Category Archives: Blog

My Favorite Songs of 2015

Since I did a post about my favorite books of the year, I thought, why not keep on going? TV, Movies, Music–I’ll post about them all before December 31!

Today we’ll focus on my favorite songs from 2015.  Now, some of these *might* have been released before 2015, but I didn’t come across them (anywhere) before then. All righty–let’s get started:

 

“I Started a Joke” from the Suicide Squad Trailer

Sidney Chase (Feat. Becky Hanson)

From what I can see, you can’t get this version on iTunes (I bought two covers that were close though), so you can bet I’ll buy the soundtrack as soon as it releases. This song is so eerie, so beautiful, so haunting, that it MADE the trailer. To me, it sounds, and feels, like Harley Quinn’s theme song. Check out the lyrics, combine that with her complicated love-story with the Joker, and you’ll see why.

 

“Up and Up” by Coldplay

Coldplay’s last album was all about heartbreak–and why not. Chris Martin had just split with Gwenyth Paltrow. A Head Full of Dreams could not be more different. There’s joy in every single song on this album. I’ll feature a second song shortly (which happens to be CM’s favorite song ever), but this is my favorite from the new album.

 

“The Fall” by Imagine Dragons

This song is so beautiful. To me, it feels like discovery, awakening. It also got me through the Sekrit Project. There’s another song (which I won’t post here, to keep a mystery) that sparked that project, but this one captured the heart of my heroine. She’s had her heart broken, then remended in an unexpected way. She’s been waiting for something to change, and it does. Plus the end chorus really sums up her feelings.

Renegades by X Ambassadors

Yes, it’s been played nearly to death by the radio stations, but I LOVE this song. It celebrates the unique weirdness inside us all. Plus it just has a great sound. This is a song my kids and I will always listen to when it comes on. It’s a great song for YA writers, too, because it captures that moment when a teen realizes being different is actually awesome. And the video? The man climbing Kilimanjaro, whose arms and legs end before the first joint, was a speaker at a conference I attended. He’s amazing. Oh, and X Ambassdaors’s keyboardist, Casey? He’s blind. So when you think you can’t do something because it’s too hard, think again.

 

“A Head Full of Dreams” by Coldplay

So this is Chris Martin’s favorite song–his favorite out of Coldplay’s entire discography. It’s a wonderful, bouyant piece of music. The main theme is that your dreams can be the change you want it to be. This is classic Coldplay, ethereal, vibrant. They are one of the most musical bands you’re going to hear (yes, haters, they are)–if you’ve seen them live, you’ll agree. I can’t help but smile and bounce a little every time I hear this song.

And last, but so not least…

“Time” by Mikky Ekko

This song hit me right in the soul the first time I heard it. And I knew, immediately, that this was Quinn and Lexa’s song. To me, I hear the struggle for two people to finally be together. That time isn’t on their side, but they’re still hoping, waiting, fighting for that chance. There’s such longing in the music and Ekko’s voice is raw with it. It’s the perfect song for star-crossed lovers, and reunited couples.

So that’s my list! How about you? Any songs burst onto your radar this year?

My Favorite Books of 2015

Greetings all!

I’ve been wracking my brain, thinking about a post for the end of the year…2015 has been a long year for me (while still being really quick), but one thing I had plenty of time to do was read. Being laid up after surgery is a great time to work down that TBR pile, and boy, did I. I’ve read some amazing fiction this year, and thought I’d share my faves.

In no particular order:

 

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearon

The second book in the Remnant Chronicles was even better than the first. Both books are great, but this one added depth, danger, and passion. It’s a lovely epic-fantasy style YA perfect for people who enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns series. YA 13+

 

 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Fans of the Grisha trilogy know Bardugo can craft a great yarn. This book, set in the same universe, is one of the most fun caper tales I’ve read. A ragtag group of criminals/malcontents are charged with completing a dangerous heist in return for a big reward. Nothing ever turns out as it seems, making it very hard to put down. YA 14+

 

   An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games, unusual world-building, or unlikely love stories, this book is for you. Gorgeously written, it takes an old plot and gives it a hard shake into something new. It’s a little similar to Red Rising, but only in that one protagonist comes from an oppressed people, and the other from the oppressors. I read it in two days while on vacation–just devoured it. Lovely work.

 

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Speaking of Red Rising,  you knew this one would be in here. It seems like forever since it came out–but it was January 2015, so it qualifies. With the final book in the trilogy, Morning Star, coming out in early 2016, you really should take some time to pick up this series. Part Roman society oppression tale, part dystopian, part space opera, this book has everything. Epic space battles, beautiful nuanced character moments, and some bloodydamn good writing. Howlers, let’s rock. Adult due to violence (but suitable for ages 15+)

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Anybody who’s read Girl of Fire and Thorns knows Rae Carson can write. She creates intimate portraits of her characters, and protagonist Lee/Leah is no exception. On the run from her parents murderer, Leah has to pose as a man to join a wagon train on its way west to the California gold rush. I’ve never read a YA in this time period, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a planned trilogy, so this book is all about the journey.  The details are spot-on, and the drama, fear, and hope is real. YA 13+

There are so many more books I enjoyed this year, but these were some of my very favorites. Next year, I’m looking forward to series follow ups from all these authors plus (be still my heart) the conclusion to the The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, and the conclusion to The 5th Wave series. I’m always looking for new reads, though–care to share some of your faves in the comments to send me off to my next book obsession?

UPRISING: Now Available

Greetings from lovely Sedona! I’m enjoying a write-cation with my fabulous beta readers this weekend, cranking out words and enjoying the lovely scenery. Oh, and celebrating the release of UPRISING! For those of you who’ve been waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the sequel to UNSTRUNG, it’s now available on most media outlets, including Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords, and (hopefully soon) Barnes & Noble.

I’ll post more soon, but my blog is giving me fits. In the meantime–happy reading!!

UPRISING: Chapter One Sneak Peek

Why, hello there!

Uprising-800 Cover reveal and PromotionalAs promised (teased), it’s time for a sneak peek of UPRISING. I’m posting chapter one here, but if you sign up for my newsletter before midnight central time (US) today, you’ll receive chapters one and two in an email from me tomorrow! The sign-up is over on that left sidebar, you know, in case you wanna.

So…about that sneak peek. WARNING: If you haven’t read/finished UNSTRUNG, there are significant spoilers, so turn back now. Anybody? Okay, let’s do this!

 

* * *

Chapter One

Lexa

 

Jail isn’t as bad as I expect. I have a single room with a screened-in bathroom, a cot, and a chair. This is where the police dumped me after my mug shots. Those will surely make the news feeds. What the humans have to say about me is anyone’s guess. A deranged, murderous girl? A master thief? A rogue artificial human? Or will they use the word Bolt, instead? Probably, just to rub in the fact that I’m not a “real” human. Oh, I’m flesh and blood, but I wasn’t born, I was made.

And that bugs some people.

Whatever they say, I know what the artificial humans living in Triarch City call me: Hero.

Exhausted and filthy when I first arrived here, I gladly accepted the baggy pants and shirt prisoners wear in exchange for my battered jumpsuit. It had taken a real beating during my infiltration of Precipice headquarters. After being led to my cell, I promptly crashed. The worry was over—I’d been caught, so why not sleep it off?

The sound of a tray sliding under my door wakes me on my first day of incarceration. I eat the stale pastry and drink the sour orange juice without thinking about how bad it tastes. Someone comes back for the tray, and nothing happens for a while. Eventually I get tired from being up most of last night and fall asleep. My lunch tray wakes me from my nap. Wilted salad, a cold beef patty and congealed stuff that I think was pudding at one time isn’t what I’d call a decent meal, but I eat it anyway.

The pudding is banana. I hate banana.

Not long after, the shakes start. I’m coming down from Exeprin, my performance enhancer for the raid on Precipice, and I keep seeing shadows come to life on the walls. I don’t have any more Exeprin—not in jail, or anywhere else—so it looks like I’m in for a few really long days of withdrawal as it works itself out of my system. I clench my fists and try to breathe. How long before I get out of here? How long before Quinn, or Doc, or Jole come for me?

Is Turpin okay? My adopted father/crime boss was so beat up when I left. What if during our mission, Sector Q was raided and he was captured? What if he’s dead? What if they all are?

What if, what if, what if?

No…no, I can’t let the doubts take me. Not yet. Prison isn’t going to break me. The cell is small, but there’s plenty of room for me to train, because when the guys come to break me out, I need to be sharp. The best way to shake off doubt and sweat out the Exeprin is to stay active. I make a plan to do close-quarter cardio exercises in the mornings and bodyweight strength training in the afternoon.

That first evening, after the withdrawal shakes subside, I’m braced in the top corner of my room, using my arms and legs to stay up there, when a dark-haired guard peeks in through the meal tray slot. He’s slender, wiry. Not what I’d expect for a prison guard.

Then again, I’m not what you’d expect for a master thief, either.

“What the hell are you doing up there?” he asks, sounding partly pissed, partly impressed.

“The better question is long I can stay,” I say back, raising an eyebrow at him. “I’ve been up here at least ten minutes already.”

He shakes his head. “We’ll see how long you last. This place will wear you down, just like all the others.”

“Doubtful,” I say, and he slides the meal tray door back into place, leaving me to my thoughts.

I stay defiant for three days, saying nothing to anyone who passes by my cell, even when they jeer at me for doing handstand pushups or hanging out up by the ceiling. On day four, though, I start to get antsy. A spot on my forearm itches like crazy, and I can’t keep from scratching, not until the skin is raw and red. My thoughts feel the same way: itchy and unceasing. Has Quinn gotten away, or is he in a cell on another floor? Is Jole okay? What about all the artificials we freed? The plan was to herd everyone out of town and into the outlands before Precipice Corporation captured them and put them back to work…but were we successful? Or is every one of them enslaved again?

Not knowing grates on my nerves and I take up pacing into addition to my exercises. I pace until I’m exhausted or meal time, then rest and pace again.

How long am I going to be here, in solitary?

The answer comes slowly. My time alone continues on for another full week. Have I been totally abandoned? Will I ever see sunlight again? Or, even now, are Quinn, Jole, Turpin and Doc concocting a scheme to break me out?

Has the world ended?

I wouldn’t know—my cell has no windows and they haven’t let me out for even one second. The next time a guard passes, I yell, “Hey! Aren’t I supposed to get time in the yard?”

He just laughs and walks away.

I stop exercising and spend the next two days lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling.

 

* * *

Well, there you have it! The book will be out on November 21st (or sooner, if the final edits go quickly). I can’t wait to see it go live!

Cover Reveal: UPRISING

I promised last week to show off this beauty, and here it is…the cover to the UNSTRUNG sequel–UPRISING:

 

Uprising-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

 

Isn’t it gorgeous? I continue to adore everything Streetlight Graphics can do. And here’s the back cover blurb:

 

Master thief Lexa Pate always prided herself on never being caught. That changed the night she freed the artificial humans of Triarch City, a people she’s still learning to identify with. Now, imprisoned by the government, she’s separated from her family—and the love of her life—while facing murder charges. What she doesn’t know is something far worse awaits her: the Quad intends to make her pay for her crimes.

After helplessly watching Lexa be captured, Quinn has to place his trust in a group of people he barely knows to save the girl he loves. The rebels outside Triarch City have the equipment—and the information—he needs to rescue Lexa. But, knowing the Quad has sophisticated brainwashing techniques, his biggest worry is who she’ll be even if they do manage to bring her home.

Pawns in a game they barely understand, Lexa and Quinn will have to use all the gifts they possess to fight the powers seeking to control them and find a way back to each other. 

Before it’s too late.

 

If you tune in November 3, you’ll see a sneak peek of chapter one (and newsletter subscribers will see both chapters one and two!). If you haven’t subscribed to the newsletter, and want the extended teaser, you can sign up using the form on the left sidebar until November 1st to be included.

We’re getting closer to release (tentatively, November 21, maybe sooner). This one has been a beast, and I’m ready to see it out in the world. I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks, and thanks so much for checking out the cover!