Six months is all it takes for the walls that eighteen-year-old Layken Cohen has built around her to come crashing down.
It's the beginning of her senior year and the financial aftermath of her father's unexpected death forces Layken and her family to move across the country. Torn away from everything and everyone she knows, Layken's outlook on life is anything but hopeful.
Enter Will Cooper: the attractive twenty-one year old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry. After a night together that turns out to be everything but the expected, both Layken and Will are left with feelings they never knew they could have. Unfortunately in Layken's life, things are never what they seem. Just as quickly as it develops, their relationship is derailed by a shocking revelation, sparking a tumultuous battle between their hearts and their ethics.
As if the dramatic turn of events in her life isn't enough, Layken is slammed again when her mother reveals a secret of her own. A secret so intense, all of Layken's current problems pale in comparison to her seemingly insurmountable future. Unable to confront the changes that lie ahead of her, Layken ignores her conscience as she turns to Will for solace. Struggles ensue as both Layken and Will search for a balance between that which keeps them apart and the feelings that pull them together.
Slammed is a 70,000 word engaging young adult novel that intertwines heartache with humor, desires with ethics, and ultimately proves that the harsh reality of death can sometimes be overcome by the beauty of life.
How did you start your writing career?
I’ve always loved to write, but it’s never been a profession of mine. I’ve wanted to write books since I was younger, but I married young and have three boys so I rarely have time to write. My middle son joined the local community theater and I was sitting in the auditorium researching a book to read to pass the time. I’ve always been interested in Slam Poetry, but couldn’t find a fiction novel that included Slam Poetry. So, I decided to write one. I started a rough draft that night in the auditorium, and couldn’t stop. I became addicted to the story and wrote constantly until it was finished. I work eleven hour days at my regular job, so I was living off of four hours of sleep a day for over a month. It felt like I had finally found what I wanted to be when I grew up, and absolutely loved it!
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
This one is hard, I love them all. I would have to say my absolute favorite character is Eddie. Eddie is a female, and she’s the main characters new best friend. She’s very spunky and doesn’t hesitate to say what’s on her mind.
Tell us about your current release.
Slammed is a book that centers on the life of eighteen-year-old Layken Cohen. Her father recently passed away, and as a result of his death, her family has to move across the country. In the midst of her grief, she meets Will. They form an immediate connection and she finally feels like her life is taking a positive turn. On their first date, Will takes her to a poetry slam. Slam Poetry is performance poetry that is performed on a stage and can be very emotional. He performs a slam and she falls for him even more. Unfortunately, days after their first date they are met with an ethical dilemma that does not allow them to be together. They struggle to find a balance between what feels right, and what is right.
Just when they think they have transitioned, another blow slams Layken to the core, sending her life into a tailspin. Unfortunately, Will is the only one that has been in her shoes. He wants to help her, but there are still barriers that are forcing them apart.
Tell us about your next release.
The readers fell in love with the characters of Slammed and begged for a follow-up novel. So, I wrote one. Point of Retreat is the second book in the Slammed series and was just released in March, 2012. I don’t want to go into too much detail about what the book entails for those readers who haven’t read the first one. But I will say, if you read Slammed you will absolutely want to read the follow-up novel.
What was your first sale as an author?
I actually wanted to be the first sale. I was looking forward to being able to go on Amazon and purchase my own book. When I released it, I didn’t tell anyone. I rushed home so that I could get online and buy it, but when I looked there had already been a sale. About the same time, my sister called me saying, “I just bought your book!!!” She apparently knows me better than I thought, and knew I would release it early so she was stalking Amazon. I didn’t mind that the sale went to her. It was exciting.
When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?
Well, being as though I work eleven hours a day and I have three kids, I write when I should be doing laundry or dishes or any other household chore. Honestly, when I’m in the middle of a book I tend to write most of the time until it’s finished. I start as soon as the kids are in bed and write until about 2 a.m. I spend the entire weekend working on my books, usually around twelve to sixteen hours a day. I think that’s why I finish novels so fast. Both of these books I finished in a month each.
Does your significant other read your stuff?
My husband and I have been together since I was sixteen. I’m thirty-two now, so exactly half my life. He has never, ever read a single word I’ve written. Well, other than facebook posts. ;) He is not a reader, and it doesn’t bother me in the least that he doesn’t read what I write. He is extremely supportive. He doesn’t make me watch sports, so why would I force him to read a young adult book? ;)
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
So many people. Namely my boss, Stephanie. She fell in love with Slammed and would threaten to fire me if I didn’t have something ready following the weekends. She was very encouraging and supportive. I also give my chapters to my mother as I write them. She and Stephanie have very different opinions, so it was always good to have two viewpoints. I also have a couple of author friends I’ve met online that give me feedback.
This is a good question. I love to read, but I get frustrated when the author is more focused on using a huge vocabulary and describing things in such detail, that I tend to skip to the dialogue. I’ve read a lot of books where I probably skipped a good ¼ of the words. To me, the story and the plot are way more important than how many different ways an author can write “she said.” I also love to read screenplays. When I started writing, I decided I would merge my two loves and write a good story, with a lot of dialogue. I love dialogue and feel it gives more of a voice to the character than describing how they look. I like some things to be left to the imagination.
Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?
Absolutely. The Avett Brothers. I love their music and find their lyrics so inspiring. In fact, I dedicated my first novel to them.
How do you react to a bad review of your book?
This is pretty funny, actually. The first bad review I received was a one star. When I saw it, my heart sank and I was so scared to read it. When I clicked on it, I recognized my husbands name. He gave me a bad review, stating “I didn’t realize how obsessed my wife is with the Avett Brothers until I saw she dedicated this book to them. For that reason, I am giving it one star.”
He deleted it the next day, but it was pretty funny. I know not everyone is going to like my book or my style of writing. Everyone is different. I believe people’s differences in opinions and personalities is what makes the world so great. One of the characters in my book said it best when she says, “Sometimes it takes a variety to make a good collection. The same goes with people.”
Colleen lives in
with her husband, their three boys and her extensive collection of The Avett Brothers music. She has a full-time career that has absolutely nothing to do with writing, but enjoys opportunities that allow her to write on the side. She jokes that she writes when she should be doing laundry and other household chores. Colleen's writing goal is to take her readers on an emotional roller coaster ride, leaving them laughing out loud with a tissue in hand to wipe away their tears. Slammed is her debut novel. Texas
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