Thursday, July 14, 2016

THESE THINGS I'VE DONE

It started back in August 2014, when I received this email (reposted here with permission) from my friend Cara, the talented author of the amazing Sententia series and fellow ABNA alum:



My first response? I loved the idea, but I wasn't sure if I could write something so dark and heavy. Then I thought about it. Then thought about it some more. Ideas took shape. A lot of brainstorming occurred between Cara and me. And suddenly, I had an outline. It was happening. This would be Dara's story, like Cara said in her email (backstory: a little while before this, she told me she wanted to have a main character named Dara, but it was too close to her name, so maybe I should use it instead. I promised her that my next main character would be Dara).

So I created Dara Shepard, a girl struggling with guilt. And Aubrey, the best friend she accidentally killed. And Ethan, Aubrey's younger brother who, after a year away, Dara returns to and discovers he's not the same boy she once knew. I decided on a format--non-linear with two separate timelines: sophomore year (past tense), which leads up to the tragedy, and senior year (present tense), which takes place over a year after the tragedy occurred. Two separate storylines, before and after, weaved together.

TTID is the most challenging book I've ever written. It was the first book that made me cry. I ate, slept, and breathed the characters for months. They never left my head. When I finished I cried again, because I was so happy to be done, and also because I knew I'd miss the characters. Never had I been so invested in a manuscript.

I hoped it would someday pay off.

Fast-forward to January. My agent called to tell me we had an offer. A wonderful two-book deal with HarperTeen. It was lunchtime, I remember, and I'd been eating soup when Eric called. My soup got cold. I don't recall everything Eric said on the phone. I think he cried (he's kind of famous for that). I remember writing down the deal details on a piece of paper for my husband while I was talking. I remember having to sit down as Eric described this amazing offer. I remember crying and hugging my husband when I hung up. It was probably the best phone call I've ever gotten. I never did get back to my soup.

Now, finally, I can show you this:




A lot of people worked hard on this book, but I'll never forget how it all started. Cara and her email. None of this would be happening if it weren't for her, and even though I've thanked her repeatedly, I feel like it's not enough. So once again: Cara, thank you, Thank you for the idea. Thank you for helping me flesh out the story. Thank you for critiqued it for me, and for assured me that I did it justice. Thank you for Dara.

Also, none of this would be happening without my amazing agent, Eric Smith. Thank you so much for loving this book and agreeing to take on little old me. #TeamRocks rules!

Next post, I'll tell you more about the inspiration and writing/editing process for THESE THINGS I'VE DONE. Teaser: Friday Night Lights and Ed Sheeran are involved.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

ANY OTHER GIRL is here!

I heard there was a big snow storm a few days ago for some of you. Maybe beat the winter blues with a light, breezy, romantic, summer-on-the-lake book?






This novel was a complete joy to write. I hope you all enjoy your time with Kat and her wonderful dads as much as I did.

ANY OTHER GIRL is now ready to buy and read:


If you happen to see my little book in the wild, I'd LOVE to see a pic!




Monday, December 21, 2015

Best Reads of 2015

It's the most wonderful time of the year....because I get to make a list of books!

In no particular order, here are my Top 10 reads of 2015:


1. I'LL MEET YOU THERE by Heather Demetrios

An emotional, character-driven story that grabbed me immediately. The characters are flawed and real and sometimes frustrating, and the romance is messy and intense. The acknowledgements are just as touching as the book's ending.





2. LITTLE PEACH by Peggy Kern

This is a short but incredibly powerful read. I haven't heard much buzz around this book. It's definitely worth a read. Disturbing as hell, but I powered through it in one short afternoon, then thought about it for days afterwards.    





3. SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli

What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said a million times? It's freaking adorable and made me smile so hard my cheeks hurt. Absolutely delightful in every way.






4. 99 DAYS by Katie Cotugno

Katie's characters are so incredibly frustrating and flawed, but so real that you get sucked into their lives and stories even while you feel like screaming at them. Her prose is beautiful and honest, the dialogue spot-on.






5. EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon

I was lucky enough to score an ARC of this book months before release. There was so much pre-release buzz for this book, and no wonder. It's everything, everything you'd expect, plus more. Beautiful and unique.






6. EMMY & OLIVER by Robin Benway

There are some books I know from the first few pages that I'm going to love, just from the writing and voice. Emmy & Oliver has everything I love in a good YA--realistic dialogue, relatable characters, amazing friendships, a sweet romance, honest emotion, humor, and heart. Just lovely.




7. WHAT YOU LEFT BEHIND by Jessica Verdi

Jessica Verdi is my go-to author for unique YA that tackles really tough subjects in an honest, completely readable way. Just like with her last two books, this one deals with something not often seen in YA--in this case, teen fatherhood. And it's my favorite Jessica book yet.




8. DUMPLIN' by Julie Murphy

Man, 2015 was a good year for YA. This book is fun, poignant, and hilarious. I enjoyed every minute I spent with its fantastic heroine, Willowdean.







9. MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera

This one emotionally chewed me up and spit me out. I felt like I needed a hug after finishing it. Heart-breaking and unique.








This last one is not YA, but I had to include it because it had such an effect on me:

10. A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara

I read this book almost two months ago and it still haunts me. It's so well-written, the characters and emotions so vivid that it makes you feel like you're living in the story, witnessing it all and feeling every frustration, horror, and happiness right along with the characters. Unforgettable.







What were YOUR favorite books of 2015?




Monday, October 5, 2015

New Agent News

Agent news? you may be thinking. I thought she already had an agent?

Well, you're right. I did. And still I do, but I'll get to that in a sec.

Last week, Carly called and said, "I have some bad news and some good news." She gave me the bad news first: she's no longer representing YA, which means she can no longer be my agent. I was sorry to hear this, of course, because I'd been with Carly since 2012 and we'd gone through a lot over the years--two submission rounds, months of revisions, countless rejections, three offers (in one week!), and finally, a two-book publishing deal.

And then came the good news: one of the newer agents at P.S. Literary read my latest manuscript and loved it. He wants to represent me. Yay! So we got introduced over email. Then we set up a call. Then we spoke on the phone and quickly realized that we're both on the same page with this manuscript. He believes in it, which made me believe in it even more.

The pact was then sealed with virtual high fives and numerous exclamation points on my end. I'm happy to announce that I'm now represented by Eric Smith of P.S. Literary Agency. He's American (unlike me), an author (like me), and also pretty entertaining on Twitter. I'm looking forward to working with him, and I'm so excited to begin this new chapter (heh) in my writing career.



Thursday, July 16, 2015

ANY OTHER GIRL Cover Reveal!

Once upon a time, in the fall of 2013, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month and began writing a story about a fun, outgoing girl named Kat who had same-sex parents. A year later, that story was sold in a two-book deal to Kensington Publishing. And today, I'm going to show you its beautiful cover. (Yeah, yeah, okay, so the cover's been up on Amazon, Goodreads, etc for weeks now, but for today we'll pretend it's not).

First, here's the blurb:


After a disastrous, reputation-destroying party at the end of junior year, Kat Henley has a new plan. When it comes to boys—especially other people’s boys:


Don’t touch.
Don’t smile. 
Don’t charm.

In the past, drawing attention to herself helped distract people from what really makes Kat different—having two gay parents. But it’s also cost her friendships. Kat can’t afford to lose any more of those, especially not her cousin, Harper. They’re spending one last summer together at the lake, where they run into an intriguing newcomer named Emmett Reese. After years of trying to prove she’s just like everybody else, Kat has found someone who wants her because she’s not. A boy who could be everything she wants too—if Harper hadn’t liked him first…


Oh yes. It's about family loyalty and forbidden love and secrets and s'mores and everything summer. And it's probably my favorite book out of all my books. Maybe because Kat and her dads were so much fun to create. And after writing a bad boy in Faking Perfect, it was nice to go back to a nice guy like Emmett. I enjoyed virtually every minute of writing this book and I hope you all enjoy reading it.

Okay, ready for the cover?

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Ta-da! I love it. It so perfectly captures the tone of the book. I love the purplish/orangey shades (it is purplish and orangey, right? I don't trust my color judgment after that whole The Dress internet debacle). I love that the girl is wearing a dress, because Kat loves dresses. I love that they're surrounded by water, because the book takes place at Kat's family's summer cottage at the lake.

ANY OTHER GIRL comes out on January 26, 2016. Won't it be lovely to read a nice summer-y book in the dead of winter? You can pre-order it now at one of these places:


And don't forget to add it to your to-read shelf on Goodreads!