Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarrry: Giveaway, Playlist & Excerpt

Welcome to Author Katie McGarry

KATIE MCGARRY was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.


One of my least favorite questions to be asked is what type of music do I prefer. I’m not some recluse who doesn’t listen to music. In fact, it’s the opposite—I love music. I love it so much that I can never pick a favorite.

I love heavy metal, gospel, alternative, country, pop, rock, inspirational, southern-rock, hip-hop, rap, Bluegrass, classical, show tunes…the list is endless. Fortunately, this diverse taste comes in handy when I write.

You can ask any of my friends: I’m a fast writer, but I’m a slow plotter. It can take me months to flesh out a story and characters in my head. After I’ve written a story, one look at the songs I downloaded while plotting is usually enough to make me realize my subconscious was working overtime.

At the time, I *think* I’m downloading the songs because I just *like* them. Later I realize that the songs were imperative to my creative process. My subconscious knew things about my characters and story that at the time I didn’t know.

For instance, Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. I thought I just *liked* the song, but it turned out to be helpful in the plot of Pushing the Limits. The lyrics “I want your love, I don’t wanna be friends” became a mantra for my characters Echo and Noah throughout the book.

I hadn’t heard “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” by Patty Smyth and Don Henley since high school, yet I downloaded it on a whim. Later I realized that “…I don’t wanna be the one to cry, And that don’t really matter to anyone, anymore”—oh my gosh, that was so Echo.

“Down” by Jay Sean represents Noah and, more importantly, Noah’s swagger. If Noah was a singer (or if he listened to top forty music), I could have totally seen him singing this song to Echo (too bad he’s more of an alternative, heavy metal type of guy).  The lyric that really hit me for Noah was in the rap by Lil Wayne: “I’m fighting for this girl, on the battlefield of love.” Noah definitely battles emotionally for Echo. 

“Free” by the Zac Brown Band was my last addition to the playlist. I had completed the story and was in the process of querying agents when I heard it for the first time. I received an e-mail from a friend who had read my manuscript and told me that “Free” made her think of Noah and Echo. Of course, I immediately found the song and listened to it. I was completely blown away with how every word described what I saw for Noah and Echo’s future.

There are a lot more songs on my playlist, including one that’s special to me in part because it was written specifically about Echo. The complete list can be found in the back of Pushing the Limits. If you check it out, I hope you’re as inspired by the music as I was!

Echo and Noah both attend the same high school, but that’s where their similarities seem to end.  Their paths cross however, when, on the first day of school after winter break they both meet their newly appointed school social worker.  Katie McGarry wrote Pushing the Limits in alternating points of view, one chapter by Echo, the next by Noah.  Check out the excerpts below, taken from the first chapters of Katie’s debut novel.  Want to read from the beginning? Every stop on the blog tour features new excerpts – the complete tour schedule can be found here: http://harlequinblog.com/2012/07/two-essential-ways-to-build-your-characters/.

Mrs. Collins finally lifted her pen from the page. “Ask Mrs. Marcos for the next testing dates before you go to class. And while I’m playing the role of guidance counselor, I’d like to discuss your schedule for the winter term. You’ve filled your free periods with multiple business classes. I was wondering why.”

The real answer, because my father told me to, would probably irritate multiple people in the room so I ad-libbed, “They’ll help prepare me for college.” Wow. I’d said that with all the enthusiasm of a six-year-old waiting for a flu shot. Bad choice on my part. My father shifted in his seat again and sighed. I considered giving a different answer, but figured that reply would also come off flat.


She flipped through my file. “You’ve been bounced around to several foster homes in the past two and a half years. This is your fourth high school since your parents’ death. What I find interesting is that until a year and a half ago, you still made the honor roll and you still competed in sports. Those are qualities that don’t usually match a disciplinary case.”

“Maybe you need to dig a little further.” I wanted this lady out of my life and the best way to do that was to scare her. “If you did, you’d find out I beat up my first foster father.” Actually, I had punched him in the face when I caught him hitting his biological son. Funny how no one in that family took my side when the cops arrived. Not even the kid I defended.

Mrs. Collins paused as if she was waiting for me to give her my side of the story, but she was sadly mistaken. Since my parents’ death, I’d learned that no one in the system gave a crap. Once you entered, you were damned.

******Please visit Kelly Creagh’s Blog for the final excerpt from Echo and Noah.******

Kindle Fire Giveaway on Katie’s Site: 

Pushing the Limits

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.
Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Giveaway Details
1 copy of Pushing the Limits
Open to US & Canada
Ends 8/26/12

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