Excerpt Reveal: Roar by Cora Carmack

From New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack comes her debut young adult fantasy, ROAR! Releasing June 13, 2017, ROAR takes readers on an adventure filled with charismatic characters in an enthralling world sure to keep them turning the pages. Don’t miss the amazing excerpt below!

Roar by Cora Carmack
Series: Stormheart #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: June 13th 2017
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In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.
She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleBAMiTunes • IndieBound

Pre-order your copy of Roar and submit your receipt here (http://us.macmillan.com/torforge/promo/roar2017preorderoffer) to receive a special swag bag of a Skyfire pendant and Stormheart Chart in a cloth bag!

Now here’s an excerpt from Roar! ❤

excerpt button

There was a hole in her chest, an awful, gaping hole that screamed like she wanted to. Like a cyclone, it seemed to suck up everything in its path until her knees were curled into her chest and her body hunched, and she just kept collapsing in and in and in. Suddenly unable to breathe, she clawed at the beaded fastenings that connected her headdress and necklace. One of her fingernails bent and splintered as she scrabbled for the hooks; when she could not find them, she took hold of the beaded cord and pulled until it broke, beads scattering across the stone floor around her.

The headdress tipped sideways, tugging painfully on her hair. Again and again, she pulled at the ties until her palms felt raw and beads littered the floor around her. The headdress began to sag, and she was nearly done, nearly free when someone stepped through the archway, and she froze.

Novaya.

Thank the skies. The dark-haired servant held an urn full of steaming water in her hands, and she stared in horror as if she had stumbled upon a monster rather than a crying girl. Nova had been Rora’s closest friend before she cut herself off from everyone at her mother’s command. Girls with secrets the size of Rora’s could not have friends. Nova took a step forward, paused, then knelt down, her large brown eyes carefully blank.

“Should I call for your guards? The queen?” Nova asked.

“No!” Softer, Aurora said, “No. Please don’t tell anyone.”

Once upon a time, Nova had kept all her secrets. Now the two rarely even looked at each other in the eye when their paths crossed, and it was all Aurora’s fault.

“Your Highness? What happened?”

Rora shook her head and returned to tugging at the headdress still tangled in her hair. She couldn’t say the words aloud, couldn’t let anyone see how much of a fool she was. Aurora had become accustomed to her shortcomings as a Stormling, as an heir. But she’d thought she had her mother’s strength, tenacity, and intelligence. But maybe that was wishful thinking. Maybe she was altogether…inadequate.

“Stop, Princess. You’re hurting yourself.” Nova put the water aside, crawled forward, and grabbed Rora’s wrists. “Aurora, stop.”

All the years spent missing their friendship came rushing back, and she froze at the sound of her name. Not Princess. Not Your HighnessAurora. But the moment she stopped moving, it all came crashing down on her. Her naïve plan to kiss him, to experience something real. She should have known that her future would hold only more lies. As if she knew anything about real life, real anything. She lived in this palace, protected and pampered and put away like a doll on a shelf, too fragilefor anything but appearances. And it seemed that’s all she would ever be.

Cassius wanted control of the city for himself. He thought he’d have to fool her to do it, but the moment the world found out that Rora had no magic, he’d become the ruler in truth, and she’d be the puppet at his side. He wouldn’t have to feign interest in her then. He wouldn’t need her at all.

She wound her arms about her legs and rested her forehead on her knees. Nova moved closer, and Rora sat still and silent as the girl worked to remove the headdress. Her old friend had grown into a beautiful young woman—flawless bronze skin, shiny black hair, stunning features. She’d recently begun assisting the royal seamstress in addition to her position as a maid. She probably had more friends than she could count. Aurora could not help imagining how different her life would be now fi she had never become heir.

The headdress finally gave way, and Nova slipped it off and laid it on the stone floor beside them.

“Tell me what happened.”

Rora leaned back against the wall. It was cool against her abused scalp, and she muttered, “Nothing happened.”

At least she had that much. She hadn’t kissed that beast. But what she had done felt worse. She had hoped. And hope broke more hearts than any man ever could.

“Should I get someone? A friend?”

Rora let out a bleak, cold laugh. As if she had any of those. Softer, she said, “I don’t want to see anyone. I just need this dress off. The makeup too. I need to breathe, and I can’t do it through all this mess.”

“I can do that. I came to help remove the headdress and gown. Stand up and we’ll go to your room. Everything will be fine, Your Highness.”

She didn’t tell her old friend how wrong she was, not as she peeled the dress off her and unlaced the corset. Not as she wiped away the powder that was smudged and striped on Rora’s face, thanks to falling tears. Another maid came in with more steaming water for a bath and Rora let them clean her up, wishing it was as easy to wipe away the last few hours.

She sat in the bath until the water grew cold and her skin shriveled like dying fruit. She had to face the facts. The Rage season was coming, as was this sham of a wedding. And she didn’t know how to fight it any more than she knew how to stop a storm.

But she would not give Cassius any more opportunities to see her vulnerable. Nor was she giving up. If there were no other way, she would marry Cassius.

But she had six days. Wars had been won, empires toppled, and cities leveled in less time. If there was a way out of this, Rora would find it.

Reading Order: Stormheart series

#1 ~ Roar: Ebook • HardcoverGoodreads (June 13, 2017)

about the author button

Cora Carmack is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Since she was a teenager, her favorite genre to read has been fantasy, and now she’s thrilled to bring her usual compelling characters and swoon-worthy romance into worlds of magic and intrigue with her debut YA fantasy, Roar. Her previous adult romance titles include the Losing It, Rusk University, and Muse series. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages around the world. Cora splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City, and on any given day you might find her typing away at her computer, flying to various cities around the world, or just watching Netflix with her kitty Katniss. But she can always be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her website.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads


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Preorder Promotion + Giveaway: Roar by Cora Carmack

Want the chance to win some Roar swag? Check out the preorder promo below!

Roar by Cora Carmack
Series: Stormheart #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: June 13th 2017
Add to Goodreads

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.
She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleBAMiTunes • IndieBound

Pre-order your copy of Roar and submit your receipt here (http://us.macmillan.com/torforge/promo/roar2017preorderoffer) to receive a special swag bag of a Skyfire pendant and Stormheart Chart in a cloth bag!

Reading Order: Stormheart series

#1 ~ Roar: Ebook • HardcoverGoodreads (June 13, 2017)

about the author button

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She now splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City and spends her days writing, traveling, and spending way too much time on the internet. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads

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Roar by Cora Carmack poster/map (US only)

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Release Week Blitz + Excerpt & Giveaway: All Played Out by Cora Carmack

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We are absolutely thrilled to bring you the Release Week Blitz for Cora Carmack’s ALL PLAYED OUT! ALL PLAYED OUT is a New Adult Contemporary Romance and is the 3rd book in the Rusk University Series, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins.

All Played Out by Cora Carmack

All Played Out by Cora Carmack
Series: Rusk University #3 (full reading order below)
Release Date: May 12th 2015
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First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay… Scratch that. She knows she hasn’t had the full college experience).

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a “to do” list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it’s impossible to get hurt… again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she’s never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he’s willing to take the chance when it’s more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • iTunes

Now here’s an excerpt from All Played Out! ❤

excerpt button

Dallas and Dylan toss the disk back and forth a few times, and I groan when Carson and Silas make no effort to intercept or knock down the pass. I’m pretty sure it’s a distraction, so I stick tight to Brookes, and I notice Ryan edging closer to me, too. He must have the same idea.

Next thing I know, Dallas has sent the disk soaring over our heads, and when I look, Nell is standing alone, completely unguarded in the end zone.

She’s holding her hands out and staring at the disk like it’s a missile instead of a piece of plastic. I take off toward her in case she misses it. I want to grab the disk and get it back into play as soon as I can.

As I sprint, the disk slips right through her grasping fingers and nails her in the chest. She gasps; no doubt the air was knocked out of her. The disk ricochets, and if I dive I might can manage to catch it, but I can’t quite drag my eyes away from her chest. Her tits are practically spilling out of the top of the tiny tank she’s wearing. I’d had a front-row seat earlier with my arm around her. Now she’s clutching at herself in pain, but all I can see are her smooth, delicate arms pressed against the curve of her breasts, pushing them even higher.

I should look away before something very unfortunate occurs in my baggy gym shorts, but now I’m picturing that shy girl loosening up beneath me. It’s too easy to take those wide eyes she gave me when I draped my arm around her and imagine them in the low light of my room, her head on my pillow and her legs spread wide.

She makes a soft whimpering noise, and now the rest of my senses join the fantasy, and I think of how she would feel, taste, sound. I wonder just how low I could get her inhibitions. Enough to say my name? To scream it?

“Damn,” I groan, and try to clear my head. “You all right?”

She looks up at me, still clutching at her chest, and pink spreads over her cheeks. She doesn’t say anything.

“Okay,” I say. “There is honestly no way to ask this without sounding like a pig, so I’m not even gonna try. And really, in these situations, I find you might as well go balls to the wall and throw it all out there. So … at the risk of getting slapped, how are your tits?” I think about offering to check them out for her, but I figure that’s probably taking it a step too far.

Her mouth presses into a firm straight line. “It wasn’t my …” She trails off.

“Tits,” I finish for her. “You have them. You can say the word.”

“It hit me in the collarbone, not the breasts.”

Breasts. I raise an eyebrow, and she rolls her eyes.

I take a step forward and say, “Let me see.”

“Absolutely not.”

I take another step, until my shadow falls over her, and take hold of one wrist. “As you pointed out, you weren’t hit in the breasts. Just let me have a look. With the right strength and good wind, a disk can go as fast as twenty miles per hour. I’ve seen them break fingers and noses.”

“Dude, Torres!” Silas shouts behind me. “What are you waiting for? Grab the disk and let’s go!”

Hesitating, I ask, “You wanna take a break? Catch your breath and let me see it?”

She shakes her head stubbornly. “I don’t want the game to stop because of me.”

I turn around and shout back to Silas, “Nell and I are taking a break. You guys keep playing with eight.”

Taking her elbow, I pull her off the field toward the picnic tables. She protests, but only mildly, and she still has one hand pressed just above her cleavage. And looking down at her, I can see moisture clinging to long lashes at the corner of her eye.

I sit her down so that her back is to the field, and go down on one knee in front of her. She’s so small that it puts us eye level, and I say softly, “Move your hand.”

“It’s fine,” she says. “Just give me a couple seconds, and I’ll be fine.”

You don’t grow up with five sisters without learning that sometimes with women, words are pointless. I reach out and move her hand myself, pulling it away from her chest. The skin just below her collarbone is an angry red, and the disk scraped through a couple layers of skin. Not enough to bleed, but I bet it hurts. “Tell me how it feels. Still a sharp pain? Or more of an ache?”

Her eyebrows slant over her pretty brown eyes. “The pain was sharp and steady for approximately thirty seconds, but now it kind of stings.”

“Like a slap,” I say.

She gives a short laugh, her shoulders bouncing once before she stills in what I’m guessing is pain. “I can’t say I know what that feels like. Though I’m not surprised it’s a sensation you’re familiar with.”

I shrug. “I don’t believe in censoring my thoughts. Some people just aren’t as fond of freedom of speech as I am.”

She shakes her head, and I think she’s trying not to smile.

I reach up my left hand and as lightly as possible run my thumb over the red mark. She sucks in a breath and I ask, “Hurts to the touch?”

“Um.” She swallows and blinks a few times.

“Does it hurt a lot?”

I brush my thumb over her skin again, even lighter this time, wondering if the Frisbee could have hit hard enough to crack something. There’s already a purpling around the center that tells me it’s going to bruise pretty good.

She swallows, and my eyes are drawn to the graceful slope of her neck, up to a small chin and full lips. And it hits me then … why this girl caught my eye from the moment she walked toward our group, why I can’t drag my eyes or my hand away from her now.

She reminds me of Lina.

And the memory of the only girl I’ve ever loved packs a punch so hard that it’s my turn to raise a hand to my chest to soothe an all-too-familiar ache.

Reading Order: Rusk University series

All Lined Up by Cora Carmack All Broke Down by Cora Carmack All Played Out by Cora Carmack

#1 ~ All Lined Up: My Review • EbookPaperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ All Broke Down: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ All Played Out: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#4 ~ All Closed Off: Goodreads (2016)

about the author button

Cora CarmackCora Carmack is a twenty-something New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She now splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City and spends her days writing, traveling, and spending way too much time on the internet. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads

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$25 Gift card (Amazon or Barnes and Noble-Winner’s Choice!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blog Tour + Excerpt & Giveaway: All Played Out by Cora Carmack

All Played Out tour Banner
Click the banner to follow the tour.

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for All Played Out! We have an excerpt from the book on the blog! Don’t forget All Played out releases on May 12th!

All Played Out by Cora Carmack

All Played Out by Cora Carmack
Series: Rusk University #3 (full reading order below)
Release Date: May 12th 2015
Add to Goodreads

First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay… Scratch that. She knows she hasn’t had the full college experience).

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a “to do” list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it’s impossible to get hurt… again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she’s never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he’s willing to take the chance when it’s more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • iTunes

Now here’s an excerpt from All Played Out! ❤

excerpt

I’ve always gone out of my way to avoid situations that might stir up that kind of reaction. When I was getting picked on in middle school, I found a teacher willing to let me eat lunch in her classroom during her off period. I didn’t really do much dating in high school, because the few times I tried, I couldn’t handle the stress of not knowing what would happen next. The mere possibility of embarrassing myself was always enough to make me run in the other direction. I didn’t take any chances. Not that kind at least. And now it seems as if my social life is not the only department where I’m playing catch-up.

Welcome to Humiliation. Population: Me.

Thankfully, I’m so miserable that the next few minutes only occur in bursts and patches for me. When I next lift my eyes, Dylan is there, and we’re inside the apartment. I blink, and I’m in my room. It’s dark, only the lamp by my bed providing light, and she’s dabbing at my forehead with a damp cloth that feels like heaven.

“Why did I do this?” I groan. “Why does anyone do this?”

She doesn’t laugh, though I can tell she wants to.

“Hindsight is twenty-twenty.”

“I hate that saying.”

“But it’s the truth.”

“I hate the truth.”

She does laugh then.

“Why did you do it?” she asks. “I tried to ask Matt, but he sounds like a yeti when he’s this drunk. I couldn’t make out anything he said.”

“I hate yetis,” I mumble.

“Yes, well, before you say you hate water, drink this.”

She tilts my head up to meet a glass, and half the water ends up running down my neck. And I do, indeed, hate water.

The only thing I don’t hate is sleep. Sleep will take away the churning in my stomach, and the awful taste in my mouth, and the flushed heat I know is still marring my skin.

Maybe I’ll wake up, and this will all have been a dream. I won’t have thrown up in front of the people I’m trying to make my new friends. I wouldn’t have told the most attractive guy to ever show any interest in me that I’m a virgin.

Maybe I’ll wake up to find that this whole list thing was a long, elaborate dream, and I can go back to being blissfully weird and antisocial and …

Alone.

Somewhere between one forced sip of water and the next, I must fall asleep, because I wake up after what feels like hours to the sound of my door closing. Probably just Dylan checking on me, but I’m struggling to find the motivation to move my head the six inches it will take to confirm this suspicion.

Eventually, my bed shifts, slanting to one side, and my head ends up turning of its own volition. I decide I’m dreaming when I see who’s seated beside me, because there’s no way Torres would be in my room after everything that just happened. I’m sure Dylan wouldn’t even let him in. I decide that this must be my subconscious, trying to give me one last good-bye, unreal though it may be.

“I brought you some food,” he says.

I groan. My dream can’t even do me the courtesy of giving me a pleasant last memory. Or is it normal to be drunk in your dreams when you’re drunk in real life?

He breaks the corner off a bread stick and holds it up to my lips. I don’t open.

“Trust me,” he says. “I know you’re tired and probably miserable, but this will help. And the more food and water we get into you now, the less you’ll hate yourself in the morning.”

“Already hate myself,” I say, but I take a bite of the bread stick he’s offering. It takes me forever to chew it, and when I’m done, he holds up another. Grudgingly, I eat it.

“That’s my girl.” And now I know it’s a dream.

He offers me water, and I take it, if only to wash down the bread.

“What happened to our deal?” he asks, and he sounds almost angry. “If you’d waited for me, I could’ve taken care of you. Made sure you didn’t drink too much.”

Since it’s a dream, I don’t see the point in being dishonest.

“I don’t want you to help me with the list.”

“Why not?” Yeah. He’s definitely angry.

“Because I don’t want you to think I’m a loser.”

“Damn it. I think a lot of things about you, Nell. Some of them are certainly not nice, but trust me, they’re all complimentary.” I shake my head, too tired to pick out the meaning of his words. “You’re not a loser, Nell. And I’m going to help you with that list whether you like it or not. I didn’t like coming into your apartment and seeing you with that guy. I don’t like that he’s the one who you shared this first with. I want your firsts.”

Reading Order: Rusk University series

All Lined Up by Cora Carmack All Broke Down by Cora Carmack All Played Out by Cora Carmack

#1 ~ All Lined Up: My Review • EbookPaperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ All Broke Down: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ All Played Out: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads (May 12, 2015)
#4 ~ All Closed Off: Goodreads (2016)

about the author

Cora Carmack

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She now splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City and spends her days writing, traveling, and spending way too much time on the internet. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads

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Signed Rusk University Set for 1 winner

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InkSlinger PR Blogger Button

Special Announcement from Cora Carmack

HERE’S THE SCOOP!
Fans of Cora Carmack’s Rusk University, we have a SUPER exciting announcement:

All Closed Off announcement

ALL CLOSED OFF, Book 4 in the Rusk University Series, is coming!!!
Check out this message from Cora!

*WARNING: This letter contains spoilers for All Broke Down. If you haven’t yet read that book, read at your own peril. SECOND WARNING: this letter talks about fictional characters as if they are real people. Sorry I’m not sorry. THIRD WARNING: The letter below broaches a serious topic that could be a trigger for some people*

Hello beloved readers!

The first person who read one of my Rusk University books was my older sister. I gave her All Lined Up when I finished, and her first question was “Are Ryan and Stella going to be together?”

At the time, I told her no. I had plans for both of them that included their own storylines. I thought they were too much alike. They’d make great friends. They might even hook-up, but in the end… I couldn’t envision anything serious for them. So I actually rewrote some of their scenes trying to make that aspect of their connection more obvious. And still, when All Lined Up released, amidst the chatter about sweet Carson and sassy Dallas, I had people asking if Stella and Ryan were next. I denied it again (and again and again).

But sometimes in writing, the stars align and a character will become bigger and more real than you could have possibly imagined. It’s a wonderful experience, but in Stella’s case it was also incredibly heartbreaking. While I was writing All Broke Down, the news was inundated with information about the Steubenville rape trial and other tragedies and injustices like it. Tragedies where women have been violated first by an attacker, then by judgmental and hateful people, and finally by a justice system that repeatedly fails survivors of sexual assault. Having grown up in Texas, where too often football stars are treated like gods and can get away with just about anything, it hit particularly close to home. And since All Broke Down featured a passionate activist heroine, I felt compelled to reference this chronic dark underbelly of elite sports.

I can remember vividly sitting on my couch, brainstorming how I would incorporate such an event into the book. I had thought the assault would happen to an unknown character, and maybe I would focus on the way it divided the team and the school and the town. But like I said… Sometimes a character will become bigger and more human than I anticipated. And it sounds crazy, but in my mind, I felt Stella push her way forward and say, “Mine. This is my story.” I immediately began to cry. Sob, really. Because I loved her as a character. She was hilarious and strong and didn’t take crap from anyone. She was everything I always hope to be. And I didn’t want her to go through that. Even as I cried, my brain began to tell me that it made sense. Stella was vibrant and enjoyed a wild party. She was not afraid of her sexuality, and she had no problem with casual sex. She was the kind of girl that probably had a reputation. The kind of girl who could be heinously and violently taken advantage of, and people would STILL blame her. Because she was in the wrong place, wearing the wrong clothes, behaving in the wrong way. But just because it COULD happen to her, didn’t mean I wanted it to. But once again, Stella was there in my head saying, “Someone needs to tell this story. And I’m strong enough to do it. Let me.” And when Stella chose her story, she also chose the man I’d been adamant wasn’t right for her. Because as it turns out… Those two characters who I thought were too alike aren’t so alike anymore. And Stella needs Ryan to help her hold on to that vibrant and strong girl she was before.

So I let go of all the plans I had for her, and allowed her to tell me her story, which is about more than just sexual assault. It’s about the aftermath. Depression. Shame. Guilt. Anger. Injustice. Victim-blaming. Slut-shaming. It’s about the way that kind of event can change everything– how you relate to people, how you think, how you dream, how you love. It’s about the way the rest of the world moves on to the next big tragedy, and you’re still left holding the broken pieces of who you used to be, with no idea how to put them together again or even if you want to. It will be the most difficult story I ever tell. And the most important. Because it’s a story that belongs not just to Stella, but to millions of people around the world. It’s a story that belongs to a new person every 107 seconds*. And that’s just in the United States. Think about that for a moment. 107 seconds. Stella’s story won’t be any easier to read than it will be to write. But I hope you’ll help me drag this story into the light.

So now I’ll step off my soapbox and just tell you about the book…

Stella Santos is fine.

Maybe something terrible happened to her that she can’t even remember. And maybe it drives her crazy when her friends treat her like she’s on the verge of breaking because of it. Maybe it feels even worse when they do what she asks and pretend that it never happened at all. And maybe she’s been getting harassing emails and messages for months from people who don’t even know her, but hate her all the same.

But none of that matters because she’s just fine.

For Ryan Blake, Stella was always that girl. Vibrant and hilarious and beautiful. He wanted her as his best friend. His more than friends. His everything and anything that she would give him. Which these days is a whole lot of nothing. She gets angry when he’s there. Angry when he’s not there. Angry when he tries to talk and when he doesn’t.

When Stella devises an unconventional art project for one of her classes all about exploring intimacy—between both friends and strangers—Ryan finds himself stepping in as guinea pig after one of her subjects bails. What was supposed to be an objective and artistic look at emotion and secrets and sex suddenly becomes much more personal. When he hits it off with another girl from the project, Stella will have to decide if she’s willing to do more than make art about intimacy. To keep him, she’ll have to open up and let herself be the one thing she swore she’d never be again.

Vulnerable.

ALL CLOSED OFF will be releasing sometime in early 2016. I don’t have a date yet for several reasons. The first and most important, is that I want to do this story justice. And as such, I have no intentions of rushing the process. Secondly, I’ll be returning to indie publishing for the remainder of the Rusk series. As you can probably tell, this story means a great deal to me. And by having the ultimate control over everything from timing to editing to price, I’ll be able to ensure that I’m able to create exactly the story I envision. Unfortunately, that means you won’t be seeing the paperback of ALL CLOSED OFF on the shelves in most stores. Nor is it currently available for pre-order. But I hope you’ll add the book on goodreads, follow me on social media, and/or join my newsletter. I promise to shout it all over the place when I have a set release date or pre-order links.

Thank you for listening as I told you the evolution of Stella’s story. When it’s finished, I hope you will feel as passionately about it as I do.

All my best,
Cora Carmack

*Statistic from RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network)

And an opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s…

Stella’s experience is only one story of many. She was with someone she trusted when it happened, and the only memories she has are pieced together from her own blurred recollections and the things people have told her.  Not everyone’s experience with sexual assault is the same. Each person reacts, copes, and overcomes differently. And while this book is about one specific character’s journey, I would like to tell as many sides of this story as possible. As Stella grapples with her thoughts and emotions she’ll be searching for advice, for comfort, for a place where people understand her and can identify with what she’s experiencing. There will be room for truth within the fiction, and if you’d like that truth to be yours, this is your chance.

If you have a story like Stella’s, and you want your voice to be heard….

If there’s something you wish more people understood about what you’ve gone through….

If there’s something you’d like to tell people struggling with a story like yours…

I’d like to give you the opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s. Use the hashtag #WhenItHappened and let your voice be heard on your own by posting on your own social media, or if you’d rather I share your words fill out this google document and tell me your story. You can fill out this form anonymously or not. I’d like to begin this discussion now because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But my hope is to include as many stories as possible within the book itself.

So many have stories of #WhenItHappened. Your voice and your story deserve to be heard. I’m listening.

#WhenItHappened Google Form: http://goo.gl/forms/4VRjWgZYSW

Reading Order: Rusk University series

All Lined Up by Cora Carmack All Broke Down by Cora Carmack All Played Out by Cora Carmack

#1 ~ All Lined Up: My Review • EbookPaperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ All Broke Down: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ All Played Out: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads (May 12, 2015)
#4 ~ All Closed Off: Goodreads (2016)

about the author

Cora Carmack

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She now splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City and spends her days writing, traveling, and spending way too much time on the internet. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too.

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