tips for finding a CP

No one said finding a good CP was easy– in fact, it’s probably one of the harder things you’ll do as a writer. So why invest the time and energy into finding one or several who really click with you?

A CP gets you experience having your work read by someone else who’s well-read in your field. You also get to read and write editorial letters, or use Word’s Track Changes (depending on which, or both, methods you two decide to use). Both of these are tools that editors in the industry use when they give feedback to their authors, so getting familiar with them early on is a definite plus.

You may also discover cool new tools. One of my CPs raves to me about how awesome Scrivener is and fields my weirdo questions with it. Another one suggests great YA reads to me so we can both keep on top of where the category is going. A CP’s usefulness doesn’t end when she finishes your manuscript: this is a person who is with you for the whole ride, from querying to agented to published (or any other paths that end in published, really).

CPs and beta readers are often mentioned together, but the terms tend not to be interchangeable. Usually, a beta reader reads manuscripts on more of a book-by-book basis. Maybe you want a second opinion on the setting since you’re not from the area your book is set in and you want to make sure that it’s done right. There’s less of the inner circle aspect that you and your CPs develop, but also less of a time investment. If you’re still figuring out who you want to CP with or if you don’t have the time to commit to a CP relationship, finding a beta can be a good option.

So, how do you find CPs?

My biggest advice here is to just put yourself out there in as many ways as possible. I found one of my CPs through How About We CP, a super useful tumblr maintained by a literary agent. Other people use Maggie Stiefvater’s CP Love Connection to great success. My CP and I started emailing and we discovered that we were just awesome wow much write and it’s been shibes and manuscripts ever since.

Another CP and I met over twitter when she asked for publishing intern bloggers and I offered to help. Not only did she get me a running start with blogging, but we also stumbled into being each other’s CPs along the way.

Most other people whom I exchange work with I’ve met through twitter (if you’re not on that platform, or less active over there, step it up!).

Okay, so let’s assume you’ve discovered a few people who sound cool/interesting, they like you as well, and you’ve decided to swap first chapters. Here are some questions to determining who might be a good match for you long-term:

Do you write in/have familiarity with the genres and categories the other writes in? This is kind of the big one, so I put it first. Familiarity with the genre and category your manuscript is in is indispensable.

Do you have similar goals? Like how we asked this in the agent blog, do you and you potential CP also want to get traditionally published and agented, or are you exploring different paths? Obviously there’s no embargo law saying NOPE IF YOU WANT XYZ PUBLISHING PATH YOU CANNOT CP WITH THIS ABC PERSON, but it’s sometimes helpful to have a CP with same goals as you.

You can ask each other about querying (and omg exchange chat hugs, party, etc depending on how that goes), whether the agent who’s offering rep is a good choice, should you accept this publisher’s contract, etc. Likewise, if you decide to go indie, having a CP who’s been down that path can be a huge help both with setting deadlines for yourself, locating formatters, editors, and cover artists, and budgeting time and costs.

How long do you plan to be in this game? Similar to career goals, how committed is your potential CP to staying in publishing? It’s not like you guys need to make a blood pact to be PUB BUDDIEZ 5EVA but it sucks when someone whose work you really liked and who you jived with as a friend decides that they’ve had enough after the first book (or gives up during querying). One thing you should discuss with people is contingency plans– will you continue to write and attempt to get published even if this manuscript doesn’t sell or does poorly?

How slow or fast a writer are you? Sometimes it’s hard to read and crit two of your partner’s manuscripts while you haven’t even finished your own. Do you need someone who writes more at your pace, or are you okay with helping out a faster/slower person revise? Most CPs tend to work this out on their own if they’re not evenly matched– like, for example, the faster CP may promise to give the slower CP’s work priority over her other manuscripts for a quicker turnaround time.

How brutally honest do you want critique? Chances are, if you’re seriously looking for publication you want as honest feedback as possible. Make sure that this is something you and your potential CP agree on– no one has to be mean about things they find that need work (mean/deprecating honesty is nowhere on the scale), but you do have to agree that you’re ready for whatever the other finds.

Are you writing things that your potential CP is okay reading? Let’s face it: really no one can predict everything they want to write/will write ever. Writers and their tastes change. But, if you know off the bat that you want to write edgier YA, perhaps with more explicit sex scenes, maybe consider checking in and making sure they’re still up for reading that.

In general, if you and your CP like the same type of books you’ll probably find that you have similar tastes for how edgy or dark you prefer to write.

Is their critique actually useful to you? Is your potential CP about at your level of writing or are they providing you comments that you value? Your time is important– once you start writing professionally and getting on deadlines it will become even more important.  If someone is just not getting your manuscript or gives you feedback that doesn’t jive with your vision, they may not be the best match.

And that’s fine! It doesn’t mean you can’t be friends if you don’t click as CPs– it just means that you’re both mature enough to know what you need in a critique partner, and that you respect each other’s time enough to move on.

Are you willing to commit to a CP relationship? This seems kind of silly– obviously you wouldn’t be reading this page on finding CPs if you weren’t somewhat willing to put in effort–but it’s important to recognize that you are making a commitment to another person by agreeing to be their CP. It varies person to person– I have some CPs I speak with almost daily (and whom I am 100% there for any time of day) and others who I have a more relaxed relationship with, either over twitter DMs, occasional chats, or email.

No matter what kind of CP relationship you have, if it’s high-involvement, medium, or low, make sure you’re willing to put the time in. If it’s going to take you a while to get to a new manuscript from a CP, let them know. Put in your best quality work on notes, and be available to celebrate or mourn when something goes awesomely or catastrophically.

While you can’t share everything with the writing community at large, you can with your CP. I know they’ve helped me improve my writing and made my work the best it could be. Good luck!

15 ways to be a better writer in 2015

1. Write, a lot.

The first rule, the one true precept. You get better by doing, so therefore make sure that you’re out there making things happen. Maybe this is the year you finally attempt the sticker method (do it, it is so useful for keeping track of things and giving you a visual representation of how much you’re putting out each day). More than anything, the sticker method has helped me learn to…

2. Set reasonable writing goals for yourself.

If you know that you’re consistently able to produce 1k words that you don’t hate a day, then good! If you feel like you can get a better handle on your draft by writing more words, then write more words a day. If you feel, like I do, that you need to go slow and make sure that the words you do write each day are words that you’re mostly proud of, then cool, do that.

A resolution to write more is never going to stick if you make it exhausting to accomplish each day. Break down your goals: so you want to write one book, or two, or three. Figure out a basic word count (lit agent Jennifer Laughran’s post here is a good resource) and then determine how you can meet that writing your optimal– whether it’s big or small– number of words each day.

3. Read, a lot.

One of my favorite pieces of advice was that you should always be reading more than you’re writing. This sounds so haughty when you first come across it, like how dare you random internet blog I read what I want. But if the mind is a storehouse of furniture for you to use in your stories, then books are the shops and wholesalers you get the cool chairs and hip rugs from. That way, you have the luxury of choice when you want furniture for your own stories.

4. In fact, learn from many masters.

The way you get stuff in your stories that is new or different is to read a lot of different things. Diverse books, non-fiction books, poetry, even things that aren’t books. Watch anime, TV shows, play video games and analyze the stories, re-write newspaper articles to be more interesting, write an epic fanfic for that crack pairing that may or may not be your OTP. The exercises you can make for yourself are endless.

The thing is that you are constantly, actively or passively, thinking about story.

5. Realize it’s going to take a while.

Sometimes it won’t, but it’s always nice to be surprised pleasantly than unpleasantly. Sometimes you are going to feel like your writing life is either a comedy of errors or an epic tragedy. Your friends or people you consider your peers may already have agents or contracts, and you will look at your empty hands and wonder what god you left unappeased for this to happen to you.

But, hey, one: publishing is slow. Two: the people you’re comparing yourself to probably put in a lot of unseen work/time– it only seems like things are moving faster for them. Three: your hands aren’t empty– you have a lot more experience and manuscripts than you did before.

6. And find a way to relax.

Everyone tells you to go on social media and read up on the industry– which is great! don’t stop doing that!– but an equally important thing is to know when you’re being driven too insane and need a break. Find an activity that you can do that calms you down, whether it’s reading not on your laptop, walking the dog, crafts, welding, etc. For me, it’s drawing.

7. Commit to fixing one thing you don’t like about your writing at a time.

Do you know how long it took me to wean myself off of using telling verbs and onto showing verbs? (Hint: a long time.) Your writing is never going to get better unless you are actively trying to change it, unless you can identify a thing you don’t like or feel is clunky and then get to work fixing that. Don’t like your beginning? Read a lot of book’s beginnings– more specifically, read the beginnings of stories you love and study how those authors draw you in.

8. Don’t be afraid to imitate.

Obviously this goes with the slight caveat of DO NOT PLAGIARIZE but one of the ways you get better at telling the stories you want to tell is by doing it with training wheels on. Sometimes writing fanfiction helps a lot– you can write through a scene a different way than the author/creator and see why they chose to present it the way they did. You can do character studies, or you can practice description or thematic arcs.

Even if you don’t write fic, you’ve probably reaped the benefits of imitation. One of my earliest stories was this half-drawn, half-written thing that I am more or less sure was a rip-off of Akira, but it also taught me a lot about character archetypes and worldbuilding. Two years after I stopped working on it, I’d more or less realized it was terrible but it also provided me a more solid foundation to work on my next story, and the one after that.

9. Experiment.

Especially if you write YA, you’re in a great place to try something new. Push your boundaries as well as your readers’– I guarantee you that you’re going to feel like you’re jumping off a cliff writing a POC or LGBT protagonist for the first time if you’re a cishet white person, but ultimately you’re doing both yourself and your readers a service. You’re learning how to be a better writer by telling more stories (and also learning how to research culture and lifestyles like a bamf) and you’re learning to be fearless.

Will you mess up? Yeah. But you’ll also learn to…

10.  Ask for help.

Whether it’s having someone beta read for your character with a mental illness or you finding a critique partner long-term, one of the greater truths in publishing is that this whole thing is very rarely done alone. Traditional publishing usually means you and your agent (and your editor) will all be on your team helping to make your work the best it can be. There are tons of critique partners and beta readers out there who want to help you depict their culture/illness/faith/lifestyle, etc accurately.

Realize that writing is a big job. You do not have to go it alone, and no one’s going to shame you for having CPs or hiring a freelancer or checking your work. They’re probably going to think more highly of you for it.

11. Always be learning.

Maybe this falls into a few of the categories above, but it’s important enough to also stand by itself, too. Always be bettering your craft. Read, challenge yourself to improve your writing, notice what your CPs are doing that helps give their scenes extra sparkle, make a list of things you want to change about your writing this year and cross them out one by one. No one is ever done learning– ars longa, vita brevis, yo.

12. But also realize your contemporaries are not your competition.

Hemingway had this great thing; when people asked him who among his contemporaries were his greatest competition, he said he didn’t think about them that way. Instead, he thought being a writer was more fighting the people who came before you, the established classics, and trying to be better than them.

I dig. It forces you to concentrate more on bettering your work so it can stand against some of the greatest storytellers of all time versus trying to take down your fellow ~students of the craft~

13. Make lists of ten.

One of my other favorite things from Kate Brauning, CP and good friend, is the list of ten technique.

You ask yourself a question: why doesn’t this adult C– like crowds? And then write up ten different answers to it. Your first three will probably be pretty run of the mill (his mother lost him once in a crowd and he felt helpless, he hates people, the city is suffocating) but as you go on to #5-7, your ideas will get more original (maybe he saw a crowd stone someone to death and has no faith in humanity). #7-10 will likely be the trickiest but also your most creative.

14. Be the consummate professional.

Publishing is both a slow business and a small one: relationships are forged gradually and can be destroyed quickly. It is almost never in your best interests to act on the spur of a moment (if it’s a good or a bad thing). Read your contracts carefully, return your critiques in a timely manner, and always always thank people for their time.

Neil Gaiman said in one of his keynote speeches that there were three things that you needed to make people want to work with you again:

People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

15. Last, always be writing.

Always have something in your backpocket, another trick up your sleeve. Publishing is in many ways a long game. You’re in this because you love it, and that means loving it beyond the lifespan of a single project. If you’re serious about writing, then you’re not just in this because you have one single book you want to publish. You have hundreds.

The key is to develop a system, whether it’s draft-> revise -> query -> repeat, or draft -> revise -> send to agent -> sub -> repeat, and just keep going. More and more what I’m seeing of publishing is that its problems are stones that you have to wear away over time. Steady work will wear the stone down, but you have to be putting in that work even when you’re not seeing a visible reward.

Happy 2015, and happy writing!

state of the writer

I really want to do something summing up 2014, but because of the usual ~holiday madness~ and also Desperately Trying to Read All the Things before it becomes 2015 it’s been hard to collect my thoughts.

So, when my good friend L.S. Mooney (follow her and check out her stuff–she is rad) tagged me in a thing, I figured it was a great opportunity to forever memorialize and otherwise less illustriously record where we’re at as a writer at the end of 2014.

1. What are you working on right now?

NA Urban Fantasy: Constantine, but if Diana Wynne Jones was writing it. It’s really fun! I’ve known all these wackadoo characters since like, high school? I wrote it once before in 2009, then edited that version in 2011, and then came to the slow but accurate realization that I needed more practice before a fresh attempt could be made early in 2013. Now it is 2014 and while we are not yet done slow-drafting this one, I am much more proud of it.

2. What is your preferred writing program/word processor/etc.?

Word. I have Scrivener on this machine, I know it works, I have actually typed words into it even, but I still gravitate back to Word. My fanfic background has taught me to just type words anywhere and has given me a special fondness for shoddy text boxes. I also used to type all my essays in Word during high school and college, so knowing that this derpy little page on my laptop could someday become a book makes me feel all kinds of nostalgia~

so yeah Word basically I am a dinosaur.

3. Are you a rule breaker? (AKA do you love or hate adverbs?)

I am an experimentalist. I believe that you should be breaking rules (because how else are you going to do Startling New Things) but that you should know damn well what you’re breaking before you break it.

Adverbs are usually crutch words– they’re ways for you to be lazy with a lexicon, for a writer to get away with using a weaker word when a stronger one is better. In a first draft, fo sho, adverb it up. It’s like writing margin notes to yourself–pushing but with more muchness! But in a final draft, it’s got to be– I am using this word for a specific purpose. Do I need to use one of my adverb flares here or can I do this better with a different construction? That’s when you cross out “walked awkwardly” and write “stumbled” or replace “touched gently” with “caressed.”

Some you keep, because wow yes some do just sound better with the adverb. And that’s cool. But you know this because you have tried damn hard to get the same feeling without the adverb and you can’t.

4. If you could write anywhere, where would it be?

A coffeeshop (because I like ambient chatter, the feeling of anonymity in a crowd, the City) with affordable but excellent drinks (and yes not so much coffee because I am Naturally Excitable but chocolate- or tea-based drinks are A+), where no one would steal my stuff when I got up (important) and my headphones never made my ears feel tired (because how can you write without hip tunes).

5. Share one of your favorite lines/scenes that you’ve ever written.

I am just one more Shibboleth heir in a dress shirt and slacks, and this lets them forget all the other things I am. (SEVEN DEADLY)

Shelley Summers was a city map he’d cut into himself, and if he ventures too far from shore the old lines slice open again. (SLINGS AND ARROWS)

6. Do you prefer writing from the 1st or 3rd POV?

I crave facility with both. Right now, 1st is the harder one for me so the project I’m currently working on is in 1st person. 3rd tends to be my strongest, since most of my fic in high school was in that.

7. When did you start writing?

I’ve been telling myself stories for ages. Like, probably the moment when I knew that I wanted to write long stuff (as opposed to shorter stories or essays) was when I started filling up this notebook with my own ~Pokemon Adventure~.

It pretty much was everything you could hope for from a nine-year-old with a box of colored pencils. All the Gym Leaders decided to chill with me and be my friends, except that Brock was my best friend, because I had a crush on him and also because he was awesome.

8. How do you feel about short stories?

They’re fun. I have written exactly one short story (“The first time he wore eyeliner…”) and then I think I eviscerated the correct draft and left the crappy one on my laptop, so it’s currently Not That Extant. But, I found the hard copy print-out I had of the good version on my desk a few weeks ago, so maybe I’ll look at it again.

9. What is your favorite thing about your life as a writer?

I like that it’s a sort of a secret thing, this Other Job that I do between math research and teaching classes. It’s like a changeover between the Narrator and Tyler Durden, like oh you’re feeling sleepy? sweet, bro, hand the reins over and let’s make some magic.

10. What are your top do’s and don’t’s of writing, for yourself and others?

Okay, settle yourselves in for a bit of an Answer because I am eating some peppermint bark and feeling evangelical.

Always be learning. This is my biggest one. It’s very easy to assume you know everything when you tend to be the most well-read individual in your group of friends/people you talk to regularly.

Come at things with the attitude of a beginner. Ask yourself how the book or manuscript you’re reading can help you learn– pay attention to how the author is making the characters interact versus how differently the story is going from what you’d do in their place. I guarantee you’ll learn more by being like “okay writer-bro, take the wheel I will ride with you and we’ll see where we go” versus nitpicking a story.

Most of all, be humble. Humble never hurts. Your notes don’t have to be pedantic, you don’t have to have solutions for every problem you spot. Part of being a professional is acknowledging that you do not know everything, and that this is okay. This is why you’re learning and why you sometimes ask for help.

You are not as good as you think you are. This sounds all kinds of rough and sad, but let me explain. There are days when I’m like THIS MANUSCRIPT IS THE SALT OF THE EARTH THE VERY SALT I TELL YOU and hearing back from people that yeah okay, it’s decent, holds together well, but here are some areas where improvement can happen, that sort of sucks.

Thinking like your whole manuscript is perfect as-is is dangerous. Because yes, agree, there are some parts of it that are perfect already.  They are probably the parts that made you think that the whole thing is great. But there are always parts that can be stronger, and thinking that the book is finished means that you’re cutting yourself off from those learning opportunities.

Give yourself a policy, like, okay, I’m going to read through this one more time before sending it. Chances are, you will find an area where you can tighten things up. After that, send.

But you’re also not as bad as you think. The fact that it hurts means you have skin in the game. You want this. You see the gap, as Ira Glass so excellently says, between the art you want to produce and the stuff you are producing.

The first thing that I ever got serious about was drawing. I had sketchbooks that I carried around with me everywhere in 7th grade through high school. The thing is that you really do have to make a lot of art before you start getting good. I have sketchbooks filled with really bad drawings and I’m like what even is this but it’s a solid foundation for my skillz now.

Maybe this is not the story that gets published, or the story that gets you an agent. Okay. There are still beautiful things in it. You are better as an artist for having created this piece. Never stop learning, never stop filling up notebooks with stories or typing words into docs. Stay humble, sure, but don’t run yourself into the ground.

You are getting better and you are making things. That’s all you need. Period, full stop.

See you in 2015.

christmas photos

Your family has just always had this tradition.

It has become a December ritual, like hanging garlands around staircase railings, your dad perennially wrestling globe lights around your house’s tiny boxwoods, and your mother trying to convince him that no, dear we really don’t need a eight-foot tree this year when a four foot one will do, but somehow ending up with a huge one anyway.

You and your family’s likenesses, from ages eight to eighteen, have been captured for time immemorial by the photo attendants at Sears and dear god, you gave them hell for it. Someone was always shutting their eyes, and your little brother never smiled enough past age seven.

(You always thought this was terribly unfair, since he never had to have braces and you did– for four years, too– and yet somehow you manage to whip up a metallic grin as he stares tight-lipped at a lens.)

The whole process of family photos was also mutually exhausting to your parents, but they did it anyway. Your dad kept them in his wallet and your mom sent them out with the Christmas cards. Your mom was a bit disappointed by your wardrobe during your teenage years, because “you looked so good in tights and your velvet dresses!” but you managed to outgrow both tights and velvet dresses in the same cataclysmic moment and have not worn them since.

As a bribe to please smile, damn it, your parents would take you and your brother out for dinner at a restaurant called Bugaboo Creek, conveniently located near the Sears where you’d make the ritual walk between bright red Craftsmans and patio furniture, then up the escalator to where the photographers hid out before it became the clothing section.

The moose was your favorite animal at the restaurant, mostly because it was a moose and you’d had a moose stuffed animal as a little kid and therefore felt a special kinship with it, and also because the moose was the most awesome talking animal head there.

Somehow your family has decided that this year it is you who must take the annual Christmas photo.

You’re not sure why. Your mom says it’s because you’re the best at taking pictures and you have the best phone. Also it was your idea to do Christmas plants as the theme.

Your dad–who, after years of camcording you and your brother (the first time you realized how strange your voice sounded out of your head) has more experience than you and took family photos the last three Christmases– is benignly silent. Your little brother has the newest phone in the house and spends more time on instagram than you but just smiles and shrugs.

So here you are, squinting at your cell phone camera. You are taking pictures separately this year, because your mom is holly, you’re amaryllis, your dad is poinsettia, and your brother is mistletoe and damned if you can fit all those plants into a single frame.

The lighting is too bright and your dad insists on having holly bowers in his poinsettia picture, despite the fact that your mom is holly and the dogs are trying to eat the berries.

You take pictures and tell your parents to smile.

A few days after you drive back to your apartment in another state, you and your mom have a phone call.

“You’re lucky, you know that?” She says. “You haven’t really experienced loss in your life.”

You remind her that your first dog died when you were eight. You’d stopped believing in god after that, but you don’t tell her this part. You also don’t say that sometimes losing someone close to you when they’re still alive hurts like a motherfucker, because you’re sure she knows this too and you don’t need advice, don’t want it.

You tell her instead that you remember your dad’s parents before they died.

“I wasn’t sure you did.” Her voice turns contemplative. “You were still young.”

And you hate it, that you were five or six, because you were still young and the clearest memory of them you have is in their attic after their death, going through things with your dad, just you and your dad because your kid brother was still an infant home with your mom.

Your dad had unearthed a metal bank shaped like a cash register and another shaped like a silver rocket. He’d said that these were toys from him, his brother, and his sister’s childhoods and would let you choose one and give the other to your brother when he got old enough for it.

You chose the cash register, because it was red and because you liked cash registers. And like a total asshole, a few months later you jammed it trying to put two nickels into its coin slot at once. It had worked with dimes and quarters, so why not, right?

As it turns out, you have never really forgiven yourself for wrecking the only thing you have from your dad’s parents.

As is customary, the family photo devolves into merry chaos.

Your mother made the hilarious decision to give your brother a kissing ball for his photo with his girlfriend of seven years, and in between takes he’s been singing “kissing ball, kiss my balls” in his loud tenor. His girlfriend smacks him but laughs, even though in half their pictures he is still not quite smiling right and has one eyebrow comically raised.

Somehow, your parents find a red fedora of your brother’s and everyone remains convinced it must feature in at least one photo. You don’t really like it, but considering you were the one who glued feathers into it so it would be a suitable hat for your Red Death costume one Halloween, you can’t really veto it.

Your dad is trying to be the poinsettia, but maybe the lighting’s wrong because the hat makes him look older than you know he is. You have him take it off, stop sitting on the floor between poinsettia plants, do something else instead.

Your mom actually wears it better, your brother tells her she looks good in his pimp hat, and you get the best picture of her in her holly garland boa, vogueing in a fuzzy, feathery red hat.

Your parents are getting older, and this year you are taking the Christmas photos. Your dad will stitch them together on his laptop into a four-way window of plants and people that will join the past four years of goofy family pictures you guys started taking since you graduated high school and your family decided it had had enough of torturing the photogs at Sears.

Those photos are still around, still in the box in the living room cataloguing your family over the years. They have gotten stranger, sure, but the ritual remains. There are even some of your family when it was just you, your mom, and your dad, before your brother was born. And there are some of your grandparents, people who appear unfailingly in a long string of pictures and then, one year, drop off.

So maybe this is the year that you bust out your mini-Craftsman, decide you’re half-good with tools by now, and figure out how to get two nickels unstuck. When you stop being so ashamed that you ruined the one nice thing you had to remember your grandparents by, and you start fixing it instead.

Because you’re old enough that you’re okay with being lucky.

You are telling your parents to ham it up for the formerly serious, always dramatic, annual Christmas photo. Your dad is a bit too hidden by his three massive poinsettias and inexplicable holly to actually be the poinsettia, your mom is trying to prevent the dogs from all dying by berry ingestion, your kid brother is crooning lewd things to this house of dorks, and you are lucky.

we lit it up

Congrats to my fab friend Kate Brauning and her debut HOW WE FALL releasing tomorrow! I’m at the #YAlaunch retreat right now (and we’re having our twitter party tonight!!) so expect a post on that later this week (there were recorders, dinosaurs, and #OmahaCityofDreams is now a Thing, yo).

In the mean time, please enjoy riding along on Kate’s book blast for HWF:

How We FallHow We Fall
Kate Brauning
Merit Press, F&W Media
Releasing November 11, 2014
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1440581797
ISBN-13: 978-144058179

Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle’s sleepy farming town, she’s been flirting way too much–and with her own cousin, Marcus.

Her friendship with him has turned into something she can’t control, and he’s the reason Jackie lost track of her best friend, Ellie, who left for…no one knows where. Now Ellie has been missing for months, and the police, fearing the worst, are searching for her body. Swamped with guilt and the knowledge that acting on her love for Marcus would tear their families apart, Jackie pushes her cousin away. The plan is to fall out of love, and, just as she hoped he would, Marcus falls for the new girl in town. But something isn’t right about this stranger, and Jackie’s suspicions about the new girl’s secrets only drive the wedge deeper between Jackie and Marcus.

Then Marcus is forced to pay the price for someone else’s lies as the mystery around Ellie’s disappearance starts to become horribly clear. Jackie has to face terrible choices. Can she leave her first love behind, and can she go on living with the fact that she failed her best friend?

Praise for How We Fall:

Kirkus Reviews: “Debut novelist Brauning tells a touching story of young, star-crossed lovers caught in a drama they have tried hard to avoid…. A sweetly written mix of mystery and romantic turmoil.”

School Library Journal: “Heartbreaking and well-paced, this mystery novel challenges readers to look past preconceptions and get to the know characters, rather than focus on an uncomfortable taboo. Brauning’s characters are well developed and their story engrossing. An intriguing thriller… this title will raise eyebrows and capture the interest of teens.”

ALA Booklist: “…an unusual combination of romance and suspense…There is also something universal about Jackie’s struggles with her feelings and her desires, and readers will identify with her emotions, while going along for the plot’s ride. This quest for identity, wrapped up in an intriguing mystery, hooks from the beginning.”

How We Fall is available through:

Barnes & Noble Indie Bound Walmart.com Book-A-Million Book Depository Powell’s

Amazon.com Amazon.ca Amazon.co.uk

All book lovers are invited to attend #YAlaunch, a giant book party for How We Fall and The Hit List on Monday, November 10th, from 6-9pm central time. Broadcast live over video, the party will allow you to see, hear, and interact with the authors. 10 YA and adult authors will be discussing everything from writing a series to how they write love interests. They’ll also be playing book games with the audience, taking questions, and giving away 100 books to guests attending online. Authors attending include NYT bestsellers Nicole Baart and Tosca Lee, Kate Brauning, Nikki Urang, Kiersi Burkhart, Bethany Robison, Alex Yuschik, Blair Thornburgh, Kelly Youngblood, and Delia Moran. It will be a fun and interactive evening for anyone who loves books and wants to spend some time with great authors. For more information and to sign up to attend, please click here. We’d love to see you there!

Author Bio:www.jenniophotography.com

Kate Brauning grew up in rural Missouri and fell in love with young adult books in college. She now works in publishing and pursues her lifelong dream of telling stories she’d want to read. This is her first novel. Visit her online at http://www.katebrauning.com or on Twitter at @KateBrauning.

spreading threads of thunder

When I was eight years old, I went to Nantucket with my family and my best friend’s family. We took a boat, and on the trip she took out a yellow GameBoy Color, started playing this game you maybe have heard of called Pokemon Blue, and let me try it.

Everything changed.

I’d gotten really bored with television– I hated (and continue to hate) episodic series where any order is as good as any other (I’m looking at you, Nickelodeon). The way kid me described it was that I wanted a movie that I could push along at my own pace. When I started playing that Pokemon game, I’d found what I was looking for: a story that I made happen only through my effort.

My parents were not gamers. They were actually pretty against games, and I had to work my ass off convincing them I’d still do all my homework, agreeing if I fell behind on any chores or assignments or showed signs of being irresponsible that they’d take the game away. They also wouldn’t buy it for me– part of the deal was that if I wanted it so badly, I had to earn it myself.

Which was actually pretty awesome, because it was one of the best and earliest lessons in responsibility I got as a kid: if you want something, you have to work to achieve it and plan how you’re going to fit it into your life once you have.

It was $70 for the GameBoy Color, $20 for Pokemon Blue, so $95 total. I did odd jobs around the house, weeded, dusted, cleaned bathrooms, etc. It took around three or four weeks from the time when me and my parents drew up the agreement to when I finished earning the money for it. Now that I’m older, I think maybe they were banking on the fact that I tend to be very ambitious and start lots of stuff, only finishing the ones I was serious about.

But I was serious about this one. I wanted to have stories whose fates depended on my active input, movies whose endings rested on my shoulders instead of being drawn to some inevitable conclusion. I wanted to be the one who made the endings happen.

And so, that’s what I became.

This isn’t to convince you that I’m a legit gamer. Personally, I think that “legit gamer” status is bullshit– if you play a video game and enjoy it, congrats! Yer a gamer, Harry.

I’m telling you this because I want you to see that this has been a large part of my identity since I was a kid. It’s integral to how I write and how I develop magic systems and build worlds. Part of the reason I do math is that I also see it as a type of game.

And still, I wasn’t going to post this. It’s more exhausting writing about something you dislike than it is to just say “nope, you know what, we’re not going to go there because that is one whole-ass mess of crazy and I’d rather play Animal Crossing and have fun than buy a slice of that, thanks.”

But then I read stuff like this on my timeline:

and I’m like, welp, how can I be silent when it’s exactly what those GG guys want?

My speaking out about stuff like this doesn’t reach a large number of people. I know that. In the long run, writing this post will probably make me more uncomfortable than it will anyone reading it. But that’s okay, because I think I’d be disappointed in myself if I didn’t state this publicly at least once.

I’m a girl and I play games. And it bothers the hell out of me that my mostly kickass video game culture (because hey, we’re humans and there will always be some level of douchebaggery everywhere) is having such trouble reconciling that people like me exist and both impact and deserve to impact that culture.

And the thing is, I love games and the fantastic worlds within them too much to stop playing. I am going kind of nuts trying to figure out whether I want to buy Pokemon Alpha Sapphire or Omega Ruby first (also lol, you have no idea how hilarious it’s been talking about ye olde GBC instead of the 3DS). I’ve already warned my family that around Thanksgiving I’m going to be making my yearly pilgrimage through Persona 3, and I’m forever going to fawn over every member of the Namco Tales series (even though yeah Legendia was kind of odd).

I’ve gone through packs of AA batteries like an alkaline junkie. I barbaric yawp’d and scared the neighbors when my handheld consoles finally switched to chargers. I got asked to beat all the hard levels for my little brother, which I did because I’m good at puzzles and half-decent at being a sibling. I’ve delayed more family dinners with “I’m not at a savepoint yet!” than most people sit down to in a year.

I’ve loved these things since I was eight years old and tromping around on a chilly boat supposedly watching whales, actually watching Charmander fight Brock’s Onix in Pewter Gym.

I’m in it for the adventure and the stories, and that’s not going to change.

But the next time you see that hashtag pop up and you wonder if you really know anyone affected by all this madness, if any of us are biting our nails and delaying pressing post as long as humanly possible because damn it’s gotten terrifying to even identify as a member of this community if you’re female or if it’s all just conflated SJW nonsense, then: hi.

I’m a girl, and I play games.

ghosts

5am is my favorite time of the day.

It’s that half-lit time between night and morning, stupidly early before the rest of the world wakes up. And I’m in a coffeeshop, working on a manuscript.

Once when I was in undergrad, one of my poetry professors said that he only submitted to literary magazines whose titles intrigued him (I have tried to follow his example, because it’s nine million times more fun to say “oh yes, I’m in Print-Oriented Bastards“) and he said that he and some friends worked on and called one 5AM for the similar reasons: because if you’re awake at 5am, you’ve got to have a reason for it– you’re either out too late chasing the wild party, or you have a very specific job.

The latter group is the one I most often roll with, and it’s where the protagonist for this new story falls. This is a thing I started writing in high school, finished a draft of in college, and that I’m rewriting for the first time since 2012.

My last manuscript, SLINGS AND ARROWS, has a whole lot to do with ghosts. (Spoiler: it’s a Hamlet reimagining, and the main character’s girlfriend becomes a ghost.) I’ve always just liked ghosts, and they tend to pop up somehow in pretty much everything I write.

This WIP takes place during the fall, from late September to a few days in November. Leaves start falling, it gets colder, people put out pumpkins and paper ghosts in windows–it’s the part of the year when, across cultures, we reconnect with the dead, the damned, the lost souls. It’s a liminal time between seasons, and so too is 5am between days.

And we build up this mythology about it, like it’s when the ghosts come out.

I don’t have many delusions about writing (at least, god, I hope I don’t or else this is going to get wicked pretentious wicked fast)– I do it daily, or when I’m not zombie-puking in a bathroom from sickness and exhaustion, I outline in my head and plan, I use a sticker system to keep on track, I listen to music. I treat it like a career.

But somehow I keep ending up in this Starbucks at ass o’clock in the morning like it’s a ritual, all so I can write this first-person narrative about a guy who says things like I’m just one more heir in a dress shirt and slacks, and this lets them forget all the other things I am.

First person is my worst POV. I don’t write it because it’s way too easy to tell when it sounds artificial. And when I do, I ramble. I stumble into anecdotes. I make novice mistakes and I mess up.

But here I am again, nursing a coffee and typing and un-typing until I get something that doesn’t sound like crap. It’s the book that has already taken me the longest to write, and I don’t even have a serviceable draft of it. But it’s fall again, like every year, I get the urge to return to this story.

And this is the year that I’m doing it. 5am is my favorite time of the day because it’s here, hunkered over this table with some dude who’s pretending to read his paper but is actually just flicking glances at my screen, that this story is getting written.  It is 5am and I’m awake and I have a very specific job.

Because books, in some ways, are also ghosts. They’re impressions of people we knew, places we visited, things that happened to us ages ago and feelings we had. They’re impressions of who we were when we wrote them.

I like ghosts because I know what it’s like to be haunted, whether it’s by an idea or a person that you miss. I like the concept of leaving a part of yourself somewhere. It works well with the Tragic Bro thematic element I’ve got going on across my work.

So yeah, that thing you’ve been wondering if you’re good enough to write yet? Write it. Give it a shot, and even if you can’t pull it off all the way, there’s always next year. You’ll get better. There’ll be another fall, more 5ams in Starbucks, steadily and quietly sampling every damn thing on the menu and in the pastry case.

The point is, it’s worth it to start. It’s a pain messing up the story that is probably the book of your heart, learning to write in a perspective you flounder in, and dragging your sorry ass out of bed and through a cold side street so you can go through your silent, existential terror in the company of sleepy strangers and baristas too tired to remember to turn on the radio. It’s the best you’ve ever felt, watching garbage men sling rain-wet bags into the mouth of their truck as the sun scrapes over the edges of your city, even if it can also be the worst.

But more than anything, it’s fall. And that’s when the ghosts come out.

rt14: diversity in YA

Alright, time again for another RT panel recap! I missed doing this one yesterday, but here’s my notes from the Diversity in YA panel, probably one of my top three of the ones I sat in on. I’ll start off by listing the panelists and a book emblematic of their work (while they have often written more books, this is a good, if arbitrary, place to start).

Panelists:
Lydia Kang: CONTROL
Beth Revis: ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
C. J. Omololu: TRANSCENDENCE
Malinda Lo: ASH

 

First and foremost, do your research. The goal is always to present a 3D view of a character, not a 2D one. Talk to people, get people to read your work, get into the community to stop yourself from making errors. It’s important to have your work vetted– your characters need to be personal and specific.

What’s more: you will offend people. This is unavoidable. The best you can do, through all this vetting and research, is to write a true story. Your diverse characters do not and should not have to be the only representative for an entire group.

A piece of advice I really liked from Malinda Lo on character creation was “don’t rub off their edges.” Get specific with what makes your character tick, why they are the way they are. Generalizing, esp. to group stereotypes undermines this specificity. Writing with a diverse character is less writing the story of a member of a group than it is writing a single character’s story regardless of their race/gender/orientation/faith/mental health, etc. We want lots of different representations of people out there, not just one.

What’s an easy way to get more diverse books out there/show publishers that books with diverse characters are worth signing on? Buy more books. Diversity in YA (the tumblr) has some really fab book lists to start with, and people recommend diverse reads on twitter all the time. Read books, buy books, talk about the books you love. It makes a difference.

Beth Revis suggested treating all characters like people, not token characters or an issue needing to be resolved. She also mentioned making the WASP the Other as a way to flip some perceptions, as she did in AtU, and said that there’s a big difference between having diverse characters be Othered and having diverse characters in a story and it not being a big deal.

Lydia Kang asked the audience to do uncomfortable things with our writing, to work out how we approach issues as authors and explore what we can do to write more authentically. Malinda Lo added that this is a process and that every book you write you should try to challenge yourself in a new way.

She also said that growing up with white everything, especially in media, makes it hard to do this. We need to look at the real world and make our books match up to that, while being careful not to include diverse characters as tokens.

Recommended reading: ANANSI BOYS by Neil Gaiman.
(Beth Revis rec’d this book because it also Othered the WASP and has interiority that fits diverse chars– e.g., seeing white as different and foreign, the tribe’s customs as the norm.)

Everyone agreed that hammering home messages or platitudes did not work– readers are smart and they’ll pick up on you being too general, which is why the panel suggested making your book as specific as possible, tailored to who your protagonist is rather that what diverse group(s) they belong to.

When asked what areas more diversity was needed in publishing, the panel had some great answers. Beth Revis wanted to see more body image and types in YA, as well as more handicapped characters. CJ Omololu suggested deaf parents with hearing children and mental illnesses, especially depression and anxiety since either of those diseases make the sufferer feel like they’re the only person in the world who feels that way.

Malinda Lo would like to see more books with gender diversity, especially books that present girls as not having to be feminine and boys not having to be masculine– showing gender as more of a spectrum. Lydia Kang commented that male teen characters in many ways are not like book guys, and she’d love to see more diversity there. She also mentioned more faith diversity, and CJ said that she personally was fascinated by Jewish families and would love to see more books on them.

Recommended reading: IF I EVER GET OUT OF HERE by Eric Ganworth (rec’d by Malinda Lo)
CHARM AND STRANGE by Steph Kuehn (rec’d by Beth Revis)
FOURTY-FIVE POUNDS (MORE OR LESS) by Kelly Barson (rec’d by Lydia Kang)
PROPHECY by Ellen Oh (Lydia)
WONDER by R. J. Palacio (Lydia)
GILDED by Christina Farley (Beth)
THE UNDERTAKING OF LILY CHEN by Danica Novgorodoff (Beth)
TRIGGER and GOING UNDERGROUND by Susan Vaught (rec’d by CJ Omololu)
FAR FROM YOU by Tess Sharpe (Malinda)
(and again, reminder that diversity in YA has a huge list of book recs, too)

The panel again stressed the importance of research. CJ suggested finding forums and websites for diverse groups and reaching out to the people who run them. It’s important to have one-on-one connections with people, as well as to get your work vetted by them. Malinda also said not to get discouraged if people don’t reply or are too busy– you can also read a ton of books at your library as well as talk to your librarian to help find connections with people who have background on what you’re writing about.

Lydia agreed and said to also go to the source material and to go on research trips. Beth mentioned reddit as a place that she used for her research– to find out details on a community she’d never lived in, Beth talked to people on that area’s reddit board, and asked questions of locals.

One of the last questions that the panel answered was about backlash. It was really interesting– everyone said that they never got hatemail from the teens they wrote for; it was always the parents.

Malinda Lo had a great strategy: don’t write defensively, write generously. Write from personal experience and be kind. These aren’t light issues, and people have intense feelings about them. Be respectful, and when you put kindness out there, you tend to get kindness in return.

Beth Revis referenced a diversity series she did on her blog and she had to ask herself– what right do I have to say anything? She invited other people to use her blog as a platform to have a dialogue about diversity.

An interesting point from Lydia Kang was not to assume that people know how to or feel comforting writing their own diversity; people only have their own ideas to go off of. CJ Omololu said again that this is why it’s most important to make your story personal and your characters well-rounded– no one person is the only representative for how their diverse community should act. Your goal should always be to create a full person, not defined solely by any of their traits.

Recommended reading: BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott. (Lydia)

Previously in this series:
Violence in Thrillers

rt14: violence in thrillers

One of the cool things I got to do this summer was go to RT14 in New Orleans  in May. I took notes on the panels I went to in my mad fly tarot-themed notebook (because why not) and now I’m sharing what I learned in this series of posts on my blog. Feel free to share/tweet/whatever these, but please do be courteous and include a link back to the source.

In some cases, the panels I was on recommended books to read and I’ll include links to those Amazon pages where I can.

The panel opened by discussing chaos vs. order in thrillers– specifically, looking at Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents. Pretty much, when we discuss violence in thrillers, we’re also exploring our animal nature vs. civilized order.

Part of that means paying attention to what can hurt you, even if the threat seems remote. A lot of this is tapping back into the paranoia that the animal self feels but that the civilized self has been taught to ignore. The animal self still isn’t 100% comfortable and continues to express its distrust/wariness on a more subconscious scale (good/bad vibe, instinct, etc), which can make for some interesting juxtaposition when a character who appears to the civilized self logically good/okay elicits negative reactions from the animal self.

Recommended reading: Ann Rule’s THE STRANGER BESIDE ME.

One of the panelists shared an anecdote: she had an uncle who was super sweet, would play with her, and whom she loved. Later, she found out that that uncle had murdered a woman in a horrific way. She used this as an example to illustrate how easy it is for us to just not know all the sides of a person– how impossible it is for another human being to claim that they know everything about another human being.

Fear can keep you out of danger– while in many cases, defeating fear is the victory of the civilized self over the animal self, fear can also be seen as a way for the animal self to self-preserve. Fear is a vital instinct not always to be condemned– it’s a skill for survival.

Recommended reading: Gavin de Becker’s THE GIFT OF FEAR (thanks, Nicole!).

Violence as Release: sometimes the panel talked about violence as being cathartic, but most often we saw it as a release of the tension built up during the story. This is why it’s tricky to have a lot of violence at the start or middle of a story: after the violent scene is over, a lot of tension is gone– i.e., violence is cathartic for the reader in that they get to see the bad guys smashed (or someone smashed), and is a release of tension since an action happened, something definite occurred and we no longer have the conflict of not knowing what’s going to happen next.

This can be great, but it’s something you have to handle skillfully. The story’s action is always bringing us toward the inevitable confrontation, and for this to hit the reader hard, you need to always be upping the tension, not letting it all go halfway through the book. This is why a lot of suspense authors wait until their climactic scenes to introduce “on screen” violence.

On the other hand, the issue isn’t that violence can’t be shown: it’s that tension needs to be re-built in another arena as it is dissipated in one. Above all, you need to keep your reader buzzed enough to read on, not give them a convenient place to stop.

One of the best tricks for building tension in a story before the final showdown was off-screen violence. Leaving details to the reader’s imagination is almost always more haunting and forceful than describing everything. There’s only so much you can do with grit and visual clues– there’s a whole lot of terror in the unknown. Some panelists cited Alfred Hitchcock and the power of suggestion– allowing the viewer to fill in the blanks is sometimes more powerful than doing it yourself.

Recommended reading: Geoffery Household’s ROGUE MALE.

What I thought was neat was how the panel brought up the two selves competing for dominance again and said that there really can’t be a winner— that to have a winner would be a tragic fault. A person who gives in wholly to the animal self cannot live in society and often is the predator aspect made manifest. However, a person who annihilates their animal self kills their instincts. Basically, if there ever is a winner in this battle, something is wrong.

Loners as thriller heroes: part of what makes romancing them so fun is that you can never have them. Part of why a love interest is attracted to a loner hero is their loner quality– to have them be able to be with another person means changing their loner-ness, aka what the LI loves most about them/what the hero essentially is. (It is impossible.) So there’s this eternal chase, and a romance that can never be consummated (fully)– it’s what’s tragic about the relationship and also what keeps people coming back, because a loner character is a character you’ll never know everything about.

Why do we like violent heroes? All humans are a struggle between impulse and control. One of the panelists mentioned that there’s a “thin membrane between normalcy and pathology” and it’s not just something that our heroes and villains walk– it’s something that all human beings have to deal with. People have dangerous fantasies they never act on, and violence or violent tension can be the intoxication with over going the invisible line between okay and very not okay in your head.

Hope this helped! Next panel I’ll have up is Diversity in YA, which was one of my favorites, so check back tomorrow for more RT14 shenans.

 

cover reveal: HOW WE FALL

Okay, it’s no secret that I have some pretty awesome critique partners. So when Kate Brauning, aka goddess of social media and Hemingway to my Fitzgerald (why no, I am not conceited at all), had her cover reveal for HOW WE FALL coming up, I was all over being a part of it.

This is a book that I was lucky enough to read before it got picked up for publication, and I’m so excited for Kate to get to share it. It’s suspense in the truest sense of the genre, and its sharp dialogue, snappy action, and keen imagery have definitely made it one of my favorites and most anticipated books of 2014. It’s been a pleasure getting to see this book evolve from agented to sold to on my shelves (and maybe on yours, too), and I’m stoked to get to be a part of HOW WE FALL’s cover reveal.

As a special added bonus, Kate’s also letting us post the first page of HOW WE FALL–so right away you guys can see how much fun Jackie’s going to be to tag along with come November. (Spoiler alert: she is a blast.)

Okay, enough with the introductions. Take it away, info and back cover copy!

HOW WE FALL by Kate Brauning

YA contemporary
Publication date: 11/11/2014
Publisher: Merit Press, F+W Media Inc.
ISBN-13: 9781440581793
Hardcover, 304 pages

He kissed her on a dare. She told him to do it again.

Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle’s sleepy farming town, she’s been flirting—a bit too much—with her cousin, Marcus. She pushes away the inevitable consequences of their friendship until her best friend, Ellie, disappears, and the police suspect foul play. Just when she needs him most, Marcus falls for the new girl in town—forcing Jackie to give a name to the secret summer hours she’s spent with him. As she watches the mystery around Ellie’s disappearance start to break, Jackie has to face that she’s fallen in love at an impossible time with an impossible boy. And she can’t let Marcus, or Ellie, go.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for… the reveal!




HowWeFallCover

 

Sneak Peek Page:

Chapter One
Last year, Ellie used to hang out at the vegetable stand with Marcus and me on Saturdays. This year, her face fluttered on a piece of paper tacked to the park’s bulletin board. Most weeks, I tried to ignore her eyes looking back at me. But today, Marcus had set the table up at a different angle, and she watched me the entire morning.

The day that photo was taken, she’d worn her Beauty and the Beast earrings. The teapot and the teacup were too small to see well in the grainy, blown-up photo, but that’s what they were. She’d insisted sixteen wasn’t too old for Disney.

The crunch of tires on gravel sounded, and a Buick slowed to a stop in front of the stand. I rearranged the bags of green beans to have something to do. Talking to people I didn’t know, making pointless small talk, wasn’t my thing. My breathing always sped up and I never knew what to do with my hands. It had been okay before, but now—surely people could see it on me. One look, and they’d know. Chills prickled up my arms in spite of the warm sun.

Marcus lifted a new crate of cucumbers from the truck and set it down by the table, his biceps stretching the sleeves of his T-shirt. Barely paying attention to the girl who got out of the car, he watched me instead. And not the way most people watched someone; I had his full attention. All of him, tuned toward me. He winked, the tanned skin around his eyes crinkling when he smiled. I bit my cheek to keep from grinning.

The girl walked over to the stand and I quit smiling.

Marcus looked away from me, his gaze drifting toward the girl. Each step of her strappy heels made my stomach sink a little further. Marcus tilted his head.

He didn’t tilt it much, but I knew what it meant. He did that when he saw my tan line or I wore a short skirt. I narrowed my eyes.

“Hi,” she said. “I’d like a zucchini and four tomatoes.” Just like that. A zucchini and four tomatoes.

Marcus placed the tomatoes into a brown paper bag. “Are you from around here?”

Of course she wasn’t from around here. We’d know her if she were.

“We just moved. I’m Sylvia Young.” The breeze toyed with her blonde hair, tossing short wisps around her high cheekbones. Her smile seemed genuine and friendly. Of course. Pretty, friendly, and new to town, because disasters come in threes.

“Going to Manson High?” Marcus handed her the bags.

She nodded. “My dad’s teaching science.”

Finally, I said something. “Three bucks.”

“Hmm?” Sylvia turned from Marcus. “Oh. Right.” She handed me the cash and looked over the radishes. “Are you here every day?” Her eyes strayed back to Marcus.

“Three times a week,” he said.

“I’ll see you in a day or two, then.” She waved.

I was pretty damn sure she wouldn’t be coming back for the radishes.

____

Pre-Order How We Fall: Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, IndieBound, Books Inc., Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Book Depository,
Amazon U.S., Amazon Canada, Amazon U.K., Amazon Germany, Amazon Japan.

Add How We Fall on Goodreads!

 

About the Author:

www.jenniophotography.com Kate spent her childhood in rural Missouri raising Siberian huskies, running on gravel roads, and navigating life in a big family. Now living in Iowa, she is married to a videographer from the Dominican Republic, and still owns a husky. She loves bright colors, fall leaves, unusual people, and all kinds of music. Kate has written novels since she was a teen, but it wasn’t until she studied literature in college that she fell in love with young adult books.  Kate now works in publishing and pursues her lifelong dream of telling stories she’d want to read. Visit her online, on Facebook, or on Twitter.