Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Books That Ruined Me

My daughter and I recently had a conversation about the book at the top of this list, and then she asked me what some of my other favorites were. I stumbled a little because I've read so many books I've really enjoyed, a ton I'd recommend wholeheartedly, but they don't really rank as favorites. And then there's the question of how to define a "favorite." What criteria go into deciding rank order?

After our conversation I really gave it some thought and what I decided is that, for me, whether I categorize a book as a favorite is a function of how much a book sticks with me after I've read it. Or, as some have coined it, the "book hangover" effect. I decided to pull together a list of books I've read that have left me thinking about them long after I put them down. That's not to say I loved everything about each of them, so they may not belong on a classic "favorites" list, but they hit me in a way that didn't let me forget them.

So, in rank order of how long my book hangover lasted (as best as I can remember years later) here are the ten books that ruined me.
Side note: I intentionally left out classics as well as blockbusters. (Lolita, Wuthering Heights, and Harry Potter definitely stuck with me for different reasons.)
Side note #2: Click the covers for buy links if you want to check them out.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman
So here's the thing about this book. Adam. I obsessed over him for weeks, prompting this blog post, and also this one. Then, when I finally recovered from my Adam hangover, I sat down and, in the next three weeks, wrote the best book I'll ever write on the wave of angst and grief Adam left behind. Gayle created such an incredibly damaged and genuine character that I wanted to climb through the pages and just be there for him. Maybe it was my frame of mind when I was reading, but I honestly don't think anyone will ever top Adam on my list of favorite characters. For full effect, you'll probably want to read If I Stay first, since Where She Went is a sequel.

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
This book yanked my heart out, fed it through a meat grinder, then almost succeeded in putting it back together again. Again, this all comes down to characters. Rogerson, specifically. Just like Adam, he is incredibly damaged, and Sarah captures that extremely well in her characterization. Everything, from the way he moves, to the things he says and does, reflect his brokenness. I wanted to shake him and tell him to pull himself together, because somewhere in there, you know there's a decent guy. You'll have to read to see if that happens, but make sure you've got a box of tissues handy.

Graceling/Fire by Kristin Cashore
I'm lumping these two together because I didn't want to take two spots back to back for them, but both left me with a lasting hangover. The writing is phenomenal, and the common thread with all of these books, I'm discovering as I write this post, is the characters. Katsa and Po are so well portrayed, and my favorite sex scene ever in a book happens between them. Archer from Fire is one I pined for long after I put the book down. So well done.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
This speculative is so well done that I kept thinking through the plot for days after I finished. And the romance aspect--I'll just say that not too many books leave me in tears, but this one did.

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Keeping with the incest theme (yeah...that romance I mentioned in How I Live Now, well...) I thought about this book for a long time after I read it. This is one that probably wouldn't make my classic favorite list because I found it pretty disturbing at some turns, but it was definitely thought provoking. I came away with so many questions I was (for the first time ever) contemplating contacting the author to ask what she was thinking as she wrote it. Was the romance innocent, or abusive? Was Lochan so socially stunted that he fixated on his sister and persuaded her into the relationship, or did they genuinely just fall in love with each other? Lots to think about here.

Before I Die by Jenny Downham
This is another one that made me cry. I thought Jenny did a lovely job portraying the whole process of dying young. I loved how real both that and the romance felt. It kept the wheels turning for a while after I was done.

Beautiful by Amy Reed
This is like watching a slow motion train wreck. The prose are very different than anything else I've read, but Amy's main character's motivations as she makes a string of really horrible decisions has you right there with her. This is another one that I'm not sure how I really feel about, but it had me thinking about it for weeks.

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I just sort of randomly picked this up one day and realize three hours later that I'd finished it. And then wished I hadn't. So, of course, I was incredibly excited to find, purely by coincidence, the movie was releasing on DVD the next day. I raced to my local Redbox and picked it up the next afternoon, watched it immediately...and then wished I hadn't. The beauty of the book is Stephen's main character and his inner dialogue. That, unfortunately, doesn't translate to the screen. But I thought the process of bringing this socially awkward character to life was done incredibly well in the book.

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
I read this eons ago and still sometimes think about it. Courtney's prose is sparse and she gets right to the point, which I appreciate. I've read some of her other books, and really enjoyed them, but this one left me rolling things over in my mind for weeks. It's a great study in how choices can change your life.

White Cat by Holly Black
I'm usually a pretty tough reader to get anything past. Maybe I was just so involved in the story that I wasn't paying close enough attention. Whatever happened, Holly surprised me in this one. I thought her main character was very well done, and, if you go back through this list you'll find one (okay, two) high fantasy novels at #3, a speculative at #4 and the rest until now are contemporary. I guess that's because in contemporary, it's all about the characters, and I've already mentioned that I'll follow a great character anywhere. In this one, not only was the writing great, but the premise was fresh and creative and held my interest in a way many urban fantasies don't. And it was twisty enough that it kept me rehashing the plot for a long time after reading.

So, there you go. My ten worst hangovers. Hope you find something in there that interests you. Help me find more. What books have given you your worst hangovers?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Very BAD boys

Let's face it, bad boys have an irresistible allure. We love to read about them and see how love transforms them. But my good friend, Jay Crownover, pointed out that her Marked Men boys are labeled bad boys just because they have tattoos and get around. I think that's the "bad" comfort zone for a lot of us. We could imagine ourselves with a tattooed bad boy.

But could we ever picture ourselves with an actual bad boy--a boy who was seriously bad? Like, criminal bad?

I've always thought those women who start writing to serial killers on death row needed psychological intervention, but I've found myself taken in by two boys who are seriously bad over the last few months.
One is Shane Baxter, or Bax, as he's known on the street. He is Jay Crownover's boy in the upcoming BETTER WHEN HE'S BAD, that releases one week from today. If you've followed this blog at all, you know Jay's boys do it for me, and Rule is one of two boys (along with Gayle Forman's Adam Wilde) who ruined me for all other fictional boys. But I will tell you, Bax is right up there. I might have to make room for all three in my heart. We meet Bax on the day he's released from prison, and immediately I was smitten with him. He's basically made the best of a bad situation, and he makes no apologies for what he's done (or is yet to do). This is one bad boy you will definitely want to get to know.

Another is by my bud, Katy Evans. His name is Greyson King, and you get to meet him in her upcoming ROGUE. (Releasing July 29th.) I will tell you right up front that this boy has a truly black heart. He kills people, plain and simple. He does it in the course of the novel and he's not even conflicted about it. But he's just so damn hot you can't help but fall in love with him right along with Melanie. As bad as he is, I found myself instantly taken by him, and you will too.

Click on the covers to pre-order, because I swear to God, you want to.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Romantic Times in New Orleans! I'm going to be there! Are you?

RT starts next week, and in case you haven't seen the line up of registered authors,
 you can find it here. I will definitely be making a fool of myself fangirling all of these fab authors, and having a blast hanging out with readers and bloggers. I'm also on a Sex in New Adult panel with Abbi Glines, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Jay Crownover and Sophie Jordan on Friday. You guys know my secret of writing all my sex scenes first, so this panel is right up my alley! If any of y'all are going to be there, I'd love if you'd stop by and say hi! I'll have swag, which may or may not include hot boys and candy! Here's where you'll be able to find me (besides at The Dungeon most nights ;p).

5/13 Tues 1-3pm, Garden District Book Shop signing, 2727 Prytania St., New Orleans
With Jennifer L. Armentrout, Cora Carmack, Jay Crownover, Nichole Chase, Sophie Jordan. 

5/13 Tues 8-10pm NA pajama party, Marriott, 2nd floor, Gallery 4
With Jamie McGuire, Abbi Glines, Jay Crownover, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Cora Carmack, and many more.

5/15 Thurs 11:15-12:15, Avon Hats and Tats, Marriott 3rd floor, Salon E
With Kim Harrison, Laura Kaye, Veronica Rossi, Monica Murphy, Cora Carmack Nichole Chase, Sophie Jordan, and many more!

5/15 Thurs 7:10-7:30, Avon Pub crawl, Saints and Sinners (Owned by Channing Tatum!), 627 Bourbon St.
With Jay Crownover, Nichole Chase, Sophie Jordan and many more!

5/16 Fri 2:45-3:45 Sex and New Adult panel, Marriott, 2nd floor, Gallery 5
With Jennifer L. Armentrout, Abbi Glines, Jay Crownover, and Sophie Jordan

5/16 Fri 6:15-7:45 Avon Krewe of Muses (FREE SIGNED BOOKS!), Marriott 3rd floor, Acadia
With Eloisa James, Jeaniene Frost, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Kelley Armstrong, Cora Carmack, Kiera Cass, Nichole Chase, Jay Crownover, Claudia Gray, Kim Harrison, Melissa Marr, Monica Murphy, Sophie Jordan, Laura Kaye, Diana Peterfreund, Aprilynne Pike, Veronica Rossi, Kerrelyn Sparks, and TONS more!

5/17 Sat 11-2 Giant Book Fair, signing books with OMG EVERYONE! Marriott 3rd floor, Grand Ballroom.

5/17 Sat 7:15-7:45 Fan-tastic Day party! It's a party! EVERYONE will be there! Marriott 2nd floor, Preservation Hall

Squee! Can't wait! And I'm staying a few days afterward and checking out some plantations that I missed last time I was there, as well as taking the French Quarter Ghost tour at night, which I heard is good.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The lunatic is in my head...

Y'all know I love music. There are some songs that are so good that they always give me the shivers. One of them is Pink Floyd's Brain Damage. Actually, a lot of Pink Floyd's music will do that to me. (I wrote Wish You Were Here into Personal Demons.) I haven't listened to Brain Damage in a really long time, but I woke up with it in my head this morning. Specifically, the line "There's someone in my head, but it's not me." The song was accompanied by a whole cast of characters who I'm just getting to know.

That's what the writing process is to me: people in my head. They start out as strangers, but little by little we get to know each other. They tell me things and have conversations with each other, and I take dictation. Some of them, I really like. Others, not so much. But whether I like them or not, I'm just the poorly paid help with the laptop, so they all get an equal crack at getting their story on the page. (I don't play favorites.)

So, I'm still hanging out with my old friends, but I'm making some new friends too. It's fun to watch these new characters emerge, and I'm dying to hear the stories they have to tell as we get comfortable with each other.

I'll leave you with a question and a song. Question: New stories come to me as characters with something to say. If you write, how do new stories come to you? 

And the song: Pink Floyd's Brain Damage. As always, if you love it, please visit your chosen mode of music purchase and buy it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A LITTLE TOO audiobooks!

Fun stuff! Harper released the audiobooks for the A LITTLE TOO series today! If you want to hear the samples, they're here on Audible!

This is super exciting for me. I remember when my first audiobooks released for my Personal Demons series. I got audition tapes and got to choose my demon, Luc, (who I will say was very demonic ;p). Then I got to hear his and the actress who read Frannie's interpretation of what I had
written. As an author, hearing someone do a dramatic reading of your work is enlightening. It makes you see where you could tighten things up, and where you might not have relayed exactly what it was you meant to. So, I'm looking forward to hearing Lexie, Hilary, and Sam come to life and tell me their stories.

Thanks to Harper, Blackstone Audio, and the actresses who read my characters! Now, off to listen...

Friday, February 28, 2014

A new A LITTLE TOO story, audiobooks, and a giveaway!

Yo! There is so much stuff I have to tell you!

First, did you guys know a new A Little Too story released this week? Yep! Remember Lexie's dirtbag ex, Rick, from A LITTLE TOO FAR? See if he can change your mind about him as he fights to win Rene's heart in A LITTLE TOO SCARRED. Rene and Rick's story is part of the FIFTY FIRST TIMES anthology, which is on sale for only $1.99 right now! There are stories from Jennifer L. Armentrout, Molly McAdams, Carrie Ryan, Sophie Jordan, and lots of others. Here's what an Amazon reviewer had to say about A LITTLE TOO SCARRED:
"One of my favorite stories in this anthology was, A Little Too Scarred, by Lisa Desrochers. It dealt with a woman who had been severely disfigured. She lost an eye, and had scarring on her body. Her self-esteem became non-existent, she refused to leave her home, and would not let the man she had fallen in love with see her. This story really touched and broke my heart. Due to my own personal experience, I have scars on my body, due to multiple surgeries I had to undergo 5 years ago, to save my life. I too have had to deal with self esteem issue's, feeling unattractive, and not wanting to go out in public. So, I could relate to the main character, and her thought process and actions were very realistic."
You can find it on Amazon, B&N and any other e-book retailer.

Also, A LITTLE TOO HOT is now available in paperback on Amazon and B&N! If you want to get your hot little hands on Harrison, wrap your arms around him in bed, here's your chance!

And, for those of you who like your audio books, the entire series will be available on audio on March 11th! This is super exciting to me. I love my audio books, and I can't wait to hear my characters tell their stories.

If your still not quite sure this series is for you, you can check out the series spotlight over on The Rock Stars of Romance for excerpts and a giveaway for the entire series in signed paperbacks.

Thanks for stopping by! More news to come!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wow *deep breath*

I'm taking a second, now that A LITTLE TOO HOT is out in the world, to reflect back on the last year. It was one year ago last Friday, January 17th, that I woke up with Lexie in my head. She told me she thought she might be in love with her stepbrother, Trent. I grabbed my laptop and started typing, and by that night I had the first 10K words of A LITTLE TO FAR. A couple of days later, I shot my omnipotent uber-agent an email with the pitch and asked her if NA was a thing now. (She'd always said it wasn't, but she'd just sold Cora Carmack's LOSING IT to Harper the month before.) She emailed me back and said it was a thing, but that it was still a tough sale. I sent her the first 80 pages of ALTF, which she read and loved, and we agreed to try to sub it. A week later, I'd finished the first draft. We took a few weeks to clean it up, then subbed to editors. It went to my lovely editor at HarperCollins on Friday and on Tuesday we were speaking on the phone. By Thursday we had a pre-empt we were happy with and I had a crazy deadline schedule for the next two books in the series. And that was my year.

So, I find it sort of karmic that the final book in the series would publish exactly one year from when I sent the first feeler to my agent about the idea--a year and four days after I first opened a clean Word doc and started writing Lexie's story. It's been sort of a fairy tale year, and I've met so many awesome readers and fabulous authors--people who have turned into some of my closest friends. (I'm looking at you, Jay and Katy!)
It hasn't always been easy, but it's been wild in the best possible way. It's a ride that I wish could have lasted forever, but instead of looking back, I'm looking forward.

When I wrote A LITTLE TOO FAR, it was in the two weeks that my agent had a new young adult novel that I'd written in December. We put that on the back burner when things started happening with A LITTLE TOO FAR, but I finally had a chance to go back and clean that up before Christmas, and I'm hoping for good things there. I also have some fun new adult ideas knocking around in my head that I'm looking forward to getting on paper, so to speak, in the next few months. I've contributed to a really cool anthology coming out next month, FIFTY FIRST TIMES, with Jennifer L. Armentrout, Molly McAdams, Sophie Jordan and a whole bunch more of us. So, there's not much chance I'll stop writing. But...I will slow down a little. Life got a little crazy in the last half of last year, so I'm taking some time to enjoy my family and just breathe.

Thanks to all you readers who have been along for the ride. You're the reason I love my job. The notes and Tweets make all the insanity worth it. You are the absolute best! xxoxoxoox