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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

Football Friday: Meet Dylan Brenner + an ARC Giveaway!

We’re less than two weeks away from the release of ALL BROKE DOWN!!! ARCs have been distributed, reviews are starting to roll in, and my excitement level is through the freakin’ roof!

If you aren’t yet familiar with All Broke Down, you can check it out on Goodreads. (You can read the FIRST TWO CHAPTERS of All Broke Down, as well as all the teasers I’ve released so far, here!  You can pre-order ABD on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, or iTunes, and you can even pre-order a signed and personalized copy from Word Bookstores (ENDS TODAY 10/17). AND THEN, if you need a little more incentive, those who pre-order All Broke down and then enter their pre-order info HERE will receive an official Rusk University “Back to School” pack that includes a ton of Wildcat goodies – including a Rusk folder, swag, a pen, a temporary tattoo, and a little something special from Book 3, ALL PLAYED OUT!!

If you’re new to the Rusk University series, each book stands alone and can be read without reading the previous books. But if you want to check out book one, All Lined Up, it’s at a special promotional price of $.99 right now as we gear up for All Broke Down’s release!

Today, I’m excited to introduce you all to the heroine of All Broke Down: Dylan Brenner!

Dylan is a little bit hipster, with a touch of sophistication. These were my inspiration photos when I was writing her:

(Yes, I needed an outfit inspiration pic too 😀 ).

Dylan is the ultimate people pleaser. That’s the way she’s always connected with people, always found her worth. She’s the perfect child to her strict and not-so-nurturing adopted parents. She’s the ideal girlfriend for her (likely to be a politician someday) boyfriend. And she’s a compassionate activist for those less fortunate than herself.

Then her boyfriend breaks up with her. She feels like she’s suffocating in her own family. And a lapse in judgement (okay, total mind melt) gets her arrested at what was supposed to be a polite and peaceful protest. Dylan has always been respectful and straight-laced and the ultimate good girl. But she’s about to learn how to live for herself instead of other people, and a certain sexy football player is out to give her a lesson in what it feels like to be a little bad.

Here are a few graphic teasers from All Broke Down to give you a little more of Dylan: 
And this one’s not technically Dylan. It’s Silas. But it’s what he thinks about her and is one of my favorite moments in the book. *sigh*
And my favorite Dylan quote (and what could pretty much be the motto for the Rusk University series): 
“Why isn’t there a reality TV show filled with hot guys doing sweaty, mouth-watering tasks? Oh, right. That’s called sports.” 

Now that you’ve met Dylan, you can enter to win a signed advanced copy of All Broke Down PLUS a Rusk University notebook! It’s perfect for jotting down all your philanthropic ideas….or just writing “Future Mrs. Silas Moore”….not that Dylan does that or anything. (She totally does. Who among us can blame her?)

Giveaway is open internationally. 🙂

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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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The One with MY TEAM!! OMG!!!

So, first, let me start by saying how completely EXCITED I AM about this. Writing (and then promoting) can be such a lonely job. The idea of having a team to talk about and support my book is kind of the most awesome thing EVER. I’m so glad my publisher decided to do this.

Then there was the fact that over 250 people turned in applications in only a matter of days. Guys, for real, you made me feel so overwhelmed with love and support. And not gonna lie… you made this awkward girl feel pretty cool. 
(Can you imagine how this would turn out if I was doing it? GUM EVERYWHERE.)
Anyway, back to the street team! After basking for a while in all the awesome, my heart started to sink. Because not only were there so many of you, but I adored you all! And my publisher’s limit for the street team was 25 people. TWENTY-FIVE PEOPLE OUT OF OVER TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY. 
I was going through and making notes, and I literally had HUNDREDS of entries marked as maybes. Because every time I tried to cross someone off the list, I was all…
Because so many of you, I recognize from talking online, or meeting at events, or I read your awesome blogs, and it was just too hard. TOO HARD, I TELL YOU.
So, I brought in the professionals (aka my publicity team) and had them start narrowing it down. Because it probably would have taken me months to decide (if ever). And though it was difficult, they got the team down to twenty-five (miracle workers, I tell you). 
Before I reveal the final twenty-five chosen, I want you guys to know that if you weren’t chosen, it doesn’t mean that my publisher (or me) doesn’t think you’re amazing. We’re so appreciative of your support, and we always, always want you to have the chance to be involved. If you’re a blogger and you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to sign up for the InkSlinger PR mailing list. That’s the absolute best way to make sure you get in on my cover reveals and other events, if you’re interested. 
The aim of this wasn’t just to go through and choose the biggest and most popular blogs. The aim was to create a team with various strengths and skill sets. So, though online followings were a big consideration, things like location and specialties and enthusiasm also played a big part. What I’m saying is… it’s kind of like this… 
So, without further delay… 
(Okay… maybe a little more delay because I just have to say one more time that I wish we could have had you all. We will most likely start fresh with a new team for each book in the series, so it definitely won’t be your last chance to get involved.)
Okay, but for real now, I present to you the RUSK UNIVERSITY STREET TEAM! 
Alana Rock
Amber Noffke
Amoolya Parichuri
Andy Estrada
Anabel Jimenez
Betsy Gehring
Christine from I*Heart*BigBooks
Danielle Finnegan
Elizabeth Lattanzi
Emily Key
Ethan Gregory
Jen Strand
Kaitlan Heaton
Katelyn Torrey
Kim Baker
Krista Davis
Lucy Tonkin
Maggie Hall
Megan Gallt
Momo Xiong
Sara Butler
Stephanie Charlefour
Stephanie Gibson
Yesi Cavasos
Yvette Cervera
If you made the team, I’ll be in touch within the next couple days to get things rolling. SO SO excited! 

THANK YOU so much to everyone who applied. Please know you have my love and adoration. And though I wasn’t allowed to keep you all (*SOB*), I can give you all something for your willingness to support me and my work. Here’s a little snippet of ALL LINED UP in thanks! It’s in Dallas’s POV toward the beginning of the book. And her friend Stella is dragging her to her first Frat party. (Oh, college). 

For one glorious month, I had entertained visions and fantasies of what college would be like. Rusk wasn’t my ideal school, far from it, but it was something. I could finally make my own decisions and not have to worry about them migrating to the coach’s office before lunchtime. I had ached for high school graduation day like there was a knife in my gut, and I couldn’t pull it out until May. Then my dad was offered the open position here at Rusk, and I feel like I’m still gasping for breath around that knife.
Maybe we aren’t in high school anymore. But it’s the same damn misery with a different name.
Unless I do something about it.
But it’s easier to be miserable, so I shake off Stella’s grasp. “All it takes is one person to say something to someone, who tells some else, who mentions it at church or practice or anywhere, and I’m dead. Stick a fork in me and dip me in hot lava. Dead.”
“God, you’re so overdramatic. Sooner or later, you’ve got to stop being scared of your dad. If you don’t, you’re going to graduate college a virgin with half a dozen cats, some dumb-ass degree he wants that you couldn’t care less about, and only professors and academic journals for friends.”
I wince, because she’s right about almostall of it. She would be furious if she knew I wasn’t a virgin and didn’t tell her. I’d always meant to, but it isn’t exactly my proudest memory, and the longer I’d put it off, the easier it had become to pretend that it wasn’t a thing. I refuse to let it be a thing. Instead, I roll my eyes and say, “Thanks for the vote of confidence.”
“Hey, I’m just being the voice of reason here.”
“More like the devil on my shoulder.”
“I accept that role.” Stella cackles and nudges her elbow in my side like she’s just said the funniest joke ever. And in spite of myself, I crack a smile.
I stare up at the Delta Sigma house. All the frat houses on campus are old colonial-style mansions with creeping ivy and pearly white columns. They look so presentable…probably in an effort to hide the absolute debauchery that happens inside.
God, I just thought the word debauchery. Stella’s right. I am going to end up a lame cat lady, probably yelling at people from my front porch and waving my cane around like a madwoman.
It just isn’t fair.
College is supposed to be a time to break free, to start fresh. You would think being the football coach’s daughter would be a benefit. I know more about the sport than half the guys at our school, knowledge that should make it easy to land a date.
If they weren’t all petrified of my father.

Love you guys! Thanks for being so awesome!