Saturday, 29 June 2013

Excerpt: Zombies, Incorporated: A Katie Allred Novel

Excerpts from ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED: A Katie Allred Novel

Excerpt One: (ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED)

                The security guard, a grandfatherly-looking man who smelled like a combination of cherry pipe tobacco and Aqua Velva, smiled and tapped the side of his nose. “If you’ll just have a seat, ma’am.”

Mom obeyed, visibly flinching at the use of the word “ma’am.” She’d had me so young that she often tried to pass herself off as my older sister in public. Obviously she wasn’t fooling anybody today.
                Mom plopped down in the nearest chair and clutched her purse tightly against her chest, muttering something unintelligible under her breath. Then she cleared her throat and looked up. 
“Go on in, Katie. I’ll be waiting for you. And don’t blow it. You won’t be able to pay your rent when you move out after graduation without a job. And you are going to move out no later than July 1, even if I have to toss you out onto the street myself.”
               
Subtlety has never been my mom’s strong suit. Neither has parenting. She’s always treated me more like a financial obligation than a daughter. I guess that’s what happens when you get married and pregnant right out of high school like she did.

                Mom reached into her purse for her lipstick and compact and touched herself up a bit, though I didn’t understand why. She wasn’t the one going in for her first-ever job interview----I was. I stared at her, my feet frozen to the floor. This was really, really happening. I was going into a real job interview in a real office like a real grownup. Not bad for someone who was still in high school. I knew I should feel proud of myself or something, but I didn’t.

                Mom applied a fresh coating of frosted peach lipstick and smacked her lips. “Good luck. Hurry up, don’t keep them waiting. Otherwise they’ll fire you before you even get a chance to get in there.”

                I sighed. Not exactly a good way for a mother to inspire confidence. But I was used to that where Mom was concerned. She’d never get the Mother of the Year award. But I’d never get the Daughter of the Year award, either. Between the two of us, we pretty much cancelled each other out.

I took several deep long breaths, and willed my feet to unfreeze themselves from the threadbare gray carpeting. I pushed through the double doors, more than a little frightened of what I’d find on the other side.

                As I stepped into Mr. Zimble’s office, I ended up not in an office at all, but something else entirely.  At least it didn’t look like any office I’d ever seen before.  It really looked more like a toy store.

Lining the walls were floor-to-ceiling wooden bookshelves. But instead of books, they were lined with brightly colored cereal boxes, mostly childrens’ cereals like Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms. In between the cereal boxes were unopened boxes of toys. Toys of all kinds—Star Wars action figures, Strawberry Shortcake dolls, Bakugan games, GI Joes, and a bunch of stuff that looked like it was from the 70s and 80s that I’d never even heard of.  There were lots of Halloween-themed toys, too—werewolves, Frankensteins, mummies, and zombies.

                Lots of zombies. There were a bunch of Evil Dead toys on one shelf, and about sixteen different versions of one of the zombie villains from Scooby-Doo. I recognized it right away because they still ran that episode of Scooby-Doo on Cartoon Network all the time, even though it was ancient, like from the sixties or something. All untouched and perfect and sealed in the original packaging. 

                In between the regular toys and cereal boxes were tiny little cheap cardboard toy-things, the kind that you usually find in cereal boxes and Cracker Jacks. Stupid stuff like stickers, cardboard footballs like the kind you’d toss around in study hall, and those little thin pieces of plastic that show different pictures when you flick them back and forth. At the end of the room was a huge mahogany desk, also covered with toys and brightly colored boxes—leaving just enough space for a laptop, desk pad and phone. Behind that desk sat a funny-looking little old man that I assumed must be Mr. Zimble.

                And when I say funny-looking, I really mean funny looking.  He reminded me of something you would see in a cartoon.  Or maybe a video game.

                He was short. Very short. So short that his head barely made it above the edge of his desk, and he sat in a huge leather-upholstered chair that was almost twice as tall as he was—looking at him reminded me of seeing one of my toddler cousins sitting in my grandfather’s old La-Z-Boy.  He had a perfectly bald head that shined under the florescent lights like Mr. Clean. He wore huge black hornrimmed glasses that were almost twice as wide as his head, along with big bushy white eyebrows and gray hair growing out of his ears.  By the looks of him he had to be almost ninety years old. Or maybe just sixty. But definitely old. 

                Mr. Zimble saw me come in and smiled wide.  So wide, in fact, I thought his face would break in half.  He had large, white even teeth that looked fake.  He pushed back his huge leather chair from the ginormous desk and stood up.  But it looked like he must have been sitting on a box or something, because when he got down from the chair he disappeared behind the desk for a moment.  I didn’t see him full-length until he came out from behind it.

                Mr. Zimble was a midget.

                Or rather, a little person.  I think I read somewhere that little people find the term “midget” offensive or something.

                He held out his tiny hand, and I reached down to shake it. “Hello there,” he said in a deep voice that didn’t match his small stature at all.  “You must be Katie Allred. Tell me, are you any relation to Gloria Allred?”

                “Who?”

                He laughed—a deep, resonating laugh that reminded me of the Wicked Witch of the West’s singing guards in The Wizard of Oz. I blinked my eyes a couple of times just to make sure they weren’t playing tricks on me, but when I opened them, Mr. Zimble was still just as short as he’d been before.     “Gloria Allred is a famous Hollywood lawyer,” he said. “She’s on TV a lot, I thought you might be related.”

                I had no idea what he was talking about. “We definitely don’t have any lawyers in the family,” I said. No, we were mostly a bunch of working stiffs. I remember Mom talking about a second cousin who worked as a high-level computer programmer someplace, but as far as I knew that was the most important job anybody in my family had. Except maybe for my uncle Lou who worked as a garbage collector on a military base in Kentucky. You know, for like a government pension and everything.

                My family isn’t exactly what you’d call successful. At least not in the traditional sense. If you could afford rent and gas in your car, that was successful enough for us. At least, that’s what my parents always said. Small wonder they’d never bothered to put away a college fund for me. For the past four years, the recurring mantra at our dinner table was, “Katie, forget college. You have to go out and get a job and support yourself the minute you graduate, just like we did.”

                “Well, here I was thinking you could get me Gloria Allred’s autograph.” Mr. Zimble seemed a little disappointed. “I do know for a fact you’re related to Bud Weidle, though. My top line foreman in the box plant. I understand Bud is your uncle?”
“Yes, he is.  Uncle Bud is on my mother’s side.  He’s technically my great-uncle since he’s my mom’s uncle, but we don’t call him that.”

                Mr. Zimble motioned for me to take a seat in one of the hard wooden chairs in front of his desk. I sat down and instantly felt at least a foot shorter.  The huge wooden desk suddenly towered over me, as if it were the Grand Canyon and I were standing at the bottom of it looking up. Mr. Zimble climbed back up into his chair, and now he looked like a giant. It reminded me of a room at the carnival funhouse, the one with the tilted floor and the funny mirrors.  You know the ones—at one end of the room you’re a fat midget, at the other end you’re a tall, thin giant and your head knocks up against the ceiling.  Mr. Zimble was kind of like that, except he was like what would happen if the carnival funhouse room got turned into a person.

                 He gazed down on me from his high perch like an evil king out of a fairy tale. I craned my neck to see if there was a wooden box on his chair to give him more height, but I couldn’t tell from such a steep angle.
Okay, so this was weird. I suppressed an urge to bolt for the door. If I screwed up the interview after my Uncle Bud went to all the trouble to arrange it for me, Mom and Dad would be furious. I knew I’d never hear the end of it for as long as I lived.

                “Your Uncle Bud is one of our best employees,” Mr. Zimble went on. “He’s been with us for almost forty years.  I remember when I first hired him.  He wasn’t much older than you then, we hired him right out of high school. He started at the bottom and worked his way up. He runs the secondary production line now, a big step up from when he swept the factory floor and took out the trash. I like to see my employees work their way up the system on their own merits.”

                “Does that mean I’ll be sweeping the factory floor and taking out the trash?” I blurted out. “I thought this was an office job.” Before the words even made their way out of my mouth, I was already embarrassed.

                He laughed again, somewhat higher-pitched this time.  In fact, his laugh started out 
low and deep, but then seemed to get higher and higher, faster and faster, like when you speed up a recording, until he almost sounded like one of the Chipmunks. But then when he started talking, his voice sounded just like it had before. So maybe I just imagined the whole thing.
“It is an office job, Katie. I won’t have a pretty young lady like you working on the dirty, loud factory floor.  You’re not strong enough to lift the pallets or run the pressing machines either, I can tell just by looking at you.”

                I probably should have been offended by this, but I wasn’t. Feminism and equal rights were fine and all, but you’d never see me lifting pallets or running machines. No way. That was sweaty work made for fat hairy old men. Fat hairy old men like my Uncle Bud who smelled like a mixture of cherry Jell-O and trash. (Seriously, he did. So did his entire house. Don’t even get me started.)

                “Well, that’s good,” I said.  “What exactly will I be doing? Uncle Bud said it was just typical office stuff, typing and filing and answering phones and stuff. Or maybe packing boxes to put on the train?  I saw on the way over here you guys use the trains to like, ship stuff.”

                “Yes, that’s exactly right, Katie,” he replied, picking up a tiny plastic werewolf figurine and toying with it between his gnarled fingers. I saw that the skin on the backs of his hands was paper-thin, almost transparent, showing a roadmap of knobby blue veins pressing up from underneath. “I can see right off the bat that you’re a real go-getter.  To answer your question, you’ll be doing all the typical office work, plus things like making coffee and running errands. You’d be working under the supervision of our chief office manager, who started out ten years ago right out of high school as an entry-level office girl, just like you’ll be.”

                I realized with some trepidation that this really wasn’t an interview at all. Mr. Zimble had already decided to hire me sight-unseen. Which on the surface seemed great, but there had to be a catch. I might be only eighteen, but I wasn’t born yesterday, either.

                But what was the catch? Other than the fact this whole place seemed like something out of the Twilight Zone and Mr. Zimble reminded me a lot of a cartoon villain, it still seemed just like any other place to work. “So, um, does this mean I got the job?”

                 He smiled wide enough to show the tops of his dentures. “Yep. Your Uncle Bud says you can type and you’re a nice girl and a hard worker, so that’s good enough for me. When can you start?”



Excerpt Two: (ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED)
                I guess if I really thought hard about it, Mom was right.  The zombie apocalypse was my fault.  Everything was my fault.  I’d ruined her life, and now she wanted me out of it. All the mean underhanded comments over the years, all the passive-aggressive decisions to spend money on herself instead of me, their decision not to plan for my future, all the not-so-subtle hints to get the hell out of her house and become somebody else’s problem----it all made perfect sense now.

                I could take a hint.  I knew where I wasn’t wanted.  And somehow I figured I’d have a better chance of surviving the coming onslaught of the Undead if I was on my own.  Conventional wisdom says there’s safety in numbers, but I’d watched enough horror movies to know that sometimes it’s best to fly solo.

                I went to the bookcase and dragged over a milk crate to stand on so I could reach the top shelf. I reached behind the main part of the bookcase to the secret compartment I knew was behind it, the same secret compartment where I’d hidden candy and comic books as part of a treasure hunt game I’d used to play alone as a little girl.  My fingertips felt around until they touched the smooth, cold gunmetal.  I wrapped my fingers around the pistol, pulled it out, inspected it.  It was a lot heavier than I’d expected, yet it still seemed small, too small to be something that could explode and kill someone----or something----in less than a second. The lines of Dad’s semiautomatic Glock were sleek, almost animal-like in their curvature. I didn’t know what I was doing, but on sheer instinct my finger pressed a tiny switch on the spine of the weapon and the chamber popped open, revealing a bullet.  I popped the chamber closed, pressed another switch and the clip fell out into my hand.  I inspected that, studied it, worked out in my head how its various components connected with various components inside the gun which, when the trigger was pulled, would result in a projectile issuing forth, then with a flick of my wrist pushed the clip back inside its slot, heard it click.

                I knew next to nothing about guns or weaponry or ballistics, other than that I knew my father stored guns in the basement and I had always been forbidden to touch them. But despite that lifetime of ignorance it seemed as if merely holding the weapon in my hand transferred all the knowledge I needed about how or why to use it directly to my brain.  As if I had a natural (maybe even a supernatural) talent for it, or a gift as my grandmother would have said. I could see all the moving parts in my mind’s eye as if they’d been there all along.

                I reached back into the secret compartment and felt around again until my fingertips touched dusty cardboard.  I grabbed and pulled and came out with a heavy box of magazine clips.  Three magazines, sixteen shells to a clip. I couldn’t do the arithmetic in my head, but I knew it was a lot of bullets.  A lot, but probably not enough.  I reached and grabbed and pulled once again, and retrieved two more boxes of magazines.  Lots and lots of bullets now.  I hoped I’d never have to use them, but just to hold them in my hand felt like a good life insurance policy.

                I stood and turned my newfound possessions over and over in my hands, studying the switches and gears, memorizing where the safety was and mentally practicing how to disengage and re-engage it. I read the instructions and warnings on the sides of the magazine boxes, noted how they said that semiautomatic-loading weapons were illegal in many states, and the manufacturer had no liability for any physical or legal consequences for any injury or death resulting from improper (or proper? Since guns were for shooting, after all) use of its commercial products. I knew I was holding deadly force within the palm of my hands, and knew that should have scared me at least a little bit.

                But it didn’t. It did the opposite.

                Mom watched me do all of this without comment.  I made a point not to meet her eyes for a while, instead keeping my gaze on the gun and the shell magazines. The basement air thickened between us. The ticking sound of the air conditioner as the blower switched on automatically on the other side of the wall seemed way too loud.  We both waited for the other to speak, or at least meet a gaze. But neither of us did, and for far too long a time.

                Finally, Mom broke the silence. “It’s been way more than ten minutes, and your father isn’t back yet. What do you want to do?”

                “I don’t know.”

                “I think you should go up there after him, Katie. Take the gun with you.”
                I forced myself to meet Mom’s eyes.  I saw a lifetime of disappointment behind her tinted glasses and blue-black mascara.

                “You’re in a real hurry to get rid of me, aren’t you Mom?” I asked. My tone was cold, deadpan.  I was through with all the bullshit.  I just wanted my mom to tell the truth about me for once.

                “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

                “Admit it. You’ve been trying to get rid of me for years.  Makes me wonder why you didn’t just get rid of me before I was born and saved yourself the trouble.”

                All the color drained from Mom’s face.  “How dare you speak like that to me!”

                “How dare you say straight to my face that you didn’t want me, that you never wanted me, and that I basically ruined your and Dad’s lives!” I shrieked. “Because that’s basically what you just said.”

                Mom took off her glasses, pressed her palms flat against her eye sockets and choked down a sob.  “Katie, you’re reading way too much into this.  Your father and I----we made a lot of sacrifices for you.  Most people who became parents as young as we did would never have done even a tenth of what we’ve done for you.  You should be grateful.  And I think it’s high time your father and I had some time to ourselves now that we gave up so much to raise you. Except----“

                “Except now you can’t. Because of the stupid zombies.  Which I suppose are all my fault too, just like everything else is.”

                Mom slumped down onto a stack of milk crates. “I never said that.”

                “You didn’t have to.”

                We stared each other down for a minute or two, Mom always keeping a nervous eye on the gun.  For a split second I actually considered shooting her with it, but dismissed the idea as insane.  Plenty of teens my age think they hate their mothers, but they really don’t. It’s just a phase all young women go through.  The more I thought about it though, I didn’t hate my mother.  I honestly didn’t feel anything for her.  I was as indifferent to her now as I was to a lump of coal.  And that was far worse that hate.  After all, in order to hate someone, you have to love them first.  I wasn’t sure I ever loved Mom, and in that moment I doubted my mom ever loved me either.  Sending me off to face the zombies and my almost-certain death just proved my theory.

                “So now you want me to save you from the zombies at the risk of my own life, huh?” I said, fingering the barrel of the gun in my hand. “Sort of kills two birds with one stone, doesn’t it?”

Mom’s face crumpled in horror. “I want you to go find your father!”

                “Find him yourself.”

                I turned on my heel and dashed up the creaky stairs, skipping the rotten ones at the bottom.  I was still missing one shoe.

                I headed up to my room and packed a knapsack with one hand. Clothes, shoes, and random toiletries landed in the bag at random as I kept the gun, cocked and ready to fire, out at an angle and sweeping the air, ready for whoever and whatever might appear.

-----------------------------------------------------------------
EXCERPT THREE:

                I froze. Nobody had ever kissed me before. I didn’t know what to do. I’d often wondered what my first kiss would be like.  (Yeah, I was eighteen and never been kissed. Talk about a late bloomer). And you can sure as hell bet that I never once would have guessed that my first kiss ever (especially with tongue) would come courtesy of Steve Bosch, the most popular guy at school at an exclusive invitation-only party at Lily Carmichael’s house.

                Wow, I had hit the ‘in’ crowd jackpot. This really was too good to be true.  All I could 
think about was what I might have done to bring this incredible chain of events about—and I was totally at a loss.

So we made out on the bean bag for a few minutes. I was scared at first, but Steve was really sweet and patient, and eventually I seemed to get the hang of things.  I relaxed a bit and even let my mouth open a little so Steve could get his tongue all the way inside.  I didn’t really tongue him back, just let him explore my mouth as he liked and enjoyed the sensations.  My whole body felt warm and tingly, and I started breathing hard.  I remembered from our Sex Ed unit in Health Class that this was all normal when it came to this sort of thing, but I’d never really made out with a boy before, so it still felt strange.          

Wonderfully strange.

                But when Steve reached under my blouse to grab my boobs, I put on the brakes.  I 
pulled away from him abruptly and turned to face the wall. “I’d rather you didn’t do that,” I heard myself say.

                Steve bit his lip and looked sheepish.  “Sorry,” he said in a small voice. “I thought you would like it.”

                I shrugged. “Maybe next time.” I tried to sound nonchalant, like I made that kind of remark to hot popular boys trying to feel me up every other day or something, but I just ended up sounding stupid.

But Steve seemed to take it in stride. “That’s cool,” he said. “I like a girl who takes her time with things.” He reached over and patted me softly on the back of the hand. “Do you want another beer? Or maybe some food? If you’re hungry I can go see what they have.”

                This day just got weirder and weirder.  Just when I thought Steve was going to ditch me and find some other more attractive and popular girl to make out with, he started waiting on me hand and foot. And I was sort of hungry. I’d forgotten my lunch money that day at school so I’d only eaten a few leftover tater tots from somebody else’s plate since breakfast. 

“Sure, I’ll eat something,” I said.

                “Cool. What do you like to eat?”

                I shrugged again. “Oh, anything I guess. I’m not picky.”

                Steve smiled again and left the room, giving my shoulder an affectionate squeeze first. I glanced around the room and saw that most of the other necking couples had disappeared, and the loud music that had been blaring from somewhere in the house when we arrived was gone, too. Plus the room seemed a lot darker than before. I glanced out the only window and saw that the sun was almost down.

Gee, time really flies when you’re having fun, I thought to myself with a chuckle. I glanced at my watch and saw that almost two hours had passed while Steve and I were sucking face. Boy, no wonder people were so into making out—it was more entertaining than going to the movies.

                I unwedged myself from the beanbag and tried to figure out what the hell was going on. How long had I been there, exactly? And what had happened to everybody else? God only knew where Stacey had disappeared to, or if she was even still here at all. I thought about going off to look for her, but then how would Steve find me when he came back with the food?  Would Steve come back at all?  Or was he just messing with my head and this whole thing was some sort of sick joke perpetrated by the popular kids onto lowlifes with no social standing like me?

                Just as I was weighing the merits of sticking around to see what happened next versus making a mad dash for home, Steve reappeared, carrying two Styrofoam dinner plates. “There wasn’t much left,” he said. “Looks like we missed most of the good stuff while we were, um, you know.”

He handed me my plate, and reached around to take two more beers that he’d stuffed in his back jeans pockets. It was the same beer as last time—Busch Light— but the food was, well, not like anything I’d ever seen before.




 

Friday, 28 June 2013

Making Friends with The Author: Jill Elaine Hughes

Guest Post #1: Author Q &A w/ Jill Elaine Hughes

Why do you write?
Honestly, because I have to. If I don’t, I’ll go nuts!

Who has helped you the most in your career as an author?
I have to say it was my high school English teacher, Mrs. Stevens. She was the toughest writing teacher I ever had, and I credit her with giving me the tools I needed to be a professional writer---both a journalist and an author. She was so tough on her students that most of them hated her (I did too, at the time), but I learned to appreciate what she instilled in me later on, especially when I got to college and then out on my first professional writing jobs.

When you write, what things do you want close at hand? (Coffee, water, chocolate... pictures of gorgeous hunks for inspiration...?)
Diet Coke, tea, and granola bars.

What other jobs have you held besides writing? 
I’ve actually been a professional writer for my entire career, either as a journalist, corporate-communications writer, or as a novelist.  Though I have also worked odd jobs as a waitress, as a temp worker in offices, and as a custom art framer back when I was in high school.

Which of your books was the hardest to write and why?
I think it was probably my current New Adult paranormal release, ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED. The heroine of that book is 18 years old and it’s told in the first person, plus she is a very different kind of person than I am.  Stepping into her shoes every day to write her story was tough. Plus, this is not your typical zombie book. It’s more psychological. Instead of the zombies being in-your-face, blood-guts-and-gore, it’s all very shadowy and uncertain. You don’t know for sure who are zombies and who aren’t---which just makes it that much more dangerous! I had to spent a lot of time planting clues and subtext, and building a plot that resembles a psychological thriller (think old-school Hitchcock) more than straight horror.

If you could time travel what era would be your first stop?
Edwardian England!


Do you believe in luck?
I think you can make your own luck.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No, but I’m a classically trained singer.

Who are your greatest paranormal fiction influences?
I’m very into old-school, classical paranormal mysteries that was very language- and subtlety-driven. I love Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Bram Stoker, and Daphne DuMaurier. I also love early Stephen King (not crazy about his new stuff, though), Jane Yolen, and Neil Gaiman.


Guest Post #2: Getting To Know Jill Elaine Hughes
1. I love pizza with black olives and sausage.

2. I'm always ready for a new episode of Breaking Bad.

3. When I'm alone, I read.

4. You'd never be able to tell, but I have a tattoo in a secret spot.

5. If I had a halo it would be orange.

6. If I could speak Swahili I'd move to Africa.

7. I can never be a beekeeper because I’m allergic to bee stings. (They can kill me!)

8. I wrote and illustrated my first horror story when I was in fifth grade.

2 Things you do to relax:
Read!
Watch British TV shows like CALL THE MIDWIFE and DOWNTOWN ABBEY on PBS.

Favorite sport to watch:
Figure Skating. Followed closely by track and field.

Place you’ve always wanted to go, but haven’t:
Africa!

Breakfast drink:
Chocolate soymilk.

Favorite season ~ why:
Autumn, for the crisp clean air and bright colors.

What are your hobbies /past times (besides writing):
Exercise (especially running and yoga), reading books, painting/drawing, Zen meditation.


Jill Elaine Hughes’ favorites:
Mode of travel –
Bicycle.

Beverage – 
Sloe gin fizz.

Place you’ve never been and have always wanted to go –
India and Africa.
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Guest Post #3: How ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED Came to Be
by Jill Elaine Hughes 

The book started out as a short story. My now-former literary agent was putting together a Zombie Romance anthology to shop with major publishers. Zombie Romance in itself is weird---when was the last time you wanted to make out with a zombie? I thought hard about the concept and wrote a short piece that eventually became ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED’s final chapter. But the short story didn’t fit with the ones from other authors so it didn’t make the anthology cut, even though the anthology sold to St. Martin’s Press.  I still wanted to do more work in the world I created though. After I parted ways with the former literary agent who asked me to write it, my new agent encouraged me to expand the idea into three chapters and a book proposal, so I did. That book proposal also went nowhere, since the setting for the story involved an 18-year-old girl who was embarking on her first job in the adult world---not the norm for the zombie genre, but it is the norm for the emerging New Adult genre. But I just couldn’t let the idea go, so I wrote what is now the first installment in a planned three-book series.

I completed the manuscript and my literary representation still showed little to no interest in a New Adult zombie series.  But I know readers are demanding New Adult paranormal books even if publishers aren’t putting them out, so I just went the self-publishing route instead of waiting for publishers to catch up with readers.  The worldbuilding and character development for this series is substantial, and Book One ends on a cliffhanger as the heroine’s zombie romantic interest finally makes his first appearance. 

It’s ironic---I couldn’t get editors or my own literary agents to read the book because it was so outside the zombie norm (it’s a New Adult psychological thriller!), but reader response has been fantastic. Readers love the book and are demanding more, more, more!  My agent is now very interested, and has even asked a New York Times bestselling author (I’ll announce who it is later) to do a cover blurb for me. Goes to show that a good book will always find an audience, no matter how different it is!



 

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Virtual Book Blog Tour: Zombie, Incorporated: A Katie Allred Novel by Jill Elaine Hughes

Synopsis:

Twilight. With zombies.

Eighteen-year-old Katie Allred is socially awkward and unpopular at school. The only child of parents who had her right out of high school, Katie is herself about to leave the nest, even though she hardly feels ready. 

Katie’s new after-school job at the Zimble Box Corporation draws her into the complex social strata of high school cliques and backstabbing friends in ways she never imagined. Katie soon discovers there’s something very strange about the “in” crowd at school---and about her employer, too. Shortly after starting her new job, the Contagion breaks out, plunging her town and the entire nation into chaos as zombie shadow forces come out into the open, ravaging the streets. Katie goes into hiding and her parents disappear, along with almost everyone else she knows. 

But Katie soon discovers she has special powers that help her survive. She’s a Beacon, someone with the innate ability to help zombies produce children. It’s a power her employer — and what little remains of the U.S. government — both want to exploit for their own ends. Not only that, it runs in her family---which has a secret past Katie never knew about until now.

Enter Agent Morehouse of the FBI Special Zombie Control Unit. A reformed zombie working undercover, he suppresses his urge to eat human flesh in order to serve and save humanity. But Agent Morehouse can’t help but be attracted to a Beacon like Katie, and she to him. Even as they fight zombies the world over, they must fight their intense attraction to each other, hoping to keep Katie from suffering Agent Morehouse’s terrible zombie fate.


The Author:

JILL ELAINE HUGHES is a journalist and playwright as well as a New Adult fiction novelist.  As a reporter, she has contributed to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, Washington Post, New Art Examiner, Cat Fancy magazine, and numerous other media outlets. Her plays have widely published and produced in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta, and many other U.S. cities, as well as in the UK and Australia. Before self-publishing New Adult fiction, she published many erotic romance novels under the pen names “Jamaica Layne” and “Jay E. Hughes” for publishers like Ellora’s Cave, Virgin Books, Decadent Publishing, and Ravenous Romance.



Buy Links:
Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Incorporated-Special-Agent-ebook/dp/B00C0M1EB0/ref=la_B00CJUEJJM_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1367422468&sr=1-5

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zombie-incorporated-jill-elaine-hughes/1114910863?ean=2940016332406

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/299251

Sony: https://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/jill-elaine-hughes/zombie-incorporated/_/R-400000000000000992421

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Zombie-Incorporated/book-CiKeZO_ig0yPgnuGOUrpJw/page1.html?s=6gdTVnfLNkymMpCRCJJVcQ&r=1



 

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Excerpt: The Rylee Adamson Series

Author Interview:

Shannon Mayer Author Interview

Rather than have a list of Q & A as I’ve seen oh-so-many-times-and-looks-rather-dry (similar to a succession of popcorn farts), I thought I’d do something a little different. 

I thought I’d tell you a story about a girl who loved horses and believed in magic. 

She grew up in a family of mixed nuts, seven kids in total from a variety of marriages, and to date none of the kids would be deemed ‘normal’, herself included. As she got older, she told people that she believed in magic and they shushed her and said that magic wasn’t real, to stop being silly. 

They told her, that she needed to get her head out of the clouds, and out of the books.  So she told them she loved horses and everyone thought she should pursue a career with animals. 

Soon, she stopped telling anyone about the magic she saw and dreamed about, and everyone just thought she loved horses. 

I mean, that’s even what she went to school for, working with horses. The girl became a farrier (and if you ask her clients they all think she did a smashingly good job), shoeing horses for a living. 

Hell, she even met a cute boy at college (something she’d previously not managed to do regardless of her raging hormones and batting of her eyelashes). They fell in love, and got married. Now this is where things get interesting. The twist in the story if you will.

The boy she married, he was pretty smart. He could see that there was something more to her than just loving horses.

He could see the magic she kept so carefully hidden; he believed in her magic.

And he told her to use it.

Now that was a scary time for her, learning to use that magic. She made mistakes, people laughed at her, and at times she almost gave up. But that cute boy kept cheering her on, and now . . .well, now the story is pretty simple. 

She makes magic every day, for a living, with the words she writes, spinning stories and creating worlds out of nothing but the belief she has in her heart. The cute boy still cheers her on, and she still loves horse, but now . . . .now the people around her realize that magic isn’t that far away. 

Not if you know what you’re looking for.

 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Excerpt: The Rylee Adamson Series

Character Interview #2:


Rylee Adamson Interview

My name is Rylee. 

I don’t like it when people use my last name, it reminds me of where I’m from and the people who turned on me. 

I was adopted as a baby into a family where they couldn’t have children naturally. But when I was ten, my parents got a surprise. A miracle baby, a little girl with golden hair and bright blue eyes.

When I was sixteen, I was accused of killing her; our parents believed the police. 

But I don’t really want to talk about that it was over ten years ago. I’m trying to let it go.

I’m a Tracker, a supernatural who can trace anyone’s life threads finding them regardless of whether they’re dead or alive. 

I prefer alive, dead is messy, but so often that is the case. I’m also an Immune, magic slides off me as if I don’t exist. That is handy. 

Gods, I’m sweating here trying not to swear. Are you sure I can’t use at least one four letter word? No, of course not.

I never Track adults. They can bloody well take care of themselves. I only ever Track kids. 

Probably I’m trying to make up for not saving my sister. But I’ll leave that up to the psychologists out there to decipher my motives.

Alex is my buddy, a werewolf trapped between forms; half man, half wolf. Submissive, goofy and loyal to the bone he is the one spot of bright light in my life. I think you’d like him the best of the two of us. 

I know I can be a hard ass, I can’t seem to help it. But Alex has never met someone he couldn’t win over with a floppy wave of his oversized paws. He might not be the best back-up, but he makes me smile and in my world, that is enough.

Someone once asked me what it was like to Track kids for parents who had no one else to turn to, for parents who’d lost hope that their child would ever be returned to them. 

This was my answer: It’s a weight and a responsibility that sits on me, I took an oath that I would never stop Tracking lost children. That I would put my life on the line for those who can’t save themselves, and that I would fight to my last breath to keep a child alive.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Excerpt: The Rylee Adamson Series

Check out the excerpt from The Rylee Adamson Series! Enjoy!

Character Interview #1:

Agent Liam O’Shea Interview

The Daily Grind
September 13/2012

Cold Case Heats Back Up?
There is no such thing as a case that is too cold at least according to Liam O’Shea. He has been an FBI agent for over ten years, and in that time only one case of his remains open. 

His first case.

At the time, Agent O’Shea was fresh out of the academy and “still believed that justice always prevailed”. Then came along the case that would chill the hearts of every agent working it, many of them parent’s themselves. 

Rylee Adamson, then sixteen years old, was accused and charged with killing her younger sister Berget whose body was never found. The case made media headlines as Adamson went missing for close to two weeks and a man hunt the size this state had not seen in a hundred years ensued. 
Adopted into the Adamson household, her younger sister was a ‘miracle’ baby that by all accounts Adamson adored. It wasn’t until an outing the two girls took to Deerborn Park that Adamson’s actions would come into question.

“The younger girl’s blood and clothing was found several blocks away tucked behind a dumpster,” Agent O’Shea said, “and the only hair fibres found were the two girls, Berget and Rylee. There is no one else it could be that killed little Berget.” To O’Shea, it was an open and shut case; and with Adamson’s disappearing act he felt her guilt was obvious. But he, along with the other police enforcement involved where denied the closing of the case on a technicality in court.

“It’s only because of her lawyer, hired by Giselle Trinkoff, that Adamson wasn’t found guilty. A technicality I aim to right.” O’Shea states.

To date, Adamson has not been proven guilty of any charges, though O’Shea is determined to change that fact. “She got away once. She won’t get away again.”

For now, Adamson is MIA, her whereabouts unknown to anyone but Agent O’Shea. He claims that he finally has new evidence that Adamson killed her younger sister, hid the body, and dodged the penal system. 

This reporter isn’t so sure; there are too many unknowns to state that Adamson did it without a shadow of a doubt. But then, I always root for the underdog. And in this case, no one is more of an underdog than Rylee Adamson.

 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Introducing: Making Friends with The Author session!!

Hello and a great day (or night) to everyone who is reading this.

I am so excited to present Books & Sweet Epiphany's "Making Friends with The Author" session!!

All in all, "Making Friends with The Author" (MaFTA) is about knowing your favourite authors through a series of questions and their biography.

I was thinking about having a MaFTA award, where readers of Books & Sweet Epiphany are able to vote on their favourite authors on this blog.

Not only that, for voting the authors for the MaFTA award, readers of Books & Sweet Epiphany are able to win book bundles!!

Squee!!! How exciting is that??

So, stay tune for the post on Making Friends with The Author. :D

Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment down below, or tweet me at Selina Liaw.

Thank You!!!  

Virtual Book Blog Tour: The Rylee Adamson Trilogy by Shannon Mayer

Hello everyone!! I am super excited to present another virtual book blog tour!
Take a look at Shannon Mayer's Rylee Adamson Trilogy.


Title:                 Priceless (A Rylee Adamson Novel, Book One)
Author:           Shannon Mayer
Release Date:           February 1, 2013
Genre:         Paranormal Urban Fantasy Romance
Age Group: New Adult. 18+
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16158978-priceless
Amazon Page: Shannon Mayer
Book Cover Design: Damon Za



Purchase Links: EBOOK
        PAPERBACK

Book Description:

“My name is Rylee and I am a Tracker.” 

When children go missing, and the Humans have no leads, I’m the one they call. I am their last hope in bringing home the lost ones. I salvage what they cannot.

I’m on the FBI’s wanted list. 

I have a werewolf for a pet, a Witch of a best friend, and have no need for anyone else in my life. 

But when a salvage starts to spin out of control, help comes from a most unexpected direction. One that is dangerously dark, brooding, and doesn’t know a thing about the supernatural. 
One whose kisses set me on fire.





Title: Immune (A Rylee Adamson Novel, Book Two)
Author:           Shannon Mayer
Release Date:           March 4, 2013
Genre:         Paranormal Urban Fantasy Romance
Age Group: New Adult. 18+

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17569028-immune

Purchase Links:          EBOOK

                                        PAPERBACK




Book Description:

“My name is Rylee, and I am a Tracker.”

When children go missing, and the Humans have no leads, I’m the one they call. I am their last hope in bringing home the lost ones. I salvage what they cannot.

Underestimating demons is a bad idea, and it’s a mistake that may cost me not only my own life, but the life of a missing child. 

If I can swallow my pride, and allow Agent O’Shea to help me find a way to deal with the demon, we might be able to save the child.

With this salvage, it’s a race against time, a test of trust, and a temptation that I'm doing my 
damnedest to ignore.

If only swallowing my pride was that easy.



Title:                               Raising Innocence (A Rylee Adamson Novel, Book Three)
Author:                         Shannon Mayer
Release Date:              May 15, 2013
Genre:                           Paranormal Urban Fantasy Romance
Age Group:                  New Adult. 18+
Goodreads:                 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17829214-raising-innocence

Purchase Links:          EBOOK
                                        PAPERBACK




Book Description:

“My name is Rylee, and I am a Tracker.”

When children go missing, and the Humans have no leads, I’m the one they call. I am their last hope in bringing home the lost ones. I salvage what they cannot.

The FBI wants me on their team. Bad enough that they are dangling bait they KNOW I can’t resist. 

The catch? It’s on the other side of the ocean.

And if I want what they’re offering, I have to help them with a salvage gone terribly, terribly wrong. 

But this time, I have no back up. I have no Plan B. 

And I have no O’Shea. 

 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Virtual Book Blog Tour: The Nevermore Trilogy by Shannon Mayer

Hello everyone!! This is my second time to host a virtual book blog tour! Squeee!! I am super excited!
Take a look of The Nevermore Trilogy. Its fantastic!

Title: The Nevermore Trilogy
Author:           Shannon Mayer
Release Date:           May 2013
Genre:         Romantic  Suspense
Age Group:   Contemporary Adult
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17835218-the-nevermore-trilogy
Amazon Page: Shannon Mayer

Book Cover Design:    Damon Za


SUNDERED (Book One of The Nevermore Trilogy):


They were promised weight loss, the cure for Cancer, Parkinson’s Disease and infertility; they were promised hope.
The side effects were anything but hopeful.
Mara and Sebastian are young, in love and newlyweds.  Far too soon, they will face tests to their love that most others won’t survive. Their bond strengthens with each loss, destruction and unbearable race against time.  In each other, they find the will and hope to endure.  Hand in hand, they will face the darkening of humanity with strength and integrity and an undeniable spirit to survive; together.

“Sundered is a story that will steal a piece of your heart as you cheer for both Mara and Sebastian in this unconventional love story.  It is a story of love, hope, faith and the strength to carry on after the dark times come.”  -Reviewer

Ebook links to Sundered:
Amazon
iBookstore
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Smashwords


BOUND (Book Two of The Nevermore Trilogy):


They were promised weight loss, the cure for Cancer, Parkinson’s Disease and infertility; they were promised hope.
The side effects were anything but hopeful.

Mara faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles and adversities as she works feverishly to free Sebastian from the holds which bind him. Her refusal to abandon him, and his refusal to let her slip away, keep them fighting to be reunited. Fears escalate and dangers destroy their beliefs, but they cling to their love and find strength in each other even when separated. Mara and Sebastian manage to face each act of violence, each tragedy, and terrifying sight with a strength which won’t bend to any confrontation.

“Gritty, violent, tragic and terrifying, this whole series also manages to be touching, romantic and at times, even sexy…..”  -Jess the Romanceaholic

Ebook links to Bound:




              
              Smashwords


DAUNTLESS (Book Three of The Nevermore Trilogy):


They were promised weight loss, the cure for Cancer, Parkinson’s Disease and infertility; they were promised hope.
The side effects were anything but hopeful.

Surrounded by the most obstinate of madness, Mara will use the strength within herself to free both she and Sebastian once and for all.  As Sebastian slips further away from her, Mara will have to fight as she never has before--alone. The bonds of love and friendship will be stretched to their breaking point as the world around them spins out of control, and the dangers continue to mount. Can she carry them both through the obstacles ahead and find a way to heal Sebastian?  Can she accomplish all of this in time?  
This final chapter of The Nevermore Trilogy will leave you breathless, sitting on the edge of your seat screaming out loud for love to overcome and the goodness of human nature to prevail.  

"I was completely blindsided by events in this story. Even now, I can't stop thinking about it." Author of "Until Dawn: Last Light", Jennifer Simas


Ebook links to Dauntless:







 

Cover Reveal of Ghost Hold (Book 2 of the PSS Chronicles) by Ripley Patton!!!

Squeee!!! I am so excited about the cover reveal, I can't wait to get myself a copy of Ghost Hold.

As many of you know, Ripley Patton's first novel, Ghost Hand, is also the first book in a series known as The PSS Chronicles. While Ghost Hand has been getting rave reviews on Amazon and was recently chosen as the June Book of the Month for a Goodreads Book Club with over 1300 members, Ripley has been hard at work writing the second book, Ghost Hold. 

Ghost Hold is in the final stages of publication, which will ultimately be funded through the GHOST HOLD KICKSTARTER PROJECT, just as Ghost Hand was funded last year. The current Ghost Hold Kickstarter project was 41% funded in the first week, and when it reaches the halfway mark of $1250, Ripley is going to release the first chapter of the new book to all backers, with more chapters to come later as funding builds. 

So, in order to celebrate, and perhaps entice you to back the project and help make Ghost Hold a reality, Ripley is revealing the cover of Ghost Hold this weekend here and all over the internet. 

AND HERE IT IS!



This compelling cover, featuring main characters from the book, Olivia Black, Marcus Jordan, and Passion Wainwright, was designed by Scarlette Rugers Designs of Australia

Curious to know what the book is about? Here's the blurb:

Olivia Black is back.

Only this time she's not the one in need of rescue.

Samantha James, rich, popular, and an award-winning composer at age seventeen, is the next target on the CAMFers' list. And in order to convince Samantha to come with them, Olivia and Passion must pose as cousins, blend into the most affluent high school in Indianapolis, and infiltrate a mysterious cult known as The Hold.

Olivia doesn't expect it to be easy, even with the PSS guys backing them up. But what she discovers over the course of the mission will call into question everything she ever believed about herself, her ghost hand, and especially about Marcus, the guy she is undoubtedly falling in love with.

Be sure and visit Ripley's Kickstarter Project and let her know what you think of the cover there, or here in the comments. But don't delay. The project ends July 1st and is the only way to pre-order the book before its September release. 

Haven't read the first book, Ghost Hand, yet? Well you're in luck. Ripley's gift to you, 6/14/2013-6/18/2013, Ghost Hand is FREE for Kindle, so please go grab a copy.

 

Friday, 7 June 2013

Review of Eversea by Natasha Boyd


Eversea is the BEST book I've ever read this year.

There is no doubt in my mind that Eversea deserves to be at the top among the greats (Like the Harry Potter series).

I love Eversea because it beautifully captures the human emotions and the ups and downs of life. In addition, the way Natasha presents the character to you is absolutely perfect and you can't help but fall in love with the characters.

Not only that, you can't help but let yourself get swept off your feet with the tragedy of the story and the beautifully written romance.

Each word in the book is a tease, making me beg for more of Jack Eversea and Keri Ann.

This book is definitely the best book to lose yourself from reality.

Bear in mind, Eversea is NOT the typical movie star and small town girl falling in love with each other. Natasha works with that theme but she puts a spin to the story.

Eversea is undeniably beautifully written and Natasha Boyd deserves millions of awards because, boy! Eversea is AWESOME.

Trust me, once you get your hands on Eversea, you'll keep begging for more.

Sincerely,
Selina.

P.S. You can get Eversea from Amazon & Barnes & Noble
 

Virtual Book Blog Tour: Eversea (Eversea #1) by Natasha Boyd

Hello everyone! 

Do check out Eversea by Natasha Boyd because I'm hosting a virtual book blog tour on the 8th of June. Eversea will only be available on June 10th 2013. There will be a giveaway and my review on Eversea!!! So, stay tune and check out the synopsis, book cover and the author's biography. 



Eversea, a love story, is a Winter Rose Contest FINALIST 2013. Emilia Pisani of Simon & Schuster (judge) says "Great southern flavor!" and "Jack is an alluring leading man!"

An orphaned, small-town, southern girl, held hostage by responsibility and self-doubt.

A Hollywood A-list mega-star, on the run from his latest scandal and with everything to lose. 

A chance encounter that leads to an unlikely arrangement and epic love affair that will change them both forever. 

When his co-star and real-life girlfriend is caught cheating on him with her married and much older director, A-list hottie, Jack Eversea, finds himself in sleepy Butler Cove, South Carolina. Jack hopes the sultry southern heat in this tiny coastal Lowcountry town will hide him not only from the tabloids and his cheating girlfriend, but his increasingly vapid life and the people who run it. He doesn’t count on meeting Keri Ann Butler. 

Keri Ann has relied on herself so long, dealing with her family’s death and the responsibilities of keeping up her family's historic mansion, that boys and certainly the meager offering of eligible boys in Butler Cove, have never figured into her equation. But fate has other plans. Suddenly face to face with the man who played the movie role of her favorite fictional character, Jack has Keri Ann yearning for everything she has previously avoided ... and Jack must decide whether this funny, sassy girl is worth changing his life for, before his mistakes catch up to him.


Eversea (Eversea, #1)

Author's Biography



  Natasha Boyd is a writer with a background in marketing and public relations. She lives in the coastal Carolina Lowcountry, complete with Spanish moss, alligators and mosquitoes the size of tiny birds.  She has a husband, two sons and a cat named Tuna.  Eversea is her first full-length novel.


Natasha's Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter 


 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Review of #37 Splinter by London Cole

You would love 'Splinter' if you're a dystopian & supernatural fan.

'Splinter' is edgy and was formerly published as Whisper Walker.

What's Whisper Walker? Well, you gotta read it to find out.

The starting of the story is good because its action packed. Suspense in the starting part was definitely a plus.

I love the characters and the way London portrayed them in the first place. I love Kelsie especially because she was portrayed as a fearless character and is capable of handling herself.

However, as the story unfolds, I find Kelsie kinda boring. This is because the story is told through Kelsie and Drake's point of view. I find Drake's character was explored more than Kelsie.

All in all, 'Splinter' is a wonderful read and if chemistry between characters are what you're looking for then 'Splinter' is the book for you.

Sincerely,
Selina.  

#51 You Are Mine by Janeal Falor



Serena knows a few simple things. She will always be owned by a warlock. She will never have freedom. She will always do what her warlock wishes, regardless of how inane, frivolous, or cruel it is. And if she doesn’t follow the rules, she will be tarnished. Spelled to be bald, inked, and barren for the rest of her life—worth less than the shadow she casts.

Then her ownership is won by a barbarian from another country. With the uncertainty that comes from belonging to a new warlock, Serena questions if being tarnished is really worse than being owned by a barbarian, and tempts fate by breaking the rules. When he looks the other way instead of punishing her, she discovers a new world. The more she ventures into the forbidden, the more she learns of love and a freedom just out of reach. Serena longs for both. But in a society where women are only ever property, hoping for more could be deadly  

#50 Enigma Black by Sara Furlong Burr



When she was just seventeen, the course of Celaine Stevens' life was permanently altered with the murders of her father, mother, and brother in one of a series of mysterious and violent explosions occurring across the country. Struggling with picking up the pieces, she's haunted by the memory of that day and her promise of retribution against those responsible for her misery. But just as she seems to be getting her life back on track, an encounter with a mysterious stranger promises her the vengeance she desires, ultimately turning the former target into the assassin.

However, as she soon learns, all choices come with consequences. And the consequence of her choice threatens to destroy the very fabric of her being.


Check out the book trailer for a more complete synopsis:
youtube.com/watch?v=2Yrt2ENZW6E  

#49 Starlet's Light (The Starlet Series #3) by Carla J. Hanna



Young Hollywood actress, Liana Marie Michael, gives up the fight until she sees the light.

Isolated on set in the United Kingdom, Lia struggles through the 5 Stages of Grief while shooting her last feature film. Cancer survivor, Oscar winner, and victim of several crimes, Lia sinks into despair as her heart fails. With supportive childhood friend Manuel Biro, and the help from Swiss billionaire-heir Pierre Lambert, Lia is 'so done' with acting and learns that she needs more than just a man's love to prevail.

STARLET'S LIGHT is a touching story of Lia's struggle with trust and commitment as she shapes the role she plays in her own life.  

#48 Starlet's Run (The Starlet Series #2) by Carla J. Hanna



Hollywood actress Liana Marie Michael finds out that loving someone unconditionally, without losing who she is in the process, does not always have a convenient ending or an easy to memorize script.

As the path unfolds in front of her, Lia challenges the demons and destruction of her past, which had kept her like Alice in Wonderland, frozen in time and unable to escape the heavy web of expectation shrouding her heart. She needs more than the promise of true love to help her prevail. Exhausted from indecision, should she listen to what others think is best for her? What should she choose?

STARLET'S RUN is a triumphant story of Lia's determination to step forward into a new and authentic life, taking on a role she has never before been given the chance to play--her self.  

#47 Starlet's Web (The Starlet Series #1) by Carla J. Hanna



January 21, 2013 Winner of the IBD Award!

A-list actress, 17-year-old Liana Marie Michael struggles to find herself when Hollywood's obsession with youth and power threatens to destroy her future. Used to talking and thinking in scripts, can Lia find her own voice? Can she and a Latino Tim Tebow overcome Hollywood's web of lies?

Liana is dating Hollywood's hottest heartthrob while filming her seventh motion picture with sexy co-star Byron. Surrounded by a culture of casual sex and adult responsibilities, Lia feels lost and confused. With her film soon to wrap, her acting contracts up for renewal, her high school graduation looming and growing tension between her and smart student athlete, Manuel, life feels overwhelming. Will Lia find the courage to share her love for Manuel, a guy unimpressed with Hollywood? In the eternal quest for youth, what life-shattering secrets has Lia's mom been keeping from her? Can Manuel accept Lia's role?

STARLET'S WEB is not only a love story. With fast-paced narrative that reflects Hollywood's hyper-drive lifestyle, Ms. Hanna transports the reader into an actor's daily life and demonstrates how difficult it is for young adults to break free from a path created by someone else - even when it is a successful one.