22 March 2014

Twelve Days of TWELVE STEPS #3: Thank You!


My daughter decided that, since my book is called TWELVE STEPS, we absolutely have to do something to celebrate the release for each of the twelve days leading up to the big day. So of course, we have lots of fun family celebrations planned, all linking to our favorite scenes and the lines that make us grin. However, as we were planning our activities, we realized that most of our celebrations only make sense if you've read the book. And we didn't want to spoil the surprise of our favorite scenes by explaining all of the inside jokes. But of course, we wanted to include all of you too!

So each day for the twelve days leading up to March 25, we'll be sharing non-spoilery favorite quotes with a new teaser graphic every day. And each day, I'll share something special and book-related with you as well: recipes, sneak peeks, giveaways and more!

Writing TWELVE STEPS was so much fun! I loved stepping into Andi's shoes and becoming the girl I kind of always wanted to be when I was in high school, even if it was only for a few hours each day. Andi is spunky and fun. She knows exactly what she wants, and she's not afraid to go for it. And I'd like to think that getting to know her a bit has helped me to develop those qualities, at least to some extent, in myself.

But the best part about writing this book was hiding real people and places in the story. I wanted to send out a massive thank-you to all of the people who have influenced me over the years, who helped me become the writer I am in so many little ways. But to truly acknowledge everyone, my formal acknowledgements pages would have been longer than the book itself. So I slipped these awesome and amazing people into the story instead. Maybe by naming a character after them. Or by throwing in a reference to some of the real-life mischief we got into back in the day.

Still, some of you may not realize, even in a close reading of TWELVE STEPS, that you are woven into the story.

In my original draft, for example, I named characters after every single one of my nieces and nephews. Not all of those scenes made it through to the final draft, but I still smile each time I read the finished story, knowing that these characters exist in Andi's world. (To my nieces and nephews who don't find their names on these pages: Rest assured. I have other stories waiting to be born.And many characters who need names!)

And then, there's the boy who inspired Nick Carver, my absolute favorite minor character in TWELVE STEPS. I had a crush on this boy for years, but I never worked up the courage to tell him. I had so many crushes back in high school (I used to keep a running list of at least ten boys, so I'd never have to worry about being crushed by my crush!), but this boy was special. He had a lot of admirers. Almost every girl I knew had a crush on him at one point or another, and I didn't want to be just a part of the crowd. So I never wrote his name on my official list, and I almost never mentioned him in my diary. But I totally floated through the day every single time he said hi to me in the halls.

And no, I'm not going to reveal his name here either. But I will share a story, and maybe this boy will read it someday and remember the moment, and then he'll know he was important to me.

When I was in ninth grade, my family moved across the state, from Rock Springs, Wyoming to Cheyenne. I'd had very few close friends in Rock Springs, and because I was painfully shy, I was certain I wouldn't make any friends in my new hometown. And even though some amazing people welcomed me with open arms and pulled me into the social scene at Carey Jr. High (Thank you, Monica, Amy, Jason, Jon, Sean, Bryan, Scott, Christy and Jenni!), I still felt like no one ever noticed me personally. I was certain that, when my group of outgoing and amazing friends weren't around, I simply faded into the background as the invisible girl.

Then, midway through the year, we had a giant writing project in our English literature class. And our teacher announced that on the day we were to present our papers to the class, we could bring in treats to share and make a party of it.

I passed around a plate of my favorite double chocolate chip cookies, and sat nervously in a circle on the floor with the rest of my class. Of course, the teacher called on me first to read my essay. And I thought I might hyperventilate, as every set of eyes watched me read. But then this boy, who was sitting directly across from me in the circle, smiled at me, and he looked like he was genuinely interested in what I had to say. So I ignored everyone else and read my essay just to him. And I made it through.

He asked questions. He pointed out the sections that he really liked in my essay. Others joined in the discussion, and I felt, for the first time, like people really noticed me for who I am, and not just for the friends I hid behind.

Then, other people read their essays, and the class discussion moved on. But this boy kept smiling at me every time our eyes met across the circle. And he interrupted several other people to ask "Can someone pass me another one of Veronica's cookies?" until the teacher finally got frustrated and gave him the rest of the plate.

And it's such a silly, little thing. This boy liked the cookies I baked for an English literature class back in 9th grade, and it made me feel so important and worthwhile that to this day, every time I'm feeling down, I'll bake cookies or some other decadent dessert and give it to someone else for an instant mood lift. And each time, I remember that moment when I felt invisible, and that one special boy noticed me. He became Nick Carver, the "super-hot fairy godfather, changing Cinderella's ragged self-esteem into a beautiful ego made of awesome."

To that boy, if you read this: Thank you!

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  1. Beautiful story Veronica! But I think he liked more than your cookies!

    1. :) I don't know. They were really good cookies! (They're still my most popular of all the cookies I bake.)

  2. aww your story is super sweet!! :)