Tuesday, February 4, 2014

ALIENATED is here!

Hey, fiction lovers. I’m author Melissa Landers, and I’m thrilled to announce that my debut YA sci-fi romance, ALIENATED, is finally available from Disney-Hyperion! Cue the dancers and toss the confetti, because it’s been a long wait!

In a nutshell, ALIENATED is the story of valedictorian Cara Sweeney, who gets more than she bargained for when she agrees to host the nation’s first intergalactic exchange student, the gorgeous but emotionally-stilted Aelyx (pronounced A-licks) from planet L’eihr. The tone is light and humorous, but I explore some deeper themes as well.



What do reviewers have to say?

“The storyline is out of this world and character development paired with authentic voice is superb. Filled with intrigue and suspense, this book will appeal to both sci-fi and contemporary YA fiction fans.” –VOYA

“Interstellar relations heat up in this start to a new romantic science fiction series. Landers [explores] larger social, ecological, and ethical issues in this tense, fast-paced read.” –Booklist

“The perfect blend of sizzling romance, action, and suspense.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout

“Smart, funny, and epic. I am now awaiting contact from planet L’eihr.” Julie Cross, bestselling author of Tempest.

“Intergalactic exchange students? Yes, please! I fell in love with this story and couldn’t put it down.” Jodi Meadows, author of Incarnate.

If you like hot, swoony science fiction as much as I do, I hope you’ll give ALIENATED a try. It’s now available in stores and online.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1eHsLaf
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1dZqtBI
Book Depo (free international shipping): http://bit.ly/1hzxOfs
Indie Bound: http://bit.ly/1dfZHDW

To celebrate my book birthday, I’m offering one lucky winner a Nook Simple Touch. I’ll even throw in a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble so you can fill your new e-reader with whatever you want!

Now for the fine print: This giveaway is open to US residents only. (Sorry, international friends, but you need a US billing address to buy digital content on the Nook.) Due to sweepstakes laws, entrants must be 18 years or older to participate.

Best of luck, and happy reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives outside Cincinnati in the small town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.” For more information, or just to say hello, visit www.melissa-landers.com.

Monday, December 16, 2013

WHY I ROOT FOR AND WRITE GOOD GUYS


I’m a sucker for a nice guy. Whether the overlooked best friend or the boy next door, they deserve their measure of happiness and I root for them to win, even when the girl of their dreams is decidedly unworthy.

If I learned anything from 80s movies, it was the value of the Duckies and Lloyd Doblers of the world. Forget the rich, stunningly handsome, unattainable guys and the unrepentant bad boys in need of redemption, I want the boy who holds up the boom box; the one who wants me for myself—flaws and all. Most importantly, I want the guy who knows me better than I do.

Can any of us hear Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" without thinking of this scene?
 

What is the real appeal of the good guy? It’s not his easy-to-overlook handsomeness, his subtle charm, or the polite way he treats those around him. Yes, he’s loyal, witty, thoughtful, and gets those around him on an intrinsically deep level. However the true appeal of the good guy is his emotional availability. He’s not some prickly coconut that you have to crack before an emotional connection can be made. He’s ready and waiting to give you everything.

Another wonderful thing about the good guy is his underdog heart. To get the girl, he has to persevere against the Blaines of the world openly, creatively and with his whole being. But the good guy’s heart is a fragile thing. When he gives it away, he gives it all. This tender vulnerability is at the center of his appeal. Unlike bad boys, he can be irrevocably decimated by love. (Ever notice good guy stories contain a lot more angst? And I love me some angst!)
I still root for Duckie every time I watch PiP.
 
The good guy is like a hidden gem. While bad boys wear their sexy on the outside, the good guy’s sexy exists on the inside. Like a flower waiting for the caress of spring, he’s just waiting for the right girl to coax it out of him. And when he blossoms, it’s a beautiful thing.

Recently I’ve become a bit obsessed with the Winchester brothers of SUPERNATURAL. While Dean is awesome with his snarky comebacks and his swoon-worthy charm, I’m a Sammy girl all the way.
Somehow I lost a whole hour swooning over Sammy pictures while writing this post.
 As a writer, I’m also obsessed with the good guy. So much so that my debut novel, THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE GUARDIAN had two of them. Gabriel is heavenly—quite literally. Although he’s in mortal form, he’s nearly perfect and my heroine, Alex, can’t help but fall in love with him. He’s also a metaphor for first love. I mean, what better symbolism for the idealistic perfection of first love than an angel.

Derry is not so perfect. He’s the flawed best friend who knows Alex better than she knows herself. Don’t get me wrong, the angel is *insert swoon* AMAZING. But what really intrigued me about this story was the boy who comes after the angel. Does Derry even have a shot? I guess we’ll find out in book 2 of THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE KEEPER.

In the DOON series, I write sweet, emotionally available young brother Prince Duncan MacCrae. (Who sounds a lot like Sam Winchester, but I SWEAR I never even watched SUPERNATURAL until after the first DOON book sold!) Duncan is a wonderful contrast to his coconut of an older brother Crown Prince Jamie MacCrae (written by Lorie Langdon). Much like the Winchester Brothers, one of my favorite things about DOON is you get both a bad boy and a good guy without some weird love triangle. With DOON, I can be TEAM JAMIE and TEAM DUNCAN. But if I had to chose...well, sorry Lorie, I'm a sucker for a good guy-especially one of my own making!

Find out more about DOON at The Dooniverse.

YOUR TURN: Are you a Dean girl or a Sammy girl?

Until next time!

Carey

Monday, December 2, 2013

Good Girl Goes Bad

Full disclosure: I'm a Good Girl. Always have been. Always will be. I can't do bad if I try.

Well, I'm not even sure if that's true, because I've never actually tried to be bad. It's just not in my DNA.

Make no mistake, back in high school there were lots of temptations, some of which I've written about here on Honestly YA, like this choice episode. But in retrospect, even those uh, mishaps, weren't all that naughty. And most of the boys I ended up tangling with where pretty decent guys on the whole. Nice guys. Good guys. The kind of guys who stopped when you asked them to, even after they'd had a few beers themselves.

And now that I think about it, most of them were soccer players. Though I'm not sure whether that means anything.

But maybe it does. None of them were delinquents. They all had after school jobs or extracurricular activities that kept them out of trouble. And, despite the fact that I grew up on Long Island in the 80s, none of them drove a Trans Am.
And absolutely none of them looked like these guys:
Poison
Motley Crue
Because if I'd brought home one of these dudes, my mother would have thrown him out on the porch right after she'd held him down and shaved his head.

So I stuck to the Good Boys. Even in my entertainment choices. This guy?
I thought he was a total dirt bag. Sure he had a troubled past and an abusive family, and blah blah blah, but he smoked pot, looked like a slob, and ew, hadn't washed his hair in like, forever. And he was totally going to ruin Claire and her reputation.

And this guy?
Complete sociopath.

Even Danny Zucko was gross with all that Vitalis or whatever it was in his hair. And let's be honest, he wasn't exactly the brightest halogen in the lamp.
I'm not gonna lie, the occasional Bad Boy may have piqued my interest, especially if he was an Outsider.
But even "Do it For Johnny"gets a little old after awhile.

Until...

One Bad Boy captured my heart on film and then tragically, crushed it in real life.
Even as I write this, twenty years after his passing, my heart's squeezing a little. I first noticed him in Stand By Me. As Chris Chambers, he was tough and damaged but also caring and supportive of his friends. He made sure they all got back from seeing the dead guy safe and sound.
Then there was The Mosquito Coast, Running on Empty, and My Own Private Idaho. Plus a bunch more including an Indiana Jones movie. Heck, I even loved him in Sneakers.
No matter what role he played, no matter how damaged or alienated, there was depth in those soulful, Bad Boy eyes. A sensitivity that made you want to reach out and save him from whatever horrible demons were after him.

Sadly, when it mattered most, no one caught him before he fell. And there were so many movies he didn't make. Loves he never had. Which just makes me sad. For him and for all of us because of all the great performances we never got to experience.

Maybe if he'd been one of those Good Boys he'd still be among us. But I'm guessing he wouldn't have been nearly as appealing.

So, here's to the one Bad Boy who managed to thaw my uptight, Good Girl's heart. I hope they've got a movie studio in heaven and that your name's at the top of every marquee.

So what about you, readers? Who's your favorite cinematic Bad Boy? Did River do it for you, too, or is there another boy out there destined to break your heart?

~Lea

Lea Nolan is the author of Conjure and Allure the first two books in the Hoodoo Apprentice Series. The final installment, Illusion, will release in 2014. Chat her up on Twitter or on Facebook.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Writing on the Dark Side


Each of us here at Honestly YA has a choice of two topics to blog on during this iteration. In brief, the choice is either "crushing on bad boys" or "dealing with the dark side of writing". I have a very fun "bad boys" post half written. I even have pictures for it! But it's that half written part....

See, I'm currently on deadline. This time not turning in a book, but revising based on feedback from my editor. I'm shifting scenes, creating scenes, entirely reworking dialogue and entirely rewriting scenes.

So, for the sake of time (of which I have very little because those edits are due at the same time this blog is and I really should have planned better but hahahahaha -- yeah) and to give you a glimpse at my current struggle with the Dark Side, I bring you: Typical Deadline Day....

With a massive pot of coffee burbling in the background (because those cup-at-a-time things are just plain craziness on days like this) breakfast is served:





Yes, it wouldn't look quite so bad if I had sliced a piece and placed it on a plate rather than eating from the foil liner, but this is how many clean plates I have left:


This is my cabinet. One Hershey kiss on a cake stand. That kiss is mocking me.

Fortified by caffeine and powdered sugar, it's time to get to work. There will be twenty to twenty-five minutes of sheer panic and the threat of tears before the daily inspiration/reminder sinks in:


Coffee mug in hand, I settle in with the laptop and the edit notes. Realizing nothing fun will happen all day, the dog goes into deep depression.




Even if I had time to take a break, I couldn't go outside and throw a ball for her. The only clean clothes I own at this point are pajama bottoms and evening gowns. My laundry bin looks like this:




But it's okay. Pajama bottoms are crazy comfortable for writing all day. And while I won't actually put on an evening gown, sometimes I can't resist wearing a tiara to cheer me.

Disclaimer: this is not my tiara. I need to excavate my tiara from the
wreckage of my office. But I'm busy, eh? So here's the first tiara that
comes up on a google search.

Eventually, I get lost in the work. With no idea time is passing, I'm surprised/annoyed/embarrassed when I realize the sun has set and the reason I'm squinting at the keyboard like a blind woman is not fatigue but total darkness. This is also the point I realize I've had nothing to eat all day but some crumb cake. 

Bring on dinner!




See that diet coke with lime? That's totally Linda Gerber's fault -- she hooked me on the stuff. Now I wouldn't dream of approaching edit evenings without it. It's a special treat on a rough day, because let's face it:



And even though I have not sent my editor the first draft, or the second, still there's a whole lot of shoveling to do.

So you'll excuse me if I get back to it. I've got more words to wrangle, and then I might eat ice cream from the carton because I have just about as many clean bowls as clean plates...

~Jen

Monday, November 18, 2013

BAD BOYS REDEEMED


Good day, Honest Readers! Lorie here.

After Melissa’s compelling arguments for “Nice Guy” heroes (and the lovely shirtless Steve Rogers), I promised a Bad Boy rebuttal.

My assertion? Bad Boys make more interesting characters. Period. If I want a nice boy, I don’t have to look any farther than my own backyard. But a strong, gorgeous guy who’s unpredictable and a little dangerous hooks me faster than a dark chocolate brownie sundae.

So let’s get right to it! Continuing with The Avengers theme, I present: 

Exhibit A -

The Mighty THOR.
Two can play at that game, Ms. Landers!


Thor begins his first solo movie as the typical arrogant, punch-first, ask-questions-later kind of Bad Boy. Much like Prince Jamie MacCrae—the hero in my novel, DOON—Thor is heir to the throne, and is torn between his own desires and what is best for his kingdom. But through a series of superhero-sized obstacles, and with the help of a strong woman, his reckless behavior soon transforms into a humble nobility that earns him back his crown—and the woman he loves.







Exhibit B -

Tony Stark – a.k.a.: Ironman
Who could resist that wicked smirk?

Tony Stark has Bad Boy written all over him. He’s brilliant, charming and gorgeous. But he’s also a womanizing, self-absorbed jerk with a razor-edged wit. He’s flawed and we adore him for it. Through the love of the patient Pepper Potts, Tony becomes the kind of hero who is willing to give up his life to save the world.  I’m sorry, but if “Boy Scout” Captain America made the sacrifice play in The Avengers, we would expect it of him, and it wouldn’t be nearly as impactful.









And don’t even get me started on the ultimate Avenger's Bad Boy, Loki…that’s a whole different topic!
*Swoon*

In closing, there’s nothing more delicious than a self-assured, seemingly-unattainable alpha male character who can’t let his emotional walls down for anyone, except his true love.
But the appeal of Bad Boys isn’t just about the pull of danger or the enigma they present—though this does make for interesting reading—it’s about redemption. That perfect moment when love releases all the pent up emotion they’ve buried deep inside, transforming them into the honorable hero they’ve always had the potential to be.

Join the debate! Do you prefer a well-behaved boy next-door or a tortured Bad Boy with a reckless edge?


Lorie's co-written novel DOON, Brigadoon reimagined, is available now everywhere books are sold!
 


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Darynda Jones Loves Those Bad Boys!


When we first came up with the topic of Bad Boys for this blog rotation, I immediately thought of Darynda Jones.  In both her adult (Charley Davidson) and Young Adult (Darklight) series, the boys have the feeling of being bad, but they're the kind of bad you want on your side.  They're the kind of bad that protects a girl/woman with their lives.  The kind of bad you'd never want to meet in a dark alley.  My kind of bad!  Although I was originally hooked with the adult series, I became equally so with the Darklight series.  

Not only did Darynda Jones agree to post on our Welcome Wednesday about bad boys, but she's also giving away a copy of the Darklight book of choice to one lucky commenter.  (See choices at the bottom of her post).  

I asked Darynda how she felt about bad boys, and this is how she answered:



Okay, fine. I admit it. I love me some bad boys. The badder, the better, that’s my motto. But let me clarify: When I say bad boys, I do not mean those boys destined to spend time behind bars for crimes against women. No, no, no, no, no. I mean those boys who brood. Those boys who stew. Those tormented souls with a dark past who have a tendency to live on the edge. Who exude danger. A certain je ne sais reckless abandon.

At the same time, however, they ultimately respect the lives of those around them and, rather importantly, women. Girls. Their feminine counterparts. In fact, if anything they are more apt to fall for that one special girl and fall hard. Hard enough to go through hell and high water to keep her safe. THOSE bad boys.

That’s why I have more than one bad boy in the Darklight Trilogy. Among the group of misfits the trilogy revolves around is a quiet, brooding sophomore named Cameron. Tall with shoulder length blond hair and eyes like a swimming pool in sunlight, Cameron has a special connection to the spiritual realm, with good reason. He is nephilim, a half-angel, half-human created to protect the prophet (who is destined to save the world) against supernatural beings that will do anything to stop her. No pressure.

Then I have the hero, Jared, who just happens to be the ultimate bad boy: The Angel of Death. Literally. And he definitely has a dark side. After all, he’s taken the lives of humans since their creation. And he, unlike his brethren, has the autonomy to kill at will. That has to take its toll. He is also tall only dark and exotic and intoxicating to our heroine, Lorelei.  When he is sent to take her, to end her life, he recognizes the wild red curls and deep gray eyes of the prophet and realizes something is wrong. He was sent to kill her? The prophet? The only being on earth who can save it from total destruction? With that niggling question, he decides to risk everything, his autonomy, his powers, possibly his very existence, to do the right thing. Instead of taking her life, he saves it. And that’s pretty much when all hell breaks lose.

Thank you so much for having me here today and I hope you enjoy the Darklight Trilogy!

~D~ 
              


Please leave the book of choice in your comment.

Thanks, Darynda, for being with us today!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nice Guys Finish...FIRST!

by Melissa Landers

Happy Monday, lovely readers! Before I continue the Honestly YA "Good Guys vs. Bad Boys" debate, let me share a few things with you. First, the countdown to ALIENATED's release is in the double digits...only 85 days to go!

I'm running my *very last* autographed ARC giveaway on Goodreads, which you can enter here. Also, I'm offering signed swag to readers who pre-order. This is NOT a sweepstakes in which you enter to win. It's a sure thing. You pre-order the book, I send you free swag. Easy peasy.


For rules and additional information, visit my website.

Okay, now on to the debate!

The other day, I was avoiding my WIP (Work In Progress) by trolling YouTube for funny videos. (Don't judge. We all need a mental break now and then.) I came across "Honest Trailer: The Avengers." It's rather hilarious, so take a moment to watch it. Go ahead, I'll wait.



At the 1:08 mark, we hear "Captain America...NO ONE'S favorite character."

Wait, what?

Hold the phone!



Captain America was MY favorite character in The Avengers. Like, by a lot!

I perked up every time he entered a scene, and I might have even drooled a little bit watching him work out in the gym. But my interest in his character extends beyond physical appearance. There are plenty of hotties in that film, Thor, for example. What really set Captain America apart from the rest was his good ol' fashioned, nice guy, take-him-home-to-mama attitude. Steve Rogers is the kind of man who would track you down to return the wallet you accidentally dropped. He's a total Boy Scout.

And I love that.

Yes, that's right. I love good guys. Why? Because you can trust a truly good man, and he'll treat you with respect. A good guy won't ask if you really need that bowl of ice cream. In fact, he'll add the hot fudge. If you say, "Not tonight, hon. I've got a headache," he'll fetch you an aspirin instead of pouting or whining. You don't have to worry about catching him in a compromising position with a stripper, because he loathes the concept of paying a desperate young woman to grind in his lap. He will pull out chairs, hold open doors, and say that you look pretty when you're dressed in sweatpants and haven't washed your hair in a couple of days. Don't we all deserve that?

I married a good guy, and ten years later, I'm still glad that I did.

How about you, readers? Good guy or bad boy? Pick your poison!



 Melissa Landers is the author of ALIENATED, a seriously foreign exchange coming in February, 2014 from Disney-Hyperion. You can learn more about Melissa on her website, and she'd love for you to add ALIENATED to your Goodreads bookshelf!