Monday, October 24, 2016

THESE THING I'VE DONE cover!

Today, the cover for THESE THINGS I'VE DONE, my first book with HarperTeen, was revealed on YA Interrobang. I'd like to also post it here so I can properly gush over it:





*happy sigh*

YOU GUYS, this cover. TTID is my seventh book and therefore my seventh cover, but damn, out of the seven of them, I think I love this one best. Because LOOK AT IT.

While I was writing Dara, I pictured her in my mind as this tall, blond, curvy girl who wasn't very comfortable with her height and build. I was binging Friday Night Lights for the first time while drafting this book, so after a while she sort of started to look like Julie Taylor in my head. But anyway.

As soon as I saw the girl on this cover, I was like THAT'S DARA. And she's sitting on dead fall leaves, which is also perfect. The after/present tense chapters take place mostly in the fall, and this girl, whoever she is in real life, is my Present Dara to a T.

What's this book all about, you may ask? Well, here's the description:

Before:

Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable.

After:


It's been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn't racked with guilt over her role in her best friend's death. Dara thought nothing could be worse than confronting the memories of Aubrey that relentlessly haunt her, but she soon realizes it isn't half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey's brother, every day. Not just because he's a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she's betraying her best friend one final time.



If you haven't already, you can add THESE THINGS I'VE DONE on Goodreads.

Stay tuned for more news and other awesome stuff as we count down to the release on August 1, 2017!





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!




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.