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Football Friday: the whole Rusk University Gang + A Giveaway!

ALL BROKE DOWN has been out in the wild for about four days….and for those four days, all I’ve wanted to do is tacklehug each and every one of you. 

All Broke Down is book #2 in the Rusk University series, and you can order it on Amazon , Barnes & Noble , or iBooks! Or find it in your local bookstore! You can also add it on Goodreads! You’ve already met Silas Moore and Dylan Brenner, and now that the book is out, I thought we could just reminisce about the people we’ve met so far. 



I’ve loved writing all of my books, but in the Losing It series, everyone graduated and went their separate ways. Though they still made small appearances in each other’s books, they mostly led their own lives. The Rusk series in entirely different. The secondary characters are a huge part of these books.  Each story relates in some way to the football team and the community that surrounds it. So not only do you get to know the characters BEFORE their books, you also get to see them frequently after their stories have been told. 
First there was Dallas and Carson, who you got to know in All Lined Up. Dallas in honest and spunky, and spent her life in the shadow of football thanks to her father, Coach Cole. As a couple, they fit together so well and are good friends (not just boyfriend and girlfriend). I sort of see them as the nucleus of the group. They keep everyone else grounded (and in control… mostly). 
That’s Carson’s job on the team too as quarterback. He’s the leader, and he sort of brings everyone together. And it’s a big job. He’s got Silas, who is supposed to be a leader too, but has a knack for causing as much trouble as he diffuses. Then there’s Torres (who might possibly be my favorite character ever). He’s wild and funny and completely shameless. It’s a different sort of confidence than the typical romantic hero has. Because he’s willing (and quite able) to make a fool of himself on a regular basis. And there’s a strange sort of charm in that. Luckily, Carson has some help keeping those two in line. His friend Ryan is a manager on the team, and though he can be a tad silly like Torres, he’s usually pretty good for some straight talk. Brookes rounds out the football guys. He’s quieter, his personality isn’t as out there as those of his friends. But he’s thoughtful, and he has a knack for reading people (I also love him). I JUST LOVE THEM ALL, OKAY? 
And then there’s the coaches too! I’ve already mentioned Coach Cole, but I think he deserves another mention. He’s this great mix of gruff hard-ass and loving supporter. He’s not so good with the emotions. He’s better at yelling and ordering people around, but that makes it all the more meaningful when he does show emotion. In writing All Broke Down, I also found myself falling in love with another Coach on the Staff– Coach Oscar (or Oz). He’s the strength and conditioning Coach, and he’s the youngest guy on staff. As such, he feels the need to be particularly tough so the guys take him seriously. You can probably expect to see more of him as the series carries on. 

Then there are the non-football people in this cast of characters. And I love them just as much as I do my athletes and coaches. First, there’s Stella. She was Dallas’s best friend in All Lined Up, and she quickly won over my heart. She’s just got that extra something about her. She gets along with everyone. She always knows what to say. She’s pretty much the coolest chick ever. 

Dylan and Nell and Matt are three brand new additions in All Broke Down. Dylan is a student activist, and she finds herself drawn to Silas (who is her total opposite). Nell (or Antonella) is her roommate. We just get brief glimpses of her in All Broke Down, but she’s the incredibly serious and studious type. Matt… ah, he’s another favorite. He’s this vibrant guy that knows Dylan through her activism work. As Dylan describes him, he’s basically a “Disney prince. If Disney made bearded, bisexual princes.” He’s hilarious and spontaneous, and has some of my favorite moments in All Broke Down. 

So that’s my cast of characters. But I know what you’re all really wondering is… 

Who is going to get their own book? 

At this moment in time, I can promise you very few things. I signed a three book deal with my publisher, but hopefully we’ll be continuing on the series for a few more books at least. But a lot of that just depends. Publishing is a business first, and the better the current books sell, the more likely the publisher is to be excited to continue the Rusk series. So if you love the books, recommend them to your friends! 

Here are a few things I can tell you: 


  • Book Three is called ALL PLAYED OUT! It’s set to be out a little over six months from now in May. You can already add it on goodreads here. It’s about Torres and Nell. And guys… it was SUCH a blast to write (like I expected anything less of Torres). She’s straight-laced and focused, and he’s wild and spontaneous. And when she creates a bucket list to attempt to loosen up during her last few months before she graduates, he’s the perfect person to help her step out of her normal boundaries (or you know… just blow them to smithereens). It’s funny and sexy, and I can’t wait for you guys to read it. 
  • And just for you guys… here’s a sneak peek at the VERY FIRST lines of the book (in Nell’s POV): 

    • “There’s a half-naked man in my kitchen. Well, honestly, he’s more like 90% naked with just a pair of black boxer briefs that fit very snugly. So, snugly in fact, that I’m going to round up to 95% naked.”
      Teeheehee. You can also pre-order All Played Out now.


  • If you were paying attention, you might remember that once upon a time, I said book three was going to be about Ryan. GUILTY. I totally said that. Because it’s what I thought. From the very beginning I envisioned this series having at least four books– Dallas, then Silas, then Ryan, and then Stella. I had clear ideas for each book from the outset. Then my sister read All Lined Up as my first reader and said, “Are Ryan and Stella going to get together?” I told her no. I loved Ryan and Stella both, but I thought they were too much alike. They were just better off as friends (who okay… flirted a lot). I went back in during copy edits, and even made a few adjustment to the book to hopefully make it more apparent that that’s all they would ever be. And yet, when the book hit the shelves, one of the first questions I started getting was– “Are Ryan and Stella going to get a book?” I sort of cagily answered yes, but didn’t really tell people that I had every intention of giving them separate books. I was determined. I had a vision, and I was going to stick to it! Then I wrote All Broke Down, and I started to waver. Stella ended up forcing her way into that storyline in a way I hadn’t originally intended, but once the idea had come to me, I couldn’t get it out of my head. And as I wrote the book, I could feel that vision I had shifting. My characters had become so large in my head, so real that they were acting independently of me. So one day I emailed my editor and said, “Okay. I was wrong. Ryan and Stella are supposed to be together.” And that left me scrambling to re-imagine the rest of the series in my head. Conveniently, I had become rather enamored with Torres (as he has a tendency to steal the show a bit in ABD), so he was the perfect replacement for the Bucket List book that I had originally intended to be Ryan’s. 
  • So now you’re probably wondering– will Ryan and Stella get their book? And the answer is yes.  Whatever I have to do to make that book happen, I will. I promise. Ideally, it will still come through my publisher and they’ll want to continue the series as I said. But whatever happens, I will make sure their story is told. Speaking of Stella… if you’ve read All Broke Down… you might have some questions for me. But those questions are definitely of a spoiler-y nature. So, I’m going to answer them as vaguely as I can here (highlight below to see ONLY IF YOU HAVE READ THE BOOK. WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW):                       
    • SERIOUSLY DON’T READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ ALL BROKE DOWN. So… like I mentioned above… I didn’t originally plan for Stella’s to have such a big role in All Broke Down. But I loved her so much that she just kept showing up. I don’t typically plot my books. I know the beginning and a general direction, but then I let my characters lead me. But one thing that’s important to me with this series is to give a truthful portrayal of Texas football… the good and the bad. And unfortunately, you only have to have kept up with the news to know that far too often athletes get away with behavior that normal people never would. And having grown up in the heart of football country, I’ve seen first hand the way athletes can get special treatment or the way people are willing to sweep things under the rug in the name of their “greater good” ie- the team. In particular, there’s a long history of athletes getting into trouble (or more correctly, not getting into trouble) for the kind of thing that happens at the end of All Broke Down. I was writing this book while one such event was prominent in the news. And once the idea of working it into ABD occurred to me, I could think of nothing else. It gripped me. Refused to let me see the story any other way. And the moment I began to seriously consider it… I remember, I was sitting on my couch, and I just started bawling. Because I knew how and to whom it was going to occur. I tried to resist at first because I hated myself for it. Knew some of you would hate me for it too. But like I said… sometimes characters become bigger and more real in your head. Sometimes they tell me what their story is going to be. And that’s what happened with Stella. The end of All Broke Down was just the beginning of what will be a long journey for her. I know that her story is left unresolved. I know that. But I couldn’t pretty that up with a happy ending. I refused to, actually. I know that ending was jarring and upsetting. It was meant to be. Far too many stories like Stella’s are forever left unresolved and without justice, a staggering percentage in fact. And that’s the story she wanted me to tell. Not just the physical and emotional impact of the occurrence itself, but the impact of everything that happens (and doesn’t happen) afterward. So if I broke your heart at the end of ABD, I’m sorry. Know that I broke my own heart first. But I hope you’ll trust me to take care of this character that we all love. Trust that I don’t tell her story lightly. 
  • Okie dokie. Sorry. That spoiler-y thing ended up taking longer to say than I thought. STILL DON’T READ IT IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED ABD! So yeah, that’s all I can promise you for the moment. Do I have ideas for other characters in the Rusk series? Yes. Can I say for certain that those ideas will become books? No. But I hope. 🙂 
(P.S. If you’re bummed that you have to wait until May for the next Rusk University book, make sure you check out the brand new series I have starting with INSPIRE on Dec 15th! That’s MUCH sooner! 🙂 You can read all about it here).

So there you have it! Those are all the major players in the Rusk University series, and everything I can tell you about the future of these books. I hope you’re all enjoying catching the #SilasVirus, and thank you so much for all your kind tweets and messages! The response to this book so far has been so overwhelming and so heart-warming, and I can never thank you enough. <3

Win a signed set of the entire Losing It series (including the novellas) and All Lined up! 
Open internationally. 

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  • Karen Thorp

    October 31, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Thank You !!!! for this amazing opportunity & for this giveaway, what an amazing gift it is to be apart of 🙂

  • Judy Harder

    November 1, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    Thanks for the amazing giveaway!

  • lostbraincell

    November 1, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    You are SOO awesome for always interacting with and doing so many giveaways for your fans!!! I appreciate it!!

  • Kristy Petree

    November 3, 2014 at 6:00 AM

    Thanks for this great giveaway! 🙂

  • Rowena

    November 3, 2014 at 7:21 PM

    Thank you so much for writing this post and for filling me in on Stella because I was worried when I didn’t see anything on Goodreads (or even the internet anywhere) about her getting her own story. I also wondered about her and Ryan since they never really confirmed what they were doing so this post just made my whole day. I’m glad that Stella’s story will get told and I have every confidence that you will do her story justice. I cannot wait.

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