Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Spotlight and GIVEAWAY: Torn by Amber Lehman

TORN by Amber Lehman


A group of Southern Californian teens learn pivotal lessons about sexuality, friendship, love and life.

It was different this time; we weren't acting on a dare. I knew our motive; we were practicing the act, hoping to impress the right boy when it came time. But then something happened in the mix of the moment, in the mix of the alcohol. It wasn't planned, but somehow our kissing experiment turned into something else. Things went further . . . and once they had, once I returned to earth from the euphoria . . . I wrestled with my feelings at that frank realization, questioning whether our said objective was entirely true.

When fourteen-year old Krista McKinley transfers from Catholic school in Ohio to California's public Crestmount High, she discovers she has a lot to learn. Luckily, she is befriended by Carrie and Brandon and things start to look up. But when a simple dare tests Krista's values, it sends her entire world spiraling into a confusing series of events that leaves her questioning her identity as well as the people around her.


Sunday night. I sat perched on the chair behind my desk with only the faint glow from my reading light. By 10:00 p.m. the night air was crisp as it floated through my bedroom window. I had been by myself for hours now.

I closed my math book and abandoned my homework. I couldn’t concentrate; wandering thoughts continued to distract me. I bit my lip and thought about my options. I wanted to talk. I needed to talk, and Brandon was the only person in whom I could confide. It was late, but I picked up the phone and dialed, praying he would answer.

After the third ring, Brandon said, “Hello?”

“It’s Krista.”

“Hey, gorgeous.” He sounded remarkably awake.

“I can’t sleep.”

“Daydreaming about Daemon?”

“Try bored. Josh is on a date and basically told us not to expect him home. Marc had an emergency call from the hospital. Just thought I’d see if you wanted to come over—hang out.”

After a moment he said, “Sure.”

“You’re the best, Brandon.”

“That’s what they all say.”

I couldn’t help smiling. “See you when you get here.”

I hung up the phone, then sat back on my bed and began thinking. I was scared to be alone in the house at night, but I had other things on my mind, too. Tonight would be the perfect opportunity to talk to Brandon. I had a daring question for him—that is, if I got up the courage to ask him. I’d been tossing around an unlikely idea in my head ever since he had surprised me with his boyishly sweet kiss. Just as Carrie and I practiced I began to wonder how things might be if I were doing the same thing with a boy.

Was it horrible of me to consider it? Was it something I had no business asking? Would he hate me or be offended if I did? I was afraid. I couldn’t be sure how he would react. Well, there was only one way to find out.

Twenty minutes later, Brandon rang my doorbell.

“Coming,” I yelled, sliding down the tile of the foyer in my stocking feet to come to a skidding halt at the door. I flung it wide open.

“Hey, you,” he said through a brilliant smile. He wore well-fitted blue jeans and a silky, short-sleeved, button down shirt in a deep shade of blue. He looked beautiful in blue. He came inside and closed the door behind him. We hugged in greeting, and I inhaled a sweet hint of his cologne.

“Thanks for coming.”

“No problem.”

“You can pick the movie,” I said as we walked into the living room. “Over by the cabinet.” Brandon headed toward the entertainment center while I went into the kitchen.

I returned with two cans of Coke, then flopped down Indian-style on the couch. “Did you find one?” I said.

Smiling, he handed me Can’t Buy Me Love.

“Again? We’ve only seen it a hundred times.”

“But Patrick Dempsey’s irresistible in this role.” He gave me one of his ridiculous grins.

“Fine. But I’ve never understood your taste in men.”

Brandon put the movie in, then sat down beside me. I tossed him a bag of Skittles. The usual hard-fast rules about not talking didn’t apply to this movie, since we knew it by heart. Sometimes it seemed as if we played it solely for background atmosphere. I made myself comfortable as the opening credits began to roll.

“How’s Carrie?” he asked.

Carrie hadn’t been at school for the past two days. In fact, her school attendance over the past month had been erratic. I really had no answer. When I had called Carrie’s house, her mother stated that she wasn’t accepting phone calls. So far, she hadn’t let me in on what was going on.

“She still hasn’t talked to me about it.”

I turned my attention back to the television and watched half-heartedly.

The movie had been on for a while as I considered my dilemma. I wrestled with the idea of approaching the subject; it had the potential to turn things weird, real quick. Brandon laughed at a scene from the movie.

I made a tentative beginning. “Brandon.”

He turned to look at me. “What’s up?”

“I kind of . . . need to talk to you.”

“So talk.”

“How many girls have you slept with?” Not very subtle. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” I added quickly.

He studied me. “That question’s left field even for you,” he said.

I shrugged.

“So what’s up?” Grabbing the remote control, he lowered the volume.

“Just curious, I guess. You’ve never really talked about it.”

“There isn’t much to tell.”

“But you have. . .”

“Yes. Twice.”

I reached for my soda trying to act casual. “Did you like it?”

“The first time was kinda weird,” he said as if he were summoning some far‑off memory. “Very vague. I don’t know . . . I was really drunk. Barely have any recollection of it at all.”

“So if you liked guys, why did you bother with girls?”

“I guess because I was kind of lost. I knew I felt differently, but at the same time, I was afraid someone would find out, so I tried to ignore it. Basically went along with what everyone else was doing. All anyone ever talked about was how great sex was. There was always talk about what girls did what.” He shrugged. “My curiosity got the better of me. I figured I was missing out on something.”

“And . . . ”

His lips crooked into a smile and then he laughed. “It was . . . interesting.”

“When was that?”

“Two years ago.”

“Were you nervous?”

“Considering I had no idea what I was doing, yeah, I’d say so.” After a moment he added, “Well, at least I tried it.”

“But I saw a talk show that made it sound like gay men are totally turned off by women.”

“You watch too many of those damn talk shows. I can’t speak for everybody, but not all gays feel that way.” Brandon studied my eyes. “Am I going to have to drag out what’s bugging you?”

My stomach fell and my heart rate quickened. A lump formed in my throat.

“Does this have to do with Carrie? You know. . . I’ll help in any way I can.”

He might live to regret those words. “Thanks,” I managed to say. This was it. If I was ever going to have the nerve to ask him, it had to be now.

“Are you feeling well?” he said suddenly.

My voice, barely audible, struggled to get the words out; I had officially reached panic mode. “I need to ask you a favor.” Looking down at the couch, I picked at the fabric. “A big one.”

“All right. What is it?”

I couldn’t look at him, but I mustered up all the courage I had and took a deep breath. “Would you . . . ” I stopped, cleared my mind and tried again. My voice was barely audible. “Will you be my first?”

Heat rushed to my cheeks so fast that I thought I would surely pass out during the awkward silence that followed. I felt like an ass. I flicked a nervous glance at him. His face was utterly blank.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have mentioned it.” Why had I opened my mouth?

“Kris, you can have any guy you want. Why me?”

“I trust you. I don’t know . . . all these things have been going on with Carrie . . . it’s so confusing,” I said. “Anyway, I—I want it to be you.” There. I said it. “Will you do it?”

There was no way to know what he was thinking because he didn’t answer me for a while. His voice had lost all humor. “You kinda caught me off guard.” He looked at me again. “How long have you been thinking about this? Have you actually thought this through?”

I ignored his first question. “I have. I’m completely sure.” I wasn’t, but I had to do something. “If I’ve offended you . . .”

“It’s not that.”

He sat perched on the edge of the couch, tipped forward with his elbows resting on his knees. He stared at his hands, brows pursed in concern. “You’re serious.”

“Dead serious.”

“I can get the keys to the beach house on Monday. We’ll—”

“No.” I swallowed hard. “It has to be now. You know Carrie and I are leaving for dance camp next week and I want to know…well I don’t now what I want to know but I want it to happen before then. And tonight, no one will be home tonight.”

He fell back into the couch, almost pale. “Tonight?”

“I need to know before I see Carrie again.”

Brandon opened his mouth but silence filled the air. He closed it when he couldn’t find a thing to say.

“Kris . . . ”

“I understand. It was ridiculous of me to think . . . ” I looked down, shifting my attention to my fingers. I finally made the admission. “At the party, I tried with Eric, but—”

“What? You really must’ve been on drugs! That’s craziness, Kris. I can’t believe you even considered it.”

His vehemence surprised me, and I sat there, silent.

“You’re afraid,” I said finally.

“Terrified.” He rubbed his hands together. “For more than one reason. If anything went wrong, I’d hate myself for it. And won’t you regret it not happening with someone you really like, maybe even someone you love?”

“I thought you didn’t believe in love.”

“We’re talking about you.”

“I just want to experience what most girls do. Doesn’t that make sense?”

“Make sense? You really don’t believe this a typical request, do you?”

“I’m not expecting it to be perfect. I know the first time is generally a disappointment. I read Seventeen magazine.”

His expression was wary. Maybe he didn’t want me to decide my sexual preference based on an experience with him.

He rubbed his hands over his face. “We’ll see what happens,” he said.

Buy Links: Torn on Kindle - Torn on Nook

Author Info

At age 22, author Amber Lehman began researching and writing what would become the novel TORN. Her writing occurred during a chaotic period of her life and she was often forced to set aside writing time to tend to family and personal matters. It was 5 years before TORN was completed to her satisfaction. It went through too many editing stages to count, and the end result was quite different than what was originally an 1100 page novel. After years of setting it aside, Amber finally revisited it and it was trimmed down to the 404 pages you now see. Then she waited another 9 years before she got the courage to publish it. Although TORN is closer to what Amber calls “faction” than fiction, TORN draws upon experiences from her life as she observed and participated in the social dramas surrounding her friends lives and past relationships.

A native of southern California, Amber loves to write and illustrate every chance she gets. She spends most of her days conversing with her cat, Mouse. She enjoys German culture and language, and while it’s no secret that she holds a special affinity for the LGBTQ community, she does also look forward to writing books in many different genres.

Author Links



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Monday, May 20, 2013

Horse Charmer Anniversary Tour & GIVEAWAY May 20-May31st

Today is the first day of my anniversary blog tour for my young adult fantasy Horse Charmer. I hope you follow along and celebrate with me especially for the chance to win a $20 Amazon or B&N gift card.

Here are the tour stops:

May 20th- Bookwyrming Thoughts- Guest Post
(Stop 2) The World Crafter - Interview
May 21st- Book Babe- Review
(Stop 2) Room to Write- Guest Post
May 22nd- Booky Ramblings of a Neurotic Mom- Guest Post/Review
May 24th- In this World of Books- Review

May 27th- Illustrious Illusions- Guest Post
(Stop 2) - Jellybean Arson - Review
May 28th- Deal Sharing Aunt- Review
May 29th- Emily Wood - Interview
(Stop 2) Kelly Hashway Blog- Guest Post
May 30th- Sweet Reads Reviews- Interview
(Stop 2) Dreaming with Words- Guest Post
May 31st- Whats Beyond Forks- Guest Post/Review
(Stop 2) Courtney Rene Blog- Guest Post

Horse Charmer is a young adult fantasy about a sheltered princess who discovers her remarkable gifts with horses on a dangerous quest to find her father’s murderer.

At sixteen years old, Cassia would rather spend her days in the royal stables than in the royal court. But as the eldest child of King Robet and Queen Sarahann she obediently performs her duties as the Princess of Karah.

Her safe world changes forever when her father is murdered in the neighboring kingdom of Vespera. Cassia grapples with his loss as her mother prepares her for her new role as queen. Her first task - she must travel to Vespera to marry a prince she barely knows to fulfill the treaty her father signed just before his death.

Nothing is as simple as it seems with political intrigues and unusual powers shadowing Cassia on her search to find out who killed her father and why.

Available as an ebook and temporarily on sale for 99¢ at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Blio, Diesel eBook Store, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony.

Available in print from Abe Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository, Create Space, and your local bookstore.

Friday, May 17, 2013

HORSE CHARMER - Two Year Anniversary

Wow, I can hardly believe it has been two whole years since HORSE CHARMER was first released into the big bad world. HORSE CHARMER was and is a book of the heart with the horse based on my own childhood show horse who will always have a special place in my heart.

I have also temporarily dropped the price of HORSE CHARMER to $.99. You can find the new price at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Blio, Diesel eBook Store, iTunes, Kobo, Sony.

HORSE CHARMER will be going on tour with Tasty Book Tours from May 20-31st. Check back here at the start of the tour for a full list of blogs who will be hosting and reviewing, and for MORE fun giveaways.

Monday, May 6, 2013

May Kindle Fire Giveaway

May Kindle Giveaway
Kindle Fire HD 7" Giveaway
The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HD (US Only)
  Or $199 Gift Card (International)
  Or $199 in Paypal Cash (International)
Sponsoring Bloggers & Authors
  1. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
  2. Feed Your Reader
  3. Girls with Books
  4. Just Bookin' Around
  5. The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl
  6. Books, Beauty and Bodacious Deals
  7. Author Emma Michaels
  8. Page Flipperz YA
  9. Lori's Reading Corner
  10. Oh, Chrys!
  11. Author Josh Baker
  12. Author Roxanne Crouse
  13. Eve's Fan Garden
  14. Author Elizabeth Isaacs
  15. Chapter Break
  16. Buku-Buku Didi
  17. Molly & Mel's Obsessions Book Blog
  18. Author Jennifer Laurens
  19. Author MK McClintock
  20. Bookhounds
  21. Step Into Fiction
  22. Author Lena Sledge
  23. Author Taylor Dean
  24. Leisure Reads
  25. Libby's Library
  26. A Bookish Escape
  27. Ramblings of a Diva Book Nerd
  28. Suspense Author Kim Cresswell
  29. Suzy Turner, YA Author
  30. Books Unhinged by StacyHgg
  31. Author Lori Verni-Fogarsi
  32. Fae Books
  33. Word to Dreams
  34. Kid Lit Frenzy
  35. Author Tressa Messenger
  36. Auggie Talk
  37. Phantasmic Reads
  38. Kerry Taylor
  39. Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf
  40. Marissa's Space
  Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7" HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International). Ends 5/31/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lessons from ParaNorman

I've been meaning to put up a Lessons from Movies post for a while now, but I have so many ideas for different posts and didn't sit down to to do any of them because I couldn't decide.

But I have been watching ParaNorman almost every day for the last week and a half. Can you tell I have a seven year old? :-) I love this movie. Even with the repetitive watching. In fact, it has made me appreciate the brilliant dialogue even more.

For this post, I wanted to focus on a single dialogue line. Well, a question and then a character's response. If you haven't seen the movie, major SPOILER ahead, as this little tidbit is right at the end of the movie.

The quote happens between Courtney (Norman's older sister) and Mitch (Neil's older brother). Mitch is portrayed as a typical dumb jock type that the girls crush on. I love this line because it is said in an offhand manner and then moves on. Nothing is emphasized and dramatized about this quick interchange before the focus shifts to other characters.

So I was thinking, maybe we could
catch a movie sometime? Nothing
That sounds great, Kathy! Y’know,
you’re gonna love my boyfriend!
He’s like a total chick-flick nut!

In looking up the quote, because I wanted to get it right (I pulled it from the actual script which you can read at Script-O-Rama), I discovered that there was a lot of drama over this simple line and the basic fact that the creators had put an openly gay character in an animated kids movie.

Me. I loved it. I was so incredibly impressed that they 1) put a gay character in a kids movie and 2) didn't make a big deal of it (this single line is the only reference) just like they don't make a big deal that other characters aren't gay. It's like the film makers are making a statement without making a statement.

I hope to use this same technique at some point and have one particular supporting character in mind who would be perfect for it.