Interview at We Fancy Books

For those of you who might have missed it, below is an interview I gave at We Fancy Books last January. This was one of my fav’s! Thanks again to Marz for the great interview!

 

1. Who inspired you to write Crossroads?

Lol. The long answer or the short answer? The truth is that I’ve always loved writing and have dreamed of being a published author since I began tearing through the works of Christopher Pike in middle school. It’s a dream that’s always stayed with me although it sometimes felt unattainable due to the competitive nature of the industry. When my father was diagnosed with cancer last winter, it really put things in perspective. I decided it was time to take a chance and finish a manuscript that I’d been working on for some time. I didn’t want to look back and have any regrets or doubts and I figured that if my father could attack his prognosis with complete gusto, that I could do the same with my writing. He’s been one of my biggest supporters throughout the process and it’s his encouragement that has given me the confidence to chase my dream. 

 

2. What was the book that most influenced your life — and why?

If I have to choose a single book, I’m going to have to say Twilight. I’ve read a lot of wonderful books – books that are more intellectually stimulating and even those that have better writing – but it was finding Twilight on my little sisters’ bookshelf that brought me back to the YA genre (which I’d so happily left behind when I got to college, instead electing to read what I thought were more age appropriate books) and reignited my love for all things paranormal. Twilight reminded me how much I loved YA literature and how heavily it influenced me growing up. It was also a welcome reminder that YA books weren’t just for teens!

 3. Is there a particular character that you see yourself into?

This is a tough one for me. I can’t say that Katia is modeled after me, but it’s fair to say that I strive to be as strong and independent as I’ve written her. I have always favored strong heroines personally and if any character I create might be a role model for an adolescent, I’d certainly want the character to be worthy, although admittedly flawed. After all, we all have flaws don’t we? It’s part of what makes us human and ultimately the characters we love so endearing.

 4. Would you like to be a Vampire if given a chance?

I don’t think so. Sure it would be great to have the longevity, strength and speed of a vampire, but I’m a pretty picky eater so I’m not sure I could stomach the liquid diet. It’s entirely possible I’d starve which doesn’t exactly sound like an awesome way to go.

 5. How do you handle criticism?

I wear my heart (and my emotions) on my sleeve, but criticism is part of the learning process and I like to think I can handle feedback even when it’s less than glowing. It probably sounds a little trite, but I have to look at it as an opportunity.  I have a couple of great critics who are close to me, but nothing beats the feedback of an unbiased reader who’s not worried about hurting my feelings and who’s opinion will ultimately make me a stronger writer.

 6. Do you have a specific writing style?

Truth be told, I suspect my writing style could probably use a bit more discipline. Today, it goes something like this: Daydream, fantasize, let my imagination run rampant. Outline, outline, outline. Create character profiles. Make notes (any place is good – a napkin, my phone, the back of a receipt, whatever is handy). Research. Outline some more. Make more notes. Write, revise, edit, Write, revise, edit. Edit. Edit. Edit.

In case you can’t tell, I put a great deal of emphasis on editing and revisions. In addition to partnering with a professional editor, I have three amazing critics who were happy to comb through each draft of the manuscript and provide feedback on the characters, the plot, and well, pretty much anything they loved, hated or couldn’t wait to read more about!

 7. How did you come up with the title?

The title Crossroads actually came quite easily as it’s the name of Katia’s school and the geographic area where it’s located. The story is set at Crossroads Academy in the Green Mountains, which is actually known as the Crossroads of Vermont to locals. It was a natural fit given the location and the deeper symbolism within the story line. Recently another book was released with the same title and I actually flirted briefly with the idea of changing it, but in the end I was too attached and decided to stand firm with my original choice.

 8. Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I am actually working on the second book of theCrossroads Academy series and while I think fans of Crossroads will be pleased with the latest installation in the trilogy, I’m not ready to give any spoilers yet! I hope to have the book published summer 2012 though so the good news is that you won’t have to wait long to get your hands on a copy!

 9. When and why did you begin writing?

Believe it or not, I actually wrote my first book in 7th grade. It was a children’s book inspired by Earth Day and a very ambitious teacher who wanted each of her students to craft an environmentally driven tale. Mine was about sea turtles, which I’ve always loved, and while my teacher raved about it and researched publication, the book is safely tucked away in storage now. It was her encouragement that actually got me thinking about writing as a career. I was already an avid reader (some might say bookworm), but I hadn’t considered yet that I might actually someday write my own young adult novels. So, although the sea turtles didn’t catch the eye of the publishing world, they definitely sparked my love of writing. As I got older the stories I wrote fell more in line with the works of R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike and L.J. Smith as they were my authors of choice throughout high school.

 10. Is there a special research you did to write the novel? Mind telling us about it?

Although I’ve always been a fan of horror movies and paranormal literature, I still felt it was important to do my homework before writing Crossroads. I researched vampire lore extensively, which quite frankly is overwhelming, but I also had to do considerable research on the setting since I’ve never actually been toVermont. I knew the school had to be hidden away somewhere rural and while Vermont seemed ideal, I really didn’t know much about the geography or anything else aside from the fact that it boasts excellent skiing. So I started with maps in order to identify the right location and moved onto researching individual towns likeRutlandto get a better understanding of local culture. As it turns out,Rutlandhas quite a bit to offer, which I hope I’ve captured in the story. Every place and event in Crossroads was actually inspired by the town itself which has quite a rich history. Crossroads (Crossroads Academy, #1)

* Originally posted at We Fancy Books

Getting to Know You: Nikolai Petrov

Hey there, beautiful. Haven’t seen you around here before. New at Crossroads?

I figured as much. There’s no way I’d forget a face like yours.  What? Tall, dark, and handsome doesn’t get it done, huh? Guess I’ll have to try a little harder to impress you with my boyish charm and stunning good looks. Alright, how about this? I’m a Sagittarius, I like long walks on the beach, and I enjoy romantic candlelight feedings.

Wait! Don’t go. I’m just teasing. I can see that approach isn’t going to work though. You’re not like the other girls here. Most of them are rather superficial… and mind-numbingly boring.  What? Is there a nice way of saying they’re vapid, shallow, social mongers? No? Well, the truth hurts, doesn’t it? Besides, you can’t blame the kids. Byproducts of their elitist parents if they’re anything like mine. We may have some of the oldest and purest bloodlines in the world at Crossroads, but it doesn’t come without a price.

You on the other hand, well, I’d be willing to bet you’re different. Don’t look so skeptical. I have a feeling about you and my instincts are quite good. I don’t want to brag, but I’m hardly ever wrong.

Nikolai Petrov, by the way. And you are? Come on. Don’t be shy. I won’t bite. Not today, anyway.  We’re just getting to know one another after all.

The real me? I’m only at Crossroads because it’s the furthest I can get from my parents and their conniving political aspirations. If I never saw them again, it might be too soon. I have a sister I love more than life itself and I’d do anything for her. My real passion is martial arts and I can’t wait to see the look on my parents faces when they find out I want to serve the Elder’s Council, not become a member. No way in hell am I going to spend my life being a political pawn. My future lies with the Linkuri brotherhood. I was born to hunt, to punish, to deal in justice. And if I get paid to kick a little ass in the process? I’ll consider it a bonus. After all, I’ve got a wicked spinning back kick.

Relax. I may like to throw down, but I prefer to limit my training to the gym. I’m actually a teaching assistant in a couple of the MMA and self-defense classes. Surprised? I’m actually a pretty decent guy.

Look, I get it. You probably think my friends are a bunch of tools and I don’t blame you. But if you knew them like I do, you might actually like them. They’re not so bad. And they’re loyal which is a trait I value above all else.

Come on. That’s got to be enough to get us on a first name basis? Might as well tell me. It’s a small school and I’ll figure it out eventually. Besides, I’m not one to give up easily.

Crossroads (Crossroads Academy, #1)

* Originally posted at Book Crook Liza

Friday the 13th: The Unluckiest Day of All?

In keeping with the ‘Best of’ theme from the Crossroads blog tour last January, I’d like to share a post that was one of my favorites! Fortunately, Friday the 13th won’t roll around again until September 2013!

Friggatriskaidekaphobia or Paraskevidekatriaphobics.  No matter what you call it (assuming you can pronounce either of these words because I sure can’t!), the irrational fear of Friday the 13th is no myth. Millions of people will change their behavior today due to superstition. There will be fewer air travelers, fewer road trips, and probably a few folks who called in sick to avoid tempting fate.

The good news? This infamous and fearsome day occurs three times this year which is the highest number possible. Oh, wait. That’s not good news? Only if you’re superstitious, which I’m not– usually. I’ve always been told it’s a day of bad luck, but those superstitious warnings are rarely followed by an explanation so I decided to do some research. And guess what? Just like any urban legend there are numerous possible origins for the irrational fear of the 13th (most of them inconclusive since the fear of the 13th arose during the 19th century).

Still, some persist that there were earlier indications that the number 13 was unlucky. In Christianity, it’s believed there were 13 guests at the last supper which led to betrayal. Norse mythology has a similar tale where a 13th (and evil) Loki god crashed a dinner party leading to the death of a favored and benevolent god. Dig a little deeper and I’m sure we could find countless examples of misfortune and 13 throughout history.

Face it, we’re superstitious creatures by nature and quite a few of us believe the number 13 is inherently unlucky (or maybe even rooted in evil). As a result, the devil’s dozen is frequently omitted in everyday ventures.

  • Ever stayed on the 13th floor of a hotel? No?  That’s because many buildings skip the 13th floor.
  • It’s bad luck to have a dinner party with 13 guests. Unless one of them has a death wish.
  • 13th Street/Road/Avenue are typically skipped by city planners.
  • 13 letters in your name? Better prepare for the devil’s luck… like Charles Manson.

As for me, I think I’ll being spending my Friday night curled up on the couch with a big bucket of popcorn and a scary movie or two. Now that seems fitting! The question is… what to watch?

Here are a couple of my all-time favorites. Post yours below! Even if I can’t get it tonight, I’m always looking for new and different horror flicks. I’ve seen quite a few, but with such a popular genre, I’m surely missing some amazing cinematography… or least a few good screams!

* Originally posted at My Life With Books

Getting To Know You: Katia Lescinka

Oh, cut the B.S. Pretending like you don’t know who I am?  Right. Like everyone here doesn’t know my name. And my story. I’ve heard three different versions today alone. So what’s it to you? Looking for something you can gossip about with your hideous friends? Well, how about this. It’s none of your damn business!

Seriously. Get lost!

Hell’s bells. You’re not going anywhere, are you? Annoying and persistent? Lucky me. Fine. Let’s just get this over with. What do you want to know anyway?

I’m a first year here at Crossroads. Yeah, I know. Late start, but I’ll catch up. Aside from studying, it’s not like there’s much else around here I’d wanna bother with. I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for my Great Uncle Aldo. This was all his idea. Apparently being the head of the Elder’s Council has its privileges. He was able to pull some strings and get me admitted despite my lack of… preparation. Thanks to him, I’m stuck here playing nice with the young and entitled– like you. Given the choice I’d never have signed up for this pretentious prep school crap.

But you already knew that didn’t you? What you really want to know is where I came from and why no one even knew Aldo Lescinka had an heir until last year? Here’s the thing: I hate liars. Don’t pretend you haven’t heard the rumors. Like you don’t know that my mother died of the blood disease. Like you don’t know that I’m an orphan. That you hadn’t heard my grandmother was Aldo’s twin and that she was estranged from the family for hundreds of years. It’s all so scandalous, right? That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? You want to get the dirt on me. Something no one else knows? Where did they tell you I grew up? In some archaic little village? In the mountains of Estonia? Latvia? Belarus? Whatever. It doesn’t matter.

Here’s what you really need to know about me: I’m not here to make friends. I could care less about your parties, your expensive clothes, and your stupid cliques. I don’t need you or anyone else. I’m here to fulfill a promise to my great uncle, and if I’m lucky, sharpen my martial arts skills so that one day I can join the Linkuri.

That’s right. I can see you’re starting to get it now. I like to hunt, to fight. And I’m good at it. I’m not afraid of a little pain, a few broken bones, or the bloodlust. And as far as I can tell, the rules? Well, they only apply if you get caught. I will do whatever it takes to get what I want– So stay the hell out of my way.

Crossroads (Crossroads Academy, #1)

 Red Dawn by J.J. Bonds width=* Originally posted at http://www.bookswithbite.net

Crossroads Excerpt #2

Each day brings us just a little closer to the Red Dawn blog tour and today I’m excited to share with you an excerpt from Crossroads, my debut novel and the first in the Crossroads Academy series.

I spot Jade first, fangs bared, looming over a human girl who can’t be more than twelve or thirteen years old. Lexie and Blaine are with her. They’re taunting the girl, hissing and laughing, feeding on her terror. She’s crouched alongside the corn, her face stained with tears.

“Leave me alone! Please!” She cries futilely. They laugh in response and creep closer, which only makes the girl wail louder. I can’t say I blame her. The fire casts an eerie glow making the appearance of her leather clad tormentors even more demonic as shadows slant across their faces.

I charge forward without thinking, slipping between Lexie and Blaine and placing my body between the cowering girl and the three monsters assailing her.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I shout furiously as I catch the lingering scent of the girls’ fear. A new surge of anger bubbles up from the pit of my stomach and I feel my fists clench, instinctively preparing for battle.

“This is none of your concern,” Blaine growls, assuming a defensive position. “Get lost.”

“We’re just having a little fun,” Lexie drawls, her accent sounding more sinister and disgusting in the firelight.

“Well now you’re done,” I tell them firmly, meeting Jade’s heated stare. Lexie and Blaine are puppets. It’s Jade who pulls the strings.

“But we’re just getting started,” she tells me. “It’s Halloween. And we want to play.” The way she draws out this last word makes my stomach twist in disgust.

“This isn’t a game,” I respond, curling my lips back to reveal my own teeth. I may just have a taste of Jade’s blood yet. I lick my lips in anticipation as anger courses through my veins. “Let her go.”

“Why don’t you make me?” Jade replies, as she steps forward menacingly.

She doesn’t have to ask twice. I pounce immediately, knocking her to the ground, the weight of my body pinning her to the dry earth. Her reflexes are sluggish compared to my own. Either she’s not as dedicated to her physical training as I am or she didn’t think I’d dare lay a finger on her. Apparently she has me confused with someone who’s worried about rules.

Crossroads (Crossroads Academy, #1)

Red Dawn by J.J. Bonds width=

* Originally posted at http://rantsnscribbles.blogspot.com

10 Common Misconceptions About Vampires

1. We sparkle in daylight.

We are in fact allergic to daylight.

 2. You can become one of us by drinking our blood.

 Ridiculous! As if we’d willingly let you feed on us like livestock.

 3. Vampires are made, not born.

Real vampires –purebloods– have bloodlines dating back to the dawn of time and are perfectly capable of procreation although we do not propagate as easily as humans and rabbits.

4. One bite is sufficient to transfigure a human, making them a mixed blood vampire.

 Incorrect, again. If everyone we fed on was turned, your species would no longer exist. Obviously.

 5. We are actually demons from hell who cower at the sign of the cross and burst into flames when on holy land.

 Fun fact: We made that up to help you sleep better at night. It worked.

 6. You have to invite us in.

Yeah, we made that up too. Humans are so gullible!

 7. We do not age and live forever.

 Kind of slow, aren’t you? See #3. Not only can we procreate, we can age– very slowly.

8. Vampires cannot eat human food.

Correction– We do not need it to survive. However, we are a highly evolved species with a fully developed digestive track. Wine and chocolate. Need I say more?

 9. We sleep in coffins.

This is a pathetic measure of the desperate few. Most of us have enough self-respect and wealth to avoid sleeping in a wooden box.

 10. Vampires do not cast a reflection and cannot change their appearance.

Thankfully, not true. Imagine spending the next 700 years with the same hairstyle? Now that is a scary thought!

Crossroads (Crossroads Academy, #1)

Red Dawn by J.J. Bonds width=

* Originally posted at http://underthecoversbookblog.blogspot.com

Crossroads Academy: An Insider’s View

So you stumbled across Crossroads Academy on the web and now you’re dying to find out more? You think it just might be the school for you? An escape from annoying parents, backstabbing friends, and boring public school teachers you’d just as soon forget? A school graced with mystery, intrigue, and prestige? Well, think again. You wouldn’t last a day. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even get in.

Here’s the thing, if you don’t already know about Crossroads, they won’t be interested in you. No offense. Admission is pretty much by invitation only and even then, it is only offered to the most elite. It’s not your grades, your social class, or your looks that are holding you back– It’s your bloodline. Seriously, if you’re lucky, they might let you scrub the floors. Yeah, Crossroads is that kind of place.

But don’t feel bad. You aren’t missing much. To be honest, this place kind of blows. Sure the school looks amazing with its lush grounds and old stone façade, but inside? Inside it’s a breeding ground for social leeches, entitlement, and all the same cliquish drama you were probably hoping to leave behind. Bitchy girls abound and with a student body of only a few hundred, well, let’s just say it can be difficult to stay out of trouble.

Plus, there are loads of rules. No hunting (at all!), strict curfews (10pm – childish, right?), and limited off campus privileges (assuming you’re lucky enough to even have them). Oh, and I forgot to mention Headmaster Prick. I mean, Pratt. Get into trouble and you’ll be lucky to escape his office with work detail, which is far better than listening to one of his spastic, self-indulgent speeches.

To be fair though, it’s not all bad. There’s a kickass gym here with a weapons cache the likes of which I’ve been dreaming of for months. And some of the teachers and counselors are pretty cool. Oh, and there a lot of hot guys and lavish parties, if you’re lame enough to be into that sort of thing.

Anyway, you might as well forget about Crossroads Academy unless one of these little darlings shows up in your mailbox. And even then, I’d consider it carefully if I were you.

Crossroads (Crossroads Academy, #1)

Red Dawn by J.J. Bonds width=

* Originally posted at http://moonlightgleam.com

Crossroads Excerpt #1

Welcome back to the ‘best of’ the Crossroads blog tour! Just a few more weeks until Red Dawn is released so if you haven’t had a chance to check out Crossroads yet, what are you waiting for? Need a little more Crossroads to whet your appetite? How about an exclusive excerpt?

I wake with a throbbing headache. The ground beneath me is cold and hard. Cement. My head is pounding. Can smoke do that? I crack my eyes and stare up at the ceiling. I can only see patches of the mottled paint through the smoke. It swirls around me, polluting my lungs and piercing my eyes. Smoke assaults me from all sides, blurring my vision, the acrid stench clinging to my clothes and hair. I roll to my left and grab the corner of a metal table. Using the leg for support, I drag myself into a sitting position and climb to my feet.

For the first time I notice the flames. They crackle all around me. The clinic is engulfed. But why am I inside? And where is everyone else? What the hell is going on? This isn’t right. I’m not supposed to be here. It’s not supposed to be me!

Panic stirs my gut, threatening to burst forth. The beginning of a scream makes its way through me, coiling up from my stomach and into my throat. If I don’t let it out, it will consume me. I imagine the fear ripping me to pieces from the inside out, leaving nothing but an unrecognizable and bloody mess. Not today. I slam my hand over my mouth, clamping it shut. I swallow my fear. I have to stay calm. I have to get out of here.

The overhead lights surge with power and short out. The bulbs explode, leaving a deluge of sparks to rain down on me. I smell singed hair and pat my sleeve where the fabric has burned through. Time is running out.

I stride across the room and slam my hands against the nearest window. The glass does not give under the force of my blow. I strike it again; this time with my fist. And again. Still, nothing. I am not meant to get out. I’m meant to burn as they did. As they always do in my nightmares.

In an act of desperation I grab a stool and smash it futilely against the unyielding glass. It clatters to the floor and is quickly swallowed by the flames. I fight the urge to cry. I will be strong. I will be brave. I watch the flames, as they creep across the floor, inching closer to me.

 The room is getting unbearably hot. The soles of my shoes grow warm and the rubber begins to melt. I wonder if I too could melt. It beats the alternative of burning. It’s a fitting death I suppose. I’ve long suspected there’s a ring of hell for those like me.

As the flames take hold of my pant leg, searing nerve endings and destroying flesh, my brave façade crumbles. I fling myself against the window and pound on it with every ounce of strength I have left. I hardly recognize the deafening scream that reverberates through the night as my own.

Crossroads (Crossroads Academy, #1)

Red Dawn by J.J. Bonds width=

*Originally posted at http://www.crossroadreviews.com

Heading Back to Crossroads Academy

With the release of Red Dawn right around the corner, it’s high time we pay a little visit to Crossroads Academy. After all, what better way to dive back into the bloody world of vampires, betrayal, and a romance that’s heading for a smokin’ hot rating? Oh, you want more action? We’ve got that!

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting the ‘best of’ the Crossroads blog tour! For those of you that are new to the series and missed the last tour, this is your chance to catch up!

Crossroads (Crossroads Academy #1)

As if high school isn’t miserable enough, try being uprooted and dropped fangs first into an uptight prep school where everyone knows your name and they’ll stop at nothing to uncover the secrets of your past.

When Katia enrolled at Crossroads Academy she knew things weren’t exactly going to be easy. The sole heir to the worlds’ most powerful vampire, her presence was bound to cause a stir. But nothing could have prepared her for this. Whispers follow everywhere she goes. So does trouble.

Bodies start turning up in nearby Rutland and Katia is sucked into a twisted web of danger and deceit. Haunted by nightmares she can’t explain and a thirst for blood that is never sated, Katia will do whatever it takes to keep her past buried.

Nothing at Crossroads is what it seems and Katia’s secrets may be the darkest of them all.

Crossroads (Crossroads Academy, #1)

Red Dawn by J.J. Bonds width=

Red Dawn: Crossroads Academy #2

The weekend is right around the corner and you know what? That calls for some good, no, GREAT news! You guys have been patiently waiting (and frequently offering words of encouragement– like hurry the heck up!) for book two in the Crossroads Academy series. Well, the wait is almost over!

I’m thrilled to say that Red Dawn, book two in the Crossroads Academy series, will be released on August 28th! (Go ahead. Squee your heart out… I did!)

Here’s the deal…

Cover Reveal: July 24th at 12pm CST!

Check out the the amazing blogs below for a first look! The cover is AMAZING! I can’t wait for you guys to see it. Rachel at Parajunkee design has once again created something so awesome I can hardly find the words to describe it. Need more? How about giveaways? Giveaways are good, right?

Firestarbooks

Cocktails and Books

Seeing Night Reviews

Chapter by Chapter

 Butterfly-o-Meter Books

 The Busy Bibliophile

 Letters Inside Out

What the Cat Read

I don’t know about you, but I will be counting down the minutes until the cover reveal so that I can share its awesomeness with you guys! See you on the 24th!!!