Tag Archives: young adult

New Release: Tomorrow Always Lies

TOMORROW ALWAYS LIES_small

I have a new book out! Tomorrow Always Lies is the second book in the Gems young adult spy thriller series that features strong characters, girl-power bonding, riveting action, and lots of fun. Here’s a little bit about what the book is about plus I’ll give you a peek at the first chapter too!

What if you met the perfect boy, but discovered he was an android? Sixteen-year-old Nadia has an MIT scholarship waiting for her after high school. That’s why a mysterious organization know as The Authority recruited her to become a spy. The girl from Saudi Arabia now lives with three other talented girls known as the Gems. They go on dangerous missions all over the world. But first, they must do their homework.

When Nadia first met him, Robert was an awkward boy with striking green eyes, hardly someone on the FBI’s most wanted list. But when Robert reveals his secret, Nadia and the Gems are thrown into a cross-country chase dodging FBI agents, Russian mercenaries, and a Polynesian giant named Kawiki.

As the world’s intelligence agencies close in on the Gems, Nadia is forced to choose between her warming feelings for Robert and the oath she swore to her friends and the Authority.

Can Nadia and the Gems find sanctuary for Robert or will his self-aware mind be deleted forever?

 

Here’s a sample of the first chapter:

Across the frozen lake, an eight-dog sled team pushed ahead at a relentless pace, their soft fur wet from the blowing snow, which pricked Nadia’s exposed skin and blinded her view ahead. Her hands tightened on the reins. The arm clinging around her torso also tightened, a reminder that she wasn’t alone. Emma clung to her because it was ten degrees below zero and because her friend was scared, just like she was.
Nadia glanced over her shoulder. The icy wind had freed Emma’s long hair from under the hood of her parka. It flew around like a giant blond flag.
Nadia craned her neck. The snowmobile was still chasing them. The driver revved his engine, desperate to overtake the sled. The second man behind the driver held something in his left hand. As he aimed it, the pistol gleamed in the Alaskan sunlight.
Nadia and Emma ducked as a bullet pinged against the side of the sled. She pulled the reins and made the dogs veer to the right. That way the left-handed shooter would have a more difficult time trying to aim while still behind his friend.
“How far out is Olivia?” Nadia asked.
Emma squeezed closer while taking a deep breath to calm herself. She took out the portable radio and squeezed the button.
“Hello? Olivia? This is Emma. Where are you? We need—”
Another gunshot bounced off the sled, causing both girls to jump.
“We need help! How far out are you?” Emma asked.
The radio crackled to life. “During a mission, we use our code names, you twit!” the girl’s voice said in a sharp British accent. “Emerald is ten minutes inbound. What’s your situation, Black Opal?”
“Our situation? Um—not good. Super-stressed right now. Being chased and shot at.” Emma peeked over Nadia’s shoulder. “And our poor dogs are getting tired.”
“Roger. Any contact with Ruby? Over.” Olivia asked.
“Nope. We haven’t seen her for, like, an hour. I hope she’s okay.”
“Roger. Keep your heads down. I’m coming as soon as I can. Emerald out.”
Emma touched Nadia’s shoulder. “What do you think?”
“We can’t keep up this pace for ten minutes,” Nadia said.
Emma pointed at the dogs. “They look so tired. I wish we could stop and let them rest.”
“I know. But if we stop, I’m afraid we’ll die.”
“Please don’t say die.”
“Do you have any cosmetics left?” Nadia had left her purse behind.
“Why, do you need some lip balm? My lips are cracking too.”
Nadia forgot that Emma was still new to this. She waited for her friend to catch up.
“Oh. You mean those cosmetics. Yes, I have some Red-hot lipstick. Raise the Roof rouge. Forest Fire mascara.”
“That’s good. If they catch up, we might have to use them.”
“What’s that over there?” Emma pointed to where the frozen lake met the shore. Two big snow tractors plowed through the snow at full speed. Each tractor was filled with more men, who didn’t look too friendly. The tractors drove onto the ice.
“Those snowmobile goons have friends,” Emma said.
Nadia pulled at the reins and guided the tired dogs away from the tractors.
Now the snowmobile and the tractors were closing in.
Nadia whistled and snapped the reins to encourage the dogs to go faster.
“Don’t push them so hard,” Emma said.
“I’m sorry, but do we have a choice?”
The dogs ran hard, their tongues hanging out as they huffed and puffed. There wasn’t much more they could do.
Until they came across a giant hole in the ice.
Nadia pulled back on the reins. “Whoa! Whoa!”
Luckily for Nadia, the dogs saw it first, kicking their legs as they tried to stop themselves on the ice. But the sled’s momentum still pushed them all forward towards the giant hole.
Nadia grabbed the handle and pulled the sled’s brakes, which dug into the ice. Metal scraped against ice, creating a spine-tingling squeal before the sled came to a stop.
“Great. What do we do now?” Emma asked.
The opening was at least one hundred meters across. Nadia reasoned that running around the edge of the hole would give the tractors enough time to catch them.
“Should we try to swim across?” Nadia asked.
“No way. We’d freeze to death.”
Emma was right. There was no choice.
“Do we surrender?” Nadia asked.
Judging by her face, Emma didn’t like that idea either.
The girls turned to watch the two tractors closing in on them. When they reached within forty meters of the girls, the tractors stopped, allowing four goons from each tractor to climb out. The hard-looking men smiled at each other with a strange, wicked glee. They knew they had these girls trapped. The two on the snowmobile also arrived on the scene.
All ten men closed on the two girls.
“I don’t like this at all,” Emma said. “Will they let us surrender?”
“Maybe we should hope they kill us,” Nadia said.
Emma gave Nadia a haunted look, realizing her point. Ten grown men. Two young girls. A remote part of Alaska.
No one would hear them scream.
Nadia’s thoughts were interrupted by a snowmobile revving its engine as it burst from the trees at full speed. A girl with long black hair was at the controls. She streaked across the ice and cut in front of the men. The girl dropped a small object on the ground.
As the snowmobile cleared the men, the object flashed and went off with a loud bang. The sound punched the ice, causing it to shatter under the men’s feet, dropping them all into the icy water.
The snowmobile headed for the dogsled and slid to a stop.
“Who wants a ride?” the girl with long black hair asked. Her light skin with cool pink undertones appeared much paler thanks to the weather. But Miyuki’s shiny personality still shone through.
“So happy to see you.” Nadia hopped out of the sled and climbed on the back of the snowmobile.
But Emma didn’t move. “We can’t leave these dogs behind.”
The tired animals waited for the girls to tell them what to do next.
“There’s no room,” Nadia said.
“We admire your compassion,” Miyuki added. “But that may be difficult.”
The men were dragging themselves out of the water. The shock of the cold still made their bodies sluggish. But they were recovering.
Emma didn’t move.
“The dogs should be fine,” Nadia said. “They’re used to this type of weather.”
“Time is short,” Miyuki said. “We should get the hell out of Dodge City before those bad hombres come back.”
Emma glanced at the men as they shook off the chill and attempted to stand back up. Then she looked at the dogs, who waited obediently for the girls. Eight clouds of breath coming from eight snouts. Emma lowered her head and pushed herself to the snowmobile. She sat behind Nadia and Miyuki.
The men were picking up their guns. Would they work after being underwater?
Miyuki didn’t wait to find out. She pulled out another piece of “special” cosmetics, popped the bottle top, and tossed it to the side. The bottle hissed as thick smoke poured out. The wind carried the smoke across the frozen lake, obscuring the men’s vision. Miyuki gunned the engine and raced the snowmobile around the edge of the one-hundred-meter hole.
Nadia looked over her shoulder as the smoke now surrounded the men, causing confusion as to where they could safely go without falling back into the lake. Miyuki kept the snowmobile at full throttle, allowing the three girls to leave the men far behind.
Soon a helicopter appeared overhead. Emma’s radio came to life.
“Black Opal, this is Emerald. Is that Ruby driving the snowmobile? Over.” the girl with the British accent asked.
“Yes,” Emma replied. “She saved our bacon back there.”
“Roger. Stand by. I’m coming into land.”
The helicopter found a nice patch of flat snow and settled down. The girl at the controls had curly ribbons of golden-brown hair squashed by a radio headset. Her brown face was accented with bronze undertones.
The three girls abandoned their snowmobile and climbed aboard the aircraft. When everyone was safely inside, the girl pilot, Olivia, pushed the throttle up, and the helicopter rose from the ground as it once again became airborne.
Emma tried to say something, but the girls couldn’t hear over the helicopter’s engine noise. Olivia pointed at the headphones hanging near her seat. All three girls put on a pair.
“I’m so glad I found you,” Olivia said over the headset.
“We’re glad both of you found us,” Nadia added.
“No problem. We buddies.” Miyuki put her arms around Nadia and Emma.
But Emma didn’t look happy. “We have to go back.”
“Go back? Why?” Olivia asked.
“Those dogs. We can’t leave them out there in the cold.”
“I told you. They’ll survive,” Nadia said. “Those dogs are bred for the cold. Most likely they’ll stick together and hunt to survive.”
“They have a sled chained to them, remember? They’ll die out there,” Emma said. “We have an obligation to save them.”
Nadia had forgotten about that. The dogs couldn’t go anywhere. They were stuck. Perhaps those men who chased them would do the humane thing and shoot the poor animals rather than leave them out in the cold to die. Or maybe they would take the dogs with them. But those were evil men. Men who would leave poor animals outside to freeze to death.
“You two almost got shot back there,” Olivia said as she pulled back on her stick, commanding the helicopter to clear the top of a ridge. “I’m not going back there to give those blokes another chance for target practice.”
Emma was right and Nadia knew it. They were acting selfish.
Miyuki read the faces of her friends. She nodded. “Emma’s right, we should go back.”
“Those dogs did save our lives,” Nadia added.
“You never leave a furry comrade behind,” Emma said proudly.
Olivia peeked over her shoulder. All three girls now smiled at her. Olivia pressed her foot on the left rudder and brought the helicopter around to a new course. “Stupid flipping dogs.”

You can get the eBook at these booksellers.

The paperback will be out next week!

SKID Book Signing in Tulsa!

What a day! Thanks to everyone who came out last Saturday to see me at Steve’s Sundry Books and Magazines in Tulsa! This was my very first book signing and all of you made it so fun and stress free. The two hours felt like only a half-hour and I signed 22 books! I even had one friend who lives in Austin make her parents come to the book signing so she could have a signed copy. Stuff like that floors me.

With Joanie of Steve’s Sundry Books and Magazines

I would also like to thank Joannie, Kayla, and everyone else at Steve’s Sundry for helping me set up this book signing and for being such wonderful hosts. And another big thanks to KJRH Anchor Karen Larsen who actually interviewed me for the 5pm news that day. I have the video that aired and will try to have it posted soon so you guys can watch it.

Here are some cool pictures…

Calm before the storm
I signed 22 books
Cian’s first book signing! And according to him, I rulz.
A cool shot of me signing books
Lara liked her signed book so much she took a picture of it.
Superfan Melanie and me
Me and the youngest YA reader ever Tatum

Courtney Summers Author Interview!

My first introduction to Courtney Summers occurred inside my local Barnes & Noble bookstore. I saw the cover of her debut novel, CRACKED UP TO BE, which featured a headless teen girl stretched out on a bench with a soccer field behind her. I was curious. Why is that girl missing her head? Does she play soccer? Is she thinking about playing soccer? Does she dream about a world without soccer?

Curious, I picked up a copy and read the first chapter. I was then introduced to Parker Fadley, a girl who was smart, sarcastically hilarious, and didn’t take crap from anybody. But what really got me was the writing. As a reader, I clicked with the no-marshmallow, to-the-point, no-apologies way Ms. Summers writes. It was refreshing and made me a fan right then and there. Although, I did find out that CRACKED UP TO BE has nothing to do with soccer.

Since then, Courtney has written three young adult novels, SOME GIRLS ARE, FALL FOR ANYTHING, and her new book coming out on Tuesday, June 19th… 

Here’s a description from Ms. Summers’ website:

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up.

As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, everyone’s motivations to survive begin to change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life–and death–inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

I’ve already had the pleasure of reading this book and you can read that review here. (without spoilers) But basically…I LOVED IT!

I asked Courtney if she would stop by my website and answer a few questions about her writing, her books, and about THIS IS NOT A TEST. I was floored when she said yes. And I was humbled when she offered to send a free copy of THIS IS NOT A TEST to one lucky person for a giveaway! So keep reading for your chance to win!

Let’s get started…

Instead of going for the standard, survivalist-type horror heroine, you went the opposite way with Sloane. In the book, she starts off as a character who really wants to die. How did you come up with that choice? Was it the way you always envisioned Sloane or did her character change as you were writing the book?

I thought about how I’d (honestly) react during a zombie apocalypse. I like to think I’d be totally awesome at it but if I lost everyone that mattered to me, I’m not so sure I’d want to keep going. I always envisioned Sloane as girl who didn’t want to survive. How much she wanted to die became more pronounced from the first to second draft, but the core of her character, her motivations, remained the same.

One central element of this book is how the characters relate to each other and how that shifts throughout the story. My favorite relationship is between the twins Trace and Grace. Why did you pick a set of twins?

Thank you! I think of Trace and Grace as the characters the other characters want to be. Everyone in THIS IS NOT A TEST is aching for their family and those two represent what the others have lost. I thought having siblings would emphasize this void and I chose twins because I felt that would also intensify it.

What is your favorite horror film? And why?

I love Kairo (Pulse). It’s J-horror and it’s brilliant. I didn’t like it the first time I saw it but I made myself watch it again and it blew me away. The pacing is very slow, but it’s incredibly atmospheric and so lonely. It’s about ghosts and they’re taking over the living world through technology, forcing those who come in contact with them to commit suicide. It’s chilling.

Why do you like to write young adult fiction? What is it about the genre that appeals to you?

I love writing YA fiction because the stories demand an immediacy and intensity that is so fun to explore. I also love writing YA because I love reading it. So many YA books out today are fresh and exciting. I also adore the community–it’s so supportive and enthusiastic.

When faced with a new book, what’s your writing process?

My process is all over the place, to be honest! It really depends on the book. I could outline, I could just dive right in. I never know. THIS IS NOT A TEST was outlined extensively twice, for example. The book I’m working on now has been outlined more than that. Right now it looks like I settle into a new book with outlining, but Book 6 could change that up!

Who is your favorite fictional heroine and why?

That’s so hard to pick! I adore Luna Lovegood. She operates on this whole other level and nothing seems to touch her. I love every female protagonist Melina Marchetta has written because they’re always so honest and realistic. Andrea from Blake Nelson’s Girl has an incredible voice and is so likeable and wonderfully flawed. I’d read any book she narrated.

You write very compelling female heroines. Sloane in THIS IS NOT A TEST. Eddie in FALL FOR ANYTHING. Regina in SOME GIRLS ARE. Parker in CRACKED UP TO BE. Of these four fictional characters, which one is the closest to the real Courtney Summers?

Thank you! I don’t think any of them are by the time I’m finished a book, to be honest! I relate to some of my female leads more than others, but all of them are pretty far away from the type of person I am… I think. 😉

You can tell this next question is a bit…leading. But, if you were given a choice between an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas or one to Volcano National Park in Hawaii…which one would you choose and why?

Hah! WELL. Volcano National Park all the way! Best ever.

What projects are you working on now?

I’m wrapping up the first draft of my fifth book, ALL THE RAGE, which is due out in 2013. It’s about a girl who blackmails a rich classmate and then wakes up on a dirt road with no memory of the night before.

To wrap things up, I would like to borrow five quick questions from the great James Lipton, host of Inside The Actor’s Studio. Here we go.

Now, Courtney…

What is your favorite word?
Fisticuffs!

What is your least favorite word?
Lolling.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
Fearlessness.

What sound or noise do you love?
Thunderstorms.

What sound or noise do you hate?
Snoring!

And we will leave on that noisy note. Courtney, thank you so much for stopping by!

Thanks for having me on your blog, Doug!

Courtney has allowed me the honor of giving away one copy of THIS IS NOT A TEST to one lucky reader!

To enter, all you need to do is leave one comment on this post by Midnight (CST) on June 16, 2012. I will announce the winner on June 19, 2012. Please list your e-mail on your comment so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I will not use your e-mail for any other purpose.

You can only enter once. UNLESS…you mention this interview on Twitter or your blog and I’ll give you one extra entry! BUT please let me know you did this by either adding my twitter name (@DougSolter) to your tweet. Or put a link to your blog post inside your comment to get credit.

This giveaway is for US/Canada entries only. Sorry. :(  

Good luck!