Release Date

I told you that this post would have all the things, and my friends, it most definitely has all the things. To my GREAT excitement, it is FINALLY time to share the release date with you. That’s right, the release date. Cue epic music (bonus points if it’s K-pop)!!!

Hart & Seoul will be released on June 4th, and is currently available for pre-order from these beautiful wonderful retailers:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Books-A-Million

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, there is going to be a launch party, and it is going to be amazing. The amazing folks at one more page books are hosting it, and we are going to have an AMAZING afternoon. Apparently everything is amazing right now. And if YOU want to be amazing, you can support this awesome independent book store and pre-order here. Here’s what you need to know about the launch party:

Hart & Seoul
Book Launch Party

Saturday, June 8th, @ 3 p.m.
Hosted by One More Page Books
2200 N Westmoreland St
Arlington, VA 22213

It’s finally here! You‚Äôre invited to join in the fun as Kristen celebrates the debut of her K-pop inspired novel Hart & Seoul! There will be tasty treats, the ultimate K-pop fan giveaway, and a brief Q&A with the author, followed by a book signing. Books can be purchased from One More Page Books. And of course, K-pop fashion is highly encouraged!

More details will be coming as we get closer, so stay tuned!



COVER REVEAL

The title of this post says it all; it’s time for the Hart & Seoul cover reveal! I’ve been looking forward to sharing this with you guys for months, but it has so been worth the wait. So without further ado, here it is! And as a bonus, below is the official blurb. ūüėČ

20190208_HartSeoul_Cover

Merilee Hart has been doing her best to keep things together since her mother left, her art a welcome escape from her depressing new reality. But things seem to go even more awry the moment her next door neighbor‚Äôs enigmatic and mysterious nephew arrives from South Korea. Lee is moody, cocky, and utterly infuriating. But when Merri’s closest friends betray her and her father crushes her dream of going to art school, Merri finds herself drawn to Lee, who seems to live within even greater shadows than her own. And just when she thought things couldn’t get crazier, Merri’s world is upended when she discovers Lee’s big and bizarre secret…he is none other than a runaway member of the K-Pop mega-group Thunder.
It‚Äôs not long before Thunder‚Äôs fans, the Storm Chasers, begin to close in on Lee, ready to do whatever it takes to return their favorite idol to his rightful place in the band. Faced with the prospect of even more heartbreak and caught up in an international whirlwind that has a life of its own, Merri realizes that she must find a way to mend herself, gain control of her life, and pursue her dreams ‚Äď her heart and soul depend on it.

Isn’t. It. GORGEOUS?!?!?!? SIIIIIIIIIIGH.

I’ll have some even more exiting news to share with you this Friday, so stay tuned!

The Making of a Novel Part 1: NoVa Teenspiration

Over the past three years I’ve dreamed of my book being published. ¬†Yearned for it. ¬†And, in my more dramatic and giddy moments, pretended that I already was an officially published author and ready to talk to people about my book. ¬†And one of the first questions any author gets is, “What inspired the story?” ¬†And here’s where I’d always fumble. ¬†Do I tell the truth? ¬†That I’m a huge K drama (and now BTS!) fan and that the idea came through the exhausted daydreaming of someone who has a subscription to both Drama Fever & Viki? ¬†Well, technically I just did, but there’s got to be more to it than just fangirling, right?
Although hey, it’s some pretty epic fangirling, I must admit.
But yes, there is a bit more to the story than just me wondering what life would be like if Goo Joon-pyo came to life.  Any BOF fans out there??  AAAALMOOOOST PAAAARADIIIISE!!!
Heeheeheee.  Now, on to the rest of my tale.
A librarian is used to getting up on Saturdays.¬† All of us, some more often than others, have to work on Saturdays, and we get up with varying degrees of enthusiasm. ¬†No surprise to anyone if I confess that while I can manage to get up early on Saturdays, I normally loathe to do so. ¬†So much energy…and on a weekend…ugh. ¬†Just ugh. ¬†But on that special Saturday three years ago, I all but leaped out of bed, with enough enthusiasm to make Pollyanna look clinically depressed.¬† Why?¬† Because it was NoVa Teen Festival Day!
Grabbing my special bright red volunteer t-shirt and getting dressed in my comfiest jeans and shoes, I skipped to my car and hopped onto the highway, gloating at the lack of traffic.  In just a few hours countless teens would pour through the venue doors, and this year I had been elevated from the status of door greeter to panel moderator.  Gasp!  It was for a small panel, yes, and no one else in the room would care, but my excitement could not be diminished.  In the immortal words of SpongeBob SquarePants, I WAS READY!
Hah! ¬†Little did I know that a few short hours later I wouldn’t give two hoots for being a panel moderator.¬† How can you when you are hit with a meteor of a story idea?¬† But before I go into that, does everyone know what NoVa Teen is?¬† Probably not, especially for my international readers. ¬†HI INTERNATIONAL READERS! *waves both hands in joy*¬† And no, of course I haven’t been stalking my blog stats, especially since I shared the blog’s link on Reddit.¬† Pfffft…what an idea.
Erhem.  Moving on.
NoVa Teen is, in short, awesomeness.¬† ¬†It’s this AMAZING (and I’m not just saying it because I work on it) free festival where YA readers can meet authors for free.¬† There are free¬†breakout sessions, of course a book sale with all the authors’ books, free¬†swag give aways, food trucks, and an epic book signing at the end.¬† It’s an amazing day for any who loves reading YA books, and kudos goes to all the volunteers that run it.
And it’s free.¬† There, my plug for NoVa Teen is officially done.
The next few hours went as I had expected, an interesting combination of exhaustion and boredom for the volunteers.  You can be working working working to get something done on time, and then wait around for an hour or so until the next assignment comes up.  I usually jump in and help with the book sale if needed, try my luck at all the food trucks, and try not to obsess over all the authors that walk by me Рno promises if Shannon Messenger ever comes.  Favorite.  Author.  Ever!!
After running around doing I can’t remember what, I marched to my assigned room and got ready with my questions, fumbling with my little notes as I tried to hide my nerves from all the people pouring into the room. ¬† I don’t know why I was so nervous, because really I’d only be asking questions if the audience didn’t have any, and they always do, especially since the authors are always so friendly and happy to talk with everyone.
There was that one moment of panic when I forgot how to pronounce one author’s last name, but other than that it looked like it was going to be just a regular panel.¬† The authors were funny, the audience engaged, the conversation flowing – I sat back on my stool and began to relax, the sounds of the group lulling me into a hazy daydream.
I need to start a new drama tonight.¬† Is there anything good that’s been released?¬† Am I in the mood for a historical drama?¬† Or maybe contemporary. ¬†Definitely contemporary Serious?¬† No, need comedy…wouldn’t it be funny if there was a drama about a K drama star that moved to America?¬† No, not a drama star, a K-pop idol, since most of them are singers anyways.¬† Yeah, a drama about a K-pop idol who moves to America…oooh, to escape the media because of a secret…
 
OH.  
 
MY.  
 
GOSH.
 
That moment, right there, will forever be called my Charlie Brown moment.¬† Why Charlie Brown?¬† One of the authors was speaking, I know she was, but all I heard was “Wha wha wha wha”, just like the adults in Charlie Brown.¬† I’d like to think that I kept a calm, professional expression on my face, but I have a horrible feeling that I actually looked like this:
cloudy.jpg
Oh yeah, subtlety is my specialty.  Not.
Aaaand I’m pretty sure that I nearly fell from my seat to boot. ¬†Not surprising, as I literally felt as though a lightning bolt had hit me over the head. ¬†It’s a miracle I didn’t shriek and really embarrass myself. ¬†Remember that story that I had been working on (or rather, the first three chapters) since college?¬† Completely gone from my memory.¬† All I could think about was this story and how to get it out of my head as soon as possible, and I couldn’t wait to get started.
I somehow made it home in one piece, which is no easy thing when your mind is racing with a million writing scenarios a second. ¬†I also think I drove just as fast, because I made record time. ¬†One of the first things that came to me was the title, and that’s about the only thing that hasn’t changed in the many many MANY rewrites of this story.¬† I got to work on it the next day, with a 500 word goal fixed firmly in my mind.¬† And, as I’ve mentioned before, since I was exceeding that by an additional 1000 words a day, I managed to get a first draft completed in exactly a month.
The book has come a long way since that first very very VERY rough draft, but I’ll never forget that day when the idea came to me.¬† Some ideas just demand to be written, and Hart & Seoul is one of them.
And dang it, but that song from BOF is now stuck in my head.  And so, dear reader, I must inflict the same fate on you.  Caring is sharing, and all that.

a260a79b62fcec0979f793393675d64b-1.png

BTS!!

A bajillion fans.  29,348 steps.  12.59 miles.  7 idols.  One concert.  It can only mean one thing:

BTS is THE K-pop group, so of course I had to go see them in concert. ¬†Wouldn’t be responsible of me as a writer to do anything otherwise, right? ¬†Right. ¬†And it was 1000% worth every penny.

Don’t know who BTS is? ¬†It’s hard to describe this Korean pop group to people who are not fans, but the closest thing that I’ve been able to come up with is this: imagine seven good-looking guys with the popularity of the Beatles, the dance skills of Michael Jackson, and the voices of *insert favorite singer here.* ¬†That’s BTS (which is the abbreviation for Bangtan Boys). ¬†They’ve performed at the AMAs, been guests on multiple night shows, and have sold out show after sold-out show while managing to put out record after record AND film music videos and what’s basically a reality TV show of their adventures. ¬†Oh, and they just so happened to address the UN. ¬†So, ya know, there’s that too.

I mean, the fact that their fans are called ARMY pretty much says it all.  And when I say ARMY, I mean ARMY; BTS has a fan base so big that every time tickets have gone on sale, the website servers have essentially crashed because of the sheer volume of people trying to access the site.  Every.  Single.  Time.

And yet, by some miracle, I got tickets.

downloadfile-1

I know!

Well, technically, I wasn’t the one who got the tickets; that feat is thanks to a friend who has chosen the name Swag Master to be used whenever I refer to her. ¬†While I was at a writing conference trying to learn all things authorly (and yes, I did just make up that word), Swag Master was hunched over her computer, typing away like mad as she managed to snag tickets for us, an endeavor worthy of the many exclamation marks in the texts that were waiting for me when I got out of one of the breakout sessions. ¬†I remember doing a double-take at the messages, my mouth opening and closing in shock as I processed that fact that WE WERE GOING TO SEE BTS LIVE!!!! ¬†Forget being authorly, this called for some conference ditching and Korean food eating!

A round of applause for Swag Master, if you please.

Okay, so fast forward several months to this past weekend, specifically Saturday, which in my mind will forever be BTS Day. ¬†Since the performance was in Newark, NJ, Swag Master and I decided to spend the day in New York City. ¬†We were hoping to go to a store called the LINE FRIENDS store, which has tons of cute merchandise featuring the characters of this free texting app…and, of course, the new BTS line of goodies. ¬†A line of goodies that BTS ever so helpfully filmed looking at in a LINE FRIENDS store…so now the whole ARMY knows about it. ¬†And I think they were all there by the time we made it to the store. ¬†At first glance, it didn’t seem so bad. ¬†Sure, it was so crowded that you could barely move, forcing you to charge to any available space that magically appeared. ¬†But there was still stuff on the shelves. ¬†Only the line for the checkout wrapped aaaaaaallllll the way around the circumference of the store, so even if you did somehow find what you were looking for, you’d have to wait in line for literally hours before paying for it. ¬†So instead of spending money at the LINE store, Swag Master and I made our painstakingly slow escape and sought refuge across the street at the Disney Store, aka my home away from home.

After a very successful bout of shopping, I was ready. ¬†I’d already faced the crowds of the LINE store; bring on BTS!!!

All I can say is holy guacamole. ¬†These guys…and their singing…and their dancing…you know what? ¬†Google them. ¬†I didn’t record anything because I’m the goody two shoes in the crowd and took the warning of no photography to heart, but just about everyone else had their phones out and recorded everything.

They started with Idol, their latest release, the perfect song that had everyone screaming and jumping and screaming some more, and the crowd just got more excited over the next two hours. ¬†We were so excited that when they did the ‘last’ song of the night, we all flat out refused to move, waiting a good five minutes before the guys came back to perform three extra songs. ¬†They are just as charming in person as they are on camera, and you can tell how close they all are. ¬†And at the end of the show, each one took a turn telling everyone how grateful they are for the support and love that they have received from their fans, and can I just say that I loved how they bowed to the audience? ¬†Not one of those theatrical bows that we use at the end of a show, but a traditional Korean bow that shows how much they appreciate us.

And do you know how we showed how much we appreciated them? ¬†Besides the screaming, of course. ¬†Fun fact, many K-pop groups have a special light designed specifically for their fans, which can be synced up to be matched with the music’s tempo during the show. ¬†So they provide the music, the fans provide the light show. ¬†Here’s the BTS light stick, version 3:

s-l1000

And thank goodness I shelled out the almost $60 bucks for it, because I honestly wouldn’t have known what to do during the show. ¬†The line to buy one was long – but then again I’d come to expect that with anything even remotely associated with BTS- and at one point I overheard one man exclaim in bewilderment, “This is the line for the ball?!” ¬†But the minute my ARMY light stick glowed in time with the others I was so glad I’d bought it, and soon enough was waving it around as enthusiastically as the rest of ARMY.

Now, this was a fun trip, but at the same time I was mentally taking notes. ¬†One of my main characters is a K-pop star, so I’d be crazy not to. ¬†So although I may not have been jumping up and down like most of the others, it was only because there were about a thousand ideas running through my head. ¬†Well, that and my feet were killing me. ¬†29,348 steps is no joke!

It took BTS forever to leave the stage, thanks to our impressive lung capacity and insistent waving of lights, but eventually they were gone, the lights were back on, and we were all shuffling out in dazed exhaustion/joy. ¬†We had seen BTS live! ¬†They weren’t just people on the computer screen – they were real people! ¬†We all trickled out to find restaurants to refuel and rehash ever single moment over a plate of fresh pizza. ¬†For the record, I had three slices. ¬†#noregrets

And that concludes my BTS adventure. ¬†Have any questions about it? ¬†Comment away! ¬†And tune in next Friday when I share just how I got the idea for Hart & Seoul, the first in a series of behind the scene info on the making of a novel…but first, there’s a slew of BTS videos that I need to watch. ¬†And gear to buy, preferably with sequins. ¬†Lots and lots of sequins!

downloadfile