An interview with “Jerkbait” author Mia Siegert

Today’s an exciting day here on the blog! One of my favorite debut authors of 2016 agreed jerkbait-coverto an interview. I’m so happy to promote Mia’s amazing book JERKBAIT, which has twins, hockey and theater, in addition to a beautiful, heartbreaking story about two brothers accepting who they are and fighting for the chance to be honest about their identities.

The publisher of JERKBAIT, Jolly Fish Press, recently announced that it is closing its doors effective October 31, which means that purchasing JERKBAIT and other Jolly Fish Press books in the next 10 days would help the authors who have rights reverting back. Mia and many other authors need to sell books by the end of the month, and I know you’ll love JERKBAIT, so click here and choose your favorite book seller to order today.

So without further ado, an interview with Mia Siegert!

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1) JERKBAIT is one of my favorite 2016 releases. What inspired you to write this particular book?

MIA: It’s actually a bit semi-autobiographical. When I started it, I was Tristan and Heather was my former best friend. I wanted to cope with the abrupt end of my friendship and also go through some things I’d experienced. Robbie’s passion for hockey mirrored mine with horses. I was around their age when my horse, Grando 181, died unexpectedly from a horrific colic. A few months later, I had a career ending injury with a particularly bad fall and was left with nothing as I was a mediocre student at best and had no plans for college. I also had an encounter with an online predator who later turned out to be a convicted sex offender. By the end of the edits, I realize that Robbie mirrored a lot of me. I just gave him some hope that I didn’t have.

2) Tristan and Robbie are both amazingly deep characters. Do you have a favorite twin moment in the book?

MIA: I’ll settle for two: the cafeteria scene, and the scene where they talk about Robbie’s best friend Raiden and something Robbie did that was morally questionable. The cafeteria scene’s the punch-in-the-gut one and really shows Robbie’s bravery. The later conversation is probably the moment where Robbie shows us (as the reader) how close he feels with Tristan although Tristan doesn’t realize this.

3) There are a lot of difficult moments that both Tristan and Robbie have to overcome – from family expectations to suicide attempts to homophobia. What do you hope readers will gain from their stories?

MIA: I think every reader will get something different out of it. If I had to narrow it down to just one thing, I would say getting over the mental health stigma since so many people are afraid to talk about mental health. Recently I watched a YouTube video where someone mentioned that most people are willing to accept visible disability but when it came to the brain people would respond by saying, “just get over it” or “hang in there.” The ableism from that is really problematic.

I hope that with this, people might have resources to mental health. If there’s an LGBTQ+ athlete, the back of the book has contact information directly to You Can Play, an amazing nonprofit for LGBTQ+ athletes.

4) You’re a fan of Sigur Ros and stated that their music helped you write this book. What is it about this band that speaks to the atmosphere of JERKBAIT and/or your writing process?

MIA: Wow, you really paid attention to my Twitter! That’s absolutely right that Sigur Rós influenced JERKBAIT directly, but also everything I write.

Sigur Rós is very spiritual for me, partly because their music literally saved my life. Having songs that are in Icelandic and some in their made up language Hopelandic help provide vocals as an instrument rather than something required for the music to succeed (I’m a huge post-rock fan in general).

Their song “Ny Batterí” stood out to me in particular before writing JERKBAIT. The opening line is loosely translated as, “Barbed wire stapled in my mouth” which gave me the image of a fish on a hook (jerkbait). They return to the line in a different way, “We set off into the unknown until we destroy everything and are dominant once again. Once again in the back where we ride, the barbed wire returns, ripping open an old, healed wound.” Not giving away a spoiler but there’s a chapter where this is very, very relevant. The song ends detailing suicidal ideation but “daren’t risk it. Instead I turn myself off. Alone again.” I knew at that moment what I was writing, even though then I was so sheltered and protected I thought I was Tristan instead of Robbie. I was protecting myself.

For what it’s worth, when they play it live, Jónsi starts by creating just “noise” with his guitar and bow. I don’t know how else to describe it. They’re not notes. It’s just noise. And it becomes music. Beautiful.

5) What drew you to writing YA?

MIA: It was a complete accident! I actually solely wrote (and studied) literary fiction prior to JERKBAIT. After writing JERKBAIT, a friend said, “Oh, cool YA story” and my response was, “… YA?” It absolutely terrified me because I didn’t know much about the genre. I was very fortunate that the YA community was so accepting and willing to help since I had (and still have) a very steep learning curve!

6) Tell us a fun fact about Tristan and Robbie that we wouldn’t learn from JERKBAIT.

MIA: If Craig asked, probably Tristan would have made out with him.

Robbie actually likes Michael Bay movies.

7) How did you hear about You Can Play? Tell us about their work and how purchases of JERKBAIT can help support this program?

MIA: I love hockey. I have for a long time as a NJ Devils fan in the era of Martin Brodeur. I’m not sure how exactly I found out about the organization–maybe the NHL made an announcement about partnering and the allies but, immediately, I was interested. When I announced on Reddit that my hockey book was acquired, someone tagged co-founder Patrick Burke, who immediately got me in touch with Anna Aegenes. It took about a year but we partnered together, and made sure that You Can Play had their logo on the book and a full back page so LGBTQ+ athletes would know where they could go for help.

I ran two fundraisers so far with copies of JERKBAIT for You Can Play and have committed to donating 25% of in-person sales (like at an event) to You Can Play. The book is helpful in raising awareness about You Can Play as many people seem to be reaching out on their own to help out or seek help for themselves.

8) What’s something you want to tell LGBTQ+ teens and young adults, especially athletes?

MIA: Right now, it might suck. Depending on your sport, it might suck a little longer. But there are organizations like You Can Play. When one’s depressed, it’s really hard to think there could be something to help, but you’re directly connected with a large network of athletes, people who understand the struggles. You’re not alone. They can and WILL help you.

9) What are you working on next?

MIA: I have an LGBT+ YA about the dark side of the horse show world based on when I used to compete and some of the shady things I witnessed, another YA retelling of a lesser-done fairy tale that’s almost a murder mystery (also LGBT+ though that’s kind of a given!). I’m also polishing up the final touches on an adult thriller retelling.

10) Since your publisher (Jolly Fish Press) has announced that it is closing its doors at the end of October, how can readers and writers continue to help support you, JERKBAIT, and your pledge to You Can Play?

MIA: There are tons of ways to help.

Following You Can Play, subscribing to their newsletter, RTing them, getting out the message will help. Also they have a donation button (I used that when I did my in-person event and will do that for all future events).

For me, there are a lot of ways to help. I have a Patreon with neat rewards. (Visit Mia’s Patreon here.) Even a dollar pledge makes a huge difference to help my living expenses.

Requesting copies of JERKBAIT at your library immensely helps. Also leaving reviews on retailer websites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Each review usually leads to about ten sales so I can’t stress how helpful they are to authors like me since new publishers will look up numbers and rankings. Direct sales are also super appreciated. 🙂

JERKBAIT is also available on Audible.

Mia Siegert received her MFA from Goddard College and her undergrad from Montclair State University where she won Honorable Mention in the 2009 English Department Awards for fiction. Her debut JERKBAIT has gained attention from SB Nation, Publishers Weekly, Barnes & Noble Teen Blog, AndPOP!, MaximumPOP! UK, VOYA Magazine, Paste Magazine, Teen Librarian Toolbox, and was recently produced by Audible, narrated by Raviv Ullman (star of Disney’s “Phil of the Future”). It was listed as one of Goodreads Best YA books of May 2016 and Top 12 Indie YA from Barnes & Noble Teen Blog. Mia has partnered with You Can Play, a nonprofit helping LGBTQ athletes. In her youth, she trained with the chef d’equip of the United States Show Jumping team.

Cover Reveal – Katie McGarry’s LONG WAY HOME

I’m excited to participate in revealing the cover for Katie McGarry’s LONG WAY HOME! It’s the third book in the Thunder Road Series, and it’s set for release on Jan. 31, 2017. I first met Katie at SCBWI Midsouth’s annual conference a couple of years ago, and having a chance to participate in her cover reveal is an honor for me.

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Being released on January 31st, 2017, the highly anticipated third book in Katie McGarry’s Thunder Road Series has a cover that we can’t wait to share with you! LONG WAY HOME is a Young Adult Contemporary Romance being published by Harlequin Teen! Pre-order your copy of the next book in this emotionally charged series, and don’t miss Violet and Chevy’s story!

 

 

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Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

“An intoxicating and unforgettable story that kept me glued to the page.”

Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling author, on Walk the Edge

 

Add it to your Goodreads Now!

 

LONG WAY HOME Pre-Order Links:

Amazon | Kobo | BAM | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound

 

 

And Don’t Miss the First Two Titles in the Thunder Road Series!

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NOWHERE BUT HERE

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WALK THE EDGE

 

 

Katie McGarry - author picKatie McGarry Bio:

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON, BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

 

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads

 

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It’s not just in your head

Darkness

It’s time to be very real.

I have anxiety and depression. I’ve struggled for as long as I can remember, but no one really offered me help until I was in college – and then it was a low dose of anxiety medication from my PCP.

I grew up in a family that swept everything under the rug. People whispered that my grandmother had had a “mental breakdown” as being the reason she and my grandfather left good civil service jobs in Ohio to buy a farm in rural Tennessee. (She hated it. She hated the small town, the farm, the isolation, and I think she hated the repression.) She turned to religion.

My mother seems to have inherited similar issues with her mental health, but we don’t discuss it. We don’t discuss much, especially if it’s problematic. My family would rather suffer than admit that there is something wrong, and we sure as hell don’t go telling everyone that things aren’t going exactly right.

I remember having anxiety in elementary school. My stomach would cramp before tests. I hated talking in front of my class. I always felt like I was letting someone down. I was labeled “shy” and “gifted.” I didn’t feel like I fit in with my peers. I wanted to quit school in fifth grade. I would disassemble mechanic pencils and use the metal pieces to scratch my wrists in the middle of class. I wanted to make them bleed.

No one noticed.

My grandmother was convinced I was going to be inhabited by a demon. She kept giving me Christian books about demon possession and how to avoid it. (When I started carrying keys so I could stay home alone after school, my grandfather said my pewter Classic Winnie the Pooh key chain looked like a demon.) I was freaked out by all of this, but what do you say? Who do you tell that your grandparents want you to “be a good Christian”? That doesn’t sound scary. No one in a rural, conservative community thinks any of that is weird.

I was just “emotional.” When my grandmother and favorite great-aunt died within a few months of each other, I remember lying on my bedroom floor one night crying. I felt empty. My mother told me to stop being ridiculous because crying wouldn’t do anything.

Suck it up.

I got put on medicine for IBS because my stomach was always a mess, but no one ever mentioned mental health. No one ever asked how I was doing emotionally. Emotions didn’t count. If you weren’t having a heart attack or bleeding, suck it up. Everyone has stress. Everyone hates school. Everyone worries. You’re not unique. Just keep making straight A’s.

When my “friends” left a dead skunk – A. F—ING. DEAD. SKUNK!!!! – on my doorstep before an Academic Decathlon meet, “oh, they’re just jealous.” Just shovel the skunk up and throw it into the woods.

Laugh it off. Smile. Never let anyone know you’re dying inside.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote about suicide and depression. I never told anyone I was hurting, but I was poring my heart out, even though I didn’t realize it was about me. I was so detached my fiction was more real than I knew.

In college, I hit rock bottom. I’d been invited to a party. All my friends had left without me, so I was going to have to drive by myself. I spent the whole trip, imagining running my car off the road. I wanted to die, but I didn’t have the guts to wreck my car because what if it didn’t work? At the party, I never said a word about my feelings to my friends, but they made me feel loved, and I went back to my dorm that night without anymore thoughts of hurting myself. I don’t think I ever told my BFF about that drive to the party until well after we’d graduated.

I can’t remember when or why I started taking a mild anxiety medication. I messed around with my dosage. I’d take too much. Skip days. Finally, I gave up. It didn’t seem to do anything. I didn’t ask for anything else to help with my anxiety until I was in grad school with a thesis director who had abdicated our department, an application to the Ph.D program that had been conveniently “lost,” and a fiance who suddenly quit speaking to me a month before our wedding.

It took several tries of different meds to find something that worked – something that didn’t leave me feeling like I was vibrating out of my skin. I finally found a medication that worked. I dropped out of grad school with all my coursework finished and about 75-90% of two complete theses. I got married (he was in Germany and depressed over his best friend’s death, which seemed to explain why he went on complete communication blackout), and he deployed to Iraq less than a month after our wedding.

While my husband was deployed I started seeing a counselor. It was awesome, but some days when I had appointments, I was too depressed to get out of bed. I missed them, forgot to call, and eventually I quit going. I tried to talk to my mother, but her answer was, “you knew what you were getting into when you married a military guy.”

You’re the only one who can make you happy or sad. It’s a choice.

I yelled at her from the fire escape above my favorite coffee shop. I’m sure I seemed crazy and out of control.

I was out of control. I couldn’t control my brain. It was running away without me.

I went off my meds again. I was depressed. I stayed up all night into the early mornings. I’d go outside at sunrise and prune the bushes in front of my house, and then I’d crash until 2 or 3 p.m. I’d come back to the little down that made my grandmother’s depression worse. I felt trapped. My husband was in a dangerous, scary place with limited communication for 15 months. I was scared and lonely.

But it was all my fault. It was all in my head.

That’s what depression and anxiety tell you. That’s what people who don’t understand those conditions tell you.

When my husband came home, he was depressed, he had PTSD, and a TBI (which no one wanted to talk about because he never had an open wound, just concussions). I was depressed. We couldn’t communicate.

With a doctor’s help, I went back on my meds. I started feeling better. There was a light again. I convinced my husband to seek help. He was put on antidepressants too. He immediately hated them. He’ll claim PTSD and after much discussion, he understand he has a TBI, whether or not the VA will acknowledge it, but he refuses to admit that he’s depressed. He said the medication made him feel nothing. He went off them without discussing it with anyone.

I still take mine – I’m becoming more outspoken about mental health. I want it to be understood. I want to understand it. I don’t want people to suffer silently with it.

My mother takes her meds silently. My husband thinks they have made her dependent. That taking them makes a person weaker, unable to handle emotions, void of feeling.

I try to explain every chance I get. I think I need to have them adjusted again. I’m feeling more anxious, more out of control. I cry and feel like breaking down over the tiniest things. The world feels overwhelming again. I tried to tell him about this last night, but he said it’s because I’m still taking my meds.

I was “okay” when I had to stop while I was pregnant.

He forgets how I cried and cried. He doesn’t know how I felt inside. He said postpartum depression is just a normal state – even though I wanted to kill myself. I hid knives in the bathroom, I started clawing and biting myself again. I’ve broken down sobbing in the middle of the kitchen floor.

I NEED to take my meds to be okay. I need to have them adjusted from time to time to make sure they keep working. I don’t want to want to die. I don’t want to hate myself. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, anti-psychotics, etc. aren’t numbing us. They’re keeping us alive, just like medicine for any other condition is important and beneficial.

Never, never, NEVER let anyone tell you that your mental health is faked, isn’t important, is just a phase, or anything else. And please don’t let someone talk you out of taking or going on medication if you need it. It does work. I promise.

I’m here because of it. I plan to stay because of it.

Cover Reveal – TUNED INTO YOU

Today I get to help with this blog’s first ever cover reveal! (And I hope the first of many more to come!!) I’m so excited to show you guys the cover of my amazing CP’s debut novel.

Cindy Dorminy and I met during Pitch Wars last year, and we exchanged manuscripts to critique. It was so much fun getting lost in the world of country music, horses, and softball along with Abe and Lydia. This is a beautiful story of opposites attracting, and I can’t wait for it to be released this summer!

So without further ado …

… I present …

The

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Cover

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Of

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TUNED

INTO

YOU

!!!!!

 

Today is the cover reveal for Tuned Into You by Cindy Dorminy. This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours.

Tuned Into YouTuned Into You
By Cindy Dorminy
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: Young Adult
Publisher: BookFish Books

Blurb:
A summer party is the last place Lydia Flowers wants to be. Beer pong? Stupid, foot-wrecking shoes? Random hookups? No thanks. Lydia would rather be in her cleats practicing her bat handling skills.

Enter Abe Fischer, the Nashville Teen Idol superstar. He’s a lip-syncing party animal with a short fuse; or at least that’s what the tabloids say. Except, Abe turns out to be nothing like the guy Lydia’s read about online. He’s sweet, and the way he talks to his horse…sigh.

Then life throws Lydia and Abe a curveball. They are wrongfully arrested for destruction of property. Their choices? Either work on the Fischer Farm for the summer earning nothing more than blisters and a sunburn, or have the arrest go on their records, which would ruin Lydia’s shot at a softball scholarship. It’s a no-brainer. Lydia picks up a pitchfork, pulls out the SPF 40, and prepares for the worst two months of her life.

When the press gets wind of a big secret Abe’s family has been keeping, things become even more complicated. Now Lydia has another choice to make: stick around for Abe’s messed-up life in the spotlight, or go for the scholarship of her dreams.

You can find Tuned Into You on Goodreads

Cindy DorminyAbout the Author:
Cindy Dorminy grew up on a steady diet of popcorn (the kind you pop in a sauce pan), Tab (pre-Diet Coke), and movies for teenagers. She can’t let a day go by without quoting a line from one of her favorite films, so quirky dialogue is a must in her stories.

When she’s not at her research coordinator day job, Cindy is writing funny love stories, walking her dog, or slinging iron the old-fashioned way. She shares her house with her musician husband, her awesome daughter, and a cool, four-footed child that would eat all the cheese if she could figure out how to open the refrigerator.

Cindy is a member of Romance Writers of America and Music City Romance Writers. She resides in Nashville, TN where live music can be heard everywhere, even at the grocery store.

You can find and contact Cindy Dorminy here:
Website
Twitter
Goodreads

There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of Tuned Into You. One winner will win a 25$ iTunes gift card.

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Tales by Rails – Author Top 10 with debut author Jewel E. Leonard

Today I want to welcome debut author Jewel E. Leonard to kick off her blog tour for her book Tales By Rails. While I normally stick to discussing YA here at Fueled By Coffee and Books, Jewel writes erotic romance and she is a dear friend of mine. So keep in mind that this book is for adults who enjoy steamy romance.

Click here to check out Tales By Rails on Goodreads.

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Jewel lives with her husband, 7-year-old son and 19-month-old daughter in North Central Texas. The Leonards recently adopted a black kitten who will be Jewel’s minion of darkness in short order.

She has been writing since the early 1980s and enjoys reading historical fiction, paranormal and romance. Jewel has a long-standing affinity for witches, werewolves, ghosts, vampires, and epic love affairs. These elements creep out of her pen and bleed through the pages of her stories whether or not she wants them to. Often, her alpha-style leading men fall in love hard and fast (and on occasion, even unapologetically). On the flip-side, her leading ladies are feisty, head-strong, disinterested in falling in love (until the right man comes along), and at least a little neurotic.
Her contemporary stories feature the same types of men and women but also include a heavy helping of pop culture references. Jewel likes to fly her geek flag and encourages others to do the same.

When not writing, Jewel may be found wielding pointy sticks (knitting hats, gloves, and socks) or crocheting, and she has even been known to paint the occasional landscape. Those who know her will tell you all about her penchant for pumpkin spice everything, coffee, flowers, and friends.

So without further ado, I present Jewel’s TOP TEN!

Jewel

AUTHOR TOP TEN

1. My longing for success has always earned me a spot in Slytherin when I take those Hogwarts house sorting quizzes online.

2. My poisons of choice are coffee, cola and chocolate. And Red Vines.

3. I’ve been writing since the early 80s. One of the earliest stories I remember writing was about a runaway. Tales by Rails? About a runaway. Some things never change.

4. I have a neck fetish. I may also have a thing for a finely groomed mustache.

5. I wrote smut in elementary school. It was so dirty that when my parents found it, they wouldn’t allow my older brothers to read it. (I didn’t know a thing about what I was writing.)

6. I have a cock collection. My roosters range from ceramic to wood to metal and they are all over my kitchen. My husband always tells me to pick up another decoration when he sees them on sale.

7. I’m writing my dearly departed kitty into a novel. She’s going to be a vampire.

8. I love music. The more I listen, the more I write.

9. Like Surfer Boy, I’ve never stepped foot on a plane. I have traveled much of the United States and into Vancouver, British Columbia. I love road trips and train rides! I collect key chains from states I’ve driven through.

10. No matter how hopeless I feel, no matter how likely I am to fail in this endeavor . . . I will keep going. I always do. As long as the stories are there, I’ll write them.

 

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 You can download Tales By Rails here.

You can find Jewel on Goodreads, Twitter, and Amazon! Or visit her website.