A Little Chat About Writer Inspiration With Aisha Saeed + Giveaway

One of the things I love most is finding out what writers have inspired authors I love! It personally makes me happy when I see authors I love fangirling (or fanboying) about other authors I love. I just LOVE knowing what they love and which writers have inspired them and why.

I’m so happy to have debut author Aisha Saeed on the blog today to talk about 5 writers who inspire her and why. I just finished Aisha’s novel, Written in the Stars, over the Easter weekend and I cannot WAIT to talk about it (look out for a post about it in the next few days). It was a wonderful novel that I so appreciated because it allowed me a glimpse into a cultural practice (arranged marriage) that is not my own. I found myself reading so tensely as the Naila’s story played out. If you want more information on the book, I’ll provide the summary at the end of this post!

Now that I’ve blathered on I’ll let Aisha do the talking. I hope you’ll welcome her to the blog with me!!




The Five Writers Who Inspire Aisha Saeed


1. Jhumpa Lahiri: From The Namesake to Interpreter of Maladies, Lahiri’s work is beautiful and evocative. She inspires me not just with her skilled storytelling and character-building, but because she was the South Asian female author I saw make it big in the writing world. Seeing the interest in the type of stories she told motivated me to tell my own stories too.

2. Ha Jin: Jin’s writing is spare but the emotions his characters experience and consequently make you feel are powerful. His work inspires me to write with the goal to make a scene come alive by honing in on emotion.

3. Zadie Smith: Smith writes characters who will stay with you forever. She inspires me to truly consider my characters’ inner lives.

4. J.K. Rowling: I admire Rowling not just for how wonderfully she writes but because she worked so hard and believed in her writing. So many publishers rejected her but she never gave up. Even when she was struggling as a single mother and battling depression and on the brink of poverty, she honed her craft and kept on going.

5. Stephen King: Horror isn’t exactly my favorite genre but I make an exception for Stephen King. His storytelling is taut and suspenseful and has kept me up well past any reasonable hour, reading away. There is much to be learned from his writing even if it’s outside of my genre. His book, On Writing, served as the motivation for me to actually put pen to paper and write my novel.


Thank you for sharing, Aisha! I’ve heard amazing things about Jhumpa Lahiri and Zadie Smith and own some of their novels but have yet to read them. STORY OF MY LIFE.

Readers, I’d LOVE to know if you’ve read any of these authors (I’m assuming JK Rowling is an all around yes for most of you) and if you are a writer…what authors inspire you??



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Other tour stops ( I highly recommend checking them out, some good stuff!):

YA Highway – 3/24
IceyBooks – 3/25
Jessabella Reads – 3/26
Alice Marvels – 3/27
Pandora’s Books – 3/31
Pop! Goes the Reader – 4/2
The Young Folks – 4/6
Forever Young Adult – 4/7
Cuddlebuggery – 4/8
HERE – 4/9
The YA Bookworm – 4/13


More about the book and author:

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

At 21, Aisha Saeed agreed to an arranged marriage. Having only met the groom in person once, it was a leap of faith, and a lucky one, because she ended up happily married to someone who turned out to be the love of her life.

Her debut novel, WRITTEN IN THE STARS, tells a different story: the story of a Pakistani-American girl named Naila, who, at odds with her family, finds herself caught in a situation beyond her control: trapped in a foreign country, being forced to marry someone she doesn’t love. Naila must find a way to hold on to her hope, her dreams, and her freedom.

Naila’s story, unfortunately, is more common than you might think. There are young women, even within the United States, who are or will be the victims of forced marriage. Unlike arranged marriages like Aisha’s, these women have no say. Aisha grew up with many such girls—girls who were engaged by the time they were fourteen. WRITTEN IN THE STARS is a gripping, emotionally-charged, page-turner of a read, but it’s also a nuanced look at an important cultural issue. All sides of the situation are examined—under different circumstances, Naila may have even liked and willingly married the man her family chose for her.


The Fierce Reads tour stop came here to the Philadelphia area and did a great event at Towne Book Center with Marie Rutkoski, Ann Aguirre and Caragh O’Brien. These 3 ladies were HILARIOUS together and I had the privilege of being able to sit down and chat with them before the event started and it was so lovely and inspiring! I recorded the interview so I could better transcribe it later at home and, I have to say, I was laughing out loud A LOT while playing back the whole conversation.

The event itself was entertaining and lively and it was recorded if you want to check it out! They talked about favorite childhood books, if they were plotters or pantsers, how they balance romance & story, which Harry Potter House they would be sorted into, if they could see their books as tv shows or movies (Ann said movie and she’s actually turned down 2 options because they weren’t right; Caragh & Marie think tv show for theirs). It was a lot of fun and very good conversation. I’d definitely recommend watching the recording!


Fierce reads tourAnn, myself, Marie and Caragh


1. I ask this to every author I interview — describe your book in 6 words or less!

Marie: I’m going to use Ann’s description of my book: Young girl buys hot boy.
Ann: Marie’s answer for Ann’s since she did hers — Suicidal girl makes bad bargain.
Caragh: Dreams and danger collide.


2. How do you plan for your series? Do you know the end game when you start?

Marie: I didn’t intend for The Winner’s Curse to be a part of a series. I was about 1/3 through and I realized the ending I was trying to write toward I couldn’t visualize in the way that I usually visualize my endings. I usually see them from fairly far away and in fairly good detail. So I was having problems progressing — I was actually blocked. I asked myself some careful questions — Am I going towards the wrong ending? What would the right ending look like? What would the ending that is true to my book and true to my characters be? Once I realized that, I wrote the ending that now exists in the book and I realized what THAT ending would be that, “I’m good if I stop there. It feels to me like a story but I thought probably my readers would want a little bit more than that.” So I wondered whether I would want to continue that story and I did. I wanted to continue the story of Kestral and Arin so I plotted out how it would be in the next two books. I couldn’t have done it in only two; it had to be done in 3. Once I was 2/3 through Winner’s Curse I plotted out loose details of the following 2 books.

Caragh: I knew from the beginning it was a 3 book arc and I had a general idea of what was going to be happening in all 3 books. Once I finished the first book and started writing the second book I realized that my plan for the 2nd book does not work at all so I threw that out the window and now that I’m writing book 2 I had to start back at the beginning. Fortunately I left myself enough room from the first book and the world is big enough that I have some unsolved threads to play with. But now that I’m coming up with a totally new plan for book 2, my plan for book 3 has to be different.

Ann: YES. I do know my end game when I started.

3. Let’s say you were writing a spinoff series. Which minor/non-main character would it be about?

Marie: I would write about a character named Roshar that you will meet in book 2 but I’m not going to say why because you haven’t met him yet!

Caragh: I would write about Otis! I love Otis! (Ann interjects: but he’s an adult!) I know but he still really intrigues me! He’s got this interesting family and he’s an interesting person and I wonder why he’s there. (Marie wants her to write about Burnam!)

Ann: I would write about the Harbinger from book 2. He’s mentioned in book 1 but you don’t actually know that you’ve met him! But in fact you HAVE met him, you just didn’t know it was the Harbinger. I planted one fairly significant clue toward the end of the book. I’ll be curious if any readers actually figure it out. The reason I want to write about the Harbinger is because he is essentially Loki. So, if you like Loki from the Avengers it may be relevant to your interests.


Jaime-350x262Photo credit: Caragh O’Brien

4. What’s one or two skills or things that you possess that would help you to survive in your character’s world or predicament?

Caragh: I would have a camera. A filming camera.

Ann: I would say money and common sense.

Marie: Once I took a fencing class and I thought I would discover I was naturally gifted and I would be able to fight so gracefully. I was terrible awkward and really bad at it. So I like Kestral I would not be able to survive this world with any physical skills so I guess I would have to fall back on strategical skills. I think that maybe like Arin I can bide my time in order to execute my plans. Although Arin is sometimes not good at keeping his mouth shut while he is biding his time. Maybe I AM like Arin because I can’t keep my mouth shut.

5. What’s the coolest/most interesting/funniest/most memorable thing that’s happened on this tour?

Caragh (and this was also Ann’s answer but Caragh stole it first): They are SECRETS. We can’t tell the stories. But there was this taxi driver. He was telling us supernatural stories about celebrities and houses in the area. And he had so many details. He would NOT stop.  We’d try to say, “okay that’s really cool” and turn the conversation to something else unrelated  but before we could talk about it he’d be like, “well let’s talk about the munchkins some more.”  Then he added in these spooky weird stories. He was all, ” did you know Regis Philbin had a haunting? And that Christopher McDonald had an out of body experience?” And I think if we wouldn’t have been so tired it would had been fine.

Marie: A reader (@born_bookish) made a Winner’s Curse game — a Bite & Sting game from the book. It was really beautifully done and thoughtfully presented. She even made a box that had quotes on the outside from when they were playing and bits of dialogue that had while playing. It was really special. (Ann interjects — it was REALLY cool…very polished). Another special moment was the Downer’s Grove stop because that’s near where I grew up and lots of friends from high school came. And I got to spend time with my dad.

Bite & Sting gamePhoto credit: @fiercereads

6. In the spirit of Mortal Danger, if you were given 3 wishes what would you wish for (no strings attached!)

Marie: That all of my family members have a long and happy life. That sounds cheesy but it’s true. More hours in the day for ME (nobody else)…even 4 to 6 hours just for me. I want a painting — one of my favorite paintings and would be millions and millions of dollars. I’d have to choose one and that would be hard but I could do it.

Ann: I want to learn to teleport.  Then time travel. For my 3rd wish I want a Tardis.

Caragh: Peace on earth, wish that I could fly and wish that they would stop standardized testings in high school.  (Marie interjects and says “mine were so selfish. Ann says peace on earth is actually a really bad idea. Didn’t you see the Simpsons episode..they wish for it and then the aliens come and subjugate us. Marie — but if there were peace on earth the aliens shouldn’t be able to come.)


Check out the other Fierce Reads bloggers for more recaps, interviews and giveaways!

Downers Grove, IL: YA Bibliophile | @HMZ1505

Exeter, NH: Love is Not a Triangle | @LaurayJames

Cambridge, MA: Ticket to Anywhere | @Irisheyz77

New York, NY: Queen Ella Bee Reads | @GabySalpeter

Charleston, SC: Reading Underground | @andriaamaral




One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Winner’s Curse, The Vault of Dreamers & Mortal Danger!

Rules & Other Things:
* US only.
* You must be 13 years or older to enter (for legal-y) reasons. Have a parent or guardian or sister or brother do it for you if not!
* Prize will be fulfilled by Macmillan.
* Giveaway ends October 4th 11:59 EST

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This leg of the tour is over but leg 2 is starting up soon with all new authors and more shenanigans! Selfishly I wish another tour stop was coming to meeee!

Fierce reads tour stops

Giveaway & Interview With Katherine Longshore (You need this book!)

So if you caught my post on Monday it was a review of Brazen by Katherine Longshore. OH MY GOODNESS. Please tell me it’s on your TBR. If you like fun historical novels or the show Reign…get on this. And if you are not NORMALLY into historical fiction…I vote giving this one a chance. Given my love for history and this book, you can imagine how excited I am for this interview with Katherine Longshore ALL about Brazen, her research and more!

Brazen by Katherine Longshore

1. Describe Brazen in 6 words or less.

I think the tagline does it well in three: Duty. Loss. Rebellion. Though I’d have to add two more: Love and Friendship.

2. In Gilt and Tarnish you wrote about a bit more well known figures in King Henry VIII’s court, what drew you to Mary Howard to write from her POV in Brazen?

One of the first things that drew me to Mary was that she never remarried. This was something almost unheard of in the Tudor court, and definitely frowned upon by the men in her family who were looking to capitalize on her gender, looks and status in any way possible. I wanted to know why. I could only figure that out for myself by getting inside her head for a while.

But probably the most compelling thing that inspired me to write about Mary was the Devonshire Manuscript. I came across a reference to it when I was researching Anne Boleyn and Thomas Wyatt’s relationship, and found the idea utterly compelling. It is a real leatherbound volume in which many different people (including Thomas Wyatt, and some say, Anne Boleyn) wrote poetry, comments and cryptic notes. It was apparently passed around the court for several years. Two of the most consistent hands were those of Madge Shelton and Margaret Douglas, and the initials stamped on the cover were M.F.—Mary (Howard) FitzRoy. I latched onto the idea of this literary brat pack roaming the galleries of Hampton Court and Henry’s other palaces, and took off from there.

3. How do you balance the historical facts and the fictional liberties when writing? How do you choose what remains completely accurate and what doesn’t?

I have always felt that when it comes to the Tudor court, truth is stranger than fiction. The raw material (the tyrannical king, the manipulative advisors, the six very different wives) is irresistible. Because of this, I try to be as accurate as I possibly can with the facts: who, what, where, when. If my characters birthdays were noted, I cannot make them older or younger. If there wasn’t solid evidence that Henry VIII had an affair with someone, I don’t include it. If Anne Boleyn was at Hampton Court on such and such a date, that’s where I keep her—even if it might suit my story better to have her somewhere else. Thus the long stretches in BRAZEN when Mary and Fitz are separated—he wasn’t at court. Period.

It’s the how and why that I get to play with, and this is where the fictional liberties come in. Why did Mary never remarry? How did she and Fitz feel, being married at fourteen and not allowed to consummate? I also get to do my inventing around the gaps in the historical record. There aren’t any complete lists of the ladies at the court during Anne Boleyn’s time as queen. There is no record of Mary Howard being at court, but then again there is no record of her being anywhere else. It suited the purpose of my story to have her be close to Anne, and there is mention of it in the historical record, so I followed my instincts to the (possibly) fictional conclusion.

My biggest departure from known facts again revolves around the Devonshire Manuscript. I wanted the book to be the touchstone I imagined it to be, but couldn’t find enough evidence in the book itself to suit my needs. So I invented extra pages where the three girls (Mary, Madge and Margaret) wrote lists of attributes of the men they might fall in love with. These lists don’t exist, but it made the story so much richer to include them.

4. It’s obvious from reading Brazen how much research you did…what was the most interesting or mind-blowing things that you came across in your research about King Henry VIII’s reign or life in general then?

One of my favorites is something I came across very early on, when I was just reading history out of interest rather than researching for a book. The Tudors drank wine and beer almost exclusively—never water. They thought water was poisonous to humans and, of course, at the time, it was because the rivers were both garbage dumps and sewers. The boiling and fermenting process in brewing beer killed the bacteria, making it potable. In their defense, however, the Tudors didn’t spend their entire lives inebriated, as they often drank what they called “small beer”, which contained very little alcohol. However, unappetizingly, it sometimes had the consistency of porridge.

5. There were so many compelling figures that were just brought to life in Brazen. Mary Howard aside, who was your favorite to research and to write?

I’m fascinated by Margaret Douglas. She is such an enigma. Daughter of the dowager Queen of Scotland and the Earl of Angus, niece to the King of England, royal and yet she had little political power. She was raised in part with Mary Tudor, who became Mary I, and I can’t help thinking that some of Margaret’s opinions and feelings would have been colored by that association. Margaret appeared on the outside to be the perfect courtier, and the obedient niece to Henry VIII, except for these (excuse the pun) royally imprudent love affairs that got her thrown in prison more than once. She spent her later years in and out of court (and sometimes as a thorn in the side of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth), finagling to get herself and her progeny closer to the throne—and succeeded when her grandson became James I. How’s that for tenacious?

6. If you were transported back into the reign of King Henry VIII, what 3 attributes do you think you’d have to survive King Henry’s court?

Discretion—I know when to keep my mouth shut.
Education—If I got transported back with all my faculties intact, I’d have the heads up on things like reading and writing, as well as basic hygiene. Not to mention the foreknowledge of what happens next and to whom.
Imagination—I’ve had some experience telling stories and making them seem absolutely true.

7. Kiss, Marry, Kill Brazen style — Henry Fitzroy, Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard?

I’d kiss Thomas Wyatt (I imagine he’s pretty good at it!), marry Henry FitzRoy (hello! Son of the king) and regrettably I’d have to kill Henry Howard (who historically made things difficult for himself—Henry VIII agreed with me and had him executed in 1547).


Thanks for such thoughtful answers, Katherine! After reading and loving Brazen, your answers were SOOO interesting to me! Especially the fact that the notebook passed around was real!!



So, I’m really jealous of what Penguin Teen is offering up for giveaway for you guys because I WANT IT FOR MYSELF. I am dying to read Gilt and Tarnish after reading Brazen (two other books set in King Henry VIII’s court — seriously a young Anne Boleyn is the MC is one!!) and Courted is the paperback bind-up of those two. I’m also going to personally throw in Brazen (which will be fulfilled by myself) because I LOVED it so much and want you to read it!

Brazen by Katherine Longshore9780147513687_large_Courted

So what you will win:
* A copy of Courted (bind-up of Gilt & Tarnish) —-> prize fulfilled by Penguin Teen
* A hardcover of Brazen —–> prize fulfilled by me!

US Only.
Ends 7/17 11:59pm

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About The Author


Katherine Longshore (www.katherinelongshore.com) is the author of Gilt, Tarnish, and Brazen. She lives in California with her husband, two children and a sun-worshipping dog. Follow her on Twitter!

Check out COURTED (paperback compilation of Gilt and Tarnish) // Check out BRAZEN



Be sure to follow along with the rest of the blog tour to find out more about Katherine Longshore, her books, and some of her favorite historical hotties!

Midsummer Romance Blog Tour Schedule:

Tuesday, July 8 – Good Books & Good Wine

Thursday, July 10Perpetual Page Turner

Tuesday, July 15Alice Marvels

Thursday, July 17 I am a Reader

Tuesday, July 22 Novel Sounds

Thursday, July 24 Starry-Eyed Revue

Tuesday, July 29 The Midnight Garden

Thursday, July 31 Novel Thoughts

In Which Tahereh Mafi Invades My Blog!

You guys! I’m very, very excited about who has stopped by the blog today.


She’s the author of the Shatter Me trilogy ,which I love, and she is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter because she always makes me giggle. I also got the chance to meet her when I went to Chicago and she is the SWEETEST ever and she needs a shoe cam to follow her every move because she has the COOLEST heels ever. (I’m jealous that she can walk in them so well).



I’m very excited to have the opportunity to ask Tahereh some questions in celebration of Ignite Me‘s release this past Tuesday!!

 Shatter Me series cover

1. Describe the Shatter Me series in six words or less for people who have no idea what it is about (are there people out there? I give back my blogging card if readers of this blog don’t know about Shatter me)

first of all, you are very sweet! thank you for that! but hmmm..

shatter me can be described in a million different ways, i think. but at it’s heart, for me, it’s always been about a girl trying to find herself.

2. Out of the many series out there, I’d have to say the “Team” debate I hear most often is Team Adam vs. Team Warner. Fans are PASSIONATE about this but also quite divided. What are the most convincing arguments you’ve heard from fans about THEIR ship?

oh man i don’t think i can answer this question. i’ve heard incredibly articulate arguments from both sides, and often the most compelling have been, these, like, massive essays and phd theses. brilliant, really. and fascinating. and i have to say: i’m extremely flattered anyone would take the time to write such complex arguments for characters who live in my head.

3. With creating such a compelling SHIP debate and an amazing story in general (seriously HOW IS THIS GOING TO END?), how hard is it to conclude a series knowing you are going to make one team/fans in general upset potentially? How do you still write the story you know needs to be written with the fan pressure I’m sure you get? It’s been such an interesting phenomena to watch reader’s reactions to series endings and I’m sure you are hyper aware of that as an author.

i’m generally not a plotter with first books, because i like to use those pages to get to know my characters — to hear their voices and understand their needs. but every book after that has to follow the rules of the world you’ve created, so there’s a lot more plotting and outlining and deliberation. after writing the first book — while plotting the second — i knew exactly where the story needed to go. and at the end, i looked deep into the hearts of these characters i know and love — and have lived with for three years — and searched for what was most important to them, to their happiness, to their future. once i found it, i tried to give it to them. they may be fictional, but i love them, and i want them to be happy.

but it’s hard to meet readers’ expectations. it really is. i get heartfelt, heartbroken messages from both sides every day. my inbox, flooded. my twitterfeed, flooded. facebook, tumblr, instagram, everywhere. so it’s hard. how can i not love those who love these books? it’s my heart in those words, on those pages, and the journey of author and reader is so very, very intertwined. but ultimately, i realized that, in the end — no matter what happened — the third book would be very controversial, because it’s impossible to please everyone, no matter my intentions.

4. What has been your most favorite minor character to write? Is there a character who has emerged as more popular than you originally thought they would?

kenji! without a doubt, kenji. he has become more real to me than any of the other characters, because — well, because he’s based on my brothers. i have all these older brothers i adore, and i squished all their personalities into one person. he’s the easiest character to write, and the most fun to write, because a lot of what he says and the way he says it is ripped directly from conversations and interactions i’ve had with my brothers. i’m thrilled people like kenji so much. he’s my favorite.

5. You’ve created one of the most complex villains EVER in Warner. It’s easy to hate him but we also learn a lot about him that makes us sympathize with him and connect to him as a human. Where did your inspiration come from with him/how do you create such a compelling villain? Do you enjoy writing baddies?

i’ve always been fascinated by the way in which human beings judge each other. we’re quick to make assumptions about a person, even with very little information. often this is a good thing — a survival mechanism, instinct we should trust — but sometimes we’re just wrong. this is what’s happened to juliette when we meet her at the beginning of the book. a girl who, in black and white, has killed a small child, and been locked up for it. but was it really that simple? what really happened to her? who is she — really? i ask this same question of adam and warner and kenji, too. there must be more to who they are, and why they are the way they are.

i feel very deeply that there exist entire worlds of feeling and experience in the people we meet every day; it’s just that we seldom get to see any of it. with this series i wanted to explore complicated characters with complicated lives; i wanted to explore the impact of change, opportunity, love, success, self-confidence, and loss. i don’t believe things are ever black and white. in villains, especially.


6. We’ve all seen your new collab Youtube channel with Ransom (you guys are the cutest and my most favorite ship ever) but I’m curious, besides that, what’s up next for you? Can you give us any hints on what you are working on next? Shed any lights on your plans for further world domination?

yes! (and thank you for the kind words about the youtube channel :D) i’m working on something new that i can’t talk about yet — but will very soon, i hope — and it’s my favorite thing i’ve ever written. that’s really all i can say at the moment, but yes, yes. new books! more soon!

I decided to bring my readers in on the fun instead of hogging all the questions for myself because YOU, lady, are in demand so here are some GREAT questions from my readers.


1. Where did the shoe hobby/obsession start? What are the craziest pair of shoes you own? (From @novablogder & @smokeandbone13)


i’m not sure! i’ve always loved shoes, but i quickly found i was never quite satisfied with a simple pretty pump or a normal, practical boot. but i love fashion in general; it’s real, live, wearable art. i find it fascinating. and i’m not sure, re: the craziest pair of shoes i own. i don’t really think i own any “crazy” shoes (at least not in my own estimation), though someone else might look in my closet and think all my shoes are crazy. haha. but i like my heels high, i do.

2. Do you feel a sense of loss now that your first series is done or are you overwhelmed with excitement for your next work? (From @lilreflects)


i gave these characters an ending that i feel really, really good about, so it’s easy for me to move on. i feel like they’re exactly where they need to be now, and ready for a world of adventure on their own. so i am definitely overwhelmed with excitement for the next thing.


3. I LOVE THIS QUESTION SO MUCH. Would you ever consider writing a book with Ransom? Why or why not? What type of novel do you think it would be? (from @jennadoesbooks)

maybe! we’ve definitely talked about it. but ransom and i have very, very different writing methods (he’s a big-time plotter and i’m more of a pantser) so i’m not sure how that would work out. haha. but maybe!


Rapid Fire Questions:

1. I do this with all the interviews I do…kiss, marry, kill time!! Adam, Warner, Kenji

i really wish i could play this game, but i’m afraid people will think my answers are indicative of the end, so i will have to abstain!

2. If Shatter Me had a theme song it would be….

Can’t Touch This.

3. If you could do a mashup of any tv-show/movie with a book what would it be? (example: Twilight meets celebrity death match)

Gilmore Girls meets Anne of Green Gables

4. When I need to have a dance party I turn on this song:

hmmm.. you know, mostly i listen to pandora, but recently i’ve had a soft spot for The End Has No End by The Strokes. it always makes me want to run around the house and dance with the cat.

5. Ransom’s most annoying habit is: 

i say this at the risk of making everyone throw up in their mouths a little, but honestly, he does nothing to annoy me. he’s really quite exasperatingly wonderful.

6. Last book I bought:

Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh

7. One of my most favorite books is:

The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson  (mine too, Tahereh!! God that book is perfection)

8. A movie that made me cry is:

12 Years a Slave. i sobbed like a baby.

9. Favorite place I traveled:

ahhhhh.. this is hard! i don’t know if i can choose! my three favorite places so far have been santorini (a greek island); cappadocia (in the countryside of turkey), and palawan (an island off the coast of the philippines). magical destinations.

10. If this food stopped existing I’d be grumpy:

persian food. i can’t live without it.

Thanks for stopping by the blog, Tahereh! And thank you for bringing life to such a wonderfully complicated characters and taking us on their journey! Cannot WAIT to see what is up next for you!

A Candid Interview With An Author I Love + Giveaway

Today I’m excited to host an author I love so much on the blog. You may know her as Diana Peterfreund (remember how much I raved about For Darkness Shows The Stars) but she’s making her debut into the New Adult world as Viv Daniels. Now, if you haven’t found any New Adult out there that’s for you so far like me, you might want to read this as One & Only has definitely gone beyond the cliches that turned away a lot of us from New Adult and she has some valuable insight to share!




1. Describe One & Only in 6 words or less.

Long Secrets, Tough Choices, First Loves. (That was really hard!)

2. I know you’ve personally written NA in the past, before it was labeled as such, with your Secret Society Girl novels. What do you think of the New Adult label and how it has emerged so quickly? Do you think it’s hard to define what is NA and what isn’t? (i.e. especially when it comes to where bookstores should shelve so the right readers find the books).


I think the difficulty of defining new adult stems from the fact that it was a label that got self-applied to a particular type of self published novel, and it wasn’t exactly what the inventor of the term meant when he coined it. So you’ve got different crowds defining it different ways, i.e., one group that wants to call it any novel about an early twenty something (as if those have never existed before!), and a readership that only knows “New Adult” as a specific type of contemporary women’s fiction or romance. I didn’t call SSG “new adult” when I published it, though the inventor of the term held it up as a prime example, and I don’t know if it really fits what’s actually being published, which is a very specific, very intense, very intimate type of coming-of-age love story. (Also, I find it very telling that the guy who invented the term never published any.)
As for shelving, I think that’s the main reason why NA is taking off in ebooks and in self-publishing, because they don’t need to worry about shelves in a bookstore. There is no “place” for NA, and there are plenty of genres that have happily and will continue happily publishing books about early 20 somethings (historical fiction, sci-fi, etc.) without jumping on this buzzword. As for romance/contemporary women’s fiction, however, there was a HUGE hole there. Publishers were not publishing books about 20 year olds in love. And that’s why I think it’s romance where NA-as-NA has really taken off.
If you look at the NA out there, they tend to mirror all the subgenres of romance but with 20 year old heroines. There’s the “glitz” romance where the heroine falls for the billionaire/rock star/etc.; there’s the romantic thriller where she’s being stalked/harrassed or has some other kind of shady past and must be saved by the hero, there’s the sexual awakening book, there’s the sweet, small-town romance (that’s more of what I’m going for with my series, where family and community are big players in the story)… these are all storylines present in the romance genre at large. And even the outliers, the “historical” NA or the “paranormal” NA — well, it’s paranormal romance, and historical romance, just with younger characters.


And I think that’s fine. I think that’s GREAT — college romance was completely being ignored by romance publishers before NA (which is something my friend and romance writer Julie Leto actually blogged about the other day: http://www.plotmonkeys.com/2013/11/13/first-time-love/ ). I don’t think NA has to be all things to be worthwhile, and a definitely disagree with the retro-fitting some really overeager NA writers are wanting to do (All Greek myths are NA, Star Wars is NA, etc.)

3. What are some misconceptions you think that are out there right now about NA?

That it’s “sexed up YA.” I disagree with this assessment entirely. First, most NA books I’ve read aren’t about teenagers at all. Second, I’ve read plenty of YA with sex in it (Stiefvater, Marr, Black, Elkeles, Hopkins, the list goes on and on), so the idea that the difference is the presence of sex is laughable. Third, YA books occur in every category, and NA books, were they YA, would primarily be categorized as romances, romantic thrillers, and “issue” books. I mean, literally the only time I can think of that stereotype fitting is with those “hot for teacher” New Adult novels. As YAs, books about teens who have affairs with their teachers are published as issue novels, warning stories about predatory teachers (See: Rob Thomas’s Rat Saw God or R.A. Nelson’s Teach Me). As NA, they are published as love stories where you are rooting for them to stay together. I’ve yet to see a book like that published as a YA novel and if it were, I bet it would be extremely controversial!

4. When I was in college I SO wish there had been more books out there set in college, like One & Only, with characters I could relate to. It was perhaps the years with the most change and figuring out who I was. Why do you think it’s been largely ignored as a setting in contemporary novels?


Very few college kids read for fun, or at least, that’s been the perception in publishing for years. They’ve got so much assigned reading to do! I read very few “fun novels” in college. Maybe on spring break. I know almost all of my readers of my former college set series were either high schoolers looking forward to college or recent graduates feeling nostalgic.
Even now, my understanding is that the majority of NA novels are not being bought by college students, but rather, by recent graduates who are nostalgic for the past (especially in this tough economy where their “lives” may not be starting as quickly as they’d like), by older readers generally nostalgic for college, and by readers who are college-aged but not actually in college, on an “aspirational” basis. I think maybe the “aspirational” element to a lot of the NA accounts for the popularity of the “Fifty Shades” style books where the college kid becomes the unexpected object of affection for the billionaire/rock star/sports hero). I think that may be why although a lot of these books are nominally set in college, you don’t see the kids in class or doing other collegiate activities a lot. That was one thing I wanted to address in my book.


4. If adult Viv met up with college Viv for coffee, what advice would she give her about romance?

See, that’s tough to say, because I did meet my husband in college, and I really don’t know that much about dating in the “real” world. Maybe that’s why I’m more comfortable writing college romances. I do think if I’d met college Viv before she’d met my husband, I’d tell her to hang in there, and that all the romantic drama she was going through would come out all right in the end. I had a really bad breakup in college and I let it get to me too much! More fish in the sea, Viv!


5. Did anything from your own college experience get written in to Tess’s college experience?

Little things. Like Dylan’s high school science project is based loosely on my college thesis for my Geology major, and the big atrium and central staircase in the bioengineering lab is modeled a bit after my department’s main building. Also the fact that I did make them science majors, like I was.


6. From what I’ve seen so far in NA there seems to be A LOT of the same type of cliched damaged bad boy types. You’ve written more of a good boy type who rises above these cliches (thank you!!). Most people who are scared off by the NA label are for that reason so I’d love for you to tell us maybe 3 well known fictional boys you see him as most like.

I’m glad you like him! I’m not usually into bad boys myself (Logan Echols excepted), so I find myself writing the kind of guys I can fall in love with, and sweet, charming Dylan is definitely that! There is definitely room for the bad boy in fiction, but I don’t want readers to think that that’s the only choice they get when it comes to NA novels. Go read Cora Carmack. She also likes guys who are –shock– actually NICE to the girls they are falling for.
As for Dylan’s literary twins, I feel like he’s maybe one part Etienne St Clair from Stephanie Perkins’s ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS (he’s got the charm and gregariousness), one part Cricket Bell from Stephanie Perkins’s LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR (geeky science boys For the Win! Also, I’m clearly obsessed with Perkins…), and one part Ben (Adam Scott) from PARKS & RECREATION (really admires the woman he loves for who she is, and wants to fight for her). I really wanted to show that a character could be strong and assertive and sexy without being deeply damaged or mean.


7. Is One & Only part of a series or a companion series of romance novels? Can we expect to see Tess and Dylan again?

It is! It’s the first novel in the Canton series, which is currently set to be three interconnected books about different characters at Canton. But each book is a separate story — no cliffhangers. Tess and Dylan are the first story. The next book, Sweet & Wild, is out next spring, and that one will be about Hannah, who is Tess’s half-sister and a major player in One & Only. The third story is about another couple, but I don’t want to spoil who they are, yet. Tess and Dylan will make appearances in all the books.


Thank you for asking such fantastic questions! They really gave me a lot to think about.



About One And Only


One & Only Viv DanielsOne night they can’t forget…

Tess McMann lives her life according to the secrets she’s sworn to keep: the father who won’t acknowledge her, the sister who doesn’t know she exists, and the mother who’s content playing mistress to a prominent businessman. When she meets the distractingly cute Dylan Kingsley at a prestigious summer program and falls in love, Tess allows herself to imagine a life beyond these secrets. But when summer ends, so does their relationship — Dylan heads off to Canton College while Tess enrolls at the state university.

One love they can’t ignore…

Two years later, a scholarship brings Tess to Canton and back into Dylan’s life. Their attraction is as strong as ever, but Dylan has a girlfriend…who also happens to be Tess’s legitimate half-sister. Tess refuses to follow in her mother’s footsteps, which leaves her only one choice: break the rules she’s always followed, or allow Dylan to slip away for a second time.

…And only one chance to get things right.


Buy Now:

Check Viv out on:

Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

Giveaway Time!!


Viv has graciously offered up a great swag pack for one lucky reader — a One & Only bookmark, an assortment of gifts and books from her and other new adult authors, and a One & Only charm. PLUS there’s a blog tour wide giveaway happening as well!

Giveaway #1
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway #2

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you read One & Only by Viv Daniels? Planning to add it to your TBR? What are YOUR thoughts to some of the questions about New Adult that I asked Viv!  Tell me some of  YOUR favorite new adult books!

In Which Lauren Morrill Stops By My Blog & My Ovaries Explode

I’m so excited to have author Lauren Morrill on my blog today for a mini interview as part of a fantastic blog tour (organized by Paper Lantern Lit) for her upcoming debut Meant To Be (out from Random House on November 13th). It’s a debut I’m super excited about and will be reading next! And I have to say this is my FAVORITE answer to an interview question EVER.

Meant To Be by Lauren Morrill

Just like Meant To Be, all good romantic comedies have a couple that just can’t get along. Who is your favorite opposites attract couple?

Lauren says:

Veronica Mars and Logan Echolls. OMG I could watch THE SCENE (you know the one…) a million times, and would probably still squeal every time. I just love their snarky banter! Logan is my favorite bad-boy-turned-sort-of-good.”


Oh MY GOODNESS! If I wasn’t already planning on reading Meant To Be, I’d be doing it now on the basis that Lauren Morrill answered this question the EXACT same way I would have. My love for Logan runs deep. VERY DEEP. I am seriously just giddy thinking about the amazing and complex relationship that is Veronica and Logan. SERIOUSLY. Two of my fave characters to ever grace the boob tube.  I’m ready to rewatch Veronica Mars just thinking about it. If you haven’t watched Veronica Mars ever, please rectify that. If you are a VMars fan, go spend a few moments reliving your top 5 Logan Echolls moments. #2 always makes me clap and squeal and clutch my chest and #5 just makes me giggle.

I think my other favorite opposites attracts couples are Nathan and Haley from One Tree Hill, Marissa & Ryan from The OC, Ben & Felicity from Felicity, Beauty & the Beast, and Darcy & Elizabeth from Pride & Prejudice.

What are some of your favorite “opposites attract” type couples from tv, books or movies??


Add Meant To Be On Goodreads | Pre-Order From Amazon | Follow Lauren Morrill On Twitter | Lauren’s Website

So Close To You Blog Tour – Interview With Rachel Carter!

If you read my  “Save The Date” pre-review thoughts on So Close To You by Rachel Carter (full review to come SOON!), you’ll know how much I enjoyed this one when I read it! I devoured it in a day and poor Will had to listen to be go on and on about how fascinating the book was and then all the research I did AFTER about the Montauk Project conspiracy.  I’m a sucker for a time travel novel for sure but throw in a conspiracy theory and an interesting time period…goodbye whatever else I need to get done that day. So, I’m SUPER excited to be kicking off Rachel Carter’s blog tour for So Close To You with an interview with Rachel Carter herself. If you haven’t added this to your TBR already and need extra convincing, check out this interview!

1. DescribeSo Close To You by Rachel Carter your book in 6 words or less.

Government conspiracy. Time Travel. Kissing!

2. What inspired you to center a story around the Montauk Project? I have to say it had me fascinated and looking up all sorts of things about it!

As soon as I heard about the Montauk Project, I knew I wanted to write about it. It has so many of the elements I’m drawn to — mystery, conspiracy theories, paranormal experiments. Plus I loved the thought of this huge, secret government project taking place in a small town setting like Montauk.

3. Since your novel deals with time travel, what era would you like to go back in time and visit?

I would love to go to the 1940s like Lydia did, which is part of why I set the book in that time period. I’d also want to visit the ‘20s, or the late eighteen hundreds.

4. You clearly did a lot of research about the Montauk Project conspiracy…can you share with us one of the most interesting things you uncovered.

According to the MP conspiracy theorists, the government has figured out how to use wormholes to connect to distant planets, and they’ve made contact with aliens called Reptoids. Some people claim to have been attacked by these half-human, half-reptile creatures on the beach in Montauk.

5. I love music so I have to know…if you had to give So Close To You a theme song what would it be?

Abandoned Radar Station At Montauk Point

I’m a huge music lover too, so I’m going to make this answer way more involved than it needs to be. There were certain songs I listened to over and over while I was writing, like Greater Than Consequence by Amos the Transparent, and Civilian by Wye Oak. And then there are songs that I think really embodied specific characters, like Noah Gundersen’s The Ocean for Wes. As for a theme song for So Close to You, I’d say, The World Spins Madly On by The Weepies.

6. Are there any other conspiracies or obscure pieces of history that fascinate you?

I’ve always been interested in conspiracy theories – I even used to watch that show Roswell (So bad! So addicting!). And I do include parts of another conspiracy theory in book 2…but you’ll have to wait to see what that is! As for history, I’m more drawn to the stories of how normal people once lived than to big events. I grew up in Vermont, and there are hundreds of crumbling cemeteries and cellar-holes tucked into the forest. I used to love walking through the trees with my dad, imagining the framework of old homes and villages, and wishing that I had been born in another time.


Thank you so much for stopping by, Rachel!

Jessi Kirby Stops By For Some Top Ten (Thursday) Fun!

MoonglassI was SO jazzed to be able to have debut author Jessi Kirby, author of Moonglass, on my blog to do a special Top Ten list for a fun blog tour coordinated by the Teen Book Scene! I read Moonglass recently and really LOVED it. You’ll see a review from me in the coming weeks. This past week at my other blog (The Broke and the Bookish) we did Top Ten Books I’d Like To See Made Into A Movie and today Jessi is joining in on that fun!

 So, here’s Jessi’s list:

Top Ten Books I’d Like To See Made Into a Movie

(Only if there was some sort of guarantee that the movie would do the book justice.)

1. Paper Towns—John Green
2. Looking for Alaska—John Green
3. The Giver—Lois Lowry
4. Peeps—Scott Westerfield
5. Sea—Heidi Kling
6. Twenty Boy Summer—Sarah Ockler
7. The Six Rules of Maybe—Deb Caletti
8. The Gone Series—Michael Grant
9. Siren—Tricia Rayburn
10. Moonglass—I can hope, right?

Jessi, you can definitely hope! I think Moonglass would be a fantastic movie! Thanks for stopping by!

What do you all think about Jessi’s choices?

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