Feb 15, 2014

Resistance by Jena Leigh Book Blitz - Excerpt, Interview, Guest post + Giveaway



Resistance by Jena Leigh 

(The Variant Series #2)
Publication date: February 11th 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Alexandra Parker might be the most powerful Variant the world has ever seen—but even that won’t get her out of finishing her junior year of high school.

The challenge of keeping her abilities under wraps during class is daunting enough, but throw one surly, sandy-haired Jumper into the mix, and things can get downright complicated.

Declan’s new job? Watch over Alex while she’s at school and do everything in his power to keep her from losing control. But as sparks of every kind begin flying between Alex and her new bodyguard, she's left feeling more unstable than ever.

When avoiding her abilities results in a surprise visit from her parents’ killer, Alex’s worlds collide with a bang that nearly levels Bay View High.

With her freedom now squarely in the Agency’s crosshairs, Alex will be faced with the fight of her life... and a decision that could forever alter the course of her destiny.


Resistance Excerpt

Kenzie drummed her fingers idly on the top of her desk. Slouched in her seat, she stared unblinking at the black hands of the clock mounted to the wall above the whiteboard. All around the room, students waited in small groups for the bell to release them and their weekend to begin.

Three minutes until the final bell.

Three minutes, and she’d be free.

Three minutes, thought Kenzie, and I’ll be on my way toward my next coffee fix.

That bell really needed to hurry itself up.

She had places to be.

Kenzie sighed. The longer she went without a fix, the harder it was to silence the thoughts emanating from the sea of humanity around her.

Caffeine meant focus.

Focus meant an easier time of keeping the walls up and the voices out.

She wondered, briefly, what telepaths did before the discovery of caffeinated beverages. The thought made her shudder. Control without stimulants in the bloodstream was possible, of course. But it was far from a pleasant way to go. Especially in populated areas.

Wham!

Kenzie jolted upright, the sudden movement causing her desk to bang into the back of the seat in front of her.

Something had just slammed into her mental walls with enough force to send a stab of pain through her temple.

What the crap was that?

Around the room, the steady flow of conversation dried up.

It wasn’t just Kenzie. That pulse had hit everyone.

Even the norms.

Kenzie got slowly to her feet.

A funny thing happens when norms experience Variant abilities firsthand. Instead of seeing the supernatural for what it is, nine times out of ten, they will translate their experience into something that better fits the rules of their reality.

The brilliant light of a jumper’s teleport becomes a camera flash, the telekinetic movement of objects through the air gets blamed on a strong gust of wind, and mental assaults are automatically translated into something external.

“Did you hear that?” asked a freckle-faced blonde from across the aisle. “Sounded like a sonic boom, or something.”

“Yeah! I heard it, too!” said another. “Wonder what it was?”

She supposed the better question was not what was it, but who was it?

The wave came again, this time with twice the strength behind it. Kenzie grabbed for the back of her seat to keep from losing her balance.

Fear.

The wave wasn’t a thought, it was a distilled emotion. Someone, somewhere, was absolutely terrified.

Judging from the nervous expressions on the faces of the students around her, that fear was not only being broadcast to the rest of the school, it was also creeping its way into their subconscious.

Kenzie sifted through the residue of the psychic onslaught in an attempt to identify the source.

The second she caught a glimpse of that all too familiar thought signature, she cursed—loudly, to the surprise of the students standing stock-still beside her—before sprinting toward the door.

Halfway down the locker-lined hall the ground began to shudder, the floor practically roiling beneath her feet.

Earthquake? she wondered.

But this was Florida. Florida didn’t have earthquakes.

Declan appeared at the other end of the hall, running in her direction.

“Where is she?” called Kenzie.

Her brother ducked through a swinging door just ahead of her.

The girl’s bathroom?

Kenzie followed him in.

“Oh my god.”

Alex was on her knees in a shallow sea of water, dripping wet, her hands clutching the sides of her head.

Water flooded the room. The porcelain sinks lining the wall lay shattered and in pieces on the ground. A large, spherical indentation was blasted into the wall behind Alex and what could only be burn marks scorched onto the ceiling above.

As Kenzie watched in amazement, strands of water began swirling around her friend, encasing her in a glittering sphere of liquid before losing form and crashing back down around her.

A shimmer of light rippled across Alex’s body, distorting her appearance like a mirage on desert sand.

“I can’t…” Alex was sobbing. “There are too many, Declan. I can’t make them stop!”

Declan edged as close to Alex as he dared, his expression grim.

Alex finally lifted her head to look at them.

Kenzie took an involuntary step backward. She had seen the way a jumper’s eyes changed color, the brilliant violet light causing their eyes to glow brightly in the moments before and after they teleported, but Alex’s normally gray eyes were now shifting colors with every beat of her heart.

Jade.

Violet.

Ruby.

Azure.

Black.

Alex collapsed.

The rumbling in the floor intensified, sending Declan into action. He sloshed through the water, reaching down to grip Alex under her arms. 

“Get the door,” he called over his shoulder.

Kenzie held the door for Declan as he dragged Alex into the deserted hallway.

“Take my arm,” he ordered, maintaining his hold on Alex. “Let’s go, Kenzie.”

Terrified of being this close to Alex during a meltdown, but knowing her brother would leave her behind if she didn’t act fast, Kenzie lurched forward and grabbed Declan’s upper arm.

They jumped with the sound of the final bell ringing in their ears.


Resistance Excerpt 2

Alex froze just inside the doorway.

The hallway that stretched out before her was packed with bodies, filled to capacity with students milling beside lockers and meandering toward their classes.

She took a breath and held it.

Kenzie and Cassie quickly disappeared into the crowd, leaving her behind.

Why hadn’t she walked the long way around the building? Her homeroom was three hallways and a commons area away, and the entire path would be packed until the second bell.

The sounds of conversation and laughter grew louder, surpassed in volume only by the sudden thudding of her heart as it pounded frantically against her ribcage.

So many people… all it would take is one touch from the wrong one, she thought. One touch, and I could lose control.

Move. She needed to move.

Someone brushed past her, jostling Alex’s shoulder as they entered through the double doors behind her.

Alex swallowed a whimper, searching frantically for an empty space in the chaos.

Hugging her arms tightly around her middle, Alex found an opening in the crowd and made her way to a narrow wall between two classroom doors, pressing her back against it and aching for an escape.

Closing her eyes, Alex fought to steady her breathing, then sucked in another ragged breath after being startled by the sound of the first bell blasting from a loudspeaker mounted to the wall above her head.

“Never pegged you as the agoraphobic type.”

Alex opened her eyes.

A smiling face stared down at her, a few short inches from her own.

Her first instinct was to jerk away, but a warm hand on her shoulder had pinned her firmly in place.

“Hold still, Alex,” Declan ordered. With his left hand placed protectively on one shoulder and his right hand pressed against the wall on her other side, Alex was effectively boxed in.

“Declan, you can’t—” she began, shrugging her shoulder where he held it in place.

Declan inched his fingers farther away from her exposed collarbone and down her sleeve, but still didn’t pull away. “You’re fine,” he said. “Just breathe.”

Students filed past on both sides. Alex eyed them nervously.

“Look at me,” Declan said quietly. “Not at them.”

Alex did as she was told. Declan just shook his head, smiling.

“You know, it’s probably a good thing you can’t jump right now,” he said in an undertone. “I would not have wanted to explain to Grayson why you teleported in the middle of a crowded hallway with dozens of witnesses.”

Ashes.

Cinnamon.

Declan.

Alex’s head swam with the sensory overload. Having Declan standing so close was only making it more difficult to pull herself together. She’d forgotten just how easily his nearness could knock her for a loop.

He was still smiling down at her as though they were just another normal couple stealing a quiet moment alone, instead of two Variants standing in the midst of a sea of humanity, while one of them tried to keep the other from falling apart entirely.

The passing students sent them a few curious glances as they walked into their classrooms, but otherwise gave them plenty of space.

Another few minutes and the crowds began to thin.

Declan removed his hand from her shoulder and took a step backward. “You okay to move?” 

“I… Yes,” she said, her face flushed with embarrassment. “I am.”

Slipping past him, Alex marched off down the empty hallway. Declan’s long legs matched her stride easily.

“You want to talk about it?” he asked as they entered the open expanse of the commons area.

“Not particularly.”

“You sure?”

“I’m fine.”

“Right.”

The second bell rang.

Alex was officially late.

AUTHOR BIO

Jena Leigh is the author of the Variant Series novels REVIVAL and RESISTANCE. Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, she spent ten years in the mountains of North Carolina before returning home to the lightning capital of North America. A shameless geek, she loves coffee, loud music, bad sci-fi movies, Skittles, and shenanigan-filled road trips to faraway concerts. 





On Creating Characters for the Variant Series


When I sat down to write the story of Alexandra Parker and her strange, Variant-filled world, I realized fairly quickly that the novel would be just as much about Alex, as it would be about her newfound friends.

At first, Revival (the first novel in the series) had no plot. Not even a rough outline. There was no destination for the story and there were no real characters to speak of. All I knew about the book that Revival would eventually become was a single moment, pulled from a scene that takes place a few chapters into the tale—an image of a young girl running through a burning bookstore, a wall of flames licking at her back as she fled down the aisle with no way out.

I didn’t know who Alex was, back then… but I knew a lot about the guy she’d find waiting for her at the top of that black spiral staircase in the far corner of the store.

Declan O’Connell—the blonde-haired, blue-eyed jumper who was equal parts bad boy and smartass—was a character I’d been forming in my mind for a long, long time, but had yet to find a home for. Going into the project, Declan was the only character that I knew inside and out. Or at least, the only one I thought I knew.

As the story progressed, Declan’s character grew and matured in my mind, pieces of his backstory falling into place and revealing the source of his bad attitude and surly disposition. By the time I wrote the last page of Revival, I understood Declan in a way I never could have imagined during those opening chapters.

The truth is, I don’t create my characters so much as discover them as I work their stories onto the page.

All of the characters in the Variant series came to me in varying forms of completeness. A name here, a face there, a quirk or two to distinguish them, an important bit of backstory that forever changed their life or altered their personality… And often, I didn’t know what a characters would do or say in a situation until I’d put them in that situation and let the character speak for herself.

In the case of Declan’s younger sister Kenzie, I had a crystal clear image of her physical appearance before I even decided on her name. In fact, her name was chosen because it was the only name I could think of that fit the picture in my head.

But Kenzie’s personality?

Well, I think it’s fair to say that I was not expecting the girl who eventually showed up on the page. Kenzie was a pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless. My early thoughts about the girl she might turn out to be ended up completely different from the caffeine-addicted teen that eventually worked her way into the story.

For me, that journey of discovery—of learning to understand my characters better as the story progresses—is one of my favorite things about writing. By allowing the characters to develop naturally, I’m just as surprised as the reader is by who and what they eventually turn out to be. It’s an enjoyable process and something I honestly can’t get enough of. The further into the Variant series I get, the better I get to know these characters—and the more I grow to love them.

 Interview



How did you come up with the idea for the Variant Series?

The inspiration for the Variant Series as a whole came from many different places, but the original spark for Revival came in the form of my morning coffee. One day at the coffee shop, the barista had drawn the shape of a phoenix into the foam on my latte. The image set my mind to wandering and I spent the next half hour writing out a scene where a young girl was being chased by a wall of flames through a burning bookstore. That piece would eventually become the opening scene of Chapter Four in Revival.


Can you give us a hint to what we should be expecting in your second book?

In Resistance, book two in the Variant series, the stakes are raised even higher for Alex and the gang. As Alex struggles to get a grip on her newfound powers, she’s faced with a far more daunting assignment—survive the last few months of her junior year without accidentally losing control and leveling Bay View High.

But the risk of outing herself and the Variant population at large would be a lot easier to handle if the Agency wasn’t still breathing down her neck… and if Declan weren’t quite so distracting in his newfound role as Alex’s bodyguard.  As sparks of all kinds start flying, Alex is left struggling to keep her head above water and her heart in one piece. And when her freedom lands itself in the Agency’s crosshairs, Alex will be faced with the fight of her life.


Where do you like to write?

Anywhere and everywhere. I seem to do my best work in unfamiliar places. I’ve written on planes, at the mall, in doctor’s office waiting rooms… If I have my computer or a journal with me, I’ll usually try to get a few words on the page. There’s something about traveling that helps me to tune out distractions and focus, while at the same time inspiring my writing.


Do you decide character traits before you sit down to write the book, or as you go along?

Character traits are usually decided on as I write. I very rarely have an entire character in mind when I sit down at the keyboard. I usually start with a few random traits—a name here, a face there, a quirk or two to distinguish them, an important bit of backstory that forever changed their life or altered their personality—and then the personalities of my characters become clearer to me as I make it further into the story.


Who is your favorite character in the series, and why?

Oh, that’s a tough one! It seems to change from day to day. Right now I’d probably have to say that Declan’s sister Kenzie is my favorite. She’s sassy, sarcastic and I can always count on her for a witty rejoinder. Kenzie’s scenes are always enjoyable to write.


Tell us about the biggest challenges you face in your writing process.

I think the biggest challenge I have is in plotting out a story. When it comes to my writing, I’m a total pantser and I despise outlining. Writing only feels natural to me when my characters are the ones telling the story. I love being just as surprised as my readers are when something unexpected happens in the narrative. When you’re working on a series, however, that doesn’t always work. You need to have some idea of where the story is headed before you begin, otherwise it’s very easy to write yourself into a corner.



If you could give a young writer any tip, what would it be?

Write constantly and read everything you can get your hands on. It seems like such an obvious piece of advice, but it’s quite possibly the most important things you can do to improve your writing.


If you weren't writing, what would you want to be doing for a living? What are some of your other passions in life?


Rock star! I mean, really. Who hasn’t wanted to be one at some point? Aside from writing, I’m incredibly passionate about music. I love it, but I haven’t got a lick of talent (although that doesn’t stop me from singing at the top of my lungs in the shower every morning). If there’s not a song playing in the background somewhere, I usually don’t know what to do with myself.


Blitz-wide giveaway


Prize - Open INTL: - $50 amazon gift card

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