February 20, 2014

Book Blitz (Guest Post + Excerpt) : Resistance by Jena Leigh + Giveaway [INT]

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Resistance (Variant Series #2)
by Jena Leigh
Published: February 11, 2014

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.

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EXCERPT

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.


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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.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

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