Category Archives: My books

My WIP minus my WIP

If you’re not familiar, Garfield Minus Garfield is one of the better things on the internet—an exploration of what Garfield comic strips are when the character of Garfield is removed. Hilarity abounds. I was thinking about it earlier, and I wanted to make a blog post—a short one—about what my WIP (retired code name: Overdue Hug; new code name: Roving Pack of Queer Teens) would be like if it weren’t a manuscript. What’s left when you take the book out of the story. Here’s what I came up with:

I’ll be awful sometimes

Weak unto my knees

But I’ll learn to get by

On little victories

from “Little Victories” by Matt Nathanson


He let this fear sit with him, burrow into his bones, fester in his heart. It was a myth that bodies replaced their cells every seven years—stomach linings did so every few days, the skin took four weeks, the skeleton renewed every decade. Eventually almost all of them did—cell by cell you became a different person every day, every moment, every decision and indecision, never exactly the same as you were before.

But the brain didn’t change. Neurons in the cerebral cortex stayed the same, like the cells in the eyes. Chester saw fear, knew fear, from the moment he was born, torn from darkness and comfort and quiet into light and noise and color. He was afraid with the same brain he’d always had, the same eyes. The feeling had carved out a home in him.

Maybe fear was so much a part of him it couldn’t scare him anymore.

—from Roving Pack of Queer Teens

Art is not what I create. What I create is chaos.

from “Colors” (stripped) by Halsey


Brennan arched a brow, and Chester half-convinced himself that his heart revved for totally unrelated reasons—low blood sugar and a lack of vitamin D and politicians’ alarming refusal to address global warming. Everything in the universe other than blunt-force Brennan. He waved with his fingers, impersonating a functional human being who had definitely not Facebook-stalked him.

—from Roving Pack of Queer Teens

You taught me what a life is for

To see that ordinary isn’t

from “Light Me Up” by Ingrid Michaelson


People were “an obstacle,” as his school therapist, Ms. Leland, would’ve put it. Ms. Leland thought of life in terms of a relay race—full of hurdles and hoops to jump through, but ultimately rewarding. A test of both patience and perseverance where honesty came without a cost and love was free.

Chester thought of life as an ocean he’d fallen in the middle of. He could swim and swim and search for land and swim and stumble and swim and fill his lungs to bursting, but he’d never find a place to rest.

Rest was for people whose blood flowed because that was its job—but Chester’s heart pumped because he asked it to, beat after beat.

—from Roving Pack of Queer Teens

The best laid plans and breaking worlds

I have a bit of a book commitment problem. Three days or two months or half a year after finishing a manuscript, I’ll get the first idea for my next one, and it will seem so, so amazing—whether because of the premise or the characters or the voice. I’ll be invested from the get-go and I’ll start writing all in a tizzy of excitement…and then without fail, by the next month, I will have abandoned that project.

I don’t know why I do this. I’ve completed six full-length manuscripts; I have an agent. It seems like I should have the foresight to determine if a new manuscript will pan out, but I just don’t.

And because I’m an easily excited person, I tend to talk about those projects, the ones that go nowhere. I’ll blog or tweet about them, and my critique partners will likely be tired of hearing about them. People respond—often, to my delight, favorably. And then I feel like a big ol’ fraud when I never mention those books again.

So yeah, this is a bit of a funeral for REVERIE, the 2013 book I thought would be my fifth, after MAD WORLD (the latter of which I did complete). And for, more recently, NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. Sorry, books. You were fine ideas, but, you know. YOLO? No, that’s not right. Oh well.

I feel ridiculous saying this after all that, but this blog post serves two purposes: I also wanted to update you all on the current work-in-progress. This book will be my seventh if it kills me.

After SWEETEST DOWNFALL—soon to be retitled; watch this space—I had an idea-drought. This left me in a panic; usually some idea or character floats by fairly quickly once I finish a manuscript, but this time, not so. It took me about six months to think up a single premise, which I discarded because it wasn’t going anywhere. Same with the next. And the next.

But I’ve been sitting on this idea I have right now for a little while. I came up with the title first, which Does Not Happen except this time it did: BREAK THE WORLD. Somehow it felt right. It felt like something I’d write.

I’m still kind of early on in the process, at least in terms of words on the page—but because I am dying to share it with you, I wanted to tell you some stuff.

BREAK THE WORLD isn’t necessarily a fluffy book, but it’s nowhere near as dark as my previous ones. No one is dead, and no one will die. It’s a young adult contemporary romance, like The Artwork Formerly Known As SWEETEST DOWNFALL, but the similarities pretty much end there—where Zeke is the most introverted character since the dawn of time, Emory likes going to parties and hooking up with guys whose names he’s pretty sure he was told but can’t exactly remember because, you know, alcohol. Where the voice in SD is quiet and introspective—”literary,” according to my former Pitch Wars mentor Helene Dunbar, which made me happy-squeal a whole bunch—in BTW there’s a joke or two I find hilarious in almost every scene.

Still, BTW has substance—I mean, I certainly hope it does, since I’m the writer. It’s about falling in love with someone who is working very, very hard to love himself. It’s about recovery. The day-to-day aspects of it, the minutiae of getting yourself to a place where you are functional again. The way we need to tell our hearts to beat, sometimes. It’s about everything that makes the world, and how exactly we go about breaking it in our tiny and important ways.

Also, sex.

And if you read all of this, you deserve A) a sticker and B) a couple of short excerpts I like. So:

The first line of the manuscript: I am maybe possibly not really okay fine a little bit very astronomically drunk.

From narrator Emory’s first interaction with Jude, the love interest: “Can I touch it?”


“Your face,” I say, gesturing to his face in case he forgot where it was. “Can I touch it? With my face?”

Thanks for reading, friends! I want to blog more often but, you know, I never know what to talk about. Still, your continued support is seen, it is appreciated, and it is noted favorably on your individual permanent records.