Monday, September 8, 2014

Zainab Oginabe-Kensit of Let's Move On: The Character Blog Hop!

When I found out about this blog hop I could not get in on it fast enough. While we novelists like to talk about our characters the same way parents like to talk about their children, the stakes are elevated for Miss Oginabe-Kensit: Let's Move On is the fourth book in The New Pioneers, and while I think Zainab has been consistently awesome throughout, I'm aware that new readers might need a little nudge.

I've also got to say here: Zainab is not, and never was a Black Best Friend (the very thought makes me ill). It's true: she's put stubborn, righteous Emily in her place many times (and she will do so again), but I think readers understood why Emily was concerned about her in the first place. In other words, she's a real, fleshed out person, not a caricature. Of all of the characters in this series, the ones readers most frequently want more for are Martin and Zainab. Me too. 

Alrighty then! Hannah Goodman tagged me last week in her post...

My Summer Vacation by Hannah Goodman

Sixteen-year-old, Maddie Hickman is desperately seeking solace from her sophomore year of high school, a year of broken hearts, torn friendships, and family secrets revealed. Thanks to a position as a CIT (counselor-in-training) at Caleb’s Rock, a hippy, artsy-fartsy summer camp, as her mother calls it, solace has been found—or so she thinks.
Maddie begins her summer at the pub shop writing short stories and poems, trying to recover from a terrible breakup with her first love and her family’s struggle with her alcoholic sister. To maintain inner peace, Maddie swears off cute boys. Although working alongside Noah, a fellow pub shop CIT, whose hot, nerd-boy looks and ability to quote Shakespeare at just the right moment makes her swoon.

Maddie decides a friendship with camper Zak is safe enough and can help her avoid the temptation of Noah, since Zak isn’t as cute and is a year younger. But when Zak asks her for kissing lessons so he can make the move on another girl, Maddie finds herself wondering if she should have sworn off not-so-cute boys, too.

From Michael Cart, Founding Editor, RUSH HOUR
Recovery, troubled relationships, and . . . summer camp? An unlikely combination but Hannah Goodman cleverly weaves these elements together into an absorbing, thought-provoking story of love and loss that challenges young readers to respond with both their hearts and their minds.

About Hannah

Hannah Goodman is the founder and editor of Sucker Literary, which features undiscovered and new YA authors. She is represented by Erzsi Deàk of Hen&ink Literary. 

My Summer Vacation was originally published in 2006 and went on to win a bronze IPPY in 2007. It is set to be re-released in September, 2014.  The first Maddie book, My Sister’s Wedding, was the first place winner of  The Writer’s Digest International Self-Publishing Contest, 2004, children’s book division.  The third Maddie book, Fear of Falling, was released in the fall of 2009 and was praised by teachers and readers for tackling subjects like homophobia and coming out. Hannah republished My Sister’s Wedding, in March, 2014 and is currently republishing Fear of Falling, set to be released in the fall of 2014. 

The final Maddie book in the series remains unpublished at this time but is looking forward to finding a home soon!  

Hannah is a member of  SCBWI  and the Association of Rhode Island Authors as well as a graduate of Pine Manor College's Solstice Program in Creative Writing, where she earned an MFA in Writing For Young People. She resides in Bristol, RI with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and a fish named Schwartz.  

If you really want to find Hannah, check your local Starbucks, where she may be drinking a foamy cup of tea and working on her next manuscript, a steamy New Adult novel.  

Find her on the web at

And next week Jami, Courtney and Erin are on...

Keeping Score by Jami Deise

When her 9-year-old son wanted to play summer travel baseball, Shannon had no idea the toughest competition was off the field….

When her son Sam asks to try out for a travel baseball team, divorced mom Shannon Stevens thinks it’ll be a fun and active way to spend the summer. Boy, is she wrong! From the very first practice, Shannon and Sam get sucked into a mad world of rigged try-outs, professional coaches, and personal hitting instructors. But it’s the crazy, competitive parents who really make Shannon’s life miserable. Their sons are all the second coming of Babe Ruth, and Sam isn’t fit to fetch their foul balls. Even worse, Shannon’s best friend Jennifer catches the baseball fever. She schemes behind the scenes to get her son Matthew on the town’s best baseball team, the Saints. As for Sam? Sorry, there’s no room for him! Sam winds up on the worst team in town, and every week they find new and humiliating ways to lose to the Saints.

And the action off the field is just as hot. Shannon finds herself falling for the Saints’ coach, Kevin. But how can she date a man who didn’t think her son was good enough for his team … especially when the whole baseball world is gossiping about them? Even Shannon’s ex-husband David gets pulled into the mess when a randy baseball mom goes after him. As Sam works to make friends, win games and become a better baseball player, Shannon struggles not to become one of those crazy baseball parents herself.  In this world, it’s not about whether you win, lose, or how you play the game… it’s all about KEEPING SCORE.

About Jami

Jami Deise was a lifelong resident of Maryland until moving to St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2012 with her husband Tom, son Alex, and dog Lady. A baseball mom for over 10 years, she self-published “Keeping Score,” about a divorced mom whose 9-year-old son joins a travel baseball team. She is currently working on two other novels. Jami is an associate reviewer at Chick Lit Central and a generalist reader for an NYC-based literary agency. She tweets at @JamiDeise and blogs at

Holding on to Georgia by Courtney Giardina

Rylan Bradley is perfectly content with her single, thirty-something life. Love is the last thing on her mind—until she crosses paths with Wesley Kade. He is handsome, charming, and always there when she needs someone the most. But there’s a story behind those brown eyes that he’s not ready to tell. As Rylan and Kade struggle to untangle their feelings for each other, the reality of their pasts will once again resurface and threaten to take it all away.

About Courtney

Courtney lives by the motto why put off for tomorrow what you can do today. Even though she’s been spending countless hours preparing for the launch of her second novel, Holding on to Georgia, she still finds time to do other things she’s passionate about. She is also a regular blog contributor over at I AM THAT GIRL  and a cheerleading coach. She’s sincerely appreciative of all of those who support her writing and is getting ready to hit the keyboard again to begin novel #3!

Tainted Love by Erin Cawood

For anyone in a relationship, the words 'we need to talk' can only mean one thing. In the last twenty-two years, the McKenzies have been through it, survived it, learned by it, and grown stronger from it, because life didn't stop for breath when they needed it. Amongst the tears and the tragedies, the hopes and happiness, they've built something amazing: a happy family, a luxury lifestyle and a booming empire. Don't they deserve to have it all?

But for the perfect wife, those four sinister words mean something entirely different. They're a summons into a private world where what happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors.

Faith has no doubt in Calvin's undying love for her. It's what kept her sane in the darkest hours. If only she could figure out what it is she does wrong... because it’s rapidly becoming apparent their tainted love is running out of time.

About Erin

Erin Cawood is a commercial women’s fiction author, with a taste for dramatic storylines and a passion for strong lead characters she really gets behind, cheering on right to the very end of their story. Her focus? Taking romance into the darker, edgier side of contemporary fiction.

Erin lives in Leeds, UK, with her partner of fifteen years and spends her days as a digital designer for one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK. Fascinated by web design and digital communication, Erin has recently graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA(Hons) in New Media and when she's not listening to the voices of her characters, she freelances in design services for authors.

Got all that? Good! Now onto Zainab!

What is the name of your character? Is s/he fictional/historical? Zainab Oginabe-Kensit. She's fictional, but she's based on my best friend from college. (And yes, I have her permission!)

When and where is the story set? Like all of my work thus far, this is realistic fiction set in modern-day Boston.

What should we know about your character? Zainab was introduced in The Smartest Girl in the Room and she's Emily Graham's best friend. She had a huge crush on Joe Welles, an up-and-coming student senator, but he turned out to be a dangerous creep. As distraught as Zainab was about that, she hit the roof when she found out that Emily had blackmailed Joe to leave school and Boston and never return. Emily's heart was in the right place, but she took a terrible risk doing it and Zainab wouldn't have recovered if anything had happened to her.

Emily introduced Zainab to Richard Hendrickson, and it was love at first sight for the both of them. Richard had been carrying an adult load since he was a preteen, and Zainab was one of the only people who wasn't afraid of his complicated family life. They were the proverbial adults in the room for a long time, which made it all the more heartbreaking when Richard started shying away from talking about marriage. When she found out that he was cheating on her with an old girlfriend, she was sad but not surprised. She was also done.

The man who outed Richard was Detective Robert Teague, and by the end of The China Doll, it was obvious that he was also interested in Zainab. Just to make things interesting, Richard was still holding out hope that she could forgive him.

What is your character's goal? In the other books in the series, Zainab was looking toward a future with Richard; right now, she's living in the moment for the first since college. She's ready to enjoy someone going out of his way to be with her, and the fact that he's opening up to her in ways he won't to anyone else is sexier than she'd like to admit.

What is screwing up your character's life (main conflict in writerly speak)? Zainab's enjoying moments that she can spend not only suspending future expectations, but also big concepts like "Love" and "Commitment". But what she can't stop thinking about, no matter where she is, is "Loyalty". The theme running through the New Pioneers series is that these friends will do anything for each other, and when it's clear that she holds the key to keeping everyone safe from more of the fallout that upended their lives in The China Doll, she doesn't have to think about what she'll do. But is someone going to stop her?

What is the title? Let's Move On

When can we expect the book to be published? September 29th, wherever e-books are sold ;-)

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