Friday, May 15, 2015

Best Friends…Forever? Blog Tour




  






Excerpt 1:
I was so nervous the night of the basketball game. At first, I didn’t even want to go into the gym, but I mustered up the courage just as the game ball went streaking past my head and I almost got knocked over by a referee. The ref blew the whistle and went to hand the ball off. Vladi was standing right there and he nodded at me. Peyton squeezed my arm as we sat down, but I didn’t think it was that big a deal because he didn’t smile at me or anything.
          “Duh, he was playing basketball, but he acknowledged your existence,” she said.
         “Kind of like how that cheerleader who keeps screaming out his name is acknowledging him?” I pointed to the girl with glossy straight brown hair who was doing back flips on the sidelines.
        “Forget her. He must like blondes anyway. He didn’t check me out after all,” she said.
         I checked around to see if Carey was there, but I didn’t see her. I did see India sitting with Doug and Cristian though. I poked Peyton, but she had already seen them.
         “Devon would kill her,” she said.
         “Um, should we tell her? They just started talking again,” I said. I didn’t want to get in the middle of another fight and I could tell that Peyton felt the same way. Besides, it wasn’t like Doug was Devon’s boyfriend. I’m sure India thought she would be safe since other than her and Devon, the rest of us hadn’t gone to the away games before. Peyton said we should try to avoid them after the game so we could pretend that we never saw them together. However, I ran into her on my way out of the bathroom at halftime.
         “Landry,” India’s aqua blue eyes widened. “Are you here to see Vladi?”
         I nodded and we both stood there. Peyton came in to see what was taking so long and almost passed out when she saw India.
         “You guys, could you not say anything to Devon about this? I came by myself and I just ran into Doug here,” India said.
         Peyton and I acted like we hadn’t even seen Doug. I knew India had to be lying because who would go to a game by herself? We agreed not to say anything. The whole time I worried about what would happen if Devon found out that I knew about Doug and India. Peyton told me to relax because we weren’t doing anything wrong. I wasn’t sure which was worse: keeping a secret from Devon or breaking up her friendship with India?
Excerpt 2:
I got ready for bed and then stopped to check my social media page one more time and that's when I saw it — another picture of Peyton, India, and Devon hanging out. They were sitting on the couch with their heads scrunched close together and laughing. It was a cute picture, but then I saw the caption: So glad we could all be together for the holidays. Love these guys soooo much! Best friends forever. #Alltogether #Threemusketeers #BestFriendsForever #ThreeBestFriends #ThreesCompany.
My heart sank. It was India’s caption and anyone who read it would think what a closeknit group of friends and not realize anyone was missing from that photo. Sure, I was in another state, so naturally I couldn’t be there for it, but the way India wrote that made me feel so left out. I mean, what did she mean by the "ʺThree’s Company"ʺ hashtag? And sometimes people tagged friends who weren’t there in pictures and added, "ʺWish you were here,"ʺ but there was no mention of a fourth member of the group.
“Ready for bed, hon?” Mom asked coming into my room.
“Yeah, just signing off.”
“Okay, sleep well.”
I got into bed and hoped I was reading into things, but the knot in my stomach wouldn’t go away.

Excerpt 3:

“Landry, it’s gotta be so awkward for you to be going to Vladi’s school next year,” Tori said. “I mean, what if you run into him during the tour?"
"It’s a huge place,ʺ Ashanti said. “People break up all the time. It’s not a big deal.ʺ
Tori raised her eyebrows as if to say, “Yeah, right,” and went back to her sandwich. Meanwhile my delicious homemade soup was no longer sitting well. It never occurred to me Vladi might be around during the first prefreshman tour. I would be mortified if I ran into him and he was with a girl. Or worse yet, running into him, and he was with Yasmin. Plus, I hadn’t told my mom about the breakup, so if she saw him, she’d probably go over to talk to him. I could already imagine it: “Landry, Vladi’s here! Hon? Why are you hiding behind the garbage can? Your boyfriend, Vladi, is here. Come say, ‘hello.’ Stop trying to run away. Why is everyone laughing and pointing at you and calling you a ‘loser dumpee?’ What does that mean?”
Well, maybe the world would end and I wouldn’t have to deal with high school or Vladi and my mother running into each other.
****
Sadly, the world did not end, and on Thursday, we all had to go to the high school for a freshman information night from 6 to 9 p.m. 





Q. What was it like writing book two?
A. I had already written almost half of book two when I got my contract for the first book. I got so caught up in the edits and everything for True Colors (book one), that when I got back to the second book, I had to re-read everything I wrote and approach the manuscript as a reader and not a writer. Once I got back into the storyline, the writing flowed easily. I enjoyed getting back into Landry’s world all over again.

Q. Was it different from writing book one?
A. It is tricky fitting in backstory without weighing down the story with it. In some ways it was easier to get straight into the story without having to introduce the characters as in depth as I did before. However, it can be a stand alone book and I had reviewers (and readers) who read this one without reading the first book and enjoyed it.
Another thing that was different is that this time around I had read reviews where people had mentioned wanting to see what happened next to Landry and feeling invested in her life, so I went into book two knowing that and it was a great feeling to know people saw Landry as a real person and not just a character.

Q. How is this book different then book one?
A. . We see Landry faced with more challenges and how has to speak up for herself—something that’s not easy for any of us to do. This time she deals with misunderstandings that cause her real friends to stop speaking to her and she’s done nothing wrong, but how does she get them to listen to her and see that—especially when she has someone trying to make her look bad? She begins to feel more comfortable with herself in this book and begins to see that she’s not the only one who deals with insecurity as her parents share their own stories of struggles. It makes her see her mom in a different light and have a new appreciation for her.

Q. How has Landry changed in this book from the last one?
A. Landry grows up more and we see her learning to stand up for herself.  She still has her self-conscious and insecure moments, but she becomes more comfortable with being who she is. She begins to push back from Ericka’s (her frenemy) passive aggressive comments, which is something she would have been more afraid of doing in the first book. Landry internalizes things a lot, but in this book we see her reach out for help when it gets to be too much for her.
Q. Are there new characters in 'Best Friends…Forever?'?
A. There are a few—we meet Kendall, a high school girl who is friends with India and happens to be related to her crush, Vladi’s, best friend. So Landry gets to find out what’s going on with Vladi through Steve’s sister and also learn about what high school is like as Kendall takes Landry under her wing. We also meet some girls from the American Ingénue  Wild Card competition one being a girl named Kyra from Flint, Michigan who becomes close with Landry. We also meet Landry’s maternal grandparents in this story as she visits her family in Chicago. We met her Grandma Albright in book one and now we see her visit both sides of the family during Christmas vacation and one side is a bit uptight and the other very relaxed and easy going. It explains a lot about her parents, too!

Q. Do you know how many book are going to be in the Landry’s True Colors Series?
A. I know there will be at least six because that’s how many I have outlined/plotted so far, but I have ideas well past those six. I might take Landry well into high school. I have heard from readers who would like to see her go to college!

Q.  Do you know how you want the series to end?
A. Originally, I planned to keep Landry in middle school, but when the first book came out I started to notice readers were posting things about wanting to see Landry enter high school. I’ve even seen comments about taking her into college and after even that. It got me to thinking about Landry in high school and now I’ve started writing those scenes.

Q. Did you have a role in the cover to 'Best Friends…Forever?'?
A. Yes, I had some suggestions for the cover artist. I wanted to use the same model as Landry and I wanted to see Ashanti and Peyton on the cover, too. For a while it was going to be just Vladi and Landry, but I am so glad the other girls are on there as well. I also love the backdrop with the school. Cora Graphics did a beautiful job with it.

Q. What was the process of the cover like?
A. We emailed back and forth about the story and I was so glad we were able to keep the same “Landry” as the cover model. I wanted Peyton and Ashanti on the cover since this time the friend drama in the book is more about the painful, lonely loss you feel when you fight with real friends as opposed to frenemy types.

Q. What was the process of the trailer like?
A. Videos by O. did the trailer. She also did my first trailer for True Colors. She had the blurb for the story and knew what I liked from working together on the first trailer. I squealed when I saw it for the first time.

Q. What are your likes and dislikes with the trailer?
A. I am so in love with the trailer. It looks like something for a TV series or movie. I am just crazy about each and every scene in it. Videos by O. did an amazing job.

Q. How are your fans reacted to 'Best Friends…Forever?'?
A. I was a little nervous about getting a reaction to a sequel because I’ve often heard about that “sophomore” curse, but my beta readers all came back with the same comments saying they liked this one even better and that they got into Landry’s feelings about high school and the friendship drama even more this time around. I was surprised to see comments online about how people bought the book and immediately began reading it. It really made me smile to hear that. I keep getting messages on my site about readers being ready for book three now. I’m working on it!

Q. Is there any part of writing 'Best Friends…Forever?' that you changed the part where it changed the whole plot?
A. I think when Landry gets overwhelmed by what happens when India turns Peyton and Devon against her and she’s very upset and mad at India, but then her dad gets her to look at it in a different way. It really changes the way Landry thinks and it took the story into a different direction. And when we see her dealing with the misunderstanding with Ashanti and the breakup, it could have defeated her, but yet she begins to stand up for herself, so in the end it makes her stronger. Originally, I didn’t intend to have a breakup scene, but I felt like we all have those moments in life where everything that can go wrong does and it’s how we deal with that that defines us and I felt that was really true for Landry.

Q. What is your favorite part of 'Best Friends…Forever?'?
A. I like the conversation she has with her dad where he gives her great advice about dealing with “frenemies” and calls it, “quality dad-ing.” I also love the scenes in the high school gym with Vladi—both when she is internally freaking out of them sharing a simple soda and that awkward moment later when she’s trying to figure out if he’s seeing another girl. Oh, and the last scene in the book made me smile so much. I won’t give anything away, but I smile each time I read that scene.
Q. With 'Best Friends…Forever?', what do you hope readers take away?
A. I hope the message about staying true to yourself and telling the truth even when it’s hard is a message readers come away with. I also hope they like the advice Landry gets about dealing with frenemies and her fear of failure. That scene with Landry and her mom (and she has the conversation with her dad at one point, too) talking about the fear of failure was difficult to write because it hit close to home. As I was writing it, I could feel not just Landry’s mom talking, but my own mother and my grandfather as well. I felt how my father felt when he went out for things in his career and didn’t have the support of all of his family, but went ahead anyway and then had to deal with those subtle jabs. And even though I was a kid at the time, I remember when my mom decided to go back to work in a different career field and how her friends make snide little comments like, “Oh that career field just isn’t for you, is it?” She kept at it and I remember her coming in my bedroom and putting a post card down in front of me and she asked me to read what it said. It said something like she sold two million in a month in real estate. I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but looking back, it was a great example of pushing through even though you had friends saying you’d never make it.









 


I was in the grocery store when they started playing this song and it was such a sad, desperate song that really got to me (as I shopped for soap). I hadn’t heard it in years, but I came home and downloaded it onto my ipod and put it on repeat to get in the right mood for the breakup scene.  My husband officially hates this song now due to my overplaying it.






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