Author: Jolene Buchheit
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Page Count: 268
After one bad experience, Iowa high school senior, triathlete, and fangirl Lucia “Luc” Guzman swore off relationships. Well, that was until Connor Kohlton and his southern accent moved to town. With the help of her childhood best friend, Jax Weber, she discovers her “college only” dating rule may be causing her to miss out on a great guy. Luc's parents have always taught her and her sister to put safety first and she applies that rule in all areas of her life; her training, her work, and her heart. However, she must throw caution to the wind when she decides she can’t fight her feelings anymore… But what will it cost her? When things start to fall apart, it’s hard to tell who’s to blame, because everyone is putting their Best Foot Forward.
I once again find myself not knowing what to say. Connor seems to have that effect on me … a lot. I know I can’t talk about his accident without getting upset and making him sad. There’s only one safe discussion topic that comes to mind. “Are you going to do any more triathlons?”
“I’d like to,” he answers, but seems distracted. Then he says, “Love you,” while pointing at the gauges behind my steering wheel.
“WHAT DID YOU SAY?!?” I feel like I’m sitting next to a crazy person all of the sudden. I slam on the brakes and now we’re effectively parked in the middle of the road. I stare at him, waiting for him to make some sense of this ridiculousness.
“Beg yer pardon,” he starts with a tip of his hat. “It’s just that the gas light is actually blinkin’ and I wasn’t sure if ya knew yer almost outta gas.”
Confusion flusters me. “Right, I saw you point. But what did you say?”
He licks his lips and it doesn’t help my state of mind right now. “Low … Fuel.” He says it cautiously, as if it may cause another wild response from me. Connor’s face is a bit twisted, no doubt wondering if he is the one sitting next to a crazy person.
“Oh, yeah, that makes more sense.” I’m mortified. Could the ground please open up now and swallow me whole? My senses come back to me and I realize that my driving recklessly was insensitive, considering what he went through yesterday. He looks at me sideways and glances behind us to see if we’re holding up traffic. I start moving again and my face floods with color. “I’m so sorry I slammed on the brakes. Are you okay?” I gesture to his arm.
“Yeah, I’m fit as a fiddle. But wait a minute, what did ya think I said?”
I rack my brain to think a way out of telling him what I thought I heard, but I realize there is absolutely no way out of answering him, except to tell him the truth.
“It’s just with your accent and the fact I don’t know you that well and I see that light all the time, because the fuel sending unit is bad, so I track my mileage and I just filled up Sunday so I don’t have ‘low fuel.’” I put up some air quotes with my free hand so he knows what I’m referring to. “Plus, I wasn’t sure what you were pointing at exactly, but I…” I know I’m just postponing the embarrassment and meanwhile engaging in a serious case of diarrhea of the mouth. So I take a breath and decide to come out with it, “I thought you said you loved me. ‘Love you,’” I say again surrounded in air quotes, “is what I thought I heard you say.”
There is silence in the truck. I can’t bring myself to look at him right away, and when I do, Connor’s shoulders are dancing up and down. He’s actually trying to hide his laughter, only it’s not working. He’s not being hurtful, it’s more of a ‘this is a funny story’ laughter, but at least he isn’t as embarrassed as I am. “Well, darlin’, I do enjoy yer company and I hope to get to know ya a lot better, but I’m not sure I’m at the ‘love you’ stage of our relationship yet.”
I start to laugh too at the absurdity of the incident. It’s a truly ridiculous situation and I’m happy to laugh it off with him, rather than dwell on it all alone in my head.
I love to encourage others to write. I think it is very cathartic to let your thoughts out. The only tip I feel qualified to share at this point is to put your pen on paper or fingers on the keys and let it flow. Books have not yet been trained to write themselves, you have to just sit down and do it.
When did you start writing?
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I kept diaries and journals when I was younger. I always wrote papers for school that were longer than they were assigned to be because I simply had more to say. In college, I had a professor requested that I co-write his research project with me. He said I was the first student to “blow him away” with an assignment. I credit that professor with encouraging me to keep writing.
What made you decide to publish your first book?
I went to my first book conference (UtopYAcon) in June of last year. I was about half-done writing my novel when I got there and I had been working on it for 7-8 months. After the conference, I was motivated and excited to finish my book. I did in the next month. After several beta-readers and a series of drafts and a few editors, it was ready. Then I just decided I had to share it with the world.
How do you get over writer's block?
I get caught in writing ruts, not so many blocks. When I get in a rut and I feel like I am just going through the motions without moving my story along, I change the sense I am focused on. Instead of describing what my character sees, I show what they are hearing or smelling or tasting or feeling. Usually, that pops me right out of the rut and I am back on track.
How do you handle negative reviews of your books?
I have not had many reviews and only one was negative. I decided that my book wasn’t written for them and that is okay.
There's a lot of distractions around, especially with social media, how do you block it all out and write?
The short answer? I put my phone on airplane mode and my word count goal has to be reached before I turn WiFi back on. I also find it easy to write when there is noise, as long as it is white noise and not music or a movie I might be interested in it.
What do you enjoy, outside of writing?
I am a major fangirl. I watch lots of TV shows and movies, but I am most passionate about books. My specialty is books that are made into movies. I love analyzing the differences and celebrating the journey from book to screen. I often go to the premiere night showings and students at the high school where I work have learned they will see me there. Most people don’t know the lengths I will go to in my fangirling adventures. I have had two cosplay photoshoots with a professional photographer, slept outside of the Mall of America to meet movie casts and authors, and am planning on getting a fangirl tattoo with symbols from my favorite books.
Did you ever think you'd be a published author?
It was a childhood dream that never died. I am still pinching myself to see if I am still dreaming of if I am one of the blessed few who get to have their dreams come true.
What are you working on currently?
-Charmed Harmony (Charmed Song Trilogy, Book One)
-Summer or Fall 2015
-It’s based on a specific creature from Greek mythology. I wanted to write a paranormal story where the main characters do not like each other. Disagreements are fun to write.
-Cover reveal in July 2015.
Do you ever write characters you hate?
Yes, if I don’t have at least one of those in every story, it doesn’t make me feel anything. I don’t want to have my name on a book that doesn’t move me.
Do you prefer your books in print or e-book format?
I prefer to read my books on an e-reader because when I get a spare minute I can pull it up on my phone and get a quick fix. However, I prefer to collect my autographed copies in paperback.
What is your favorite book?
I hate trying to narrow it down, because I have many favorites, but I am a major fangirl of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay.
Who is your favorite author?
I will read anything by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Cassandra Clare, and Wendy Higgins.
Do you have any excerpts from any of your books (published and WIPs) that you'd like to share with us?
This is a scene from my work in progress, Charmed Harmony:
We are as silent as mice as we tiptoe down the hall, our bodies pressed tightly to the wall. We make it past the old gym, and can see the door to the women’s locker room a few yards in front of us when we hear something—or someone, as the case may be.
“Toss it here!” a male voice says in lower than conversational volume.
We rush the remaining few feet to the locker room door, open it, and file in. Then we all jockey for position to look out the window in the door to see if we can find whom the voice belongs to, as well as to whom he was speaking. After a few minutes of craning our necks to try to catch a glimpse of the culprits, we hear a low rumble of laughter coming from behind the privacy wall.
We all turn around to find the abdominal models in the flesh: Wesley and Vander, co-captains of the men’s swim team, standing there in black sweats and hoodies. They don’t look as surprised to see us here as we are to see them. It’s obvious that Vander is the one who spoke because his hands are empty, and Wesley’s are hidden behind his back.
“What are you doing here?” we all ask at the same time, like some Scooby-do cartoon moment.
No one offers an answer. Wesley’s dad is a science teacher in the building, and my heart sinks when I realize that they may actually have permission to be here. Before it dips too far though, it occurs to me that nobody would give these boys permission to be in the women’s locker room. A grin breaks out across my face at the sudden realization.
“I think you should explain why you are in the ladies’ room before we say anything.”
Lissy looks at me, and seeing my determination gives her the confidence to put her hands on her hips and add, “Yeah, boys, what do you think you’re doing in here?”
“Aww, aren’t you guys happy to see me?” Vander must really think he’s something special. One look at my girls, and I can see why: they are nodding, smiling, and Santa save me, they are even batting their eyelashes!
The whole scene makes me roll my eyes and answer out loud, “I think I’d rather see the dentist for a root canal, but I will ask you one more time before I lose my shit and call security. What. Are. You. Doing. Here?”
“The way I see it,” Vander starts in a low whisper, as he runs his hands through his straight dark hair to sweep it out of his face. He tilts his head down and peers at us from the top of his eyes. I notice his blue eye pendant dangling from a cord around his neck. “None of us are supposed to be here. But we’ve got what we came here for, and can leave now without you remembering you even saw us.”
Taylor and Lissy nod at him as if they are stuck in some weird trance, but I am above agreeing with doing whatever he says. Who does he think he is?
“What the hell are you talking about, Vander? Why would I forget I saw you here?” I ignore the shocked look on his face and turn to his partner in crime. “And what the hell are you hiding behind your back, Wesley?”
“Don’t show her, Wes!” Vander shouts, but it’s too late. I’ve already seen the red, lacy bra, laying in his hands like an offering to me. I recognize it instantly as belonging to Maddie Tucker, the captain of our swim team.
“What do you think you’re going to do with that?” I reach for it, sure that whatever they plan to do with it will not be anything good.
Vander grabs it before I can, puts it behind his back, and locks his gaze with mine again. In the strange whisper he used before, he says, “You never saw anything. You never saw me, you never saw Wesley, and you certainly never saw Madeline’s bra.”
“I sure as hell did see you and Wesley with your paws all over Maddie’s bra! And if you don’t stop with that creepy-voice shit, I’m going to kick you in the balls so hard, you will taste the scum on the bottom of my shoe!”
Vander’s hazel eyes are as wide as I have ever seen them. He seems thoroughly thrown off by my threat. I turn to see why the girls aren’t backing me up here, but they are both sitting on a bench with their heads together, whispering and giggling. This is no time to act so ridiculous! What are they thinking?
Vander reaches up, covers Wesley’s ears with his hands, and then he starts to sing, “Goodnight ladies, good night ladies—” like a scene straight out of a musical.
My first thought is they must have been eavesdropping on us at Taylor’s house when we made plans to come here and overheard my desire about breaking out in song. That is a totally ridiculous notion though, so I let it go. My second thought is concerning how my knees are giving out from beneath me, and I am about to go down, hard. Vander stops singing, let’s go of Wesley’s ears, and grabs me before he lays me down on the floor.
The last thing I remember is feeling how cold the tile floor of the locker room is against my face.
Yes, I honestly do! I could definitely see a creature like a platypire appearing in someone’s whacked out nightmares.