Sunday, March 31, 2013

PICTURE PERFECT BLOG TOUR - Author's Interview: Alessandra Thomas


Fashion design major Cat Mitchell has a closet full of gorgeous clothes - and not a single thing fits. After two years of runway modeling for easy cash, an accident shattered her lower leg bone and her self-esteem in just one swift fall. Ten months of no exercise, prescription steroids, comfort eating and yoga pants meant returning to campus as a size twelve instead of her former size two. When her gorgeous long-time friend with benefits sees her for the first time after her accident and snubs her in front of all her friends, Cat’s self-image hits rock bottom. Her sorority sisters all insist that she looks gorgeous, but all Cat sees is the roll of her stomach when she sits down, or the dimpling at the back of her thighs that wasn't there last year. Cat’s therapist prescribes something radical to stop the downward spiral - nude modeling for a nearby college's human form drawing classes. When Cat faces her fears and bares it all for the class, she realizes that she's posing naked in front the most gorgeous, buffest guy she's ever seen in her life. He asks her out after the class, and after one steamy night together, Cat's absolutely smitten.

Nate’s pretty close to perfect – he takes Cat rock climbing when he discovers that it makes her feel strong and becomes a great chef after he learns that the perfect pesto sauce makes her swoon. Cat starts to feel like her old self again - confident and beautiful - as long as Nate's around. Even when he discourages her from entering the Real Woman Project, a design competition for plus-sized apparel, she reasons that he's just trying to prevent old body image wounds from splitting wide open again. But when Cat goes home with Nate for Thanksgiving, she discovers something shocking from his recent past that proves that he hasn’t always been so encouraging of women of all shapes and sizes. Cat has no idea what to think, but she does know one thing - this might destroy their relationship before it's even had a chance to get off the ground.

Before Cat can figure out whether the real Nate is the sensitive, adoring guy she fell in love with, or an undercover asshole, she'll have to finally feel comfortable in her own skin - even if it means leaving him forever.

And guess what, guys? I’m so honored Alessandra has taken the time to answer some of my questions about PICTURE PERFECT! She’s super nice, and her book is amazing. And without further ado...

Hi Johana! Thank you so much for having me over to your blog today!  I’m so excited to be here.

- What can you tell me about the conception of Picture Perfect?

I know a lot of college-aged people, and, especially among the women, a popular topic of conversation is how they hate their bodies. There is a lot of self-hate running around this community in particular, I think largely because they’re surrounded by women their own age and there’s sort of an inherent sense of competition. 

The seed of the idea started a few years back, when Glamour magazine ran an article about learning to love your body, and included an almost-nude model with some pretty obvious belly fat and other curves – and she looked RADIANT. Letters poured in to the magazine thanking them for featuring a “real woman.” 

When I wrote Picture Perfect, I thought about how that sort of feedback, that “you look really awesome naked,” could help a lot of these girls I know. Especially coming from a gorgeous guy. *wink wink* And the story grew from there.

- Cat's pivotal conflict is centered around her body image issues. What decided you to write about such an unexplored, some people may even say taboo, topic? 

I think we’ve all been there, you know? We live in a culture where there is a clear standard of beauty that almost no one lives up to. That means that almost everyone has some hangup with their body, that affects them on the inside as well as the outside. I, like Cat, had some pretty freaky medical events that caused me to gain a lot of weight. I’m a size sixteen and I often lament my extra curves. On the other hand, I have a friend who’s always been thin, and she reports having hated her thinness for large portions of her lives.  

This story isn’t even really about “beauty is within,” which, frankly, I think is an easy out – it’s about “confront your body issues and vanquish them.” That’s a lot tougher.

- You protagonist, Cat… She's a fashion major. Did you chose this vocation for her for a particular reason? 

Yes! First, because fashion is an industry where that standard of beauty is basically EVERYWHERE. You can’t escape it. So it would make things a lot harder for Cat when she suddenly didn’t fit within that standard anymore (yes, I like to be evil to my characters!) But also because a large part of feeling beautiful in your own body is learning to dress it well. So I thought she’d also be armed for that part of the battle (so sometimes I’m nice, too.)

- About Gorgeous Nate.. I don't really have an appropiate question in mind *raises eyebrow* He plays a big part in Cat's coming into her own, in more ways than one. What can you tell me about him? 

Nate is an only child of divorce, and grew up mostly with his mom, so I think he sort of has a unique outlook and understanding about what women need to feel good about themselves. 

He also wears his heart on his sleeve. He has made mistakes, but as soon as he realized what they were he set to work harder than almost anyone else would trying to change those aspects of himself. He’s really quite extraordinary.

By the way, Nate thinks you’re hot..*blushes*

- Thank you. Em, where was I? Oh, Yeah! With so many New Adult books reaching success right now, do you see the genre evolving as much as Young Adult did a few years back?
Absolutely! I think that this age span (college-aged) is such a unique time of life that the situations in the books coming out are really inapplicable to any other group. I think that that “almost-adult-but-definitely-not-a-kid” milieu is something that will inspire a lot of stories, romance and otherwise. 
We’re only going to see it grow from here. I’m just glad that so many people had the sense to put their work out there, no matter what publishers said about New Adult never being a “thing.” It’s given voice to a lot of important narratives, reached a whole new group of readers, and empowered writers like  me, who always wanted to write it, but weren’t quite brave enough – until now.

- In your opinion, is there one NA book that started the trend? One that's for NA what Harry Potter was for YA, for example.

I think that books like EASY by Tammara Webber, FLAT OUT LOVE by Jessica Park, SLAMMED by Colleen Hoover, and LOSING IT by Cora Carmack are the iconic four for me. When I saw all of them, and how great the stories were, and how much people were buying up the genre, it really hit it home to me – this is a Thing now. :D

- Are you working on another NA project at the moment? If so, what can you tell me about it?

Yes! Right now I’m working on a story called SUBJECT TO CHANGE, which is about Cat’s best friend, Joey. She’s always followed all the rules in life, and dreamed of being a doctor. When her father’s dying wish is that she become a doctor, and creates a trust fund for her premed tuition, that’s the only path she can take. But then, it becomes increasingly clear to her that she’s just not cut out for premed.  What’s worse is that the Professor for the business gen-ed she has to take paired her with Hawk - a tattooed, strung out loser for the huge class project. Even her easy classes won’t be easy.

When they have their first project meeting, though, Joey learns that Hawk isn’t everything he seems. He gives her a ride home in the pouring rain, and with one sexy kiss, shows her that what she always wanted may not be what she’ll always want.  It turns out that Hawk’s much more that a strung out delinquent. He’s comfortable playing by his own rules, but can he teach Joey to make even one decision for herself?

- Do you have any "writer's quirks"? If so, which ones?

I’m not sure if it’s so quirky, but I listen to one song on repeat if it inspires a scene or character. We’re talking HUNDREDS of times.

I also munch while I’m writing. I try to keep to dry cereal lately, but….yeah. The 30-day Shred I’m doing is definitely needed.

- Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions :)

Are you kidding? Thank YOU for having me! This has been so much fun!

Author Bio:
Alessandra Thomas is a New Adult writer who swears she was in her twenties yesterday. Since she's not, she spends her time looking back on her college years fondly, and writing sexy stories about guys and girls falling in love and really living life for the first time. When she's not writing, you can find her with a spoonful of ice cream in one hand and the newest New Adult release in the other.

 Also, Alessandra and Kelly at InkSlinger PR are giving away TWO signed copies and TWO e-book copies of Picture Perfect, so.. You know. Tackle this baby ASAP :)

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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

IWSG - When your characters surprise you..

For those of you who have no idea, the purpose of this group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. If you haven't yet, go check yourself in at Alex Cavanaugh's blog.


I remember a few years ago, I read an interview of Stephanie Meyer, in which she said something along the lines of: "I was writing this scene and then my hand just typed 'Jacob, my friend, my son' and I burst out crying. It came out of nowhere and it touched me." Edward said that to Jacob right before the final battle between the Cullens and the Vulturi, remember?

I don't mean that kind of surprises. That kind of surprises is complete bullshit. 

Something John Green said in one of his videos stuck with me. As the creators of our characters, we control what they say and think. We know what will benefit the plot and the characters' growth. But this past week something happened to me that made me reconsider one aspect of this statement. 

I've been doing a lot self-examination lately and, trying to find an answer to a question that has blocked me in a very personal matter, I realized something. Something big. At least to me. 

I am a romantic. 

Wow, I know. Earth-shattering. 

In all seriousness though, if you knew me personally, you'd think that is a complete and utter lie. I'm cynical. I speak my mind, and often do so without regard to the feelings of others. I've always been like this. And people don't get to see other aspects of me because they're too busy denying the stuff that comes out of my mouth. Human hypocresy and all that. And until recently, I was a hypocrite and I didn't realize it

 But... I like me weird that way. Not the hypocrite part. The speak-my-mind part. I have many flaws, but I also know I have many virtues. So why, oh why, is it so difficult for me to be in a relationship? It's not rocket science, is it? (If your answer is "yes, it is" you'd provide me a topic for next month's IWSG.)

I figured it out though. It's because I believe in love, you guys. All the friends I've had on the course of my life (some are still around, others are long gone) had been maybe a little too liberal about whom they shared their affections with, yet I always remained pure. Shut up, it's true. I believe that there's one person out there who would get me, you know? And just because I haven't found him yet, doesn't mean I should settle for less. I swear to you, I'm like historical romance protagonist right here on the 21st century, guys. 

Who in their right mind would classify me as a romantic? No one. Because I never shared those feelings with people. Because I never paid too much attention to those things. I mean, I'm doing it here to illustrate my point (I'll get there in a minute, guys), but it's not the same as advertising it for all my friends and family to understand. Because I'm not interested in making everyone understand. I'm interested on the right someone to understand, and his identity hasn't been revealed to me yet. And now I'm a historical romance/mystery/thriller protagonist. Although it would be preferable if my future husband comes without a crazy ex in the attic. You guys probably think I'm sweet, right? Poor, delusional, virtual friends of mine;)

Huh. This monthly posts have made realize I might actually need therapy. Yay for Support Groups!

But back to the topic. If it happens in real life, why can't it happen in fiction? I've shared this experience of self-awareness with one of my characters. And now I have to go back several chapters back to fix her reactions to everything that has happened to her. Because now I know that she's not ready to be responsible for all the things I dumped on her and thus her reactions were ALL WRONG. I'm not taking those responsabilities back because that's how life works. Sometimes, you get more than you can handle. Yet I want people to understand her. She wants people to understand her. Why she's figuratively running. And I couldn't help her there. I didn't know because she didn't know she wasn't ready. And don't worry, even I am confused about what I just said. But makes a weird kind of sense, you know?

Sometimes, a little introspection takes a lot of courage.

And there was my surprise. It's completely my fault for not listening to her from the beginning. I always question YA heroines when they take everything in stride out of nowhere and I didn't realize my own girl was doing that because I was too involved on fixing other parts of the story. Like figuring out what to dump on this poor seventeen year old girl.

Has something like that happened to any of you?

Oh, and before I forget! Next week, I'm taking a very important test. Like, it-will-determine-the-future-of-my-academic-life important. Wish me luck;)

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Cover Reveal - A Summer to Remember by Jessica Gunhammer

Expected publishing date: April 2013


Eighteen-year-old Ava knows this summer is going to be one of the best ones yet, but it isn’t going how she originally planned. Her life takes an unexpected turn on graduation day, when Jason, the love of her life, suddenly dumps her. Blindsided and feeling betrayed Ava is determined to win him back at the end of year frat party. Something that was not in her plan, however, was being sidetracked by a complete and total stranger. Caught off guard by this unexplainable attraction, she can’t figure out why she’s having such a hard time forgetting about him. 

Adrian had one thing on his mind that night. It was to get through the summer and not have to worry about anything, but working with his dad and getting the hell out of this small town. When he meets Ava his whole world is turned upside down. He doesn’t know why but he knows that this is the girl he’s supposed to be with. The only problem is going to be trying to convince her of the same thing…

Add A Summer to Remember to Goodreads.

About Jessica

I’m twenty-three years old, I recently married my high school sweetheart and we live in paradise. I graduated college in May 2012 with a degree in fashion design and quickly realized it was not the right fit for me. So, after spending several years in a fast paced fashion industry, I started looking for something new to keep me busy. 

I have always loved to read, it was a passion of mine. However, I had put this passion on the back burner, as I had no time to read during college. Soon after, my mom and I started a publishing company. It was while working in the publishing industry that I had rediscovered my love for writing. I’ve always known I wanted to write, but I never considered making a career out of it. After some feedback and support from my amazing family I am proud to say, I am now a YA author! 

Go say Hi to Jessica on Facebook.

Or on Twitter.

Or visit her Goodreads' Profile.

Or on her Website

Monday, March 04, 2013

Cover Reveal - Descendant by Nichole Giles

Descendant by Nichole Giles
Publication date: May 1st 2013
by Rhemalda Publishing 
Genre: YA Paranormal 
Seventeen-year-old Abigail Johnson is Gifted.

Blessed—or cursed—with Sight and Healing, Abby lives an unsettled life, moving from place to place and staying one step ahead of the darkness that hunts her. When she arrives in Jackson, Wyoming, she is desperate to maintain the illusion of normalcy, but she is plagued with visions of past lives mixed with frightening glimpses of her future. Then she meets Kye, a mysterious boy who seems so achingly familiar that Abby is drawn to him like he’s a missing piece of her own soul.

Before Abby can discover the reason for her feelings toward Kye, the darkness catches up to her and she is forced to flee again. But this time she’s not just running. She is fighting back with Kye at her side, and it’s not just Abby’s life at stake.
 Add Descendant to Goodreads
Nichole Giles had early career plans of becoming an actress or a rock star, but she decided instead to have a family and then become a writer. Writing is her passion, but she also loves to spend time with her husband and children, travel to tropical and exotic destinations, drive in the rain with the convertible top down, and play music at full volume so she can sing along.