Category Archives: Sweethearts Posts

Summer + Reading = Perfect Match

by Erin Fletcher

Happy summer, y’all! Okay, fine. It may not be the first official day of summer yet, but I’m writing this post with the windows open, a warm breeze blowing in, and birds chirping nearby, so a little early is okay, right? Good.

In my world, summer means lots of one thing: reading. In fact, I would argue that it’s the best season for reading.

I know what you’re thinking. But, Erin. Isn’t winter the best, when you can curl up with a blanket and a cat and a book and pretend the frigid temperatures and snow outside don’t exist?

Well…that is pretty great. But summer is better. Here’s why:

  • Vacation = Reading time. Whether you’re on summer break from school or getting some time off work (long weekends FTW!), all of those extra hours mean more time to spend between the pages of a book. Want to take an entire day to tackle your TBR list? Go for it. Stuck in the backseat of your family’s minivan on a cross-country road trip? Use the time to finish that book that’s been sitting by your bed for the past three months!
  • Waterside reading is the best. I’m lucky enough to have access to a pool and also live within driving distance of the ocean. Is there anything better than relaxing in a lounge chair in the sand with the soothing sound of ocean waves providing background noise while you read? No. No there is not. Especially if the book is by Sarah Dessen or another beach-writing author. Relaxing in a lounge chair by the pool is a close second, as evidenced by this picture from my first reading pool trip of the season:

  • There is nothing on TV. Literally nothing. No new episodes of Gossip Girl. The second season of 13 Reasons Why isn’t out yet. So unless you’re marathoning old episodes from HGTV or the Food Network (okay…maybe I spend a tiny bit of summer time doing that), you have a lot more prime-time hours available for books. Ditch the screens…at least until This is Us is back.
  • Summer reading programs are a thing! Check your local library! Many have programs for kids, teens, and adults. My library offers prizes just for reading or attending a library event. True story: Once in college my roommate and I participated in a summer reading program and won a gift card to a store called Yarn It! (exclamation point included). It was the coolest/nerdiest thing ever that led to a half-crocheted scarf and a good memory.

See? Summer really is the best for reading, and we’re just getting started.

What’s your favorite part about summer reading? What beach reads are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!

Getting the Call

by Stephanie Scott

Imagine this: You’re sitting at your desk at work, plugging away at the daily grind. Your phone rings. Not your work phone, but your cell phone. A number flashes with a non-local area code. It could be a wrong number or a salesperson trying to pitch you a “free” cruise (hint: they’re never free). Maybe a family member you haven’t heard from in a long time. Or … it could be a call you’ve been waiting on. Your heart picks up pace. It could be the call.

Publishing is filled with waiting, but occasionally, an important call can break up the waiting. One call and everything can change. Writers often dream about those moments. And like much of life, often those calls do not go as we think they will.

Call #1: The Agent
I was waiting on a dozen or so literary agents who had requested full and partial manuscripts from several rounds of online pitch contests. It was the worst part of winter, with daily gray Midwest skies and continual cold.

One morning, on the way to work, I cracked the screen on my cell phone, barely six weeks after buying it. I’d had my phone out of my purse during the drive to work because my mom was driving that morning through the snow to see my grandmother in her nursing home. We’d had few years of ups and downs with my grandmother’s health, but this time, it truly was the end. I was so nervous she’d call and I’d miss it, the phone was on my lap. When I got out of the car, it flew face first onto the cold pavement, cracking. My grandmother ended up passing away the next day.

This was the day my now-agent called. Actually, sent me an email. She said she wanted to plan a call — the call? — but New York City was about to be hit by a huge snowstorm and the whole city was shutting down. Could we plan the call for Monday?

None of this was how I’d daydreamed a special call would play out. I had the weekend to think over what happened with my grandmother and talk with my family. By the time Monday rolled around, I wouldn’t say things were back to normal, but I had more focus to think about my writing, and about the call. My emotions had been through the wringer, but it was great to have something to feel happy about.

Call #2: The Book Contract
When I got my first book contract, I always envisioned jumping for joy and spazzing out. Instead, I heard the news through email and felt rather calm. I had questions. It never really sunk in until months later when I signed the publishing contract.

Call #3: The RITA Awards
My most recent call experience is probably closest to what I’d always imagined. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America and have absolutely dreamed about what it would be like to be a finalist in their awards — the Golden Heart for unpublished manuscripts and the RITA for published books. I’d struck out twice with the Golden Heart, but this past year I was excited to be able to submit to the RITA for the first time as a published author. Writers submit their books to be considered, so there’s no second guessing whether you are being considered. Finalists are notified by phone calls from members of the board. We all know when call day is.

I work from home the majority of my time, but on this day I was in the office at my day job. The phone lit up with a California number. I’d already convinced myself earlier that morning that since this was my first book and my first time entering the RITAs, the odds were not in my favor. I tentatively answered the phone.

The caller was a published author and RWA board member calling to congratulate me: Alterations had been named a finalist for Best First Book. I was speechless and shocked. One question I had to ask: Are you sure?

She was sure.

It’s hard to predict how you’ll act when an important call comes through. Have you ever received an exciting call? Tell us in the comments!

Would Younger You Be Impressed?

by Linda Budzinski

A couple of weeks ago on Twitter, someone asked, “do u think ur 16 y/o self would be impressed with u?” She got lots of responses … some sad, some touching, some hilarious. (I especially laughed at the one where a guy wrote, “yes bc i’ve had s*x. which, if i’m remembering correctly, is all i wanted to grow up to be when i was sixteen.”)

I love this question, because I’ve thought a lot about what grown-up me would say to teen me if I could go back and do those years over again, but I’d never stopped to think what teen me might have to say to me now.

One thing I’ll bet she’d say is the same thing I’d tell her: Don’t be so hard on yourself.

The thing is, most of us tend to beat up on ourselves in ways we would never do to our friends or even complete strangers. In THE BOYFRIEND WHISPERER, my main character, Lexi, helps her classmates find love. In doing so, she becomes a cheerleader for them, reminding them of who they are and why they deserve to love and be loved, yet she gets down on herself for being unable to snag her own dream crush, telling herself things she would never tell her clients. She  basically does that destructive thing so many of us do inside our own heads where we convince ourselves we’re not good enough.

Think about it. What would Past You (or maybe Future You) have to say to you now? Sure, there may be some tough love, maybe even a bit of eye rolling, but I’ll bet you wouldn’t beat yourself up the way Present You does sometimes.

So … what would 16-year-old Linda (yes, that’s her up there, rocking the bangs) think of adult Linda? Back then, I believe I had three main interests: boys, music, and my friends (though not always in that order). So how am I doing?

First, BOYS: Pretty sure 16-year-old me would take one look at my husband and be like:

So, yeah, I get a passing grade in that department.

Next, MUSIC: Here’s where teen me might want to puke a little bit in her mouth.

Nowadays I have a much broader appreciation for music (i.e., I catch myself dancing around the kitchen to stuff I wouldn’t be caught dead listening to at 16). But you know what? I was kind of pretentious about my music selections back then, so I’m okay with that.

Finally, FRIENDS: I’m guessing teen me would be shocked at some of the people from high school I am now friends with on Facebook.

So many of those high school insecurities that were the genesis of the all the clique drama are gone, and (who knew?) my classmates for the most part have turned out to be more than their labels and their crowd and their reputation. They actually have individual personalities and layers.

So would 16-year-old me be impressed with current me? I’m not sure. She was not easily impressed. But she’d probably give me a hug and tell me that even though I am kind of boring and lame and way too pro-establishment, she’s glad I’m happy and doing what I love to do.

What about you? Would Younger You be impressed?

Welcome! Pull Up a Chair!

Preferably your favorite reading chair … and grab a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate while you’re at it. Sweethearts of YA is a place where readers and writers can come together to talk contemporary young adult romance. If you like your YA sweet and swoony, this is the place for you!

The six of us Sweethearts – Linda, Robin, Karole, Erin, Stephanie, and Darcy – write novels that have very different characters, in all kinds of settings, with a variety of “spice” levels, but our books have one thing in common: They all celebrate the magic of love and happily ever after.

We hope you’ll make yourself at home and take a look around. Be sure to check out our bios, where you’ll learn important official facts such as our celebrity crushes and our guilty pleasures, and our books, with so many pretty covers you’ll start to swoon before you read a single word. And don’t forget to peek in at our news and announcements … we happen to have a few big ones right now!

We’ll post here every Thursday, with a mix of group posts, individual posts, guest author posts, and … contests! Yes, every month (the fourth Thursday of the month, to be exact), we’ll post a contest with chances to win fun prizes, including our books, swag, gift cards, and more. Be sure to fill out the “Subscribe” box on the home page so you don’t miss a thing.

Thank you for stopping by. Please follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and leave a comment below to introduce yourself … we can’t wait to meet you!