to be. Alas, I was not even the teensiest bit cool. Instantly assuming he knew exactly why I was there, I was beyond mortified. So mortified that, instead of trying to pass it off as no big deal, I turned away, pressed my face into the corner and quite literally tried to melt into the wall. Yes, really. He walked past me into the gym without a word and I hurried away, never to spy on him again. He never did learn my name, to the best of my knowledge, and none of those wonderful fantasies ever came true, but to this day I still remember my first crush and the horrible embarrassing incident that pretty much ended it. And sometimes I wonder if he even remembers that weird girl who acted so strangely outside the gym that day. I guess I’ll never know! And maybe that’s just as well…

AND, as an added bonus, here is a clip from STARSTRUCK!

My best friend Bri was in my Honors English next period. So was Rigel. Bri made a beeline for him—not hard to guess why—but I intercepted her.

“C’mon, let’s sit by the window.”

“But—” Bri looked over her shoulder toward Rigel with intense interest.

“We’ll be further from the teacher there,” I improvised. Without waiting for her reply, I headed to the opposite side of the room and she reluctantly followed me.

As I sat down, I involuntarily glanced Rigel’s way only to find him frowning in my direction. Frantically, I went back over what I’d just said but I was sure I hadn’t used his name. Unless he could read my mind, I was safe.

I risked another peek and was relieved to see he had turned away, and was now talking to Trina and Nicole Adams, another cheerleader. He was still frowning slightly, but it obviously had nothing to do with me.

“So, what do you think of our hot new quarterback?” were Bri’s predictable next words. “He was in Spanish last period but that humongous flirt, Trina, barely let him look at anyone else—just like now.”

It took a surprising amount of effort, but I managed not to look at him again. “Is that all you and Deb can talk about today?”

Bri shrugged, then grinned. “Can you think of anything more interesting?”

I absolutely couldn’t, but I wasn’t going to admit that. “It’s not like any of us have a shot, with Trina all over him.”

“Yeah, well, a girl can dream.” Bri gave me a sly grin and waggled her eyebrows. “You used to be really good at that.”

“Shh!” I glanced around to make sure no one had heard her. I kept my flights of fancy to myself these days, but I did not want anyone reminded of the ridiculous stuff I’d made up back in elementary school.

Other kids might have had imaginary friends, but I’d invented a whole imaginary life. I’d told everyone in second grade that I was really a Martian princess whose parents would one day fly me back to their beautiful palace in the stars. No doubt it was my way of dealing with the fact I was adopted and knew nothing about my birth parents. I’d told other outlandish stories, too, but that one had been my favorite—and I got teased mercilessly for it.

I did wise up enough to stop talking about it by third grade, but the teasing went on for years. “Marsha the Martian” was a nickname I never wanted to hear again. In fact, it was the main reason I tried to make people call me M instead of Marsha. Bri and Deb cooperated, but nobody else did.

“Okay,” Bri said. “But you’ve obviously noticed him if you want me to shut up so bad.”

“Of course I’ve noticed him,” I whispered. “He sat right in front of me in homeroom. But Trina sat in front of him—Squires, Stuart—so he never even saw me. So I don’t see any point in torturing myself over him.”

Bri looked over at him again and I gave into temptation and risked a brief glance. He wasn’t talking to Trina now. He seemed to be slowly scanning the room, like he was looking for something—or someone. I looked away before he could catch me staring.

I purposely got to my next class late enough that everyone, including Rigel, was seated—only to discover the only empty spot left was at the table in front of him. Trying not to panic, I scanned the room hoping another seat might magically appear, but the class was full. Steeling myself against any kind of reaction, I moved to the empty chair as nonchalantly as I could.

“Hey, Marsh,” Will Chesterton said as I sat next to him. He was shorter than me, and nerdy, but not a bad guy. His main fault was thinking he was way cooler than he actually was.

“Hi, Will. Have a good summer?” I tried hard not to be too obsessed by the fact that Rigel was only three feet from my right elbow. There was no way I actually felt a tingling in that elbow! That was just silly.

“Yeah, we went to Indiana Dunes a couple times and spent a week in Saugatuck,” Will said, and I had to focus to remember why he was telling me this. “How about you?”

I could hear Rigel murmuring something to Trina, but I couldn’t make out the words. “What? Oh, um, we were going to go to Florida for a week, but Uncle Louie couldn’t get off work long enough so we just went to the lake for three days instead.”

Rigel’s voice stopped so abruptly, I wondered if Trina had poked him or something.

Will dragged my attention back from behind me by saying, “Hey, I’m glad you’re gonna be sitting here. You can help me out when we get to the space stuff next semester.”

“Oh, yeah, sure, no problem,” I agreed absently.

Behind me, I heard Trina start to say something, then it sounded like Rigel shushed her. I glanced at the teacher, but he wasn’t looking our way. Huh. I wondered what that was about—and how Trina liked being shushed. It was all I could do not to turn around to see her expression.

I was still trying to think of some totally legit reason to look behind me when Mr. Ferguson started calling the roll. None of the other teachers had bothered. They knew everyone by name already, but this was only Mr. Ferguson’s second year at Jewel. I started doodling in my notebook, since I’d be one of the last people called.

As he made his way through the alphabet, sketches of constellations appeared under my pencil, inspired by Will’s reminder and the star charts above the whiteboard.

Mr. Ferguson was almost done with the roll. “Trina Squires?”

“Here,” she responded.

I braced myself for Rigel’s voice.

“Rigel Stuart?”

“Here.”

It was one word. One word and it still went through me like a rush of adrenaline. What in the world was wrong with me? Even Jimmy Franklin had never affected me like this.

“Marsha Truitt? Are you here?” Mr. Ferguson sounded impatient and I realized I’d missed my own name.

“Oh, um here!” I answered, feeling my cheeks burn.

Then I looked down at my doodling and they burned even hotter. Not only had I drawn the constellation Orion, I’d been drawing circles around Orion’s left foot—the star Rigel. I slammed my notebook shut, hoping no one had noticed.

I peeked sideways at Will, but he was watching the teacher, who had finished roll and was writing on the whiteboard. Slightly reassured, I forced myself to do the same.

It was an intense relief when the bell finally rang for lunch. No matter how I tried, I hadn’t been able to ignore my awareness of Rigel behind me. If anything, it had increased as the class wore on. I was out of my seat before the bell stopped, eager to get away from his disturbing influence. But as I reached the door, I felt my feet slowing, like I wanted him to catch up.

Disgusted at my weakness, I sped up, practically jogging to the cafeteria. Not till I’d gone through the lunch line did I glance back and sure enough, there was Rigel. Trina was right behind him, wearing a smug smile, clearly hoping everyone was noticing who she was with.

With a snort aimed as much at myself as at Trina, I went to an empty table near the windows and deliberately sat with my back to the room. I was opening my juice box when Bri slipped into the seat across from me. “Hey! You’re into window seats today, aren’t you?”

I shrugged. “Sunshine is good for my mood.”

“Can I have your banana?” she asked as Deb joined us with her tray.

“Sure. That’s why I got one.” I never ate bananas, as my friends well knew.

“So, how was—” Bri began, when she was interrupted by a hiss from Deb, who was staring over my shoulder.

I nearly turned, but stopped myself. “What?”

“Don’t look now,” Deb whispered, “but Rigel Stuart is headed Right. Toward. Us.” Beside her, Bri nodded, wide-eyed.

“Stop staring!” I held perfectly still, trying to be inconspicuous.

But then it didn’t matter because he was standing right next to me, his nearness zinging through me again like an electrical current. I swallowed once, convulsively, and looked up past his lean, muscled chest to find him regarding me with those amazing greenish eyes in that impossibly perfect face.

“Marsha, isn’t it?” he said.

Unable to form words, I nodded.

“Hi. I’m Rigel Stuart.”

BHheadshot Bio: Brenda Hiatt is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nearly twenty novels (so far), including traditional Regency romance, time travel romance, historical romance, and humorous mystery. She is as excited about her new young adult science fiction STARSTRUCK series as she’s ever been about any of her books. In addition to writing, Brenda is passionate about embracing life to the fullest, to include scuba diving, Taekwondo, hiking, traveling, and reading, of course! For the past dozen years, Brenda has collected data on writers’ earnings, which she shares at her website, http://brendahiatt.com And you can mark her books on your TBR list on Goodreads

So are you going over to amazon to get your copies? I recommend it! LOL 🙂

Later lovelies!

<3 always LH

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ATO-Author Takeover Shawn McGuire

Hey lovelies! I am so thrilled to be starting a new project today on my blog! I’m calling it ATO or Author Takeover. Here’s how it will work: every Tuesday until the end of the year one author will drop by every Tuesday and “takeover” my blog. They may do author interviews, character interviews, or any number of unique posts that relate to the book they are sharing with us. (There are some pretty amazeballs posts coming) I wanted to really showcase a variety of different authors across the Young Adult, New Adult and Middle Grade genres so I put out an invitation and so far the response has been Fan-Freakin-Tastical!

I am still looking for authors for the end of the year so if you see this and are interested, hit me up 🙂

Now to the good stuff. We are kicking off the ATO with a pretty fantastic author, Shawn McGuire, and her debut book: STICKS & STONES. To tell you a little more about herself and her book, here is a fun interview I did with Shawn:

  1. Were you good at English in high school?

I was good at English. In fact, I got my best grades in English. I remember thinking always thought sentence diagramming was fun – although I’m not sure I could describe what dangling participle is anymore. I remember a creative writing class I took. The teacher would give us free writing time now and then. Sometimes she’d give us a topic, other times not. There was one day we were on our own and I sat there for the half the period and couldn’t come up with a topic. I ended up writing about not knowing what to write about. I got an “A!”

  1. What inspired you to write Sticks and Stones and what can you tell us about the main characters?

I actually wrote the very first draft of S&S about eight years ago so I honestly don’t remember what the initial inspiration was. It was a middle grade novel then and it was a hot mess. The story focused on three girls – Mandy, Brooke, and Crissy – and how their friendship was falling apart. I put the story away and it would speak to me periodically. I finally took it out again about three years ago. The same three girls are still in the book but the story has grown up a lot. Mandy is the main character and she wants what everyone wants, to simply be a happy person. She thinks that she’s unhappy because her friendships with Brooke and Crissy are falling apart. As the story progresses she realizes that it’s normal for friendships to change and that the thing that’s really making her unhappy is something that goes much deeper.

Lexi is another central character. She is Mandy’s childhood imaginary friend who comes to life to help her deal with this deep-buried secret Mandy has been carrying around. There’s also Desiree, the genie/wish granter, and she has a small storyline that we follow as well.

  1. Your cover is fantastic! Who designed it and do you think a good cover is vital to getting readers attention?

Thank you! I am so, so, so in love with my cover! Karri Klawiter (www.artbykarri.com) is the genius designer I was fortunate to be working with. I sent her the blurb, a description of how I envisioned Mandy, and some links to covers I love and she went from there. Yes, absolutely, a good cover is crucial. This past weekend I attended the UtopYA conference (www.utopyacon.com) in Nashville. I brought postcards with my cover on one side and the blurb on the other. Not many people know my name yet, but many of them said that they remembered seeing my cover on various blogs. I was thrilled every time I heard that! Karri will be designing the cover for book #2 in my series soon. I can hardly wait to see what she comes up next.

  1. As a writer, we have to do a lot of research to make sure our stories are rooted in facts. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever researched?

I was just talking with someone about that this weekend. Most recently while working on book #3 (Never Hurt Me) I needed to know how to get a fake passport and how much one would cost. After I’d found my answer I realized how that could look and sincerely hoped I didn’t end up on some government watch list! I swear, it’s just for the book.

  1. If you had to choose one author as your idol who would it be?

It will probably sound cliché but easily J.K. Rowling. I remember reading one of the Harry Potter books and being so completely absorbed in the world of the story that at one point I looked up from the page and seriously could not figure out where I was for a good 10-20 seconds. I’ve been a writer and a reader for as long as I can remember, but that was the first time I’d ever been that immersed in a story. Right then and there it became my goal as a writer to give a reader that kind of total immersion experience.

  1. And finally, what is your favorite quote AND scene from Sticks and Stones?

Great question! It’s easier to choose my favorite scene. It’s chapter five where Mandy finds out that her wish has been granted and meets Desiree for the first time. I had a lot of fun writing all of the scenes where the two of them were together, but the first one is my favorite.

As for the quote, that’s an amazingly hard question! I’m not sure I can choose a favorite so instead I’ll give one that kind of sums up Mandy’s situation.

Compared to some people, my life was far from horrible. I knew that. Still, I wasn’t happy. When was the last time I had been?

With Brooke and Crissy? Yeah, but I’d always had to do what they wanted. I’d played the games they wanted to at recess. Watched the shows they wanted to watch when we had sleepovers. I’d spent my golden birthday at the party they wanted to go to.

And then it came to me. The last time I’d been happy was when Lexi was here. Oh my God, how pathetic was that? My last truly happy time had been with an imaginary friend.

Like a lot of us, she’d been expecting happiness to come from something external when really it had been inside her all along. She just needed to find it and let it out.

BOOK BLURB/AUTHOR BIO

Everyone has a dark side. Mandy’s just moved in with her.

The last time sixteen-year-old Mandy Matteo broke a rule, her sister died. Since that day she has done only what is expected of her, but life as a goody-goody has made Mandy so boring her friends have all but abandoned her. And she’s given up on ever getting Ethan, the boy she’s liked forever, to notice her. Desperate, Mandy makes a wish to simply be happy.

Her wish is granted and happiness arrives in the form of Lexi, her childhood imaginary friend come to life. Magical wishes have conditions though: Once started, the wish cannot be altered or stopped. And once Mandy is truly content with her life again, Lexi must go back to where she came from. But Lexi loves being alive and she’ll do whatever it takes to stay that way.

 

Shawn McGuire started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that’s episode IV) as a kid: she couldn’t wait for the next one so wrote her own episodes. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then. She grew up in the beautiful Mississippi River town of Winona, Minnesota, the small town that inspired the setting for Sticks and Stones and Break My Bones. After graduating college she moved to the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin (Go Pack Go!) where she lived for many years. She and her family now call Colorado home and when not writing or reading, Shawn enjoys cooking and baking, crafts, interior decorating, and spending time hiking and camping in the spectacular Rocky Mountains.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3231214.Shawn_McGuire

https://www.facebook.com/shawnmcguireauthor

So what did you guys think? Pretty cool right? And this book sounds amazing, it’s definitely on my TBR list! Leave us a comment and tell us you opinions and enter in the giveaway!

Drop by next Tuesday to see our next author on the ATO and what she has in store for us!  HEHE No spoilers will be given 😉

Later lovelies!

<3 always LH
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