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The one with a NEW SERIES!

OMG. OMG GUYS.

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Ahh. I’ve been sitting on this news for a while, and have been so eager to announce it. And wouldn’t you know that when it’s actually announced, I am totally unprepared! So I’m rushing to put this post together, but I’m so excited that I can’t think straight!

So bear with me… we’ll start with the basics.

I SOLD A NEW SERIES!!!

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AND IT’S YA!!!!

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AND HIGH FANTASY!!!

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AND AHHHHHHHH!!!!

The deal was announced today on Publisher’s Weekly. The series is currently titled Stealing Storms, and the first book is called ROAR.

Roar announcement

Okay. Breathe. I’m breathing. Where to start?!

Let’s start with the genre.

Some of you might know that long before I ever put pen to paper and wrote Losing It, my first writing love was YA fantasy. The first book I ever finished was YA fantasy. The first book that ever got me an agent was YA fantasy. YA fantasy (of various kinds) is what I lived and breathed for five years before one summer I took a break to work on something different about an awkward girl in college who sort of accidentally nearly hooks up with her college professor. That book became far bigger than I ever could have imagined, and as a result I spent three years and many books writing New Adult romance. And I have had an absolute blast. And I have every intention to keep writing romance.

But I missed fantasy. I missed YA. If you’ve ever followed me on social media, you’ll note that I recommend far more fantasy and paranormal books than I do contemporary because it’s what I read the most. And my absolute FAVORITE thing to read, the thing I repeatedly ask for recommendations for, is high fantasy with a strong romantic plot (If you don’t recognize the term “high fantasy”- think books that take place in a fictional created world separate from our own– LOTR, GoT, etc). I’ve pretty much devoured anything put in front of me that meets that description. Some favorites include the Graceling series by Kristin Cashore, the Tairen Soul series by CL Wilson, Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J Maas, The Study series by Maria V Snyder, and more.

But as evidenced by the fact that I continually ask for recs, there just aren’t enough books out there like that in my opinion. And I have this pesky little character flaw in that when I want to read something and can’t find it… I HAVE to write it. I just can’t help myself. I did it with LOSING IT when I was craving funny NA amidst all the angst. I did it with INSPIRE when I wanted more paranormal amidst the contemporary. And now I’m doing it with ROAR. And it’s something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time, and I am just so excited and grateful that it’s finally happening. And I’m all weepy and emotional.

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I’m also INCREDIBLY excited to work with both Tor Teen and my editor, Whitney Ross. Whitney and I met a few years ago after she read LOSING IT, and I’ve pretty much thought she was the sweetest thing ever since then. And I love Tor’s books, and have heard fabulous things about them from authors on their list. And I’m just so excited to be writing high fantasy romance, guys! You can expect lots of swoon against a back drop of a new and different world that I am so in love with!

 

A little more about the story!

I grew up in Texas. I lost countless trampolines and bicycles and God knows what else to tornadoes as a child. I had a specific book that I read whenever there was a tornado and my parents stuck me and all our pets in a bathroom to hide (I read to our dogs. They loved it. Take my word for it). My middle sister desperately wanted to be a storm chaser when she grew up, so we watched countless storm movies (I’m looking at you, Twister and Devon Sawa in Night of the Twisters. Yeah,you).

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So I, as the younger sister, of course picked up the fascination. And it’s stuck with me for the rest of my life. I used to talk about writing a contemporary book about storm chasers, but I was nervous about getting the science right and had such a hectic writing schedule that I was never sure I had the time to do proper research. So I once jokingly mentioned I should write a fantasy book about magic storms, then I could just make up whatever I didn’t know.

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It was a joke. But then this idea began unraveling in my head about a world inundated with violent, magical storms that were almost like sentient beings. I thought about how storms like that would shape the culture and government and religion of the land. I imagined rulers with the ability to  control the storms. Then I added some kick ass storm chasers who hunt storms to siphon off magic to sell on the black market. And finally, I imagined a girl named Aurora, who was destined to become Queen and take over her family’s duty of protecting the land, but with one little problem. She’s yet to show any magical ability. And without it, she’s been roped into an arranged marriage in order to keep the power stable in her kingdom.

But even though she wasn’t born with magic, it’s possible to steal it. If you’re brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master. 

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So Aurora runs away with a group of storm chasers and becomes Roar, a storm chaser’s apprentice. She’s determined to look death in the eye and escape with enough magic to control her own future. But life, like the weather, is unpredictable. And she soon faces an impossible choice.

Queen or adventurer.

Duty or freedom.

Her Kingdom or the storm chaser she loves.

Rora or Roar.

Now about those storm chasers…

I AM SO EXCITED TO INTRODUCE THEM TO YOU. They’re this awesome, rag-tag group of misfits who are just crazy and brave enough to take on a very supernatural mother nature. And I mean, really…. you can’t get much hotter than a badass storm chaser for a hero. You’re imagining him in leather, aren’t you? Go ahead. I’ll wait.

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So that’s it!

That’s my news that I’ve been sitting on for months. I hope you’re as excited as me! In fact, you should probably go ahead and add it to read on Goodreads. Feel free to leave your excitement there too. Or ask any questions you might have in the Goodreads ask feature!

And for those who’ve been begging me for news about INFLICT (Inspire book #2), this is why I haven’t been able to give you an answer. Because the YA world moves more slowly than the digitally driven world of romance,  I have to get this book finished and ready to go much sooner than I normally do, and it’s required some rearranging of my schedule. So for the time being, I’ve been working on both this and Inflict. I still don’t have an exact date for you. But I can promise it will be this year. And hopefully I’ll have some more concrete news for you in the next month or so.

And one last shameless plug…

Two of my books are on sale!

Inspire is just $.99 today only as a Kobo daily deal!

Kobo https://goo.gl/FbVsRv

 

Also on…

And All Played Out is $1.99!

Okay now that’s really all! *tackle hugs for everyone*

With Awkward Love,

Cora

The One with MORE Mateo and Nell!

A few weeks ago, my street team organized an awesome All Played Out Read-a-thon, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to revisit some of my favorite Rusk couples! I started out with a bonus scene about Carson and Dallas, which you can read HERE. Then I wrote a bonus scene about Silas and Dylan, which you can read HERE. And finally, last but certainly not least – a bonus scene about Mateo and Nell!

This scene is an expansion of sorts on the epilogue. And I’ve included both Mateo AND Nell’s POV.

*Please note: This is unedited. Sorry for any mistakes! ♥*

TORRES

Watching her, I feel proud and terrified all at once. That stage is her field. And her uniform—black robe, white collar, colored ropes marking her accomplishments, and square cap—it’s all strangely sexy, even that loose fitting robe. Because I know how easy it will be to slide my hand beneath it.
Not that that’s something I should be thinking about when I’m sitting next to Nell’s mother. Nell’s badass mother who could give Coach Cole a run for his money in the scary department.

I watch Nell climbing the steps up onto the platform where she’ll receive her diploma, and I swear my heart is lodged in my throat. We’re all clapping, and I want to yell, to scream—that’s what people would expect. Hell, it’s what I expected. I was looking forward to trying to spot the blush on her cheeks when I made sure everyone in this place knew that she belonged to me.

But now that it’s happening… I can’t seem to make a sound. She just… she’s everything I ever wanted. More, actually. And things are moving so fast. She’s graduating. I’ve got one more semester with her while she works, then the summer, and then she’ll be starting graduate school. And I just have to believe that what we have is strong enough, real enough to last.

“I knew I’d be on the verge of tears. But I didn’t expect it from you,” Her mother says, her smile sly.

I laugh, and it comes out hoarse, like I really had been crying. “I won’t tell if you won’t.”

As she shakes the dean’s hand and accepts her diploma, I finally find my voice enough to shout, “Yeah! That’s my girl!”

Her eyes flick up in my direction in the stands, and instead of blushing, she blows me a kiss, and I’m grinning like a fucking maniac.

“You’re not what I expected,” Nell’s mom says.

“Better, I hope. Because your daughter is never getting rid of me now. Not if I have anything to say about it.”

“She’s a smart girl. It’s her say that matters.”

On reflex, I start to reply that she’s more than smart… she’s a fucking genius. But I’m not sure how her mom will react to that particular endearment. So I smile and nod, and sit impatiently as hundreds of other graduates from Nell’s program cross the stage.

A brutal hour later, I see Nell outside, chatting with some of the people she knows from her classes. I run up behind her and scoop her into my arms. She squeals when I swing her around.

“Mateo!” Her fingers grip my forearms where they’re wrapped around her middle.

I set her down and she twists in my arms and leans in to hug me. I dip closer to her ear and say, “I’ll never get tired of hearing my name come out of your mouth.”

“Mateo,” she says again, a touch of warning in it this time, no doubt because her parents are behind me and my hand might be a little too close to her ass. But what can I say? I missed her.

Teasing, I slide my hand down another inch. “You know saying my name is never the way to get me to back off.”

She peels my hands off her body and laces our fingers together. “Later. Dinner with my parents. Then maybe we can spend some time in the library.”

I lift a brow. “The library, huh?”

“Well… I’m only at Rusk for one more semester. And I seem to recall one more list we never completed.”

“Does this list have six things on it?”

She grins. “It does.”

I don’t care that her parents are watching. I tug her forward and kiss her hard. Then whisper in her ear, “I love you, girl genius.”

****
NELL

It’s dark by the time we’ve finished celebrating with MY parents and returned them to their hotel room. I tell them that Mateo is taking me home, but we both know that’s not true. Excitement bubbles up in my belly at the thought of where we’re heading. Books and Mateo are pretty much my favorite things ever. And Mateo in the library? Irresistable.

But I Mateo doesn’t head to the parking lot nearest the library like I expect. Instead he chose one near the quad in the center of campus.

Suspicious, I narrow my eyes and ask, “What are you up to?”

Grinning, he puts the truck into park and pushes open his door. “Who me?”

“Mateo Torres,” I shout through the closed door. “You know how I feel about surprises. I like to know what I’m heading into.”

He rounds the front of the truck to open to my door, and he takes his time gripping my hips and helping me slide off the seat to stand in front of him. He says, “I definitely know all that. Just trust me… okay?”

Trust. I take a deep breath. I’ve trusted him with just about everything else in my life, I can give him this too. I’d give him just about anything.

He laces our fingers together and pulls me out of the parking lot and onto the sidewalk. We walk through the center of campus, past dorms and educational building, and we come to a stop at the very center of campus where the university seal is set into concrete and surround by flowers and trees and fountains. The seal has the original founding date of the university, along with the founder, school crest and school motto in Latin.

Confused, my eyebrows furrow and I look up at my boyfriend. He’s not one to typically care about school history. But he stops with us standing right at the center of the seal.

“Care to fill me in?” I ask.

He pulls our hands between us, his thumbs rubbing back and forth over my knuckles.

“You said that you like to know what you’re heading into. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m telling you what you’re heading into. We might have met here at Rusk, and it might be one the main things we have in common. But we won’t be here forever. In fact, you’re going to be leaving really, really soon. And before that happens, I need you to know that I’m in this. That this place won’t just be where I fell in love with you.” Those words never fail to make my heart beat faster, to make my stomach swoop with anticipation. He squeezes my hands and continues, “Someday, this is going to be the place that I ask you to spend the rest of your life with me. Then we’re going to get married because I won’t let you say anything but yes, and I’m going to bring you here and we’re going to climb Big Daddy Rusk, wedding dress and all.” Tears crest over my cheeks at the same time that I choke on a laugh. “And then a long time after that, we’ll bring our kids here, and we can stand on this seal, and tell them what this place means to us. That this school changed our lives by bringing us together. That’s where we’re heading. I may not know what will happen in a month or a year or five years down the road… but I know that.”

I can’t seem to get any words out. I’m a blubbering, crying mess, and let’s just blame on graduation and my family and this being a REALLY emotional day. So without words, I settle for throwing my arms around his neck and kissing him. And kissing him and kissing him until I can’t breathe.

His hands are tight on my hips, pulling me close against his large body, and it’s all so surreal. I cannot believe this man loves me. And that I love him. And that in all the chaos and horror and unknown in this wide world, we have somehow found this good and perfect thing together.

It defies all reason.

A whistle breaks us apart, followed by the glaring flick of a light over our faces. My eyes widen.

A security guard. Jumping out of a golf cart, heading our way.

Mateo grips my hand tight, and starts pulling me away, first at a fast walk and then a run.

“Why are we running?” I say, between huffing breaths.

“Did I not mention that the seal is part of the Sweet Six? They have a regular patrol that sweeps by to run people off.”

“Oh my God, you pervert! After all those sweet things you said, you wanted to have sex on that seal!”

He chuckles, pausing in our escape to grab me around the middle and swing me around, before setting me back on my feet and pulling me into a run once more.

“Oh, we’re gonna get that seal. But don’t worry. We’ll leave that part of the story out when we tell our kids.”

The One with MORE Silas and Dylan!!

A few weeks ago, my street team organized an awesome All Played Out Read-a-thon, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to revisit some of my favorite Rusk couples! I started out with a bonus scene about Carson and Dallas, which you can read HERE. Next up: Silas and Dylan!

This scene is in Dylan’s POV, and it takes place after the events of All Played Out (not really any spoilers though). In it, I reintroduce a “character” that’s going to play a bigger role in the series moving forward.

Note: This scene is unedited. So any mistakes are my bad.

*********************************DYLAN**************************************

As I walk up the steps to Silas’s house, I hear a crash inside, people yelling, and then something shatters. My heart turns over in my chest, and I take the last few steps at a run.

Within the space of a few heartbeats, my mind conjures up all the likely causes of that crash. Silas is fighting again… but with who? Or maybe one of the guys was hurt in practice, and it made him clumsy. Or maybe it’s a burglar. I don’t bother knocking before I push my way inside, and then my heart doesn’t just turn over. It drops into my stomach like it’s been tied to an anchor.

The house is in shambles. Chairs overturned. The stuffing has been ripped out of one of the cushions on the couch. A lamp has been knocked off a table, and the glass from the broken light bulb surrounds it in a halo that glitters when the sunlight from the open door hits it. It reminds me of the scenes in movies where someone’s house is ripped apart because the bad guy is looking for something. And for a moment, I think of last week when Torres jokingly accused Brookes of working for the CIA for like the third time. That *was* a joke, right? Surely.

Dozens of scenarios run through my head, each one more elaborate and unlikely than the one before.

“Damn it, Moore! Grab him!” That was Brookes.

I turn toward the source of the noise in the kitchen, and catch sight of Torres sitting on the dining room table, laughing his ass off. And when I step through the archway into the room, I see why.

No CIA nonsense. No fighting. No injuries.

Nope. Just my incredibly gorgeous boyfriend, wrestling on the floor with an extremely hyper dog. The dog, a brown and gray Labrador/Cattle dog mix that I recognize from our local shelter, can’t seem to decide whether it wants to escape Silas’s grasp or lick his face, so he alternates between the two. If I remember correctly, this was the dog Silas named Bo Jackson the first time he helped out at the shelter with me. I watch as my boyfriend lays there, eyes and mouth tightly shut, hands pre-occupied with a squirming body, while the dog slobbers all over his face. I can’t stop the laugh that bubbles up in my throat, and then all attention snaps toward me.

A slobbery Silas on the ground, laughing Torres on the table, and a stern Brookes, who was picking up the larger glass pieces of whatever it was that had broken before I entered the house.

“Uhh… hey baby.”

I’m not used to seeing Silas look ridiculous. Intimidating? Always. Sexy? Enough to give me heart palpitations. But the expression he wears now—part embarrassment, part little boy with his hand caught in the cookie jar—is an entirely new Silas for me.

I cross the kitchen and kneel down beside him, and the dog goes wild, panting and wagging his tail, pushing his paws against Silas’s stomach to try and reach me. I scratch behind his ears, and he makes this adorable mewling sound in appreciation. After about a minute of scratching and petting, he settles down enough that he relaxes against Silas, laying his head down on his chest.

“Who knew Captain Planet could work miracles?” Torres says. “Should make that whole saving the world thing easier.”

I ignore him and focus on Silas. “Want to tell me why Bo Jackson is here tearing up your house instead of at the shelter?”

“I can’t get anyone to take him,” he says, and he’s strangely adorable in his defensiveness. “I keep trying to push him on people, but everything thinks he’s too big or too hyper.”

“That’s because he is too hyper,” Brookes mutters under his breath.

“I couldn’t stand looking at him in that cage anymore. And… this dog… he’s a part of our story, you know? He was just a puppy when I went to the shelter with you the first time. He reminds me of what it was like to fall for you, and I can’t just let him rot away in that place.”

“Awwww!” Torres says behind me, swinging his legs back and forth beneath the table like a child. “Did you hear that Brookes? That monster is part of their story. Who knew Moore was such a softy?”

“Shut up, Torres.” I’d thought the words had come from me, I’d certainly been ready to say them, but it’s Brookes who actually says them. “Like you’re not just as whipped as he is.”

“Hey! I didn’t bring home a dog who destroyed our house. I think I’m still winning here.”

“I went to the bathroom,” Silas says in exasperation. “How was I supposed to know he’d rip everything apart if I left him alone for a minute or two?”

My eyes widen. “He did all that damage in two minutes?”

“It was really more like ten,” Brookes explains.

“He’s a fast little sucker. it took us a little while to catch him.”

Unbelievable. Three college athletes can’t catch a dog.

“Well, he’s not really an indoors kind of pet. He needs space to run and play. Why didn’t you put him in the backyard?”

Silas glares at Torres. “Because there’s still a part of the fence that’s down, and Torres over there refuses to let us fix it.”

“Hey… if you can get a dog for sentimental reasons, I can like that broken fence. It’s part of *my* story.”

Brookes dumps the larger broken glass pieces in the trash, grabs a broom, and tosses it at Torres. “You’re both idiots. And the two of you can clean up the mess he made and decide how to keep him from making it again. Just figure your shit out.”

Brookes stalks out of the kitchen and Torres whistles. “Someone is moody. Think he’s jealous of the complete and utter perfection that is my love life?”

I roll my eyes, and rather than answering, I lift Bo Jackson into my arms so Silas can stand. He goes to the sink, splashing water on his face to clean off the slobber, and when he looks back at me, his long hair is stuck to his forehead and cheeks, and he’s back to being unequivocally sexy.

He crosses to me, and though he lifts a hand to scratch at Bo’s ears, his eyes never leave mine. There’s a vulnerability in his gaze that he only rarely shows me. And each time, it grips my heart so hard I think it might break.

“It was very sweet of you to want to take care of him.” He leans closer, until his forehead presses against mine, Bo wiggling between us.

“I just… when I think about our future. I picture a house with a yard. Maybe a kid or two… and this dog. I just do.”

“If football doesn’t work out,” Torres says, “You could always try for a career with Hallmark.”

“Shut up, Torres.” This time—the words come from both me and Silas.

Hopping off the table, he lifts his hands in surrender. “Yeah, yeah. Fine. Nell’s about to get off work anyway.”

As Torres leaves the kitchen, Silas yells after him, “That fence is getting fixed, Teo! Deal with it.”

His friend waves off his words, and slips out of the room, leaving just the two of us in the kitchen.

“I love you,” I tell him.

“Yeah?” He scratches a little harder at Bo’s ears, and the dog croons.

“Yeah.”

“I didn’t freak you out? With all the future talk?”

Rather than answering, I reach up and wrap one hand around his neck to pull his mouth down to mine. His answering kiss is hard, they always are after he’s let himself be vulnerable with me. He kisses with abandon, with a brutal passion that takes my breath away. Whatever his flaws are, you cannot say that Silas Moore doesn’t throw his whole heart into whatever he does.

Bo whines in complaint when he gets squished too hard between us. And when he jerks, I can’t keep hold of him with the one arm that’s not pre-occupied with Silas. He jumps to the floor and takes off. I try to go after him, but Silas tugs on my hair, slanting his mouth over mine again.

“We’ll catch him in a second. I’m not quite done with this pretty mouth.”

There’s a thud in the living room, and then another crash. After one last lingering kiss, Silas groans and curses as he pulls away.

“He’s part of our story,” I remind him, just a slight note of teasing in my voice as I plant one more quick kiss on his lips.

“Yeah, well, I was hoping fucking you on the kitchen counter could be part of our story.”

I laugh and push him away. “Another time.”

Then together (with one of his hands slipping down to squeeze my ass), we head off in search of Bo Jackson. Our dog.

The One with MORE Carson and Dallas!

A few weeks ago, my street team organized an All Played Out Read-a-thon, and I thought that was the perfect time to revisit some of my favorite Rusk couples. First up? Carson and Dallas. This bonus scene was posted in the read-a-thon, but if you missed it, here it is in all it’s swoon worthy glory!
This scene is unedited, so please forgive any mistakes. Song lyrics are in italics. Enjoy!

**************CARSON’S POV******************
Practice ends a little earlier than expected, so I text Dallas to see what she’s up to, then hop in the shower. By the time I’m out she still hasn’t replied, so I jump in my truck and swing by the new apartment she shares with Stella.

I don’t see Dallas’s little car. I do see both Stella and Ryan’s vehicles. Interesting. Maybe we should go to my place after I find her. We’ll leave those two to do… whatever they’re doing.

Sure enough, I catch sight of her car on my next stop. All alone in a nearly abandoned parking lot by the fine arts building. I pull my truck into the space next to hers and jump out. There’s one door that’s left open at all hours that students come and go through. It’s off around the side of the building and is mostly where the smoker’s hang out. But the dancers and actors and singers have rehearsals at all kinds of crazy hours, so they all use it after hours.

Once I’m inside, I head toward the dance rehearsal spaces from memory. Down a couple hallways, and then off to the right. As I get closer, I hear music, and I know without seeing her that it’s got to be Dallas.

The music is soft and pretty, but there’s an ache in it, a rawness that Dallas always seems to be attracted to. When I’m almost there, I hear her curse, followed by her stomping footsteps, and the song pauses, only to start over at the beginning.

I’ve just made it to the open doorway when she takes her starting position. She’s sitting down with her elbows on her knees and her head hung low.

Slowly, she starts to breathe, letting her whole body move in exaggeration with it, and I imagine it’s timed to the beat of her heart.

This heart is tired and old.

She stretches and twists her body, like she’s slept too long and it’s painful to wake up. Then she rolls gracefully to her feet.

This heart is charcoal and cold.

Her hand pulses over her heart before she does a single spin and ends with her arms wrapped around her middle, shivering.

I know this is what she loves, and God knows she’s brilliant at it. There’s such an effortless beauty to her movement. But she embodies the emotion so completely that it’s hard for me to watch.
The song talks about giving up and giving in, and even as she spins and jumps, she looks moments away from collapsing, from folding in on herself. And this pit opens up in my stomach, and I have to grip the doorjamb hard to keep from interrupting her. I want to pull her into my arms and take away whatever hurt lets her dance like this. I don’t want her to know that kind of grief.

She stretches one leg up behind her. An arabesque I think is what she calls it. But I’ve only ever seen her do it about waist high. This time she pushes it higher, her body tense and still, and I can’t help but marvel at her control. She’s so fucking strong. She starts to lose her balance, and her leg jerks, she hops to try and save it, but it’s too late.

She drops her leg and groans in frustration and digs her fingers into her hair. I take that as my cue to step in and say, “Hey.”

She looks up and gives me a brilliant, albeit tired, smile. It almost completely pushes out the vulnerability she’d had in the dance. Almost.

I cross toward her, slipping off my shoes first so I don’t mess up the floor with my boots. “That looked hard,” I say, referencing that last move.

She frowns, and I wish I hadn’t said anything. “It is. I’ve done it before. At the conservatory this summer. But I can’t seem to get it here.”

I step up in front of her, pushing aside some hair that’s stuck on her forehead. “You’ll get it.”

She shakes her head. “I should have worked harder to keep all the gains I made there. I’ve been lazy. I let myself go.”

“Hey, stop that.” I slip my hand around the back of her neck, underneath the curtain of her hair.

She tries to pull away, saying, “I’m all sweaty and gross.”

I hold tight, refusing to let her slip away. “Sweaty, yes. But I don’t find you the least bit gross.” To prove my point, I dip my head and drag my lips over her collarbone, pausing at the curve between her neck and shoulder to taste the salt on her skin.

Her hands find my waist, and she grabs hold of me, anchoring herself. And that’s what I want to be for her. Always. I want to be the thing that keeps her steady and strong and still.

“Thanks,” she murmurs. And I’m not sure what exactly she’s thanking me for.

“How high you can get your leg isn’t what makes you a great dancer, Dallas. It’s part of it, sure. But I promise… when that music plays, people aren’t watching how perfect your technique is. They’re watching you dance as if you’re holding your heart right there in the palm of your hands, offering up everything you’ve got to the music. I may not know much about dance. But I know that that… what you were doing there before you stopped? That was fucking gorgeous.”

She slumps wearily into me, but her arms wind tightly around my middle for a hug. I return it, squeezing her a little tighter than I probably should.

When she pulls back, I smile and say, “Why don’t you try it again? With me here to help you keep your balance this time?”

She laughs. “You’re going to be my barre again?”

“Always.”

I step far enough away to give her space, and after a deep breath, she closes her eyes and begins lifting her leg. She gets it to the usual spot with no problem. Then after a few seconds pause, she starts to push it higher, her upper body angling forward a little more. When I see her start to strain, her center faltering, I step up and steady her with my hands on her hips.

“You got it. I won’t let you fall.”

She takes another deep breath, and with me still holding her, she lifts her leg even higher, so that her foot is as high as my shoulder. I get distracted by the length of her legs, which in my defense, are pretty damn amazing.

And after nearly thirty seconds watching her hold that position, I lose the last of my self control and let two fingers trail from her thigh to the sensitive area behind her knee.

She jumps, and I slip my other hand from her hip to her stomach, cradling her.

“So this is why you wanted to help,” she says, slightly out of breath.

“My intentions were entirely gentlemanly.”

She lowers her leg to the floor, and when she straightens her body, I’ve still got my hand low on her belly and she looks at me over her shoulder.

“Were?”

“You know your legs are my weakness. Once I start thinking about how they feel wrapped around me, I can’t be held responsible for my actions.”

“You know, if you took up dance, you could be my partner. It’s pretty common in duets for the male dancer to hold the female with her legs wrapped around his waist.”

She gives me a sly smile, and whatever patience I had left goes out the window. I pick her up by the waist and slam my mouth into hers, and she wastes no time curling her legs around me.

Against her lips, I murmur, “I think I’m going to need to practice this move a lot.”

She laughs softly, her breath fanning over my mouth. “Practice does make perfect.”

(SWOOON. I MISS THESE GUYS SO MUCH. I LOVE THEM).

The One Where ALL PLAYED OUT is Here!!!!

We’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting…and it’s FINALLY the best #TorresTuesday ever, because ALL PLAYED OUT IS HEEEEEERREE!!!!!

If you’re wondering what all the excitement is about….All Played Out is the third book in my Rusk University series! It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks and hopefully at your local bookstore! (Note: If you can’t find it in your bookstore, don’t be afraid to ask. Sometimes they can be slow about putting books out on time, and it might just be sitting in the back room waiting for someone like you to ask). You can also add it on Goodreads! Here’s a little more info, if you’re curious. 🙂

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ALL PLAYED OUT
by Cora Carmack

First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay… Scratch that. She knows she hasn’t had the full college experience).

So Nell does a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a “to do” list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it’s impossible to get hurt… again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she’s never known.  But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, *normal* item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he’s willing to take the chance when it’s more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.

*********

EEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!! I am SO unspeakably excited for you guys to read this book! I think Mateo Torres miiiiight be my favorite book boyfriend I have ever written. EVER. I know, those are fighting words, but seriously….I love him so muchIn part, it’s because he’s totally the kind of guy I would date in real life. Hilarious and bold and maybe just a little perverted. I still act like a kid most days, and I like a guy who can be playful, but then also turn on the serious and sexy when the occasion calls for it. He’s also just so different from all the other guys I’ve written, and it was really fun to tackle a character that felt completely fresh to me. And when you dig a little deeper past his outlandish exterior, Torres has fears and insecurities that I think will be familiar to a lot of people. And something about that combination of humor and vulnerability just makes him very real and very human in my head.

Not to mention Nell. NELL! Gah… she’s definitely one of my favorite heroines. She’s quirky and smart and anti-social. And I love that she always says exactly what pops into her head with no thought to what is cool or attractive. She’s an extremely logical girl, and to watch her tackle college as if it were a math problem to solve was just a blast to write.

And of course you’ll get to see the rest of the Rusk University gang! You’ll see Dallas and Carson again. The book even opens with a half-naked Silas (you’re welcome). And we get to see more of Stella and Ryan and Brookes and Matty too!

To help celebrate the release of All Played Out, the Carmcats (my amazing street team) have put together an AWESOME photo challenge!

11055312_10204392784364228_3861150698274981921_nYou can participate by posting a picture fitting each day’s theme on your social media accounts and using the hashtag #APOPhotoChallenge. The photo challenge has been going for a week, but it’s not too late for you to join in…just pick up with today’s prompt (or feel free to play catch up on the ones you’ve missed)! All week, I’m randomly selecting winners from the #APOPhotoChallenge hashtag to win prizes (gift cards, ebooks, signed swag, books, and… one lucky winner will get Mateo Torres’ official Rusk Football t-shirt)!

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(In case you missed it: Here’s MY current bucket list!)

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And of course, what would Release Day be without a GIVEAWAYYYYYY?!? One of you lovely, lucky people is going to win a signed set of Rusk University paperbacks (that’s All Lined Up, All Broke Down, AND All Played Out) as well as a super cozy Rusk University Sweatshirt!!

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There are lots of different ways to enter, and this giveaway is open internationally! Ends two weeks from today! And if you like that sweatshirt, you’re definitely going to want to keep an eye on this blog and my social media over the next week or so. We’re almost ready to open the official Rusk University store, which will have everything you could possibly need to pretend that Rusk is real! 😉

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you pick up the book today, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And if you’ve got time to leave a review on your favorite online retailer, I would REALLY appreciate it. Reviews are more important than you know. They help raise a book’s visibility and can help someone who’s unsure decide whether or not to buy the book. AND…. if you want to know what’s next in the Rusk University series, be sure to check out this post about book four (Stella’s Book!) and add it on Goodreads.

Love you guys SO much! And if you want to Tweet or Facebook or Insta me pics of you with your copy of the book, I sure wouldn’t hate it! 😀
Cora <3 <3 <3

The One about Stella’s Book (and some free stuff)!

All Played Out by Cora Carmack

First things first: ALL PLAYED OUT releases in less than two weeks! And I’m so excited I can’t stand it! These might be fighting words for some of you… but I think Mateo Torres might be my favorite hero I’ve ever written. He’s the kind of guy I would totally date in real life. If a guy can make me laugh… I’m sold. And if he just so happens to also be a sexy athlete with a wee bit of a dominant edge? YES PLEASE.

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And if that isn’t exciting enough, readers who pre-order APO are eligible to get FREE STUFF!
That’s right….free stuff! For you! Just follow these three easy steps…

Step 1: Pre-order your copy of All Played Out (in print, e-book, or audio) from any retailer: Amazon
, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
Step 2: Submit your pre-order information HERE.
Step 3: Receive a Rusk University swag pack that includes a Rusk drink koozie and a Rusk pen!

*Unfortunately, this pre-order incentive is US only. I love and adore my international readers, but it’s not up to me. My US publisher is covering the cost of this promotion, so they decide the restrictions.

11178216_973343029376401_2843135045893789869_nBut now, let’s get to the real point of this blog post. I’ve been hinting at an upcoming announcement for the past week or two, and I am so excited to finally share it with you! I debated for awhile about how to share this, and an open letter seemed like the best way…so here we are!

*WARNING: This letter contains spoilers for All Broke Down. If you haven’t yet read that book, read at your own peril. SECOND WARNING: this letter talks about fictional characters as if they are real people. Sorry I’m not sorry. THIRD WARNING: The letter below broaches a serious topic that could be a TRIGGER for some people*


Hello beloved readers!

The first person who read one of my Rusk University books was my older sister. I gave her All Lined Up when I finished, and her first question was “Are Ryan and Stella going to be together?”

At the time, I told her no. I had plans for both of them that included their own storylines. I thought they were too much alike. They’d make great friends. They might even hook-up, but in the end… I couldn’t envision anything serious for them. So I actually rewrote some of their scenes trying to make that aspect of their connection more obvious. And still, when All Lined Up released, amidst the chatter about sweet Carson and sassy Dallas, I had people asking if Stella and Ryan were next. I denied it again (and again and again).

But sometimes in writing, the stars align and a character will become bigger and more real than you could have possibly imagined. It’s a wonderful experience, but in Stella’s case it was also incredibly heartbreaking. While I was writing All Broke Down, the news was inundated with information about the Steubenville rape trial and other tragedies and injustices like it. Tragedies where women have been violated first by an attacker, then by judgmental and hateful people, and finally by a justice system that repeatedly fails survivors of sexual assault. Having grown up in Texas, where too often football stars are treated like gods and can get away with just about anything, it hit particularly close to home. And since All Broke Down featured a passionate activist heroine, I felt compelled to reference this chronic dark underbelly of elite sports.

I can remember vividly sitting on my couch, brainstorming how I would incorporate such an event into the book. I had thought the assault would happen to an unknown character, and maybe I would focus on the way it divided the team and the school and the town. But like I said… Sometimes a character will become bigger and more human than I anticipated. And it sounds crazy, but in my mind, I felt Stella push her way forward and say, “Mine. This is my story.” I immediately began to cry. Sob, really. Because I loved her as a character. She was hilarious and strong and didn’t take crap from anyone. She’s everything I always hope to be. And I didn’t want her to go through that. Even as I cried, my brain began to tell me that it made sense. Stella is vibrant and enjoys a wild party. She’s not afraid of her sexuality, and she has no problem with casual sex. She’s the kind of girl that probably has a reputation. The kind of girl who could be heinously and violently taken advantage of, and people would STILL blame her. Because she was in the wrong place, wearing the wrong clothes, behaving in the wrong way. But just because it COULD happen to her, didn’t mean I wanted it to. But once again, Stella was there in my head saying, “Someone needs to tell this story. And I’m strong enough to do it. Let me.” And when Stella chose her story, she also chose the man I’d been adamant wasn’t right for her. Because as it turns out… Those two characters who I thought were too alike aren’t so alike anymore. And Stella needs Ryan to help her hold on to that vibrant and strong girl she was before.

So I let go of all the plans I had for her, and allowed her to tell me her story, which is about more than just sexual assault. It’s about the aftermath. Depression. Shame. Guilt. Anger. Injustice. Victim-blaming. Slut-shaming. It’s about the way that kind of event can change everything– how you relate to people, how you think, how you dream, how you love. It’s about the way the rest of the world moves on to the next big tragedy, and you’re still left holding the broken pieces of who you used to be, with no idea how to put them together again or even if you want to. It will be the most difficult story I ever tell. And the most important. Because it’s a story that belongs not just to Stella, but to millions of people around the world. It’s a story that belongs to a new person every 107 seconds*. And that’s just in the United States. Think about that for a moment. 107 seconds. Stella’s story won’t be any easier to read than it will be to write. But I hope you’ll help me drag this story into the light.

So now I’ll step off my soapbox and just tell you about the book…

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ALL CLOSED OFF
By Cora Carmack

Stella Santos is fine.

Maybe something terrible happened to her that she can’t even remember. And maybe it drives her crazy when her friends treat her like she’s on the verge of breaking because of it. Maybe it feels even worse when they do what she asks and pretend that it never happened at all. And maybe she’s been getting harassing emails and messages for months from people who don’t even know her, but hate her all the same.

But none of that matters because she’s just fine.

For Ryan Blake, Stella was always that girl. Vibrant and hilarious and beautiful. He wanted her as his best friend. His more than friends. His everything and anything that she would give him. Which these days is a whole lot of nothing. She gets angry when he’s there. Angry when he’s not there. Angry when he tries to talk and when he doesn’t.  

When Stella devises an unconventional art project for one of her classes all about exploring intimacy—between both friends and strangers—Ryan finds himself stepping in as guinea pig after one of her subjects bails. What was supposed to be an objective and artistic look at emotion and secrets and sex suddenly becomes much more personal. When he hits it off with another girl from the project, Stella will have to decide if she’s willing to do more than make art about intimacy. To keep him, she’ll have to open up and let herself be the one thing she swore she’d never be again.

Vulnerable.

ALL CLOSED OFF will be releasing sometime in early 2016. I don’t have a date yet for several reasons. The first and most important, is that I want to do this story justice. And as such, I have no intentions of rushing the process. Secondly, I’ll be returning to indie publishing for the remainder of the Rusk series. As you can probably tell, this story means a great deal to me. And by having the ultimate control over everything from timing to editing to price, I’ll be able to ensure that I’m able to create exactly the story I envision. Unfortunately, that means you won’t be seeing the paperback of ALL CLOSED OFF on the shelves in most stores. Nor is it currently available for pre-order. But I hope you’ll add the book on Goodreads, follow me on social media, and/or join my newsletter. I promise to shout it all over the place when I have a set release date or pre-order links.

Thank you for listening as I told you the evolution of Stella’s story. When it’s finished, I hope you will feel as passionately about it as I do.

All my best,

Cora Carmack

*Statistic from RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network)


And you have an opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s…

Stella’s experience is only one story of many. She was with someone she trusted when it happened, and the only memories she has are pieced together from her own blurred recollections and the things people have told her.  Not everyone’s experience with sexual assault is the same. Each person reacts, copes, and overcomes differently. And while this book is about one specific character’s journey, I would like to tell as many sides of this story as possible. As Stella grapples with her thoughts and emotions she’ll be searching for advice, for comfort, for a place where people understand her and can identify with what she’s experiencing. There will be room for truth within the fiction, and if you’d like that truth to be yours, this is your chance.

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If you have a story like Stella’s, and you want your voice to be heard….

If there’s something you wish more people understood about what you’ve gone through….

If there’s something you’d like to tell people struggling with a story like yours…

I’d like to give you the opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s. Use the hashtag #WhenItHappened and let your voice be heard on your own by posting on your own social media, or if you’d rather I share your words fill out this Google document and tell me your story. You can fill out this form anonymously or not. I’d like to begin this discussion now because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But my hope is to include as many stories as possible within the book itself.

So many have stories of #WhenItHappened. Your voice and your story deserve to be heard. I’m listening.

 

The One with the All Played Out Street Team!!!

It’s that time again…time to announce the newest batch of Carmcats!!

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I know I say this every time we do the street team application thing, but you guys…..this was SUCH A HARD DECISION.  We had so many amazing applications, and as I was looking through them all, trying to narrow them down, I was basically like this the whole time:

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SUCH A MESS.

Once again, I was absolutely floored by the amount of diversity and talent within the applications. With each new application I read, I grew more and more distraught because I KNEW I would have to make some cuts but I didn’t know how. And it doesn’t help that I’m the most indecisive person EVER. It soon became glaringly obvious that I needed to call for back up.

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With help from some of my publishing peeps, we narrowed it down as much as we could. But even then…. it wasn’t enough. In fact… I eventually ended up expanding the number of people we planned for the team because it was just too hard. And even then… I still had to say goodbye to some applications (and people that I love). People whose names I recognize from regular chats on twitter or Facebook. People that I ADORE. And I’ll never be able to tell you all how hard that was. But please know that if you didn’t make the team… I likely agonized over it. For days probably. Every time I would strike a name off my list… I would inevitably add it back in twenty minutes later. We especially had a lot of AMAZING international applications this time around. But for logistic and financial reasons, I’m limited in the number of international people I can choose. But in the end, I think we put together a team that I’m really proud of and excited for.

And I hope that you all will consider reapplying whenever it’s time for Stella’s Book!

So, without further ado….the new Rusk University/All Played Out/Cora Carmack Street Team!

Megan Gallt
Stephanie Gibson
Amber Noffke
Kristen Chandler
Lori Wilt
Yvette Cervera
Brooke DelVecchio
Katie Stutz
Krista Davis
Yesi Cavazos
Lenore Mullican
Brittany Berger
Momo Xiong
Katie Anderson
Jen Fisher
Ana Rodriguez
Pavan
Kassidy Carter
Jenni McDaniel
Zara Hoffman
Mary Hinson
Carmen Seda
Michelle Tan
Emilie Couture
Sydney Laws
Kayla Ritenour
Genesis
Ashlei Davison
Ashley Willard
Jamie Arkin
Patricia
Rebecca Hughes
Teresa
Kimberly Dodd

If you made the team, OMGCONGRATULATIONSILOVEYOUTHANKYOU!!! I’m out of town this weekend for Apollycon, so you likely won’t hear from me for a couple days. But as I mentioned in the application post, we’re doing something different this time around, and we’ve assigned all new members a mentor! A big to your little, if you will. So while it might take me a few days to get organized and reach out to you all, you might hear from your big or see them lurking around figuring out more about you.

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And again, if you didn’t make the team this time around, PLEASE know that I love and adore you, and it KILLS me that we had to let some of you go. If I’d had my way, we’d just have one gigantic team of AWESOMENESS. <3

To say thank you for applying….how about a little #AllPlayedOut teaser? 🙂

********************

“I need you to add something else to your list.”

I raise my eyebrows and ask, “What?”

What was this about? Surely this isn’t about the Sweet Six thing again, not after how poorly things went in the stacks.

“I want you to add ‘Have the best orgasm of your life.’”

I drop his pen. I very nearly drop my spiral.

“You want … what?”

“You heard me, Nell. Now add it.”

He’s back to the dominant Mateo that comes out when he’s kissing me, and the ache he’d started back in the library flares to life between one breath and the next. I reach for the pen, but I’m too distracted by what this could mean.

So we’re not over? He still wants me? How could he still want me? My heartbeat speeds up as I mentally dissect our evening up until this point, and when it takes me too long to find the pen, he growls, “Oh, fuck it. Add it to the damn list later.”

He grabs the spiral and tosses it into the passenger seat. I sit up, and he pulls at the stretchy fabric on the thigh of my yoga pants, letting it snap back against my skin.

“Take those off.”

*evil grin*

The One Where You Can Join My Team…3.0!!

Do you guys remember back in March 2014, when I introduced you all to the wonderful members of my All Lined Up Street Team?
What about in July, when I got to show off the members of my All Broke Down Street Team?
Well, the time has come to start promoting the next book in the Rusk University series, All Played Out!
All Played Out by Cora Carmack
And once again, we think it’s time to add some new readers to the mix!
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A street team is the ultimate set of super readers. I’m looking for people who’ve read all my books, and love my characters, and are eager for my next fictional journey! A street team helps spread the word about an author’s books– online, in person, and IN SPACE.
The Rusk University Street Team (aka “The Carmcats”) was absolutely invaluable to me during the lead up and release week of All Lined Up and All Broke Down. Like… they redefined invaluable. Seriously.
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The former teams have done everything from making graphics, designing the Rusk logo, hosting giveaways, brainstorming marketing ideas, and spreading the word about my books like a plague (a plague of AWESOMENESS). They went above and beyond to host the release day Facebook parties, and basically kept me from losing my mind during a (very exciting, but still very) stressful time.  And they are some of the funniest, kindest, most generous, most encouraging people I have ever met – I want to carry each and everyone one of them with me everywhere I go. Seriously… I cannot sing their praises enough. Because beyond all the awesome things they did for the book, the team means a great deal to me personally. By keeping the team small and requiring people to apply instead of just join a Facebook group, we’ve been able to foster a sense of family within the group. We talk about much more than my books. We talk about other books we love. We talk about our lives– the good and the bad. We talk about the delirious and weird things that come up when we’re all staying up way too late.
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And that’s the most important thing I want to maintain as we say goodbye to some old members of the team and add new members. I want to make sure the new members feel welcome, and that this is the absolutely coolest street team around. So with that in mind, we’ve decided to do something different this time. Half of the All Played Out team will consist of former members of the team. And each of them will have a new Carmcat that they mentor. Sort of the Big/Little scenarios you see with sororities and other groups. We think this will help the group become even closer, faster, and really make for the best team yet!
Interested? Here’s some more details:

It’s a big time commitment to be part of this street team (not just because you’ll be helping me, but also because our exclusive street team Facebook group is an incredibly fun place to hang out and ignore the rest of the world). APO releases May 12th. So don’t apply unless you think you’ll have the free time to help support the release.

Here’s what’s in it for you:

  • Exclusive giveaways ONLY for street team members. ARCs, swag, signed copies, and other special stuff. Your odds of winning are MUCH better than when competing with the masses.
  • Exclusive content and news. When a new book is releasing or I’m writing a new project, you guys will be the first to hear about it! You’ll also be the first people I torture tease with excerpts!
  • Swag for you! Swag for your friends! Swag for strangers you bombard on the street! You shall be the swag queens (or kings… I’m looking at you, rare and exotic male fan. We’ve already had one dude reader on the team, here’s hoping for more).
  • Every active street team member’s name will appear in the acknowledgments of my books. Show all your friends how important and beloved you are! Plus, I sometimes steal street team members names when I’m creating characters. Just saying. 🙂
  • Membership in the exclusive street team Facebook group! Here you can chat with other team members, brainstorm promotional ideas, and hang out with me! I’ll pop in for exclusive street team chats and hang outs (and by pop in, I mean I spend entirely too much time procrastinating there). Not to mention I might pick your brain about books and characters you’d like to see. 😉
  • ***One extra lucky Street Team member will get to join me as my assistant at an upcoming signing in 2015 or 2016! I’ll take care of your flight and hotel, and we’ll just hang out, meet book people, and bask in our awkward goodness.
As a street team member, there’s lots of things you can do to help my books succeed. You don’t have to do them all…at least not at the same time. And this is far from an all-inclusive list, but rather some suggestions to give you an idea of how we might need you to promote All Played Out.

In person you can…

  • Talk the books up and share promo material with friends, family, co-workers, and book clubs. You can even drop off promo materials at bookstores, libraries, coffee shops, etc. 
  • Buy my books the first week of release, which helps it get more visibility, thereby selling more books
  • Ask your local library to order my books. Give the librarians the title, name and publisher of each book. In the same vein, ask your local bookstore to stock my books if they don’t already. 

Online you can…

  • Share your (honest) review/rating of the book via Amazon, iBooks, BN.com, and Goodreads. I can’t even begin to express how big a deal this is in terms of discoverability for new books. 
  • Share interviews, reviews, cover reveals, and other promotional events across your social media and online platforms (Blogs, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, etc)
  • Spread the word about my books to your online friends and followers. 
  • “Like” my books and me on Amazon.com & BN.com
  • Like, Retweet, and Share whenever/whatever you can!
  • Recommend the books on Goodreads and elsewhere. As readers, you wield so much influence. And every little bit helps! 
  • Participate in online Publicity and Marketing campaigns (Blog tours, FB parties, cover reveals, etc). 
If you need a little more persuading, check out this video that my street team made for the All Broke Down Street Team recruitment (just pretend it says “All Played Out”, lol.)

And I realize that some of you have applied for the team before, and not made the cut. Believe me when I say that choosing these street teams are the HARDEST thing I have to do as an author. I always reach a point where I can’t narrow it down anymore because I love everyone, and I have to bring in other people from my publicity team to help make the final few decisions. And those decisions are often very strategic. We’ve turned away some AMAZING applications because we were just looking for something different. We don’t always just look for the biggest following. We try to diversify the team as much as possible. Some Carmcats are more heavily involved on Facebook, some on Tumblr, some on Twitter, some on Pinterest. Some of you have been so close to making the cut… both times! But for one reason or another, it didn’t work out. I hope that you will consider re-applying again this time. I can’t promise that you’ll make the team, but I can say that I’ll be paying special attention to those who have applied in the past, and are still eager to join the team. I’m so grateful for everyone who cares enough to fill out the application and put themselves out there.

 

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***APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED***
It will take us some time to go through them all, but we’ll announce the team as quickly as possible.
Thank you all so much for your continued support and love! I adore you!
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ALL PLAYED OUT Cover Reveal + Behind the Scenes!!

First of all, welcome to the first blog on my SHINY NEW WEBSITE!! We’ve been working on this for awhile, and I’m super pleased with how it turned out. Feel free to click around, and be sure to check back often. We’re a work in progress, but we’ve got some fun plans for this place. 

Now let’s get down to business….TO DEFEAT THE HUNS!

tumblr_mvxgkhfFYs1sh4reto1_500(Anyone? Just me? Anyway….)

Today, I’m REALLY FREAKING EXCITED about ALL PLAYED OUT!!

ALL PLAYED OUT is the third book in the Rusk University series. It’s a New Adult Contemporary Romance novel published by William Morrow (an imprint of Harper Collins) and it’s scheduled to release on May 12, 2015.

ALL PLAYED OUT
by Cora Carmack

Available May 12, 2015

First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay… Scratch that. She knows she hasn’t had the full college experience).

So Nell does a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a “to do” list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it’s impossible to get hurt… again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she’s never known.  But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, *normal* item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he’s willing to take the chance when it’s more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.

Pre-order ALL PLAYED OUT on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBooks. Plus you can add it on Goodreads!

Now, I know what you’re thinking….

tumblr_milmeh3x6J1qj13q4o2_250 And I totally get it! I want to share Nell and Torres’ story with you guys SOOOOOOOOO badly – but unfortunately, I can’t quite yet. But I have the next best thing – the cover!!

But first… a behind the scenes look!

For the first time in NINE books (holy crap! NINE!), I got to do something special with APO. My publisher organized a cover shoot, and not only did I get to pick the models, but I got to GO!

Our photographer was the incredible Kelsey Kukal-Keeton of K Keeton Designs, and we did the shoot near where she lives in Springfield, MO. She managed to get us some time inside a fraternity loft from a local university (apparently, they can’t party in their house in campus, so they needed a party apartment downtown. Lolforever).
Did I mention that the shoot was the day after Halloween? YEAHHH. And that we arranged for them to just leave the apartment how it had been after the party because we wanted that authentic post-frat party feel?  Yeaaaaah. I might have spotted a little vomit on the couch, and then didn’t sit down for the rest of the time I was there.

yuckBut anyway… we arrived at around 10 AM and one of the fraternity guys came downstairs to let us in. From the moment we got into the stairwell, it smelled overwhelmingly of beer and poor life choices. In fact, there were several empty beer cans on the ground as we climbed a few flights of stairs up to where we’d be shooting.

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It was decorated like you might expect a fraternity loft to be. Beer signs. A huge beer pong table hung by chains from the ceiling. And a giant ass American flag. #MERICA. There were half-full beer cans on a few surfaces. A nearly empty keg in the corner. And those massive gray outdoor trashcans. Three of them. Full of empty cans. They even had a fog machine, guys. This was serious.

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Enter our models: Autumn and Isaiah.

They were both gorgeous. And so SUPER nice. And also made uncomfortable by our surroundings.

Autumn and Isaiah

So, left alone to our own devices, I did some snooping in an attempt to find some cleaning supplies to make the area we’d be shooting a little more… hospitable. Unfortunately, the only cleaning supply they had on hand was WINDEX.

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There was one point while we were setting up that a half naked dude came out of the back hallway in search of a phone he’d lost the night before.  We all helped him search. Well… everyone else helped while I tried not to laugh and took terrible, blurry, surreptitious photos.

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Later, a door opened in the back hallway and 2 dude and like 5 girls made the walk of shame. I was too slow to get pictures of that.

*curses the heavens*

But finally, we got down to business.

Kelsey was great, as was her husband who assisted her. And the models totally rocked it. I am not even exaggerating when I say that I would have been happy to have 95% of the pictures as my cover. They did sweet and sexy and SEXIER.

Here’s a few awesome outtakes that were some of our favorites, but we didn’t use in the end.

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*fans self*

But then there was a point toward the end of the shoot where we started taking photos that might be good for the teaser graphics we’re all so fond of. And since Torres is freaking hilarious (Gah, I love him so much), I figured we’d have at least one teaser with a funny one liner. So, we tried for some shots where they were smiling and laughing together. It took a little bit to get a decent shot. (IT’S REALLY HARD TO LAUGH ON COMMAND AND NOT LOOK LIKE A DOUCHE). But eventually we all started laughing about how bad they were at laughing, and Kelsey snapped this shot that was just so genuine and cute. It was only supposed to be for a teaser graphic.

But when I saw it I fell in love. This shot IS Torres and Nell.

We could have gone with any one of the gorgeous pictures above and had a super hot, sexy cover. And it would have been great. Because Torres is pretty freaking sexy (There’s this scene in a library, and another scene in his truck, and another– I digress).

But the smexy is not what sets this book apart. It’s the characters. They’re hilarious. And vibrant. And awkward.

And this cover is all of those things.

So without further ado… I present to you, the cover for All Played Out!

Pre-order ALL PLAYED OUT on AmazonBarnes & Noble, or iBooks. Plus you can add it on Goodreads!

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And just in case this cover wasn’t exciting enough, check out this other tidbit of Rusk University news….

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Your eyes are NOT deceiving you! ALL LINED UP and ALL BROKE DOWN are on sale for only 99 CENTS EACH!! That’s crazy town! So it’s a great time to start the series if you haven’t, or to share it with a friend!

All Lined Up: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iBooks
All Broke Down: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iBooks

AND… AND… AND…

You might be aware of a new book I released in December. A sexy NA paranormal called INSPIRE.

And it, too, is on sale for $.99 for a limited time only!

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Amazon| B&N | iBooks

Even if you’ve not read paranormal before, I hope you’ll give it a shot. At it’s core, it’s still very much so an NA romance. In fact, there are whole sections of the book that don’t feel even remotely paranormal. It’s got all the angst and real life struggle of NA with a little extra oomph. And Wilder gives Silas Moore a run for his money in the sexy book boyfriend department. 😉

And that’s the last of my announcements. I want to give one final gigantic thanks to Kelsey of K Keeton Designs and the Harper design team for being the absolute best.

And for sticking around, have a little more Torres. 🙂

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14 Things I LOVED About 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
(For real though…where has the time gone?! It feels like only yesterday we were freaking out about the possibility of our computers not working on January 1st.)
(#Y2K #neverforget)
As we turn towards 2015, I can’t help but reminisce on all the amazing things that happened in 2014. Here are some of my favorites: 
1. Introducing the world to Rusk University.
Like Dallas, I have a love/hate relationship with football. As such I never would have anticipated how much I would grow to love this series and these characters. Is it weird that they feel like old friends? Like… I just want to hang out with them. All the time. 
2. On a related note, creating Silas Moore.
He was my first attempt at writing a bad boy, and I love him so much. He’s still actually a pretty decent guy, because I am apparently incapable of writing true jerks. But I definitely caught the #SilasVirus when I was writing All Broke Down. Hopefully you did too. 
3. Taylor Swift giving us the glory that is “Shake It Off.”
THIS SONG IS MY JAM AND I’M NOT SORRY.
ALSO HOW AWKWARD AND BRILLIANT IS SHE?
AWKWARD PEOPLE NEED LOVE TOOOOOOO. 
4. Reading some AMAZING BOOKS.
2014 was the year I became addicted to audiobooks, and as such, the year I was able to find a better balance between reading and writing/working. I started the year obsessed with paranormal romance. First I fell for Jeaniene Frost and the Night Huntress series, then Larissa Ione and the Demonica series, then the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, Chicagoland Vampire Series by Chloe Neill, the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, and everything by Nalini Singh. Then I moved on to historical. My first time ever reading historical romance and it was AMAZING. I devoured everything Lisa Kleypas has ever written. Sarah Maclean too. Also Tessa Dare and Sabrina Jeffries. I also took the time to get back to my YA roots. The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas blew my mind this year. As did the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. And I said goodbye to several favorite series including The Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout and the Embrace series by Jessica Shirvington. And of course… I read some fantastic NA books this year. This is the year I became even more obsessed with Samantha Young (seriously, she can do no wrong). I fangirled all over Christina Lauren. I read more from the consistently fabulous KA Tucker, Jay Crownover, Monica Murphy, and J. Lynn. And discovered some new favorites like Deeper by Robin York, Boomerang by Noelle August, When Joss Met Matt by Ellie Cahill,  and Chase me by Tessa Bailey (I’m totally obsessed with her too. She’s the only author this year that I badgered to give me books early because I JUST COULDN’T WAIT). And now I’m ending the year with an AMAZING read by Caisey Quinn called Leaving Amarillo that just might end up being my favorite of the entire year (if I finish it before midnight). 
5. Meeting so many amazing people in so many amazing places.

I got to go to some fabulous places in 2014.
San Diego. Las Vegas. Baltimore. New York. San Antonio. New Orleans. Edinburgh. Dublin. Orlando. Des Moines. Miami. Nashville. Denver. And probably even more that I’m forgetting. I went so many places it’s hard to keep track of when they all happened. I got to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones. I met readers who loved my characters as much as I do, who talked Harry Potter/Dr. Who/All the nerdy things with me, who continually reminded me of how blessed I am to do what I love. I met some authors that I’ve admired for a long time. Sarah J. Maas? Totally fangirled all over her. Nalini Singh? Her too. Maria V. Snyder? I was very nearly speechless. Certainly quite awkward. I’m just gonna declare 2014’s official hashtag as #whatislife because I asked myself that on numerous occasions. I’ve always wanted to travel. And I can vividly remember my junior year in college when I decided to study abroad. I threw all my money and effort into making that trip happen because I was convinced it was my only shot. I’d prepared myself for a life as a starving artist, and I told myself that if I could just have that one adventure that maybe it would sustain me through all the rest of my years when my wanderlust would be stifled. It still blows my mind that I now get to travel for my job. That I travel so much I recognize flight attendants and TSA agents. 

6.  Writing stuff like this:

7.  Literally everything that Benedict Cumberbatch did.
 But especially his quadruple Ice Bucket Challenge. *drools*
8. Getting to spend another year with Kitty Katniss. 
ISN’T SHE PRECIOUS? #crazycatlady
9.  Making my return to fantasy with INSPIRE.

Most people don’t know this… but Losing It was the first time I ever wrote a contemporary story. Ever. Before that, I’d only written fantasy. For five years I wrote fantasy, and Losing It was just an itch I needed to scratch. It was a wonderful surprise and adventure when that book did as well as it did, and it set my life on a course I never could have imagined. I’ve loved each and every book I’ve written since then, but I spent a great deal of time missing fantasy. I love writing romance. I love writing about characters figuring out who they are and what they want to do with their life. But I also love that extra something special and unique that comes with writing a story that’s not quite realistic. I got to return to my first love with INSPIRE, melding the supernatural and mythology with the story of two people falling in love. And I cherished every moment. Thank you so much to those who took that leap with me and gave that new book a chance. I cannot put into words how much I appreciate it. Publishing that book fulfilled a dream I’ve had for many, many years. 

10. Crossing this rope bridge in Northern Ireland (and not dying!)
11.  Binge-watching Orphan Black (and subsequently forcing everyone I know to do the same.)
SEASON THREE STARTS APRIL 18TH! GET YOUR DVRs READY!!
12. Getting to discuss my very favorite chapter of Order of the Phoenix on Alohomora, the Harry Potter podcast from Mugglenet!
 Seriously… *pinch me* I can’t believe that actually happened. 
13. Writing stuff like this:
14.  The final thing I loved about 2014 was the way time flew by.

Seriously, this year passed so quickly that I kept getting confused between what was 2014 and what was 2013 when I wrote this post. And time only flies like that when you’re having fun. And while a career as an author means working crazy hours and traveling a lot and promoting until you feel like one of those inflatable flailing arm dudes just crying out in desperation, “BUY MY BOOK! PLEASE BUY MY BOOK!”, it is also the most fun I’ve ever had. It’s insane that I get to tell stories for a living. Because I spent so long just telling them for myself. And I still cannot believe that I get paid to do this.  And I’m just grateful to have had another year. Especially at a time when sales numbers are down and authors across the board are struggling, I’m thankful for all 365 days that I got to do what I loved. And I have my fingers crossed for 365 more. 

And now… a 15th thing to look forward to for 2015! 
I am so excited for so many of the projects I have coming in 2015! I’ve got several things in the works that I’m really excited about, but here’s a couple things I can tell you about now! 
There’s book 2 in the Muse series (sequel to INSPIRE):
Release date TBA, but mostly likely in the first half of the year. 
There’s also ALL PLAYED OUT coming in May! And I’m sooo excited for everyone to spend a little more time with Torres and Nell. I am obsessed with them. So here’s a little teaser from APO: 
“What is that?” I ask.
“A bad decision.”
“Then why are you making it for me?”
He shoots me a lopsided smile, and I’m forced to acknowledge that maybe the warmth creeping up my neck has far less to do with alcohol than I wish it did. “No, sweetheart. It’s called a bad decision. The drink. It’s my own special invention.”  
He hands me the cup, and I stare at it warily. He moves closer to me, nudging the cup closer to my mouth with his finger.
“Why should I trust you?”
He seems to enjoy my suspicion.
“Always gotta fight me. Just try it. It’s sweet. I guarantee you’ll like it much better than the beer.”
I take a deep breath, think of my list, and then lift it to my mouth. The flavor curls over my tongue, tangy and sweet. “I can’t even taste the alcohol,” I say.
He smiles. “That’s why it’s called bad decision. Because too many of those will sneak up on you.”
I take another drink, simultaneously watching him lift a beer, my old beer, to his lips. If you’d described the scene to me two weeks ago, my first thought would have been ew, germs. Now… it makes my mouth go dry, and I find myself watching his mouth long after he lowers the bottle. I clear my throat and take another sip to wet my inexplicably parched throat. I don’t know why anyone would choose beer over something like this. I tell him, “It’s really good. Thank you.”
He’s looking away from me and out at the party as he says, “For you, Nell, I’ll make as many bad decisions as you want.”
Then his gaze tracks back to mine, and he winks, and I know if I touched my skin now, it would be burning. 
(You can pre-order All Played Out on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBooks, and you can add it on Goodreads too!) 
Thanks for another fabulous year! And may 2015 be just as awesome. May we all be a little happier, a little kinder, more understanding, more daring, and more true to ourselves. 
In Awkward Love <3,
Cora