FIRSTS cover reveal by #sixteentoread Laurie Elizabeth Flynn


Hello, everyone! Jenny was nice enough to let me hijack her website, and I’m absolutely thrilled to share the cover for FIRSTS with you.

 4_28_FirstsCover

 My first (pun intended) reaction when I saw the cover? I was floored. The insanely talented cover designer, Danielle Christopher, captured the essence of FIRSTS perfectly. It’s bold without being too provocative, edgy without being too suggestive. The color palette took my breath away. I was lucky enough to have the wonderful Amanda Maciel, an author whose work I greatly admire (TEASE is one of my all-time favorite young adult books), provide a blurb that makes my heart beat faster whenever I read it, and having her words on the cover is such an honor.

The first time I saw the cover turned into the second time. And third time. I whipped out my phone to check it while I was at work, oh, probably a hundred times. (I think I walked into a wall one of those times….)

 FIRSTS is a story about a lot of things. It’s about sex and rumors and secrets and slut-shaming. It’s about mistakes and friendship and lust and love. There’s laughter and tears and heartbreak and at the very core, a girl who is slowly learning that the only way to find the control she craves is to stop looking for it. And in one image, I think this cover conveys all those things.

I hope you all love it as much as I do! ❤

Laurie

SYNOPSIS:

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her own reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

AUTHOR BIO:

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn got hooked on writing in the fourth grade, when she repeatedly bugged her teacher for more paper to write her stories on. She later went to school for Journalism, where the most important thing she learned was that she would much rather write fiction than report the news.

Laurie also worked as a model, a job that took her overseas to Tokyo, Athens, and Paris and spurred her obsession with all things fashion. She now lives in London, Ontario, Canada with her husband Steve, who is very understanding when she would rather spend time with the people in her head. Laurie can mostly be found at her writing desk, with the world’s most spoiled Chihuahua on her lap. Laurie drinks way too much coffee, snorts when she laughs, and times herself when she does crossword puzzles. FIRSTS is her debut novel.

You can visit Laurie’s website at www.laurieelizabethflynn.com or find her on Twitter at @laurellizabeth.

PUBLICATION INFO:

Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press

Release date: January 5, 2016

Five things I miss about Havendale


Hi all. It’s me, David from IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING. Charlotte and I took the day off yesterday. Things got kind of bad, and we had to run, but we’re safe for now (thank you, oh scribbler of our tale).

I have no idea what to talk about except what’s on my mind and right now, that would be my home, Havendale.

I miss my home so much.  I remember when I read Lord of the Rings how I used to wish I could go on grand Hobbit adventures. I used to think that would be so cool, but now that I’m on one, all I can think about is going back to my shire. My little hole in the forest of Tennessee. You know what I miss the most?

Sleep.  I miss being able to sleep all night and not have to worry about whether a dragon is going to eat me or if a sorcerer is going to kill me.

I miss showers, baths, bodies of water that I can bathe in. We’re always on the go and running and hiding. Deodorant and toothpaste are non-existent here, and the soap will burn a hole in your skin. And it’s not just me that stinks. When we’re in the wild like we are most of the time, Charlotte, Trog, me … God, we smell like wet dogs wrapped in sweaty gym socks.  And razors? Ha! It’s a good thing the hair on my face grows relatively slow, but I am growing a bit of a beard, which I hate. I’m sixteen. That’s just not right. And Charlotte? Let’s not go there with what the lack of a razor can do to a girl my age.  It’s not pretty.

I miss real food, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, orange juice, chocolate chip ice cream. Coffee. Oh my God, how I miss my coffee. Trog says it sounds like something one might find in The Spice Isles. I don’t even have a clue where that is. Too far from Fallhollow, that’s for sure.

I miss my house. I live in this old 1800 civil war antebellum home with the big columns you see in old movies, except I don’t live on a plantation. The rooms are huge, but they’re not stuffy like you’d think they’d be. They’re really kind of modern. My favorite room in the house is the library. Two stories of nothing but books and artifacts. I could spend hours in that room and never get tired of it.

Last, I miss my car. You remember Eleanor from Gone in 60 Seconds? Yeah, well that’s mine, except in black and man, does she purr. She’s a ’67 Shelby GT 500. It’s got a 428 under the hood, and can go 0 – to 100 in 13 seconds. That baby is fast (not like I’ve ever taken it 100 mph, just saying). The car used to belong to my dad. Now it’s mine, and she’s in mint condition.  I don’t know how she’s stayed that way for so long, but I’m not going to complain. I think when I get home, I’ll take her for a spin, let her know I haven’t forgotten her … that is if I can find what Lily did with her.

Now that I’ve told you what I miss about my home, what do you miss about your home when you go away for a while?

Dragons! Oh how I hate and love them


Hi everyone. So sorry I’m late getting to this post. I’ve been dealing with two dragons, and I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with both of them! By the way, this is Charlotte from the novel IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING.

Yeah, this book is named perfectly. We are constantly living in the shadow of this jerk face dragon named Einar. Peeps, you thought Smaug was big? Heh, he looks like a toy next to this disgusting blackish-purple fire-breathing wreck.

Picture if you will an animal so large it would easily span a football field. A hundred yards. Easily, and he’s probably about 2/3s as tall. He’s got horns and frills and these black scales that have this purple sheen. If he wasn’t so freaking nasty, he  might be kind of cool to look at, but to tell you the truth, I wish someone would kill him. He’s evil. Bad evil. And he’s protected by some ancient magic and there are only two things that can kill him.  Of course, I have to be in the presence of both of them, which makes me dragon fodder. Grrrrr.

On the other hand, I know this really nice dragon. His name is Mirith and he’s the strangest creature I’ve ever seen. I mean, I don’t know if I would have classified him as a dragon when I first saw him, but he definitely is. He’s got these really pretty turquoise scales and a very interesting mane of feathers. He’s just so bizarre, but he’s safe to be around and really treats David and me quite well. You should see him. He’s curled up by the fireplace like a dog. He even wags his tail when you talk to him.  What a dope.  David wants to bring him back to Havendale with him. I don’t think that would be a good idea, do you? I mean, could you see someone walking a dragon on the streets of Anytown, insert country?

I don’t know. Mirith’s cool and all that, but there’s no way I’d want to own a dragon.  What about you? Would you want to own a dragon?  If so, where would you keep it, ’cause, you know they’re usually the size of, oh, I don’t know – Texas?

Anyway, I’m going to nap, now. Running around and staying in Einar’s shadow is exhausting. Chat later.

What is trust?


What’s up, guys? David here again. I was wondering if I could ask you something.

What is trust? I mean, I’m not looking for a definition like you get out of a dictionary, but more like an understanding of how it works.

Up until I was thrust onto the path I’m on, I was very trusting of everyone. I believed my friends and my family and never thought they would ever lie to me. But I was wrong. Now, I can’t trust anyone. Everyone except Char has betrayed me. Once that happens, how can I trust anyone else ever again? How can I trust myself to know the difference when someone is lying to me or being truthful? I feel so used and, and, manipulated.

Have you ever felt that way? How do you get through it?

The best book boyfriend ever, according to Charlotte Stine.


Hi, hi. What’s up? My name is Charlotte Stine from the novel, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, and I’m guest hosting J. (Jenny) Keller Ford’s blog for the next month or so along with my bestie, David (you met him yesterday.) There is so much I could talk about, but David said I should do what he did, and start off by telling you a little bit about myself first, so here goes.

I was born in Havendale General Hospital on April 1 sixteen years ago. I am an April Fools Day baby, and the joke is no longer funny (yeah, Cory, you heard me).  My dad is a retired Air Force Colonel which means I won’t date for the next 30 years. My mom bakes the best chocolate chip cookies in the entire world, and my brother, Dan, was a 1st Lieutenant in the Air Force before he went to Afghanistan. I won’t say anything more on the subject except this: I hate war and what it does to people. The whole idea of it sucks, and I think we, as the most intelligent species (that’s a highly debatable title in my opinion) on the planet needs to find a better way to get along. I mean, seriously. All this hate will put the world in a flame. Sheesh.

Anywho, I have a beagoodle (a poodle-beagle mutt) named Dixie, and this insane orange cat named Oscar. As for me, I’m just shy of 5’7″ and I have long brown hair that David says reminds him of melted milk chocolate, which is cool, as long as he doesn’t try to eat it. 🙂 I am a rhythmic gymnast and have won a few competitions, but I don’t do it for the trophies. I just love the sport. Hmm, what else. Oh, I’m a HUGE Taylor Swift and Adele fan, and Daemon is the best book boyfriend ever! Nom nom.

What do I want to be when I grow up? I don’t know. I used to think I wanted to be an attorney, but after everything David and I have been through, I’d be happy just being mommy and daddy’s little girl for a while longer. I can’t describe how much I miss them. I mean, as much as I hate my dad’s bark, I’d give anything to hear it right now. This place where David and I are right now is so messed up on so many levels. The food is awful, and the clothes are gross. I never thought I’d ever miss a pair of jeans and sneakers the way I do, so a word to all you complainers out there. Be thankful for what you’ve got, because the alternative is not always what you think it will be.

Now that I’ve told you a little about me, why not tell me a little about you? Do you have any questions, anything you want to know? Go ahead and ask because David and I don’t have a clue what you’re thinking, and it would be kind of dumb to guess.

So, until we meet again … Bye. *blows kisses*

Fun facts you wanted to know about David Heiland, savior of the universe (not!)


Hi everybody.  My name is David Heiland from the novel, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, and I’m here because Jenny, the person who wrote me into existence, asked me to be, though I haven’t quite figured out why. It’s not like I’m a rock star, but whatever. I have no clue what to talk about because I’m kind of a brooder, at least that’s what Charlotte calls me. Char’s my best friend, by the way, and she’s sitting here next to me, coaxing me to write stuff about myself. Bor-ing. She said to start with the stats cause everyone wants to know about those, so here are some tidbits about me that no one should be required to know.

I was born in Havendale, Tennessee, which might as well be Bristol for all it matters, cause I can literally walk twenty-five feet in my yard, and I’ll cross over the town line. Weird, you know, that the map line runs through my yard, but then again, I have a pretty big yard, as in acres upon acres of Cherokee National Forest big. But you know what would be even weirder? Living on the time zone line. Can you imagine? Clocks on one side of your house would read one time, and the clocks on the other side would read another. You’d walk through your own house and be like where am I? What a mind blow. You know what else would be crazy? Actually being able to travel through time. I mean, what if you didn’t just change time zones. What if you could actually step through time and change the things that effed up your life? Man, that kind of power would screw with your head.

But I kind of went off on a tangent there. Sorry. Charlotte’s nudging me to get back to the stats. Can you hear my eyes rolling?

So, stat facts. I’m sixteen. I’ve lived in Havendale all of my life, but I have a gazillion stamps in my passport. My godmother, Lily, insisted I see the world from the time I could walk, so twice a year, we go somewhere new. Next Christmas we’re supposed to go to Italy. I’m stoked, and if Charlotte behaves, we might take her with us, too. Yeah, you should hear her squeeling right now. Too funny. Anyway, I’m average in looks, nothing really to talk about. My hair is dark, like mud, and I have blue eyes. Char says they’re like someone captured the summer sky and then threw a prism into the mix. I think she’s nuts, but she’s a girl, so what do I know. Anyway, I’m pushing the 6’1″ mark. I’m on the Havendale High track team, and I’m a two-time state champion archer. Yep, I can shoot a tennis ball out of the sky, whoo hoo, not like that will ever land me a job or anything, but it’s kind of cool to say I can do it.

What do I do in my spare time? I like to play video games. Right now, I’m really into Borderlands, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag,  and Tera, but I still like playing stuff like Burnout and The Legend of Zelda.  Sometimes I fool around on my Taylor guitar, which I love. I also like to read, swim, water ski, that kind of stuff, but I haven’t had a chance to do any of those things lately because the alterer of my life decided to thrust me out of my comfort zone and into something I was totally unprepared for. I wish I could find a do over button, but I don’t think one exists, at least not in my present world.

One of Jenny’s friends, Deby, wanted to know what I see as my role in this crazy story that is now my life, and if that role interfered with my plans for my future. My role in THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, Miss Deby, is beyond insane. It’s twisted and I would never wish it on anyone. I hate being in the spotlight, yet here I am, right in the middle of it. Did it interfere with my plans for the future? Excuse my language, but hell yeah. I mean, I didn’t have anything set in stone, but whenever I envisioned my future, there were no dragons involved. Ever. Now I have two of them, and some other mind-blowing stuff I can’t even begin to explain. What has happened to me and Charlotte has made me question everything I believed in, everything and everyone I trusted. I’ve had to do some things I never, in a million years, ever thought I would do. I’ve been forced to look at who and what I am, and I still can’t wrap my head around what I’ve become. I mean, it’s hard enough being sixteen, but to have all this other shit, sorry, crap, thrown at me in such a short amount of time? There was no time to prepare. No training. It was just do or die. And to make things worse, the story isn’t even over yet. Ugh.

On the good side, I’ve experienced some crazy and bizarre things I never dreamed existed. For example, I came face to face with a real, live centaur. I’m not kidding. It was crazy. And then I met this bad-ass knight who’s scary as shit and as big as a freaking tank, but is really cool, if you can get past being scared of him. This road trip we’ve been on has taught me a lot, but one thing I’ve learned the most is to never say never. It’s amazing what you can find if you just open your mind and your eyes.

And, on that note, I’m going to call it quits. Charlotte will be here tomorrow to dazzle you with her charm. We’ve decided to switch off every other day, that way, if you want to ask us questions, we’ll have time to answer. I hope I didn’t bore you too much with my ramblings.

Later.

It’s a Teen Invasion


It’s that time of year for me to take a hiatus from my blog to write, edit, and write some more. In the past, I just went silent but this summer, at least for a month, I am turning my blog over to two teens, David and Charlotte, from my soon to be released novel, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING.

I have to tell you up front I have no idea what will spring forth from their fingers. I can tell you that David is quite nervous about it. He’s not one to voice his opinion. Charlotte, on the other hand, is quite vocal, but she promised me she would be nice, right Charlotte?

girl with thumbs up

They also said they would answer questions, too, and take ideas as they have no idea what to talk about.

Go figure … teens with nothing to talk about. Hmm. Is that even possible?  We shall see.

With that said, I will be here through the end of the week and beginning Monday, David Heiland will be on board to start off your week with whatever 16-year-old boys talk about. I hope you tune in now and then. It will be interesting.

“Encouraging Thunder” award


Well, I have to say, it’s been a long time since I got an award for my blog. In fact, I really thought the days of handing them out was long gone as I haven’t seen anyone getting awards in probably the last year or so.  So, imagine my surprise when I awoke this morning to find the lovely writer, Marjma, nominated me for the Encouraging Thunder award.

encouraging thunder award

The award is used by others to encourage life, to make your own thunder and to make sure your thunder is loud enough for others to hear. It is to encourage you to get up when you fall and keep going. It’s meant to be powerful and strong. It is a symbol of your own booming voice, your own crack of lightning. your own beautiful presence in the universe.

I am not one to pick and choose who should get this award or any award, but I will share it with any of you who want to take it and display it proudly on your own blog as a symbol to all that you are proud, you are loud, and you are strong in the face of all life’s pleasures and adversities.  May your thunder roll on. 🙂

RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard – a review


Some books grip readers from the beginning, packing them on a wild roller coaster ride from the first sentence. Others have a slow unfolding, giving the readers time to savor the characters, submerse themselves in the world-building before the proverbial *^$* hits the fan. For me, RED QUEEN was the latter, and it was a beautiful way to unfold this story.

The story opens with us learning a bit about our main hero, Mare Barrow. Mare is a Red and she lives in the impoverished Stilts with her mother, disabled father and her younger sister, who sews for the wealthy Silvers. We also learn a bit about her brothers and Kilorn Warren, perhaps Mare’s only real friend.  As the chapter progresses we begin to unravel the theme behind this book:  Silvers vs Reds, and the struggle that wars on between them. We learn from a distance what Silvers are and what Reds are expected to do at the Silver’s command, and neither side is pretty.

I think that is one thing I liked about this book – Aveyard doesn’t ‘glorify’ wealth and success, or being poor and gracious. She shows the ugly side of both and, unlike other dystopians, I didn’t want to be either Silver or Red if I had a choice.  I wanted to be like Mare, a girl trying to find her way between both ‘worlds’ and survive.

I couldn’t help draw upon some similarities between the Hunger Games and The Selection series, but I didn’t find those things put-offish. I mean, let’s face it – it’s dystopian. These sorts of books are all going to have similar themes and similar character types.  What I loved about RED QUEEN was the twist at the end.  I’m usually good about foreseeing plot twists, but this one made me scream out loud  “Noooooo!!!” I was impressed. Truly. It made me want to climb inside the book and slap some people silly.  Some of the scenes had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Aveyard is a true storyteller, and I understand why everyone is going ga ga over this book.

I’m giving the book 4 stars because, while I loved it, it didn’t blow my mind. It’s not one of those books that left me numb or left me thinking about what I’d just read for days on end, like the Hunger Games.  That series knocked the wind out of me.  I am, however, eagerly waiting for the second book in this series. In fact, I wish I had it in my hands right now. I am desperate to know what happens to Mare and what she chooses to do with what she’s learned and become in RED QUEEN.  I can’t wait to see a certain someone get everything (s)he deserves. That will be positively sweet.

If you’re into YA dystopians, you should really check this one out. It’s well worth the price of the hardback.

EXTRA TIDBITS ABOUT THE BOOK AND THE AUTHOR

What’s RED QUEEN about?

From Goodreads:

The poverty-stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victoria is a member of the #FreshmanFifteen. Everyone should check out that awesome group of writers debuting in 2015. I’m sure you’ll see some books on there you recognize.

She is repped by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. and she holds a BFA in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.  Her debut novel, RED QUEEN, came out this year, and the second novel in the series is slated for 2016. You can find out more on her website at http://victoriaaveyard.com/