Booksting with CoHo and a Garvis-Graves Giveaway!

Welcome back to Booksting with CoHo! Today I’m featuring Tracey Garvis-Graves, author of Heart-Shaped Hack, which released TODAY! You might know her from some of her previous wonderful works, such as On The Island and Covet. I’m really excited to feature Tracey, not only because it’s her release day, but because she’s been a huge inspiration for me during my career. Read below for the interview and make sure you share this blog post to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Heart-Shaped Hack!

But first, let’s talk about this cover. I noticed in the acknowledgments that Tracey gave a shout-out to Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations. She does awesome covers, and this is one of my faves! Absolutely love it!

HSH Amazon

And…$2.99? Hello! That’s a steal for an ebook from this author, people. Go, go and download it now. I read it and LOVED it! Get it here!

Okay, now that my cover gushing is out of the way, dump out your purse and show us what’s inside, Tracey!

tracey's purse

Haha. The first thing I need to mention is your phone. I can’t believe you still have that!  The Kate Spade phone case was a gift from me…almost THREE YEARS AGO! What the heck, Tracey? You still have the same old phone? The one with the size 20 texting font? lol I love you. And based on the contents of your purse, I can see why I like you. I hate carrying purses, so I’m always asking people around me for things like mints, chapstick or pens. Yes, I’m that person.  We could be best friends! But seriously. I think you’re due for an iPhone upgrade. Okay, I’ll leave your purse alone, but now I want to pick your brain.

Colleen: How did you get your start in writing?

Tracey: I’ve always loved reading and wondered if someday I might be able to write a book. I have a business degree, but when I was in college, I took a couple of elective fiction writing classes and loved them. In 2008, I started a humor blog called Funny in the ‘Hood. I wrote a lot of posts about my suburban neighborhood, almost all of which involved wine drinking or snarky commentary on the latest episode of The Real Housewives. Writing a book had turned into a bucket list item by then, and since I wasn’t getting any younger, I thought I should probably tackle it sooner rather than later. I switched from blogging to fiction writing and On the Island was the result.

Colleen: Speaking of On The Island, I know the movie rights were snatched up not long after it released. Can you share any news about the movie option?

Tracey: MGM optioned the book in May of 2012, and Temple Hill Entertainment—the production company responsible for the Twilight films, The Fault in Our Stars, The Longest Ride, and The Maze Runner—signed on to produce. Last summer I received the exciting news that a script was nearing completion by the screenwriting team of Marc Silverstein and Abby Kohn. They wrote the script for He’s Just Not That Into You, which is one of my favorite romantic comedies. Marc, Abby, and Wyck Godfrey (of Temple Hill) turned in a producer’s pass last August, and MGM accepted it. The next step in the process is to assign a director, and I’ve been waiting a year for that to happen. I really hope to see some forward movement soon, but if I’ve learned anything in the last three years, it’s that movie making requires a lot of faith and patience. I feel like the project is in great hands, and if anyone can get Anna and T.J. onto the big screen, it’s MGM and Temple Hill.

Colleen: I think I can cover the role of Anna, and Zach Efron can be T.J. Instant hit! ;) But seriously, congrats on the movie deal! Now I want to know about your writing schedule, because I’m the most disorganized person in the world and I’m hoping to steal ideas. What’s a typical workday for you like?

Tracey: Once I get my kids and husband out the door to school and work, I check social media and respond to e-mails. Then I start writing. Unfortunately, I never know how long it’s going to take before the words start flowing, which means my productivity is somewhat hard to predict. I usually write until 3:30 because after my kids get home from school, the decibel level in the house rises considerably, and I’m a writer who works best in absolute silence.

Colleen: Hmmm, so being productive is important? I’m screwed.You seem to have it down pretty well though, because Heart-Shaped Hack flowed effortlessly. I loved it, and it was a little bit higher on the heat index compared to what I’ve read of you from the past, which was an awesome surprise. What inspired you to write Heart-Shaped Hack?

Tracey: Last fall, I was all set to begin writing a full-length novel titled The Girl He Used to Know. It’s a second-chance romance inspired by the Dan Fogelberg song, “Same Old Lang Syne,” the one about running into your lover in the grocery store on Christmas Eve. I was really excited to write that book. I’m still excited to write that book (and I will). But sometime in the early morning hours of October third, a book idea came to me in a dream. It didn’t make much sense, and I can’t actually remember what the dream itself was about, but the message was crystal clear and the sentence that played over and over in my head as I lay there at 4:45 a.m., wide awake, was: You should write a book about a modern-day Robin Hood. By the end of the day, the story had begun to develop rapidly in my head, and I just knew I had to write the book. I’m so glad I did because I haven’t written a contemporary romance since On the Island, and Heart-Shaped Hack was exactly the kind of swoony, romantic project I needed.

Colleen: It was definitely swoony. I loved Ian! Can you share with us (without spoilers) one line or passage in the book that’s your absolute favorite?

Tracey: He looked directly into her eyes, and when she held his gaze they shared a moment that was more intense than anything she’d ever felt with him. It made her want to give him things he hadn’t asked for yet.

Colleen: Yes, loved that scene! Now for our recycled reader questions! How old were you when you finished your first novel and how long did it take you?

Tracey: I was forty-four when I finished On the Island and it took me 18 months from start to finish. I wrote for an hour and a half every morning before I went to my day job.

Colleen: What is one word that makes you cringe just to say/write?

Tracey: Fester. Everyone, please stop saying this word immediately.

Colleen: Weirdest thing you have googled for book research?

Tracey: How long will it take before a Vitamin C deficiency results in scurvy? (On the Island research. Thankfully, breadfruit is full of Vitamin C!)

Colleen: If you could co-author with anyone, who would you pick?

Tracey: Jonathan Tropper. The man is a literary genius.

Colleen: If you were a spice what would you be?

Tracey: Red hot pepper flakes. I’m not sure if that’s technically a spice, but I always have a jar in my spice cabinet.

Colleen: If you could live the life of one of your characters for a year who would it be and why?

Tracey: Definitely Kate from Heart-Shaped Hack. Her life is about to become one big adventure, and her love interest is a gorgeous six foot four inch hacker who loves to break the rules. I’m in.

Colleen: What is your favorite food?

Tracey: Orange chicken with lo mein.

Colleen: Asian food FTW! What about your favorite drink?

Tracey: Diet Coke, iced tea (unsweetened), wine, or a martini (depending on the time of day, of course).

Colleen: You have no idea how hard it was for me not to edit that out to say Diet Pepsi. What was your favorite book as a child?

Tracey: The Little House on the Prairie books. I read and loved them all.

Colleen: Which author would you like to see featured on “Booksting with CoHo?”

Tracey: Tammara Webber and Christina Lauren. Oops, that’s two.

Colleen: Technically, that’s three, but I’ll let it slide. Last question. How do you hope to die?

Tracey: At age 112, in my sleep, and with no advance warning.

Colleen: You should have a buttload of books out by the age of 112. I’m cool with that. Thank you so much for joining me and best of luck on your new release! Now get back to work!

If you guys want a chance to win a signed copy of Heart Shaped Hack from Tracey, just share this interview. Come back here and leave a comment that you shared. I’ll pick winners this Sunday!

November 9 cometh!

***Contest has ended! Crystal Bowers and Kayla Kennedy were randomly selected winners of the gift cards! Thanks and come back soon for more giveaways!***

I know I’ve been posting about this one a lot, but I’m SO excited about it. I usually dread release days, but I’ve been wanting to write this book for two years now. The timing just wasn’t right until now for whatever reasons.

I also think this is my favorite book cover so far of all my books and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I have a feeling I’ll break records with how many of these babies I’ll be giving away.

In case you don’t know about preorders, they help bookstores determine which books readers want, which authors readers love and which books they will feature on their shelves. Preorders can make or break a release for authors. And the best part is, preorders don’t get charged to your account until the day the book releases. So if you know you’re going to buy November 9 and don’t mind preordering, it really does help a lot. And if you can’t afford it, no worries. You guys know I’m always giving stuff away. Like right now.

To help with those preorders (I get myself in trouble) I’m giving away TWO Amazon, iTunes or B&N gift cards (winner choice) for $100 each. All you have to do is share on social media the preorder for ANY book you’re excited about releasing later this year. It can be mine, it can be yours, it can be another one of your favorite authors. Just comment on this post with which book you told your friends about and I’ll pick a winner on Sunday!

Authors love to see readers talking about their books and we wouldn’t be where we are without your support and word of mouth. That’s a fact.

It’s about more than just reading when you talk about the books you love. You are making dreams come true for the writers you support. THANK YOU from the bottom of our evil little hearts.

Booksting with CoHo and Renee Carlino!

Welcome to Booksting With CoHo, a new post on my blog where I’ll be featuring new-to-me authors, authors who intrigue me, authors whose books I love and even awesome bloggers.


My first author is Renee Carlino. Her newest book, Before We Were Strangers, releases on August 18th and it’s so, so good. I know, because I actually read it. Renee knows all the details of when I read it, but that stays between me and Renee.

I asked Renee a few questions and then I had her answer a few reader questions, which, btw, you guys are crazy. How do you want to die? What kind of question is that? Don’t worry, I included it. But first, let’s all be nosey and inspect the contents of Renee’s purse and analyze her personality.


Okay, based on this pic, Renee likes her lips to be kissable, her hands to be clean, her clothes without stains, her eyes to be clear, her hands to be soft, the option for her hair to be up and she likes her breathe to be fresh.

Renee, based on the innards of your purse, we conclude that you must have OCD.

Okay, on with the interview! The first few questions are highlighted in bold and have to do with her fabulous book, Before We Were Strangers. If you are allergic to spoilers, no worries. There aren’t any here. But if you hate knowing anything about a book before you read it, even character names, then feel free to skip ahead to the reader questions.

1) What inspired you to write a second-chance romance? Is there someone from your past you wish wouldn’t have gotten away?

It wasn’t personal. I think for some of us, if we were to run into someone from our past that we liked or dated fifteen years prior, we might exchange pleasantries, walk away and either think, “that was nice,” or “dodged that bullet.” But for Matt and Grace, they knew at once that there was a missing piece to the puzzle. Their story was unfinished. This book was inspired by a real Craigslist missed connection. My editor and I had been scouring missed connections, when we found a unique post that was a plea for a second chance after many, many years. Not nearly as many as Matt and Grace were apart but still, the post got the wheels turning for me.

2) Does Matt fall for Grace because she is his muse or is she his muse because he fell for her?

Great question! I think you can have a muse without being in love with him or her. That’s not really answering the question though. The answer is, I don’t know. I think Matt and Grace inspired and supported each other’s art forms, which made them well matched. When you find someone who can appreciate your individuality and be proud of you, instead of being competitive or envious of your success, then that’s a great start. For Matt and Grace that quality in their relationship actually became a catalyst for their separation. It was bad timing. They let one other go to pursue dream careers and then later realized the dream actually included the two of them being together.

3) Grace is a big fan of Jeff Buckley. Are you also a fan of his music?

Um…let’s just say his birthday is still marked on my calendar. I was a huge beat poet and Bob Dylan fan growing up and naturally as we moved into the grunge rock era, Jeff Buckley’s music stood out to me more because it was so diverse and poetic. Even before he recorded Hallelujah, I was reading Leonard Cohen and Allen Ginsberg, so I was experiencing what Grace was experiencing around the same time. “Grace” was one of my favorite albums. When the posthumous release of “Live at Siné” happened, I felt a renewed appreciation for him. I still search for bootlegged recordings. One of my favorites is Jeff singing “I Shall Be Released” over the phone for a radio station. It totally proves what a genuine artist and lover of music he was.

4) What inspired some of the names in this book like Pornsake, Aletha and Tati?

Aletha sounded Greek to me, although I never really looked into it. Pornsake needed to be an underdog from the get go. There needed to be something that was completely outside of his character that one could joke about because I needed to find ways to differentiate the characters from past to present. I needed Grace and Tati and even Matt to be a bit immature in their college years, so the name was just fodder for them. And it helps to explain something in the third movement. But most of the time, the names are completely random. Just whatever pops into my head.

5) I loved how frugal they were, and how they found things to do and places to eat for free. Was this inspired by personal experience?

Definitely. I was very poor in college. I paid for and worked my way through undergrad and graduate school on my own, so I had to be creative. There is a café in LA that serves free pancakes if you wear your pajamas, or at least they did when I was in college. I also scoured want ads to see if I could be in any medical studies to make money and I seriously considered selling my eggs in the late 90’s, which my boyfriend at the time forbid.

And now for a few random reader questions!

  1. How old were you when you finished your first novel? How long did it take you?

I was around ten and I think it took a few days. It was a series of letters to my boyfriend in the military. It never got published ;).

2) What is one word that makes you cringe just to say/write?

Succulent. Oh and Cumin- I decided that after I read question number 5.

3) Weirdest thing you have googled for book research?

Where to buy a cow femur bone?

4) If you could co-author with anyone, who would you pick?

Kurt Vonnegut.

5) If you were a spice what would you be?

Not cumin. I don’t know, maybe Tarragon. Sounds like something Jon Snow might like.

6) If you could live the life of one of your characters for a year who would it be and why?

Probably Kate from “Nowhere But Here” because she’s a writer and she’s lives on a winery with Jamie and his body, his money and his brain. Did I mention wine?

7) What is your favorite food?

Anything from the ocean and chocolate—separately of course!

8) Favorite drink?

I’m so boring. Sparkling water or Champagne—same thing right?

9) What was your favorite book as a kid?

“Are you my mother?” A little bit older it was “Tuck Everlasting,” I think.

10) Of all your books, which is your favorite?

It’s always the book I just finished or currently working on, which is tentatively titled, “Wish You Were Here.” I have one in between that’s also finished titled, “Swear On This Life,” slated for a March release and then “Wish You Were Here” should be fall 2016’. I only like it more because it’s fresh in my mind. But as I get back into “Before We Were Strangers” after being away from it for so long, I’m feeling a part of Matt and Grace’s world and my emotions are in full swing again.

11) What’s your favorite movie?

Princess Bride, Pretty In Pink, Say Anything, Walkabout, recent fav is Rust and Bone.

12) What is a typical workday like for you?

Normal mom stuff, then dropping off the kids and writing. I listen to a lot of atmospheric rock while I write like El Ten Eleven or Explosions in the Sky. I do that for about four to six hours and then it’s back to carting kids around and making food.

13) Is there anyone you want to give a shoutout to?

All of the enthusiastic authors, readers and bloggers who have been willing to read BWWS and talk about it. And to Colleen for reading and bringing me onto BOOKSTING to introduce you all to Matt and Grace’s story. Thank you, I am so grateful.

14) How do you want to die?


That wraps up booksting with Renee! Thank you, Renee, and I can’t wait until everyone gets their hands on this book. It releases in exactly one week, but you can preorder your copies here:



Also, make sure and leave a comment below to enter to win a signed paperback copy of Before We Were Strangers. All you have to do is follow Renee on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and come back here and leave a comment on this post, letting me know you followed her. International entries are allowed. Winners will be verified through follows.

(Renee Hardman, you are the winner! Email with your address and what you won.)

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