Tuesday, September 9, 2014

THE ART OF LAINEY--Cut Final Chapter

NOTE: If you haven't read THE ART OF LAINEY, this blog post will be spoilery.

Most readers have liked the way the novel ended, so I feel like my agent, editor, and I made the right decisions when we cut three chapters from the end of the book. The submission draft had the the first half of the last chapter with Micah and Lainey in Micah's car as written, but then continued for three more chapters--one at the coffee shop, one at soccer tryouts, and one when Lainey returned to school in the fall. The coffee shop chapter could have been the end of the book, and the other two chapters both felt like epilogues, which I eventually decided the story didn't need. 

I'm waiting for publisher approval to post these chapters on wattpad, but while I wait I thought I would share one of them with you. What follows is the chapter in the coffee shop that would have taken place after Chapter 41 in the book. The original draft had Lainey losing her cell phone at the airport, and then Chapter 41 ending on page 373, after Micah says "I might show you. Someday." (So before they discuss their relationship at all). The main reason it was cut was because the book was running long and the surprise element that happens in the coffee shop felt repetitive. I do really like some of the Denali interactions here, though. Let me know what you think!

Chapter 42
I pace back and forth in front of my dresser mirror. It’s the first day of going to work since Micah and I officially became a couple. At least I think we’re a couple. My lips pulse just thinking about yesterday. After I called my mom back on Micah’s phone and totally lied about having a dead battery, Micah and I stayed snuggled together in the Beast all day. I think we might have set some sort of kissing my record. My lips actually feel a little swollen.
I stare at my reflection. My blotch of freckles is finally fading. Otherwise, there’s no evidence that anything is different. But it is. Will everyone at work know the minute they see us together? What’s Micah going to say? What kind of smartass remarks is Ebony going to make?
The red numbers of my alarm clock creep upward. An hour. I’ll see him again in an hour. I trade my tank top for my Denali tee shirt. What if he pretends like nothing happened? Is that what I want? I definitely don’t want to make a big deal out of things. Sighing, I turn away from the mirror. I wish I could talk to him. I’m going crazy without a phone.
I debate calling in sick again. Good thing my parents own the place or I’d totally be fired. Now that I’m not getting paid to fake-date my best friend’s boyfriend, I might actually need to keep a job.
“Lainey.” My mom knocks on my bedroom door. There’s someone here to see you.”
I open the door a crack. “Who?” I ask suspiciously.
She smiles. “That nice mohawked boy from Denali. Didn’t you know he was stopping by?”
 “Oh, right.” I feign absentmindedness, something I’m pretty good at. “He’s giving me a ride to work.”
“Please tell me there’s nothing wrong with your brother’s car,” my mom says.
I shake my head. “No, we’re just carpooling. Saving the environment and stuff.”
Her lips twitch as I push past her down the hallway. “Well isn’t that socially responsible of you two.”
Micah’s standing inside the front door in baggy cook pants and his black Happy Cheetah tee shirt. His eyes light up when he sees me.
“Let’s go outside,” I say. I tug him through the kitchen to the back door. Behind me, I swear I hear my mom humming some cheesy love ballad. I’m totally going to strangle her later.
I sit at the picnic table, facing away from the house, but toward Mom’s creepy totem poles.
Micah sits next to me. “Sorry I didn’t call you. I didn’t know your house number. I just came by to make sure you weren’t freaking out.”
How does he read my mind like that? “I am not freaking out,” I insist.
He arches his pierced eyebrow. “No?”
“Okay, maybe a little bit.”
He twines his fingers through mine. Turning, he whispers in my ear. “Stop freaking out.”
My insides go all fuzzy. I wish we could just take the Beast somewhere and hide out again, kiss for hours, ignore the rest of the world. “How do we tell people?” I blurt out. “What do we tell them?”
“We could always let Ebony discover us making out in the walk-in cooler,” he suggests. “Let her tell people for us.”
“I’m being serious.”
“Me too.” He leans in to brush his lips across my jawbone and I almost slide right off the picnic table. He squeezes my hand. “How about this. We’ve been pretending to date for most of the summer. So I say we just keep doing our thing and let people think what they think. If they ask specific questions I’ll direct them to you and you can say whatever you want.”
“But what do you want me to say?” I protest. “What are we doing?”
“Label it however you want,” Micah says. “I just—”
The back door opens with all of the subtlety of a gunshot and I spin around to see my mom standing in the doorway, a teacup cradled between her hands. God I hope she’s not going to start going on about new love in front of Micah. That would be all kinds of awkward.
“Your dad just called,” she said. “Leo is going to be late. Can you guys head in a little early?”
“Sure,” Micah says.
We walk hand-in-hand to his car. My mom smiles but she doesn’t say anything.
Denali is packed. By the time we clock in, the line for the front register is almost out the door. Ebony is staying over to work the back with Micah while Bee and I work the front. I don’t have time to wonder what Micah has planned. Bianca rings up order after order and I run from the blender to the espresso machine, making drinks as fast as I can to keep up with the line that never seems to get less than six or seven deep.
In the middle of the afternoon, things finally slow down. A guy in a tracksuit with a cap pulled low over his eyes comes in carrying a small brown box. “Package for Lainey Mitchell,” he says, peeking out from underneath his hat.
I look back toward the prep area. Micah and Ebony are standing in the hallway outside the manager’s office, watching me. I shoot Micah a suspicious look. He shrugs his shoulders as if to say he doesn’t know anything about it. “That’s me,” I say, “Who’s it from?” I ask the delivery guy.
“You’ll have to check out the card.” There’s something weirdly familiar about his voice. I give him a long look but he’s got sunglasses on so all I see are a pair of dazzling white teeth and the beginnings of a blond beard. “Can I get an iced caramel latte with skim milk too?” he asks.
I set the box down by the register and start to ring the delivery guy up an iced latte. Just then, I see two big burly guys pacing back and forth in front of the large plate glass window. Oh crap. The security guys from yesterday—they found me!
I freeze, mid-order. “Bee, can you finish…” My voice dissolves in my throat as I try to decide if I can get away with sneaking out the back. I inch back from the register.
Bianca is busy opening the box. She pulls out a phone.
My cell phone.
            “Hey. Where did you…” My words stick in my throat. The delivery guy removes his hat. He’s got thick spiky blond hair, a lot like…
            “Ohmygod.” The jug of skim milk slips out of my hands and ends up on its side on the counter. Milk pours across the Formica and onto the floor, nearly missing the shoes of none other than Caleb Waters.
            “Whoa.” Caleb jumps out of the way, his trademark dazzling smile still glued to his tan face.
            “Oh. My. God,” I say again, unable to come up with any other words.
            Ebony slides between me and Caleb with a dry towel. She begins to mop up the milk, apologizing profusely. “You’ll have to excuse her.” She points at me. I’m pretty sure my mouth is still hanging open. “She’s got some kind of medical disorder. Your drink is on the house, of course.”
            “No problem. It’s nice to meet all of you,” Caleb says.
            Bianca is still standing next to me holding my phone. “It’s nice to meet you too,” she says.
            “Right,” I squeak. “Nice to meet you.”
            Caleb shakes everyone’s hand while Ebony finishes making his drink. “Sorry about what happened with the security guys. Unfortunately the studio insisted on deleting the pictures you took, but hey, we can take one together now if you like.”
            “That’d be great.” I slide out from behind the counter, almost like I’m in a trance.
            “Excellent idea,” Bianca says. She’s already got my phone ready to go.
            I come around to the front of the counter and Caleb Waters puts his arm around me. “Your boyfriend tells me you’re one hell of a soccer player.”
            “I play striker for my high school team,” I say. “I’m hoping to play in college.”
            “That’s fantastic,” he says, grinning for the camera.
             “Wait,” I say. “Get in here too, Bee. Micah, you take the picture.” I turn to Caleb. “She plays halfback for the team.”
            “Excellent. I was a halfback in high school.” Caleb slides his other arm around Bianca. She giggles. Micah snaps two pictures.
            Caleb looks movie star handsome in both photos and Bee looks radiant. My grin is so big it’s almost demonic. I crack a joke about how Bee should cut me out and hang my picture with the scary tribal masks.
            “Thank you so much,” I say. “We’re really big fans of yours.”
             “I’m a big fan of yours too,” he says. “The crew really enjoyed the barbecued chicken pizzas you guys delivered last night. Very thoughtful.”
            I turn around to give Micah another look. I wonder how he managed to pull that off. Then my dad appears from the back, an impish grin on his face. The two of them look borderline ridiculous standing next to each other. Micah and his mohawk. Dad and his spectacles. They must have worked together on this one.
            Caleb poses for a few more pix with both Bianca and me. We’re both red-faced with shock by the time he slips on his shades and disappears back out into the heat. Through the glass, I see No Neck One and Two hovering right outside the door. I hope they liked the pizza.
            “I can’t believe you guys did this,” I say. I am dangerously close to tears.
            Micah holds his hand out toward my dad and Dad gives him an awkward high-five. “Never underestimate the power of good food and drink,” Dad says.
            Ebony raises one painted on eyebrow. “Wait a second. I just realized something. Did that guy call Micah your boyfriend?” she asks. “Does that mean you two are finally official?” Smirking, she looks back and forth between Micah and me while we both stand there like speechless blushing idiots. “Thank God. I like foreplay as much as the next girl, but eventually you’ve got to just get it on.”
            My dad chokes on his coffee. My blush goes from pink to red to purple to whatever color comes after that.
            “Metaphorically speaking, of course.” Ebony cackles with glee. She points through the side window at a sky-blue Taurus backing into a spot. “Look. It’s Leo. I’m out of here.”
            “Me too,” I say. “If anyone needs me I’ll be in back, dying of embarrassment.”
            “Yeah,” Micah says, shooting Ebony a death glare. “I just remembered something I need to put in the oven. My head, maybe.”
            Ebony laughs again. She gathers her purse and a copy of the Riverfront Times and heads for the front door.
            Micah slings his arm around me and together we head to the back. “I think that went well,” he says, once the door is safely closed behind us. “Except for the part where your dad now wants to kill me.”
             We pass the manager’s office and turn into the hallway where the lockers and bathrooms are located. “Don’t worry. He’s afraid of you.” I wrap my arms around Micah’s neck and pull him close, drinking in every tiny detail--the scar on his temple, the bend of his nose, his beautiful hazel eyes. “But I’m not.” I touch my lips to his. Just a quick kiss to last me until later. “You’re amazing, you know it?”
            “Mainly I wanted to get your phone back for you.” He taps his foot on the floor. “And my boot. Coming by the shop was all Caleb’s idea. Turns out your celebrity crush isn’t nearly as much of a douche as I imagined.” Now Micah’s smiling almost big enough to qualify for the tribal mask wall.
            I look down at my phone, at the picture of Caleb Waters, Bianca, and me. One major life goal complete. Time to come up with some new stuff.
            Bee shuts her locker and slides up to me. She sighs in amazement as she looks down at the screen.  “I swear, Lainey. Being your friend is a nonstop adventure.”
            “Primetime drama, you mean.” Micah winks.
            Leo rounds the corner. “Mr. Mitchell says Lainey and Bee need to get up front.” He looks back and forth between the three of us. “What did I miss?”
            “Lainey lost her phone and Caleb Waters returned it to her,” Bianca says.
            “The soccer star? That’s pretty impressive, even for you, Lainey.” Leo whistles. “Did you get his number? Talk about the mother of all ways to make your ex jealous.”
             “I’m actually done with that whole plan,” I say, slipping an arm around Micah’s waist. I glance around at my friends. “War is overrated. Besides, I’ve got all the numbers I need.”

Friday, August 29, 2014


Hi guys! Happy holiday weekend to those of you for whom that applies. Happy regular weekend to everybody else.

So last month I was lucky enough to meet Rachel Harris as part of the Mighty Mississippi Book Blast!

Team MMBB-Texas with blogger Sara S!

I love Rachel and her books a lot. See:

My first blurb (as my pen name): for A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES :)

I've already gotten to read her upcoming release THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING, and I loved that too! See:

What's it about? Well, it has a few similarities my own book, THE ART OF LAINEY (no wonder I loved it! Ha, just kidding...mostly :D), but they are definitely two totally different stories. Here's more about TFAOP:

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you’re friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

Because Rachel is awesome, she has given me a signed ARC of THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING to give away to one lucky winner!

And because I love giveaways, I'm going to throw in some extra prizes, including a copy of my latest release, the e-novella INFINITE REPEAT. This is a prequel to THE ART OF LAINEY from book-boyfriend and punk rock baker Micah Foster's POV, and can be read before or after the full novel. I'm also going to throw in a mystery ARC that I won off twitter not too long ago, and a swag pack full of bookmarks, buttons and other fun stuff from the #MMBB authors. Two runners up will also win #MMBB swag packs.


Actual swag received to include some of the pictured items plus more!

This contest is going to involve a lot of mailing costs so I've got to go US only on it. Sorry international peeps. You know I love you :) I love you so much that I'll be doing an international secondary contest for YASH in October where you can win an ARC of my forthcoming twisty murder mystery, LIARS, INC. Did you like GONE GIRL, I HUNT KILLERS, OR DANGEROUS BOYS? If so, you'll probably like LIARS too :)

Who's ready to win? BOOSH! The Rafflecopter is your friend :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Five Things You Might Not Know About LIARS, INC.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell lies to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts a business providing forged permission slips and cover stories for the students of Vista Palisades High. Liars, Inc. they call it. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.


Tis the season for shiny new e-galleys to be downloaded from Edelweiss and read eight months before the books appear in stores. LIARS, INC. is one of the new HarperTeen titles available, and here are a few things you might want to know.

1. The ARC is a WIP.
There’s nothing horribly wrong with the advanced reader copy of LIARS, INC., but I did make over 100 changes—mostly small—since the galley got printed. So if you read an early version, you’ll be reading the text with some legal/weapons inaccuracies, continuity errors, overused phrases, line-break issues, and a couple hazy areas where Max forgets to share his thought process with the reader. You’ll also be missing a few passages added to strengthen some of the plot/character elements and to tie up one loose end.

Why all the fixes? A lot of reasons, one of which is when I work nonstop doing several revision rounds back to back, I don’t get enough distance from my MS to see what’s on the page. I see what my brain knows is supposed to be on the page, only sometimes it’s not there because I pulled it out in an earlier revision round. Sometimes it was never there to start with. Then the MS goes away for a month or more to be printed and when I get it back to look at again I can suddenly see all the things that I missed. I also got last-minute feedback from a beta-reader who had a few questions she felt didn’t get adequately answered, and I agreed that I could do a better job clarifying a couple of issues. If you are a reviewer and you read the ARC but want to know about the larger revisions I've made, email me via the info on my Contact page and I'll send you a summary of the changes.

2. Once again, the main characters are flawed.
I wrote Max as sort of an emotionally unavailable loner. He starts out fairly standoffish with his adoptive parents, and he really only has 2 friends. He does some questionable things at the urging of these friends, because he thinks they're smarter than him and they're the only people he trusts. Because this is in first-person, the reader is inside Max’s head, which is not always the nicest place to be. Max thinks some snarky and hurtful thoughts during parts of this book, but try to keep in mind what he thinks and what he says are different. All teen boys—all humans!—think angry or sarcastic things sometimes, but just like in real life, the best judge of a person is by their actions.

I wrote Parvati to be a high-functioning sufferer of Borderline Personality Disorder. She’s not suicidal, but she does possess most of the other BPD symptoms in various degrees.

Why did I choose to write about these people? Take your pick:
  1.  Max and Parvati came to me with these personality traits already in place.
  2. These personalities fit their backstories.
  3. There are a lot of people in the world with psychiatric problems (many undiagnosed), and I think these people deserve to be represented in literature.
  4. I find White Knight hero archetypes to be unrealistic and boring. (Remember—you only have to spend a few hours with these people. I live with them for a year or more.)
  5. I have a degree in psychology and psychiatric issues fascinate me.
  6. When you start with people who have problems, there is more room for character development. 

3. This book only barely passes the Bechdel Test.
This bothered me at first because I consider myself a feminist and a writer of girl-power things, and I had been brainwashed by the media to think this test was a gold standard. But then I did a little research about how the Bechdel test originated. And even if you believe this test is a good measure of feminist creative work (After careful consideration, I don’t, though I do think the original context of Bechdel’s cartoon had something important to say about women in Hollywood), you should consider the differences between movies and novels before you start judging. No movie I can think of has ever been shot in first-person limited POV, but many books are written like this, which makes passing the Bechdel Test a lot tougher. And my book features a male protagonist who spends much of the story alone, hiding from the feds and investigating a crime. So no, not a ton of chances for women to talk to other women about non-guy-related things.

But you know what? That’s totally okay with me. For one because there’s plenty of stated/implied women talking to women about non-guy-things going on offscreen. If my book were a movie, could some of this be shown via an omniscient POV? Sure, why not? More importantly, just like the women in the Harry Potter books (some of which I’m told don’t pass the Bechdel test), the women in LIARS, INC. all possess strength and smarts and general badassery. Parvati, even with her flaws, is a fiercely ambitious teen girl who wants to join the CIA someday. She’s reckless, but takes responsibility for her actions. She never lets society tell her who she should be. Her mother is a lawyer who married outside of her race for love, even though that meant being ostracized by her family. Max’s mom, Darla, is her own brand of admirable, as is his little sister Amanda, who suffers from cystic fibrosis but never lets it get her down. The whole point of Bechdel’s “test” was to point out that the role of women in film at that time was to focus their attention on men. My women, yeah, they don't do that. The females of LIARS, INC. are strong, interesting, capable people who know what they want out of life and aren’t afraid to go after it. That’s feminist, if you ask me. For more about the problem of using the Bechdel Test to judge creative works, read this post by Jenny Trout.

4. This book has more objectionable content than THE ART OF LAINEY.
Max is a teen boy, the kind of kid who wears ripped jeans and hoodies and sometimes falls asleep in class. I’m not going to say all of those guys swear, but some do, and Max does. We’re not talking super-profane, but there are about 20 F-bombs, and various numbers of other swears. There is also sex. It’s not gratuitous, but it’s not fade to black. There is also mention of past drug use and one instance of underage drinking. I am not apologizing for any of this--I’m merely telling you it’s there so you can skip my book if that stuff offends you. Trust me, sometimes I wish I could be happy writing the kind of super-clean-teen books that make it into a lot of schools and libraries, but I didn't grow up in a G-rated world and I don't live in one now. I have to create my worlds in a way that feels authentic to me and meshes with my plot and characters.

5. This book is a standalone with companion book potential.
LIARS wraps up all of the mystery threads and addresses the romantic subplot for the most part, but I’ve got at least three ideas for companion novels. One of them is already outlined and partially written. Different story, different main character, but still overlapping in cast. I did this last summer when I had some free time between revision rounds, and it's a really cool tale that takes place mostly abroad and features a racially diverse cast of characters--kind of like OCEANS ELEVEN  meets NIKITA. I have no idea what kind of sales numbers LIARS would have to post for Harper to buy a second INC. book since they’ve already bought more romantic comedies from me, but the thought of letting go of Max and Parvati forever makes my insides hurt. This could very well be the first book I indie pub if the publisher doesn’t pick it up.

Do you want to win an ARC of LIARS, INC.? I'm giving one away (INT) when I reach 1000 Facebook likes, so like my page here. For a second chance to win, RT this twitter status before 8/18.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mighty Mississippi Book Blast Recap!

I'm still kind of winding down from the #MMBB tour, having gone directly from a 12-hour driving day, to a full day of airplane travel, to getting back to work on an overdue freelance project the day after I made it back to Portland. #MyGlamorousWritingLife :)

However, non-MMBBers keep asking me how the tour went, so in the interest of not having to repeat myself (AKA general laziness), I give you:


1. Some people are natural performers and others are not. 
Even though I knew what basic questions I was going to be asked about my book--heck, I even made up some of them--I realized after the first event in Wayzata that I had basically described my book in a rambling and roundabout way that made it sound so unappealing that even *I* wouldn't buy it. Next to me, Philip Siegel was so funny that I probably would have bought his book even if he said it was about how to mix wallpaper paste. I do believe I'm a funny person, but I'm third-draft funny. I'm funny on paper. I'm funny in my comfort zone, surrounded by cats people I know. I am not a natural performer, but that's okay. It just means I should think a little about how I want to present my book before I do it in front of an audience.

Dawn Klehr, Philip, me, and Lindsay on Day One of the #MMBB

2. It's best if I be myself (but with less swearing ;-D)
I don't mean my rambling and roundabout self. I mean if I start out nervous and then try to be funny because everyone else seems to be rip-roaring comedy club hilarious, uh, that doesn't end well. Better to be unfunny but add something else to the mix--thoughtfulness? honesty? encouragement?--than to go for the laughs but come up short. Also, it's also best to dress as myself. Is it a coincidence the two events I felt most uncomfortable at were Iowa and Dallas, the two places where I wore a dress? (Sorry, Mom. I'm just not a dress girl.) If you're doing events for the first time, resist feeling pressured to get fancy. Go in the clothes you feel best represent you...unless those clothes are pajamas...unless your pajamas are really stylish...You see where I'm going with this. People who buy your book because of how you are dressed are probably not readers that you need.

Us in Iowa with bookstore owner, Sue. I look uncomfortable, don't I?

3. Acting silly never stops being fun.
Lindsay Cummings and I played Blair Witch with her phone cam in the bed & breakfast where we stayed in Dubuque, sneaking up to the deserted third floor in the dark. Either the stairs in that place were the creakiest stairs ever or Lindsay and I are really bad ninjas. Anyway, the third floor was deliciously creepy by the light of my cell phone. In one of the rooms we found...FACELESS DOLLS. 

More silliness, in group form. Team Anderson's poses for pix after the event.

4. Doing events gets easier with time and experience.
I'll never look forward to bookstore events because I'm just not an extrovert, but it did get easier throughout the week. Or maybe I was so deliriously tired by the time I got to Houston that I just didn't have the energy to be stressed anymore. Also, I really liked the events that were more about giving writing advice to aspiring authors and less about singing the praises of my books. I love my stories, but it's way less awkward to be my own book cheerleader when I can hide behind the interwebs.

Team Houston, with blogger Sara. Yep, I look pretty tired.

5. Hanging out with other writers is informative and inspirational.
I'll be the first to admit I'm prone to writer jealousy, so you might think that hanging out in groups of authors, many of whom are more successful than me, would be a recipe for disaster. But that's not what happened at all. Part of the reason I even thought I could plan this tour was because I'd heard Victoria Schwab planned tours on her own. I admire so much how she has made a name for herself by being prolific and tenacious. Hearing her and all of the other authors talk about their successes just filled me with this sense of "Hey, I can get to where they are someday, too!" Everyone was so incredibly kind and gracious to each other. Victoria Schwab, Courtney Stevens, and Heather Brewer in particular all shared such wise and thoughtful words that I felt uplifted just being around them.

Memphis was a laid-back event where we spent a lot of time talking about writing craft.

6. Everyone is nervous about the future.
Just like I found inspiration and energy from hearing about other authors' successes, I found comfort in realizing that everyone shares the same fears about their publishing futures. The only way to stay in the industry is to sell more books, and that's never a guarantee until your books have their own theme parks. Hearing authors talk about diversification, hybridization, working with multiple publishers, trying out new genres, etc. made me realize that there are a lot of options when it comes to building a career as an author. 

Dinnertime with Phil, Lindsay, Lydia Kang, and Whitney Miller.
People wearing pink in the back, please :-D

7. Making connections with indie bookstores has a lasting effect.
Setting up a tour like the #MMBB wasn't just about trying to sell a few more copies of our books to a few cities. Unless you are mega-famous, a tour would never pay for itself in that way. For me, it was all about the connections: meeting readers, meeting other authors, and meeting booksellers. When you set up an event with an indie, often times they let you sign stock. Then, after you're gone, your books will continue to sell well because they're signed. And then, maybe the booksellers will remember you and continue to hand sell your books. Maybe they'll be more likely to order your next book. No guarantees, of course, but I sold more than twice as many books in Chicago and St. Louis the week of the tour than I signed on event nights, so I have to partially credit that to the connections made with the bookstores. Indies forever!

Look at all those LAINEYs! Signed copies available throughout the Midwest!

8. St. Louis will always be part of me.
When you spend 35 years in a city, it gets inside of you. As much as I just cannot handle the St. Louis weather anymore, being back in town made me super-nostalgic. I miss my St. Louis author pals like Cole Gibsen, Heather Brewer, and Sarah Bromley. I miss my writer-blogger friends Christina and Jamie. I'm so glad I made the decision to set THE ART OF LAINEY in St. Louis, to highlight the Cardinals and the Arch, Forest Park and Wash U. Sure, some of the places are made up, but many are based on real places where I spent a lot of time--Mississippi Nights? Pi Pizza? Kayaks Cafe? Look hard and you'll find them :) And I'm so glad I got to do this big event with the amazing people at Left Bank Books. They brought me to St. Louis Comic Con, something that will forever be one of my greatest writer experiences. If I ever get famous, I'm signing all the books for Left Bank, no matter where I live at the time. I LOVE YOU GUYS!

Me with Christina from Ensconced in Lit

Me with Jamie from This Isn't Rocket Science

9. Power comes from doing the things that scare you.
A blogger in Houston (hi Nikki!) asked what dystopian world we could survive in and I said I'd be Dauntless in Divergent-land. [Sidebar: Everyone else said they couldn't survive in ANY dystopia and that they'd be killed/eaten first in an apocalypse scenario. This saddened me. Step it up, guys! When the zombie apocalypse comes I want GOOD people for my team :D] I always tell people I'd be Dauntless because even though everything scares me (seriously, everything), I do it anyway. I was scared to plan the tour, scared to go to the events, basically terrified to drive most of the way. I was scared to move to Portland, again terrified to drive there, scared to apply for a new nursing job, scared to quit said nursing job when I sold more books. Going further back, I was scared to live in Korea, scared to pet tigers, scared to ever show my writing to industry professionals. But I did all these things, and now none of them own me. To be honest, I wish I had done most of them sooner. Bravery isn't about not being scared. Bravery is about being scared but doing it anyway! 

Hey! We made the digital sign in Dallas! It doesn't get more powerful than that, right?

10. In the end, it's about the love of books.
Networking and selling copies is great, but in the end a tour should be about celebrating the joy of books with other readers. From Minnesota to Houston, the #MMBB was blessed with good-sized, attentive crowds who were enthusiastic and engaged. I am so grateful to each and every one of you who came out, and to those of you who couldn't make it but still mail-ordered books or spread the word about the events. I say this on basically every Acknowledgments page, but it all comes back to you guys. Without readers, there would be no authors. Thank you for making it possible for us to live our dreams <333

Amazing book cheerleader, blogger, and librarian: Mary from Mary Had a Little Book Blog.
(I swear we're not related. She's just that cool.)

St. Louis had the biggest crowd, but Naperville probably had the most teen attendees.
Thanks for coming to see us! We love you guys!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Lainey and Bianca's first date tips

In honor of the World Cup (which I won't even pretend to be watching because I'm a little busy preparing for the #MMBB tour and writing lots of books :D), I am re-posting these informative dating tips from Lainey and Bianca, complete with handy sports metaphors and soccer gifs. Originally posted at Read My Breath Away for the Canada blog tour.

Pre-game warm-up:

Plan your outfit and hairstyle beforehand and do a practice run getting ready. Maybe it seems like a waste of time, but my friend Kendall does some modeling and she says they sometimes do this at fancy fashion shows. If that epic dress you bought has a rip somewhere or those perfect shoes hurt so bad you can’t walk in them without limping, you’re going to want to know more than ten minutes before game time.

Bianca: Come up with two or three possible conversation starters, just in case things start to feel awkward. Don’t fill your brain with more than that, or you’ll just get confused. Think of something about a class you share in school or a movie that just came out. Don’t rehearse exactly what to say, because no one wants to sound like a programmed robot.

Lainey: Oh, and also think of an escape route, just in case. Maybe you’ve set a time limit on this date because of your curfew or other plans. Maybe a sibling or trusted friend is going to check in with you mid-date and suddenly “need” your help if things aren’t going well. This might sound sketchy to you, but it’s not like you’re planning for a bad date, you’re just covering the bases. And you’ll be less freaked out from the start if you know you’re not trapped with someone for hours and hours.

Bianca: But, don’t activate Operation Escape Route just because you’re feeling nervous. It takes time to get to know someone. I went on a first date not too long ago and it was a little awkward at first, but once we started talking we realized we had a ton in common. You wouldn’t want to pass up a good thing because you didn’t give it a fair try.

Lainey: Finally, set your limits beforehand. Are you okay with a goodnight kiss or are you going to wait a little longer (like oh, I don’t know, 250+ pages…) before you lock lips for the first time? You can always change your mind mid-date, but if you know at the start what you’re comfortable with, it’ll be easier to stick to your guns.

Game time:

Pick an activity that gives you a chance to talk, but also keeps you doing stuff so that you don’t have to talk a lot if you’d rather not. Dinner is kind of a high-pressure way to go for a first date because it’s just the two of you staring at each other. A movie is better, because you’re both busy watching, and then afterward if you’re feeling it you can go grab coffee or food and talk about what you liked and didn’t like.

Lainey: Other things that would be cool are a sporting event, a concert, a play, an amusement park, or maybe something like hiking or paintballing! If you pick an activity that you would enjoy on your own or with friends, chances are you’ll enjoy it on your date.

Bianca: You hate hiking. And I’m fairly certain you would hate paintball too. It hurts.

Lainey: Whatever. It’s not all about me, Bianca! These people know what they like. You know what’s funny? You and I both did the dinner thing on our most recent first dates. We should probably take our own advice! Not that we’ll need it anytime soon since our guys are epic. Okay next, try not to check your phone every five seconds while you’re out. It’s kind of distracting…and rude. Maybe leave it in your purse or pocket and sneak away mid-date to the bathroom if you just can’t help yourself.

Bianca: Listen, don’t just plan what you’re going to say next while the other person is talking. Don’t be too quick to judge your date. He or she might not have our awesome dating tips and therefore might be really nervous. Don’t be too quick to judge yourself, either. There’s no need to appear perfect.

Lainey: Try to just be yourself, and have fun!

Post-game wrap-up:

There’s nothing wrong with a little post-date analysis with a trusted friend, but don’t blab the minute details of your time together across the whole school. It’s no one’s business what you did or didn’t do.

Lainey: If you had a great time, it’s okay to call or text and say so. You don’t have to wait for the other person to initiate contact. You don’t have to wait three days or whatever the internet tells you in order to look cool. There’s nothing uncool about liking someone.

Bianca: But at the same time, don’t be a stalker. If you call or text two or three times and the other person doesn’t respond, maybe it’s not meant to turn into a relationship. That stings, but he’s not the right guy for you unless he thinks you’re the right girl for him. Or vice versa. You’re a varsity dater—a starter, at that, not a benchwarmer.

Lainey: If the first date leads to a second date to a third date and then maybe to trespassing on federal property, repeat all of the above until you’ve got so much game you no longer need our help. And if the romance fizzles out before the ref blows the whistle, no big deal. Look at yourself in the mirror (no, don’t fixate on that red spot that might be a zit) and remind yourself of why you’re awesome. Maybe it’s your welcoming smile, your quick wit, or your big heart. Or in my case, all three ;-)

Bianca: *cough* Or maybe it’s how you’re extra humble.

Lainey: Hey, no one is perfect. Right, reader-person? Keep that in mind if your date ends up less than fairytale-like. The real world can be a little trickier than the book world, but just as magical. Maybe there’s someone better—a tattooed, mohawked prep cook of your very own—lining up to take a shot at winning your heart.