My Fair Math Geek

Over the next several days, Entangled Teen is exploring some of their YA “retellings” — books that take a different spin on classic tales. Today, I’m up to talk about Finding Perfect, a retelling of Pygmalion. For those who’ve read the book, you caught the Eliza Doolittle shout out, and I loved the idea of turning the story on its side a bit.

For anyone who’s seen Pygmalion (or My Fair Lady with the lovely Audrey Hepburn), Can’t Buy Me Love with Patrick Dempsey, or even Trading Places with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, you know that makeovers can be powerful, and it’s not only the physical that changes. In all these cases, the main character(s) end up with a profound shift in their world view.

Eliza Before

In Pygmalion, two older men who specialize in languages begin a little experiment. Professor Higgins bets he can take a girl from working class England and tutor her into behaving like a society lady, complete with accent change, etiquette lessons, and a new wardrobe. If she can run the gauntlet during a party with London’s elite, the bet is won. Eliza Doolittle does just that…and finds herself not fitting into her old life after the experiment is through.

In Finding Perfect, Ben is math genius from the wrong side of town. Paige, our Mr. Higgins, is given the task of making him over into someone the most popular girl in school might like. This isn’t as simple as changing up Ben’s wardrobe, as Paige quickly discovers. He needs an overhaul—including a new, more confident outlook. From a getting a great haircut to washing a car shirtless for Zoey’s benefit, Ben follows Paige’s instructions to move from supporting character to leading man.

Except—it’s not enough, as Ben figures out.

Eliza After

The more Ben tries to achieve “Zoey status” the more he realizes that he’d rather be himself—albeit with a better haircut—than try to be something he’s not. But he knows his current life isn’t what he wants, either. Working two jobs while staying on top of his homework has been tough. What he really wants is a chance to find a great future and do it his way.

For Eliza, it’s unclear where she’ll end up (in any version of the tale). She’s a fish out of water, but there’s a sense that it’s a temporary shift for her. One day she’ll fit into her new life, and be happier for it. For Ben, his path is right in front of him, and his metamorphosis at Paige’s instruction is exactly the kick he needed to climb the final hill.  Both of them end up much farther along with the “experiment” than without, and meet a lot of new people who have their best interests at heart.

And, in Ben’s case, Paige gets his heart in return.

Looking for a few great retellings? Check out these YA books:

–       Olivia Twisted and Olivia Decoded (Oliver Twist), by Vivi Barnes

–       All the Broken Pieces (Frankenstein), by Cindi Madsen

–       Such Sweet Sorrow (Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet), by Jenny Trout

–       Wake the Hollow (Legend of Sleepy Hollow), by Gaby Triana

–       Red (Little Red Riding Hood), by Alyxandra Harvey

–       How Willa Got Her Groove Back (Pride & Prejudice), by Emily McKay

–       Nexis (A Sci-Fi Cinderella), by A.L. Davroe

Plots and Plans

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a bit. Life is C-R-A-Z-Y at the moment, between school, marching season, edits, and the day job. I love being busy, but this might be a little much.

Part of being a writer who has an additional career (part-time or full-time) or kids, or dogs, or…well, a life, means that you constantly have to reconfigure your schedule depending on what deadlines are coming, what’s going on outside your writer-cave, and–to be brutally honest–what’s selling. It’s a juggling act, and at times you have to make decisions between two projects.

There are some authors who can work in two projects at once, but I’ve struggled whenever I tried. If I’m working on a manuscript, I need to devote my whole attention to it, or both projects will suffer. I’m also a hybrid-author–both traditionally published and self-published. Which means there are contracts and hard deadlines for most of my projects. Now–I LOVE deadlines (nope, no sarcasm) because it forces me to plan out my schedule and gives me the nudge toward outlining because I’d rather write by the seat of my pants, which isn’t terribly efficient. But sometimes deadlines clash.

Which is exactly where I am now.

I currently have three books on order with Entangled–projects I’m super excited about and will be a lot of fun to work on. I’m also only a third of the way through the final book in the Uprising trilogy. That book is taking some serious time, and will be very intricate in order to tie down all the loose ends. I love that book, too, but it’s a beast, and that’s no lie. So, the crux is this–I have some aggressive deadlines with Entangled and those projects are going to take up most of 2016 into early 2017. Given that, and how much focus U3 will take, I’ve made the super hard decision to delay U3 into mid/late 2017. I won’t give a hard date at this time, but I anticipate mid-fall. I don’t want to do it a disservice by giving it part of my attention, and I don’t want the Entangled books to suffer because I have an outside project.

I know that decision leaves some of you frustrated with the wait to complete Lexa and Quinn’s story, but this delay means I can really do it justice. They have a lot on their plate–planning a revolution is hard work, even for two nex-gen artificials. So, I’m going to give them a bit of a vacation, then come back swinging early next year. I hope you’ll join me, even with the delay, because this final book has some pretty huge twists and turns.

I appreciate every single person who’s read any of my books–y’all are the reason I can continue doing what I love. Thanks for hanging in with me as these new books take shape.

Also–I need to bulk up my TBR pile. I’m looking primarily at contemporary and SciFi/Fantasy YA, but I’ll read adult fiction in those categories, too (no horror, please, I’m a lightweight when it comes to gore). What’s good to read out there?


It’s Here! Defying Gravity Releases Today

Howdy friends!

I’m so excited to announce the release of Defying Gravity, my newest release from Entangled Crush! For those of you who enjoyed Finding Perfect, it’s time for Zoey to find her happily ever after, too. Check out the blurb:


Two brothers. One girl. May the best man win.

Disclaimer: This book contains enough sexual tension to melt snow, the hottest near-kiss in the history of near-kisses, and a sexy snowboarder determined to win the heart of the girl he loves.

Zoey Miller lives for her holidays in Aspen. Her time up on the mountain with the Madison brothers, Parker and Luke, is everything. But for the first time, it’s not enough. This time, she’s determined to win one of the brothers’ hearts.

But the brother she has in mind is a renowned player, with hordes of snow-bunnies following him around Snowmass resort. And the other…well, he’s her best friend and knows she deserves better. Namely him. And he’s going to win her heart.


If you need a little winter break this summer, I’ve got you covered: snow, mountains, hot snowboarders, sleigh rides–you name it! You can find Defying Gravity in eBook format on all major retailers, as well paperback from Amazon. But, before we close, how about a little teaser?




Parker climbed into the sleigh and held out his arms. Wondering what the hell she was doing, Zoey slipped onto his lap and settled herself. His arms came around her at once, and the driver whistled at the horses. The sleigh started with a lurch, pressing her against Parker’s chest.

Breathe. In and out. Just breathe.

His hand roamed up her back. “You comfortable?”

She held very still. “I’m fine. You’re keeping me nice and warm.”

Which was true. In fact, he was keeping her a little too warm.

He’s your best friend.

I know.

So, don’t let this go too far, idiot. Remember, you have the hots for Luke, so don’t confuse things.

But, but…

No, buts. It will ruin everything. Slow it down.

Tell that to her pulse, which raced ahead of her good sense.

The horses plodded through the snow, pulling the sleigh like it weighed nothing. The breeze had quieted, adding to the hush that only the horses’ bridle bells broke.

Parker’s hand slid up her back. She could feel its warmth through her coat, which made her shiver again.

“You cold?” he whispered.

She shook her head. His face was so close…his lips were so close. If the sleigh hit a bump, they’d collide in a firm kiss. Which wasn’t the worst thought she’d ever had…

God, what she was doing? He was her friend, and there were rules, boundaries. She knew all this, and understood the perils of having a guy best friend. You had to stay neutral, one of the boys, or things went topsy-turvy fast.

So what had she done? Volunteered to ride sitting in his lap. Self-control, thou art worthless.

She leaned against him while her thoughts tumbled about in her head. She was warm, cozy, and held tight by a boy she’d trust with her life. At home, she never felt like this. She always had to be on her guard, always the one people watched and looked to for cues. Here she could let all that go and enjoy a silly sleigh ride, even though most of her so-called friends at Alderwood would declare it a lame way to spend an evening.

And yet, she wasn’t sure she should be letting it happen. She wasn’t even sure why it was happening.

“Enjoying this?”

Parker’s whisper tickled her ear, sending an ache through her belly. She turned slightly to find his lips an inch from hers again. She didn’t want to hurt him, or lead him on. But, right now, he was looking at her in a way she couldn’t decipher. Something that made her want to cling to him and explore his mouth with hers.

What was wrong with her?

“I was thinking,” he whispered, “that maybe I should kiss you.”



Beating the Fear Game

Hello friends,

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, blog post ideas, and things pressing on my heart big and small: consent, Brexit, the presidential election, paying for college, saving for retirement, what to feed my family for dinner, how to coordinate driving my kids in opposite directions once band session starts..

Some of these things are the day-to-day concerns that any parents have. Some are things I can’t really control. I’ve had a morbid fascination with “reading the comments” lately. Not a healthy pastime, so I made myself stop. You never realize the true depths of human hate and fear until you dive deep into the comments on a politically related post on USA Today. Trust me. Or, better yet, simply take my word for it and move on. What is it about anonymous computer screens that make people say such awful things to each other?

Given the things that can terrorize us, paralyze us, enrage us (real, perceived, or manufactured)…it’s a tough world out there. Now, imagine being a teen. Not fully understanding what the fuss is about, but being infected by the fear anyway (see: lockdown drills). Older people will gamely say, “Ha, in my day we had atomic bomb drills!” This, as a means to tell younger people to “buck up” in the face of global turmoil…yeah, not so great. Because hardening hearts shouldn’t be the goal, at least not in my opinion.

See, to me that’s where the crux of the argument lies. To quote a great metaphysical thinker (Yoda):  “Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.”

Think about how many outlets are trying to make you afraid enough to do something their way. Certain fear is healthy: Fear of falling off a cliff keeps you from leaning too far over that observation rail, yes? But the more insidious fear–fear of an unknown, fanned by the flames of hate, rhetoric, and “spin?” Well, that’s what keeps us up at night–even our kids. And yeah, we suffer for it.

What’s the cure? To me, it lies in simple, but powerful things… Love. An open mind. Curiosity. Education. Meeting new people. Stepping in to help. Acknowledging prejudice and doing your part to keep it out of your own way. Understanding the roots of fear, so you know what it is when you see it, and why.

Kindness. Generosity. To have hope, and to share it. Be infectious with it.

To listen.

Look, I’m not a philosopher, a perfect person, or an expert in much, but I remember what I was taught as a child, before I looked at the world with inferred filters. Just think how things could be, regardless of our stance on any given topic, if each person choose to be kind for a single instance each day, when they otherwise wouldn’t be?

That’s the kind of world I hope my kids inherit.



The Power of Patience

So, I’m teaching my son to drive.

Yep, sound the Klaxon and get off the road–my 15-year-old is in command of a moving vehicle. As a parent, this is a very odd sensation. On one hand, you spend your entire life teaching them to be independent while secretly standing behind them in case they fall. Teaching a teen to drive is different–you’re there to help, but you are completely out of control. The kid has the wheel, the gas pedal, and over a ton of metal, glass, and rubber at his command…and I don’t. All I have is the door handle to hang onto and my voice to instruct. To quote my husband: “At best you can influence.”

To most people (save those saintly souls known as drivers’ ed instructors), this is a recipe for terror. I’ve had to learn that patience and gentle instruction is a far better tool than lectures about how brakes work. Learning to drive, although nearly everyone over sixteen can and does, isn’t as easy as a new driver thinks it is. It requires patience on the student’s part, too. I clearly remember trying to learn parallel parking with my mom. Let’s just say we both left in a huff. If we’d both had some patience with each other, it would’ve been easier. In fact, after asking my dad, who is probably the most patient man alive–no kidding–to teach me, I learned in an hour.

It’s been good for me to learn to let go. I want my kid to drive–I really do. I remember the freedom of being able to go where I wanted to go when I wanted to go there. (As an embarrassing side note, that was typically the local library–what a luxury to go get books whenever I wanted them! Oh, and McDonald’s. Because…sixteen.) That sense of freedom is part of what gives teens their first taste of adulthood, which is a theme that often carries over to YA literature. Think about how many books wouldn’t have a story if the characters didn’t have a car and the ability to go and do*?

That transition is at the heart of these books: first love, what does the future hold, life-changing decisions, learning you who are. How many people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s remember being a teen? I’d say a great many of us. Raising one can be difficult, but remembering what that time was like, with all it’s stress, can help you empathize (even if the teen in question doesn’t believe you). For YA authors who aren’t a YA (which is nearly all of us), hanging onto those memories can help you create a story that resonates.

In other news, edits on the “Zoey book” (sequel to Finding Perfect) are in the hopper with my editor, and we’re going to edit a new book later this summer (sekrit project). Finally, for my Unstrung fans, I’m starting the draft to book three, with hopes to release it late this year/early next year.

So how about you…did any funny/lightbulb moments happen when you learned to drive?



*Excludes places with regular, prolific mass transit.

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