Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New Books, New Giveaways!

Well, A KISS IN THE DARK officially became a published book 8 days ago, and I am finally getting the chance to sit down and write a blog post. HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, KISS!

I'm planning to write a separate post along the lines of the Story Behind the Story piece I wrote for BUSTED, because KISS has its own tale of how it almost didn't happen. But today, I'm going to concentrate on celebrating - and on giving away free books!

So let's do this. Here's how to win free books (mine, or ALL the books I've blurbed!):

I originally posted this on Release Day, but realized a few things shortly thereafter:
1) The 3/13 cutoff was not enough time
2) I didn't promote it enough and
3) There's no prize noted for reviewing A KISS IN THE DARK, or for reviewing both books. 

So here are the revised rules:

1) Leave a short review of BUSTED on Amazon or B & N for the chance to win a signed hardcover of A KISS IN THE DARK. 

~ OR~

Leave a short review of A KISS IN THE DARK on Amazon or B & N for the chance to win a signed paperback of BUSTED.

~ OR ~

Leave a short review of **both** A KISS IN THE DARK ~and~ BUSTED on Amazon or B & N for the chance to win ALL FOUR of the books I've blurbed:

HOW TO MAKE OUT by Brianna Shrum

LOVE SONGS AND OTHER LIES by Jessica Pennington (Preorder. Release Date 4/24/18)

THESE THINGS I'VE DONE by Rebecca Phillips

THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US by Katy Upperman (Preorder. Release date July 31st) 

2) Once your review is posted (one or two honest sentences is plenty), either leave the link in a comment on this post, or tweet it to gmc511, or email it to gina(dot)ciocca(at)yahoo(dot)com, by 3/28
3) Winners will be announced on 3/29. 

Yes, international entries are okay. 
Yes, the review can be cross-posted from your Goodreads account (no plagiarizing, obvs).

And there you have it. Happy Reading and Reviewing!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Preorder Incentives for A KISS IN THE DARK!

I can not believe A KISS IN THE DARK's release day is only 6 weeks away!

You may have seen my previous post about the preorder incentive I'm running, but since BUSTED's time as a preorder is up (HAPPY 3 WEEK BIRTHDAY, BUSTED!) I've decided to reiterate the giveaway details in a separate post dedicated to KISS.

What? Doesn't everyone take their ARCs to locations from the story and do photo shoots?

EVERYONE who preorders A KISS IN THE DARK and emails  proof to gina(dot)ciocca(at)yahoo(dot)com by March 5, 2018 will receive swag:

All entries will then go into a drawing for a GRAND PRIZE, the winner of which will be announced on release day - March 6, 2018.

The grand prize pack includes:

- A custom notebook sporting A KISS IN THE DARK's cover
- swag
- A #nofilter compact mirror (a nod to the photography aspect of the story)
- A set of 5 Color Story lip glosses (in honor of Macy's lip gloss-obsessed best friend, Meredith)
- A sunset lake journal (because Macy loves to snap sunset photos of the lake in her neighborhood)
chocolate footballs (not pictured)
- Butter Rum Lifesavers (Macy's favorite candy, as we find out on page 53)
A 4-inch Superman decal (in honor of Macy and Ben's favorite superhero)
Football face tattoos (because Macy is a former cheerleader, and "football is no joke in the South.")

So the steps are:
1) Preorder from the site of your choice (including, but not limited to: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Target

2) Email me a screen shot of your order confirmation (gina(dot)ciocca(at)yahoo(dot)com)

3) Sit back and wait for free stuff to arrive in your mailbox.

That's literally it! And while you wait for your swag, you can add KISS to your Goodreads shelf here. You can also spread the word with these copy-and-paste-ready tweets:

Get awesome book swag + the chance to win a grand prize! Preorder A KISS IN THE DARK by @gmc511!

Preorder Incentive #Giveaway for @gmc511's A KISS IN THE DARK! Everyone gets swag + an entry for a grand prize. Details here:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Story Behind the Story: Happy Release Day to BUSTED

Today is the day! My 2nd book, BUSTED is finally out in the world!

I love this book, y'all. I really love it. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that publication has been a loooong time coming. Those of you in the writing world know that almost nothing happens quickly here, and this book was no exception. Neither was my debut, LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE.

And even though the pub stories of BUSTED and LYM sort of intertwine, BUSTED has it's own unique path to publication, and it's one that I feel is worth sharing. So here goes:

In early 2013, LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE had been on sub for about a year, and hopes for publication were dwindling. If you haven't read LYM's pub story, you can do so here, but this is the abridged version: John (my agent) and I came very close to book deals with two different publishers, but those deals ultimately didn't pan out. The feedback that we seemed to keep getting was that LYM was "too quiet." Editors wanted something with a bigger "hook," and a bolder premise.

So, while I was devastated at the thought of  LYM never making it to a bookshelf, I was determined to write a book that would.

One morning, while driving to my job (I was living in Connecticut and working full time then), the hosts of the radio morning show I listened to on 106.1 were talking about a woman who suspected her boyfriend of cheating, and had hired a private investigator to catch him in the act. Instead, the PI and the boyfriend ended up falling for each other.

I remember thinking, "If I could put a YA spin on THAT, no one would ever call it 'quiet.'"

The setting, the story, and the characters began to take shape inside my head. I started to get excited. And then I had a phone call with John to discuss the fate of LYM, and where to go next. I told him about a few ideas I was mulling over. I saved the concept of BUSTED for last. And when I explained it to him, he said, "Write that one."

And so I did. Or I started to, anyway.

In early November of 2012, we had accepted an offer from my husband's job to relocate from Connecticut to Georgia. And THEN, after saying, "It's probably never going to happen" following a 4-year struggle with infertility, I found out I was pregnant.

Between the stress of the move and my brain's utter refusal to be creative while I was pregnant, progress on BUSTED stalled.

We drove down to GA in June of 2013. I was 8 months pregnant, swollen, and exhausted. When my son was born, I sunk into a pit of rock-bottom postpartum depression. I honestly thought I would never put words on the page again. I felt useless, worthless, and utterly hopeless.

My mother and sister came down to Georgia and got the ball rolling on my recovery. They helped me with my son, made phone calls to my insurance company on my behalf, and helped me do all the simple things that had become insurmountable tasks since I'd given birth. When they left, my mother-in-law flew down for two weeks.

But the real change in me started to happen when my husband's aunt came to stay with us. As someone who struggled with depression herself, she had taken one look at me following the birth of my son, and knew that something was very wrong. She packed her bags and left her own husband and daughter in Connecticut so that she could live with us in Georgia for five whole weeks.

I still get teary-eyed talking about this, because I am in awe that someone could be so selfless. When I'd get up for my son's 6 a.m. feeding, she'd take him and tell me to go back to sleep. During the day, she'd send me up to my office and tell me to write, insisting she had everything under control. And did she ever. She'd walk my fussy baby around the house, singing to him, rocking him, feeding him. She'd bring him outside and walk him around our neighborhood in the stroller. At night she'd make dinner, and I can't even count the number of times I'd go to fold laundry, only to find it already done.

BUSTED's Dedication 
It felt so good to have someone treat my writing like it mattered. I don't think anyone else truly understood how much I needed to find that part of myself again, how I just didn't feel like me when I couldn't create. And with so many stressors off my plate, I was finally able to get back into the head space of Gina the Writer. My creative muscles were stiff and in need of a good stretch, but I sat down in front of my lap top, determined to finish BUSTED.

I didn't get to write THE END during the five weeks while my aunt was here. But I made a ton of progress, and that was good enough.

By February of 2014, BUSTED was more or less done. And then I got the news that LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE was being resurrected for sub by Sara Sargent at Simon Pulse. Thirty-four days later, Pulse offered me a 2-book contract.

With LYM back on the table for publication, BUSTED took a backseat yet again. I put it aside and focused my energy on revising LYM.

In all honesty, I kind of assumed that BUSTED would be my book 2 in the two-book contract with Pulse. When all the hullabaloo of revising and promoting LYM died down, I submitted BUSTED to Pulse.

And... they passed on it.

Needless to say, I was disappointed. But I was determined that BUSTED would find a home somewhere, and I told John I wanted to go on submission with it. So he sent me an edit letter full of revision suggestions to implement first.

And holy smokes, was this revision massive.

Massive, but spot-on, as John's suggestions tend to be. So, I went back to the drawing board. By September of 2015, BUSTED was a brand-new and improved teen spy story, and it finally went on sub to editors.

I'm going to be perfectly honest here - I had no faith that BUSTED would sell. The market seemed to be cooling on contemporary romance, and I was afraid we'd waited too long. Not to mention that after the two-year process that selling LYM had turned into, I certainly wasn't thinking that just one month after going out on sub, I'd get an email from John saying that Annette Pollert-Morgan at Sourcebooks had read and loved BUSTED, and wanted to have a phone conversation with me about it.

But that's exactly what happened. I set up a call with Annette for later that week. I loved her, and she loved my book. I knew that BUSTED had found a home.

And today, five years after this story's journey first began, it's finally where it belongs - on bookshelves, and in the hands of readers. 

First sighting of BUSTED in the wild, at Milford
Barnes and Noble with my mom and son.

If you'd like to support BUSTED today, here are ways to do so: 

Leave a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. The more reviews a book has, the greater its visibility on the site, so please consider sharing the love! This includes cross-posting reviews from Goodreads or your blog.

- Buy the book. Reviews are fantastic, but authors need sales, too. BUSTED can be purchased from Amazon, Target, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.
***** And if you purchase it today, I will accept it as a last-minute entry toward my preorder campaign.***** You will receive swag, and your name will be entered in a drawing for a grand prize that will be announced TONIGHT. Details here:

- Tweet/Instagram about the book. Two easy, totally free ways to help an author out. Snap a pic of your copy of BUSTED, or a copy in the wild, tag me on Twitter (gmc511) or Instagram (gmciocca), and I will love you forever.
Don't have access to a copy? Post one of these ready-to-Insta images:

Or, you can use these handy, ready-to-tweet blurbs:

Happy book birthday to @gmc511's BUSTED! Pick up this "tale of mystery, deception, and romance like no other," out today from @SourcebooksFire!

Oh, snap! BUSTED is out in the world via @SourcebooksFire ! Order your copy today for the chance to win awesome swag and goodies from @gmc511!

Looking for a "funny, fast-paced novel" that "shines?" Pick up @gmc511's BUSTED, out today from @SourcebooksFire!

- Ask your local library to carry the book. This can usually be done online, no fuss, no muss. Every means of getting books into readers' hands helps.

- Check out the blogs on BUSTED's blog tour, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

Lastly, if you've already supported BUSTED in any of these ways, or are planning to, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for caring, thank you for allowing my little stories to be part of your life. You will never know how much this means to me.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Everywhere You Can Win BUSTED!

So, as you may already know, my novel BUSTED comes out on January 2nd - just FOUR DAYS from today!

In honor of the big day, there are several sites you can visit for the chance to win a copy of BUSTED, or BUSTED-related goodies, or excerpts from the book.

Which sites? Well, I'm glad you asked. It just so happens there is a BUSTED blog tour, and each stop has access to a Rafflecopter giveaway courtesy of SourcebooksFire:

Bookish Delights Blog (Includes an excerpt from Chapter 5!)

Books and Munches Blog

Snarky Yet Satisfying Blog (Includes an excerpt from Chapter 12!)

Two Fangs About It Blog

You can also enter to win one of 3 copies of BUSTED in this Goodreads giveaway until January 1st.

And, of course, if you've preordered BUSTED or A KISS IN THE DARK, I want to send you swag, and put you in a drawing for one of two themed prized packs. Click here for details.

Meanwhile, if you'd rather pick up your copy in the store, it's already on the shelf in Barnes and Noble! I signed some copies in the Milford, CT store today, and I'll be stalking -- er, signing -- some more at the Alpharetta store when I get back to Georgia.

If you spot it in the wild, please tweet a pic to me at gmc511. I love seeing them!

Happy Reading!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Preorder Incentive Campaigns for BUSTED and A KISS IN THE DARK!

I can not believe that BUSTED comes out 4 weeks from tomorrow(!!!), or that A KISS IN THE DARK will release just 9 weeks after that.

I'm super excited about these stories, and I hope y'all are excited too. I know that when it comes to books, choices are vast and budgets are tight, and this is exactly why I've decided to do a preorder campaign for both novels. I chose a few super cute prizes that are significant to each book, and I'd love to see them in the hands of ravenous reader. So....

Here's how it works:

- Everyone who preorders* BUSTED ~OR~ A KISS IN THE DARK will receive swag (bookmarks, postcards, etc.)

- Everyone who preorders* BUSTED ~AND~ A KISS IN THE DARK will receive swag PLUS a paperback copy of LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE (if you already have LYM, you may choose a different YA paperback)
*and follows instructions for providing proof

- All entries will go into a drawing for one of two grand prize packs


This prize pack includes:
- a custom notebook sporting BUSTED's cover
- swag
- Aztec hot chocolate mix (in honor of the scene on page 90)
- 50/50 double sided colored pencils (a nod to Marisa's sketches)
- A top secret spy kit that includes an invisible ink pen, rear-view spy glass, magnifying glass, fake mustache, and a notebook
- A Magic Frosted Forest Yankee candle (in honor of the tree farm where TJ works, which Marisa nicknames "Narnia")
- "Oh snap" camera stickers (see page 48 + the cover for why these are utterly perfect)
- chocolate footballs
- 10 Cherry Blossom Classic Camera charms (a nod to Marisa's love of making jewelry)


This prize pack includes:
- A custom notebook sporting A KISS IN THE DARK's cover
- swag
- A #nofilter compact mirror (a nod to the photography aspect of the story)
- A set of 5 Color Story I <3 3="" glosses="" i="" lip="" nbsp="" pink="">(in honor of Macy's lip gloss-obsessed best friend, Meredith)
- A sunset lake journal (because Macy loves to snap sunset photos of the lake in her neighborhood)
- chocolate footballs (not pictured)
- Butter Rum Lifesavers (Macy's favorite candy, as we find out on page 53)
- A 4-inch Superman decal (in honor of Macy and Ben's favorite superhero)
- Football face tattoos (because Macy is a former cheerleader, and "football is no joke in the South.")

How To Enter

1) Preorder one or both books from the site of your choice (See above for prize tiers)

2) Email proof of purchase to gina(dot)ciocca(at)yahoo(dot)com
  - Please include the address to which you would like your swag/prize shipped

3) Receive swag, become eligible to win a prize pack.

4) That's literally it.

**Winner of the BUSTED prize pack will be chosen on January 1st. All entrants will remain in the drawing for A KISS IN THE DARK's prize pack until the campaign ends on March 5th, 2018.**

In the mean time, PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD about the contest! Here are some copy-and-paste-ready tweets for your sharing convenience:

Get awesome book swag + the chance to win one of two prize packs! Preorder BUSTED and/or A KISS IN THE DARK by @gmc511!

Preorder Incentive #Giveaway for @gmc511's BUSTED and A KISS IN THE DARK! Everyone gets swag + an entry for 1 of 2 grand prizes. Details here:  

If there are any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or find me on Twitter. Good luck!

Friday, October 13, 2017

YA Scavenger Hunt Winners!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the YA Scavenger Hunt!

Winners, including the winners of my bonus giveaways, are listed here:

If you didn't win, but still want a copy of BUSTED (Sourcebooks Fire, 1-2-18), you can:

And here are the links for A KISS IN THE DARK (Simon Pulse, 3-6-18):

Add it to your Goodreads shelf
Preorder it on Amazon
Preorder it at Barnes and Noble

Stay tuned for more bookish giveaways in the very near future!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Long Road to Sunday Night

I did something on Sunday that was six years in the making. I finally saw Lifehouse in concert, and it was freaking amazing.

I know going to a concert isn't a big deal to most people. But when you love a band as much as I love Lifehouse, and when you've been trying to see said band in concert for six years, have TWICE had tickets to shows that were ultimately cancelled, and have been a fan for more than 15 years... well, it *is* a big deal.

I remember hearing Hanging by a Moment for the first time in college, and loving it. I loved Jason Wade's gravelly voice. I loved the unique sound of their music. But I think what really made me fall into no-turning-back love with Lifehouse, to the surprise of absolutely no one who knows anything about me, is my association of their music with some of my favorite heart-melting moments on Smallville.

Like this one, which started a years-long obsession with the song Everything:

Or this one, where Lifehouse actually appeared ON THE SHOW and I still cry watching Lana put her head on Clark's chest and the look of complete happiness on Clark's face because he is just so in love with her and SHUT UP I DON'T KNOW WHY IT AFFECTS ME LIKE THIS BUT IT DOES OKAY?

So, back in 2011, when I was living in Connecticut, Lifehouse was scheduled to play an outdoor concert at Old Mine Park, and I was ECSTATIC to score tickets.

But then That Bitch Irene came alone, damaged the venue, and the concert was canceled.

Fast forward through another couple of missed opportunities to 2015. I'm now living in Georgia, and my husband buys tickets to Lifehouse and Nickelback at the Verizon Amphitheater for my birthday. Except two months later, the show is cancelled on account of Chad Kroeger needing vocal surgery.

I was seriously starting to think the universe had it out for me, and it was never going to happen.

But then, 2 years later, on April 21st, 2017, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, and saw this:


Or, you know, something along those lines. At any rate, I texted a screenshot of the tweet to my husband and I'm pretty sure I included a not-so-subtle reminder that my birthday was less than a month away, and an even less subtle hint that these tickets were the ONLY gift I wanted.

He got the hint, guys. My husband surprised me with the tickets for my birthday, and even took care of securing a babysitter for the night. I was beyond psyched.

I was also a nervous wreck. After all, I had a history of getting thisclose to seeing Lifehouse concerts, only to have the universe pull one of these:

I was terrified that my son would get sick, that the show would be cancelled again, that *I* would get sick... I angstily turned over hundreds of imaginary scenarios in my mind.

But then the day came. The weather was beautiful. My son, my husband, and I were all healthy. The babysitter showed up. I left the house with a huge smile on my face.

I was also wearing the Smallville shirt I'd bought specifically for the occasion.

And even though the smile didn't leave my face the entire night, there were two moments in particular when I thought I might just implode and drift off into the air as a euphoric wisp of Gina-shaped smoke.

The first was when Switchfoot's (who took the stage first) front man, Jon Foreman (which, BTW, you freaking rocked, Jon, and you have a brand-new die-hard fan in me) started to play Dare You to Move. I was already psyched, because I love this song. But then.

But then.

This happened:


That voice! Just listen to that voice! How I didn't melt faster than a Popsicle in the sun is nothing short of a miracle. Maybe it's because I was too busy screaming my head off, which you can hear in the video.

I've watched it about a hundred times since.

So, you get the point that I was happy. But my husband started to get restless. Lifehouse didn't take the stage until 9:45, and he had told the babysitter we'd be home by 10:30. She, and he, both had to be at work the next morning. Not only that, we had a 30-minute drive back to our house, and the babysitter had a 30-minute drive home from our house. After only a few songs, he told me we needed to leave.

"I'm not leaving," I said. "Not until I hear Everything."

Of course, I had no idea if they'd actually play it. But I'd waited way too long to be at that concert, and I was not about to go out like that. So I stayed right where I was, and watched Lifehouse perform Halfway Gone.

When the song was over, my husband looked at me and said, "Babe, we REALLY need to go." So I begrudgingly gathered our stuff and started to weave through the crowd.

And just as we reached the sidewalk surrounding the lawn where we'd been seated, Jason Wade asked, "So do you guys want to hear some older Lifehouse?"

I froze in place. He started to play Broken. It's part of my "soundtrack" for Last Year's Mistake, and it's one of my favorites.

My husband dutifully waited for the song to finish. But just as it did, the notes melted into the familiar sounds of another song. THE song.


And then my phone ran out of storage.

I almost died. So I switched to taking a live Instagram video, thinking I'd figure out a way to save it later. (Which I did, via a bootleg recording with my husband's cell phone.) Here is the link:

And with that, my entire life was made, and I skipped out of the concert while singing along to Whatever It Takes. I happy-cried myself to sleep that night.

I can't even explain what it is about Lifehouse's music that makes me so happy, but that's just it - it makes me happy. When you struggle with anxiety and depression, feeling happy can be a challenge. Even in moments when you know you *should* be happy, sometimes you're just not. But on Sunday night?

I felt happier than I have in a very long time.

It might sound dramatic, but hearing those songs that I've loved for so long, it was like a little piece of my soul had found its way home.

 It was a beautiful night that's become a beautiful memory, and I will cherish it forever.

Have you ever felt this way about something? Feel free to share!