September 15, 2012

Stich Blog Tour: Interview with Samantha Durante

 Welcome to Wickedly Bookish's stop on the Stitch Blog Tour! I'm very excited to be a part of this tour and even more excited to have gotten the opportunity to interview author Samantha Durante! Stick around after the interview for the book's blurb, more info on Samantha, and how you can get your hot little hands on a copy!

Interview with Samantha Durante
First off Samantha, thank you so much for making Wickedly Bookish a part of your tour! We're excited to have you here!

Thank you so much for having me!  I’m so excited to be here!  :-)

Now before we get started with the questions I would like to point out to readers that as they are reading this interview, you will actually be celebrating your wedding day! Congratulations! What made you decide to have the last day of your book's tour coincide with your big day?

Thank you!!  Stitch released on August 1st and we started the tour shortly after on the 15th, so I just figured, why not?  I’m so excited about the book AND about the wedding, so this gives me an opportunity to celebrate everything all at once!

Even better, there’s been so much interest in the tour that I’ve actually ended up extending it through the entire month of October, so there’s plenty more to come once I get back from my honeymoon!  Anyone who’s interested in keeping up can find the full schedule here, and I post daily updates to my (and Stitch’s) Facebook pages and my blog with all the goodies, so follow the tour in one of those spots for notifications!

Readers can catch a blurb of Stitch at the end of this interview, but tell us something about your book that the blurb doesn't say. Something you would like readers to know who may be considering picking it up.

I think the biggest thing to keep in mind about Stitch is that we’ve got paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi right in one book, so it’s probably very different from whatever you’ve read before and totally NOT what you’re expecting.  What readers have consistently told me so far is that whenever they thought they had it figured out, they were hit with a big twist that they didn’t see coming, and they loved how it kept them on their toes!

The lines of what is classified as YA fiction and what is adult have really blurred in the market lately. Your main character Alessa is a freshman in college. Would you classify Stitch as YA or is it more mature? 

Great question!  I’ve actually got a blog post about this coming up later in the tour, because this was something I struggled with for a while.  Yes, my characters are definitely a little older than your typical YA heroes and heroines, and at first I wondered if this would bar me from being able to call it YA.  But in the end, I decided that Stitch was indeed YA, for a couple different reasons.

First, I think the spirit of YA books is more about the essence of coming of age and going through that stage in your life where you’re just starting to figure everything out.  But in reality, this happens for everyone at different times, whether you’re 16 or 14 or 22 or 27 – and this is true for the characters in Stitch as well.  So, if you look at it from the perspective that my characters are going through the same things as your typical teenage YA character, then I thought that was a pretty clear indicator that Stitch was in the YA spectrum.

The other reason I felt Stitch should be classified as YA is because it appeals to such a broad range of readers, including both YA and adult readers.  College is a transitional period and it’s something that people on both ends of that transition can relate to.  High school age readers will be excited to read about Alessa’s adventures because it will give them a window into what their own college experience might be like, whereas readers in their late twenties (or older) will be able to look back at their own experience and remember that time in their lives as they relive it through Alessa’s experience.  And given all the great series that have come out of the YA world in recent years, I know that many adults are totally open to reading YA stuff, whereas I thought it would be a harder sell to get younger readers to read an “adult” sci-fi book, so putting Stitch in the YA category seemed me to like the easiest way to reach the most people.

Many of our readers are aspiring authors. Do you have any tips or words of wisdom to offer them about writing?

Absolutely – don’t hold yourself back!  I waited until I was 26 to even attempt my first book, because I always felt like I needed a perfect idea for a perfect book before I should even try, and really, that was just dumb.  If you love to write, you should write, and you should write about anything just because the act of writing makes you happy.  No idea is ever going to be entirely original, so instead of waiting for an amazing brand new idea to dawn on you, just think of something that sounds like a book you’d want to read, and write it.  It’s as simple as that.

We are seeing a rise in successful indie and small press authors in the market lately. What made you choose to go this route?

The main reason I decided to self-publish was because I really just wanted to get the book to readers as quickly as possible.  I wrote Stitch as a fun side project, and when I finished it, I went back and forth a lot about whether I should try to get an agent and a publisher or just use the tools on Amazon and Smashwords to do it myself.  In the end, I decided that I just couldn’t wait the months/years it would take to do it the traditional way – I’m too impatient!  Plus, I love having control over every minute detail of the book and was prepared to do all the work of formatting and marketing, so it worked for me.

But it’s definitely not for everyone.  Right now I am working full-time as a freelance business writer and my fiancĂ© works full-time as well, so writing novels is more of a hobby for me and not something that I am depending on for income.  But if I had decided to pursue being an author as my livelihood, I think it would have been a better decision to get an agent who had the industry contacts that would enable me to turn this hobby into a financially-stable career.  That just wasn’t the boat I was in, though.

Do you have any advice for others who are considering self-publishing?

You just need to understand what you’re getting into.  Self-publishing is A LOT of work.  I actually kept track of the hours I put into Stitch, and writing was less than half of the hours I had put into this project up until release day (and I stopped keeping track after that – if I had, the writing would probably be closer to 25% of my time investment).  The rest was revising/editing (and begging family and friends to read the drafts and make editorial suggestions or help me find typos…), formatting the multiple e-book versions, getting a cover created, figuring out how to get ISBN numbers and where I wanted to distribute the book, putting together a marketing plan and website and Facebook pages, and finally organizing the blog tour.  I’ve got around 90 stops on this blog tour, but I think I’ve still got a ton of work to do with marketing the book, if I really want it to succeed.  And that’s not to mention the stigma you still need to combat as a self-published author (read more about my experience in this guest post).  So it’s not easy.

That being said, you’d have to do at least some of this stuff (particularly the marketing) as a new author anyway, since publishers focus most of their efforts on established authors who are guaranteed to make a return.  And the good news is that you can price your book a lot lower and make the same amount per book as you would have if you were sharing the revenue with a publisher (and all the other people who would get a cut of your sales).  And it’s also very satisfying to know that you did this on your own, and that you’re in full control of the destiny of your book.  So I would recommend that people take a look at their goals and evaluate their willingness to do all these things other than write, and figure out if it’s right for them.

Again, thank you so much Samantha for taking the time to answer our questions! Congratulations on your marriage. Our best wishes go out to you and your new hubby today!

Thank you so much!  I’m so thrilled to be able to share this special day with all my loved ones and with everyone who’s participating in the tour – I really can’t ask for anything more.  :-)  Thank you again and I hope all the readers out there get a chance to enjoy Stitch!

 Book Blurb

Her heart races, her muscles coil, and every impulse in Alessa’s body screams at her to run… but yet she’s powerless to move.

Still struggling to find her footing after the sudden death of her parents, the last thing college freshman Alessa has the strength to deal with is the inexplicable visceral pull drawing her to a handsome ghostly presence. In between grappling with exams and sorority soirees – and disturbing recurring dreams of being captive in a futuristic prison hell – Alessa is determined to unravel the mystery of the apparition who leaves her breathless. But the terrifying secret she uncovers will find her groping desperately through her nightmares for answers.

Because what Alessa hasn’t figured out yet is that she’s not really a student, the object of her obsession is no ghost, and her sneaking suspicions that something sinister is lurking behind the walls of her university’s idyllic campus are only just scratching the surface…

The opening installment in a twist-laden trilogy, Stitch spans the genres of paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi to explore the challenges of a society in transition, where morality, vision, and pragmatism collide leaving the average citizen to suffer the results.

Stitch Purchase Links

Amazon (print $9.99 & Kindle $2.99):

Smashwords (multiple e-book formats $2.99):

Also available in the iTunes store ($2.99 e-book)

 About the Author

Samantha Durante lives in New York City with her fiancĂ©, Sudeep, and her cat, Gio. Formerly an engineer at Microsoft, Samantha left the world of software in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and a lifelong love of writing. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, Samantha is currently working full time for her company Medley Media Associates as a freelance business writer and communications consultant. Stitch is her first novel. Learn more about Samantha at

Connect with Samantha

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September 14, 2012

Haunting Obsession Blog Tour: Excerpt

Haunting Obsession Blog Tour
Welcome to Wickedly Bookish's stop on the Haunting Obsession Blog Tour! I"m really excited about this book. The illustrations are gorgeous and the excerpt I have for you made me laugh out loud. Enjoy!


Haunting Obsession
R.J. Sullivan
Genre: Paranormal thriller

“She wants to be loved by you…alone!”

Daryl Beasley collects all things Maxine Marie, whose famous curves and fast lifestyle made her a Hollywood icon for decades after her tragic death. Daryl’s girlfriend, Loretta Stevens, knew about his geeky lifestyle when they started dating, but she loves him, quirks and all.

Then one day Daryl chooses to buy a particularly tacky piece of memorabilia instead of Loretta’s birthday present. Daryl ends up in the doghouse, not only with Loretta, but with Maxine Marie herself. The legendary blonde returns from the dead to give Daryl a piece of her mind—and a haunting obsession he’ll never forget.

            Setup--Daryl has spent over a day with the ghost Maxine Marie. He's just finished vomiting and starting to realize that Maxine may be hazardous to his health. In the meantime, Loretta, Daryl's long-time girlfriend, has just figured out there may be another woman and is on her way to confront him.

This except has been edited for content, both for self-contained clarity and to keep it a family show.
            Maxine helped Daryl back to the dining room table. Daryl said, “Whatever I caught, I’ve never felt like this before. If this is a flu bug, it’s a nasty one.”

            Maxine handed him a damp washcloth, and he dabbed at his face, trying to recover some sort of dignity after that messy display. 

            Daryl spoke the next thought that entered his mind. “Maybe this is some sort of … ghost venereal disease.”

            “A what?”

            “You know, like, a virus you get from having sex, but something from the ghost world.” Blinking through a watery scrim, he couldn’t quite read her blurry face.

            But her tone communicated her dismissal just fine. “Don’t be ridiculous, Daryl.”

            Daryl shook his head. “So says the ghost of Maxine Marie standing in my dining room? We passed ridiculous in the rearview mirror some time ago, hon.”

            “You didn’t catch a disease from me.”

            Daryl scoffed. “How do you know that? Ghosts don’t come with free handbooks, you said. We don’t know the rules. You said that yourself.”

            “Don’t be cruel, Daryl.”

            Easy for her to say. She’s not the sick one. Daryl pressed, “How do we know you’re not emitting some sort of paranormal radiation that’s making me sick?”

            Maxine shot to her feet, sending her chair sprawling across the floor behind her. She swiped her hand at the table. 

            Shoved by the power of Maxine’s mind, Daryl’s plate flew across the room and bounced off the far wall. 

            She glared at him. “Oh how typical. You don’t want to understand me, so it’s my fault! That’s cruel, Daryl. All you need is some food and some fresh air and you’ll be fine. You don’t have to be cruel.”

            “I’m not being …” As he looked over, the waterworks had already started in the corners of her eyes.  She’s trying to manipulate me again. In his anger, he gave voice to his frustration. “It’s like talking to an eight-year-old!”

            “What did you just say to me!”

            Her hand clamped, vise-like, around his throat. At the same time, some sort of painful energy coursed through his body, causing his limbs to shake as spasms of pain seared over his skin. 

            She pulled him close, face to face, his vision dominated by her look of cruelty, her eyes flashing anger. “Don’t you ever say anything like that to me again, Mister!” Her hot breath spat in his face with each sneered syllable.

            What the hell is she doing? His teeth rattled, and he forced words from his mouth as his body jerked and danced out of control. “Stop! Maxine, stop!”

            “Apologize first!”

            “You’re hurting me …” No sympathy in her eyes, no mercy in her touch. The energy charge built up, grew more intense. And he knew she wouldn’t stop. For the first time, he feared her.


            “I’m sorry! Maxine, I’m sorry! Stop!”

            The pain subsided, and Daryl dropped where she released him. 

            He found himself slumped over the table, the cold washcloth once again pressed against his neck. He realized he must have passed out, but her body pressed against his, fingers caressing, her voice whispering, trying to offer futile comfort. “I’m sorry, Baby; I don’t know what came over me. I’m so sorry, please get better Daryl, please, I’m so sorry …”

            Words failed him. The shock of what just happened, the real danger she now posed if he spoke out against her, frightened him into silence. Instead, he reached out and patted her hand, the irony that he comforted her after what she had done was not lost on him. But what else could he do?  

            She continued in a chastising tone. “It’s just … you sounded just like all the others before they’d leave me.”


            “When I was still alive. Before someone would leave, they’d belittle me, call me a child, and walk out the door. And I was helpless to stop them. And I’d be alone.”

            “Maxine …” He closed his eyes and counted slowly to five before he spoke. “What was that you just did to me?”

            “I don’t know, but isn’t it delicious?” As he watched, her expression changed from sympathy to the look of someone very pleased with herself. “These things keep happening. I think I’m getting more powerful, Daryl. By the hour. By the minute!”

            “Maxine, you need to control that … power, whatever it is.”

            “Oh, I’m okay now; I just sort of lost my head for a minute. But let’s find you something to eat.”

            The doorbell rang.

            Maxine glared at Daryl. “Who is it?”

            Daryl shrugged. “I have no idea, Maxine.” He rose from the chair. His legs wobbled, but held him. He took a first step forward, and was relieved to find he could still walk.

            “What are you doing?”

            “I’m answering the door.”

            “But you can’t! Then you’ll want to leave me again!”

            “I’m not going to––”

            “––Daryl Beasley you open this door this minute or I’m coming in after you!” A wave of guilt and shock at hearing Loretta’s angry bellow froze him mid-step. His mind went blank at the sound of her hurt and anger. “And I had better not find what I think I’m going to find!”

            “Her!” Maxine hissed.

            Daryl found his voice and called out. “Wait, Loretta, I’m coming, don’t …”  And he heard the telltale metal rattling of the doorknob as a key inserted into it. Oh...she's using her copy of the key!

            The door flew open, and Loretta stood in the doorway, murder in her eyes. 

            Somehow Daryl found the strength to step forward and lurch toward her. “Loretta, go now,” he pleaded.

            Loretta focused on Daryl, and her expression changed from anger to shock. “Oh, Daryl, my God, what happened to you?” She started toward him.

            Then she saw the other figure in the room, and all sympathy vanished from her face. 

            Loretta’s features reflected sadness personified. “Oh … I see. Oh, Daryl, you really are pathetic, aren’t you?”

            Daryl flailed his hands. “Loretta, it’s not what you think–”

            “–Did you sleep with her?”

            The blunt question stopped him. “Loretta, that’s … kind of beside the point right now …”

            “–Because if you are, I’d say it’s pretty much exactly what I think!”

About the Author

R. J. Sullivan resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. His first novel, Haunting Blue, is an edgy paranormal thriller about punk girl loner Fiona "Blue" Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. R.J. is hard at work on the next chapter in Fiona's story, Virtual Blue, coming soon from Seventh Star Press.  R.J. is a member of the Indiana Horror Writers.

Connect with R.J.



Twitter: @RJSullivanAuthr