This is a longer than normal post for me. But it’s well-worth the time to read. Today is the release date for Australian author Tamar Sloan’s YA novel Make it Count. YA readers are going to want to add this novel to their must-read list.
Welcome to Jubilee Writer, Tamar. Congratulations on your new release. Let me introduce you to my readers before we get started on my questions.
A school psychologist by day, Tamar channels her passion for books into creating young adult stories about discovering life and love beyond our comfort zones. She is the award-winning author of the Prime Prophecy and Touched by Love Series. Tamar is also the author of PsychWriter: where psychology meets writing, a blog that supports and extends writers.
When not reading, writing or working with teens, Tamar can be found with her ever-patient husband and two beautiful sons enjoying country life on their small acreage in the Australian bush.
Tamar finds it deeply rewarding to share her stories and she loves to hear from her readers and fellow lovers of all things book related.
Tamar, you’re the first Australian author to appear on my blog. And you share my heart for helping other writers. I don’t write YA but I enjoy reading it. Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.
Interestingly, I never considered I’d be a writer. As a child I loved to read (I devoured romance novels from the moment I discovered them), but it NEVER occurred to me that I could write one myself. My first book came to me in a dream (so cliché, right?). But it was an idea that wouldn’t go away, which meant I had to go learn how to write… Several months later, with a healthy dose of muttered curse words, my first book of the Prime Prophecy series, was born.
I get the dream revelation. I think a lot of writers can relate. Now, tell us about your latest published project Make it Count.
Make it Count is a young adult contemporary romance, admittedly fueled by a touch of the impossible. It tells the story of impulsive, fun-loving Casey and the ability she was born with – if she touches another person she sees the number of days they have left to live. Casey fakes a phobia to avoid touch, and she convinces herself she’s happy in her isolated, safe little bubble. Until irresistible, motorcycle riding PJ comes along. The chemistry is hot, the sparks fly. And Casey is about to learn how to live a life that counts.
I love the premise. What kind of research was involved in making this story come to life?
Google and I became besties. I had to learn some motocross lingo, explore the theme of ‘you only live once’ and nail the most appropriate group therapy strategies for Make it Count. Google allowed me to do most of that. Apart from that, being a psychologist really helps. I work with young adults every day and get to walk alongside their struggles and triumphs. Those moments weave their way into my books all the time.
A writing what you know experience as a psychologist but so much more. Wonderful. What other inspiration came to you as you formulated this story in your mind.
Make it Count is one of those books that comes to you at 4am and you just know it’s going to be a special story. It started with the seed – what if with one touch, a girl could see how many days a person has to live? Apart from all the heart-wrenching considerations like touching your loved ones, I knew she’s avoid touch at whatever cost. But then PJ arrived, and he was hot, and irresistible. I had to capture their chemistry, and their story.
Now, let’s talk a little about you.
When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?
This question has made me pause the most. I’m not sure I ever considered my decision to write as a calling. But I suppose the moment you commit the amount of time writers do to their passion it would have to be considered a calling. I think my realization evolved slowly. It was only once I’d published my first book and readers wrote to me of how the story had touched them that I realized I had a talent that was worth sharing with the world.
Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?
I have a framed timbre board in my writing room with Gandhi’s famous quote – ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’ My dad made it for me, and I aspire to that sentiment every day.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?
Be prepared for a fabulous roller coaster ride. There will be lows, there will be twists you thought you knew were coming but you really didn’t, and there will be exhilarating highs. How do you prepare for something like that? In some ways you can’t, in other ways you pack your fortitude and resilience, and open yourself up to the joy of the ride.
Here’s the back-cover copy. Oh so compelling
He’s irresistible…but she’s the one person who knows his days are numbered.
Casey’s touch can reveal the one thing a person would never want to know — the number of days they have left to live.
By the time Casey turns seventeen she’s learnt to withdraw. But the phobia she fakes in order to avoid human contact is sorely tested by hot, persistent, motorcycle riding PJ. For a girl who craves contact, maple eyed PJ is impossible to resist. When the inevitable happens, when hands, bodies and lips collide, Casey sees PJ’s number, one that can only be seen as a cruel twist of fate.
Now she must decide. Will she continue counting the days of her life, or start living a life that counts?
With the memorable writing and humor of writers such as Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun blended with the attitude, chemistry and unexpected plot twists of Katie McGarry’s best sellers, Make it Count is a romance that will leave you swooning and smiling.
Because this is the release date for Make it Count let’s share an excerpt for my readers to enjoy.
A few steps down the path I slip the brownie from my sleeve. There’s no way I can wait to get out of the front yard before I taste this square of temptation. I should be sainted right alongside Ari’s grandson for not wolfing down the whole platter.
There’s a mega-sized tree in the front yard, so I head around it, lean back against its bark watching the brownie’s slow approach to my mouth, savouring the moment. I smell the chocolate, the sugar, the awesomeness. I bite down and my eyes flutter closed. Oh. My. Heaven-loving-tastebuds. Galaxies of spun sugar dissolve in my mouth, symphonies drowned out by the roaring in my ears. My body mirrors what’s happening in my mouth; I’m slowly, deliciously melting into a gooey, thick puddle.
The roaring stops.
“If you like my cooking, you’d love how I make breakfast.”
Everything stops. Every cell goes from puddly and quivery to upright and alert. I know that chocolately voice. I’ll never forget that warm, rich timbre.
I open one eye, then two.
PJ is sitting on his motorbike, helmet on his lap, that grin glinting in the sun. He hangs the helmet on a handlebar, swings a long denim leg over and swaggers towards me. And I mean a hip swaying, shoulder swinging swagger that evokes images of yellow-striped, denim-clad butts.
The moment he’s close enough for me to focus on his eyes the brownie turns to bread in my mouth. It could never compete with the symphonies and stars in those molten maple pools.
“They’re a family recipe.”
My brain clicks out of brownie-PJ heaven and into gear. Hang on a sec. I look over my shoulder at the door, the door that was just closed by a woman the colour of brown sugar. I look back to the very white, hot guy in front of me.
The moment PJ stops I take a step back, out of arm’s length, and out of smell’s reach. His eyes narrow ever so slightly as he notes my movement. He crosses his arm. “Yeah, family.”
I wait, but it seems someone else in this town took the course on stubborn silence. Instead he grins again. Man, I wish he’d stop doing that. Here, in the sun, it’s blinding. “I’m flattered.”
I raise a brow.
PJ shrugs, and somehow the movement seems to bring him a millimetre closer. Moving again would be rude and weirdo-whacky so I stay put, choosing to breathe through my mouth.
“It takes some effort to find out where a guy lives.”
My jaw slackens. Ego much?
“Hmmm.” I step to the side and head to his motorbike. “I’m glad you brought a second helmet.”
PJ turns and follows me, I step around the bike, using it as a barrier.
He places a hand on the leather seat. “You wanted to come for a ride?”
Eyes wide with mock shock connect with molten maple. “Don’t you need it for your ego?”
Instead of looking insulted, PJ grins. A wide, teeth-glinting, eye-wrinkling grin. “I think I might; it just got one heck of a hit.”
I cross my arms, glad I can do it safely this time thanks to my Personal Protective Equipment.
PJ brings one hand up to stroke his chin. “So you’re not here to see me.”
“Difficult to imagine, isn’t it?”
“What else would bring you here?”
Those delicious lips twitch. He knows exactly why I’m here. I’m not much of a blusher, but being here, for a therapy group for a phobia I don’t have, wearing the freaky lengths I have to go to avoid touch seems like a pretty good time to blush.
But I didn’t wear a balaclava, so instead, I own it. “I have ablutophobia.”
PJ’s eyes stray to my lips. “Well, it’s not a fear of brownies.”
I resist the urge to lick their suddenly dry surface. “Or the repeated use of pick-up lines.”
PJ chuckles, and it’s a sound that reminds me of crème brûlée, smooth and moreish. “Maybe it’s a phobia of stepping up to a challenge.”
That has me straightening. Everything in my impulsive but necessarily inhibited personality loves a challenge. PJ quirks a brow, and leans forward, placing both hands on the seat. The position pushes his shoulders forward, focuses my attention on those biceps. Mr. Sexy-Comes-Naturally is waiting for me to pick up the gauntlet.
Sensations and sights sharpen. Those molten maple pools watching me. The heat pressing against my body. Those Adonis lips parting on an inhale. The bead of sweat raking down my spine.
I lean forward, and my eyes widen the moment my next sense registers something. A scent, the kind of scent that has your head tilting reflexively, your mouth opening just a touch to see if it will land on your tongue.
I don’t know what amber smells like, but I think this could be it. Woodsy, spicy…tempting…moreish. It’s the kind of smell that makes you wish you could spend more time breathing in than out. One hand reaches out to the red plastic fender rising from the back of the bike. The moment woven cotton presses into my fingertips, rather than smooth plastic warmed by the sun, I stop. It’s all I need to return me to reality.
I take a step back, having to mentally force my nose to follow. PJ was never meant get close enough to smell, because exactly what I thought would happen just happened.
He smells as good as he looks, and I don’t need any more temptation to fight.
I take another step back. “You’ve got the wrong girl, PJ.”
PJ exhales, possibly because of the pent-up tension, but probably out of frustration. “It seems we have one thing in common, Casey.”
With another step back I decide it’s safe to ask. “What’s that?”
PJ straightens, his eyes twinkling. “We both love a challenge.”
I start to walk backwards, shaking my head. “The difference is I can pick a lost cause.”
I turn and start creating even more distance between us. I walk away from hot, sexy, available maple, knowing this is what I need to do. Telling PJ, with everything I can, he’s wasting his time.
“See you at mini motos.”
I keep walking. The tenacity is admirable and flattering, but wasted. “I’m not going.” I call over my shoulder.
“Don’t forget to bring your little brother.”
I shake my head, glad PJ can see that and not my smile. Sure, I love to look, I like the flirting, and I’d love to be someone that could go there.
But PJ is the last person I plan on touching.
Alright readers now that you’re hooked here are some links.
Purchase links: https://books2read.com/MakeitCount
Want to visit Tamar and get to know her better?
You can find her at www.tamarsloan.com or on Facebook www.facebook.com.au/tamarsloanwriter or Twitter www.twitter.com/sloantamar. Good reads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36284190-make-it-count
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Tamar. Hope your release date is everything you hoped it would be.