Happy Holidays and I’ll see you in the New Year!
Dec22

Happy Holidays and I’ll see you in the New Year!

I can’t believe how fast the year has passed. Thank you for making it a wonderful 2014! As I head off for a much needed holiday break, I wanted remind you that I had wonderful perseverance stories shared by some amazing authors during the holiday guest posts. Many success interviews have posted since closing Pitch Wars. I’m so thrilled for the writers who have made agent matches, and I’m sure we’ll have more to come in the New Year.  Also, there’s a query and first page workshop happening in January with Chimera Editing. You can find all the details here. And Pitch Madness is fast approaching, too! In thinking about perseverance, I reflect on my struggles through the years. My son had cancer when he was five, then it was my turn to suffer it, and then my husband had skin cancer. I’ve almost lost my oldest son during childbirth, I’ve had a miscarriage,  I’ve suffered divorce, and mourned the passing of my grandparents. I had to part ways with an agent and a publisher. This time last year, things looked bleak, but during those dark times, there was much laughter and celebrations. We added to our family, we all are cancer free, I found a new agent who gave me renew faith in my abilities, and became an Entangled Publishing author. I’m in such a great place, and I have so many friends, family, and the writing community to thank for holding me up during the bad times and making me laugh through the pain. 2015 promises to be a great year! What I wish to pass on is that we all have hard times, we all get knocked down, but there is always a new day dawning full of hope and possibilities. Reach out to those in need, pick someone up from the gutter of despair. You never know how your actions can affect someone. An act of kindness can give someone hope. A borrowed ear can let someone release their fears. And a hug can make someone feel wanted. Thank you for being here for me, thank you for all your acts of kindness this past year, for all your support, and for joining me in this crazy journey we’ve all chosen to take.  I wouldn’t want to take it without all of you. And remember, there’s always tomorrow for dreams to come true. Happy Holidays and see you next...

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Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Kellye Garrett and Sarah Henning!
Dec19

Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Kellye Garrett and Sarah Henning!

The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we are so happy to have Kellye Garrett and her Pitch Wars mentor, Sarah Henning here for a little Q and A. Kellye recently signed with Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary. So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview. Kellye, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Sarah? It was definitely one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. First, I loved that she was a Pitch Wars alum who found her agent through the contest. I knew she would be able to give me great guidance since she’d been through it herself. Plus, since my book is a funny mystery novel, I responded to her desire for mysteries and books that had a sense of humor. But perhaps what made my decision easiest was that we are both newspaper-alums-turned-mystery-writers who also have editing backgrounds. I knew, if nothing else, we would have some great conversations (and we did.) Sarah, what about Kellye’s application made you choose her? I’ll admit that in reading her application, I wasn’t like, “OH MY, THIS IS IT.” But the second I read the first line, a smile popped up on my face. There was just this perfect underlying humor that completely drew me in. I’d promised myself I wouldn’t email any of the contestants asking for more chapters until I’d finished every single application. But I totally broke my own rule with Kellye and emailed her the very second I finished her sample pages. I even told her so. I just could not wait to read more. She’d totally won me hook, line and sinker, in a way no one else did. Kellye, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars? I was fortunate that my Pitch Wars revisions were pretty painless. Our main focus was on the opening pages. I originally had a prologue that takes place six weeks before the rest of the book. We both agreed that it was stronger to jump right into the first chapter since it gave us a better sense of my main character’s voice. Sarah, tell us about your experience with mentoring Kellye. How was mentoring your other team members? Kellye was a dream mentee. She’s smart, easy-going and a really hard worker. She took to my suggestions with a fabulous gung-ho attitude and saw value in my thoughts. I was also fortunate in that she has a news background like me, and so we understood each other very well from the critique perspective. Plus, Kellye...

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January Query & 1st Page Workshop by Chimera Editing … sign up now!
Dec18

January Query & 1st Page Workshop by Chimera Editing … sign up now!

    15 critiques for ’15! I’m holding a query and first page workshop with Chimera Editing Services right here on the blog!  My wonderful critique partners have started a new freelance editing business and agreed to sponsor my January workshop. Jami Nord and K.T. Hanna have helped me spruce up my manuscripts and now they’ll help you with yours. They’ll critique fifteen lucky writers and help them shine up their queries and 1st pages.   Go visit the Chimera Editing website to learn more about their reasonably priced services … Chimera Editing Services   Here’s some information about the editors at Chimera Editing Services …   Jami Nord Jami has interned for both agents and publishers, handling extensive amounts of slush and evaluating hundreds of manuscripts in reports. Her love of books led her to a BA in English and an escape from Texas. She adores stories with a strong voice no matter the genre, and routinely reads all forms of speculative fiction, romance and eroticas, thrillers, mysteries, contemporary (especially dark ones), and pretty much any random novel that transports her to another world. Before she started working in publishing, she regularly managed to read 150 books a year, and is still reading over a book a week this year despite the workload of her day job, agent internship, and editing. 2014 #Pitchwars adult mentor and #Pitchmadness industry advisor, food nerd, and general geek.   K.T. Hanna K.T. writes and reads all types of speculative fiction, loves nail-biting thrillers, and curling up with a good paranormal novel. Her novel efforts are represented by Bree Ogden of D4EO Literary. She dabbles in short fiction and is an agent intern in her spare time. Originally from Australia, she now lives in Kansas with her husband, daughter, corgis and cat, and raises a plethora of plotbunnies. She is a regular volunteer for #PitchMadness and was a #PitchWars MG Mentor in 2014.   Here’s how it’s going down … We have 15 spots. All you have to do is sign up for a chance to win one of the spots on the Rafflecopter below. The critique will be posted on my blog, so if you’re squeamish about posting your work, please don’t enter. It’s for any category and genre that is listed on this page here. Your manuscript doesn’t have to be completed. I’ll draw names on January 6, 2015, so be ready to submit your query & 1st page for critique immediately after I announce the winners. You’ll have 24 hours to send it in. If we don’t receive your entry, we’ll choose another winner. So keep an eye out. From today until...

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Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Rosalyn Eves and Virginia Boecker!
Dec17

Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Rosalyn Eves and Virginia Boecker!

The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we are so happy to have Rosalyn Eves and her Pitch Wars mentor, Virginia Boecker here for a little Q and A. Rosalyn recently signed with Josh Adams of Adams Literary. So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview. Rosalyn, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Virgina? Looking at the Pitch Wars mentors was a little overwhelming at first–there were so many good options! But Virginia was at the top of my list from the beginning because of her love of YA fantasy, particularly historical fantasy (she has a HF coming out in the spring). Plus, the twitter stalking I did revealed Virginia to be a funny, smart individual who would be a pleasure to work with. Virginia, what about Rosalyn’s application made you choose her?  Rosalyn is a beautiful writer. The phrasing and choice of words in her first page alone hooked me right away. And I’m a sucker for historical fiction, of course! Rosalyn, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars? I generally like revising–there’s something about seeing my words actually improve that is deeply satisfying. But when I got Virginia’s edit letter (it was several pages long!) I had this moment where I was like: why did she pick my book if this much was wrong with it? Then I read through her comments and realized they were spot-on and I could feel the excitement coming back–if I could pull it off in two months, this was going to make the book so much better.  The revision period was a little insane for me–I cut something like 28K from the book and added 25K. I revamped a lot of the timeline, cutting six months from the plot. I think I finished my read-through the second day of Pitch Wars. I’m convinced those revisions made a difference to my getting an agent–the few queries I’d sent prior to Pitch Wars mentioned the pacing as an issue, and the tightening I did for Pitch Wars dramatically improved that. Virginia deserves a lot of credit for motivating me to do that overhaul! Virginia, tell us about your experience with mentoring Rosalyn. How was mentoring your other team members? I’ll admit, I was a little nervous sending off my edit letter to her. It was my first time as mentor, so I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe some shouting, perhaps a voodoo doll or two. But Rosalyn’s a professional. She was so courteous and lovely (if there were voodoo dolls, I...

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Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Casey Lyall and Naomi Hughes!
Dec16

Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Casey Lyall and Naomi Hughes!

The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we are so happy to have Casey Lyall and her Pitch Wars mentor, Naomi Hughes, here for a little Q and A. Casey recently signed with Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency. So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview. Casey, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Naomi? Naomi had amazing editing experience, she was looking for humour and quirkiness, and she had a list of favourite authors and books that I loved. My brain is about 50% cookies, 50% jokes, so I was definitely looking for a mentor with a similar sense of humour to mine. She’d written an awesome poem for her profile, outlining what she was looking for. After I read it, I thought – “This is hilarious and definitely something I would do. We should be friends.”Spoiler alert: we’re totally friends now. Naomi, what about Casey’s application made you choose her? Voice! Casey has this amazing, hilarious noir voice for her manuscript, and it was so strong that by the end of the first page I could practically hear the old-style detective music playing in the background. She was a top contender right away, and after I requested and read her first three chapters, no one else’s manuscript even came close to having that same spark for me. I had a huge grin on my face the whole time I was reading and her two main characters felt so real and just so much fun to hang out with. I sent her an email afterwards to feel her out, and when I discovered that she was professional and dedicated in addition to being a great writer, I immediately knew she would be my pick. (A few of the other mentors were also considering her at this point. I may have threatened them a tad excessively, as I seem to recall something about a potential shanking, but I dunno, I’m pretty sure no one can prove anything… *sets fire to old emails*) Casey, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars?I was already over the moon about Naomi choosing me to mentor but it quickly became clear how incredibly lucky I was. I went into this process with little experience and I was super nervous. Naomi’s enthusiasm for my story was fantastic and she gave me excellent notes to work with. She was super calm and supportive as I flailed my way through revisions. She gave me a huge amount of her time and was...

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Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with K. Kazul Wolf and Evelyn Skye!
Dec15

Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with K. Kazul Wolf and Evelyn Skye!

The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we are so happy to have K. Kazul Wolf and her Pitch Wars mentor, Evelyn Skye, here for a little Q and A. Kazul recently signed with Fleetwood Robbins of Waxman Leavell. So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview. Kazul, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Evelyn? The day the mentor blog hop was posted I took about ten or fifteen minutes to compile a list of all the mentors that were looking for my genre and category before heading to work, and sent it to one of my best friends so she could help me decide later. By the time I got home, my friend pretty much said, “Choose whoever else you want, but you HAVE to submit to this one!” And (after totally agreeing) Evelyn never left my list. Evelyn, what about Kazul’s application made you choose her? From the very first lines, I was hooked. Kazul’s writing is breath-taking, and the world she’s created is beautiful and original. There are dragons with stained-glass wings! But within this gossamer beauty, she also has a lot of humor, and I think it’s quite a feat to pull those things off simultaneously. Kazul, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars? It was nuts! But at the same time, so much fun. Evelyn had an amazing grasp on what my story really is at its core, and with her help it became better than I could have imagined. I’d re-written/worked the last three-quarters of the book in August, then got as much feedback as I could through October. Evelyn, tell us about your experience with mentoring Kazul. How was mentoring your other team members? Evelyn, tell us about your experience with mentoring Kazul. How was mentoring your other team members? Oh, I knew she’d be wonderful to work with even before I made my official decisions on whom to mentor this year. I exchanged emails with a number of the PitchWars applicants, including Kazul, as I read through their manuscripts during the submission period. I am an intense editor, and I needed to know if these writers were game for what I had in mind. With Kazul and SUMMER THUNDER, it meant tearing up big chunks of her plot and rewriting some of her characters. But Kazul never flinched and instead was full of enthusiasm (and hope at being part of my PitchWars team). Actually working with her turned out, of course, to be a dream. Kazul, after...

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Holiday Guest Post by Gail Nall
Dec12

Holiday Guest Post by Gail Nall

At a writers’ meet-up about a year and a half ago, a fellow writer remarked on how happy I was. That comment has stuck with me because, despite how I acted on the outside, I was far from happy at that moment in my life. In fact, I was reeling – inside – from a number of things that had happened within the past three years. At that point, in the middle of 2013, I was not happy. I don’t talk much about this stuff. Mostly because it hurts, and reliving pain is never really fun, you know? But when Brenda put this call out for guest bloggers on the topic of depression, I knew I needed to share. I have no idea if what I say will help anyone. I hope it does. There’s no great moral to this story, just that I know how hard it is to fight through all of the bad stuff to survive. I’m also not sure how to tell this, so I’ll go chronologically. This is what I call my series of unfortunate events (to get literary with it, as I do). I hope I don’t sound whiny or self-indulgent. This is just the stuff that happened, and how it made me feel, and how I made it through. Because this post needs some funny!(Creative Commons License, Attr. Kristina Alexanderson) 2010 – I lost my job. Big deal, you’re probably thinking. But this was my first real, professional job in a field I’d spent years (and tens of thousands of dollars in student loans) studying. I’d been there for three years, and then . . no more. I was angry. Sad. Disappointed in myself. And really, really confused about what the heck I was doing with my life. I immediately started looking for a new job, but it was 2010 and I was in an oversaturated field. I finally took a job working retail for minimum wage. There, I met a realtor, a former construction business-owner, and several other people, all cast adrift in the land of barely making ends meet. It was a humbling experience, that’s for sure. While all of this was happening, my husband and I found out I was pregnant. For a brief couple of months, I felt okay with the world again, until I miscarried. The 2010 Word of the Year for me was failure. I’d failed at work. Failed at having a baby. Failed at life. But I kept writing, working on revising a book I’d started drafting a few years earlier. I wrote during breaks at work. Plotted while folding sweaters. I even sent a...

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Holiday Guest Post & Giveway by Renée Ahdieh … Enter to win an ARC of THE WRATH AND THE DAWN!
Dec11

Holiday Guest Post & Giveway by Renée Ahdieh … Enter to win an ARC of THE WRATH AND THE DAWN!

  Like No One is Watching I was eleven when I wrote my first story. For all intents and purposes, the fifteen page opus I penned was essentially Nancy Drew fanfiction. I wrote it in loopy cursive with a bright blue erasable pen, the tip of my tongue crimped between my teeth. It was awful. Like, wretchedly so. I stopped writing stories until I was in college. But I never stopped writing. I studied poetry in school. Wrote essays that won a few awards. I even got to travel to Europe for free because of something I’d written about Moorish architecture in Andalusia. Soon I’d even received enough notice to be published in lauded magazines. But I was twenty-five before I first decided I wanted to be a published writer of fiction. And that was a whole new game with a whole new set of rules. I bought the books. Read the rules. Thought if I followed them, I could accomplish anything in due time. I wrote a novel. It was horrible. Even Idiot Me knew that. Thusly, it was never queried. Then I wrote another novel that was somewhat less awful. Despite Idiot Me (and the disastrous query letter I wrote in SECOND PERSON), I managed to secure an agent. Was there dancing in the Shire? Not quite. My agent left the business a few months after signing me. And, just like that, I was right back where I started. Needless to say, I listened to a lot of Jeff Buckley and John Legend when all of this went down. I didn’t write for almost a year. There were sincere moments when I thought I had much better things to do with my life than sit in front of a computer for hours on end with nothing to show for it beyond a silly story. Beyond a love of words. I remember thinking how much of this process reminded me of a junior high school dance. How, even at twenty-six, I still felt like the girl sitting on the shadowy side of the bleachers, pretending she didn’t want to dance. The girl with the long, dark hair and the holstered quip, sneering down at the peons. But the truth was, I always wanted to dance. It just seemed like no one wanted to ask me. So it was easier to remain aloof. But it was very hard to stay that way through it all. Because I always felt like everyone around me received offers of representation at the drop of a hat. Six-figure deals in a finger-snap. Movie options in a . . . mouse’s fart? Or whatever....

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Holiday Guest Post by Fiona McLaren
Dec10

Holiday Guest Post by Fiona McLaren

It’s approaching Christmas and, for many people, this is a wonderful time of year. However, for others it can be difficult time. Sometimes, it can be hard to remember that not everyone is blessed with the same happy circumstances, and that the holidays can bring about memories of people lost, achievements failed, or another year gone badly. If you find yourself in bad circumstances or situations, please know that there is a way out. It’s for this reason I decided to join Brenda’s December season of sharing what my toughest writing moment has been and how I got out of it. Writers are susceptible to depression, and none of us are immune to it. My biggest writing pain came a few years ago. I had been submitting my writing on and off for almost sixteen years. Yes, you heard me right – sixteen years. I had taken every workshop going. I had revised until my fingers bled. I had built my platform. I had spoken to agents and editors. I had read and read and read. Yet, still I couldn’t get to where I wanted to be. I remember one day I was in my bedroom, computer on, and an email pinged. It was yet another rejection. It was only a form. I’d had R&Rs, fulls and partials rejected before. And yet it was this one little form that broke the camel’s back for me. I don’t think I had sobbed that hard for a long time. It totally decimated me. It wasn’t a huge moment in terms of what had happened. But it was huge in its effect. So huge, in fact, I gave up writing for two years. Two years I did not write a word. I shunned books. I felt depressed when I read one and remembered how I wasn’t good enough. I began to hate the thing I had loved so much. It got to the point where a deep sadness and sense of failure lay over me, even when I wasn’t thinking about writing. It came to the point where I picked up a book by my favorite author and I didn’t enjoy it. I couldn’t understand why. It took me quite a while to figure it out. I was jealous. Ugly, horrid, unflattering jealousy. It made me realize something important. I measured myself off everyone else’s standards…but the thing was, they weren’t really everyone else’s standards. They were mine. My own self-imposed rigid rules. I had been so busy trying to be perfect. So busy following all the writing rules. So busy editing until my manuscript became just row after row of mechanically...

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Holiday Guest Post by Jaye Robin Brown
Dec09

Holiday Guest Post by Jaye Robin Brown

It feels counterintuitive to write about my lowest point on the best day ever. Today! The release day of NO PLACE TO FALL! Okay folks, let’s take a moment and let that sink in. Are you smiling like I am? Thank you. Here it goes: My lowest point came in the early winter of 2012. I’d signed with an agent only about seven months before that and we’d lightly shopped an upper middle grade manuscript. Though I got much praise, the novel was set in a post-apocalyptic world and the odds weren’t good for selling it. I requested we not send it out again and let me revise it and change the setting to an alternate world of some sort, as I didn’t want to burn all my chances. The agent it seemed like it took me forever to sign with, sent me an email the following week expressing a change in circumstances and how, since we hadn’t sold anything together yet, it would be a good time to part ways. I was crushed. Devastated. Had I done something wrong? Been too needy? Too obnoxious? I couldn’t take the email at face value and actually believe something was going on in the agent’s world. It surely had to be me. I crawled under the covers and gelled into a permanent state of fetal position. I felt like the biggest loser in loserdom. A real life, verifiable hack. But the good thing about us writer types is we’re like those old toys, Weebles. We may wobble but we don’t fall down for long. Not when we have this drive inside. I’d been true to the old adage of keep working, always be writing. And while that upper MG was out on submission, I was working on a contemporary YA about a western North Carolina girl who wants to sing on bigger stages. I’d mentioned this project to that let-me-go agent, but there’d never been any questions as to subject matter or sample pages. So, agentless once again, I kept writing. And I finished the manuscript. Revised it. And entered some pitch contests. By July of 2012, I had a new (and fabulous) agent. By September of 2012 I had a book deal. And now, three full years after that darkest moment, I have a book on the shelves of Malaprops, TODAY, and a launch party to go to TONIGHT!!!! So if you’re gelled into fetal position, be a Weeble. It’s okay to wobble, but it’s way more fun if you get back up.   Website | Twitter Jaye Robin Brown, or Jro to her friends, lives and writes in the...

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Holiday Guest Post by Virginia Boecker
Dec08

Holiday Guest Post by Virginia Boecker

I’ve never suffered from depression. I know I’m lucky to say that, and I know I can’t imagine what it must be like to live with it. But low points? Yeah, I’ve had a few. Five years ago, I returned to the States after living in London for four years. It was, simply put, four years of magic. Four years of traveling the world, visiting museums, making friends, experiencing culture. I had taken a break from my career and devoted myself to being the best ex-pat I could be. (The rumors are true: I’m a great ex-pat.) But when my husband got a job offer in Silicon Valley he couldn’t turn down, we headed back to America. Reverse culture shock? It’s a thing. California was so hot. The food was so salty! The people were so loud. And don’t get me started on driving. I handled the change well…for about a week. Then, one day when I was touring a new gym, I walked past a spin class blasting a Coldplay song (Strawberry Swing. I’ll never forget.) and I burst into tears. Ran into the bathroom and sobbed while simultaneously texting my girlfriends in London: I’ve made a huge mistake. The crying spells continued (if you know me, you’ll know this is already cause for alarm: I never cry.) I cried on the treadmill. I cried in the shower. I cried in my car. I cried more in those months than I’ve ever cried in my life. The problem, I decided, was I had too much time on my hands. Were I busier, I wouldn’t focus on my misery. So I decided to go back to work, joining an internet start-up in Menlo Park. Turns out technology moves awfully fast. Four years is like twenty in the tech world, and I was a dinosaur. I was a dot-matrix printer. I was so out of my element, something I realized about ten minutes after I first stepped off the elevator. There was more crying here, too, in the bathroom stalls when everyone else was at lunch: crying for the career I once loved but now hated, for the things I once knew but had now forgotten, for the identity I once had but was now gone. But for nine long months I stuck it out, partially because I don’t believe in quitting, but mostly because I had nothing else to do. (Yes, I do have two small children, which is plenty to do. But early mid-life crisises do not respond to logic.) Enter writing. Moment of truth: I’ve never written a book before The Witch Hunter. I’d always wanted to...

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EYES TURNED SKYWARD by Rebecca Yarros … release day!
Dec08

EYES TURNED SKYWARD by Rebecca Yarros … release day!

Rebecca Yarros New Adult Entangled: Embrace Publishing Release December 8, 2014 Synopsis Life’s too short to play it safe… Since her sister’s death, twenty-year-old Paisley Donovan, who shares her sister’s heart condition, is treated like delicate glass by her parents. But nothing will stop her from completing her Bucket List—even if it kills her. And it almost does, until Jagger Bateman pulls her from the ocean and breathes more than air into her lungs—he sets her soul on fire. Jagger is enrolled in the country’s toughest flight school. He’s wickedly hot, reckless, and perfect for a girl looking to live life to the fullest. Except that Paisley is the commanding general’s daughter, and her boyfriend is Jagger’s biggest rival. Now Paisley must decide just how much to risk for a guy who makes her heart pound a little too hard. They’re flying through dangerous territory—and one wrong move could make them crash and burn… Goodreads Purchase Links Amazon: http://amzn.to/12JX0xD B&N: http://bit.ly/12sPgPG Kobo: http://bit.ly/1vYRYIy iBooks: http://bit.ly/1vonVVQ Excerpt Before it could get any heavier or more awkward, I kicked off my flip-flops into the heavy grass. “Are you ready?” She peeked behind me at the lake. “Wait, you want to swim here?” I shrugged. “One of the guys told me about it. It’s secluded, clean, and we have it to ourselves.” She shook her head and waggled her finger at me. “Oh, no, not here. This is not a good idea.” I pulled my shirt over my head and tossed it on the hood of my truck. “This is the idea, Paisley. Get your clothes off and get in the water.” Her eyes widened, and I didn’t miss the way she raked her eyes down my chest. Was she a tattoo kind of girl? Or was her boyfriend the clean-cut guy she could take home to her mom? “Does the ink bother you?” She blinked a few times, then jerked her eyes to my face as her cheeks flushed. “No, not at all.” I knew what would come next, the inevitable what does it all mean every girl asked. I hadn’t told anyone the real translation of the words that stretched across my chest, arm, back, and abs. Those truths were mine and mine alone. “Let’s swim.” “No, you don’t understand—” My patience slipped another notch. She was not getting out of this. “If it makes you feel better, I’ll get in first, but you’d better be right behind me, or I’m throwing your cute little ass in.” I ran at the water, jumping in where it looked deep enough. The cool water slid over my head. I stood, the water...

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