The book of my heart was also the biggest pain in the ass
Only one week till release!
We are one week (and one day) away from the official release of The Plus One and to say I’m emotional about it is an understatement—in all fairness though, I get emotional just about everything so take that with a grain of salt. It appears that some stores have set out copies early, which is thrilling and terrifying all at once! If you see a copy in the wild, make sure to snap a pic and tag me on instagram!
I did a super fun panel in Vegas this past weekend and someone absolutely shocked me by showing up with a finished copy they found at BN!!!
In many ways, The Plus One is the book of my heart. It’s bared-boned and vulnerable, diving into topics like PTSD and abandonment issues that required me to open compartments in my brain I worked very hard to keep sealed shut for years. Dira and Jude are messy and flawed and broken people who don’t find a magic cure through love, but do find solace in the stability of their connection, holding hands as they face the big scary things life throws at them. Plus, it’s sexy and fun as hell (hello, emotional 69ing 😏) and I had a blast watching these two relentlessly roast each other as they fell in love.
As much as I love the book now and look at its creation with rose-colored glasses, the book of my heart used to be the biggest pain in my ass. I used to (not so lovingly) refer to Dira and Jude as my problem children, and there were many times in the drafting process I would have put money on this book never coming to fruition or, if it did somehow get finished, it would be the worst thing I’d ever created. The truth is, this book took more work than I thought myself able to give a project. It sucked me dry at times, but I now look at that labor of love as something I needed to do to get Dira and Jude’s story told.
The Plus One, as it exists in its final form, is completely different from what it once was. In fact, I ended up having to pretty much re-write this book from scratch in about four weeks. Which was the most stressful!!!!!!!!!
I knew, even when I turned in the first version of this book to my editor that it wasn’t right. Something felt off and unbalanced in the story, like it was a shoddy mask of who Dira and Jude actually were, individually and to each other. It was originally an epistolary romance between these frenemies told in past and present segments that culminated in a second-chance romance for the two. For those who have read early copies of TPO, there was no wedding, no fake dating, no only-one-tent shenanigans…. just a lot of surface level mess. It was clunky and lacking and not the story I wanted to tell, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
I’ll always be so grateful to my editor for looking at that mess, and acknowledging that it wasn’t quite right. She saw what I was trying to do, and pushed me to do it better. And that changed everything.
That rewrite, as painful as it was to rip the story apart line by line, cutting tens of thousands of words at a time, forced me to face my fears of conveying the hurt these characters feel, and lean in deep.
For me, that’s one of the hardest parts of writing, allowing myself to sink into the hurt and pain that makes up our lives, and honestly portray that. It made me look at my own hurt, how I’ve hidden it or glossed over it, and actually confront ghosts and insecurities. It’s also hard to go to that place when you’re writing with the knowledge someone will be reading it. My first two books, A Brush with Love and Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake, were largely written before I had an editor and way before I had any readers. Going into a project like The Plus One that required so much vulnerability while also knowing that people will read, and judge (as is a reader’s right!) these beautifully flawed characters made me want to smooth out their edges, protect them from judgement as much as I could.
But that’s not the point of books. Stories are windows to the gorgeously flawed messiness of being human, and denying Dira and Jude of that ability to be tragically human wasn’t doing anyone any favors.
The result was a slightly chaotic tale of two childhood nemeses that lean on each other at their most broken and vulnerable, and find the safety to heal and confront their ugly hurt with the other supporting them along the way. It’s about found family and intimacy and how happiness and hurt aren’t mutually exclusive emotions.
I’m once again partnering with the amazing Malaprop’s Bookshop to offer signed and personalilzed copies of my books! The booksellers were shocked (and perhaps mildly alarmed) at the number of requests for Taylor Swift lyrics we had for Lizzie, and I’m hoping to once again wow them with our swiftie dedication!
Book release also means I get to go on tour and I’m literally vibrating with excitement.
I’ll being doing some virtual events as well as in-person ones.
All event information can be found on my website here and I’ve put a handy-dandy linktree for all the registration links.
I’m also thrilled to announce I’ll be at the LA Times Festival of Books! Saturday, April 22, I’ll be signing books at the fabulous Ripped Bodice at 2pm, then taking part in an amazing panel on Sunday, April 23, at 10:30 am!
The [Horrifying] GIF
And here's this thing:
The End 🤡
I want to earnestly thank every single one of you that has contributed to my excitement and joy around this release. Seeing a book go off into the world is a terrifying thing, but I am constantly humbled at the support you’ve shown these characters and my books. I couldn’t do this without you!!!
All my love,
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