Books to read if you enjoyed One Night

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Here’s a list of comparable books to check out while you’re waiting for the companion to One Night. (Spoiler alert: fans of Thompson’s BFF Ronnie will be glad to know he plays a much bigger role in this book!)

The One Night comp title list, in no particular order:

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas. This YA novel takes quirky friendship to a new level. Ollie is allergic to electricity and Moritz has a rare heart condition. For medical reasons the two can never meet, but their friendship is brought to life through their heartfelt letters to one another.

The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely. Hendrix, the main character in this novel, would definitely get along with Thompson. Like Thompson he makes it his mission to reunite his grandpa with the one place that reminds him of his one true love. Hendrix busts grandpa out of assisted living and they take an epic road trip from LA to NY.

The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis. This is another YA novel that centers around an unlikely friendship that just works. Teenager Maggie is blind until the day she suddenly starts seeing Ben, a ten year-old boy. Ben is the only person she can see and over time they develop a great friendship. I’m a firm believer that two people don’t have to be near the same age to share a special bond and this book delivers on that idea.

Paper Towns by John Green. Like Thompson, Quentin pines for a girl who doesn’t deserve it and goes to extreme lengths to find her when she goes missing. Don’t watch the movie instead of reading the book! There are some great scenes in the book that didn’t make the cinematic cut.

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What I’m Into This Month

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It’s that time again to talk about what I’m reading, writing, and watching this month.

What I’m reading:

  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Unabridged, people! This is not my usual read, but my husband ADORES this book and can’t wait until I finish reading it. It is interesting and in general I’m familiar with the story, having seen an adaptation starring one of my favorite actors Jim Caviezel. But it’s much longer than an average book. I just hope I finish by the end of the year.

What I’m watching:

  • The Wolfpack, a documentary about a group of brothers who grew up sheltered in an apartment in New York who have a passion for movies. Completely fascinating and available on Netflix right now.
  • Newtown, another documentary (apparently they are my thing this month) about the town of Newtown, CT and how they’ve dealt with the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. I make it a point to not get political on my web site, but this is really an eye-opener about how we need some reform to gun control laws. You will need tissues for this one.

What I’m writing:

  • A companion to One Night that follows Ronnie and Thompson into college. Tentatively titled The Only Thing. Thompson finds himself in another romantic predicament. More details coming soon.
  • I’m also editing my YA novel that’s set in Serbia. Why set a novel in Serbia you ask? My husband in Serbian and Serbia is a beautiful country that often gets a bad rap in the media.

If you want to be the first to know about new book news and read a preview of One Night, sign up for my email list.

P.S. I am giving away a signed copy of One Night over at my friend Melissa’s blog, So About What I Said. Be sure to enter and check out her great web site!

 

Help my book get on Goodreads lists

Hi all,

I have a favor to ask that will only take a few seconds of your time. If you are a member of Goodreads would you consider adding One Night to these reading lists (links follow below):

Teen Reads for Adults

Hawaii

YA Road-trip novels

If you like John Green

Favourite Fictional Friendships

Adding One Night to these lists would greatly help me in spreading the word about my novel. Since I’m the author I am unable to add my own books, but if you could help that would be awesome!!

Thanks 🙂

One Night: Bonus book club content

  1. Thompson has a special place in his heart for Cap’n Crunch cereal. Make these tasty marshmallow treats using the cereal and share with your book club, friends, family, or just make them for yourself!
  2. The 2013 movie, The Way Way Back, shares a similar premise to One Night. Watch the movie and discuss how it differs from Thompson & Johnny’s story. Are the two projects making the same point or different ones?
  3. The idea of fate or destiny is prevalent in One Night. What is the novel’s take on these themes?

One-Night-Cover

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Free preview of One Night

Hi all, to celebrate Halloween I’m offering a free preview of One Night! You can read it below 🙂  To buy One Night go here. To be the first to know about new books sign up for my email list here.

One-Night-Cover

Chapter 1

I had a decision to make: Elvis or Mr. Wonderful. I loved listening to Mr. Wonderful tear apart idiotic business ideas; more than that, I admired him because he wasn’t afraid to tell the truth. But I’d stayed home the last three Friday nights watching Shark Tank with my parents, and I couldn’t do it for another week.

I drove my rusty white Corolla toward the Tiki House, a family restaurant on Honolulu’s northwest side that was a cliché of itself. My heart pounded and my palms soaked the steering wheel with sweat. My body was telling me not to do this, but I kept going. I parked fifty feet away from the entrance and turned off the engine. The Tiki House shared a plaza with Starbucks, T.J. Maxx, and a movie theater, and had achieved a certain level of infamy. It was where everyone took out-of-town guests from the mainland who demanded an “authentic” Hawaiian experience. There were countless other restaurants in Honolulu with better food and less-tacky furnishings, but the Tiki House was an event tourists lived for.

I considered pulling out of the parking lot and going home, but I’d clocked out of Super Kmart six minutes early to be there on time. I got out and walked up to the bamboo front door. There was a hot pink flier taped to the outside promoting Elvis night featuring Eddie King, Harold Rogers, and Johnny Lee Young.

I’d watched Eddie King once with my ex-girlfriend Caroline and her friend Becca. Caroline loved Eddie and had only missed two of his shows in the past year. On Wednesday she’d posted on Facebook that she’d be at tonight’s performance. I was counting on it. I hoped she’d see me across the room and then walk back into my arms as if nothing had changed, as if the Worst Valentine’s Day in History™ had never happened. It was a long shot, but it was a shot I had to take.

I pulled out my phone and dialed Ronnie. “Are you sure you can’t meet me at the Tiki House?”

“Can’t. It’s mahjong night at casa de Medina, and I gotta watch Ella. Sorry, T-dawg.”

God forbid Ronnie call me by my actual name, Thompson. It was always T-dawg, T-money, T-dubs, or my personal favorite, T-cup, as if we were popular jocks with cheerleader girlfriends who could pull off such ridiculous nicknames. Instead, we were scrawny AP class nerds who played NBA Live instead of real basketball.

“Can’t you just put your sister in her playpen?” I asked. “Have Barkley watch her?”

Barkley was his family’s neurotic West Highland terrier. He weighed all of eighteen pounds, but had the guard dog tendencies of a Rottweiler.

“That’s cruelty to two year-olds,” he said. “Besides, you know how I feel about your quest to get the CW back.”

“Who says I’m trying to get her back? Maybe I’m just embracing the pain. Wallowing if you will.”

“Yeah right. I think we might need to have an intervention soon. You are very close to hitting rock bottom, my friend. You might already be there.” He hung up before I could think of a witty comeback.

Inside, the Tiki House looked like the island section of a party supply store had thrown up. Magentas, purples, and greens practically punched you in the face as you walked in. Synthetic palm trees and multi-colored lights on strings multiplied in places they shouldn’t, like the urinals in the restroom. The female wait staff wore grass skirts over their khaki shorts and all the employees draped rainbow leis around their necks. The food was so-so at best. The fries weren’t salty enough and were often undercooked, and locals knew it was a bad idea to order the cheeseburger, or any beef dish they had on offer.

I sat at a small round table meant for two and ordered a chocolate shake and fish tacos. I scanned the bamboo- and palm-encrusted room, hoping I’d see Caroline’s wavy red hair in the crowd. Caroline had an unrivaled obsession with Elvis and I had what was probably, in retrospect, an unhealthy obsession with her. I loved that she didn’t worship boy bands like other girls or listen to obscure alt-rock bands that were supposed to be cool. After we became a couple, “Sweet Caroline,” a song I had loathed previously and that I was sure had no business being played for anyone except the unfortunate souls who actually attended Neil Diamond concerts, became my ring tone. It was in my top twenty-five most played songs on iTunes, sitting comfortably in the number three spot. I had every word memorized and sang the song with gusto whenever my phone went off, grinning like an idiot when it played. Elvis songs held five of the twenty-five spots, another side effect of Caroline. Caroline loved Elvis so much that I myself became enamored with him. I bought his CDs, read up on his life (Me & A Guy Named Elvis: wow, what a book), and watched his movies, even though they all followed a similar formula:

 

Elvis meets girl + Elvis punches guy in dancelike fight over girl + Elvis wins girl + catchy songs = cash cow

 

I noticed I was one of maybe six males in the restaurant. There was a table full of women who, based on their soft bodies and day glo crocs, had to be moms. They were acting like they didn’t get out much, shrieking and laughing as if everything that was being said was the funniest thing they’d ever heard. This, I knew, was statistically impossible. There were groups of younger females in their twenties wearing high heels, low-cut shirts, and bright red lipstick, with the occasional couple thrown into the mix. There was also an old couple with silver hair at a table near the stage with a large pepperoni pizza and margaritas in front of them. For a second I thought about leaving, but didn’t. I wanted to “run into” Caroline and this was the only way to do it.

The first guy to come out was Eddie King. When he walked onto the wood stage, one of the moms let out a shrill whistle. Eddie King was young, twenty-something, and wore Elvis’s trademark gold lamé jacket over tight black pants. His outrageously poufy black hair was clearly a wig. But, as he swiveled his hips across the stage, the ladies in the Tiki House went ape-shit, especially the girl in the barely-there lime green shirt who grabbed at him like he was the King himself, digging her long pink nails into his right arm. I scanned the crowd again for Caroline, but didn’t see her.

Eddie sang three songs before making way for the next Elvis, Harold Rogers, who was ancient and out of shape. His wig had seen better days and hung loosely against his wrinkled brow. Gobs of flesh prayed to be freed from his synthetic navy blue jumpsuit. The rhinestones on his suit were one false move away from popping into an unintended firework display of silver sequins and glitter. I almost hoped it would happen since the show was guaranteed to be spectacular, but I really didn’t want to see this guy without any clothes on. His chest heaved with exhaustion as he plodded through “Suspicious Minds.” Beads of sweat dripped from his forehead and hit the stage like fat drops of rain.

“Thank you, thank you very much,” he gasped at the end of his set.

I asked my waitress for a refill of my shake before the last guy came on. I didn’t get to eat junk food a lot since mom was the queen of low-fat, organic, non-GMO eating. She blogged about clean living in addition to doing her day job (she did something with spreadsheets for the Four Seasons Resort, I still wasn’t sure what exactly) and had made a nice side-business of it. She sold enough advertising to subsidize our astronomical Whole Foods’ bills.

The last Elvis was older than Eddie King, maybe thirty, and had a spark in him that made the women of the Tiki House swoon. His thick black hair was real—it wasn’t clipped on and fake like the last two guys’. His jaw and nose were narrower than Elvis’, but his eyes were just as big. He wore a black button-down shirt, matching slacks, and a yellow lei, and from the way he shuffled his feet as he performed “Jailhouse Rock,” I could tell he’d been doing this a long time. Unlike the previous performers, he ventured off the stage and into the heart of the restaurant, stopping to greet every patron as he sang. He moved with the kind of confidence and charisma I could only dream about. He locked eyes with me as he approached my table and winked. He tipped his head, spun around, and continued on.

He waved to the old couple with the pizza at the table in the front and returned to the stage before breaking into a song I’d never heard before, one that hadn’t made its way into my larger-than-average Elvis catalog. It started with a grand crescendo to a high note that made the hairs on my arms stand up, before dropping back down to a low register. It was about being lied to and led on, but loving the girl anyway. There were no backing vocals or gratuitous instrumentation to tone down the emotion. It was just this guy in black putting his heart on the floor.

He sang about being blindsided by his one true love, which I knew something about. The song was simple—there weren’t any extended metaphors or complicated language—but it was effective. I could tell by the way he clutched at his shirt that he’d lived through what the lyrics spoke of. Either that or he was one hell of an actor. I tried looking up the song on my phone but, like most things at the Tiki House, the Wi-Fi was terrible. I’d been listening to so many sad songs in recent weeks about regret, loss, and heartache—even country songs about drinking your problems away—but this one was different.

“I’m Johnny Lee Young, everybody,” he said at the end of the song, a slight drawl in his voice. “Though not so young anymore. I’ll be here all night. Please stick around for my second set.”

The moms’ night out table whooped with delight. The young girls in heels whistled.

As Johnny Lee Young stepped down from the stage and made his way to the bar, I zoomed past the rowdy ladies and accosted him.

I had to know the name of that song.


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Five things you need to know know about One Night

To celebrate One Night’s release I wanted to tell you five things you need to know about the novel.

  1. If you’re tired of all-white casts in YA this is a great book for you. As Portland Book Review states, “There are plenty characters of color which does not happen often in YA lit.”
  2. If you’re tired of books set in New York, Chicago, or L.A. this is a good book for you. One Night is set in Honolulu which is one of the best destinations in the world in my humble opinion.
  3. If you love music, especially old music, this is a great book for you. One Night has a lot of Elvis references that allude to his music and acting career. Even if you hate Elvis it might make you a convert.
  4. If you are tired of the absent/crappy parent trope in YA this is a good book for you. Parents aren’t perfect, but I think there are quite a few of them out there who are trying their best – a lot of current YA doesn’t depict this, but One Night does.
  5. If you still aren’t ready to buy One Night, you can try the first chapter free when you sign up for my email list.

Release day post

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How to survive a scathing book review

blog post bad review

As some of you may know, I recently received a great review of One Night from Midwest Book Review. However, I also recently received a horrible review from another publication which I won’t name here. Suffice it to say they just did not get One Night. At all. For a very dark hour I wondered if I should quit writing altogether. How can something I love, something other people love, be so misunderstood? What if it sucks? What if it’s not something that can entertain and pull readers out of their own lives for a bit?

Instead of giving up, I decided to be proactive and share some tips on how to cope with a terrible review.

  1. Read one-star reviews of your favorite books, or books critics love. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Every single one of them has haters (many of them) which is shocking yet also comforting. Here’s a one-star review of one of my favorite books, The Fault in Our Stars.
  2. Drink a glass of wine, eat an ice cream cone, have some chocolate – whatever your vice is, allow yourself a bit of it and move on. My vice is ice cream obviously as indicated by the image above 🙂
  3. Remember publishing is a subjective business. J.K. Rowling has been rejected numerous times as have many other mega-bestsellers. You can’t be everything to everyone and that is okay. Remember you can be something to someone, however.
  4. Keep writing. You want your work to be out there. You want your voice to be heard. You want to share your stories even if some of the world hates them. The world may not need your voice, but someone out there, multiple someones, do. Those someones are why you write. Keep at it.

If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear them.

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