Release Blitz: Prince of Killers (Fog City #1) by Layla Reyne

Hey friends! Join me to celebrate the release of the first book in a new mystery series by Layla Reyne, which I can’t wait to start ASAP.

Prince of Killers Ebook

 

Series: Fog City #1

Publisher: Layla Reyne (Self-Published)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): June 10, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook): 216 pages (52K words)

Subgenre: M/M Romantic Suspense

Warnings: Explicit sex including mild kink; explicit language; violence; instances and/or discussion of homophobia; off-page instances and/or discussion of PTSD, drug use, and abuse of minor characters.

 All buy links or pre-order links

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No indiscriminate killing. No collateral damage. No unvetted targets.

These are the rules Hawes Madigan lives by. Rules that make being Fog City’s Prince of Killers bearable. Soon, he’ll be king—of an organization of assassins—and the crown has never felt heavier. Until the mysterious Dante Perry swaggers into his life.

Dante looks like a rock god and carries himself like one too, all loose-limbed and casually confident. He also carries a concealed weapon, a private investigator’s license, and a message for the prince. Someone inside Hawes’s organization is out to kill the future king.

In the chaos that follows the timely warning, Hawes comes to depend on Dante. On his skills as an investigator, on the steadiness he offers, and on their moments alone when Hawes lets Dante take control. As alliances are tested and traitors exposed, Hawes needs Dante at his back and in his bed. But if the PI ever learns Hawes’s darkest secret, Hawes is sure to get a knife to the heart—and a bullet to the brain—instead.

There’s no shortage of twists and turns in this new romantic suspense trilogy from Layla Reyne. Prince of Killers is book one of three. Fair warning: buckle up, cliffhangers ahead!

 Praise for Prince of Killers:

“Layla Reyne is an auto-buy author for me. She writes it; I devour it. Prince of Killers is an amazing start to a new series. It’s fast-paced and intriguing with the perfect balance of action, passion, and plot twists I’ve come to expect from her books. Layla never disappoints, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in her Fog City series.”  – Aimee Nicole Walker, Bestselling author of the Curl Up and Dye Mysteries

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“Layla Reyne redefined what a family of assassins looks like with “Prince of Killers.” The “Fog City” series kicks off with some mind-blowing twists and I can’t wait to see what happens next.” – Jeff Adams, Big Gay Fiction Podcast

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Teaser

Hawes had grown up in San Francisco, had been born and bred in its hills and valleys. He’d learned at an early age how to turn a car’s wheels when parked on a slope and how to perfectly time the release of the clutch and the press of the gas so as not to roll the wrong way down Jones Street. He would never, however, get used to cruising his hometown’s hills on a motorcycle, not his sister’s and certainly not Dante Perry’s. And he most definitely would not get used to riding tandem, when one wrong bump could jostle him loose and send him flailing to his death.

By the time they rumbled onto the stone drive of the sage-green Victorian with its high-pitched roofs and bright-white trim, Hawes had mentally uttered more Hail Marys than he had the Sunday after he’d blown the homecoming king. He wished he could say he’d been holding tight to Dante as an excuse to map out every nook and cranny of his ripped torso, but regrettably, he hadn’t thought beyond a death grip for survival until after he’d climbed off the bike. At which point, managing to stand on his embarrassingly unsteady legs took precedence.

Assassinate people for a living, no problem. Run a multimillion-dollar company before age thirty, can do. Ride a motorcycle in San Francisco, fuck no.

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About Layla Reyne: RITA Finalist Layla Reyne is the author of the Agents Irish and Whiskey, Trouble Brewing, and Changing Lanes series. A Carolina Tar Heel who now calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, Layla enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart-pounding romance. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. Layla is a 2019 RWA® RITA® Finalist in Contemporary Romance (Mid-Length) and 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.

 Connect with Layla: FB GroupFB | IGNewsletter | Amazon  | Bookbub

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Get to know more about Layla Reyne in this fun Release Blitz Q&A!

  • If you listen to music while writing, share your playlist with us!

For this series (Fog City), it’s been a lot of Hozier, Kaleo, Bishop Briggs, Alex Clare, and Rodrigo y Gabriela. Up-tempo, moody stuff with heavy bass beats.

  • What are you reading now?

I’ve been working on Fog City #2, so while writing romantic suspense, I stick to reading contemporary romance. These are a few of my recent favorites!

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  • What was the highlight of writing Prince of Killers?

The last line. * Evil cackle *

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Giveaway (Enter to win 2 sets of signed backlist paperbacks (Trouble Brewing or Changing Lanes, winner’s choice); if international, signed book plates!)

***Get Phenomenal Romantic Suspense by Layla Reyne on Sale!***
Carina Press has CRAFT BREW on sale for the month of June at only $1.99!

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Release Blitz: Made For You (Love and Family #2) by Anyta Sunday

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Today I’m so glad to participate in the release date blitz for Anyta Sunday’s new book, Made For You! It features one trope I recently found out I love in M/M romance — one of the MCs raising a kid (either his own or his younger sibling/cousin, etc) on his own. I can’t wait to read it and if it sounds like something you’d like to read too, you don’t have to wait because it’s out now! Read all the info you need in the post below and stick around until the end to read a teaser. ♥

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Release Date (Print & Ebook): May 1st 2019

Tropes: friends-to-lovers, slow burn, age gap, found family

Genre: New Adult, light-hearted contemporary gay romance

Subgenres: Contemporary gay romance, friends-to-lovers, age gap (May-December)

Links:

https://www.anytasunday.com/projects/made-for-you/

https://amzn.to/2XIAB0a

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Book synopsis:

Ben wants to find a new home.

Twenty-four-year-old Ben McCormick is the primary caregiver for his brother Milo after their parent’s death. A year into the job, he’s totally got the hang of it. Mostly. Sort of. Not at all?

Defeated and thoroughly chastised for his lack in parenting skills at teacher-parent night, Ben slumps away with the resolve to finally get his life sorted: be a better role model, and sell their parents’ house for a fresh start.

But first, he needs to spruce up his house to hit the market. He’s no DIY king, but Milo’s hot-as-hell woodwork teacher is…

 

Jack wants an old home to fix.

Thirty-nine-year-old Jack Pecker is waiting for the home of his dreams to come on the market in the summer. What better way to wait the interim months than working on a small renovation gig?

Only trouble is, the gig is for the McCormick brothers. And working in close quarters to red-haired Ben McCormick won’t be easy. Not with the attraction that simmers between them. Attraction Ben makes no effort to hide.

But Jack’s professional. Dating a parent is highly discouraged at Kresley Intermediate, and he’d never cross the lines…

 

Ben and Jack. Two guys searching for a home – a home that might just be where their hearts lead them.

~ – ~ – ~

Set in New Zealand, Made For You (Love & Family #2) is an MM gay romance featuring two guys at very different places in their lives – but both finding out they are looking for the same thing.

Can be read as a standalone.

About Anyta Sunday:

A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.

My books have been translated into German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Thai.

Connect with Anyta:

Author website: http://www.anytasunday.com/

Author newsletter signup: http://www.anytasunday.com/newsletter-free-e-book/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anytasundaybooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anytasunday

Instagram: https://instagram.com/anytasunday

BookBub: https://bookbub.com/authors/anyta-sunday

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Teaser

When I return, Milo has turned around, finally facing Ben. “I don’t want you to sell the house.”

“Look, it won’t happen immediately. But it will happen.”

“It’s not fair.”

“Not got the memo yet, bucko? Life isn’t fair.”

They stare at each other. I don’t want to break their moment, but a twig snaps underfoot.

Milo spots me and his body jerks with surprise. “Mr. Woodpecker?”

I cut Ben a look, and he pauses to smirk before turning his chin toward Milo. I think he might tell him to cut that shit out.

“Mr. Woodpecker holds your Fanta ransom.”

Or not.

I’m close to putting an end to this stand-off and barking orders. If Milo were my kid, I’d have his ass in bed by now, no media for a fortnight.

Not my kid. Not my kid.

Ben reads my face and his expression shutters. “Fuck. We’re pissing off your teacher. How much will it take to get you down?”

He pulls a wallet from his back pocket.

“Fifty,” Milo hollers.

“Five.”

“Forty.”

This is not actually happening. Ben’s parenting is unorthodox at best.

“Ten.”

“Thirty-five, and not a dollar less.”

“Fifteen, and you shower before bed.”

Milo leans over the edge and reins in his shout. “Do I have to do my hair?”

Ben looks like he’s about to give into a frustrated laugh. The poor guy is damp and muddy and miserable, and Milo needs to quit it.

I catch Milo’s gaze and hold it. It might not be my place, but I have to do something for Ben. My voice is steady and commanding. “Get your butt down here, boy. Or I’ll have you cleaning the class bins all week.”

“Fine. Fifteen bucks. I’ll do my hair.” He lowers a ladder and I brace the shitty thing as he climbs down.

Ben crowds close behind me, a block of warmth at my back. He lets out a breathy ‘thank fuck’ at my nape that feels a lot like brushing up against an electric line that definitely shouldn’t be crossed.

Cover Reveal: Chosen Champion (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles #2) by Elise Kova

Today I’m happy to share the cover reveal for Elise Kova’s upcoming sequel in the Vortex Chronicles series! I read book one (here’s my review) barely more than a month ago and I can’t believe the sequel is coming out in also barely more than a month! I keep being impressed by Kova’s ability to put out books so fast for her readers, I think that’s truly amazing from a creative point of view, and of course as a reader it’s wonderful not to have to wait longer (plus I’m super forgetful but this way I don’t have to reread in order to remember what happened in the previous books).

Anyway, are you folks ready to see the cover?

Here it is!

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Release Date:  May 1st, 2019

If you’ve already read book one I think you can take a guess on who is on the cover together with Vi. I’m super curious to read this when it comes out and meet some new and old faces.

Links: 

Note that the book is only available through Amazon, but if you have a nook or kobo you can purchase through Amazon, email Elise Kova proof of purchase (Elise.Kova.Author@gmail.com), and then she will send a personalized “read anywhere” link for you.

Graham’s Delicacies: Characters Interview

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Today I am so happy to participate in Graham’s Delicacies‘ blog tour! You can read my review to see what I thought of it and get excited for this collection of three novellas all set in the same world and revolving around a group of friends/coworkers finding love.

Today is also a special day because it’s the book’s release date, so you can go ahead and purchase it for yourself at the following links (but please come back and keep reading my post after!).

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Add to Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo

I sure hope you came back because I sat down with three characters (one from each novella) and asked them a few questions each and I love their replies.

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Interview with Emilie (they/them):

Silvia: Share an easy recipe for those of us (like…me) who can’t bake.

Emilie: I’m assuming you mean something to bake. Well, I recommend starting off with easy stuff like cookies, which don’t really take much time? Or, or, pancakes! Pancakes are tricky and they deal with like the basic of creating soft batter? I’m afraid all of my measurements are… pretty chaotic. Trial and error!

S: Which would you say is the most nonbinary of cakes?

E: Hmmm, I’ve never thought of cakes in the term of gender before… Is it egoistic to say Saffron cake? I mean, it’s that golden yellow that is in the flag!

S: Can you talk about what it’s like working in such a queer positive environment as Graham’s?

E: It’s the simple things like feeling safe; and surrounded by people who are like you and who’d protect you.

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Interview with James (he/him):

Silvia: How would you describe your relationship with your family?

James: I’d say I have a good relationship. Sure, I’m a bit meddlesome but it’s only because I love them so much.

S: What do you like most about Graham’s?

J: The ability to eat my weight in sugar.

S: Tell us something adorable (and SFW!) that Sam does when you two are alone.

J: Okay, listen, Sam will fight me over this, but he sings to himself while he’s reading. Like, it’s so cute. It starts off as a hum, and it’s totally unconscious when he starts singing. It usually means he’s having a good time. When I asked him about it, after an hour of him arguing he didn’t, he confessed that it’s because he used to listen to music while reading on like public transport.

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Interview with Alex (they/them):

Silvia: What do you like most about Yujin?

Alex: Is it weird if I say I love his body? You wouldn’t guess that Yujin can easily lift up a couch or assemble an IKEA bookcase just by looking. You’d get distracted by his smile, which is fantastic, or his hair while practically glows in the sun despite it being pretty dark. He also can lift me without hesitation and it’s really fun.

S: If you were a cake, which cake would you be? Which cake would Yujin be?

A: I’d be a latte cake. Don’t ask. I think coffee and cake is a neat combination. Yujin would be a Japanese cake. Fluffy as fuck.

S: Will you ever consider making an Instagram account (maybe with a new phone)?

A: Nope. Have you met my boyfriend? I’d be leaving him indecent comments all the time. I’m not to be trusted with technology. Besides, he has scary fans. You can find me on Instagram on the bakery’s account (and Yujin’s… he kind of posts a lot of beautiful pics, go follow my boo!)

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Thank you so much to Emilie, James and Alex for agreeing to answer my questions! They also told me they can’t wait for people to meet them and see their love stories unfold, so make sure you get your hands on the book!

Also check out Em’s thread with all the posts of the blog tour so far (and future ones) so you don’t miss all the reviews, characters aesthetics and all that good stuff that other bloggers are posting!

About the author:

 

Em Ali grew up on TV and K-pop like many her generation. She learned a lot about how to be a hermit and not interact with people, but she loves to hear from readers!

Links:

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

Book Blitz: The Fever King by Victoria Lee — Excerpt & Giveaway

A few weeks ago I received an ARC of The Fever King by Victoria Lee, one of my most anticipated releases of next year, and weeks after having read it I’m still thinking about it. This is a book you can’t miss out on (YA political fantasy! all-queer cast! important and always-relevant themes such as intergenerational trauma!) and I’m so happy to be able to be part of the book blitz that Xpresso Tours organized, so thank you so much to them for the opportunity!

Read on to find info and preorder links, as well as an excerpt from chapter one and a giveaway for a chance to win one of five ARCs!

 

The Fever King
Victoria Lee
Published by: Skyscape
Publication date: March 1st 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 1:

He stood there for a second, staring woozily at the mess while sirens shrieked in his ears. He was sick. Magic festered in his veins, ready to consume him whole.

An outbreak.

His father, when Noam managed to weave his way back to his side, had fallen unconscious. His head lolled forward, and there was a bloody patch on his lap, yellow electricity flickering over the stain. The world undulated around them both in watery waves.

“It’s okay,” Noam said, knowing his dad couldn’t hear him. He sucked in a sharp breath and hitched his father’s body out of the chair. He shouldn’t—he couldn’t just leave him there like that. Noam had carried him around for three years, but today his father weighed twice as much as before. Noam’s arms quivered. His thoughts were white noise.

It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, a voice kept repeating in Noam’s head.

He dumped his father’s body on the bed, skinny limbs sprawling. Noam tried to nudge him into a more comfortable position, but even that took effort. But this . . . it was more than he’d done for his mother. He’d left her corpse swinging on that rope for hours before Brennan had shown up to take her down.

His father still breathed, for now.

How long did it take to die? God, Noam couldn’t remember.

On shaky legs, Noam made his way back to the chair by the window. He couldn’t manage much more. The television kept turning itself on and off again, images blazing across a field of static snow and vanishing just as quickly. Noam saw it out of the corners of his eyes even when he tried not to look, the same way he saw his father’s unconscious body. That would be Noam soon.

Magic crawled like ivy up the sides of the fire escape next door.

Noam imagined his mother waiting for him with a smile and open arms, the past three years just a blink against eternity.

His hands sparked with something silver-blue and bright. Bolts shot between his fingers and flickered up his arms. The effect would have been beautiful were it not so deadly. And yet . . .

A shiver ricocheted up his spine.

Noam held a storm in his hands, and he couldn’t feel a thing.

 

Author Bio:

Victoria Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent twelve ascetic years as a vegetarian before discovering that spicy chicken wings are, in fact, a delicacy. She’s been a state finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an expat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student. She’s also a bit of a snob about fancy whiskey. Lee writes early in the morning and then spends the rest of the day trying to impress her border collie puppy and make her experiments work. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her partner.

For exclusive updates, excerpts, and giveaways, sign up for Victoria’s newsletter at https://victorialeewrites.com/newsletter/

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

 

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!
(US/Canada only; ends November 15th)

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Release Blitz: Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) by Anyta Sunday

Publisher: Anyta Sunday (self published)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): October 16, 2018

Length (Print & Ebook): 69000 words / 285 pages

Order now

Check out my review (spoiler: I gave it 5/5 stars)

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Book synopsis:

It’s a time for searching, and a time for finding, Pisces: keep casting your line and you will hook what you’re looking for.

Zane has it all planned out: land the perfect Meet Cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after.

Should be simple enough if he put his mind to it. A little creativity and some thinking outside of the box, and voila, he’d be married to the woman of his dreams.

It would be perfect.

And it would be before his visa ran out.

But why are his feelings running wild now that the pressure’s on? Why is his picture-perfect plan turning into a muddled mess of morphed metaphors he can’t make sense of anymore?

Just as well he’s met an English professor to help. And even though their first meet is anything but cute, this down-to-earth teacher may just be the realist Zane needs to ground him and give him a shot at love after all.

Don’t cast your line too wide, Pisces. Your perfect catch may already have bitten.

~ – ~ – ~

Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) is an MM opposites-attract romantic comedy featuring an unapologetic romantic and a broken realist.

More wit, banter and bad puns – and even more heart-stopping slow burn!

Can be read as a standalone.

Tropes: friends-to-lovers, slow burn, will-they-or-won’t-they

Genre: New Adult, light-hearted contemporary gay romance

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Excerpt:

“What is that?”

Beckett’s mum and guests had left, and Beckett had brought Zane and his worldly belongings into an exposed-beam attic with a chain-pull light.

Zane set his box and suitcase against a slanted wall. The small, empty space contained a tiny window, a chest of drawers, and a low futon. Dust spokes glittered under the swaying light.

Beckett pointed at Zane’s box, one brow arched.

Zane laid the bearskin rug on the floor and straightened out the kinks. Beckett gaped at the bear poised as if to eat his ankle.

“I thought it was romantic,” Zane said with a sigh. He rested back on his heels, soft fur against his knees. “Now I’m kinda stuck with the beast.”

“Tough cross to bear.”

Zane grinned. “What’s with the word-wittage, anyway?”

“Word-wittage. Nice alliteration. I like playing with words.” Beckett sidestepped the bear and gestured around the attic. “The wooden slats are creaky, the bathroom is back down the ladder. My sister is returning from Europe Thursday, staying here until she finds her own place. The couch is too small for you, so . . . .”

“I’m totally cool to bunk with you.”

Beckett swept a hand through his hair, gaze darting toward the bed, the window. “There’ll be no bunking.”

Understood. He had a few days to find another accommodation—or convince Beckett that bunking could be fun.

Zane pulled his drawing tablet and stylus from their cushioned compartment. “Did you want to head to Chiffon with your friends? Whatever Chiffon is.”

“It’s a bar where we professors drink pinot noir and pontificate on the pleasures of punning.”

“Um . . . .”

“It’s a pretentious penis party.”

Zane turned around, armed with the supplies he needed to finish—or fix—the comic. “Sounds like a . . . picnic?”

The corners of Beckett’s mouth pulled up. Zane dropped the electronics to the bed and crossed over to the professor.

He tapped a finger against the wine stain at the side of Beckett’s blazer lapel. “Proof that you snorted your wine while we texted? I’ll have it dry-cleaned, if you’d like?”

“It’s not your fault. I’ll sort it out. Use it as an excuse to buy another one.”

Zane caught a whiff of Beckett’s clean scent with a subtle spicing of aftershave. Blue eyes met his, curious and hesitant.

A fat, black spider bungee-jumped from the beam above them and dangled in Zane’s face. He dropped the fingers that had lingered on Beckett’s chest and scrambled to the wall.

“Does a big, strapping man like you need me to remove the tiny bastard?”

“That’s a big, strapping yes.”

A few precise movements later, Beckett trapped the hairy beast in his hands. Insane yet heroic.

The bed squealed as Beckett kneeled on it. Zane crawled next to him, opened the window, and beat a quick retreat as Beckett set the spider free. “The sheets are freshly changed, and you can help yourself to breakfast.”

Fresh bed and breakfast? Lovely. But Zane was more concerned about suicidal spiders. He studied the ceiling with a shudder. “Do you think there are more?”

The window clapped shut, sealing off the cool breeze. “Would you feel better sleeping with my cat?”

Zane’s attention pivoted to Beckett’s hands fitting the lock. Long-fingered, deft, sure. “I’d feel better sleeping with you.”

Beckett let out a strangled sound, swung off the bed, and zipped to the ladder. “Good night, Zane,” he said, and dropped out of sight.

Zane called after him. “Fine, I’ll take the cat.”

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About Anyta Sunday:

HEART-STOPPING SLOW BURN

A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.

My books have been translated into German, Italian, French, and Thai.

Connect with Anyta:

Author website: http://www.anytasunday.com/

Author newsletter signup: http://www.anytasunday.com/newsletter-free-e-book/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anytasundaybooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anytasunday

Instagram: https://instagram.com/anytasunday

Giveaway: Win an e-book set of 3 Signs of Love books: Leo Loves Aries, Scorpio Hates Virgo, and Gemini Keeps Capricorn or a reader’s choice of back catalog e-book by Anyta Sunday

 

Interview with Tara Gilboy, author of “Unwritten” (out on October 16th)

I was lucky enough to have been approved for an ARC of Unwritten by Tara Gilboy, a middle grade novel about a girl who has been taken out of a story into our real world and is trying to find out more about the world she comes from and especially about the author who wrote her in the story in the first place.

What I like about “books about books” is that there’s a lot of potential for reflections about fiction, about characters’ agency, about why we read and why we write stories. This book did just that, on top of an intriguing and sometimes a little dark plot.

I want to thank author Tara Gilboy so much for agreeing to this interview, and thank you to Jolly Fish Press for sending me the ARC through Netgalley!

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Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Gracie Freeman is living a normal life, but she is haunted by the fact that she is actually a character from a story, an unpublished fairy tale she’s never read. When she was a baby, her parents learned that she was supposed to die in the story, and with the help of a magic book, took her out of the story, and into the outside world, where she could be safe.

But Gracie longs to know what the story says about her. Despite her mother’s warnings, Gracie seeks out the story’s author, setting in motion a chain of events that draws herself, her mother, and other former storybook characters back into the forgotten tale. Inside the story, Gracie struggles to navigate the blurred boundary between who she really is and the surprising things the author wrote about her. As the story moves toward its deadly climax, Gracie realizes she’ll have to face a dark truth and figure out her own fairy tale ending.

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Silvia: How would you pitch your story to someone who hasn’t read the blurb?

Tara Gilboy: Thank you so much for having me today! Unwritten is a middle grade novel about a girl who lives in the real world but is actually a fairy tale character whose parents took her out of the story-world when she was a baby, so she could escape the fate of what was written about her. When she seeks out the story’s author, that fate – and the story’s villain — soon catch up with her.

S: Tell us a little bit about the main characters of Unwritten.

TG: The main character of Unwritten is Gracie, and she is a flawed character, which is perhaps why I love her so much. She can be stubborn, and she has a bit of a temper, but she’s also passionate and determined. When her mom refuses to tell her about the story written about her, she takes matters into her own hands. Walter is also a character from the story Gracie was born in. He is quieter than Gracie, and a bit kinder and more insightful, but he can also be stubborn in his own way. He’s less willing to believe in the “magic” of the story world, and is always looking for a scientific explanation. But I think he helps keep Gracie grounded. Both characters are fiercely loyal to one another.

S: What inspired you to write “a story within a story”, so to speak?

TG: You know, it’s interesting, because the idea for this novel didn’t start with it being a “story within a story.” It started with the idea of being on the run from someone. I kept having this recurring dream about being forced to flee in the middle of the night, and packing all my things in the car before some sort of supernatural entity caught up with me. I started playing around with this idea and doing some freewriting about shaping it into a story. What would these characters be running from? That idea kind of gradually evolved into the “story within a story,” which quickly became much more complicated than I had anticipated, with questions about fate and free will. I always smile to myself when readers mention the book being short and simple because there were many, many drafts that were extremely long and confusing while I figured this stuff out.

S: This is your debut. Have you always wanted to become a writer?

TG: Oh, yes, for as long as I can remember. I’ve wanted to write pretty much since I learned to read, and I still have some of the stories I wrote in elementary school. My mom recently gave me a letter I wrote to a publisher when I was in third grade, asking if I could write books for their series. (Apparently she never mailed it!) Unfortunately, until I was in my twenties, I had never actually met a writer, and so writing started to seem like this kind of “impossible dream.” Then in college, I took some creative writing classes, published a couple short stories, and worked as an editor at a literary journal, and I realized: “Hey, I can really do this!”

S: Do your characters sometimes take their destiny on their own hands or do you always have complete control over what you write?

TG: Oh my goodness, my characters ALWAYS take their destiny in their own hands. I am horrible at outlining because if I plan out everything in the story ahead of time, when I sit down to write, everything feels a bit “forced,” as if I am trying to make my characters do things that don’t feel natural for them. I actually just wrote a scene the other day, where at the end of it, a character had done something that took me completely by surprise, and when I had finished the scene, I kind of sat there thinking “Wow. I had no idea that was going to happen when I sat down to write.” But it took the story in a new and wonderful direction I had not anticipated, and was much better than what I had initially planned.

S: What are your favorite stories to read about? How do they inspire you in your own work?

TG: I feel like this changes all the time depending on my mood. Sometimes I go through periods where I am reading a lot of historical fiction, or ghost stories, or classics, or fantasy…. One thing that is consistent, though, is that middle grade and young adult are my absolute favorite books to read – I rarely read adult novels anymore. I feel like in middle grade and young adult novels, the stories are condensed into their essential elements – there’s no room to let the story digress and go off on tangents – so the focus is on telling a good story, which is something that is really important to me. I always start off my writing day by reading: reading books I love keeps me inspired. I’m working on another fantasy right now and reading a lot of Harry Potter to keep myself inspired. I think JK Rowling is a genius at both developing character and creating exciting plots.

S: How did your experiences as a writer influence you when writing the character of Gertrude Winters?

TG: Gertrude’s character is interesting to me because I was so reluctant to bring her into the book in a major way, and I’m not sure why. My critique partners kept telling me in draft after draft that I needed to reveal more of who she is and explain why she had written the story she did. I think in the initial drafts, I really didn’t know why Gertrude wrote the story, or perhaps I was hesitant to really start examining my own creative process through her. I think in some ways Gertrude’s writing process is really an exaggeration of the writing process of many writers. We all kind of “write behind our backs,” so to speak, where we draw on things in our own lives, or repeatedly explore themes that are important to us, sometimes subconsciously. My critique partners have pointed out that a lot of my work explores relationships between mothers and daughters, something that I never set out to do intentionally, but comes up again and again in my writing. Gertrude, I think, takes this tendency even further, basing her characters on people she knows, and drawing on her own experiences in a huge way as she shapes her stories. And, of course, one thing that I have in common with Gertrude is that I love writing villains – they are such interesting characters!

S: I think the way you talked about heroes and villains in this book was brilliant. What do you hope your young readers take away from it?

TG: Thank you so much! This idea of heroes and villains is something that evolved in later drafts, and it is SO important to me. I am so concerned lately by this kind of “call out culture” that is so prevalent on social media right now. Any time someone makes a mistake, or does or says something bad, that mistake can immediately be made public, and more and more, I’ve been seeing people labeled as either “good” or “bad,” without compassion or consideration for “why” the person might have done the things they did. Everyone makes mistakes – we don’t say or do the right things all the time, but the important thing is being able to learn from those mistakes, move on, and try to do better next time. People are so much more complex than the labels we ascribe to them. Heroes often do bad things, and villains are capable of doing good. I hope readers will be inspired from my book to offer compassion and forgiveness when others make mistakes, and consider the whole person, rather than simply the mistake.

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