Monday, August 13, 2018

It's Love and Other Secrets Pre-Order Madness!

Today's the day that my new book, Love and Other Secrets, is available for pre-order at most e-book retailers. Buy it today for $2.99 and you'll find it on your device, ready to read on September 3rd (you might even have the day off--what a perfect time to start a good book ;) 

I'm so absolutely excited about this story -- I think it's funny and sweet and romantic, and the main characters completely stole my heart! 

In celebration of Pre-Order day, I'm going to share with you the first chapter of Love and Other Secrets, which features hero Alex coming to a realization about his secret friend, Bailey (and you might recognize a few friends from The First Kiss Hypothesis too!)

Without further ado, the first chapter of Love and Other Secrets! Enjoy! 

Chapter One


We’re at lunch when the questions begin.
“You get asked to prom yet?” my best friend Eli asks right as I take a huge bite of pastrami sandwich. Nora, his girlfriend, is at his side digging into a slice of pie, and not in any gentle, girly way. More like a linebacker at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
I like that about her.
I swallow and lift a shoulder. “Nope.”
With how much everyone talks about it, you’d think prom is a huge deal at our school, but it’s really the promposals that get everyone worked up. As in, they usually go viral.
I’ve never had to plan one because, in three and three quarter years of high school, I haven’t asked anyone to prom, or homecoming, or the eighties dance. Not a single dance. It’s not that I’m against taking the initiative; the girls just always beat me to it, asking me (in some really bizarre ways) to go with them.
It’s only a matter of time before I’m ambushed again, and Eli knows it.
Last year, it was two girls at once in the school cafeteria. One got a bunch of her fellow cheerleaders to bend their bodies into the letters P-R-O-M-?. The other brought in her grandma’s parrot that she’d trained to say “Prom, Koviak?”
It was like the battle to the death of promposals. I felt so bad I said yes to both of them and took two dates, because what else could I do? Have you ever seen someone bend themselves into the shape of a question mark?
Eli snorts. “You know, it wouldn’t kill you to do the asking for once.”
I grunt. I’ve known Eli forever. He’s been my best friend since preschool and thinks he knows everything about me, but he doesn’t know that I’ve been thinking of asking someone.
It’s just…complicated.
Nora stares at me with serious eyes, almost like she knows about my mystery woman, like I knew about her and Eli before they were even a thing.
She can’t, though. No one knows about Bailey.
I shake it off. A big reason Nora and Eli are together is because I convinced him to get off his ass and do something. I gave him the “game clock’s ticking” speech. Life is short. Take a chance. Ask her out. I knew they should be together. I can’t explain it; it’s just a feeling I get. A sixth sense or something. It’s earned me a reputation at EHS as a kind of matchmaker.
For the last few months, I’ve been having that feeling about Bailey and me. But do my matchmaking skills work on my own love life? Up to now, I’ve seen zero evidence of it.
I slump in my seat and stare at the last half of my pastrami sandwich.
Damn it.
I pick up the pickle spear and snap it in half with my teeth. This isn’t like me, moping around like a chickenshit, like I don’t even know what I want.
I do know what I want.
I just don’t know if I can have it.
Nora steals a fry off Eli’s plate. He slaps at her thieving fingers and laughs, both of them so damn happy. She leans against him and closes her eyes.
You want that.
No, I tell that stupid voice in my head. I want to go to the prom with Bailey. That’s it. We could go as friends if that’s all she wants. The problem is lately when I’m around her, I find myself staring at her mouth, wondering what she tastes like, or looking at her profile when she doesn’t know it.
I sigh and nudge my sandwich with the other half of my pickle. No matter how hard I deny it, I think I might want more, and I’m totally screwed on that front because I’ve made it crystal clear to this entire school that I don’t want anything serious with anyone. I am Alex Koviak, Player. Both on and off the lacrosse field. It’s my reputation, and it is solid at Edinburgh High. I know it. Bailey knows it.
“Kov?” Nora pushes aside her cleaned-off pie plate. “You all right?”
I flash her a grin and push my hair out of my face. Nora’s nice like that, caring about others—and everything else, for that matter—while her dick boyfriend, my best friend, cluelessly stuffs his mouth with French fries.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I say. “Totally fine.”
She doesn’t look convinced. She doesn’t even know that Bailey and I are friends. No one does. It’s not normal, I know, but it’s the way things developed these last few months, and I kind of like it with no one up in our business, spreading rumors or wondering when or if we’ll ever be a couple. I like that we’re a secret—but I’d be willing to go public at prom if she wanted to.
Does she want to? I perk up at the thought but almost immediately slump back down in the booth.
Not likely.
“No worries,” Eli grins, oblivious to what’s going on in my head. “Still a month to prom. Someone will ask you. In fact, there’s probably someone with a unicorn in the parking lot right now waiting to write ‘Prom?’ in rainbow farts.”
Nora groans and swipes another fry.
God, I hope not. “Now that would be something.”
The thing is, he’s probably right. Someone will ask me. Shit, someone might ask Bailey. The thought of that happening makes the hair on my arms stand on end and my jaw clench.
Oh, hell no.
I suck down the rest of my Sprite. That’s it. Screw it. Seeing her at prom with some other dude is not going to happen. I’m asking her. As soon as possible. Tonight, before I have time to think too much. I’m at my best when I don’t think.
I move the crutches leaning against the table out of the way and slide out of the booth. Eli blew out his knee last month during a lacrosse scrimmage. Ruined his season, but at least he got the girl. Maybe it’s my turn.
“Where you goin’, asshat?” Eli asks.
I pull a twenty out of my back pocket and throw it on the table. “Just remembered I’ve got something to do.”
Eli scowls and pushes the money back toward me. “I got this.”
I shake my head and leave the money where it is. “It’s on me today, loser.”
I walk away before they can argue. At the door, I peek through the glass to make sure there really isn’t a girl outside waiting for me with a gassy mythological creature.
It looks safe, but I hurry to my Jeep anyway, just in case. The smell of brand new leather hits me, until it’s overtaken by the stink of my lacrosse equipment in the back. I love that smell. It’s proof that I’ve been working my ass off on that field.
I start the engine, my adrenaline pumping. My heart is beating fast, but I force myself to chill. This is no big deal. What’s the worst that could happen? She says no? I…shit, what if she says no? That’s never happened to me before. I’ve never really cared either way.
My hands grip the steering wheel. Come on, Kov. She won’t say no.
Before I take off, I quickly send her a text inviting her over after work. It’s Saturday, so she could be working at the coffee shop or the grocery store. I’m not sure, and it’s hard to keep track.
This is part of what makes our friendship so strange— most of it takes place at my house late at night after she gets off of work. It’s kind of perfect.
So she’ll come over after her shift and we’ll have dinner. Miriam, my family’s housekeeper-slash-warden, made her famous gumbo. Bailey loves that stuff. I’ll buy her some flowers, and I’ll ask her to prom. No big deal. Nothing promposal-ly. I know her well enough to know she’d hate that.
As usual, we’ll have the house to ourselves. My parents are in Africa somewhere, building wells for people who have no water. When they aren’t building the wells, they’re traveling all over the world trying to raise awareness and money so they can build more. They’re never around, and it’s not as cool as you’d think. It’s not like I can bitch about it, though. It’s water. For people who have none. I’d be a real asshole to complain about that.
Whatever. All I’m saying is it would be nice to have someone around to bounce ideas off of. Like, what do you do when you might like a girl and want to ask her to prom? I could use a little help, to be honest.
This is all new to me, and I don’t want to blow it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Meet my new book, Love and Other Secrets, COMING SOON!

Hello friends, lots of fun stuff happening around chez Mandelski these days. First of all, I have a book coming out on September 3rd! This book's birthday is being shared with FIRST AND FOREMOST -- my lovely sister, who is about to turn *cough cough*! So happy birthday to her, and happy birthday to Bailey and Alex and their love story! Here's the cover:

For those who have read The First Kiss Hypothesis, you'll recognize Alex "Kov" Koviak and meet his new "secret" friend Bailey. Here's a little snippet about these two:

Star lacrosse player Alex “Kov” Koviak has it all. Or so everyone thinks. He’s real good at pretending his life is perfect...until he meets Bailey. The girl challenges him and pushes him and makes him laugh like he’s never laughed before. Their friendship is their little secret, and he’s happy to keep her to himself. Between school, two jobs, and trying to get into NYU film school, Bailey Banfield has zero time for a social life. But then she meets Alex in her express lane at the grocery store, and their secret friendship becomes the only place she can breathe. She refuses to complicate that with more. No matter how charming Alex can be. When Bailey decides to film outrageous promposals for her NYU application, she enlists Alex’s help to plan an over-the-top, epic promposal to someone else. Too bad the only prom date Alex wants anywhere near Bailey is him. For a guy who seems to have it all, he’s about to lose the only thing he's ever wanted.

I'm totally in love with their story and hope that you fall in love with it too!

Another new development -- I've started a newsletter that will be a great way to receive news, reviews, recommendations, contest info and etc., delivered right to your inbox. (Only every now and then, so don't panic!)  Sign up in the box to the right, and I'll get you on the mailing list.

In other news -- yikes, I'm about to be an empty-ish nester! Youngest is off to college in a few weeks and the oldest is having an epic Alaskan adventure, leaving my hubby and I to our own devices. We're excited for this next chapter in our lives, and I'm jazzed for all the writing I can get done in an otherwise quiet house. In the coming weeks I'll keep you posted on Love and Other Secrets, I promise! 

See you later!

Monday, November 6, 2017

It's Here! The First Kiss Hypothesis! It's a Party -- and a GIVEAWAY!

Hey there everyone -- it's a good day, no, a GREAT day at chez Mandelski!

My second book -- or as the fancy folks say -- my sophomore effort -- is out in the world!

The First Kiss Hypothesis is about a girl who trusts science to find love, and the boy next door who is determined to prove her wrong. Eli and Nora are best friends, who love pie, and maybe each other, if only she can let go of her hypothesizing, and give him a second chance at an epic kiss.

I hope that you read it and enjoy!

Some thank you's are definitely in order today -- first to the amazing staff at Entangled: editorial, design, publicity, you name it, you've all been wonderful. Thank you, Heather Howland for your sage writing advice and editorial wrangling. Thanks to my agent Danielle Chiotti, who is nothing but supportive and awesome. Thanks to my critique buds who read this story at its various stages and who always have my back.

Oh goodness, to my husband, who is absolutely my One True Love. He's amazing! Thanks to my sweet daughters, who have grown into young women since my last book, and who are my muses and make me smile every day.

So now my gift to YOU, my readers! I'm hosting a giveaway, with a fun book-themed swag pack including: a Marie Curie mug (who doesn't want one of those?), a pie-scented candle, stickers, and more! Enter by telling me all about the best pie you've ever had in the comments below! It's as simple as that. Raffle runs until 11/13. Good luck!

Thanks to all of you readers for celebrating with me! And be on the lookout for a companion book to this one, coming Spring 2018!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The First Kiss Hypothesis Cover Reveal!


It's almost here! Two weeks from today, my first YA Romance ebook, THE FIRST KISS HYPOTHESIS, comes out from Entangled Crush. I barely have words to describe how excited I am to share this story with you!

It's about a girl, Nora Reid, who believes in Science, with a capital S, and also in true love. She develops an interesting experiment that merges these beliefs. Too bad she can't manage to get her next door neighbor, best friend, long-time crush and total experiment FAIL out of her head. 

Her plans to exorcise him from her romantic life lead to some pretty major highs and some very low lows that I hope make for a fun, swoony and satisfying love story.

Anyway, about that cover -- drumroll, please...

I my opinion, it's PERFECT -- the design team really outdid themselves with this one. I love the way the couple is leaning on each other, as best friends do, but then there's the hint of something more between them. And of course, I can't seem to write a book that doesn't involve the BEACH -- which makes the cover even more ideal.

So there you have it -- AAAHHH! I love it! A companion novel to this one will be coming out next spring, and a third next fall, which I'm also thrilled to share. But today, it's all about THE FIRST KISS HYPOTHESIS. 

The e-book is available for pre-order online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, itunes and the Entangled website. For literally less than the price of a grande non-fat vanilla latte, you can download my book and enjoy a swoon-worthy love story with a scientific twist. I hope you do, and I hope you enjoy it!

I'd love to hear what you think of the cover -- so feel free to comment below.

And thank you for celebrating with me!


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Happy Book Birthday to THE SWEETEST THING!

Today is the day!! My book, THE SWEETEST THING, whose fate was uncertain just a few months ago -- is once again FOR SALE! It has a pretty new package, is now available in paperback and ebook, and there's a teaser chapter for the sequel at the end, which I am writing now (or will be as soon as I finish this :)

Please feel free to share the link with anyone you think might like the book (you can click on just about anything in this post to take you to the Amazon page!) Like that shampoo commercial of old, any sort of publishing success is largely built on the concept of "and she told two friends, and she told two friends, and so on, and so on..."

I can't promise you shiny hair, but I hope I can entertain you with a good story. Thanks in advance!

Speaking of thanks ...

I'm so very grateful to everyone whose advice and support kept me on track to get this project done. Thank you especially to Kiki Hamilton, author extraordinaire, who calmly talked me through a few formatting-related panic attacks while she was also in rush hour traffic. That's some serious multi-tasking for which I am supremely thankful! And to Kristin Rae, who, in addition to being a talented author, is also (lucky me!) a talented artist. Her cover design is my favorite thing ever.

To my writer friends, the Empire CafĂ© gang, the LOD'ers, the Class of 2k11 and my critique group, Will Write for Cake, you all are such a blessing! And my non-writer family/friends too, who just put up with me and buy my books, I love you all! To anyone who has ever said a nice word about my writing, who has bought the book previously, the bloggers and teachers and my young readers who are still asking me, "when does your next book come out?" I LOVE YOU!

Thanks to my agent Danielle Chiotti, who is always there when I need her.

Thank you always to my husband Michael, and daughters Lily and Cate, who just make it all worth it.

Thanks to my God who gave me this crazy love for telling stories that, even on my worst days, brings me joy.

And so, without further ado -- feel free to do a happy dance with me as THE SWEETEST THING goes back into the world!!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Release Date, a Surprise and a Giveaway, Oh My!

Good news around here -- first of all, THIS HAPPENED:

This is the printed proof of my book, which arrived in the mail a few days ago. I almost fainted with joy when I opened the box. I seriously had the vapors. It's gorgeous. I love it.

BUT, smelling salts aside, the purpose of this little gem was for me to read through again to find all the little mistakes that might still be hanging around. What mistakes, I thought, it's PERFECT?!


Yeah. Every one of these Post-It scraps represents a correction that needed to be made (luckily, mostly small formatting things -- it looks worse than it is). Anyway, I whipped through these edits quickly and now I HAVE AN OFFICIAL RELEASE DATE!

Mark your calendars for TUESDAY, AUGUST 18th, 2015!

I guess it's an official re-release date. I sort of feel like this is THE SWEETEST THING 2.0. The story is the same, but there are extras, people! EXTRAS!

First there's a PRETTY NEW COVER. Although the original cover was appropriately sweet, I think this fresh, modern cover is mind-blowingly gorgeous.

Second, it comes in both e-book AND paperback! If you're all about the e-book, that's great, but if you like a nice bendy, light, portable paperback to carry around in your backpack or purse, we've got that!

Third, there's a special surprise at the end of this version -- it's the first chapter of the sequel, called CAKE GIRL.

I've been wanting to write the continuation of Sheridan Wells' story since the original book came out, and I hope you'll love the sneak peek. You can bet there will be more romance, drama and (naturally) plenty of cake!

Lastly -- to celebrate the countdown to release day (T-minus 10 DAYS!) -- I'm hosting a giveaway of the new paperback on Goodreads.

You can enter starting today -- until September 7 (that's Labor Day if you're counting -- which is fitting -- because that's what this new edition of TST feels like, a total labor of love). After that, I'll be sending two pretty new SIGNED paperbacks to the lucky winners (and some sweet new swag items too!) Here's the link to enter:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski

The Sweetest Thing

by Christina Mandelski

Giveaway ends September 07, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Good luck to all who enter, and thanks for celebrating this good news with me! Til the next time, stay cool (it's HOT here in Houston) and EAT CAKE!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Everything Old is New Again

Well, maybe not everything. My minivan is still really old. But today feels like the beginning of something very new for me. 
Back in 2009, my first book, a young adult novel about a gifted and troubled cake decorating teen, sold to a new US-based offshoot of the UK publisher Egmont. It was a dream come true. THE SWEETEST THING came out in May 2011.
Earlier this year, however, Egmont US closed its doors. Soon after my initial panic/sadness, I found out that because of the closing, the rights to THE SWEETEST THING were reverting back to ME. This was big, because after four years, the book had fallen off of most radars, and there was not much I could do about it. But when I received the rights back, I was given an opportunity to breathe new life into my book.
After conferring with my agent, (who I will thank now, the lovely, patient-as-a-saint Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow Literary), we decided to pursue self-publishing THE SWEETEST THING through Amazon. It was a scary prospect. Traditional publishing had always been my plan. But the writing on the wall couldn't have been clearer. It was time to dip my toe into the waters of self-publishing. And so far, it's been an adventure!
For this new edition of the book, I've done an edit of the original manuscript, taking out references to things like a Blackberry (so 2009!) and tweaking some of the dialogue. Most exciting was being able to write a special extra for the end, which I'll talk about more in a future post, closer to the pub date.
For now, however, I get to show you THE SWEETEST THING'S pretty new cover. Here it is: 
Sigh. I think I'm in love.

I spoke in my post yesterday about it's designer, Kristin Rae. When she and I discussed what I wanted in a cover, my wish list included wanting to make the title the dominant graphic element, and also: NO PINK.
I wanted to throw in elements of main character Sheridan Wells' other artistic interests (other than cake). Hence the watercolor background. I asked for a yellow butterfly (also important to Sheridan's story). Kristin more than delivered on all that I asked. And did you notice the distinct lack of pink? I love what she did. And the back cover (for the print version) is just as gorgeous.
So there it is, friends:
Traditional publishing to self-publishing.
SO Pink to NO PINK. 
Candy hearts to watercolor butterflies.
Old to new.
I don't know what the future holds for this shiny new version of THE SWEETEST THING, but today it doesn't matter. Today, anything is possible!