Today is the day.
I’m just going to count to five or something. Maybe ten. Okay, probably fifteen at the very least.
Today is the official release day for the queer YA novel I wrote over the last mumble-mumble years. As of today? You should see it available everywhere. As always, if you can, I’d love to see you hit your local indie (if you’re in the US, Indiebound.org is a great resource), and if you’re a reader of e-books, the publisher webstore sells all the e-formats. But the most important thing? It’s available. Everywhere. Today.
(It’s possible I’m freaking out a little bit.)
Quite a few years ago, I was at the Bold Strokes Books publishing retreat in Easton Mountain, and there was a pitch contest. We had time to put together a blurb/pitch for a book, and there was a prize. Nell Stark and Jennifer Lavoie (both wonderful authors you should totally check out) nudged me to try writing a blurb for the contest, so I did. I scribbled something that was pretty close to what became the actual blurb for Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks, and made my pitch—complete with the title, which never happens for me!—and to my surprise, I won. It was a blast, it was fun, and I’d never tried to blurb a YA before, so it was also one hell of a challenge. I read YA, I love YA, but beyond one short story in an anthology (Boys of Summer), I’ve not written YA.
So. What was the prize-winning blurb? This:
Being the kid abducted by old Ms. Easton when he was four permanently set Cole’s status to freak. At seventeen, his exit plan is simple: make it through the last few weeks of high school with his grades up and his head down.
When he pushes through the front door of the school and finds himself eighty kilometers away holding the door of a museum he was just thinking about, Cole faces facts: he’s either more deluded than old Ms. Easton, or he just teleported.
Now every door is an accident waiting to happen—especially when Cole thinks about Malik, who, it turns out, has a glass door on his shower. When he starts seeing the same creepy people over his shoulder, no matter how far he’s gone, crushes become the least of his worries. They want him to stop, and they’ll go to any length to make it happen.
Cole is running out of luck, excuses, and places to hide.
Time for a new exit plan.
Then one of the judges stopped by to ask me when I wanted to work on it.
Obviously, it took a few years. For one, I was nervous about writing a queer YA when my own queer youth was so removed from the experiences of queer youth today. For another, I wanted to release a collection of short fiction and I was already working on a novella and a novel, so it would have to be in the future.
The idea, though, took hold. And I reached out to some queer youth organizations and started up a dialog and learned that things are, indeed, very different from when I was their age—but also things are still the same in many ways.
And so, Cole (named for the bookstore where I worked for a couple of decades) was born.
It took a tonne of people to get Exit Plans to today. Those queerlings, for one. My ASL and interpreter buddies (and most especially one in particular, which is where Cole’s family surname, Tozer, comes from) to try my damnedest to make sure Cole’s father, who is Deaf and has a team interpretation business is as well represented as I could manage. My teacher friends, who interact with youth on a daily basis. An amazing cover artist (you should check out Inkspiral, truly). And of course my editors—especially the wonderful Jerry L. Wheeler, who, if you need an editor, you should also check out). Typesetters, line editors, proofreaders, ARC readers… The list is very large.
My gratefulness is larger.
I hope you enjoy Cole and Alec and Nat and Lindsey and Rhonda and Grayson and Malik and their parents and friends and even the creepy freaks. If Cole himself were writing this, he’d have planned a better, more cohesive statement than that, but there you go. We can’t all be hyper-organized queer teens with teleportation problems.
More’s the pity.