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Stella

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 Dos and Don’ts of College, According to Dallas and Stella

With each hour that passes, we’re just a little bit closer to May 13th, a.k.a the release day for All Lined Up, a.k.a. Cora is freaking out/imploding from excitement and/or nervousness. 
 

If this is the first you’ve heard of All Lined Up, learn more about it on Goodreads. You can also read the first thirty-four pages HERE. And if you need a little bit more motivation, pre-order ALU and register here and you’ll receive a BRAND NEW Garrick and Bliss scene post Losing It/Keeping Her! EVEN BETTER… you can now order your own signed paperback from Word Bookstore and get it on release day!

You’ve already met our heroine Dallas Cole and her best friend Stella Santos, and you may be wondering “How do two people who are so very different manage to stay friends?” Dallas and Stella are basically poster children for the old saying, “Opposites Attract.” Dallas is shy and awkward with a side of I-Hate-Everything. Stella is the life of the party, and nothing gets her down. When Dallas is all like,

Stella’s all like, 

But they make it work, because they understand when it’s okay to push each other’s buttons and when it’s better to take a wide berth. They soften each other, and pull each other away from their more extreme tendencies. Stella can get so wrapped up in the idea of having fun that she forgets about consequences or just pretends they don’t exist. Dallas is a little too constricted and a bit of a pessimist, and needs to loosen up. And so they’ve come up with a system for helping each other out of their comfort zones. It’s actually loosely based on a system I had with a very dear friend. I’ll let you guess whether I was the awkward or the wild one. Like there’s any doubt there.

Here’s a little snippet from the book to explain their system:

We have this rule, something that’s helped us stay friends despite

how completely polar opposite our personalities are. It’s a
system of give and take, wherein I temper her crazy side and she
forces me to live a little.

When Stella showed up to take the SATs drunk, she got the
Dallas Cole Don’t- Be- A- Douche Stamp of Disapproval. It was my
non- nagging way of telling her that she’d gone too far. And though
there wasn’t much to do about it that Saturday, Stella signed up to
take the test again, and when the next testing day rolled around,
she was sober and serious and pulled off a decent score.

Alternately, there is the Stella Santos Suck- It- Up- You- Prude
Stamp of Approval. That stamp has gotten me into more trouble
than I care to list, including Stella’s brilliant idea to wrap a house with
toilet paper and stick maxi pads to the glass front door. What her
plan didn’t include was the knowledge that said house belonged to a

policeman, who was not keen on being an advertisement for Kotex.

The stamps are a staple of their friendship, and no matter what… when a stamp is issued, you can’t say no. 

With that in mind, I’d like to present to you all The Dos and Don’ts of College, According to Dallas and Stella! See what gets approved and disapproved by our besties! 

 #1: 8 A.M. Psychology? You should…

#2: It’s Friday night! Time to…

 #3: After spending the night with a guy, you….
Or try to anyway…
#4: Girls’ Night Out! Grab your best friends so you can…
Try? Fail? Try again? Fail even harder?
 #5: Your crush is out with another girl, but you’re not the type to wallow in self pity. Instead…
Or don’t…
#6: If you can’t get into a club…
 #7: To commemorate a special occasion (or just because you want to)….
Or not…
 
 #8: Need some exercise? Try this…
#9: Hey, it worked for Bliss….
Not so much… 
#10. When in doubt…
And… hate yourself. 

(MAJOR thanks to Christine at I Heart Big Books for these amazing graphics!)

Want to find out if you’re a Stella or a Dallas? Take the quiz!!

Then please feel free to share your favorite advice from above! Or come up with your own! 

Football Friday: Meet Stella Santos & a GIVEAWAY!

We’re one week closer to the release of All Lined Up on May 13th! ARCS are out in the world, reviews are rolling in, and I’m SO excited. If you haven’t heard about ALL LINED UP, you can check it out on goodreads. You can also read the first thirty four pages. AND… if you need more incentive, those who pre-order ALU and register here will give a BRAND NEW Garrick and Bliss scene Post-Losing It/Keeping Her. So far I introduced Carson McClain, and the heroine Dallas Cole, and now it’s time to meet one of my FAVORITE characters!  
Stella is confident and bold and knows exactly who she is. She’s always challenging Dallas to loosen up and have some fun, something she’s very good at having. She’s funny, and she’ll say whatever she’s thinking because she could care less what others think. 
Basically, she’s everything I wish I was. 😉 And because I love her so much, she plays a pretty big role in the series as a whole. 
Here’s a few of my dream Stella’s with some quotes! 
And because I love you guys… a slightly longer teaser featuring Stella and Dallas before one of Carson’s games: 
I pull out my phone to text Carson, but I don’t know what to say. I want to tell him something that matters, something big, but the only thing that comes to mind are those three little words that we are so, so not ready for.
I tell Stella as much, and she pauses in unwrapping a piece of gum to say, “I’ve got three different words for you. Winning = BJ.”
“Stella!”
She pops the gum in her mouth. “You said you wanted something big that matters. I think that qualifies.”
“You’re terrible. And no help whatsoever.”
“Speaking of big things…” Her slow-spreading smile reminds me for the thousandth time how different we are. “How big is it? You can tell me.” 

I hope you enjoyed meeting Stella! Enter to win a signed advanced copy below! And come back next week for more chances to win and to meet more characters from the series! 
*cough* sexy football players up next *cough*

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