About Samantha Durante

Samantha Durante is an author of young adult science fiction romance.

GIVEAWAY: Signed ARC & Limited Edition Stitch Scarf!

To celebrate the release of the Stitch 2016 Revised Edition, I’m giving away three (3) awesome prize packs, each including a signed ARC and a limited edition Stitch scarf!!!

Stitch 2016 Revised Edition Signed ARC and Scarf Giveaway

These ARCs and scarves are some of only five in existence (the rest of which I’m hoarding for my own personal enjoyment), so I’m SUPER excited to be sharing these with fans of the trilogy!  The super-soft, cozy scarves were created by the one and only Litographs and feature the exact text from the revised edition of the book!  SO COOL.  (In case you were wondering, yes, I will be sporting mine all winter long!)  They also have tons of other awesome products if you’re looking for gift ideas for the literature lover in your life (or yourself, haha) – t-shirts, totes, posters, etc. – featuring your favorite classics (Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, Shakespeare), contemporary hits (Outlander, Cinder, The Time Traveler’s Wife), and more!  (Note: this is NOT a sponsored post, I’m just an unabashed fangirl! Lol).

In short, lots of goodness in this giveaway, so don’t miss out!!

Enter to win below – it’s totally free, open internationally, and will run until December 12th!

Enter to win here!

SURPRISE!!! Revised Edition of Stitch Available TODAY!

stitchrevisededitionannouncement

Ok Stitch fans, I have a big announcement that I’m very excited to share… I recently invested a little (a lot of) time in creating a *new and improved* revised edition of Stitch and it’s available… today!!

“Wha-wha-whhaatt…” did you say?  I know, you must have questions, considering I totally snuck this project up on you.  So I went ahead and made a little FAQ that will hopefully clarify everything – read on!

— FAQ’s About Stitch (Stitch Trilogy, Book 1) 2016 Revised Edition —

Wait a sec… aren’t you supposed to be writing Stuck??
Why, yes.  Yes I am.  But the thing is, when I release Stuck, I obviously plan to do a huge promotional push to hopefully draw more readers into the series.  And to be frank, the thought of potentially thousands of new readers reading Stitch as it was – and forming their first impressions of me as a writer based on the original version of the book – was making me cringe.  And that icky, knotted-stomach feeling was pervading my enthusiasm for Stuck and for the series as a whole.  So in order to give this trilogy its rightful end, I felt I needed to go back to the beginning and make sure that Book 1 was done to the very best of my ability.

As much affection as I have for the original version of Stitch with all its quirks and flaws, I’ve learned a lot since it was published and have grown a lot as a writer (much of which is thanks to you and all your wonderful – sometimes brutally honest! – feedback, dear readers. I told you I read all the reviews, didn’t I??), and I want the series opener to be the best it can be.  Make sense?

Ok, awesome. So what’s new?
Let’s start with what’s NOT new.  First off, the plot.  Nothing about the storyline, or the characters’ history, or the major plot points have changed.  So if you don’t feel like re-reading it before Stuck releases, that’s no problem at all – you won’t be missing any essential information for the finale and can jump right in when Stuck comes out.

What HAS changed is the storytelling.  It’s faster-paced, more intense, more engaging.  Mostly, there’s less exposition – there’s more showing and less telling, i.e. through flashbacks, conversations between characters, hints in the setting, etc.  So that means… new scenes!  You’ll find LOTS of new interactions between Isaac, Alessa, Janie and the rest of the crew, more of Isaac’s POV, more action, more ROMANCE… and a *bit* less of Alessa blathering on in her head about her feelings or describing inconsequential details of her everyday life (the number one critiques of the original version of the book, which I have to wholeheartedly agree with).

Most of the changes are in the first two thirds of the book, because, well, I pretty much wrote it in the order that it reads – so those early chapters were the first ever chapters of a novel I’d ever written, and I frankly didn’t really know what I was doing.  But as many readers commented, the book really picked up after the twist and I felt I really hit my stride by the climax, so there’s not too much different towards the end.  (And just in case you were wondering, I have NO plans to make any changes to Shudder.)

I want it!! How do I know what version I have?
Check out the copyright page (two pages after the cover). If it says “Copyright © 2012 Samantha Durante” it’s the original.  If it says “Second Edition, Revised 2016. Copyright © 2012, 2016 Samantha Durante” you’ve got the revised version!

Argh, I’ve still got the old one – how do I get my revised edition??
If you bought a Kindle copy: Log in to your account on Amazon.com and go to the Manage Your Content & Devices page – find Stitch and click the “Update Available” button.  (Note that you will lose any existing notes/highlights!!)

If you bought a paperback copy: All paperback copies have been sold through Amazon, and Amazon has a great feature where I can make a discounted Kindle version available to owners of the print version.  So guess what – I made it free!!  Just log in to your account on Amazon.com, go here, and download your free updated Kindle copy.

If you bought an e-book from B&N, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, or elsewhere: Stitch is exclusive to Amazon for the next few months (more on that in an upcoming post), so you won’t be able to get the update until around March-ish (sorry!).  And to be totally honest, I’m not really sure how updates work at these other vendors…  Worst case, if you can’t get the update from wherever you bought it (or just don’t feel like waiting), just email me and I’ll send you a copy!

If you won a free print or e-book copy, or received a free copy for review purposes: Email me and I’ll send you a free updated e-book copy!  (Honor system!!)

Ok, I’m re-reading Stitch… Now what’s up with Stuck???
FINALLY – I’m writing it!  For reals!!  Sneak peek coming soon!  And I’ve even got some super sweet revised cover art…  More on the cover reveal coming as soon as I feel confident enough to announce an official release date, hopefully in the next few months!

As always, thank you again readers for all of your support and enthusiasm, for giving me the confidence to keep writing, the courage to make hard choices, and the chutzpah to admit when I haven’t done my best.  I’m really proud of the new and improved Stitch, and I hope you love it too!

PS – Celebratory GIVEAWAY coming soon with some really awesome prizes!!!  Check back here in the next couple days for details, or sign up on the mailing list here to get a notification (I only send 1-4 emails a year tops, promise).

Guest Post: A Candid Portrait of Grief

Babies on the BrainJust wanted to share this guest post that I wrote for a dear friend’s blog, a candid portrayal of my grief after losing my daughter, for anyone out there who might be hurting right now (whether due to babyloss or any other type of loss).

(Check out the the Babies on the Brain blog for more honest accounts of different hardships – infertility, postpartum depression, rape – and follow along all month long for a new series of posts about how individuals and companies can support expectant mothers, particularly those going through difficult times!  You can subscribe at the bottom of the link above – only blog posts go out, no spam.)

In case you didn’t know, October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, so if you see pink-and-blue around this month, that’s why!  If you’ve been personally touched by babyloss (as a parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle, cousin, sibling, friend, etc.), consider participating on October 15th in the global wave of light by lighting a candle at 7 pm (local time) in honor of all the babies we’ve lost. <3

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

Finding Balance

Or: Why It’s Taking Me So Long to Finish Book 3

I know you’ve all been waiting patiently for an update on Stuck (Stitch Trilogy, Book 3).  I was really hoping I’d have a completed manuscript (or, at least, a firm release date) to share with you this fall.  But I’m just going to come right out and say it: I’m not even close.

That’s not to say I haven’t been working diligently toward that goal whenever I can – I have – or that I’m any less dedicated to getting the final installment of this trilogy into your hands as soon as possible – believe me, I’m as excited as you are!  It’s just that, I’ve had to readjust my expectations for what “whenever I can” and “as soon as possible” means during this season of my life.  And as a result, it’s looking like it’s going to be a while yet until Stuck is ready for public consumption.

And my instinct now is for the next thing out of my mouth to be “I’m sorry.”  But I have to tell you: I’m sorry, and I’m not.  Because the reason I’ve been struggling to find time to write is that my son is at a very precious and fleeting stage in his life right now, and I just can’t bring myself to miss any of it.

As you may know, I’m the work-at-home parent in my family.  And I know lots of awesome work-at-home parents who hire a regular babysitter or utilize daycare to give themselves more time to be productive (or just recuperate), and when I see them doing this, I say, “Right on! Good for you!”  And I see how they benefit, and I see how their kids benefit, and I understand where they’re coming from when they encourage me to do the same.  But the thing is, I’m just coming from a different place.

As a mother who’s had the singular and heartwrenching experience of burying my only child, I’m coming from the same place as my friend, Kelly, whose beautiful toddler son, Kevin, was tragically taken from her too soon by Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  Kelly posted this heartfelt reminder to other parents on Facebook the other day as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month:

“I know I only had 2 1/2 years. I know 95% was spent on a roller coaster. I know that he’s not here now. I regret every break I took, every time I picked up my phone in front of him, and it wasn’t to take his picture. I regret every time I went to the sleep room and took a nap. I regret every time I went to the bathroom, and he couldn’t come with me. Some days it eats me alive. […] Forget cellphones on Saturdays! Forget cellphones as much as you can! Set alarms if you have to. Go out! Go play! Give them your TIME. It is all they will ever need or want and it won’t last for long. […] I just urge all of you to treasure EVERY second. […] Treasure the time.”

Of course, no one would ever begrudge Kelly – or any parent, especially one dealing with something as inconceivably stressful and horrific as childhood cancer – those naps and bathroom breaks and occasional zone-outs on the phone. That’s just survival.

But I felt the same way after my daughter, Alana, was stillborn.  I regretted (regret) every moment that I spent doing anything other than soaking her in, and basking in the miracle of her pregnancy.  I thought I had the rest of her life to really pay attention to her – I never realized just how short that life would be.  And this is where my mind goes when I need to decide now where to spend my time.

Should I take a couple hours this afternoon to go upstairs and write, or should I just stay here and let him and his glorious imagination cook me yet another “gourmet meal” from his play kitchen?  Should I pull my phone out and try to sneak some work on my outline, or just marvel as he so intently and purposefully pours water back and forth between cups for the next ten minutes?  Should I get on my computer while my mom reads him his book-of-the-moment for the 8000th time today, or should I stay here and do it myself so I don’t miss it if he suddenly looks up and busts out a newly mastered word with the biggest, proudest smile on his face?  More often than not, my son wins out.

And is devoting so much of myself to my child the “right” choice, or the healthiest or most sustainable, for either me or him?  I’m the first to admit that it’s probably not.  Any of my family or friends will readily tell you that Kiran and I suffer from a (mutual) separation anxiety which is hugely inconvenient to anyone and everyone who wants to spend time with either of us.  Some days (luckily, usually only a couple days a month when my nerves are raw from hormones or lack of sleep or what have you), I am burnt out and not the mother I know I could be – and I second guess my choices then, and wish I made more time for myself, and I strongly consider hiring regular help (or depending even more heavily on my mom than I already do – thank you, Mom, I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you!) so I can finally finish this book.

But then I have weeks, like I have had most of this past month, where the days – slogging and repetitive and interminable as they may be – are somehow also just brimming with delight.  Where I watch with wonder as my toddler discovers a boundless love of merry-go-rounds and waves with pure joy at every pass around the carousel.  Where I might be overtaken at any moment by an unexpected bear hug and chubby little hands yanking me in close (by the hair!) for an open-mouthed kiss on the cheek that fills my heart to bursting.  Where I lay down each night with my son in one arm and my cat in the other (my poor husband curled up in the remaining seven inches of mattress…), exhausted to the bone, but so, so full of love.

How can I bring myself to miss any of this, when I know so viscerally that it could be over at any moment?  I just can’t.

And please, please, please, don’t mistake me – the last thing I want is to send anyone off on a guilt trip for making choices that are different than mine.  Every family and every parent is different, and this is not a critique of anyone’s choices, or the completely valid reasons and experiences behind those choices.  I’m also painfully aware of the enormous and glaring amount of privilege I’ve been blessed with to even be able to have choices in this arena.

So this is just me trying to explain where my head is at, and why I’m finding it so hard to find the time to actually write, as much as I find meaning and enjoyment for myself in doing that – and as much as I absolutely hate feeling like I’m letting anyone down or failing to accomplish something I set out to do.  It’s just that, I know I can’t get any of this time back.  And when it comes down to it, I’m just not willing to give it up.

So what that means for me – and for you, dear readers – in a real-world, practical sense, is that I pretty much only get to write when Kiran is napping.  And he’s never been a big napper.  And half the time he falls asleep while driving somewhere, and then that’s it for the day.  And I wish I could just stay up late after he goes to bed or get up early in the morning to write before he wakes, but… I am tired, people!  And just like my friend Kelly, and all parents, I need that time at the end of the day to watch some TV or zone out on my phone or just talk to my husband – regular people-stuff, you know?  So basically, that doesn’t leave me with very much time to actually write.

The good news, though – for those of you waiting for Stuck – is that I have really been putting those few hours I get each week to good use.  Truthfully, I have not made too much progress on Stuck itself just yet, but I have been working on a secret little get-myself-back-on-the-horse project, which involves a good amount of brand new content within the Stitch universe. :-D And I’m planning to release that soon (hopefully before the end of the year, though again don’t hold me to it, as you now understand that I am beholden to the fickle whims of a toddler’s erratic sleep schedule!).

So, that’s where I’m at.  Trying to find the balance, and doing my best to love my life as it is, for as long as this season may last.

Thank you, as always, for sticking with me as I work to figure it all out.  And may you also, always, treasure the time.

Quick Announcement – I’m BAACCKKK!

Hey Stitch Fans!

ImBackI am **so** excited to announce that… I am OFFICIALLY working on the series again.  !!!  :-D

No release dates or anything just yet (I’m still trying to figure out how to get back in the productivity groove now that I have a toddler running around here!!), but I just wanted you all to know that it is REALLY happening.  And it feels so good. 

Planning is underway, writing will commence shortly, and I can guarantee that there’s a conclusion to this trilogy on its way… with maybe another surprise in the works as well!  (Haha, I KNOW, I’m being very short on details here… but I just don’t want to publicly commit to any dates/projects that I’m not 100% sure I can deliver, so keeping things vague for now!)

Will post another update as soon as I’ve got some progress to report…

In the meantime, hope you’re all doing well and looking forward to getting back in touch once I can leave my writing cave!!

All the best!
Samantha

Where I’ve Been + Stuck Update!

Hi Stitch Fans!

First off, thank you for waiting SO patiently for word on Stuck (Stitch Trilogy, Book 3) – I am going to make an announcement about plans for Stuck in the next few weeks, but until then, I wanted to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to for the past year (while – sorry! – not writing…).

My son, Kiran, just turned one a few weeks ago, and I really cannot even begin to comprehend where the last year has went.  It’s such a cliche, but it feels like only yesterday that we were bringing our tiny shrimp home from the hospital… and just like that, we have a glorious, giggling, gorgeous toddler scooting his adorable little butt all over our house.  See for yourself in this “second-a-day” video that my husband and I put together to celebrate Kiran’s first birthday:

As you can imagine, this sweet boy has certainly kept me busy the last year, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything (even a finished Book 3, sorry!!).  And that’s especially true now looking back and realizing just how fast it’s gone by (new parents: I know it can be pretty rough in those early months, but people really aren’t lying when they tell you that it flies by and before long you won’t remember anything but the good stuff!).

Given everything we’ve been through with our daughter, Alana, in the past two years, reaching Kiran’s 1st birthday is a HUGE milestone for us.  After all, when you bury your only child (despite a 99% chance of survival…), you understand in a visceral way just how fragile and fleeting life can be, and that there truly are no guarantees.  I knew damn well that it could happen to us (to anyone) again, and a large part of me really did not believe that we would ever be lucky enough to see this day.

And yet, here we are.  (Sigh of relief.)  Kiran has really lived up to his name and brought so much joy and light back to our lives – but at the same time, it’s been an incredibly bittersweet year as we come to understand just exactly how much we’ve missed out on with Alana. So even though it hasn’t been the most productive year for me writing/career-wise, I am SO incredibly grateful for every second that I’ve gotten to spend with this vibrant, beautiful little boy – and you can bet your pants that I will continue to cherish every second to come (even when he makes me want to pull my hair out!).

Thank you so much, readers, for all of your support over the past few years – it really means the world to me.  And I will be in touch *soon* with more concrete news about Stuck!  (Promise!)

PS – For those of you in the US, it would mean the world to me if you could spare a moment to sign this sign this petition at whitehouse.gov asking the federal government to acknowledge the stillbirth crisis and hopefully draw more funding towards stillbirth research and awareness to prevent future tragedies.  No spam, no money, just a minute of your time to help save potentially tens of thousands of lives.  Thank you!!  #SignForStillbirth

Announcement: Joyfully Introducing Kiran!

Hi Stitch Fans!  You may have noticed that I’ve been MIA for the past few months… I sincerely apologize for the lack of updates, but I promise I have a very good reason for my absence, as I’ve been working on something very special.  :-)

Today I’m thrilled to introduce you to my beautiful baby boy, Kiran!

Kiran Birth Announcement

Kiran (pronounced just like the more common Irish name Kieran) is a Hindi word that means “beam of sunlight” or “first rays of dawn” – a fitting description of what this child means to us and our family.

As you can imagine, after the loss of our daughter, Alana, last October, Kiran’s pregnancy was long, anxious, and a constant struggle between hope and fear.  Needless to say, I didn’t get much writing done these past nine months, so no announcements about Stuck (Stitch Trilogy, Book 3) *quite* yet (sorry!).  I’m planning to take the next few months to adjust to life with an infant, but I hope to have some Stuck updates for you in early 2015.  (I promise, as soon as I have any progress to report, you guys will be the first to know!)

Until then, I will be basking in the bliss of this tiny little person who has brought so much joy and love to my life (…and trying to catch up on some sleep!).

Readers, family, and friends – thank you again for all of your support through this incredibly difficult past year.  I feel very blessed to be surrounded by so many caring people.  Thank you for everything.

“The Catastrophe Theory” Ch13 – FREE Progressive Story from The Hunt

The Catastrophe TheoryYou may remember a few weeks back I posted about The Hunt for Tomorrow, a virtual scavenger hunt with amazing prizes, including the chance to name/theme a progressive story written collectively by 20 authors sponsoring The Hunt.

Well, ladies and gents, that story is here!  The novella-length story is called “The Catastrophe Theory” and it stars scientist Eve, prepper Jared, and their very unique daughter Cassie in a post-apocalyptic techno-disaster.  The story has been evolving spontaneously as each author takes their turn writing the next chapter each day and adding his/her own twists to the plot, and it’s been quite a suspenseful ride!

(As a side note, this has been an incredibly interesting experience as a writer, since this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, little-to-no-planning, zero-control-over-the-storyline style is pretty much the EXACT OPPOSITE of how I normally write.  It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I have to say, I’m surprisingly pleased with the results thus far…  I guess that’s what happens when you put 20 talented authors in one place and set them loose!)

A new chapter has been published every day for the past couple weeks, and yesterday, it was my turn!  So without further ado, check out Chapter 13 of The Catastrophe Theory – and if you haven’t read the first 12 chapters, start here!!

Follow along on The Hunt blog or Facebook page to read the remaining chapters as they’re published each day!  Still got about a third of the book to go… can’t wait to see what happens!!

What Tomorrow May Bring – The Voight-Kampff Interview

Hey guys!  It’s my turn to answer the Voight-Kampff Questionnaire as part of our tour for What Tomorrow May Bring!

voight-kampff

The VOIGHT-KAMPFF* Interview
*(JFYI, this is a Blade Runner reference – don’t worry, I didn’t know either!)
Leon: Do you make up these questions Mr. Holden, or do they write them down for you?
Mr. Holden: They’re just questions Leon.
Subject: Kowalski, Leon

— ABOUT THE BOOK–

WHERE DID YOUR TOMORROW SPRING FROM? IN OTHER WORDS, HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE CRAZY WORLD?

Believe it or not, Stitch started off as a paranormal romance in a contemporary world.  Girl goes to college.  Girl meets ghost.  Girl falls in love.  Girl and ghost live happily ever after.  Except, I had no idea how to achieve that last part.  Was she supposed to go back in time to be with him?  Die?  Would they live together in some third plane of existence?  Everything I thought of seemed ridiculous, until one day a REALLY crazy idea occurred to me about how maybe this boy was not really a ghost at all, and in fact, maybe everything that the main character *thought* she was experiencing was only just scratching the surface of a much darker (and more dystopian!) truth.  I kept wishing that someone would write that book so I could read it, and soon resolved that it would have to be me. And Stitch was born!

WHO SHOULD *NOT* READ YOUR BOOK?

Anyone who’s looking for a straight-up paranormal romance (as the book initially appears to be) – they’ll just be like, “Whhhaaatttt is going on here, this is too crazy…”  But if you like big sci-fi twists and dystopian drama, Stitch is for you.

WHAT SORT OF BODY COUNT ARE WE TALKING HERE?

In the billions.  Seriously.

WHO WOULD PLAY YOUR MAIN CHARACTER IN A MOVIE?

Alessa would be played by Emmy Rossum – see more character dream castings here!

YOUR MAIN CHARACTER VS BATMAN, WHO WOULD WIN?

Ooooh… sorry Less, but I think this one is going to Batman.  (He just has a lot more experience than you!)

IF YOUR BOOK WERE RATED LIKE A ROMANCE NOVEL, THE HEAT LEVEL WOULD BE:

1) NONE
2) SWEET
3) MILD
4) HOT
5) WILD RIDE
6) BLOOD THIRSTY

3.5 (about the level of a PG-13 movie).  Nothing graphic, but there’s definitely some heat!

— ABOUT THE AUTHOR —

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START AS AN AUTHOR?

I kind of came to writing fiction in a round-about sort of way.  I was a voracious writer as a kid and spent a lot of time in high school honing my skills, but I was a bit ambitious (read: greedy) as a young adult and decided to study business and engineering in college, earning a joint degree from Wharton and Penn Engineering.  I got a job in software out of school, working at Microsoft in Seattle as a program manager on a developer platform and later Xbox.  Though it was a great job (and, indeed, much more lucrative than writing!), I still felt like something was missing from my life.  When I realized that people kept telling me how well-written my technical specifications and emails were, a light bulb finally went on and I understood that I needed to write.  So I packed my bags, dragged my then-boyfriend (now husband) back to NYC with me (we’re from the NY suburbs originally) and started a new career as a freelance business writer.  A year later, I’d just finished ghost-writing a book for a client when I realized that there’s no reason I couldn’t do the same for myself – that’s when I started working on Stitch!  So though it probably *should* have been obvious from the beginning, it took me some time to come to terms with the fact that writing was what I was meant to do, but once I finally got here, I’ve never looked back.  :-)

DO YOU HAVE ANOTHER JOB BESIDES AUTHOR?

Yes, I am also a freelance business writer for my company Medley Media Associates.  I work with small businesses to produce basically whatever they need – website copy, marketing materials, blog/social media posts, etc.

WHAT IS THE FIRST SCIENCE FICTION BOOK YOU REMEMBER READING?

A Wrinkle in Time.  I think I was around 8 at the time, and it totally blew my mind.

DO YOU BUY A BOOK BY THE COVER?

Who doesn’t?

LAPTOP OR DESKTOP FOR WRITING?

Laptop, always.  I don’t know why they even make desktops anymore – who needs ’em?

DO YOU EVER WRITE IN YOUR PJ’S?

When DON’T I write in my PJs??  Haha.  (Hello people, this is why you become a writer in the first place!)

What Tomorrow May Bring - YA Dystopian Boxed SetDon’t miss interview responses from the other authors of the boxed set on the Hunt For Tomorrow blog: http://huntfortomorrow.blogspot.com/ 

And remember to sign up for the AMAZING prize-loaded scavenger hunt coming July 18th!  More details here.

The Hunt for Tomorrow – Virtual Scavenger Hunt w/ MINDBLOWING Prizes

We’re running a pretty incredible promotion for the What Tomorrow May Bring YA dystopian boxed set and I wanted to make sure all my readers knew about it because the prizes are some of the MOST MINDBLOWINGLY AWESOME I have ever seen, on anything.  Behold:

22 authors.

3 boxed sets.

1 massive event.

On July 18thThe Hunt for Tomorrow Begins.

Yes, you read that right. 22 SIGNED PAPERBACKS, 3 boxed sets including all the books, and a custom dystopian story written collectively by all 22 participating authors where you get to call the shots – name some characters, pick a theme, and set us running.

It’s going to be amazing!  Sign up for the newsletter for more information and to be reminded when the Hunt begins on July 18th!