Monday, July 21, 2014

Cover Reveal: PLAY ON by Michelle Smith


A little backstory, shall we?
Way back in the year of 2013, I met a lovely lady on Twitter. Her name is Michelle Smith. Now, Michelle and I were Twitter buddies for a while, and at some point (maybe around April or May?) I swapped MSs with Michelle. I sent her a YA manuscript that's currently hibernating until I can deal with it again. And Michelle sent me PLAY ON.

Saying I fell in love with it is not an exaggeration in the slightest. Michelle is an incredible writer, and she manages to deal with some pretty heavy topics with grace and sensitivity. Not to mention she can write a romance like it's nobody's business.

Andplusalso, the shipping that goes down in that book is unreal. Seriously. Just thinking about it makes me all happy :)

When Michelle announced she had an agent representing her and PLAY ON, I was thrilled. When she announced her book deal with Spencer Hill... well, let's just say she probably heard me squeeing all the way in North Carolina.
There are not even words to describe how freaking excited I am to read the final version of PLAY ON- I'm sure it will be fantabulous.

In a true Circle of Life fashion here, I get to show y'all the cover for the book!

I mean, JUST LOOK.



In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship. Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma's flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius; she's also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there's something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek -- he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape. As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa’s pain, it forces him to look beyond the fa├žade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything—maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.

Michelle Smith:
Twitter: @MichelleA_Smith

Author bio: 
Michelle Smith writes books for teens (and adults who aren't ashamed of their love for YA). She's a lover of all things happy, laughs way too much, and is a complete sap. She advocates for mental health awareness, and is a strong supporter of The Trevor Project, Love is Louder, and To Write Love on Her Arms.

Michelle lives in North Carolina with her family.

 This book, y'all. It's sports and romance and dealing with mental illness in a real, honest, and sensitive way. It is everything you want in a YA book, and I am BEYOND excited for it to be published so I can push it on everyone I know.

And I am so, so, so happy for Michelle, and cannot possibly be prouder of her. 
And because I can't give away any copies yet (there's no preorder button yet, but trust me, I will let y'all know when one goes up), I'm going to be donating $25 to one of her favorite organizations, TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS. TWLOHA is an incredible non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide, and has saved countless lives. You can find out more about it here.

So, go and add PLAY ON to your TBR list on Goodreads, and go congratulate Michelle on her wonderful cover because ZOMG I'M STILL SQUEEING, and have yourself a fabulous Monday.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Announcement, Cover Reveal and All the Magical Things!!

(How excited are you for this??? I AM SO EXCITED.)

So, as I mentioned here, I'm going to be publishing a new book in August, and honestly, there are not even words right now to tell you how freaking excited I am for this. For the book, for the series, for this cover reveal (EEEE!!). I've been struggling with writing for the past few months, and when all of this just started falling together... I can't even tell you what a relief it was. 

This series is my answer to all of my little scribbled NA ideas- a way for me to write about all the things I love, and all the stories that are begging to be told. TWELVE BEATS IN A BAR is a projected twelve book series about an all-female a cappella group from the fictional Bushwick University in Ohio. Each book will focus on a different member of the Beats, and can be read as a standalone. Of course, it's always more fun to read them in order, as the other characters will always be making appearances. 

So, without further ado, I'd like to introduce y'all to the first book in the TBIAB series- to two characters that have stolen my heart and have made me swoon like no other characters I've ever written.

(The fancypants announcement!)

KK Hendin's TWELVE BEATS IN A BAR series, revolving around an all-female a cappella group and their time spent in college, will be debuting on August 18th with COME BACK TO TEXAS. Hayley and Nate had the perfect love story before life crashed through it. Now, three years, one deployment, and a few YouTube videos later, everything's about to change.

Are you ready for the cover?
Because y'all, Hafsah has OUTDONE herself this time. As she always does :)
Prepare to squee, sunshines.








(And yes, of COURSE I squeed like an idiot when it showed up in my inbox. And every time I've looked at it since then. Because, HELLO JUST LOOK AT IT. AND LOOK AT IT AGAIN.)


Everyone thought we’d be the ones who made it through high school. The ones who’d get married and stay married forever. The example of how young love can work. 
We thought so, too. 
Too bad life had other plans.
It’s been three years since Hayley and Nate broke each other’s hearts. Three years, and a lot has changed. Hayley’s a freshman in Bushwick University, and the only things keeping her sane are stress baking, and her a cappella group, Twelve Beats in a Bar.
Nate’s a Marine, stationed in Afghanistan. The only thing that’s keeping him sane is the last picture he has of him and Hayley, and the hope that maybe when the hell of deployment is over, he can find her again and apologize.
One explosion will change everything.
When a bomb kills all of Nate’s unit, leaving him missing a foot and eyesight in one eye, he’s sent back home to Texas. Texas, where he loved Hayley more than he could possibly imagine ever loving anyone else.
With seemingly endless amounts of free time and needing something to distract himself, Nate starts making YouTube videos, imploring Hayley to come back to him, and come back to Texas.
Hayley’s life is wrapped around the Beats, making sure she doesn’t flunk out of biology class, and babysitting Ohio’s smallest monster, Brandon. She doesn't want to admit it, but she misses Nate more than anything.
It’s too bad she doesn’t know just how much he misses her, too…

Of course, you can ADD IT TO GOODREADS HERE

And speaking of Goodreads... 

Remember how with OTGDY, I donated to a breast cancer research, one dollar per add? Well, the charity Goodreads shebang is back! This time, I'll be donating to an organization that helps severely injured veterans. I'm not sure exactly how much money I'll be donating per TBR- depends on how many people add it to their lists. I'm thinking either fifty cents a book or a dollar a book.

Make me donate lots of money, y'all! Add COME BACK TO TEXAS to your TBR!

So, I think that's enough excitement for one day. 


Okay, then!

TBIAB logo! Designed by Hafsah.
How about you mosey on over and check out the FABULOUS NEW TWELVE BEATS IN A BAR OFFICIAL TUMBLR PAGE???


You can keep up with all the latest Beats news there, including cover reveals, merchandise (!!!) and exclusive sneak peeks. And all sorts of shenanigans, because if I've learned nothing about the Beats so far, they're FULL of shenanigans.




Oh, right. That would be me :)

Special offer for this week only- I'm raising the price next Thursday, so go one-clicking, y'all!




Annnnnd, be on the lookout for EVEN MORE fun things to come over the next month or so! I know. I sound like an infomercial now. I think we're done for now :)

*smooshes everyone forever and always*

Monday, July 7, 2014

Not Every Book Needs A Happily Ever After (Or, Why Love Stories Come To An End)

Disclaimer (as many of my current blog posts seem to be starting out with): I am possibly the biggest sap in existence. I LOVE Happy Ever Afters, as my one of my CPs, Sarah, can tell you. (She plots, I gchat: AND THEY KISS AND THEN LIVE HEA RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT YOU BETTER OR I WILL KEEEELLLL YOU. She ignores me.) I am a shameless shipper of IRL people, students (so they're four? PFFT who cares? And yeah. All teachers ship their students. Those who say they don't are liarpants), fictional characters, everyone. And even though I have been to more weddings in the past two years than any human being should have to go to, I STILL love when people get married (I don't love the annoying people I'm forced to interact with while I'm at weddings, but this does not detract me from love). The fact that my parents run errands together after being married for *coughcoughcough* years? GAAAAAHH I CAN'T EVEN WITH THEIR CUTENESS. (They think I'm nuts.) Same with my grandparents. I puke sunshine and rainbows when people start dating/get engaged/get married/have a committed relationship/are just cute. Etc. 

That being said.

I am not delusional. As much as it would be nice to live in LaLa land, where everyone is swept off their feet by their soul mate and rides happily ever after into the sunrise/sunset on the back of a dashing white horse, that is not actually how life works.

Ever, I would wager to guess.

You see, when you have two people in a relationship, things are going to happen. Things that aren't necessarily happiness and sunshine and smoochy kisses and being swept off one's feet. I mean, any time you put two people together, some kind of conflict is going to occur. Because contrary to some popular thinking, there is actually no such thing as the perfect man or woman. Heck, there's not even such a thing a perfect person for YOU. Perfection is a myth that was probably invented to make sure we all hated ourselves enough. 

And yet, we insist that all of the love stories we read end with a Happy Ever After. Preferably with grand, sweeping proclamations of love, and if we're REALLY lucky? Proposal in the last chapter and a wedding/baby/pregnancy epilogue. 

Even if it doesn't make sense. Even if the story has to take almost completely impossible twists to do so. Even if the characters basically have to do things that are completely outside the realm of their norm. 

I really hate to be the harbinger of doom and all, but sometimes? Happy Ever After isn't forever. Sometimes it's just for a little while.

Sometimes, Happy Ever After is fifty years, and then someone gets sick. Sometimes it's thirty years until they've realized that even though they love each other, being together isn't the best thing for them anymore. Sometimes it's twenty years and they wonder why they ever thought they loved each other. Sometimes it's fifteen years, and he met someone else. Sometimes it's ten years and she got killed in a car crash. Sometimes it's five years and he realizes that this was all way too soon for him, and he can't do this anymore.
Sometimes it's three years and he doesn't come home from deployment. Sometimes it's two years and he's not the guy she thought he was. 

Sometimes there's someone else already. Sometimes, you don't end up with the person you love. Sometimes, you don't ever have that Happy Ever After fairy tales are made of.

The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books, and was actually one of the first books that really lead me to understand a key lesson in writing: Stay true to your characters, stay true to your story, and have things go about the way they would, not they way we may want them to.

Now, if you've never read The Great Gatsby and you want to, kindly avoid the next bit, please. Spoilers ahead and all. 

You may hate the ending of the book, but to me, I couldn't see another way for the book to end while staying true to the story and to the characters. Sure, it would have been nice if Daisy and Gatsby got together and HEA'd, but seriously. That would never have happened. Character-wise, having Gatsby and Daisy having a HEA would involve ignoring the entire story thus far. It would involve character changes that would be completely unrealistic, and chances are, the book would not have done as well as it did.

I recently read a book that infuriated me. The writing was good- the author has a way of making you keep reading, even when you want to throat punch the main characters. Which I did. 

It was a romance novel, and the thing about romance novels is that we expect Happy Ever After. The problem was, this story should not have had a HEA. It shouldn't. The characters, the situations- heck, the whole plot! 

And yet, there was a HEA.

A re-enactment of me reading the second half of the book:

"ARE YOU SERIOUS? And she's going to make it end HEA, isn't she. She will. Dammit....Don't do it, don't do it, please don't do it, you're ruining the whole story YOU HAD SOMETHING GOOD GOING WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS NO NO NO NO NO...I can't even read this anymore. Why? Why can't you just end it with them not together? Why not? Why are you ignoring everything you wrote until now? STOP WITH THE DECLARATION OF LOVE THIS IS NOT RIGHT WHY WHY WHY. I am ignoring the end of this book and rewriting it in my mind where they don't end up together and it sucks but long term it was what was best for both of them. Hell, not everyone meets their one true love at that age and it's okay why did you do that?? UGH. Book, you SUCK."

It's a good thing I had a paperback of this book, because when I was done, I literally threw it across the room.


I'm so conflicted, y'all. Because on one hand, I understand the appeal of Happy Ever After. Really. I do. I would not read half as many romance novels as I have if I didn't. I would not be the sap that gets teary eyed at weddings if I wasn't. Heck, I wouldn't be the one who just wants everyone to kiss and make up and skip off into the sunset together if I was all curmudgeonly and 'love does not exist!'
(I am a curmudgeon. But not about love.)

And while there is a part of me that will be perpetually living with my head in the clouds, the rest of me is not. 

One of the most important ingredients of a good book is staying true to your characters. Character growth and development is key to any story- heck, it's basically the foundation of your story. And ignoring all of it at the end of your story is like flipping off not only your characters, but your readers, as well.

There is nothing that infuriates me more than a book completely ignoring itself to end the way that people expect it to end. Now, in romance, there is the expectation that there will be a Happy Ever After at the end of the story. Which is all well and good- if that's what needs to be there to fit the genre definition, no problema. Please. Declare love and kiss and sexytimes and if you want a proposal and a baby, go right ahead. I am the last one who is going to stop you. I will probably be squeeing while I read.

But if the characters you have are not going to have a HEA the way romance wants them to? Please don't change the end of your story to fit a genre your book should not fit into.

And now we come to the question that has been vexing me since I threw the book across the room: Why would authors do something like this? Why would editors let this sort of thing go? 

Is it a money thing? I really don't want it to be a money thing, but that is what it feels like to me. Romance is one of the highest selling genres, with its books selling thousands and thousands of copies. Heck, 50 Shades of Gray, which I guess is considered erotic romance, has sold around eleventy bazillion copies, give or take. And I don't think there are many people who haven't heard of Nora Roberts, who is the queen of romance. And Sylvia Day, who's latest book deal was ZOMG SO MUCH MONEYS. And they don't give out book deals like that to books that are not going to sell enough copies to paper your entire neighborhood.

But here's the thing, lovelies. 

As a writer, as a creator, you have the responsibility of being true to your art. Even if that means your art won't be what other people want it to be. 

"But this is what the readers want!" You may protest. "This is what they're all asking for!" 
A secret for you: People don't always know what they want. People may THINK they want something- they may whine and cry and wish and hope and dream, but when that thing actually shows up? They're disappointed. It didn't happen exactly the way they wanted it to. 

This isn't me hating on escapism reading- I do too much of it myself to hate on it without looking like a hypocritical jerk. But this is me asking authors to stay true to their stories.

I understand your characters hijacking your stories- there hasn't been a single story I've ever written that all my characters cooperated the way I wanted them to. I marvel at the people who can plot a story and actually write it the way they originally planned. It is completely beyond the realm of possibility for me. 

So I get that you might start a story and in your head, your characters will live Happily Ever After and skip into the sunset with lots of kissing and sexytimes and whatever else you want them to do. And I also get how your characters may end up in places where things like that aren't possible. That things like that no longer fit the story, or fit the characters. 

But please. Please. Please be true to your characters and your story. It will make your book a better book, and will make you a better author. It will make your true readers love you for writing your book, even if they're crying and using up tissue boxes.

And chances are, your books won't be thrown across the room, which, as we all know, can only be a good thing.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES: The Abtastic Review

Man, today is the PERFECT day to review BEHIND THE SCENES- partially because it is hot as Hades outside which means there are a lot more shirtless guys walking around than there usually are.

A disclaimer: Dahlia is a darling friend of mine who I love to a million pieces. HOWEVER. This is my super duper honest opinion because I only know how to give those. If I hated it, I would have said so. And still posted ab pictures, because I'm not that terrible.

Let's start with the blurb, shall we? 

High school senior Ally Duncan's best friend may be the Vanessa Park - star of TV's hottest new teen drama - but Ally's not interested in following in her BFF's Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally's ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father's mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van's on-set assistant to get the cash she needs. 

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors' publicist arranges for Van and Liam to "date" for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she's capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can't play by Hollywood's rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

(Purchase links:


I'll tell you. 

Just about as incredible as it actually *is*. 

I really, truly loved BEHIND THE SCENES. 


Because the true heart of this story isn't Liam and Ally, even though I will ship those two forever and always. (How many ways do I love Liam? SO MANY.) It's because the heart of the book is Van and Ally's friendship, and that made my heart so ridiculously happy.

I love me a good romance. I really do. Heck, I write them. I read them all the time. But the books of my heart, to write and to read, are friendship books. My YA years would have been hell without my best friend, and so infrequently do you see that portrayed in books. And my friendship with my BFF is similar to Van's and Ally's- our lives were and are very different. Like Ally and Van, we started off in the same high school, but I ended up going to a different one. We didn't have each other in class every day, but the amount of time we spent on the phone and hanging out definitely made up for it :). And even though we don't have as much in common as we did when we were three and sticking beads up our noses at summer camp together, I knew that she had my back and I had hers. 

Ally and Van have one of the best friendships I've seen in a YA book- even though a guy 'gets between them', he really doesn't at all. Okay, so he does, but not in the 'both of them have a crush on him and who's he gonna pick?' but in the 'someone comes into your life that makes you reevaluate the choices you've been making' way. And it was GLORIOUS.

It's a Hollywood book done right- right in that it shows that like People magazine likes to say, Stars! They're Just Like Us! Well, except for the glorious good looks and scads of money and *way* too many people fascinated by what's going on in their lives. 

BEHIND THE SCENES shows the real side of Los Angeles, and the real side of Hollywood. The side that's not celebrity LaLa Land, but the side that's audition disappointments, it's the reality of how horrible the 'no's are, crazy PR reps and how much of your soul you really need to give to the Devil known as Hollywood. It's the rest of LA- and I promise you, there are actually people who live there who have *nothing* at all to do with the movie industry. 

It's FAMILY DYNAMICS, praise the Lord- and it's not super dysfunctional parents/dead parents, either. Ally's family is wonderful and so refreshingly real. Her family, along with Van- actually, maybe even more so than Van, is the epicenter of the book. Her dad's cancer diagnosis is the tipping point that leads her to needing to spend time with the Hollywood part of Los Angeles. 

I could honestly go on and on about this book for another one or two thousand words, but I'm going to spare you. 

Tl;dr: I love Ally. I love Ally and Van's friendship. I love Ally's family. Liam *IS* swoon-worthy. Josh is my new favorite person. Some seriously wonderful social commentary on the white-washing of Hollywood. Realistic family dynamics, and difficult situations dealt with with wonderful sincerity. 

Should you read this book?


And you should read it in a house, and you should read it with a mouse. You should read it on a boat and with a goat. In the rain or on the train! Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!

And because it's Dahlia and I am nothing if not a good friend, here are some GLORIOUS abs for her to use for... research. Right. Research. *Nods*

About Dahlia: 

Dahlia Adler is an Assistant Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and a YA writer and blogger at The Daily Dahlia, YA Misfits, and Barnes & Noble at every spare moment in between. Her debut novel, BEHIND THE SCENES, released from Spencer Hill Contemporary on June 24, 2014. She is represented by Lana Popovic at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.

(KK's note: She is also the Queen of Twitter, where's she better known as @MissDahlELama)

Happy belated book birthday, BEHIND THE SCENES! 

(Purchase links:

And then we'll all talk about how UNDER THE LIGHTS is coming out in a little less than a year and y'all need to push that release date up, Spencer Hill, because I need me some Josh and Van in my life, pronto.

Happy Wednesday y'all!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Behind The Scenes with KK (And Teasing About NextBook! WHOOOO!)

Well, hiiiii there, y’all! Hope your summers are going well so far, and that you’re all enjoying the World Cup. Or baseball. Or tennis. Or, um, lazing at the beach, because that is TOTALLY a sport, too.

Today, I’m celebrating the release of Dahlia Adler’s BEHIND THE SCENES by taking YOU behind the scenes of my life :) (And like most things in my life right now, it’s going up late! *sigh* I’m not always this terrible about things, I promise.) Warning: My life is really not all that fascinating at all, but I’ll try my best to make it seem so. Even though it’s not.

So, I wrote a looooong blog post about my writing and DayJob and stuff... and realized it was boring as all heck. (Tl;dr: I teach during the day and write at night. The end.) And since I'm not reviewing Dahlia's SUPER EXCELLENT BOOK until tomorrow, I decided to do a little Behind The Scenes of my next book, whose title and cover will be revealed here on July 10th.

Basically, this is just going to be me teasing you about things. HA.

So, here are ten hints/clues/things about NextBook: 

1. This song.

2. The MCs are from a place I've previously written about.

3. I had part of the idea last year. I've let it float around until the second part of the idea (the series part) showed up in April.

4. The playlist for this book is SO MUCH FUN. And one of my now favorite songs is on there. 

5. Like with OTGDY, I'm going to be donating money to a charity related to the book at some point. 

6. The couple in this book may have beat out Maddie & Gabe and Milcah & Callum for swooniest swoons. Seriously, y'all. I can't even with these two and their adorableness.

7.  This picture: 

8. And this one, too: 

9. And also this one:

10. This is the NA-est book I've written, in that part of it takes place in college. On campus. In classes. Doing homework. Ya know. College stuff.

And two bonuses because all those pictures :)

11. This book was partially inspired by a song. Just like OTGDY. (Not the same song, though.)

12. Hafsah is a motherfluffing book cover genius. (Wait. You knew that already.)

Quick note: If you haven't gone and checked out the Thunderclap, you can read the blog post HERE and pledge HERE and make me OH SO HAPPY :)

And OBVS, go buy Dahlia's book. Every time someone buys her book, Matt Lanter takes his shirt off, and another macaron is made. Don't you want to be a part of that?