Blog Tour: The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens – Q&A plus a Giveaway

I have been a fan of Courtney C. Stevens since I read her first book Faking Normal. She has a way about her writing that just pulls me in. And she writes the CUTEST boys and the best friendships. Anyway as much as I loved Faking Normal I loved The Lies About Truth 100 times more. I seriously can’t say enough good things about this book. I will review it in the future but today we have Courtney on the blog answering a few of my questions about the book.

Make sure you check in after the Q&A as we are giving away 3 finished copies of The Lies About Truth and you don’t want to miss it.

Q & A with Courtney C. Stevens

First I have to tell you how much I loved loved loved The Lies About Truth. It was this perfect story wrapped up in 330ish pages. So thank you for that. On to the questions.

1) Both your debut Faking Normal and The Lies About Truth deal with some really heavy topics like rape and death/grief, respectively. As an author how do you put yourself into that mind frame and craft a story that is balanced between the serious and romantic and not completely depressing?

When I’m at schools and I read from either Faking Normal or The Lies About Truth I usually say, “As you can tell, I don’t write about puppy dogs and rainbows.” They all laugh. And as we continue that dialogue, there is an understanding that I write about these things because they are living them. Because I once lived in that same head space. Offering a balance of “life is hard” and “life is still rewarding” and “life has love in the middle of pain” are truths I believe I need now and I needed in high school.

As far as keeping it from being too depressing, that’s where my editor and critique partners help me reign things in. I write everything raw, and then go back and do humor and pity checks.

2)Friendship is a huge part of The Lies About Truth, which I personally love to see in YA books. Friendships are complicated and real and for Sadie that is no different. Why was friendship such an important part of this story?

When I look back at high school, friendship was THE thing. Did I date? Absolutely. Did I obsess over boys? Absolutely. Did I worry about my grades? Absolutely. But I did those things with my friends on the couch over chips and salsa. My day-to-day life was lived out with friends instead of romantic hopefuls. They were the people who made my life and broke my heart and showed up with life sucked the hardest. With that history in mind, I always try to express complicated and rewarding friendships in my work, because those are the people I do life with.

3) And finally I can’t not ask about Max. You seem to have a knack for writing the most adorable boys for a story. How did Max come about and why is it so important that this main female characters have the good guy in the corner?

Thank you. I rather love Max myself. I love writing a good guy, because I believe they are out there. But … I think it’s important to note that he could have been a girl too. I try to write secondary main characters who see beyond the layers/walls a main character builds to disguise herself. So far, in both Faking Normal and The Lies About Truth, those happen to have been boys. But I never want a girl to read my work and think she just has to have a guy in her life to be whole. She needs a friend in her life. Love in her life. Acceptance in her life. I deeply believe that people need people. Trust and authenticity within a community is a powerful, life-altering thing. That has nothing to do with gender or romantic love (although those can be wonderful additions.) Alexi and Sadie needed someone who saw them, and the people who saw them happen to be boys. Good boys, who are looking to add to the world rather than take.

When I set out to build Max as a gift for Sadie, I thought about who she needed to help her transform, and who I’ve met in my life that comforted me when I felt the most broken. The boys I write always come out of the kindness I’ve met in friends and relationships.

Blog Tour: The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens – Q&A plus a GiveawayThe Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens
Published by HarperTeen
Published: November 3rd 2015
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Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she's unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she'll always be trapped in the past.

About Courtney C. Stevens

Courtney C. Stevens grew up in Kentucky and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is an adjunct professor and a former youth minister. Her other skills include playing hide-and-seek, climbing trees, and being an Olympic torch bearer. She is also the author of Faking Normal, which Kirkus Reviews called "a story that resonates" and Publishers Weekly called a "rich debut," as well as the e-novellaThe Blue-Haired Boy.

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Q & A with Karen Akins

Andi: Karen! I may be totally fangirling right now over the chance to ask you some questions. I mean I haven’t hidden the fact that I love this duology to death. You have seen my crazy love and push of Loop on everyone. J So, let’s start easy. Where did you get the idea for Loop and Twist?

loop2Karen: Aww! Thanks so much for having me on your blog today.

Odd as it may sound, a video game actually inspired LOOP. I had fallen asleep watching my husband play this intense game with a bunch of jumping off buildings and grappling hooks, and I had a vivid, action-packed dream. Then right before I woke up, I dreamt the twist of LOOP, that there was a boy who was already in love with a time traveler’s future self when she meets him. It twistwas an interesting experience because when I woke up, I felt all these deep emotions. The plot, well, I had to beat into submission over time. But the thing that was most important to me was getting those emotions onto the page, and I feel like I succeeded.

TWIST was inspired by, of all things, a Sting song, When We Dance. I was driving along, listening to the song, and it kind of just hit me, where I wanted to take Bree and Finn’s journey. And how I wanted it to end.

 

Andi: I must admit that I didn’t know what I thought of Bree in the beginning, but as I got to know her she cracked me up. She was kind of crazy crackers and I loved that. What was the inspiration for her? How did you come up with her different kind of dialect?

Karen: Thanks! I love her, too. She also drives me really crazy at times. Bree’s probably the least like me of any character I’ve ever written. She wasn’t based on anyone I know, but there were several songs on my playlists that helped me sort through her voice. Specifically The Ting-Ting’s “Shut Up & Let Me Go” nailed her sometimes prickly, stand-offish side at the beginning of LOOP. (PLAYLIST)

And then, on TWIST’s playlist, “Let Your Heart Hold Fast,” by Fort Atlantic really spoke to me about how Bree had grown in both trusting herself and trusting others. (PLAYLIST)

Her dialect…what the blark are you talking about? (Sorry. That was terrible, and I know it. And come to think of it, Bree probably did get her sarcasm from me.)

A few Bree-isms and where they came from:

blergBlark – This is homage to Liz Lemon’s “Blerg,” on 30 Rock. I also like how it can function as any part of speech. Noun, verb, adjective, adverb.

Crapcakes, Holy Crapoli, ohcrapohcrapohcrap, etc. – Bree might be the bristly type, but she’s not one to cuss a blue streak. Crap fills in nicely.

Plinky – This one comes from my favorite The Price Is Right game of all time. Plinko. I remember the sheer joy I would experience when I’d be home on a sick day growing up, watching Bob Barker, and they’d pull out the Plinko board. That game is pure awesome, so that’s what the word means.

Muffy van Sloot – When I first typed the words, “Muffy van Sloot,” I had no plan and no idea who she was. It just kind of came out, and I was as curious as I hope readers are.

Wyck – (Okay, this isn’t a Bree word, but there’s a story behind it.) When I first started writing LOOP, I needed a rough plot outline to hang the story on, and I chose Pride & Prejudice. Namely, the Bree/Finn and Elizabeth/Mr. Darcy dynamic…a disastrous first meeting, then his feelings changing before hers had. Wyck is short for Wickham. J And I will happily send a swag pack to any reader who can figure out which other Austen novel TWIST is super-loosely based on.

Andi: And speaking of dialect, um, PEGAMOO! Where did this wonderful, glorious idea some from? How can I get one? Where can I buy one?

Want a PegamooKaren: Pegamoos were actually a pretty late addition to the books. I was doing revisions for my editor, and she asked to see a bit more of what life was like in the future. A friend of mine had recently told me about miniature cows. Cattle ranchers have basically created these mini breeds by mating the smallest of each generation. Full-grown, they stand between 36-42 inches tall. Obviously, I was like, “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.”

I extrapolated, and in 200 years, if you continued to breed the smallest of them, I bet they would be pretty tiny. And the flying part? Well, that’s just pure wish fulfillment.

 

Andi: Seriously though, Loop and Twist, especially Twist, made my mind hurt at times with future Bree and current Bree. I was amazed with how I got to one point in the book and I was like “Oh, everything just clicked into place!”. As a writer, how the heck did you keep it all straight? I can’t imagine how you managed to do it and make it come off so effortless.

Karen: Lots of coffee, post-it notes, and tears.

When I realized that I had this idea for a time travel story, I sat on the edge of my bed and I asked myself, “Do I really want to write this?” (And it’s funny…it’s hard for me to separate out LOOP and TWIST in my mind because while I wrote them at different times, I see it as one complete story.)

coffeeThe hardest part about writing TWIST specifically was that I drafted the entire thing while pregnant and then revised it while I had a newborn. I was sleep-deprived, and my brain felt like it had turned to goop by the time I was done. It was worth it, but I had to get some strongly-worded pep talks from writer friends along the way.

Did I mention post-it notes? And coffee?

 

Andi: So you obviously know I’m a HUGE book pusher for your books.

Karen: Yes. Thank you very much. 🙂

 

Andi: Do you have a book(s) that you push on people?

acrossKaren: I love Beth Revis’s Across The Universe series. It has a blend of mystery, action, and accessible sci-fi, all of which I love.

Also, TWIST shares a book birthday with I.W. Gregorio’s NONE OF THE ABOVE, and it’s another one I’m going to be pushing on people. I was able to read an early version of this story, and it’s phenomenal. I can’t wait to get my grabby hands on it.

Okay, this one’s really early (as in, doesn’t come out until next year), but I just got to read THE TSAR’S GAME by Evelyn Skye. It is so good. The story sweeps you up into this magical alternate history of Imperial Russia. There’s no cover yet, but go add it to your to-read list now. Trust me.

 

Andi: And the question I ask every interview I do…since my blog also deals with accessories and clothes, what is the one accessory or clothing item you couldn’t live without?

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Karen: I know that technically it’s not an accessory, but I’m going to say my Erin Condren planner. That thing goes everywhere with me. I feel genuinely naked without it. And I can switch out the covers, so I can match it to whatever I’m wearing.

Thank you SO much for having me on your blog! I hope everybody has fun reading TWIST!!

About the Book:

Q & A with Karen AkinsTwist Published by St. Martin's Press
Published: March 31st 2015
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Bree Bennis finally has it all-a non-comatose mother, an uber-hot (albeit anachronistic) boyfriend named Finn, and a newfound mission to protect the timeline from those who would skew it for their own gain. But when she leans over one day to smooch said boyfriend, her lips meet those of her arch-nemesis Wyck instead. The timeline has been altered, and Bree is caught in the crosshairs. But when she goes back to repair the damage, she is stopped by none other than her Future Self, who delivers an urgent message: Someone is kidnapping Shifters from the distant past. It's up to Bree to stop them. But first, she has to figure out who…and why.

To follow the trail of chronocrumbs, Bree reluctantly accepts her new undercover gig as Wyck's girlfriend. Everything goes spiffy until Finn shows up in the 23rd century on the eager arm of a gorgeous fellow Shifter. Blark. Even as Bree struggles with jealousy, she battles the nagging dread that Finn might be better off with someone less chronologically complicated. Her worst fear is confirmed when Finn becomes the kidnapper's next victim. As Bree zeroes in on the culprit, they unravel her life one timeline-change at a time. She realizes that she alone has the power to save herself and everyone she loves. But to do that, she may lose Finn forever.

Don’t forget to check out my TWO Twist related giveaways happening! HERE and HERE

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Cover Reveal and Q&A – Broken by CJ Lyons

For Scarlet Killian, every day is a game of Russian roulette—she has a 1 in 5 chance of dying…

New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons makes her YA debut with a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing to the very last page.

Fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has one chance for a normal life. Only problem? It just might kill her. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, Scarlet has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. Scarlet has come to terms with the fact that despite the best efforts of her doctors and parents, she’s going to die. Literally of a broken heart.  So when her parents offer her a week to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now… or never.

Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But for the first time in her life she makes real friends. She also makes new discoveries about the truth behind her illness… a truth that might just kill her before her heart does.

broken

Q:Is Long QT a real disease?
CJ: Yes. As a pediatrician I diagnosed my niece with Long QT Syndrome when she was born. Her heart specialists believe she’s the youngest person in the world diagnosed with Long QT. She’s had to take medicine every day of her life and can’t ever skip a day. So far that’s added up to over ten thousand pills taken.

You know that feeling you get when you’ve run as hard and fast as you can and you stop but your heart keeps galloping along? And you wonder for a second if maybe it’s not going to stop, but will keep galloping out of control? But then of course it settles back down. For people with Long QT, their heart doesn’t change gears well, going from regular to galloping and back again. So they have to avoid anything that would make their heart race.

No sports or aerobic exercise. No horror films. No roller coaster rides. No jumping into cold water on a hot summer’s day.

But that doesn’t have to stop someone with Long QT like my niece from having a great life. Today she is a brilliant, active fourteen-year-old who gets straight A’s, enjoys riding horses, archery, reading, breeding Rottweilers, and who wants to grow up to be either a fashion designer or President of the United States. Her main fashion accessory is her portable defibrillator, Phil, who goes with her everywhere, including camping, to the beach, and recently to her first Broadway show.

BROKEN is dedicated to her fearless approach to life where outwitting Death is simply part of her daily routine.

 

Q: What was it like working in an ER? Is it like on TV?
CJ: Definitely nothing like Grey’s Anatomy, but the first few seasons of ER get it right. Working in the ER is basically about learning how to control (and live with) chaos, the art of listening, and how to quickly decide what’s the most important thing you need to tackle next.

I worked three jobs to put myself through medical school and one of them was waitressing at a very busy family restaurant. Honestly, that was the best preparation I ever could have had for life in the ER.

 

Q: Why did you leave medicine to write books?
CJ: I’ve been a storyteller all my life—a fact that used to get me placed in time-out a lot as a kid. But writing stories has always been my way of making sense of the chaos that goes on in the world around us. I wrote my first novel in college and wrote two more science fiction novels in medical school.

Then, while I was an intern at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, one of my close friends was murdered. Dealing with that grief and trauma while still working seventy hours a week and trying to save lives—I wasn’t prepared for that. So I turned to my writing and that’s when I wrote my first thriller. I never thought about actually making a career of it until years later when friends who were published authors encouraged me to enter a national writing contest and I was a finalist. This led to several publishing contracts and I realized that as much as I loved being a doctor, here was a chance for a second dream come true: being a full time writer.

It was a huge leap of faith leaving my job (and my patients—I missed them, a lot!) but I’ve always believed that if you’re going to dream, you should dream big, so I went for it. Since then I’ve published twenty books, hit #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, won awards for my writing, and most importantly, have had the chance to impact millions of people through my novels. Talk about a dream come true!

 

Q: What’s your best advice for someone who wants to be a writer?
CJ: Never surrender, never give up. Writing is hard work, it takes years to master the craft, so you need to stick with it. And read, read, read…pay attention to what makes the books you like work as well as why the books you don’t like fail. You never stop learning in this job, but that’s also what makes it so much fun.

 

About CJ Lyons
A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sixteen novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge thrillers with heart. CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine), and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday). The author of thrillers such as the Lucy Guardino FBI series, she has sold over 1 million books in the last year.

When not writing, she can be found walking the beaches near her South Carolina Lowcountry home in Columbia, SC, listening to the voices in her head and plotting new and devious ways to create mayhem for her characters. To learn more about her Thrillers with Heart go to www.CJLyons.net.

*Broken will be available November 2013

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