I'm going to be published!
My novel, Podium Finish, was picked up by a Astraea Press, a small e-book publisher. I had a few agents who were interested, but not ready to offer representation due to the climate of the current literary market, and as I know from previous experience, just because you have an agent, it doesn't mean said agent will be able to sell your book to a publisher. (And should they sell it, it takes 1-2 years before the book hits shelves.) Given how long I've been working on this book and the publication timeline AP offered, I thought this was the best thing. PF is scheduled to be released in mid-November in both print and e-book form (just in time for the Sochi Olympics and Christmas, so make sure you ask Santa for it!) I'll post more info about purchasing it closer to the release date.
I starting writing this book back in February 2006 after being inspired by the Torino Olympic Games. It's been through countless drafts over the years, so much so that the finished product is pretty much unrecognizable in comparison to the early versions, and which, trust me, is a good thing because it shows how much I've grown as a writer. Some of those early drafts make me cringe, but without them, I wouldn't be the writer I am today. Besides, if there's one positive thing I can gleam from reading my early writing, it's that young Beth had good, yet under-developed ideas, but she was ambitious. I wrote, and I wrote often because I loved to write. I wrote the stories I wanted to read, and now it is slowly starting to pay off. Fingers crossed other people like my stories too. The other good thing about this is that when I first started writing PF, I did it because there were very few books about girls who played sports out there. That has definitely changed since I was 16, and now I'm pleased to be able to add my own work to the mix.
So what's it about?
I was given the green light to post a quick blurb and excerpt. Enjoy!
With six months until the Olympic Games, seventeen-year-old Harper's life is pretty much perfect. She's fighting for the starting spot on Team USA Women's Hockey, and for the first time ever, she has a crush on a guy who likes her back. She feels like the luckiest girl in the world, until she runs a risky play at practice and breaks her knee, thereby sentencing herself to six weeks in a cast and possibly ending her Olympic dream before it even starts.
For seventeen-year-old Alex, being anything less than the best is unacceptable. That's why, after a miserable debut season at the senior level, the former junior national singles champion switches to ice dance. Her skating partner, Ace, is an "all skating all the time" type of guy, which would be fine, if he'd stop keeping secrets about the real reason he and his former partner broke up. Now is not the time for second thoughts, but how can Alex skate her best if she can’t trust her partner…or herself?
As the pressure to make the Olympic team builds, the girls must rely on each other, because if there’s one thing they both know, it's that the only thing harder than skating to the top is staying there.
Here's a teeny tiny sampling from one of Harper's chapters just so you can get a hint of H and A together, followed by a selection of a scene from one of Harper's practices.
Alex is waiting for me at our usual table in the cafeteria. She rakes her fingers through her not-quite-shoulder-length blonde hair and pulls it back into a ponytail. The front strands fall loose as soon as she leans forward to eat a bite of salad. I would never be brave enough to pull off short hair like that, but Alex does it well. She pulls a bobby pin from her bag and twists her bangs back. Bobby pins. That and lip gloss are two things Alex never leaves the dorm without.
"Hey, do anything exciting today?" I ask.
"I defied gravity."
"Wearing a push-up bra is not defying gravity."
"I was talking about the new dance hold we're learning, but my new bra is amazing, isn't it?" She's sitting with perfect posture and waves her hand in front of her chest like one of the models revealing a prize on a TV game show.
"Kavanaugh there and Jess here." He motions to opposite sides of the rink then dumps out the bag of pucks. "On the line."
I skate to the far side of the rink where Coach pointed, and as I do, he readies the pucks.
"When I say go, get to the goal as fast as you can," he says. "Go!" He shoots the puck, and it hits the net before either one of us gets close. "Again." Jess and I skate back to our lines. "Go!" Coach calls. He shoots, and again, he scores before either one of us can get to the goal. When we skate back to our respective lines, my tired legs protest. It's been a long practice, and I know I've only got three or four more sprints in me. He wants to show us neither one of us can get to the net before the puck, but I want to prove him wrong. I want to beat Jess and the puck.
"Go!" Coach calls a third time. I thunder forward, spraying chips of ice with each stroke of my skate. The puck skids across the ice, and I lunge for it, sprawling on my stomach and extending my stick. I knock the puck, but I'm not fast enough. The puck slows down, but it knocks the post and goes into the goal. Damn.
I stand up and join Jess, who is already standing by Coach. A thin smile etches across his face. "What did you learn?" he asks.
"You have a good shot, and Kav should take up Slip 'N Slide competitively."
She's totally missing the point. "Individually, we're not faster than the puck," I say.
"I knew it was a good idea to recruit a straight-A student," Coach says, and Jess' face twitches in anger. "I have one starting center position and two very talented players. Learn to pass to each other. You can't win a game unless you can score, and you can't score if you don't have each other's backs. Pass."
Ace and I join hands and push away from each other while doing an arabesque. He pulls me in close to him, and I can feel the warmth of his hand on my back as we skate along the curve of the rink.
"Good," Philip says. "But I want the arabesques higher, and I need you to make me believe the magic. Try it again."
Philip wouldn't believe the magic if one of J.K. Rowling's creations were standing right in front of him. I like that he's hard to please though. He pushes us to do better, to be the best, and that's what we need right now.
In other news, come back tomorrow for my interview with YA author Laurie Boyle Crompton!
I have one more month left in South Africa, so in addition to more book updates, I'll be posting more teaching reflections in the next few weeks.