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Aug 14, 2014

Book Blitz: Excerpt and Author Interview: Handpicked by Dani Oden



Title: Handpicked
Author: Dani Oden
Publication Date: August 4, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult

Blurb:

College freshman Jill Holloway takes one look at the stuck-up girls going through sorority rush and nearly returns her borrowed dress and heels. Against her best judgement, she ends up falling for the prestige and parties, and snagging a bid from a top house. After moving in, she quickly grows skeptical of her too-perfect sorority sisters. She tries to ask questions, though no one will take time from their busy social calendar to give her any real answers.

Jill wastes no time digging for everything she's not supposed to find, and soon comes face-to-face with a big and bloody secret hidden in her sorority's basement. She knows she's in over her head, but taking off so soon would raise the perfectly-plucked eyebrows of her suspicious new sisters. She's stuck until she can make a smooth exit.

But the closer she gets to leaving, the more it becomes clear that it won't be as simple as she hoped. A tempting fraternity guy, a best friend who needs her, and new details about what has really been happening in the basement have her questioning what her next move should be, and whether or not it'll be worth the risks.

HANDPICKED is a New Adult coming of age novel, with elements of suspense and romance.

Excerpt:

Under a moonlit, starless sky, I joined the crowd of passing girls who'd just been released from preference parties at neighboring sororities. Recruitment counselors lined the sidewalks, forbidding us from talking and herding us toward the biggest lecture hall on campus to fill out our preference cards. If I wasn't in the middle of it, I would have thought that hundreds of dressed up young women walking silently in rows might seem a little creepy, but who was I to judge? I was one of them. One of us.

At the end of the block, below a streetlight, was a line of guys in dress pants and collared shirts. A couple of them were all disheveled and wrinkly, clearly out of their element in the nice clothes, though for the most part they were a hot bunch. I tried not to stare, but one in particular, with grayish pants, a light blue shirt and a face that rivaled the boyband posters that hung in my old locker, was particularly difficult to look away from.

When the wave of girls I was with passed, they handed each of us a rose with a crookedly cut tag tied on with ribbon. My cheeks burned as the one in blue held his back as a few girls went by and then handed it directly to me, smiling.

I wanted to stop and say something, but the sea of girls behind me pushed me along, forcing me to keep walking. I settled for a smile, the best one I could muster through shaky lips and soggy eyes. Once I was down the block, I peeked at the tag hoping to see his name, but all it said was, Congratulations on completing rush, from the gentlemen of Nu Mu Chi. We hope to see you at our parties this year.

I made a mental note to go to every single one of them.

Links for Book:

Getting to Know Dani Oden:


Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.
My dream vacation is an RV roadtrip across the USA, my favorite food is macaroni and cheese, and I'm a boyband enthusiast.

What made you decide to sit down and write an NA novel?
It happened the other way around, actually. It was a couple years ago, when I was about mid-way through the first draft of HANDPICKED, that I first heard of New Adult as its own category. The more I researched, the more I realized how much of a fit it was. I can still remember telling my husband that I'd heard of a new genre that I just happened to be writing already. It was good timing!

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I had a baby this year, so snuggling him is pretty high on my list. I also love thrift shopping, reading, and anything involving coffee and/or wine. I'm a semi-ambitious DIY-er, I make a lot of my own jewelry. I also have a real-world career in educational outreach, so that takes up a lot of my time as well.

Who are your favorite writers?
All time favorites? Curtis Sittenfeld, Judy Blume, Rebecca Wells. I'm also getting into Jennifer Weiner lately, and I'm having a lot of fun discovering other NA authors, too. My to-read list is almost all NA, since so much has come out since I've been in my writing bubble!

Where can you see yourself in 5 years' time?
Probably still living with my family somewhere on the West Coast (where I've spent most of my life already), with more books out. Hopefully I'll have traveled a bit more by then, too -- I really want to see the southern states and the UK.

What is your favorite movie and why?
So many! I have the entertainment tastes of a teenager. My husband teaches film and just rolls his eyes at the movies I love...Mean Girls, Pitch Perfect, all the Harry Potter films, Wedding Crashers, Wet Hot American Summer. Though, if you twist my arm, I think I'd say Dirty Dancing. It's such a classic New Adult story, and I love the soundtrack.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Keep reading and don't worry so much.J


Links for Author:

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