Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Blog Tour: Kissing in America by Margo Rabb (Interview) +Giveaway


Good day everyone! Today we're one of the 3rd stop for Kissing in America blog tour. Below we had a brief interview about Margo and how she started writing. There's also an audio tour for the book! Join on the giveaway below and follow the tour for more chances of winning! ;)

Kissing in America
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 26th 2015
Blurb:
I loved romances because when you opened the first page, you knew the story would end well. Your heart wouldn't be broken. I loved that security, that guaranteed love.

In real life, you never knew the ending. I hated that.

Sixteen-year-old Eva has never been in love. But when she meets Will, everything changes. With him, her grief over her father's death fades, and she can escape from her difficult relationship with her mother. Then, without any warning, Will picks up and moves to California. So Eva—with the help of her best friend, Annie—concocts a plan to travel across the country to see him again. As they leave New York City for the first time and road-trip across America, they encounter cowboys, kudzu, and tiny towns without stoplights. Along the way, Eva and Annie learn the truth about love and all its complexities.



Congratulations on your book Margo! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thank you! I was born in NYC and raised in Sunnyside, Queens, and after living for 7 years in Austin, TX,  we now live in the Philadelphia area. I write essays and book reviews for the New York Times, Salon, and The Rumpus, and I’m the author of Kissing in America and Cures for Heartbreak.
When and how did you decide to become a YA writer?
I’ve always loved writing and wanted to be a writer ever since I was a little kid. My first book, Cures for Heartbreak, was actually considered  an adult book originally--I wrote an essay about how it sold as YA for the New York Times here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/20/books/review/Rabb-t.html?scp=1&sq=margo%20rabb&st=cse

Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day to you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard?
I always draft on paper first. I try to write for a good 4 or so hours a day, but not on weekends. When I’m revising I like to print out drafts and then mark them up with a pen and type in the changes.
So far, what has been the most surprising part of the publishing and writing industry for you?
I think the most surprising part is what a small world it is--before I started writing professionally, I didn’t know that the world of writers can feel quite tiny and close-knit. I love that aspect of it.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received? the worst?
The best piece of advice is from the writer Antonya Nelson: “You have to have a leather ass.”  She was talking about how to endure rejection. :) The worst was when I was an MFA student in fiction, and a  guy in one of my workshops wanted everyone to set our stories during wartime. Every single story.
Are you working on something right now? What's next for Margo?
I’m working on a new YA novel and lots of new essays that I’m excited to share soon!
“Wonderful . . . Margo Rabb has created nothing less than a women’s map of American mythologies, navigating from Emily Dickinson to Barbara Cartland, from the cowboys of the rodeos to the makeup studios of Hollywood, and from the bottom of the Atlantic to the spacious skies of the USA.” — E. Lockhart, New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars

“A wonderful novel about friendship, love, travel, life, hope, poetry, intelligence and the inner lives of girls. Margo Rabb writes with compassion and clarity about lives that are worth telling, journeys that need to be taken, peace that needs to be reached. I loved it.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray Love

“That Margo Rabb can write a story so gorgeous, funny, and joyous that is also unsentimental and honest is a testament to her skill and to her heart. I loved everything about Eva and the supporting cast in this beautiful novel.” — Sara Zarr, author of The Lucy Variations

“Rabb eloquently gets grief right in this compassionate, perceptive, and poignant story, deftly leavened with irreverent humor, of a girl in conflict with her mother. Wise, inspiring, and ultimately uplifting-not to be missed.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“With a full cast of multidimensional characters, this novel explores the complex nature of relationships and the many faces of grief and love with equal parts humor and poignancy.” — School Library Journal

“A smart teen’s novel. [The] characters are authentic and complex. Rabb knows the perfect point to interject humor to diffuse a potentially devastating situation—a leavening of sorts to the reality that death and love inexplicitly alter the landscape of a person’s life.” — Booklist (starred review)

“In this indelible coming-of-age story, Rabb seamlessly weaves together multiple narratives. Sprinkled with the poetry Eva reads and writes, this story makes for a hilarious, thought-provoking, wrenching, and joyful quest.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Humor and depth . . . Often entertainingly snarky” — The Horn Book

“It is a marvel and I love every word of it: the carefully structured plot, the memorable characters, the wholly apposite style and tone. It is funny, sad, wistful, wise, and altogether memorable.” — Michael Cart




Follow the Kissing in America AUDIO TOUR that Epic Reads is hosting. You can win lots of prizes and hear excerpts from Margo Rabb's book. Click on the banner below to start following the AUDIO TOUR!

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Follow the Kissing in America by Margo Rabb Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.





Margo Rabb's stories have been published in The Atlantic Monthly, Zoetrope: All Story, Seventeen, Best New American Voices, New Stories from the South, New England Review, One Story, and elsewhere, and have been broadcast on National Public Radio. She received grand prize in the Zoetrope short story contest, first prize in The Atlantic Monthly fiction contest, first prize in the American Fiction contest, and a PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award. She grew up in Queens, New York, and now lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two children. A complete list of her published work can be found here.



ENTER THE GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a SOUVENIR from EACH CITY!









Saturday, May 16, 2015

Blog Tour: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt(Cover Evolution+Giveaway)



Hiyah everyone! Today's the fifth day for Hold Me Like A Breath blog tour and I'm so happy that we'll give you the cover evolution in this post because duh who can't appreciate such cover right? #covergasssm. Aside from the cover evolution there will be an excerpt and giveaway for everyone to see and join. Let me know your thoughts about the cover! :*


Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon a Crime Family #1)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: May 19th 2015
Blurb:
Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.




While I first saw a cover for Hold Me Like a Breath in March 2014, the cover as it exists now wasn’t finalized until late August – with some additional months dithering about taglines and cover copy.

In between March and August we went through dozens of covers. DOZENS. I don’t have ALL of them, but I have quite a few and I’ve divided them into eras so you can see all the different concepts and directions the fabulously talented (and fantastically patient) design team at Bloomsbury explored.

There was the era of  the flower covers:








And all of these were gorgeous and fascinating... but didn’t really scream THIS story. If the sewing pins had been medical needles... maybe.

Next came the anatomical stage.


Where I pushed for an organ of any kind. I really loved designs that incorporated both organs AND flowers and was sending my editors tons of images like these:



The brilliant (and patient) design team, took my thoughts and responded with these: 

And came up with THIS – which we ultimately decided wasn’t right. Adios organs.


Next came the dark days. I didn’t save any of the covers from this round. We tried lots of things. Exploding keys. Roots. Gates. More flowers.


Finally we arrived at the butterfly era.

I’ll admit to be skeptical at first when presented with this image.



But once the design team played around with the idea—it became less evaporating butterfly and more of a shattered effect, and I started to come around.

We added a gate as a nod to the way Penelope Landlow is captive inside her Family estate. Then we tried purple – as a nod to the main character’s bruises.


The purple looked a little too romantic and twee—not really the impact we wanted on our crime family, organ trafficking book. So we decided to go back to the butterfly’s original coloring, but amp the BLOOD effect involved in the shatter.

Add on the tagline, tweak the coloring of my name... And with that we finally arrived at our final cover!

Isn’t it gorgeous and a little bit creepy?!


And, seriously, I’m thinking the Bloomsbury design team deserves a metal and sainthood! <3

Hell yeah! I agree with you Tiffany, they really deserves a metal and sainthood. Do you know if they're accepting one cute-medium height girl for their design team?(hihi *wink*)




HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH
by Tiffany Schmidt

There was always a moment as I rolled down the long driveway toward the high fence surrounding the estate when my breath caught in my chest and I doubted my decision to leave. Anything could happen to me outside the perimeter of our property.
Carter interrupted my thoughts. “I told Mother we’re going to see a musical. You know what’s playing and can pick one, right?”
Of course I did. I spent hours on NYC websites, blogs, and forums. Someday I’d go into a long remission. Someday I’d live there and walk the streets of promise, freedom, and opportunity they sang about in Annie, a play I’d seen with Father on Broadway right before my life turned purple and red.
“Really?” It made sense that Mother would agree to a play. It would be safe, a seated activity. The chairs would mark out defined personal space, and I’d be perfectly cocooned between my brother and his best friend/guard, Garrett Ward. It made a whole lot less sense that Carter would voluntarily attend the theater.
He lowered his window and called a greeting to Ian, the guard on gate duty. Once his window was closed and the gate was shutting behind us, he snorted. “No, not really. That’s just what I said to buy you some extra time.”
“You should at least listen to the score then,” I countered. “You know she’s going to want to discuss it. Or, if she doesn’t, Father will. He’ll probably perform it if I ask.”
“Then don’t ask,” said Carter. “Fine. Pick a show and Garrett can download the soundtrack. We’ll listen to it once, then I get the radio for the rest of the drive—no complaints.”
It was more than I’d expected; he truly felt guilty about being so MIA. “There’s a revival of Once Upon a Mattress that’s getting great reviews.”
They snickered.
Once Upon a Mattress? That sounds like—”
I cut my brother off. “Don’t go there! It’s a fairy tale, gutterbrain.”
“Of course it is,” laughed Garrett.
I’m pretty sure the subtext of that laugh was you’re such a child. I swallowed a retort. Freedom was too rare a thing to waste arguing. And I’d never had Korean barbecue. I’d never even heard of it. There were so many things I’d never seen, tasted, experienced . . . Tension melted into giddy anticipation, bubbling in my stomach like giggles waiting to escape.
“So, how’d your super-secret errand go?” I asked. “Was it something exciting? Something illegal?”
Garrett met my gaze in the rearview mirror and shook his head.
But it was too late. Carter’s expression darkened. “Everything we do is illegal. It’s not a game where you get to pick and choose which crimes you’re okay with.”
“So it didn’t go well,” I muttered under my breath.
I knew it wasn’t a game, and I knew the Family Business was against the law. I’d known it for so long it was easy to forget. Or remember only in a vague way, like knowing the sky is blue without paying any attention to its blueness.
Only in those moments when things went wrong—when lazy clouds were replaced by threats and storms, when someone got hurt or killed—only then did I stare down the reality of the Business through a haze of grief and funeral black. My fingers tensed on the edge of the seat.
“Ignore him,” said Garrett. “He’s just pissy because the people we were supposed to meet with stood us up.”
“Someone dared to no-show for a meeting with the mighty Carter Landlow?” I teased, hoping to break the gloom settling in the car like an unwelcome passenger. “I assumed it was a Business errand, but if someone stood you up, it must be a girl.”
“No offense, Pen, but you don’t have a clue what’s going on in the Business.”
No offense, Carter, but you’re being a—”
“Who wants to hear some songs about mattresses?” interrupted Garrett. He reached for the stereo, but Carter swatted his hand away.
“I’m not an idiot,” I said. And wishing for things that had been denied for so long was idiotic. No less so than repeatedly bashing your head against a wall or touching a hot iron. I knew the answer was no, was always going to be no, so asking to be included in Family matters was like volunteering to be a punch line for one of the Ward brothers’ jokes.
But I knew the basics. It wouldn’t be possible to live on the estate, spend so much time in the clinic, and not know. The first person to explain it to me had been my grandfather; fitting, since he was the man who’d reacted to the formation of FOTA—the Federal Organ and Tissue Association—by founding our Family.
The same day I’d demanded a kidney for Kelly Forman, he’d sat me down and demonstrated using a plate of crackers and cheese. “When donation regulation was moved from the FDA to FOTA, they added more restrictions and testing.” He ate a few of the Ritz-brand “organs” on his plate, shuffled the empty cheese slices that represented humans who needed transplants. “This, combined with a population that’s living longer than ever
before”—he plunked down several more slices of cheese—“created a smaller, slower supply and greater demand.” He built me an inside-out cheese-cracker-cheese sandwich. “It was a moment of opportunity, and when you see those in life, you take them.”
This felt like a moment of opportunity. And not to prove that I wasn’t an idiot by listing all the facts I knew—about how the Families provided illegal transplants for the many, many people rejected from or buried at the bottom of the government lists. How more than two-thirds of those who made it through all the protocols to qualify for a spot on the official transplant list died before receiving an organ. Or to recite the unofficial Family motto: Landlows help people who can’t afford to wait, but can afford to pay.
“Fine, tell me what I don’t know,” I said. “Tell me what’s going on, why you and Father are fighting, and what’s keeping you so busy. Tell me everything.”
Garrett muttered something that sounded suspiciously like “Don’t do this,” but since my brother ignored him, I did too.
Carter’s eyes met mine in the rearview mirror. “None of this leaves the car, Pen. I’m trusting you.”
“I understand.” I sat a little straighter. “And I promise.”
A phone beeped with a text alert, almost immediately followed by a ringtone that made them jump. Carter picked up his cell, swore, showed the screen to Garrett, then swore again. All the buoyancy of freedom seemed to evaporate from the car.
“Now? They blow us off earlier and expect us to answer now?” said Garrett.
“Well, it’s not like these things can be scheduled,” replied Carter, jabbing the screen of his cell. “Hello?”
He muttered low and furious into the phone, then hung up, still cursing. “We have to do the pickup.”
Garrett’s frowned. “No one else can do it?”
He shook his head.
“Pick up what?” I asked.
Carter opened his mouth, but Garrett put a hand on his arm. “She’s seventeen. Let her be seventeen. There’s plenty of time to get her involved later.”
“When we were seventeen we were already sitting on council, visiting the clinics, meeting with patients. She can’t even tell a kidney scar from a skin graft—she needs to catch up.”
She can make her own decisions, she is sitting right here, and she is coming along to what ever this mysterious pickup is, so she’s already involved,” I snapped.
“You are not coming,” said Garrett.
“We don’t have a choice, unless you want me to leave her on the side of the highway. This is our exit.” Carter was clutching his cell phone, shaking it as if that could erase what ever the text instructed him to do.
Garrett groaned. “You’re staying in the car.”
I hid my smile by looking out the window. It had gotten dark while we were driving, the dusky purple of summer evenings. On the estate these nights buzzed with a soundtrack of cicadas and crickets, but there was no nature outside the car. Nothing but concrete and pavement and cinder-block industrial construction. We pulled into a parking lot. A poorly lit, empty parking lot.
“Where are we? What are we picking up?” I examined Garrett’s stiff posture and the bright gleam in my brother’s eyes. “Does Father know about this Business errand?”
“No, and you’re not going to tell him,” Carter answered.
“Oh, really? So what am I going to do?”
“Stay in the car. Lock the doors. Keep the windows up.” Carter turned around to look me in the eye. “This isn’t a joke, Pen. If I’d known this was going to come up, I would’ve left you at home.”
“Please, princess,” added Garrett in a soft voice, but his eyes didn’t leave the windshield, didn’t stop their scan of the parking lot.
“Fine, but when you’re done, you’re filling me in. Then I can decide if I want to be part of it or not.” It was all false bravado. Each one of Carter’s statements tied another knot in my stomach; Garrett’s plea pulled them tighter.
Carter dumped a half dozen mints from the plastic container in his cup holder into his mouth—like his breath mattered, like this was a date not a disaster. He waved the container at us, but we shook our heads. He crunched the candies and said, “Gare,
you’re hot, right?”
I blurted out, “You can turn on the A/C, I’m not cold,” before I caught on: Garrett pulled a gun from a holster below the back of his shirt.
They laughed, but it wasn’t funny to me. I’d been to too many funerals—they’d been to more. I wanted to ask how long he’d been “hot.” If he always had a gun on him. Had he when we went mini golfing at Easter? Or the time last summer when I slipped on the pool deck and he’d carried me to the clinic? No. He couldn’t have then. He’d been wearing a swimsuit too—there’s no way he could’ve hidden a gun.
So what had happened in the past year, and why was he carrying one now?
Garrett was Family, he was a Ward, but he wasn’t supposed to follow his brothers’ footsteps. Or his father’s. They were enforcers, but he didn’t belong in their grim-faced, split knuckles ranks. That was why he was in college with Carter—Garrett was going to be his right-hand man when my brother took over the Business.
Not a thug with a gun.
“Stay here, Pen,” Carter said again, then slipped out into the night. His keys still dangled from the ignition, the engine still hummed.
Garrett lingered an extra moment. “This shouldn’t take long. And everything’s okay. I don’t want you to worry.”
“I’m not.” I would’ve sounded believable if my voice wasn’t quivering. If I weren’t clutching fistfuls of my dress.
“You’re cute when you’re worried.” Garrett winked, and then he too was out in the darkness and humidity and I was alone.
I tried to lower my window—just a crack, enough to let in voices but not even mosquitoes—except Carter must’ve engaged some sort of child lock. I stared out the tinted glass, watched as their shadows grew gigantic on the wall as they approached the
ware house, then disappeared around its corner.
No matter how hard I concentrated, my eyes couldn’t adjust enough to make sense of the dark. Maybe it was the placement of the parking lot lights—how I had to peer through them to see the warehouse beyond.
After they’d left this afternoon, I’d rushed to the clinic to model different outfits for Caroline. She’d teased. We’d laughed. I’d blushed and daydreamed about the lovely combination of me, Garrett, and NYC.
But in my daydreams, Garrett hadn’t been wearing a gun.
And now we were parked somewhere made of shadows and secrets and fear that sat on my tongue like a bitter hard candy that wouldn’t dissolve.
The car still smelled like them. Their seats were still warm when I leaned forward and pressed my hands against the leather. But I couldn’t see them. What if the dark decided never to spit them back out again?
This wasn’t the Business as I knew it: secret transplant surgeries that took place at our six “Bed and Breakfasts” and “Spas” in Connecticut, Vermont, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, and South Carolina, where we saved people like Kelly Forman. She’d been ten when she needed a kidney transplant, but her chromosomal mutation—unrelated to her renal impairment—earned her a rejection from the Federal Organ and Tissue Agency’s lists. According to them, Down syndrome made her a “poor medical investment.” FOTA wrote her a death warrant. We saved her life.
She graduated from high school a few weeks ago. The past nine years since we’d met—she wouldn’t have had those without the Family Business.
That was enough. That was all I needed to know. Illegal or not, that was good.
I heard something. A crack so sharp it echoed and seemed to fill the spaces between my bones, making me shiver. I prayed it was a car backfiring.

Then it happened again.





Follow the Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.






Tiffany Schmidt is the author of Send Me a Sign, Bright Before Sunrise, and Hold Me Like a Breath. She’s found her happily ever after in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles.

You can find out more about her and her books at: TiffanySchmidt.com, TiffanySchmidtWrites.Tumblr.com or by following her on Twitter @TiffanySchmidt.




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