Kim vs. the Mean Girl is FREE!!

Happy Sunday!

This is a quickie post to announce the exciting news that KIM VS. THE MEAN GIRL is FREE on Amazon and will remain at that low (can’t get any lower unless I PAID you to buy it) price through Thursday, December 14th.

KIM VS. THE MEAN GIRL is my only contemporary YA novel, but it’s also related to my adult romantic comedy BLOGGER GIRL series in that it features many of the same characters, but in high school—in the fall of 2000! This is before Facebook and smart phones. It’s retro!

For what it’s worth, my parents AND my sister told me this is their favorite of all my books. They said it’s adorable, clever, funny, and charming. My mom also used the word “brilliant.”

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These guys LOVE Kim vs. the Mean Girl!!

You should see for yourself. Did I mention it’s FREE?

FREE

Happy Release day! Kim vs. the Mean Girl

I’m thrilled to announce that my debut contemporary young adult novel, Kim vs. the Mean Girl, is now available!

Kindle (Paperback should be up any minute now…)

Nook

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High school sophomore, Kim Long, is no stranger to the “mean girl” antics of Queen Bee Hannah Marshak. When Hannah steals Kim’s diary and in front of the entire class reads personal (not to mention humiliating) entries Kim wrote about her crush, Jonathan, Kim vows to enact revenge.

Kim and her loyal best friend, Bridget, come up with the perfect plan to put the evil Hannah in her place once and for all. But will their scheming have the desired effect of getting even, or will Hannah emerge more celebrated by her peers than ever?

Kim vs. the Mean Girl can be read as a young adult standalone novel, set in 2000, but is also a prequel to the popular Blogger Girl adult romantic comedy series. Told in the dual perspectives of teenage Kim and Hannah, fans of the series will get an inside look into Kim’s early passion for reading, writing (and Jonathan), and find out why Hannah is so darn mean.

Although the characters were plucked off the pages of my adult Blogger Girl series, the new book can be read as a standalone as well. I recommend to both fans of the adult books and readers of humorous and clean contemporary young adult fiction like Jenny Han, Siobhan Vivian, Julie Buxbaum, and Rainbow Rowell. I consider this book a cross between The Carrie Diaries and Mean Girls with a little bit of Girl Meets World thrown in. It’s more Gilmore Girls than Gossip Girl.

I had a blast writing this book and hope my passion for the characters shines through in the pages. Stay tuned for future posts on my casting choices should Kim vs. the Mean Girl be made into a movie 🙂

I gasped in horror as I rummaged through my memory, trying to remember what I’d written down and which of my innermost thoughts Hannah might divulge to my entire class. I pressed my eyes shut and prayed she’d choose one of the lame, off-the-cuff comments I made about my parents and not … please not … something about Jonathan. Oh, God, I wrote about Jonathan in my diary—a lot—never ever intending for anyone to read it. The whole point of a diary was to journal private, personal musings. But as surely as I was the smallest girl in our class, my thoughts were about to be the opposite of secret.

I dared to turn my head a fraction so I could see what Jonathan was doing. He was staring at Hannah, his lips parted as if to speak, but he didn’t say a word.

I leaned forward in my chair, paralyzed. I knew I should stop her—stand up, say something—but I couldn’t will my legs to move or my mouth to open. And so, like a person who steps onto the tracks as a train is approaching, I prepared for impact. Maybe she’d show me some mercy and keep the Jonathan stuff between us. Even Hannah couldn’t be that cruel. Could she? 

Cover reveal: Kim vs. the Mean Girl

As promised, here it is! I hope you love it as much as I do.

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The big release is April 20th, but it’s already up on Goodreads if you’d like to add it to your shelves.

I can’t wait to share this book with you. I hope you’ll love reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

What do you think about the cover?

 

Kim vs. the Mean Girl: blurb

“Even when Hannah acts like a she-devil, she manages to come out looking like Maria from The Sound of Music.” – Kim Long

“Kim Long without a story to read was like a dog without its chew toy.” – Hannah Marshak

As many of you know, I planned to release Kim vs. the Mean Girl, the contemporary young adult prequel to Blogger Girl, last summer. The time frame was upended when my former publisher closed its doors, but I had every intention of putting it out at some point. I’m excited to be able to say the time is almost here.  Since my new publisher, Henery Press, doesn’t publish young adult, I’m going to self-publish it this spring. I like the idea of having complete control over the pricing as well as the freedom to co-promote with the adult books in the series. Self-publishing is also on my bucket list of things to do even though it scares me.  I’ve yet to set a precise date for a couple of reasons. I need to meet a late March deadline to return my next romantic comedy to my editor at Henery Press first. Also, I’ve never self-published before and I have no idea what I’m doing! Thankfully, I have friends who’ve assured me they’ll walk me through it. But I’m hesitant to put a publishing date in writing until I’m confident I’m ready.

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I’d like to release sometime in April, but it doesn’t mean I can’t share the blurb, cover art, and excerpts before then. Since the cover is still “in progress,” I’ll start with the blurb:

High school sophomore, Kim Long, is no stranger to the “mean girl” antics of Queen Bee Hannah Marshak. When Hannah steals Kim’s diary and in front of the entire class reads personal (not to mention humiliating) entries Kim wrote about her crush, Jonathan, Kim vows to enact revenge.

Kim and her loyal best friend, Bridget, come up with the perfect plan to put the evil Hannah in her place once and for all. But will their scheming have the desired effect of getting even, or will Hannah emerge more celebrated by her peers than ever?

Kim vs. The Mean Girl can be read as a young adult standalone novel, but it is also a prequel to the popular Blogger Girl adult romantic comedy series and is set in 2000. Told in the duo perspectives of teenage Kim and Hannah, fans of the series will get an inside look into Kim’s early passion for reading, writing (and Jonathan) and find out why Hannah is so darn mean.

The book is a cross between The Carrie Diaries and Mean Girls with a little Girl Meets World thrown in. It’s a clean read with a tone that’s been compared to Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You. I cannot wait to share it with you!

so good, they make me better

As I was reading The One You Really Want by Jill Mansell, I felt a sense of dread. I didn’t fear the fate of the characters because, even though the author put them in several formidable and embarrassing situations, I’m a fan of conflict and was confident she’d resolve everything to my satisfaction in good time. And it was also not because the plot was awful, the characters undeveloped, the pacing slow, or the dialogue stilted—exactly the opposite. The sense of alarm was a result of reading a fabulous book by an adept storyteller who, as far as I was concerned, did everything right. As an author, too, all I could think about was my own work in progress and how it was all wrong. Not all wrong, but not quite where it should be or where I wanted it to be. I spent the weekend modeling myself after Mansell—not imitating her style, copying her plot, or anything quite so nefarious, but spicing up the dialogue (Mansell is a master of dialogue), beefing up the humor, cutting out extra words, and fleshing out the characters as I’m sure she did painstakingly while writing The One You Really Love. I’m only on the first draft and my projects always improve with each revision, but even at this early stage, I know it is better and I owe it to Jill Mansell.

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This exercise got me thinking about other consummate authors who have unknowingly helped my writing.

 

For instance, Emily Giffin has taught me that even in light women’s fiction, characters don’t have to be all good or all bad. The main character, Rachel, in Giffin’s debut novel , Something Borrowed, managed to be likeable even while coveting (and sleeping with) her best friend’s fiancé. Giffin wrote the character in such a way that the reader experienced Rachel’s conflict right along with her. Rachel had loved Dex long before she basically threw him in Darcy’s lap. Giffin did the same thing with Ellen in Love The One You’re With (my favorite of her books). Ellen’s happily married to Andy, but is still drawn to Leo, the first man she truly loved (the one who broke her heart and whom she never quite forgot) when he comes back in the picture. Giffin does not encourage infidelity in the novel, but she creates a character many can relate to even if they are too ashamed to admit it. Ellen is human, not evil. Giffin strikes this human/flawed/likable balance with each and every novel she writes and it’s something I’ve kept in mind when writing my own novels where, as anyone who has read them knows, the characters are not perfect. Most specifically, my character Maggie in How Do You Know?  is in love with her long-term boyfriend Doug, but has her doubts he’s the one and desires time to figure things out before she makes a lifelong decision that will affect both of their lives. Maggie isn’t uncertain because she’s a selfish person, but because she can’t help it. Most human beings can’t control where their heart goes and I (along with Emily Giffin) don’t think fictional characters should have to either.

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Another author I admire for her craft is Rainbow Rowell, who I consider to be my biggest author crush. I adore everything about Rainbow’s novels, from the quirkiness of her characters, to the swoony-worthy yet innocent romantic elements in her books, to the original worlds she creates. What stands out to me the most are the interactions between her characters, especially the ones who are romantically involved or at least want to be. Rowell has such a unique way of describing how the characters feel about each other, and it always feels very personal and intimate to me as a reader. In Landline, for instance, main character Georgie has this to say about her husband, Neal, in the first one percent of the novel: “When Neal smiled, he had dimples like parenthesis—stubbly parentheses. Georgie wanted to pull him over the breakfast bar and nose at his cheeks. That was her standard response to Neal smiling.” Reading that description, I knew instantly that Georgie loved Neal without being told. The characteristics that Georgie loves about Neal are very particular to him. Georgie loves Neal’s ears. Ears that were “a little too big, and they poked out at the top like wings. Georgie liked to hold his head by his ears. When he’d let her.” This description is specific to Neal and only Neal as opposed to a trait which could be used to describe just about anyone— he had beautiful eyes, full lips, a great butt, etc. Because it is so particular, it makes me believe the love Georgie feels for Neal runs deep. Rainbow Rowell does this consistently in her books and I love it! I squealed with delight when one of the teenage beta readers for my upcoming young adult novel, Kim vs. The Mean Girl, compared my book to Rowell’s Eleanor and Park. I can’t bring myself to agree, but this blog post has inspired me to be mindful to dig deep like Rainbow does.

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I’m sure there are others, but these three authors are currently at the top of my author-inspiration list. What about you? Whatever the activity, who inspires you to be better?

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-apr-2016

 

Real Chick Lit for…Young Adults?

Now that I’ve completed the heavy lifting with respect to my upcoming novel, Novelista Girl, I can take a break from writing. Right? Wrong! I’ve already begun my next project—a prequel to the Blogger Girl and Novelista Girl series. I took a slight genre leap when I wrote How Do You Know? as it was somewhat deeper in themes than my previous novels and more contemporary women’s fiction than classic “chick lit,” but I was still dealing with grown-up characters (maturity levels notwithstanding)! In my new project, I’m bringing Kimberly Long and part of the gang from Blogger Girl back to the tenth grade which sets the book squarely in the Young Adult genre—quite a genre jump. The novel is already close to seventy pages and while I am truly having a blast with it, it is not without its challenges. For instance:

  1. I’m writing this novel from the first person perspective like I did with my last five novels. (Can we stop and take a moment to let that phrase sink in? My last FIVE novels. I’ve written five novels. Holy crap! I’m still astounded that I wrote one! Ok, pause over.) However, unlike my other (FIVE) novels, I am writing this one from the perspectives of two (very) different characters. Although I know the character of Kim very well, having written two other novels with her at the helm, this time, I’m getting inside the head of high school “mean girl” Hannah Marshak. She’s not that bad. She’s not that good either but…just wait. So far, I’m not having any trouble keeping their voices distinct, but alternating back and forth is not always a smooth transition.
  2. Anyone who has read even one of my books knows that my characters do their best bonding over wine, prosecco, beer etc. Since my characters are now fifteen-years old, I need to come up with different ways for them to drown their sorrows, share their secrets etc. So far, eating ice cream and plotting revenge are working well. But no spoilers.
  3. My characters in the past have also liked to curse and have sex. A curse word slips in every so often in this novel, but not as freely. And my characters’ sexual experience is limited compared to their curiosity. One of the reasons I took them back to fifteen instead of seventeen or even sixteen was because I wasn’t comfortable bringing sex into the equation. My characters are definitely more Gilmore Girls than Gossip Girl.11170312_1069995196347139_787521516213843014_o
  4. If you’ve noticed, all of my characters until now have worked in the law firm environment. I have two paralegals, a legal secretary, and a legal marketing manager under my belt. Unless I was planning to write a Doogie Howser-type prequel where Kim was a fifteen-year-old legal secretary, the law-firm setting wasn’t going to work. So, the setting is high school. Being that I haven’t been in high school in over twenty years (almost as scary as the fact that I’ve written five books), I had to wrack my memory (and search the internet) to remember there were eight periods in a day and each period lasted forty-something minutes. I even searched trigonometry and earth science terms to make the classroom scenes authentic.
  5. With the exception of Just Friends with Benefits, all of my novels take place in New York City. It’s become part of my brand. It’s weird to not describe the bustling restaurants, and tourists-filled streets of the Big Apple, but since Kim grew up outside of the city, I have to write the prequel with a suburban setting. So far, most of the scenes have taken place either within the walls of the high school, or Kim and Hannah’s respective houses.
  6. Since this was a prequel set fifteen years in the past, I obviously couldn’t write the book in the present day. Since Kim would be turning thirty in 2015, I set the book in 2000 to make her 15. I had no idea what it was like to be a teenager in the year 2000 since I was already in my late twenties (another scary fact). Thankfully, I have several younger friends who were generous enough to share some of their memories from back then—their favorite books, movies, televisions shows, celebrity crushes, fashion preferences etc. They also guided me with respect to technology and lack thereof, although watching back-to-back episodes of Gilmore Girls is also helping in that regard. But it’s a very interesting writing a book where no one checks his/her iPhone or is on Facebook. I quite like it!
  7. Parents, particularly mothers, have always played a significant role in my books. However, none of my characters lived under the same roof as her parents during the course of the book. The parents might have bestowed advice (solicited or not), but they never imposed a curfew or were needed to chauffer my characters to and from their friend’s houses, the mall or the movies. Remembering to include family dinners and typical teenage angst with respect to parents is something I’m not used to, but remember all too well from experience.

Thus far, the above are the differences that spring to mind when comparing my process of writing a chick lit/women’s fiction novel to writing young adult. What’s interesting is that my reading preferences have shifted somewhat along with the writing of this book. I still love reading women’s fiction and chick lit (as well as suspense novels and thrillers), but I’m definitely reading a lot more young adult lately as well. I devoured Jenny Han’s To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You books, re-read The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell (also a prequel to a women’s fiction novel), and have already pre-ordered Rainbow Rowell’s upcoming novel. I’m also quite addicted to the aforementioned Gilmore Girls on television. It has become the light to the darkness of The Walking Dead, which is another addiction of mine and decidedly not young adult!

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I will probably not be sharing too much more about the prequel at least until after Novelista Girl is released, hopefully later this year. Stay tuned, however, for the blurb and cover reveal of Novelista Girl —coming soon.

These television shows would make great chick lit books!

We, and by “we,” I mean my author/blogger friends and I, often discuss what books we could totally see turned into movies. I even cast all of my books as if the screenplay adoption is imminent. But I’ve never heard anyone discuss what movies/television shows they think would make really good books. Since there is a first time for everything and I like to be a trend-setter, I’ve decided to dedicate this blog post to those television shows I think would make really good chick lit and, in some cases, young adult books:

Veronica Mars – I watched this series when it was in first-run and I loved it. To me, it’s a cross between Nancy Drew and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Blonde, petite, and adorable, Veronica is intelligent, has a snarky personality, a wicked sense of humor, and doesn’t take shit from anyone. Her father is the former sheriff of Neptune, California and currently a private investigator. Veronica assists him on his cases and has her own clientele too—most often her fellow classmates. She also has a group of adorable male admirers and the love triangles are very well done. (Team Logan!) I would love to read a book (or series of books) with Veronica at the helm. I also think she’s a great role model for young women as she is wise beyond her years, strong-willed, not prone to peer pressure and just all around the coolest high school chick ever.

Drop Dead Diva –Aspiring model Deb dies in a car crash, but rather than stay in heaven she presses the “return” button and returns to earth just in time to inhabit the body of recently deceased Jane, a plus-sized attorney in a law firm where Deb’s ex-fiancé Grayson is a partner. Of course, Grayson has no idea that Jane is really Deb and Jane is forced to witness Grayson grieve Deb’s death and eventually move on. In my opinion, this series would make the ultimate chick lit book with a touch of paranormal. There is humor, romance, fashion, and even law-changing legal cases thrown in for good measure.

The New Girl – After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, quirky and “simply adorkable” late twenty-something Jess moves into a loft with three bachelors. Typical comedic moments ensue, along with relationship drama. Combine a cute, if not somewhat awkward and self-deprecating young woman with three handsome, single men under one roof and you have a recipe for a great chick lit book. I gave up on the television show when Jess’s quirkiness became a bit over-the-top, but I would absolutely be up for a stand-alone novel based on the television series.

The Mindy Project – The series follows thirty-something obstetrician/gynecologist Mindy as she tries to balance her personal and professional life, surrounded by quirky co-workers in a small medical practice in New York City. This series, in my opinion, embodies all that is beloved in chick lit—a multi-faceted main female character who, although professionally successful, struggles to get her personal life in order; hilarious dating disasters; an enigmatic and sexy hero who is always just slightly out of reach; well fleshed out secondary characters; and a seemingly revolving door of possible love interests to keep things interesting. I am addicted to watching this show on the small screen, but would love to read it on my Kindle too!

I certainly enjoy other television shows, but I don’t necessarily think they would transfer as well into a novel as well as the aforementioned. For example, I think a character-driven show would make for a better chick lit book than a plot-driven series where the story changes every week without much character development. I also limited my choices to those categorized as comedy, since humor is a key element in chick lit, and romance, since chick lit lovers in general love a happily ever after.

How do you feel about my choices? What television shows would you like to see made into books?