I love good books and I love good authors, which naturally is why I’m celebrating this new book, LIFE AFTER JULIET. Shannon may sound familiar because she’s also the author of Love and Other Unknown Variables. I remember oogling the cover when it came out and one of my good friends posted a long glowing review on Goodreads about it, but my favorite part was this, “It is beautifully written and well paced, with intriguing characters, complex relationships, and plenty of raw emotion. I highly recommend this book!”
It came out this week and it looks so good. Have you heard of it? Check it out below!
Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people…
Until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can.
As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world…and happy endings aren’t always guaranteed.
The companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables is an exploration of loss and regret, of kissing and love, and most importantly, a celebration of hope and discovering a life worth living again.
Some of you may remember that I made an announcement in February that I was looking for submissions for a young adult anthology.
Pizza of course!!
Fifty of you rose to the challenge and a select fourteen were chosen. There were so many fantastic submissions, I wanted so badly to choose more than that. But alas, I had to stick to my original guidelines and today we’re celebrating it becoming a real thing!
Here are the details!
A Pizza My Heart:
Book Genre: YA fiction anthology
Book release date: November 12, 2016 (National Pizza with the Works except Anchovies Day)
A Pizza My Heart Blurb
Gooey cheese and warm pepperoni, with a side of kissing and murder.
A Pizza My Heart is a quirky and fun anthology that crosses all genres. Fifteen extraordinary authors have united to tell stories of mystery, mayhem, romance, danger, deceit…and pizza.
Sometimes spicy, sometimes cheesy, but always delicious, A Pizza My Heart invites you to explore life, happiness, and the pursuit of pizza.
I am so excited about all of these exceptional authors and the general awesomeness that will follow! Especially with amazing artist Haley Crosby designing the cover as we speak. It’s going to be a pizza party!!!
About the Publisher
Established in 2014, Hocus Pocus & Co. loves to bring unique voices and stories to fruition.
I’ve been writing since I was a wee boy. I would watch movies and cartoons and be upset that they were over so I’d make picture books of sequels and new episodes. I made at least three Jurassic Park sequels. I even wrote Steven Spielberg a letter after The Lost World came out in which I told him that the third JP film should feature pteranodons, ankylosaurus, AND spinosaurus – which it freaking did! Too bad I didn’t send him a script that didn’t suck…
I wrote throughout middle and high school and finally got a BFA in Creative Writing at Chapman University in Orange, CA. I’ve been chugging along since writing short stories, which makes We Clocked the T-Rex my first novel. Guess I’ve come full circle in a way…
So I guess I should be thanking you for all the dino-y goodness, then? Well, thanks Ron! So speaking of creative types and writing, who is your favorite author?
I mean, this one is never answered easily. Right now I really love Manuel Gonzales who’s got a new book out called The Regional Office is Under Attack! I love all the classic people and the postmodern people. But if you were threatening to go back in time and assassinate one author, the one whose death would probably most affect my development and trajectory would be J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve read his books too many times to count. I don’t write fantasy probably because I know him too well and would just be disappointed in what I’d come up with.
Awesome! I’ll have to check Manuel Gonzales out. But I do love J.R.R. Tolkien out. So I have to ask, how did the idea for We Clocked the T-Rex come about?
It actually started as the title of a blog I did for a few months where I would write small stories about a single scientific principle or idea. One of my favorites was about the Great Pacific Trash Vortex, a many-hundred-mile-wide patch of the ocean where all our plastic waste winds up. As I kept writing them, I noticed a few recurring ideas and one character stood out as someone I could spend more time writing about. That character was Vee. I started outlining a novel told through the perspectives of multiple characters. The principle thread that connected them all changed over time. It started as a bacteria that consumed plastic which everyone was racing to find and patent, then it was an MMORPG that began mimicking the deterioration of the natural world so that players got fed up with playing in it. None of those ideas carried me very far and then I thought, “It should just be about some conspiracy to bring dinosaurs back to life.” I had been reading about this new gene editing technique called CRISPR and saw famed paleontologist Jack Horner talk about reverse engineering a chicken into a dinosaur. I saw a lot of parallels between current discussions about de-extinction and the ethics thereof and thought there was a giant story there about how we’ve altered the planet and will continue to alter it, either back to how we think it should be or in some completely different path. So I got to work.
That’s truly fascinating. I absolutely love literature that makes you think, and I’m so excited to dive right in. So I have to ask then since you’re so into dinosaurs, if you could own an actual dinosaur, which one would it be and why?
A baby pterosaur, like a rhamphorhynchus. I’ve always loved their spade tail. It could be like a bird that I taught to sit on my shoulder. And when it got bigger, like really big, I could teach it to falcon or something. And it’d bring me fish from the river, and I’d get in trouble because I ain’t got no fishing permit.
Do you have a favorite character in We Clocked the T-Rex?
There are characters I like because they’re just fun and weird and different from what I’m used to writing and then there are characters who aren’t as fun to write because so much depends on their coming across as real people. But those characters mean more to me because I spend so much time and thought and panic with them. Vee is the number one character. Many of the feelings she has toward the world she lives in reflect my own feelings, and she acts on the things I fear. She’s a sort of hero that I wish I could be. So there’s that. Then there’s Eddie Dinh, who’s an old American spy trying to unravel the dinosaur plot, and he’s just an all-out blast to write. He’s the action hero, Vee’s the tragic figure.
I love this so much. Characters are SO MUCH fun and this story has been so much fun to read so far. So random, completely unrelated question…if you were stranded on an island and could only take three things, what would they be?
Probably Moby Dick, and a paper pad that I could draw and write in with charcoal, and a knife because I guess you always need a knife. The book and paper would do a lot for my sanity. The knife would maybe keep me alive?
If We Clocked the T-Rex was made into a movie, who would you cast as Vee?
I like movies where I’ve never seen the cast before in anything else. So hopefully someone new. But if we’re drawing from actresses I think would fit… I’m a real big fan of Emily Blunt. She can do anything – comedy, drama, sci-fi, Disney. She’d rock it.
Yes!! Oh my goodness, I love her too. So let me ask now that we are nearing the end here, if you could summarize your book in five words or pick five words to represent your novel, what would they be?
We, roaring, romping, raging, eels.
The three R words represent how I hope it feels when it’s read. ‘We’ represents the collective nature of the problems faced within the novel and also the way in which it’s currently being funded and hopefully published. It’s a group effort, we’re all making this work. ‘Eels’ is a wonderful word (and there are eels in the book).
Now, the most important question must be asked…Why is your hair so excellent?
I shampoo every day, conditioner twice a week, and comb it out with my hands during the car ride to school. So I guess it must be genetic.
You’ve sent some hilarious emails, recorded some amazing videos, and even had a Raffle party to help promote this contest for We Clocked the T-Rex. But what would winning it actually mean to you? Why should people support your story?
The cooking competition Chopped has taught me that there are only variations of two answers to this question.
1) I need to win this to validate my being a chef/that I’m where I ought to be/that I can still hang with these hot-to-trot young-punk cooks.
2) This money will help me open a restaurant/put my children through college/give my wife the honeymoon we never had. I guess my own answer is slightly derivative of the first one. Winning the Geek & Sundry contest would let me know that there are people interested in reading the stories I want to write. To be honest though, the response I’ve had from friends, family, aged acquaintances, other authors and sheer strangers has fulfilled that for me already. Even being interviewed by you, Jolene, tells me that there are people who are intrigued by the flavors in this first dish I’m serving. Winning will give me the opportunity to serve the full course. I know it’s great, and I want you all to enjoy it.
Oh my goodness yessss. I love Chopped. And I really, really get it. And I’m so thankful that you were up for being interviewed. This has been an absolute blast. Can you believe that we’re already done? Well, except for the lightning round!!!!
Coke or Pepsi?
Coke, the can’s red.
Cake or Ice Cream?
Ice cream, it’s cold.
Land Before Time I or Land Before Time II?
The Land Before Time is a legitimate work of art and I will act violently towards anyone who disagrees. The art style, the backgrounds, the voice work, script, and James Horner’s score all make it a thing that I will annually watch from my bed with sheets pulled to my chin. And yes my throat will contract when the baby pteranodon tries to console a depressed Littlefoot with a ruby-red cherry, and again when Littlefoot gallops after the shadow of his murdered mother, and yes I will sing along to Diana Ross’ “If We Hold on Together” as it plays over the credits while mesozoic willows droop into pristine purple pools of water. Chomper’s great and all, but the original is for me.
Pirates or ninjas?
Pirates cuz they got ships and were democratic. I’m ignoring the awful things they did.
Skittles or M&Ms?
Lobster army or crab army?
Crabs. Crabs for days.
Sunrises or sunsets?
Sunrises. I feel like I’m always travelling when I see them.
Thank you so much Ron for being such a wonderful sport! It was an honor having you here and pretty please come back some time, please?
If you want to support Ron with doing something he is SO passionate about, please pre-order his book. It’s only ten dollars (which here in California is less than you’d pay for lunch).
There’s also the possibility of getting your name in the book if you pre-order is Super Reader package. Because hello, books are forever. Make history!
He’s also posted some hilarious updates and raffle videos where you can watch him be buried alive and my favorite, a puppy that dreams of turtle burps!!! If you pre-order his book, you can automatically be entered to win in his raffle!
People that know me well, know that I really love five things in life… Coffee, puppies, pizza, books, and any mention of dinosaurs.
Imagine my delight when my good friend Grayson mentioned that he had this friend Ron who also loved pizza and just so happened to be in a contest to have his book published. His book was inspired partly by Jurassic Park, and when I heard that, basically I was already hooked. Then, Ron’s sense of humor just made it all that much better.
I looked into it and I was excited. Ron had a book that sounded fantastic! And guess what? His contest is still going and YOU can help him win! Let me tell you a little bit more about it.
World, meet WE CLOCKED THE T-REX.
It’s the near-future and the dark forces of secret science and big money are preparing to engineer the world’s First De-Extinction Event. With her life’s work, countless species, and modern civilization on the line, Vee Whelan and the crew of the Research Vessel Pangolin aim to stop them – but what’s so evil about a scientific miracle?
We Clocked the T-Rex is a paranoid speculative adventure that takes the scientific gene editing and cloning techniques at our disposal today and asks, can’t we use these to make right all that we’ve made wrong about the natural world?
Hear It From Ron
Excerpt From the Book
The diving cameraman glides to her left as a dusty hump-headed wrasse wriggles from beneath her and past her shin, framing fish and woman in one shot. His hand conducts a sequence of unintelligible signs — a spinny motion, now wagging a hooked forefinger… is this some kind of fingering gag? Deciding it’s best to play along, Vee hunches toward the wrasse and pretends to pet it, but the thing spooks also and rapidly descends into the rubble. Vee looks up at Alan, confused, like “I swear, I never done anything wrong to that fish!” but then she sees it.
Hovering over Alan’s left shoulder is a two-foot-wide ghost-blue bell. A thicket of fishing-line-thin tentacles drape beneath it. Vee has just enough time to point and shout through the water.
Alan swivels toward the jellyfish and strokes backward after reflexively decking the thing with his camera. The creature crumples and slips below them before reinflating and pulsing upward. Vee takes just a moment to survey the water above. Twenty or more of its translucent buddies are drifting between them and the sunlit surface. Without planning, Vee grabs the cameraman’s hand, tucks her chin into her chest, wraps the free arm over her neck, and begins kicking.
And just in time. Looming in the distance, thunder-cloud-like, threatening a new gloom: the jelly swarm.
You can actually read more of Ron’s book for free right on his book campaign website.
Even better, you can pre-order this book and make it your own for only ten bucks! Here’s the pre-order link!
About the Author
Ronald Valle’s first theater experience was Jurassic Park. He received his BFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University in 2011. He got to live in the Virgin Islands for three months after. Now he teaches science to elementary school students, films with his friends, and writes about humans and animals. Cuz humans are animals. In a good way.
EDIT: Pizza Anthology submission due date has been extended to March 18, 2016.
Happy National Pizza Day! There’s no better day to announce this, so here we go!
Do you love pizza?
Do you love YA?
Do you like to YA while you pizza or pizza while you YA?
Well, my friend, you are in the right place at the pizza-iest time. Because I am looking for submissions for a YA pizza anthology. There are a few rules, which I’ll get to below. But first, a moment of pizza please.
^ I trust her
^ Yes I do if there is pizza.
^ Pizza Shimmy
^ That one’s for Brian.
^ That one’s for me.
^ OMG where is this. I’d go.
Ahem. Anywho. Okay, details.
Pizzathology (YA Pizza Anthology) Deets
1. Anyone is welcome to submit a story. Even if I don’t know you. Even if this is your first time writing. Even if you don’t live in the US. Even if you have never eaten a pizza. Okay, maybe not the last one.
2. You must love pizza and your story must include pizza as a key element in some way.
2. Your story must be YA, as in young adult, as in I am asking that your protagonist be between 14 and 18 years old. All genders and races of main characters welcome and encouraged. All genres welcome.
3. This will be an ebook release with physical book potential as end-goal (but physical book is not a promise).
4. Word count of your story should fall between 1,000 to 4,000 words (as a guideline). A little under or over is okay, but that’s the goal.
5. If you’d like to submit a drawing or pizza art with a YA pizza fun vibe, you may.
6. Submitted a story or a drawing does not guarantee you will be selected. There will only be 10-14 stories selected. However if this is successful and popular, I will likely do more!
7. THIS IS A PAID ANTHOLOGY. If selected, you will receive $5 US dollars via Paypal. That’s right. The exact amount of a Little Caesars Hot and Ready pizza lunch combo. Yes, I chose that on purpose. Yes, I wish that I could pay you more. But you know, I have to save some money for my pizza problem…I mean…non-problem.
8. This is to be released November 12th, 2016, which is National Pizza with the Works except Anchovies Day. Yes, I know that is not a Tuesday and it’s not a traditional publish date but this is not a traditional anthology. So. Also, if you are submit, you agree to have everything ready and to me in a timely manner so that we can release our goods on National Pizza with the Works except Anchovies Day.
9. All edits will be done through Google docs.
10. Deadline for submissions is March 18, 2016.
How to Submit
1. Write your story following the guidelines above.
2. Email it to pizzathology at gmail dot com. Your subject should be: Pizzathology Submission. Please include a little bit about you, your Twitter handle (if any), and your favorite pizza type. If you have name ideas for the anthology (clever puns, pizza names, whatever) feel free to include suggestions. I love them.
3. I will review all submissions and get back to you. Please note that if your story or picture is not accepted, it’s no reflection on you or your writing style. Anthologies are a different beast as you have to choose wisely to make sure that they flow together and there is sense to them. Also, you can only accept so many people, so sometimes you have to cut stories that you really, really love because you have 4,235 good subs.
I have worked for several publishing houses previously as interns and paid staff. I have also ran/run two of my own small presses (Pen and Muse Press and horror only Hocus Pocus & Co. (currently closed to subs)).
My goal is to start a new genre, pizza lit. Or something because how great would it be to have one genre all about pizza?
*If you are a graphic design God or Goddess or an editor God or Goddess, and would like to volunteer your services, such as making teasers or proof-reading, or you’re just enthusiastic AF, reach out to me okay? I’d love to hear from you.*
I’m using #PizzaFriends for all pizza related things. So, let’s meet there too.
Okay. Now, go eat pizza and send me all the pizza stories. And if you have questions, please ask them below. Or just tell me your favorite types of pizza or your best pizza memory or how pizza saved you from a burning school bus.
By now, most of you have probably heard me talk about author Jennifer Ellision’s book Now and Again. I read it recently. It’s a new adult romance novel that’s short, sweet, and lovely.
I found my new book boyfriend Cole (watch out, he’s mine).
Jennifer has written several novels including Now and Again (new adult romance), the Threats of Sky and Sea series (YA fantasy) and I hear she’s cooking up more to be released soon.
I’m a very musical person. I was in band for most of my life. I listen to music nonstop so I couldn’t help but be inspired by the love story of Cole and Em.
So here it is. My love story playlist inspired by Now and Again!
Also, scroll down to the bottom to enter to win an Amazon gift card OR free books! YESSSSSSS.
Now and Again Playlist
What do you think? What songs would you add? I’d love to hear which one is your favorite. I tend to go for a large array of music, from acoustic to rock to something in between.
Since this book was so sweet and romance-y, I tried to keep the songs light while still adding in some record of the struggles they went through as a couple.
What do you think?
Oh oh oh, and while I have you, check out this gorgeous trailer!
Now and Again Book Trailer
I know. I know. You need more information or you’ll die, right? Check it.
Unemployed. Broke. Maid of Honor.
All (unfortunately) words that describe Em Hayes.
Without any job leads in San Francisco, Em caves to her mother’s promise of free rent and returns home. Her best friend, Nikki, couldn’t be more thrilled. Em’s degree in Event Management is gathering dust, and what better way to put it to use than planning Nikki’s wedding?
There’s just one flaw in that plan: Cole Connors. The girls’ former roommate. And part of the reason Em hasn’t been back since college graduation.
Em’s never been able to forget Cole—or how close they were before she pushed him aside and ran for the hills. Cole’s never forgotten Em either— but in the past two years, she hasn’t given him much choice but to try.
And, according to Nikki, there’s no better pair to plan the wedding of her dreams.
Em’s usually good at squashing messy feelings, but being around Cole again brings them all rushing to the surface.
And this time, she’s not sure she wants to run.
Now and Again is available at the following locations:
Jennifer Ellision spent a great deal of her childhood staying up past her bedtime with a book and a flashlight. When she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read, she started writing them. She loves words, has a soft spot for fanfiction, and is a master of the fangirl flail. She resides in South Florida with her family, where she lives in fear of temperatures below 60 Fahrenheit.
Isn’t it gorgeous? What do you think? I’m in love with it. Absolutely love the color scheme.
Check out the awesome book trailer for The Unmoving Sky!
Here are a few more details:
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Publisher: Leap Books, Shine
Release Date: May 16, 2016
Meet the Author
K.L. Hallam, an air force brat as a young child, who moved around to more schools than she can list, gathering the stories that would connect to her heart. She writes MG, YA, and short fiction, or anything she hasn’t tried, a member of SCBWI, a singer and songwriter, illustrator and mother of two teenagers.
She lives in New York City and spends her mornings writing in a Jazz club.
One of my gorgeous, talented friends Kristen put out a book this week. She amazes me because she writes faster than almost anyone I’ve ever met and her books are fantastic. I mean just look at them, in all their glory.
I started making a list of people who should buy this book: You, Me, your brother, your dog-walker, that sexy cowboy you saw once, your Aunt Shirley, and your boss. And pretty much everyone in between.
Here’s a little more detail.
Shea Lowe has a bad reputation.
After years of throwing punches first and asking questions later, he’s hit a dead end. Notorious in Sawtooth Forest’s underground fighting ring, Shea wants out. Volunteering at Forever Home’s new farm is his only chance of getting another job on a ranch. But first, he’s got to prove that he can be trusted.
Delaney wants a voice.
Selective mutism made it sound like Delaney chose to be silent, but she didn’t choose to spend seven years locked in a cage. Forever Home is the last place she should’ve been sent for rehabilitation. But when a reckless, misunderstood werewolf treats her in a way she’s only dreamed possible, she realizes there’s no place else she’d rather be.
Delaney shows Shea that actions speak louder than words, and he vows to give her the one thing she’s never had–a joy filled Christmas with a real family. But Delaney must decide if she can accept Shea’s past if they have any chance at a future.
This is an EXPANDED VERSION of Celebrate Me (originally featured in Sugar, Spice, and Shifters)… More Shea, more Delaney, more Sawtooth Shifters! Includes deleted scenes and an alternate ending.
Every year my brother makes a long Christmas list. It’s sorted by category and it’s filled with links so really all you have to do is click on what you want to get him, and bam, you’re already sitting at the page where you can add it to your card and buy it for him.
It’s genius really.
Me? As an adult, I’ve never really been a Christmas list person. It’s not that there is nothing that I want. But I’ve always loved the mystery of a gift. Not knowing what’s inside. Being able to see what someone saw and thought of for you. And honestly, I don’t need gifts. If I had to choose, every single time I would choose time spent with the people that I care about over gifts.
Oddly, I do not really enjoy shopping in general, but I do love shopping for Christmas gifts. I really do strive to find the perfect gift. As I’ve mentioned, I haven’t done much Christmas shopping yet. But with the shopping that I have done, I’ve found several neat gifts… something that I would like and other odd people like me. And so I thought I’d put together a list of gift ideas, for the weirdo in your life.
This person marches to the beat of their own drum. Buries their noses in books. Maybe has bright pink or blue hair, or wants it. Loves magic and mystery and scary things. Doesn’t care what other people think and certainly does not want anything mainstream. Has a lust for adventure and travel.