While I do not have a sister, the idea of giving up one’s whole existence for the sake of another is both poignant and painful to absorb. In The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver, readers travel through Ella Lawton’s life – that of a semi-outcast whose popular twin sister, Maddy, has cast her aside for the sake of the “in-crowd.” It is a shunning that Ella finds horrifically painful, but she deals with it by shutting out many people, her parents included.
The one friend she has is Josh, a fellow art-addict and equal misfit.
All Ella wants is to leave the cliques of high school life behind with Josh at her side and reinvent herself at Rhode Island School of Design. That’s their plan . . . until one night on an ice-covered road leaves Maddy dead and Ella devastated. Mistaken for Maddy, Ella takes everyone’s relief and joy that MADDY is alive as a sign that maybe she should leave herself dead, and take over Maddy’s flawless life. She believes everyone will be better off if she buries herself and her dreams, but she quickly learns that Maddy’s perfect life was built on lies and insecurities . . . and staying dead may not be possible for long, especially when Josh begins to suspect that his beloved Ella is not really six-feet-under after all.
Great story with fabulous characters who walk off the page. A sister story unlike anything I have ever read and guaranteed to grab onto teen readers and keep them turning pages late into the night! My 13-year-old daughter would devour this!
I get asked all the time about being a self-published author. Why I did it, how hard was it, etc.
I did it for many reasons, but like Karen Traviss, I too was a professional journalist for nearly 20 years. I was paid to write the story THEY WANTED ME TO WRITE. With UNDERTOW, I just wanted one chance to write the story I wanted to write and stick to my guns about it.
I wanted to test the waters and see if I really knew what readers of my genre were looking for. Did I really know them? Was I going to give them what they wanted? Would they howl for more?
The answer is on Goodreads (MAD THANKS to all my fans).
But would I someday like to also be traditionally published? Of course, because I’d like to be able to list myself as a hybrid author (self-pubbed and traditional). Do I think publishing houses need to broaden their understanding of the indie market? Absolutely.
As a business woman, it would make sense to seize on those self-published books that have a screaming fan base and acquire them in larger publishing houses because, well, those books are a sure bet. There is no risk because the book has proven itself to its audience.
But books that have NEVER been published, and therefore have yet to meet everyday paying customers, have yet to confront the true litmus test of on-the-street readers. Basically, every traditionally-pubbed book is a financial gamble for a publisher. Readers are fickle. What is lauded among some reviewers and agents can crash and burn once it hits the shelves (and vice-versa). Sadly, poor sales / reviews can cause the author to crash and burn as well, because the publishing house didn’t make the bundles it wanted to make. Remember – it’s not about the story. It’s about money.
I know of only one publishing “house” that has caught on to this idea of grabbing well-reviewed, self-pubbed authors (who are flying under the radar), and acquiring their stories: Alloy Entertainment, who is basically the younger sibling of Warner Bros. Studios.
It seems I am not alone in my assessments . . .
The following article is from NYT bestselling author, Karen Traviss. I’ve reposted it below from io9.com
“Publishers thought they were the creators of books and that their customers were the book stores. They forgot that that authors are the sole source of books and that the only paying customers are readers. Everyone else in the food chain is replaceable.”
“Nobody else is going to do it for you.”
It was deceptively simple advice given to a group of aspiring writers at the MSU Clarion workshop. The wise words about taking charge of your own career came from author Suzy McKee Charnas: and one of the writers was me.
Brace for a few numbers. I like numbers. After 24 novels with Big Five publishers, 12 of them NYT best-sellers, I took Suzy’s words to heart and withdrew my 25th novel – Going Grey – fromthe schedule of a Big Five house and released it independently. The whole Ringer series will now follow the same route.
When my first book was published ten years ago, the technology to do that didn’t exist. The ability to sell e-books, paperbacks, and audio editions globally without the need for a middleman is something that’s only recently become a realistic alternative. If you’re a musician, an artist, or you work in comics, independent production’s been part of your professional landscape for much longer. Nobody thinks third-party validation is necessary; everybody knows it’s about creator control.
But mention indie publishing – direct publishing, self publishing, call it what you will – and you’ll still trigger knee-jerk frothing among writers in opposing camps. Some of that is fuelled by partisan reactions to Amazon, the main driver of the rapid growth of the independent sector. One camp claims Amazon is the evil empire that destroyed bookstores, and all the indies it’s spawned are people who can’t get published any other way: the other camp says Amazon has dismantled the Berlin Wall of giant publishers and retailers – “Big Publishing” – to give more freedom to more writers.
Readers rarely care or even know who your publisher is, though. Why should they? Publishing is packaging and distribution. Consumers’ rational concerns are what’s in the package and how much it costs.
I’m in neutral territory, or at least I’ve seen both sides of the razor wire. I’m a commercial author who’s sold a lot of books through the Big Five. But I’m also an ex-journalist with a critical eye on big corporations, and I’ve had my share of bad experiences with traditional publishing. What follows is a non-partisan account of why more writers like me are finally waking up to another way to do business.
Initially, my decision to publish Going Grey independently related to a specific problem; it was taking too long to get it on sale, and I wasn’t willing to wait any longer. It was only after I acted that I realised how much the industry had changed, and how naive I’d been to think Big Publishing would look after my interests because I made money for it.
The traditional publishing industry is getting a serious kicking these days. It’s a common pattern in business. An industry enjoys a protected existence for years, mergers force the eggs into fewer baskets, and the players get complacent and flabby. They overlook new technologies and bolder business models creeping up on them – in this case, Amazon. Publishers thought they were the creators of books and that their customers were the book stores. They forgot that that authors are the sole source of books and that the only paying customers are readers. Everyone else in the food chain is replaceable.
Pulling Going Grey from the publisher was a straightforward choice with a specific aim. After a number of changes in the schedule, I was now looking at a 2015 release for a book that I’d already had to rewrite because real-world events kept overtaking it as time dragged on. I couldn’t risk more repeats of that. I needed the book out ASAP, by which I meant summer 2014, still six months away.
The publisher said they couldn’t do it so I handed back the money and walked. I found another publisher who could get the book out on time, with a profit-sharing deal instead of royalties. But a chance conversation I’d had the year before made me hesitate.
I’d been talking to someone at Audible, a chat which led me to investigate all the other things that Amazon did. I realised a little late that I could publish Going Grey myself. Suddenly all I could see was ten years of being jerked around on someone else’s chain with little to show for a lot of sweat. I needed to do it myself just once, if only to feel I had some control over my career again.
Let me put this in context. I’ve had some unpleasant experiences with publishers, including breached contracts and books left marooned “in print” but unobtainable, but I’ve fared better than many other writers. I’ve never had to languish in a slush pile, I’ve had advances well above the average, and I’ve never really been stopped from writing what I wanted. I never reached the stage where a publisher wrecked a book or buried my career, unlike friends I’ve seen sunk by inexplicable decisions and foul-ups.
But I’ve made more in royalties from one moderately successful, short-run franchise comic series than I’ve made in ten years of royalties from novels, more than half of which were best-sellers. That illustrates the reality of traditional publishing even for apparently successful authors. Unless you’re one of a small handful of mega best-selling writers, you’re not the one getting rich off your work.
Big Publishing was a gatekeeper, not for quality (boy, that’s a feature on its own) but for distribution. It effectively controlled entry into the big book chains, especially in the USA, the largest English language market. Without Big Pub, you were going nowhere. Now the chains are vanishing, e-books are booming, and Amazon sells it all anyway. It was my wake-up call: it wasn’t just Going Grey I had to worry about. I now had to consider whether publishers could do anything for me in the future. All I could see was an industry getting slower, clinging increasingly to what worked in the past, and doing less for authors.
I’d spent more than 30 years in different branches of the media. As well as writing and editing, I’d served my time in PR, marketing, production, advertising, and corporate branding. I’d been a TV producer and I was used to working with voice artists as well, so I could handle an audiobook. Hell, I even had a retailing qualification that I’d completely forgotten until then. I could process a book in any format from the first word on the page to the finished product. I just needed to get a grip and harness all that for myself.
The downside; I’d have to rebuild my readership because I was shifting genres from straight SF to techno-thriller, but that would have happened whatever route I took. I had to kiss goodbye to advances as well, but those come at a near-Faustian price. Big Publishing wants all your rights for the lifetime of the copyright. That’s 70 years after you’re dead. Marriage may last as long as ye both shall live, but even death won’t release you when you wed yourself to a publisher. And if they screw up, you can’t normally take your business elsewhere without an expensive lawyer.
So what about distribution and exposure in stores? E-books were a level playing field; no problem there, then, and at very least, paperback editions would be available via Amazon and B&N’s site. But I’d forfeit a short time on the shelves of B&N’s dwindling number of branches – short because most books don’t have long before they’re removed to make room for new titles. Eventually, customers end up having to order online or via a store anyway. So if I published direct to Kindle and iTunes, and used Amazon’s CreateSpace printing and distribution for the paperback edition, Going Grey would be as visible as it would have been after a few months via the traditional route.
The only issue left was money. For e-books, I’d get 70% of the list price. For paperbacks, the income varied depending on the channel, but the bulk of my sales are the US market, which appeared to give me double the royalty rate that I’d get from a publisher for a hardcover. Number crunching showed me I’d only need a small fraction of my usual sales to break even on what I’d lost from an advance. It would be spread over a longer period: an advance is paid in three or four chunks over a year or more. So I had little if anything to lose. In fact, I stood to make much more.
As an indie, you can see every sale accounted for individually each day and you know exactly how much you’ll get. It’s a percentage of the list price that you decide to set and can choose to change at any time. It’s not derived from discounted prices you have no control over, don’t know about, and can’t check, and it’s not that mystery figure called net. Unlike the average royalty statement from a publisher, the data is transparent, and the terms are straightforward and available to everyone. So I opted to self-publish all editions of Going Grey except audio. Audible boughtthe audiobook rights for a fixed term and optioned the rest of the Ringer series.
The only new skill I had to learn was using graphics and typography apps at short notice when the book designer I’d hired didn’t deliver and I had to do the covers and interiors myself. A web designer friend gave me a crash tutorial in vector graphics and kept a watchful eye on me. I added it to my skills list and enjoyed doing it.
That was in June. I’ve now published two indie books. It’s too soon for a verdict because this is a long-term game, and you learn every day and tweak your operation accordingly. It’s not a panacea: getting readers to discover books is just as tough as in traditional publishing. The whole thing takes effort and a mind-set some don’t have or even want to have, but you can hire freelance help for any part of the process. The point is that the decisions are entirely yours to make.
I realise some writers want the validation of a publisher. Please take it from someone who’s had it that the only approval that counts is the reader’s. It’s the point at which free market economics meets the pleasure of storytelling. Even minority interest books that no publisher wants because the market’s too small can be viable for indies. It’s a time of creative freedom for writers and choice for readers. Amazon (because it really is Amazon that led the charge) has done more for creative diversity than the most high-minded New York publisher.
People warn that Amazon’s dominance might send it down the same author-unfriendly path as Big Publishing. Yes, it would be better if its rivals upped their game. But even if it turned into a kitten-eating monster, the technologies that underpin this tectonic shift are here to stay. You can build a mailing list and sell digital editions from your own web site if the worst happens, and readers are smarter than ever at finding what they want. That’s the real change. Distribution’s been taken from the hands of a few big-budget players and made available to everyone.
So until the next publishing upheaval, I’ll probably take my chances as an indie. The only difference readers might notice is an absence of my franchise novels – buying licenses for those is the preserve of publishing companies. I’m writing more comics and scripts, though, and I finally have enough control over my schedule to write all those original books I had to put on hold.
Producing Going Grey was immensely satisfying. Now I’m enjoying writing the sequel, Black Run. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been able to say that about any book. As we say in the UK; result.
British author Karen Traviss is a military novelist, games, and comics writer whose credits include Halo, Gears of War, Batman, G.I. Joe, and Star Wars. A former defence correspondent and TV journalist, she’s the author of the award‑nominated Wess’har books and is currently writing Black Run, book two in her new techno-thriller series.
I have totally ignored my blog, but I swear it was for many good reasons! Well . . . most of the time. That whole incident when I stole my daughter’s jumbo bag of Mega M&Ms and inhaled the whole thing may not have been wise, but I was writing for Kian at the time. I mean – it’s KIAN. He’s like his own chocolate high for any female on the planet.
But, anyway, I have been prepping for the launch party of STORMFRONT! Yup – ’tis true! That book you have nagged me for since last fall is finally waiting in the wings, ready to make its debut! I’ve been sending out invitations, ordering swag (and the swag is OMG!), and tweaking last minute changes to the cover.
DONE! It’s DONE! Which is a total miracle I might add, because I was A NUT about the storyline in this massive sucker (452 pages . . . at this rate, the last book will weigh five pounds).
I am truly excited to hand this off to readers because of the twists in the story and those ridiculous, five characters that hijack my mind. The sucker is up on Goodreads, so make sure you add it to your “shelves” to read!
I was left awed at how it climbed the ranks, gained such ardent fans, and landed on Must Read lists. It was like an out-of-body experience, truly. I’d see reviews and conversations coming up online and I was like, “Seriously? You’re obsessing about MY book? Fighting over characters? Screaming for the next one? Are your SERIOUS? Am I being PUNK’D? But . . . but . . . REALLY!!??”
Once the initial shock started to feel more normal (note – it NEVER wears off, I swear), I realized I was screwed. I needed to keep going – keep writing Eila’s story, but I also worked FULL TIME. I admit that I did have a momentary break-down and full-on panic attack because I knew I had to write like Steven King on Crack to get the next book out.
Even more terrifying was the fact that I now had fans going into STORMFRONT.
I had real people, across the country (and overseas) that were COUNTING ON ME not to choke. To not make a literary face-plant into second-book-hate-syndrome. I needed to top UNDERTOW, the story that sparked their obsession. I needed to leave them so breathless and fully addicted that they would scream the characters’ names from the rooftops (or their blogs – that would work too).
So, yeah. If you think it is scary to release your first book to the critical eye of the world, just wait until you send out the second one.
I have no fingernails left. None.
On the plus side, the money I save from not having to buy nail polish can go into my hair-dye fund, since I’m sure the grey suckers are about to attack . . .
Elijah Hawkins needs to die. Slowly. Painfully. Tortured until his pleads for mercy only serve to fuel my inner demon. Needless to say, I am not a fan of the man, which is why he was so perfectly written.
When I started reading CREED by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie, I was expecting to hide under the covers – that it would be totally terrifying, but I didn’t find it scary. Instead I found it ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, RAGE-INDUCING! I burned through the novel in a matter of hours on a Sunday afternoon, unable to put the sucker down because I was begging, PLEADING, for Elijah to D-I-E. Now, I’m not going to say if the pervert meets his fork-tailed maker or not, BUT it was the driving force behind my reading obsession. I wanted justice and I wanted him stoned into mush.
The story starts out with three friends (Dee, her boyfriend Luke, and his younger brother, Mike) on the road to a concert in East-of-Nowhere New York when they run out of gas on an abandoned stretch of highway. They spot lights in the distance, and with ice coating the roads and hypothermia knocking on the windows, they decide to investigate the town. Bad idea – didn’t these kids see Cujo?? DON’T LEAVE THE DAMN CAR! It all turns into a real-life Hell, with cult leader Elijah Hawkins filling his role perfectly as the violence-in-the-name-of-god character. His horrifically abused son, Joseph, is also wandering the town with his own agenda.
The characters in this book are what make the story. Hands down, Luke was my favorite (damn you Leaver and Currie!!). His brother Mike is a great, unlikely hero. I loved the brothers and fell for them both quickly. Joseph is brilliantly drawn as a survivor of his father’s wrath, but the reader never knows if he is actually a good guy or a player, and I love that. His broken but tough soul made me want to root for him, but then I questioned his motives constantly.
Elijah – well, I covered my thoughts on him, but Dee, the voice of the story, really needed to die. I kept screaming at her to fight back, beat the piss out of Elijah. Stab him, claw his face off – ANYTHING! I was hoping she would go after him and die in a way fitting of Pulp Fiction, taking Elijah down with her. Seriously . . . if I ever meet her on the street, I may push her out into traffic.
This book is like a train wreck in that you can’t peel your eyes from the carnage even though you know the outcome ain’t gonna be pretty. Which is why it works so flawlessly.
Leaver and Currie did not set out to write a happily-ever-after. They set out to make you totally loathe a character and scream at the pages, which is precisely what this story does.
CREED leaves you haunted . . . and in need of a punching bag. A big one.
Last year I stumbled upon an author by the name of Cassie Mae and her book, FRIDAY NIGHT ALIBI.
The riotous way Mae wrote her main characters quickly had me hooked. In FRIDAY NIGHT ALIBI, soon-to-be-college student Kellie makes quite a few bucks thanks to the boys in town who want to date girls their parents don’t exactly approve of. Kellie offers these guys an alibi for a buck – she sits at home playing video games and pretends to be on a date with “Frank” so “Frank” can really sneak off on a date with a totally different girl.
Kellie answers the phone when parents call, writes down a full itinerary of the fake date for the boy who purchases her services, and TA DA! Kellie makes money and the boys make out with the chicks they aren’t supposed to date. But then Kellie runs into Chase who is older than she is, and for the first time Kellie may no longer want to be just an alibi. Perfect brain candy for a rainy day!
So, then I read SWITCHED, because I loved ALIBI and sure enough, it was another fun, addictive read. It was a chocolate-covered pretzel, can’t-stop-eating-it type of literary snack attack. It was basically about a boy and girl teaming up to break up their friends from their significant others in an attempt to have a chance with those they are trying to split apart. Only problem is, they find themselves falling for one another and NOT the couple they are supposed to be driving a wedge between. Total fun.
But it wasn’t until I read REASONS I FELL FOR THE FUNNY FAT FRIEND that I really thought Cassie Mae showed her true ability as a storyteller. I loved the concept, the idea of body image in young girls and how boys really see them. I loved the main characters and their chemistry and the running thoughts of the boy’s POV (which the entire story is written from – hello AWESOME idea). And while it was still a fun, fast read, it had a more serious slant that I loved.
So, whenever I need to come up for air from the dark worlds I write and read, Cassie Mae is my perfect ray of sunshine. Her stories are a tipsy combination of FRIENDS, 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, and maybe just a pinch of 16 CANDLES.
And let’s face it – everyone needs a little Long Duk Dong in their life now and then :)
If there is ever a phrase that sends chills through my body, it is: “Well, I’m not really sure if my COMPLETED manuscript is exactly aimed for teens. Maybe it is more middle grade? But then again, I guess it could be adult.”
Oh, dear lord.
There is nothing, NOTHING more important than knowing WHO you are writing for before you even put pen to paper. You need to know EXACTLY who your audience is – from how they live, talk, socially function, what would make your book appeal to them, WHY they would buy it in the first place, blah, blah, BLAH. How do you sell something if you have no clue who would want to buy it? That’s like designing a hot air balloon that can’t fly and saying, “I know this will appeal to SOMEBODY.” Well, heck – you would be 112 years old before you figured out WHO would buy an unfloating air balloon (FYI – this would sell to those funky, futuristic tent designers who want some killer fabric and who would upcycle the basket parts. SEE??? I know my audience!!!)
As cool as your story may be, it NEEDS a set audience to S-E-L-L. So . . . let’s take, uh . . . OH! The Shadow and Bone series by Bardugo. Dark fantasy set in a brutal remake of a Russian-like empire. Totally awesome. Love it. Go read it. Well . . . go read it IF YOU LIKE THAT TYPE OF THING. See???? Audience. I like dark and creepy with a few well placed bodies here and there. I can do fantasy as long as the fairies are the type to murder you in your sleep while acquiring your tooth.
So Bardugo’s audience is the type that:
A. Likes dark fantasy. This would include those who enjoyed the last few books in the Harry Potter series best, and those who liked Lord of the Rings and (if you’re ancient like me) The Dark Crystal.
B. They are 14 + (maybe a few, high-level 13-y-o readers too). She appeals to those who like vivid world building over smooching scenes. People who are willing to see a character fail and have mixed feelings about the “bad” guy (who happens to be a hottie).
C. Her readers tend to be thinkers. People who like puzzles, especially the ones that require you to out-manuver an opponent. They are the people who tend to be the quiet ones, but their imagination is always running and it isn’t playing Cinderella scenes over and over, if you get my gist.
D. They are bold, but not for the sake of others. They will pierce their tongue not to fit in nor stand out, but because doing so speaks to who they are as a person. They don’t follow the crowd.
E. They like twists and unseen complications. They like to see the characters fail as well as conquer. Romance is okay by them, but it is not the only reason they read the story. In fact, the romance aspect is low on their list of must-haves and they like that the main characters are a bit tortured in their love for one another.
You may say, “Holy heck, Conway – that is a TON of detail. How are we supposed to know that much about our audience?!” Well . . . that’s part of being a writer, and I was a journalist before I was a novelist. As a journalist I had to always, ALWAYS sell my story – not only to my editor, but to my potential readers. I needed to pitch every story to my editor and tell them WHY it was timely. WHY people would read it and WHO would read it. I needed to tell them how I would learn about the topic I was pitching and LEARN ABOUT WHO IS INTERESTED in such a topic.
I basically became my audience, every time, for every story. To become my audience for UNDERTOW, I began reading any and all YA books that were a bit similar. I started watching every teen movie I could find, plus those that were not aimed for teens but had young main characters. I shifted my playlist in the direction of pure Alternative music, hard rock, and a bit of metal.
I was willing to be a teenager – jump on beds (okay – my daughter’s bed at least), leap from the Town Neck bridge, argue over t-shirts at Abercrombie, and generally act like I was 16 rather than . . . well, older. I began to look at the world as a high schooler again – to understand fully what they loved, what tormented them, what mattered to them. Now-a-days it is easy for me to shift from the “run for your lives, MOM IS PISSED!” mode into a full on, nag-worthy, “Can we please, PLEASE, PLLLLLEEEAAASEEE go to the movies???? Can we go dye our hair??? Can we go hang out at the beach with our kites??”
If you have any doubt in my ability to be a teenager, just ask my daughter and her friends. They will tell you I am full-on nuts, but 100% wildly fun. Well . . . until you pick on your little brother or dare to sass me.
Then it’s GAME-ON-EVIL-MOTHER MODE.
And yes – I will totally write my Mean Mom character into a novel at some point . . . as long as it fits with the audience I am writing for. As for now, I work exclusively for the teens I strive to please, and always, always for my fans.
Because of these two things, my blog gets a wee bit, uh, neglected. And I am totally sorry about that, because I do have a ton of super cool followers on this blog. Therefore I shall try to be better about updating this at least three times a week (or when not shaking the beach sand out of previously unknown body crevices).
I will try to mix this blog as always – books, writing, rants, and Cape Cod life in general. Slowly, I will be reposting all the “writing craft” stuff over to my new blog site, which is dedicated to the schools and libraries I teach for (StoryRebels). On that site I hope to have student writing examples, details on how I edit, the classes I teach, and storytelling in all its fabulous forms. It is a slow process, but it will be worth it when it is done!
But for today, I’d like to announce the local launch of STORMFRONT at Marstons Mills Public Library! Details are below. Be there to get your copies if you want them 10 days before the world-wide launch on August 13, 2014!!
Well, my friends and fellow YA authors, Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie, have gone and done the unthinkable in the publishing world – they are GIVING AWAY one of their co-authored novels FOR FREE (online that is). Their novel SILO is a gift to their readers and will be posted in stages to WattPad. Below is a note from both Trisha and Lindsay about why they are giving away the farm for free . . . or in this case, a silo:
With the release date of CREED rapidly approaching, Lindsay and I have been fielding questions about what our co-authored voice sounds like, how psychologically twisted our collective mind is, and do I need to read all of your co-authored pieces with the lights on?
Rather than simply answer those questions, we thought we’d take it one step further and actually show you! We toyed with writing a prequel-type novella to set the stage for CREED, but you know us…why write a novella to CREED when you can give them an entirely different book to enjoy!
After much discussion with our agents and an enthusiastic ‘go for it’ from our publisher, we have decided to utilize Wattpad to give the world a sneak peek at what they can expect from our co-authored voice. So here it is, a new, psychologically twisted, co-authored YA Thriller.
“The darkness would’ve scared me years ago, but not anymore—if you couldn’t see it, then you didn’t know it was there to be afraid of.” ~Jake Holloway, SILO
Starting today, we will be sharing a chapter a week of our co-authored book, SILO, on Wattpad for the world to enjoy, hate, question our sanity, run screaming from… The last chapter of the book will drop the week of November 8th, the same week CREED releases!
So, go forth and be appropriately frightened as you realize just what our twisted minds of capable of. Spread the word, leave a comment on Wattpad or simply enjoy the book in the dark confines of your own home.
Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather irreverent dog. Her co-authored, YA Psychological Horror drops November 8, 2014 from FLUX. Her solo YA Contemporary, THE SECRETS WE KEEP, releases April, 28th 2015 from FSG/ Macmillan
Lindsay lives in Chicago, Illinois with one incredibly patient hubby, three amazing kids and one adorable, but irreverent Bullmastiff named Sam. She graduated from Knox College in the heart of the Midwest and has been writing for as long as she can remember.
Today, Lindsay is an author, as well as a freelance editor for young adult, new adult and middle grade fiction. She is a proud member of SCBWI, The YA Scream Queens and OneFourKidLit.
It’s no secret that much of what is in UNDERTOW is “doable” in real life on Cape Cod. It’s like a teen’s guide on what to do on the Cape.
Jump from the Town Neck bridge? Yup.
Bonfire on Sandy Neck? Check!
Drive out on the sand with a vehicle? Damn straight!
Nosh on decadent ice cream at the Milk Way? Always!
Of course, some things got renamed . . . like MJ William’s “Milk Way” shop, which was based on Four Seas Ice Cream in Centerville. The fabulous shop is still a staple of Cape Cod – a quirky, four-walled testament to what we are like as Cape Codders in general – sort of slanty, unique, artsy, and multilayer. We beach dwellers strive to be the best at whatever we do, and the hard working crew of Four Seas is no exception.
I remember Four Seas from my childhood days (I am totally a mint chip girl). My Dad would order us scoops in sugar cones and show me how to bite the end off the cone and suck the ice cream through the bottom. We would sit in the open hatch of his beat-up station wagon, watching people in line as they debated the flavor choices on the chalkboard menu. Every once in a while a moan would climb through the line of patrons when a worker would wipe away one chalked selection, signally that the flavor had sold out for the night. Luckily the list was always long and varied and soon the people waiting would begin debating other options.
Really – you could never go wrong with any flavor. Ice cream that good was borderline illegal for its addiction potential.
At Four Seas, toppings were limited, mainly because the ice cream was the true star. It was unneccesary to load such creamy perfection with mass-produced candy bits. Nay, it could almost be considered an insult to the ice cream gods.
The screen door always banged against its faded white frame, and the cow bell jangled with each new customer – nearly inaudible over the sound of voices and laughter. In some ways Four Seas reminded me of Mel’s Diner in American Graffiti – that same vibe of youth, friendship, food, and memories. Many shops strive for such an elusive mix of qualities, though few will earn their way into the same league as Four Seas.
Kids I went to school with often worked there, shoulder to shoulder, scooping madly to keep up with the crowds. The scoops were cone-shaped rather than round, which seemed to make the ice cream even more fantastical. I’m dead serious – don’t mock the scoop!
So yes, I built my vision of The Milk Way on that one ice cream shop I adored and my children now relish. And on Cape Cod, the past often becomes the future, not because we can’t think of anything better, but because the past is just too darn perfect to mess with.
I will be signing UNDERTOW at Four Seas on Saturday, June 7th from 6-9pm.
Come join us for killer ice cream . . . and killer characters.