everylastpromise

interview with Kristin Halbrook


image017A couple of weeks ago I picked up a book called Every Last Promise and became completely engrossed in it. Usually I have control and am able to put down a book to go to bed, but I was up well into the morning because Every Last Promise has a killer hook. So I was excited to get the opportunity to speak with author Kristin Halbrook about the book that definitely made me an insomniac!

Read my book review here! And now, the interview:


Me: I’m very excited to speak with you! Every Last Promise is one of the most powerful books I’ve read this year; I have no doubt it’ll become a favorite.

KH: Thank you so much! I am humbled to hear this. And thank you for these questions! I am very lucky to get to chat books with awesome people.

It’s haunting, making me realize the depths to which humanity will sink when loaded with guilt or fear. The danger of threatening someone who has power. Not only that, though–I was fascinated by how you wrote it, so I’d often get mixed feelings for the characters. They were human, with likable qualities and imperfections.

I tend to favor books where fear is a driving force; they’re easy to relate to.

This means a lot, to me. I aimed to create very human characters who are reflections of so many of us. It’s hard to be a hero (however “hero” is defined)—which is why we idolize them—and completely human to make mistakes. Life journeys are rife with challenges and moments we might not be proud of, but also chances for change, for forgiveness, for self-development, for growth and moving forward. Fear is certainly an effective motivation, but I also think the person who emerges after conquering their fear is more splendid.

I have some questions about the writing process for Every Last Promise.

First, could you describe what it’s like writing a story that switches from Spring to Fall? Did it get confusing, do you have tips for outlining a book this way? I found it to be a unique touch and some insight would be great!

I already had some experience writing a little bit outside the linear, single POV box with my first book Nobody But Us and, honestly, even though that book didn’t jump time, learning how to write alternating POV chapters that changed, that adjusted the style of the story for the reader, was a big help when writing the non-linear chapters for Every Last Promise. I also found that there were character and plot development benefits from writing Spring and Fall. I got to dig into my characters at two important points in their lives. I was able to parallel events and personalities in a way that lets me and readers see stark changes, laid side-by-side. And I liked that each season had its own build-up to a climax and its own resolution. The second resolution is the opposite of the first, and we get to see why that is.

I tended to work backwards, when developing the story for this book. I knew what the conclusion for each season was, so I had to work out how Kayla reached each of those points. I did actually tend to write the chapters in order, because that’s how I work best, and I found it refreshing to be able to jump time spans every few days.

Also, reading the book I noticed small towns pictured in two ways: A warm, comforting birthplace…and the dark, stifling town where secrets are nearly impossible to keep, and a step out of line could ruin a reputation. There are certainly downsides to everyone knowing each other.

Which did you find easier to illustrate, especially in a story like this? Have you lived in a small town where you got to see this sort of environment in real life?

I have lived in big cities, in the suburbs, and in a small college town, so I’ve been able to get a good look at how those living situations vary. The small college town I lived in looked quite different, in some ways, from Kayla’s town, but some of the sentiment was the same. There’s an insular, proud quality in some small towns—not necessarily undeserved!—and there’s a beauty to small, tightknit communities that look after each other. Many small towns thrive on tradition, work ethic, and hope. Some small towns are truly beautiful places that foster slow living, the arts, living close to the earth, and other ways of life that can be difficult to achieve in the city or suburbs. However, while writing Every Last Promise, I was hearing a lot about cases of sexual assault in small towns, so it was easy to be very angry at the kinds of communities that foster secrets or too much of a “take care of our own” mentality. So, in that sense, it was harder to write the small town as a positive, affirming place. Originally, Kayla was this character who was only desperate to get out of her small town, but as I explored the reasons why more fully, I realized it wasn’t so much that she wanted to get out, but that she was being pushed out for shattering that perfect vision people had of their small town. It’s not easy to see the realities and truths of the things we innocently think of as being perfect.

Do you drink a specific coffee while writing? Is there a particular snack or playlist that helped you with this book? Describe a little what your desk looks like! :)

I promise I’m not a shill for the company, haha, but I’m an avid fan of Caffe Appassionato’s Fair Trade Espresso Blend. It’s smooth and flavorful and the beans are so fresh and oily. I probably drink an average of four shots of it a day. Good thing I have my own espresso machine or I’d be bankrupt on espresso drinks, ha. I don’t otherwise snack when writing. I do have a playlist for Every Last Promise, but I often prefer writing in silence. My desk, oh dear. It’s kind of mess, right now. I have watercolor and oil paints and paintbrushes everywhere. Stacks of art paper, letters, and field trip forms for my kids. My season tickets for the opera have just arrived, so they’re in the middle of everything. Beneath it all is a large desk calendar, scrawled all over with events and doodles. My desk chair is falling apart, as my youngest likes to peel off little bits of the fake leather from the seat. Behind the chair is my sewing machine and piles of fabric that I’ll eventually do something with. And yet…somehow I get work done here! It’s as much a place to live, to create, to explore as it is a place to work.

Every Last Promise is without a doubt one of the best books I’ll read this year. Buy it on Barnes and Noble, and follow Kristin on Facebook and Twitter!

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and finally–the cover for Dissonance–a project 5 years in the making


So happy to be sharing this with you! I think I might cry!! I haven’t got a set release date, but it’s coming soon. By soon, I mean in a few days. ;)

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Blurb:

Fifteen-year-old Allie Grant lives crippled by her illness. Though kept in isolation, she’s never alone: A spirit named Song lurks in the silence of her bedroom.

When Song reveals its dark nature on the night of her recital, the show ends in tragedy. Verging on death, Allie’s taken in by an uncle she’s never met.

Julian claims to be a Muse with power over music and answers that’ll heal her. The cure she needs is rare, requiring of him a difficult sacrifice. Allie soon suspects her uncle has a secret that’ll turn her world around.

But with days left to live, she might fade without learning the truth…like the finishing chord of a song.

I know I’ve been talking about Dissonance and publishing it–forever. But now it’s really happening, guys! I have a book cover, designed by the lovely Syd. I want to share with you the full cover because the whole thing is beautiful! Check the featured image!

PLEASEBEDONEEEEI spent hours awake designing the interior file for a print book. I figured out how to make fancy chapter pages. Now I’ve only got to write the Acknowledgements, and there will be so many people to thank…I’m afraid many won’t make it into the book, but let me use this moment to say thank you.

Some people have read through all five drafts of the book. Some came along as it was near completion. At one point in 2014 I sent the first five chapters to an agent–who in the end told me it sounded too much like a romance novel, even though it’s YA–but that’s when Heather became my beta and wound up helping shape the whole thing.

There are the inkies who’ve stayed with me, and the GTW people, and everyone in my street team. The new friends I met in Brett’s beta chatroom. (He’s been pretty cool, letting me sabotage his team like that. :D)

There’s Syd and Kristia and Gabrielle. Phil, Rachel Lynn, Jennifer Cahill, Kelly. Kate Sparkes, who helped me understand what I’m doing!

Finally, my family–mom, dad, Christian–who’ve been there for everything, even the Carpal Tunnel surgeries. Who’ve hugged me when I felt discouraged and reminded me that no matter what, they’d be there. They’ve been waiting for me to publish the book for a long time, so it feels nice to finally show them a cover!

There are so many people who’ve helped keep me sane that I need to sit down and take note of all of you. If I haven’t mentioned you here, it’s because I don’t want the post to get too long. There’ll be another post for that!

A cover reveal is not the final chapter, but the beginning of a new book, so I have a lot to say. Let me sum it up for now: Thank you. 

Check back in the next few days. I might accidentally drop an Amazon link!

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the cover reveal’s in 2 days. thanks, guys!


I have a book cover reveal coming up in two days, and I just want to thank everyone who’s volunteered to help me. Honestly, when I first decided to self-publish, it had been painted to look like such a bleak and lonely path…but I met some wonderful people who changed my perspective on that entirely.

People all over the world have volunteered to use their blogs and facebook walls to help me reach as many people as possible. I know even two or three views of the beautiful cover Syd designed, that’s a potential audience. The only thing that bothers me is that I can’t reach out and hug you all. Just know I am so grateful that you’re helping me kick off my career, even if it’s just a cover reveal.

The book isn’t out till hopefully late June. Hopefully.

As you know if you’ve been following my blog, setting release dates got me into a lot of trouble. When I was unable to publish on the 12/13/14 release date, I fell into a horrible slump…I felt like I’d let someone down–myself, at any rate. I felt like walking away from the whole project. But with the coming of spring, I’m back in action.

That’s what I get for trying to take control of a project that, from the beginning, is only possible because of God. He gave me the gift of writing, the story I’m telling, and all these amazing friends who’ll be helping me.

And while a cover reveal is by no means the end of this project, it’s one of the final steps to getting it published. This story is finally going to have readers. Even if there aren’t thousands, a handful of people who like the story will be enough for me.

To everyone who’s stood by me with this project from beginning to end–thank you for believing in me and offering your time–to hear me complain, to give me advice, to tell me things will work out. I’ll still need all of you after the 19th. Love you guys! There are so many of you to thank. After the 19th I’m going to dedicate a post to all of you, so the world will know how awesome you are.

I really, truly wouldn’t be brave enough to do this alone.

So thank you. And to my readers, I hope you stick around on the 19th–and share the cover on social media, if you can. Every bit helps. Hopefully this will be the first cover reveal of many.

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Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award


I was nominated by Alextheshadowgirl! ♥ Thanks!

RULES:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
  2. Put the Award logo on your blog.
  3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.
  4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. Nominate ten blogs.

QUESTIONS:

1. What’s your favorite TV show?

I don’t watch a lot of TV, to be honest! I have seen all the seasons of House though, and miss it!

2. Name any place you want to visit in future and the reason why.

Everywhere. I want to go absolutely everywhere and it makes me sad that travel is so expensive! Recently I’ve been most fascinated by France.

3. What’s Your OTP (One true pair)?

I don’t know!!

4. Name your all-time favorite villain.

I want to say Captain Barbossa. He’s just so sarcastic.

5. Share any of your embarrassing moments. 

XD no. I try to forget those, lol!

6. Why do you blog about what you blog about.. ?

Because words and literature have become my life and I love to be able to share my thoughts about writing. Also with a book coming up soon it’s nice to have a “website.” :)

7. Name a book that made you cry.

The Book Thief! And the movie did, too!

8. Who is your idol?

I don’t know that I have one right now…

9. Who is your favorite singer/band?

Currently the only band I’ll listen to is Coldplay. I also love The Lumineers, The Civil Wars, Taylor Swift (her new album finally grew on me) and OneRepublic.

10. What are your thoughts about me?

That you are an awesome person for nominating me! ♥♥ Thanks!

MY QUESTIONS:

  1. What flowers would you absolutely need to have in a garden?
  2. Have you traveled? Where to?
  3. Do you have pets? And if so, do they seem to have an attitude?
  4. Is there an album you’ve listened to so much that you memorized the lyrics?
  5. Any goals you want to reach this year?
  6. What’s the last book you read and enjoyed?
  7. And a book you haven’t read, but want to?
  8. Which Hogwarts house do you belong to?
  9. Do you keep a journal?
  10. Share one of your all-time favorite quotes.

I NOMINATE:

Kayla, Heather, Alex, Leonie, Gabrielle and Monique!

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The Courtship Book Tag


stolen from The Lonely Book Lover!

Phase 1 – Initial Attraction: A book that you bought because of the cover

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And I loved it.

Phase 2 – First Impressions: A book that you got because of the summary

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I loved, loved this book. Here’s the summary:

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

Phase 3 – Sweet Talk: A book with great writing

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There’s a reason why The Great Gatsby is a classic. I never quite found another book like it.

Phase 4 – First Date: A first book of a series which made you want to pursue the rest of the series

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Phase 5 – Late night phone calls: A book that kept you up all night long

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Phase 6 – Always on my mind: A book that you could not stop thinking about

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Phase 7 – Getting Physical: A book in which you love the way it feels

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I love books with two covers–you lift the first with the pumpkin, and inside see the full illustration of Cinderella and the Prince.

Phase 8 – Meeting the Parents: A book in which you would recommend to your friends and family

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The book is creepy, but we are a family that grew up on ghost stories. :)

Phase 9 – Thinking about the future: A book or series that you know you’ll re-read many times in the future

The Harry Potter books are never going to get old.

Phase 10 – Share the love!!! Who would you like to tag?

I stole this tag, so anyone may do it, honestly. But I’m interested in what y’all have to say, Adriana, Brett, Heather and Alex!

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The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows


Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

find on Goodreads

10030682The Orphan Queen is an intense book, driven with action from the first chapter. We follow Princess Wilhelmina as she embarks on a quest to retake her throne and avenge the deaths of her parents. On the way she struggles with personal haunts, making it difficult to get the job done cleanly.

It’s one of those books where I prefer the villains or shadier characters. Though Wil has good intentions, I feel she kept acting too fast. She’s brave and caring, but impulsive as well, which tended to make things precarious.

I enjoyed reading her tentative friendship with the vigilante Black Knife. Moments spent with him brought out a new side of Wilhelmina, where she had a mystery before her eyes that no one could solve for her. She’d found an equal who could counter her in battle, and no matter what, he wouldn’t reveal his name. For once, someone was just as secretive as her.

It’s a great fantasy novel, though the ending left me bristling (I can’t spoil why!) I’m eager for the next book. The Orphan Queen is set in a restless world, giving Wil a ton of responsibility for its fate; I’m interested in seeing how she’ll manage her responsibilities in harsher circumstances. I hope she can save her people and achieve victory!

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do you want to help with my book cover release and blog tour?


Dissonance lives.

And soon she’ll be out.

But I want to give her the launch she deserves. After all, I did spend five years working on her.

So I’m organizing a cover reveal (*freaks out*) and contemplating a book tour after that. For the cover reveal, you don’t even need to have a blog. It’d be enough for you to share the cover on Facebook when I post it, or retweet it for your followers to see. Just help it reach as many people as possible.

I don’t have a release date.

I just know it’s getting closer, and I’m praying for it to be on May–or June at the latest.

Some of you might have found yourselves in the Dissonance street team group on Facebook, where I’m keeping things organized so I don’t go insane. It’s fun. I’m sure there’ll be a lot more to do in this group after release!

If you’re interested in volunteering, comment or message me. There’s a contact form up there in the menu.

Thanks muchly in advance!

everylastpromise

Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook


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Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Gayle Forman, Every Last Promise is a provocative and emotional novel about a girl who must decide between keeping quiet and speaking up after witnessing a classmate’s sexual assault.

Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn’t supposed to. But she hasn’t told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night—about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.

Now Kayla’s coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything—and everyone—she ever cared about.

find on Goodreads

I can’t remember the last time a book left me reeling like this one.

Every Last Promise is haunting and beautiful. I felt for the main character, Kayla; she carries a heavy secret on her shoulders, living in fear because of it. She was the driver in an accident where one boy died and the other survived…but that’s not the whole story.

The boy who survived recovered from his injuries, and yet there’s still someone hurting. Will Kayla be brave enough to step up and help the other person involved?

Reading the novel, I sometimes wanted to be mad at Kayla for how she handled things–until I remembered how her “friends” treated her when she returned home.

Living in a small town meant doing the right thing would drop a bomb on everyone. I really felt for Kayla, seeing the shame and abuse she endured for a great deal of the novel.

I absolutely loved Every Last Promise. A fast read with a great hook, its chapters switch in time from Spring–before the accident–to Autumn, when Kayla returns from Kansas City. I liked how the chapters took readers back and forth.

This book reminded me of the dangers that come with power–and what powerful people will do to keep their reputation clean, no matter what. It also illustrated fear, how it can be strong enough to make a person walk away from friends or lie because they don’t want to be alone.

This book was spectacular. Give it a read.

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my TBR list is growing unexpectedly!


22539894I got two surprise boxes in the mail this week–new releases of novels, and I’m super excited to read and review them for you!

There’s nothing quite like the excitement of getting a heavy box that feels like it contains books. When I got the second one today, I almost started dancing–but went to look for the scissors instead, since I couldn’t wait.

The titles are:

City Love – Susane Colasanti
Encore to an Empty Room – Kevin Emerson
Drive Me Crazy – Terra Elan McVoy
Invincible – Amy Reed
The Orphan Queen – Jodi Meadows
Every Last Promise – Kristin Halbrook
Etherworld – Claudia Gabel & Cheryl Klam
Everything That Makes You – Moriah McStay
Wrong About the Guy – Claire LaZebnik

The cover for Etherworld is really pretty–just look at those colors! I’ll be busy this summer!

Crime and Punishment by F. Dostoevsky


Mariella Hunt:

On my TBR as well. THE IDIOT made me a fan of Dostoyevsky!

Originally posted on The Spare Room:

The screech of the subway accompanied my reading of this book. Yet the narrative drowned out all sound and thought — out of a class of 450 individuals, most agreed that Dostoevsky pulled them in and Raskolnikov’s erratic crazed thoughts kept them going through all five-hundred-and-something pages.

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