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

Weekend Recap: “Family & Relationships in a Dying World” + Tour Highlights, Grand Finale Giveaway & Reviews Galore!

Whew!  SO MUCH excitement over the weekend!  Okay, I’m doing to do my best to keep it short and recap all the goodness you might have missed in the past 3 days.

First, from Friday:

Imagine the world ended tomorrow.

You have no more career, no school, no obligations. Money is meaningless. All the material possessions you’ve accumulated are useless, except what you can carry on your back. There’s no electricity to power your iPad, no gas to run your car, no fuel to heat your home – besides whatever you can find to burn, that is.

So what *do* you have left? When all the entrapments of daily life are tossed overboard and you’re fighting just to hold a claim over the basic necessities of survival, what exactly is left to live *for?*

Ask any of the characters from the Stitch Trilogy, and they’ll tell you the same thing: their loved ones. <continue reading>

Then on Saturday we kicked off the Grand Finale Highlight Tour hosted by Prism Tours!  Before we get to these stops, let me first fill you in on the HUGE GIVEAWAY going on at all these stops to cap off the tour.  Prizes up for grabs include:

* Signed print copy of Stitch & Shudder for you and two friends (USA only)
* Signed (via Authorgraph) e-book copies of Stitch & Shudder for you and two friends (Int’l)
* Signed Stitch Shudder bookmarks + e-book copies of Stitch & Shudder (Int’l)
* $10 Amazon Gift Card (Int’l)
* $5 Amazon Gift Card (Int’l)

And you can enter at ANY of the stops on the Prism tour over the next two weeks!  (See full schedule here.)

Okay, now that you’ve got the details on that, here’s a recap of the awesome stops you might have missed on Saturday and Sunday:

  • At The Reading Diaries, “Shudder Mysteries” highlights plus a great 5-star review: “Shudder is filled with surprises around every corner, keeping me guessing till the very end. … The author has done a brilliant job creating a world filled with action, romance, monsters, and fantastic characters. The characters are easy to connect with and you can’t help cheering them on as the book progresses.  Shudder is a fast paced novel that I was able to read in one evening unable to put it down till the last page.”
  • At The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl, highlights featuring quotes from “Raving Fans”
  • At Rose & Beps, highlights about “Crushing on (Side) Characters”
  • At Chapter Break, “Vile Villainy” highlights plus an AWESOME 5-star review: “I know, I gave this book 5 stars. What? Yea, it’s just that awesome. It is one of the best dystopias I’ve read in a few years (seriously, since Hunger Games and Divergent, which are my favorites in this genre). It has everything and all types of feels – betrayal, survival, despair, rage, vengeance, love, you name it. I devoured this book in a couple of sittings. Where the first book was just good, this sequel was wonderful.”
  • At The Wonderings of One Person, “Cliffhanger Ending” highlights and another amazing review: “Shudder by Samantha Durante is a deeply touching and sensational story of discovery and freedom laden with heavy doubts and uncomfortable choices. I was swept away into this amazing world. I was taken in by its vivid detail and tangible emotions. My heart was stolen from the start. The tender and enduring love of Issac and Alessa combined with the dark intentions of a post-apocalyptic world propelled the story onto my top books of 2013 list and made me love it!”
  • At Mortal Moments, tour highlights featuring quotes about “Crushing on (Main) Characters” (aka Isaac Love Fest 2013, haha).

Okay, I think we’ve covered it!  Remember you can enter the giveaway at any (or preferably ALL) of these stops!  And keep your eye out for another post going up later today about today’s stops…  Thanks!!

Guest Post: “Commitment Issues” + Triple Reviews, Excerpts & Giveaways

What's Beyond ForksLots of great new content from the past few days of the Shudder Tour!  First, stop by What’s Beyond Forks for a guest post on the Stitch theme of “Commitment Issues” – here’s a sneak peek:

Have you ever committed to something (perhaps somewhat reluctantly, or without really thinking about it), and then one day you look up and you think, “Omg, what have I gotten myself into?”

It happens to the best of us.  Maybe it was volunteering to organize that big event, or agreeing to watch a friend’s kids/pets while they were away.  Maybe it was diving headlong into a project at a new job that you don’t have a lot of experience with, or committing to cooking dinner for more people than you can really handle.

Or maybe, like in Alessa’s case in the Stitch Trilogy, you somehow got roped into championing a cause that you’re not 100% passionate about… and are maybe even a little afraid of. <continue reading>

Also don’t miss these other great stops from today and this past weekend featuring three reviews, excerpts, and giveaways!

  • Excerpt & giveaway at Collections
  • Review & excerpt from Michelle Chew Writes (“totally captivated by the intense storyline”)
  • Review at Here’s the Story (“A worthy follow-up to Stitch”)
  • Review, excerpt, & giveaway at Every Free Chance Book Reviews (“I read it every free chance I had. In fact, at one point when I was reading while walking my youngest in her stroller around my neighborhood, I may have had my mouth hanging open in surprise. My neighbors probably think I’m nuts!”)
  • Giveaway at Me, My Shelf & I

Huge thanks to Gabby, Alexa, Michelle, Nickie, Chrissy, and Amber for hosting all these great stops!!

Guest Post: “Celebrating the Stitch 1-Year Anniversary!” + Review

Happy 1 Year Anniversary to Stitch!

Guess what: today is the 1 Year Anniversary of the Stitch Blog Tour!  Exactly one year ago today, I announced to the world that I’d written book.  Wow – where does the time go??  To celebrate, today we’ve got a guest post at Head Stuck in a Book where I recount the lessons I learned along the way, and how I even found myself writing a book to begin with.  Here’s a sneak peek:

But it wasn’t always an easy road to get here.  It required (like anything else) a little sacrifice, a lot of hard work, and healthy dash of blind faith that if I just follow my heart, everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.  So what have I learned in my journey?  Here are the top three lessons:

1. Do what you love.  I know, I know – people say this all the time.  Easier said than done.  It took me years (like 25 years!) to even realize *what* it is that I love to do (write).  So I know how difficult this sounds, and I’m not going to lie, it takes a lot of introspection, listening to the people around you, following your gut even when it’s scary, and just a bit of dumb luck to figure this out.

But I can also promise you this – if you manage to find a way to make your passions your life instead of just trying to squeeze them into your life, you will be infinitely happier.  Because suddenly, you’ll look forward to what you have to do every day, even when it’s stressful.  I still spend plenty of time agonizing over how much stuff I need to write, but when I sit down and actually do it, all that stress magically disappears.  I lose myself in the work, because I truly enjoy it.  And I can’t say that about any other job I’ve ever held.  <continue reading>

Thanks so much to Sarah for hosting this special day on the tour!  She’s also got a Shudder review up at the stop, so head over there for more!

Guest Post: “Book Pirates: Not the ‘Arrrgh’ Kind” + Alessa/Isaac Interview, Review & Giveaway!

Nomi's Paranormal PalaceSome awesome new content up today on the Shudder Blog Tour, including an interview with Alessa and Isaac over at Nomi’s Paranormal Palace (plus an excellent review) and a guest post titled “Book Pirates: Not the ‘Arrrgh’ Kind” (plus giveaway & excerpt) at Reading Between the Wines!  Here’s a sneak preview:

From the Alessa/Isaac interview:

Naomi: Hi Alessa and Isaac! Welcome to my Paranormal Palace!!
Alessa: We’re very excited to be here!
Isaac: Thanks so much for having us, Naomi!

Naomi: The pleasure is mine, I assure you! Alright, let’s get straight into the nitty gritty. How are you both adjusting to life now that you are out of the spotlight, not that you realised that you were being filmed before…
A: (big sigh) It’s a relief!  It was SO difficult during Stitch once I realized what was going on.  Can you imagine getting dressed or going to the bathroom knowing there are thousands of people watching you??  It was horrifying.
I: Yeah, we were definitely happy to get some alone time in Shudder.  (gives Alessa a wink)
A: (laughs and elbows Isaac) <continue reading>

From the guest post:

I have a confession to make: at one time in my life, I was a pirate.

No, silly, not the swashbuckling “arrrgh” kind – the digital media stealing kind, of course.  Though I’m proud to say I’ve since reformed my unscrupulous ways and now purchase all of my music and streaming TV legally, in my past life as an internet scalawag I probably acquired upwards of 1000 songs and watched at least 10 or so seasons of some of my favorite shows through shady online “sharing” sites.

I still vividly remember the day in high school when one of my friends introduced me to Napster. The first song I ever downloaded was “Flagpole Sitta” by Harvey Danger, and the experience changed my life.  I never looked back (well, until I graduated college and had a job and realized that a) I could afford to pay for stuff and b) it actually made me feel better to do so, since I would never under any other circumstances condone stealing and I was tired of being a hypocrite).

So I get it.  Really, I do.  Why pay for something you can get for free? <continue reading>

Thanks so much to Naomi and Crystal for hosting today!!

Guest Post: “Death to the Dreaded Second Book Syndrome” + Review & Giveaway

Cocktails and BooksHey Stitch Fans!  I’m officially back from vacation and I’ve got some great new stuff to highlight today on the Shudder Blog Tour.  :-)

First, check out yesterday’s guest post at Cocktails & Books about how to avoid the dreaded Second (Middle) Book Syndrome:

Middle books in a trilogy have gotten a bad rap, particularly in YA.  They’re often known to be bland filler, simply a bridge between the first and last books in the series, where not much of anything happens and the characters just kind of, well, stagnate, whittling away the hours while they (and the readers…) wait (im)patiently for Book 3 to come along.  Welcome to the dreaded Second Book Syndrome.

Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the case.  Here’s a simple 3-step program for breaking through this debilitating disease and crafting a middle book that shines:

1. Focus on pacing.  High tension, high action, high excitement – a solid middle book should always have some stimulating event happening or new information being revealed, and not just once, but continuously, throughout the entire book.

In Shudder, I strove to accomplish this using a combination of Alessa and Isaac’s action-packed storyline along with the incorporation of some new points of view.  While Isaac and Alessa’s narrative had most of the action, their downtime was always used for world building or character development (see #2 below), and the other POVs brought in chilling new information to provide readers with a fuller sense of the plot and give them something to think about – how this society came about, who certain characters really are, what new revelations might be a lie and which are not.  With all of this going on, the reader has plenty to keep their mind occupied and the story moves along at a pleasant clip. <continue reading>

Book Cover JusticeNext, swing by today’s stop at Book Cover Justice for an awesome review of Shudder and a new e-book giveaway!

Shudder was definitely worth the wait. Told in alternating chapters, we not only get to hear more about Alessa and Isaac but from a few other surprise characters as well. … The relationship between Alessa and Isaac is a strong one and I was thrilled to finally see real interaction between them out in the real world without the interference of The Engineers. … We also get to know The Engineers and learn a few of their shocking secrets that I just did not see coming, and to top it off we watch as Alessa starts having strange dreams about Joe, her first crush and Isaac’s brother. Even though this seems like quite a bit for Alessa to be dealing with all at once, it didn’t read like it. The author does a fantastic job of incorporating all the different parts of the story without it feeling like information overload. … Overall, Shudder was every bit as amazing as Stitch and I can’t wait to get my hands on book three. It has everything you could want in a story: mystery, action, and a little bit of romance. I can’t recommend it enough. If you enjoyed Stitch, you are going to love Shudder so don’t waste any more time and go out and read it immediately! <continue reading>

Thanks so much to Shannon and Tiffany for hosting!!

Smorgasbord of Content – 2 Guest Posts, 2 Excerpts, 3 Reviews & 3 Giveaways

Bex N BooksA whole smorgasbord of awesome new content from the past couple days of the Shudder Tour!  Check it out:

Follow the links above for the full story!  Thanks so much to Savy, Jenna, Jenna, Austine, and Bex for hosting!!

Guest Posts: “Top 5 Must-Haves for Your Post-Apocalyptic Adventure” & “Sayings Smackdown w/ Isaac & Alessa” + Review, Excerpt

Forever 17 BooksDon’t miss two fun new guest posts from today and yesterday, along with an excellent 4-star review and excerpt!  Here are some quick links to the posts:

  • At Books for Company, the guest post “Top 5 Must-Haves for Your Post-Apocalyptic Adventure” as recommended by characters who know what they’re talking about!  (Also an e-book giveaway)
  • At Sarcasm & Lemons, the guest post “Sayings Smackdown w/ Isaac & Alessa” where Alessa and Isaac debate the merits of some common idioms (and another e-book giveaway!)
  • At Forever 17 Books, an awesome review (“wonderfully fleshed out characters I can’t help but root for”) plus an excerpt

Thanks so much to Jodie, CJ, and Sara for hosting!!

Guest Post: “Why a Virus?” + 5-Star Reviews, Excerpt & Giveaways

Lots of awesome new content for you from today and yesterday on the Shudder Blog Tour!  First, check out the guest post “Why a Virus?” at Book an Appointment with Wisdom Books along with a related excerpt, giveaway, AND a 5-star review!

From the guest post:

Originally, nuclear war was supposed to destroy the world. That seemed to me the most plausible way for the apocalypse in the Stitch Trilogy to come about. It’s a simple formula: Overpopulation + Scarce Resources + Nuclear Weapons = End of Life As We Know It <continue reading>

From the review:

This book was absolutely amazing. … I got to know the characters a lot better, and wow, were there huge twists in the storyline! I enjoyed it throughout, and it left me on the edge of my seat. You really start to believe in the world Samantha has created, and lose yourself in it. A really original series. I cannot wait for the last book! <continue reading>

Realms of an Open MindAnd then swing by today’s stop at Realms of an Open Mind for another fabulous 5-star review and an e-book giveaway!

Stitch was one of those books that, even months and months later, has stuck with me. Five glowing stars, but the thing that made it difficult to review was the fact that I didn’t want to spoil anything for those who hadn’t had the privilege of reading it. Same goes here, and it’s so hard not to just gush about all the things I love about this series so far! To sum it up, Samantha Durante has this wonderful talent for taking it to the next level. Topping it off with a writing style that keeps you hooked, Samantha never fails to throw you for a loop, smacking you head on with surprises that you never see coming.

Shudder builds and builds and builds, intriguing you from the very beginning, making you question and wonder to again slap you in the face with another twist. Nonstop action, beautifully written characters, and impeccable world-building, this is definitely a series to add to your shelf.<continue reading>

Huge thanks to Keely and Hikma for hosting!!

Guest Post: “Characters Behaving Badly” + Related Excerpt, Review & Giveaways

To Read or Not To ReadToday on the Shudder Blog Tour, we’re taking a look inside Alessa’s psyche (and her minor freak-out…) in Shudder with the guest post “Characters Behaving Badly” at To Read or Not to Read, along with a related excerpt at A Dream Within a Dream!  We’ve also got one amazing new 4.5 star review, and giveaways at both stops!

Here’s a snippet of the guest post over at To Read or Not to Read:

Sometimes… characters just won’t do what you want them to do. I guess this is the problem with a well-developed character – she is no longer an object under your control, she’s a living, breathing person with motivations and thoughts and feelings all her own. And sometimes, even when she’s supposed to be the big, tough heroine of your story, she just doesn’t want to be. And we – as the readers – just have to deal with it.

I know, I know. I’m the author – I’m supposed to make my characters do what I and the readers want them to do. But unfortunately, that’s just not the way the world works. <continue reading>

Next, swing by A Dream Within a Dream to see the related excerpt from Shudder, and also check out Stephanie’s fab review!

This is a truly captivating second novel in an exciting and intriguing trilogy… The plot is very well written with a fast pace and effortless flow, which makes it almost impossible to put down. The characters – especially Alessa – continue to be well rounded and realistic, which makes it easy to identify with them throughout the book. … The story is full of twists and adventure and it kept me guessing, which is something that I love in a book. … This is a fantastic second installment in what continues to be an exciting and addictive trilogy. I highly recommend it to fans of all genres – as it defies being labeled as just one. I will definitely be eagerly awaiting the final book in the series! <continue reading>

And don’t forget the e-book giveaways at both stops!!  Thanks so much to Marcie and Steph for hosting today!