Published by Createspace Independent Pub on August 5, 2014
Series: Pledged Series #1
Genres: contemporary, Love & Romance, New Adult
Also in this series: Handpicked
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 judgment, 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, with elements of suspense and romance.
Is HANDPICKED based on events in your own life?
Yes and no. I had a sorority experience of my own in college, though it was nothing like what our main character goes through. She’s suspicious and skeptical and constantly questioning things, with good reason to. Though, I did tap into my memories of things like rush and pledge education and bid day to bring some realism to the story.
How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
I wanted to play off the exclusivity stereotype in sororities and –spoiler alert!—there is a pretty big plot point involving a hand, so it was a natural choice.
Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
I feel closest to our narrator Jill, since we see everything through her eyes. But, I have to admit I liked writing Hannah, with all her f-bombs, snark, and fraternity connections.
If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
I would have loved to have introduced more of the members of Jill’s sorority. I had to really hold back in that area since most weren’t necessary for this particular story, but I’m excited to explore more of their personalities in future books.
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
Hmm, let’s see. The girls are part of the Alpha Gamma chapter of Iota Beta, and each of those are Greek letters that stands for something important to me. I, B, A, G. That’s the fun part about using the Greek system as a setting, there’s lots of room for symbols and hidden meetings…
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I can say that Jill is still our narrator, and the story picks up just a few months after HANDPICKED ends, still in her freshman year of college. And, she has more responsibilities now so the stakes are much higher. I’m going to leave it at that! I’m also working on a prequel, which I’m pretty excited about. Readers will see that Jill mentions that she used to be a camp counselor, so I’m going to release some stories from that part of her life.
Thank you so much for having me! I thought I’d offer readers a “behind-the-scenes” peek at some sections that were part of earlier drafts of HANDPICKED, and why they didn’t make the final cut.
This first one is part of an extended version of the opening scene. Our main character Jill is trying to get ready for her final night of sorority rush in her dorm bathroom…
The girl from the stall emerged, wearing a gold lacy number and looking movie-star perfect except for her red, watery eyes. She reached around me, grabbed a paper towel, and daintily dabbed her mouth. “I can’t effing handle this,” she said, squeezing into my mirror space and fluffing her wavy brown hair. “I haven’t been able to eat for days.”
Blond handed her a piece of gum. “Couple more hours, and it’ll all be worth it. And that dress looks amazing on you now.”
The brunette caught me staring at her reflection and raised her eyebrows. She sized me up, clearly not approving of how I was still in my yoga pants and a tank top, and how my long red hair was in a loose ponytail. “Where are you preffing?” she said casually, asking which sorority parties I was visiting for the final round of rush that night. Thankfully, I had just learned the jargon earlier that day.
I shrugged. “I can’t remember, my list is back in my room.”
She gaped at me. Her hand stopped not even an inch from her face, her lip gloss still pointed to her mouth. “You can’t remember?”
Blond started to laugh as if I’d been joking.
I bristled. “Well, all their names sound the same, don’t they?”
They stared at me.
“I guess some do,” the brunette said slowly, like she didn’t really think so at all.
My cell phone started buzzing from my pocket, so I quickly grabbed it and scooped up my small make-up bag. “Excuse me,” I said, glad to get away. They smelled like a Victoria’s Secret store mixed with throw-up.
Ultimately, this exchange was cut simply for pacing. I wanted to speed up the time it takes Jill to get back to her room so we can get her out the door and to the sororities faster.
This second one is from a scene when Jill dozes off next to her crush, Tad…
In my sleepy state, I was less guarded than I would have been under most circumstances. He started tugging at my sweatshirt, and instead of encouraging him to explore underneath it with his hands, I simply raised my arms up high. Obediently, he lifted it. The hood was tight over my head, but he managed to squeeze it off me, pulling out my ponytail holder. My long red hair fell loosely over my face and I imagined it looked quite sexy. Well, sexy for me, which is about as sexy as like, one of those live-action Disney movies that gets played on Sunday night cable.
This section was cut because of Jill’s reference to being less guarded because she was tired. I was concerned that her comment it made it seem like she wasn’t that into Tad, which was not at all what I was going for – the final version of the scene makes it *pretty* clear that she’s excited to be with him J
Thank you for giving me the chance to share these scenes!
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