In northwest Oklahoma, land of no cell phone service, long roads, and no vehicles for miles, Ty and I were on a trip. In the last few years, we’ve developed a sort of routine: Ty drives and I work/sleep/sing/talk/cuddle our dogs. On this particular trip, I was trying to decide what to write next since Always Anika was published.

I was reading through some of my older works and I came across a short story. It was only a couple thousand words, had some misspellings, and ended with the line “I’d rather be anywhere than sitting in Rhett Lane’s stupid truck.”

I was hooked.

The story caught me, and I knew I wanted what I wrote next to be an escape from the daily grind. At first, I loved writing in (what would become) Unfair Catch. At the end of a long day of school, I’d throw myself into the story and write until I felt like falling asleep.

But then the writing got harder and harder.

I set it aside for about a month, and then, one day, I realized why I had stopped writing.

See, as I learned more about these characters and their personalities, I realized I couldn’t keep writing a carefree story because it wouldn’t be true to how these characters would act in the world. It wasn’t real. Which took out all the fun and the truth. It was shallow. Hollow.

Then I came back to it at full force. I “knew” the characters well enough I wanted their story to be told. The “real” version. And that’s what I did. From there, I eagerly chased “The End.”

Of course, anyone who’s written a book knows “The End” is actually the start of a whole bunch of new tasks. There’s the first time you go over the first draft, where, as you read, you think “What the heck was I thinking?” a lot. Then finding an editor. That was an adventure on its own. After finding the editor, I had to wait for her to go through it.

Of course life chose that moment to crash upon me, wave on wave. (I hope you sang those last couple words.) I had school and work and life come at me in full force, so I couldn’t edit it yet. The good thing, though, is it gave me some space from the project, so when I did come back to “Unfair Catch” I was able to go at it full force.

My next pass took about two weeks, and then another fabulous editor gave it a proofread. The story was done! Right?

Ehhhh, not exactly.

Remember how I said I kinda sorta grew attached to this story? Well, I knew I wanted to write a followup on the main character, and I thought it would be a short story, maybe a few thousand words to tie up loose ends.

Wrong again.

I sat down to write, and I couldn’t stop! I love words, but even for me they usually don’t come quite so easily. In about a week I had 17,000 words in a document. Yep. Seventeen thousand.

I sent that to the editor too, and it has become “Anything But Yes.”

So, that’s the story of the story. Story-ception, if you will. haha.

Of course I’m partial to it, but if you read it, I think you’ll see why. It’s full of real, funny, sweet, characters who are just trying to do life, just like the rest of us. It will make you think about friendship and forgiveness in new ways. About responsibility. About the freedom of embracing youth when everything around you is screaming “GROW UP!” It’s a story I think anyone can read and see themselves in, and see themselves learn, grow, and find happiness in the most unexpected of places.

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