Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

Monday Musings: A Writer’s Bill of Rights February 27, 2017



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It’s hard to believe, but in January of this year I celebrated my five year blogging anniversary! When I started posting, I wanted to share my ups and downs in publishing. What I learned as I went through the process. In those five years, I’ve used this blog to share agent insight into first pages, success stories from hardworking writers, and queries that pulled people out of the trenches. I’ve done all this in an effort to help educate writers about the ins and outs of publishing.


As of late, I’ve been receiving a lot of questions about working with agents. What questions to ask during the call, expectations during submission, and handful of other important topics. Then I saw this post recently from literary agent, Janet Reid (aka Query Shark) and was convinced it was time for this post.


Below, I’ve drafted what I want to call a Writer’s Bill of Rights. This is a list of things that should be kept in mind when you move out of the query trenches and into a working relationship with an agent.


There’s a long period of time in writing when you simply focus on your story. You spend hours making sure your plot doesn’t have any holes, your characterization is thorough, and the pacing is spot on. It may take rounds upon rounds of drafts, revisions, and CP feedback before you get the story right.


Once it’s right, it’s time for the query trenches. This is only the first part of the publishing process and it rests firmly in your own hands. I’ve written many posts about how to approach querying. How the responsibility falls on your shoulders to do your research. To take the time to make it a thoughtful process, choosing only those agents who would be a good fit for your work.


At this point, you stay in the trenches until hopefully you connect with an agent. If, and when, that does happen, the responsibility again falls on you to ask the right questions to make sure you and the agent are on the same page in regards to your entire writing career. “The call” is a critical conversation because now the tables are turned. The agent is interested in you and your story. It’s on you to ask questions about the agent’s process in regards to edits, communication, and the submission period.


If you’ve done your due diligence, and you and the agent have the same philosophy on the future of your book, it’s time to sign. There are a ton of great agents out there, many of whom give up their nights and weekends to help their clients. But what happens if things don’t go as planned? If what you originally discussed with the agent never comes to fruition?


This leads me to the point of today’s post: A Writer’s Bill of Rights…


  1. You have the right to an open and honest communication with an agent. If you’ve done your job, then you and your agent should be on the same page as far as to how often you speak. Once a week. Once a month. Things will vary based on whether you’re submitting or working on a new project. Let’s be clear though, if you send an email you have a right to hear back within a reasonable period.


  1. You have the right to know how long edits will take. In your very first discussion, you should ask how long the agent expects you to work on revisions prior to submission. You can even ask if they have a submission period in mind so you know what type of deadline you’re working toward. This is incredibly important. I’ve heard many stories where someone signs and a year later they’re still working on edits. Be sure you know what kind of process the agent has in mind. Also, be aware that these timelines may shift – also a discussion you and your agent must have. It’s important to remember that when you send a manuscript out for submission you’ve only got one shot with that editor. The agent wants to make sure it is your best work.


  1. You have the right to fully be in the loop during the entire submission process. This means you and your agent discuss who is going to see your manuscript in the first, and subsequent, rounds. This conversation may also include how many houses you submit to first, as well as what the agent has in mind as far as reading deadlines. Some agents will tell editors they want to hear back by a certain date. Others will do a regular check-in with the editors. As the writer, you and your agent must be on the same page as to how this process works.


  1. You have the right to see your submission list. When your book first goes out, you should have a good idea of where it’s going. Many agents put this info into a spreadsheet with notes on when it was submitted, when first contact is made with an editor, and any follow-up calls.


  1. You have the right to regular check-ins. It’s not fair to expect that an agent is going to call you every day, or even every week, if there’s no movement on your submission. But, there should be some type of agreement as to when you will get a status update on where your manuscript stands with editors.


  1. You have the right to know about rejections. Most agents will ask if you want to see the editors feedback after a rejection. You should have a choice as to whether or not you see this information.


  1. You have the right to an open communication on new projects. In the “call” period, you should have already discussed with the potential agent what new ideas you are working on. This would also be the time to discuss writing in new categories or genres. The expectations should be clear on what you work on next. You also have the right to know about reading periods. In most cases, you are NOT the agent’s only client. You need to respect they are only one person with a limited period of reading time. Make sure you agree up front how you will communicate about new projects, and how long it will take them to read and get you feedback.


There is a certain give and take to the agent/writer relationship. Things will not always fall into place. Emergencies come up. Life gets in the way. Misunderstandings happen. As a writer, it is on you to be professional and respectful of the relationship. The longer you work with an agent, the more you begin to understand how they work, but this does not take away from what you are entitled to as part of the process. If you are ever concerned about how things are going with your agent, it falls on you to communicate with them. To discuss your expectations. It’s only through these honest conversations can you have a real partnership.







2017 Sun vs. Snow – What it takes to put on this show! February 13, 2017

Filed under: Blog,contest,Literary Agent,Query — chasingthecrazies @ 8:18 am
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Well, once again, we’ve blown through another year of Sun versus Snow. As usual, it was crazy, a little nerve-racking, but ALWAYS fun.


I put together this post after last year’s contest, and went ahead and updated this year, because I believe it’s important for every writer to understand what it takes to put a contest of this magnitude together.


Yes, it’s a lot of work, but the rewards far outweigh the time it takes to ensure Sun versus Snow is a success!





Another Sun vs. Snow is complete and I can’t tell you how happy I am at the results this year. Team Sun and Team Snow received a total of 106 requests!



Now that it’s over, I always use this time to reflect on what went right, and what can be done to improve things for next year.



Yes, I’m already thinking about 2018. But see, here’s the thing, contests take a lot of work and time to plan. Hours are spent deciding logistics, dates, reaching out to readers, mentors, and agents. Not to mention actually writing the scores of emails, blog posts, and other types of communication involved.



What people see on the co-hosts’ blogs is the finished product, but it’s taken a lot of time to get to that point. So today, I want to share an insider’s view on what goes into making a contest a reality.




The Planning


Starting in late fall, Michelle and I start to discuss timing. We usually pick a date in early January, but things can vary depending on what else we have going on, other writing commitments, etc.


Once we nail down a date for the actual contest, we work backwards filling in the timeframe for what needs to happen. This includes checking to make sure no other contests are happening at the same time. We’ve had problems with this in the past, and it’s important there’s not any overlap. This is also critical for reaching out to agents. Many times agents are overwhelmed with requests, and they don’t want to spend all their time reading contest entries.


Once we decide on a date, we begin writing the emails – and there are A TON!


First, we reach out to our potential list of agents. This can take anywhere from a few days to a week, because again, research is involved. We have to look at things like who’s open to queries, who reps a variety of categories, but we also need to consider that whoever we choose is going to want/request from a wide range of entries.


When the emails are sent, we then wait on the responses. They can come within minutes, hours, or days. I must confess though, Michelle and I have been very lucky. The agents we’ve reached out to in the past have been great about wanting to participate in spite of their busy schedules.


While we wait on agent replies, we next need to consider who our mentors will be. Again, this involves quite a bit of planning. For me, I consider who I think will be open to working with a writer, and has the time for it in their schedule. Even if I know, and have a good relationship with a writer, I may not ask them if they’re on deadline or have a book coming out soon. There also needs to be consideration of what category and genre they write in. We never know what entries we will pick, but Michelle and I need to have all our bases covered.




The Announcement


After a date is selected, it’s time to think about the announcement. Together, Michelle and I formulate a blog post, as well as discuss social media plans. Once we have things in order, we coordinate a time when we will both post. Sometimes this is not always easy as we live in two different time zones.




Social Media Blitz


Because there are so many contests out there now, Michelle and I want to make sure Sun vs. Snow stands out. In order for this to happen, we need to make sure we have exposure. Starting early on, we discuss how we will announce, where, and then the follow-up. One of the new things we continued this year was the series of Twitter chats. Coordination is key because not only do we need to make sure we are available on a certain day, but our mentors are too.




Announcement Posts


When we announce both the mentors and agents it’s not as simple as posting it on Twitter. After a flurry of emails (again), we have to cull photos, bios, and social media links for both our agents and mentors. The information then has to be set into a specific blog post which includes adding text, importing images, and placing links.


This year it took me close to two days to build the mentor post, and about three days to get the agent post correct. This is critical to our process because potential entrants want to know who they may be working with, and who will see their work. It’s critical for Michelle and I to make sure we have this all aligned so writers feel comfortable entering the contest.





The Submission Window


This is always an exciting day. It’s filled with a lot of scurrying around as we make sure our posts go up on time and that the rules are clear. It may seem arbitrary, but there are specific reasons why all writers must follow the rules. If the formatting is off, or we don’t know your category/genre or word count, it skews how we view the entry. Michelle and I want to make sure every writer is on even ground when entering Sun vs. Snow. Yes, there have been times when people have not followed the rules, but I’m glad to say those examples are rare.





Why Only 200 Entries?


As usual, the submission window opens and closes very quickly. You may ask, “why do you only take 200 entries?” The answer is simple: time. Michelle and I are very dedicated to this contest, but we both work, as well as write. We read each and every entry, and we find that 200 is a manageable number. It’s important to us that everyone who enters has a fair shot at getting picked.




Parameters for Picks


I wish I could say Michelle and I have some elaborate algorithm for how we pick our entries but honestly, we both pick based on very simple things:


  • What grabs us instinctually. Premise. Voice. Concept. And above all strong writing.


  • What are the participating agents looking for? I personally look at websites and #MSWL to know what agents want to add to their lists.


  • What’s happening in the marketplace. If we know that a certain type of genre is not selling (based on agent interviews) we may shy away from picking such a genre. This is not firm. Sometimes we come across a concept we love and include it anyway, but it is something we must consider.




Selected Entries & Mentors


Behind the scenes there is always negotiating going on. Usually it’s pretty easy for Michelle and I to pick because we have very different tastes, but sometimes we come across an entry we both love and have to discuss who gets it. Because we’ve been doing this so long, it’s pretty easy for us to decide who gets the entry. That’s one of the reasons this whole things works: because Michelle and I are a great team!


Once each of us has our selected entries, major work is ahead. First, we have to decide which mentor gets each entry. Then we have to communicate with the mentors and send them their mentee’s work. And of course, we have to swear them to secrecy until the official announcement.


Like all the other big announcement posts, careful coordination has to be arranged so that posts on both blogs go off simultaneously. Again, Michelle and I not only have to take hours to format the post, but we also have to agree on a date and time when it will go live.




Inevitable Surprises


Ah yes, as much as you plan there are always surprises. Last year we had a great little shock when one of Michelle’s picks received an offer from an agent prior to the final round. And this year, I hear we may have some good news coming soon from one of our writers!




Before the Final Post


While our mentors and writers are making their entries shine, we send out email reminders to our agents about the contest. Prior to the final post, we answer any last questions and prepare for the big day when we post the revised entries.




The Final Post


It may be surprising, but this is where the major amount of work for the contest is done. We have a set deadline for when the writers must return their final entries. Sometimes it comes in formatted correctly (sometimes it doesn’t). When the format is off, there is a flurry of emails until the entry is fixed and returned. This may seem odd, but building that final post takes a loooong time. If the entry is even slightly off, it can mess up the entire flow.


This year it took me two and half days to build the Agent round post. You may wonder why it takes so long, but for me there is a definitive process involved:


  • I check the entry for typos and other issues – missing words, punctuation etc.


  • Next, I double-check the date stamp to make sure it is the FINAL entry.


  • I check the tags, the headers, as well as the spacing to make sure each entry looks the exact same way.


With a total of 16 entries, this process takes a long time but it’s worth it when that final post goes up and the agents start to request!




The Agent Round


When that final post goes live everything is pretty much out of our hands. Now it’s up to the agents to decide what they like and what they want to request.


While the agents are doing their thing, the work for the co-hosts is not over. We still have to watch the feed to answer questions, announce when agents arrive, and keep the positive interactions going. We also have to work with the agents behind-the-scenes to make sure we understand how they want their requested materials sent and ensure our writers are following those guidelines.




At Contest’s End


This is where we take a deep sigh of relief and celebrate! Agents have been very good to us over the last four years and have made a lot of requests. Those requests are what makes all the hours of organization and work worthwhile.


Yes, it takes a lot of time and energy to put Sun vs. Snow together, but it goes beyond sharing the entries with agents. It’s about connecting the community. Helping to link people who, hopefully, will go on to support and lift up one another up as they move through the ups and downs of publishing.



2017 Sun Vs. Snow Agent Round! February 8, 2017



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Today is the day our 21 amazing agents can begin reading the Team Sun entries and making requests. Not only will they see the amazing entries here, but they can also make requests for Team Snow over at Michelle Hauck’s blog!



As the agents move through the entries, please remember that contests are subjective. Our agents have a definitive idea of what they would like for their list. If they do not request, it DOES NOT mean the entry was not worthy. No matter what happens, you’ve got to keep querying and NEVER GIVE UP!



Before Team Sun outshines Team Snow, here are some guidelines to remember:



There is no commenting in this round except for agents. Sorry, but no cheerleading as this may lead to an unconscious bias.



We are happy to see and retweet your thoughts and cheers over on Twitter under the #sunvssnow tag! That’s the place to hang out and have fun! I hope to see my Team Sun members present and waving their pom poms! We have some blazing hot entries that are going to completely melt Team Snow!



Watch both my and Michelle’s Twitter feed as we will be tweeting when an agent makes an appearance!



Agents will consider entries at both the blogs regardless of whether they are Sun or Snow fans. Michelle and I are hoping the agents go crazy with the requests! There is amazing talent on both our teams!



Good luck to all! And get out the shades and SPF 50 because the heat is coming for Team Snow!



SvS 1: Broken Promises: The Last Gift – Adult Contemporary Romance

Filed under: contest,Literary Agent,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 6:30 am
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Category/Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Word Count:  88,000




Is your main character hot or cold?



I’m numb. Somewhere between hot and cold — emotional limbo, so to speak. Heartache will do that to a girl. In the past, people would’ve described me as cold. I called it guarded. If I kept everyone at a distance, my heart was safe. That was before him. He melted my frozen heart, made me feel whole again. But now he’s gone, making me wish I had died, too.







Dear Sun Vs. Snow Agents,


Isabelle learned at a young age that life has a way of making people break promises they intended to keep. Her life is a series of numbers marking those broken promises. Five: how old she was when both her parents died. Nineteen: how many years she pushed people away — until she met Sam. Six:  how many months she had been his wife. Four: how many weeks it’s been since she buried him.


The only thing worse than waking up next to her dead husband was finding the letter he left behind. He’d known he was dying and his last request was that she go on the cruise he had planned for them and spread his ashes.


This trip was supposed to be about saying goodbye to Sam, but fate had a different plan. She had no idea that when Ian sat down next to her he’d change the course of this trip…and her life.


Isabelle tries to ignore her feelings, but several chance encounters with this kind Irish stranger, and a couple of lifelike dreams that seemingly deliver Sam’s blessing, drive her straight into Ian’s arms.


If she can’t overcome the guilt of moving on, and the fear that it’s all happening too soon, the second chance life has laid at her feet may just slip through her fingers, sending her back to a life of isolation.




First 250 words: 




Brave. Courageous. Strong. These words make me ill. People mean well, using them to describe me, but I hate it. I pretend I’m all those things, but I’m not. They say I’m brave, but they can’t feel me shake when someone mentions Sam’s name. They say I’m courageous, but they don’t see me hiding under the covers at night. They say I’m strong, but they don’t hear me cry myself to sleep. In what seems like nanoseconds, my life has gone from glorious Technicolor to gray. I’m drowning in despair and loneliness and there are moments, brief ones, that I just want to slip under their waves and let them consume me.



My flight leaves in five hours and despite the fact that sleep these days is all but unheard of, I only just started packing an hour ago. Sadness weighs heavy on my heart as I reach for the dress he bought me for this trip. The memory of the night he gave it to me paralyzes me and I freeze. Thoughts of Sam’s memorial service play over and over in my mind like a bad movie I can’t turn off. If I didn’t know better I’d think that the Grim Reaper had targets on the backs of everyone I love. I thought losing my parents so young had hardened my heart to loss, but I was wrong. Sam found the key to my heart and once it was opened up to love again, that gave pain easy access.



SvS 2: Loving Laney – Adult Contemporary Romance

Filed under: contest,Literary Agent,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 6:30 am
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Category/Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance

Word Count: 70,000



Is your main character hot or cold?



Laney Wilson would be described as cold. After being abandoned by her mother and breaking up with the love of her life, Laney has learned to keep her emotions bottled up and her heart protected. The relaxed persona she presents on the outside is frustrating to close family and friends who often perceive her as detached. As a teacher, Laney is patient and kind while instructing her students. Her calm personality helps her when dealing with stressful situations. She tends to show more emotion with her students because her classroom is her safe haven.







Dear Agent,



Avoiding your ex-boyfriend in a big city should be easy—unless he’s the star quarterback of the professional football team and wants a second chance.



Falling for Luke Claiborne in college wasn’t in Laney Wilson’s plan, but it happened. And it ended…badly. She walked away heartbroken and vowed never to come second to a man’s career again. Years later, she’s focused on being a dedicated teacher and making a difference in her students’ lives, leaving little room for romantic relationships. So when Luke’s children’s foundation partners with Laney’s school, she’s determined to resist his sexy Texan drawl and intoxicating smile.



Quarterback Luke Claiborne has enjoyed a successful NFL career, but regardless of all he’s accomplished on the field, he feels a sense of loneliness. Now, after recovering from a serious knee injury and a recent divorce, Luke’s looking for a fresh start in Philadelphia: home of passionate fans, the Liberty Bell, and Laney Wilson. Convinced Laney’s the love of his life, he’s determined to prove to her that they’re worth a second chance.



Regardless of how hard she tries to fight her feelings for him, it doesn’t take long for Laney to realize that Luke is still the only person who can knock down the walls around her heart. When she receives devastating family news, she can’t help but turn to the only man she’s ever loved for comfort. But then Luke’s past resurfaces, putting their rekindled romance to the ultimate test. Now, Luke and Laney must decide whether to risk their hearts and fight for each other, or lose their second chance at happily ever after.




First 250 words:



“Welcome to the Mike Marino show on 99.9. Philly fans, we’ve been talking about big moves made this season by Coach Kelly and the Independence staff. The move getting the most buzz is the signing of former LA Hawks quarterback Luke Claiborne. Opinions, Philly?”



Laney Wilson grimaced as she tightened her grip on the steering wheel. Every time she heard his name, she felt like she was suffocating. And she’d been hearing it a lot.



She slammed the OFF button on her radio as she pulled into Hope Academy’s parking lot. Stepping out of the car, she immediately started to sweat, causing her curly hair to crimp. There wasn’t enough anti-frizz serum in the city to fight this humidity.



“Hey girl, you ready for this meeting?”



Grinning, Laney turned toward the voice of her favorite co-worker, Taryn DeLuca. “I guess.” She sighed. “I can’t stand these beginning of the school year meetings.”



Taryn held the door open for her. “Ditto.”



Laney walked into the school, breathing in the smell of new crayons and disinfectant. “What’s on the agenda?”



“We’re talking about a new foundation the school wants to partner with — The Claiborne Foundation.”



Laney whipped around to look at her friend. Just as suddenly, her body slammed into a rock-hard chest. Two strong, familiar hands grasped her shoulders, steadying her. She closed her eyes, taking deep, cleansing breaths , trying to fight the wave of nostalgia washing over her. His woodsy scent consumed her, making it difficult to think straight.





SvS 3: The Underappreciated Art of Not Dying – Women’s Fiction (Ownvoices)

Filed under: contest,Literary Agent,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 6:30 am
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Category/Genre: Adult WF, OwnVoices

Word Count: 65,000



Is your main character hot or cold?


Leonie’s depression makes her run cold as ice.






Twenty-three-year-old Leonie has a respectable job at a Seattle law firm, a crappy 226 square foot “apartment,” and a list of five ways to kill herself. Today she crossed off four.


There’s nothing wrong with Leonie’s life. No great tragedies have befallen her. Hell, she’s never even been to a funeral. Yet depression strips her will to live as easily as a thumbnail might puncture the peel of an orange. But with the knife pressed to her wrist, she realizes bidding farewell to her crappy life isn’t as easy as she thought it would be.


Instead, she walks away from her job, breaks her lease, and gives away all of her belongings. Leonie books a one-way ticket out of the country in a last ditch effort to find happiness, but her search has an expiration date, and it coincides with the shrinking number in her bank account.


If Leonie can’t regain her will to live in the rainforests of Costa Rica, Amsterdam’s coffeehouses, or the wild, green hillsides of Ireland, it’s off the Cliffs of Moher she goes.


With the help of a businessman-turned-smelly masseuse, a Dutch prostitute, and a snarky yet infuriatingly hot Irishman, she may find that happiness, though precarious and elusive, is worth the battle.



First 250 words:



The rank fumes of someone’s—I can only assume to be radioactive—tuna lunch permeate the hallway, seeping into my cubicle just as I decide, yes, I am going to kill myself.


I don’t mean that in the God, if I have to go home with that cheap fish smell on my clothes one more time I’m going to blow my brains out kind of way. The two are mutually exclusive, completely unrelated.


Karen’s having tuna. I don’t want to live anymore.


I look down at my phone, scrolling through the never-ending Facebook feed once more—eternally searching for something to distract me from the monotony of my work. For the tenth time, my ex’s face fills the screen alongside the face of a woman I don’t recognize. A little heart pops up between them, declaring their newfound love. Scott Haring is now in a relationship with Vanessa McMahon.


I grind my teeth, hoping a few might break off and give me something to really suffer over.


Screw them and their stupid happiness. Good luck, Vanessa. I hope you have a good job, girl, ‘cause he sure as hell isn’t getting one.


I hit the like button before scrolling past the status update.


The shrill ring of my office phone pulls me from bitter thoughts. I squeeze my eyes shut, so tight that color blooms behind my lids. My hands are so heavy in my lap. I have to convince every cell from my right shoulder down to the pinky finger to lift, just lift, please.





SvS 4: Jumping Fences – MG Contemporary

Filed under: contest,Literary Agent,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 6:29 am
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Category/Genre: MG Contemporary

Word Count: 41,000



Is your main character hot or cold?


Here’s a tip. If a girl with a Puerto Rican mom and an Italian dad describes her personality as “cold”, then she’s a lying liar from East Liar-stan. And you can take that to the bank, courtesy of me – Mira Caputo.



I love my dad and my best friend Cecy with all I’ve got inside. As for Luna, the flat out most amazing horse in the world? I’d jump through fire for her. Actual fire. No joke.



What I’m definitely not is a green-eyed, horse-hating, walking ice cube…like someone else I know (I’m looking at you, Peppy Prinsen).







Dear Agent,


Jumping Fences is about fathers and daughters and unlikely friendships. But most of all, it’s about the powerful bond between a girl and a horse.


A sleepy summer in Connecticut horse country suddenly gets interesting for 12-year-old Mira Caputo, when a headstrong thoroughbred gallops into her life and steals her heart. Luna is spunky, proud, and beautiful. Unfortunately, she also belongs to the pretentious Penelope “Peppy” Prinsen. Mira dislikes Peppy immediately, and the feeling is mutual.


To be with the horse, Mira fakes her way into the wealthy world where Luna lives. She introduces herself as the daughter of her father’s foul-tempered boss, the man whose estate they’ve lived on, and whose horses they’ve cared for, since the death of Mira’s mom. With access to the hunt club secured, Mira revels in early morning rides with Luna – and avoids Peppy like a pile of steaming manure – until she learns that the Prinsens are selling Luna to a third-rate race track.


Rescuing Luna from a life of misery means Mira must somehow change Peppy’s mind about the high-spirited horse. Yet each time she blunders into equestrian high society, with its polo games and horse shows, she risks her dad’s job and the new life they’ve built around it. Mira discovers the key may be to help Peppy stand up to her own domineering father in a very public way. At the hunt club’s biggest event of the summer, Mira must risk all the consequences of discovery to save the horse she loves…and the girl she despises.




First 250 words:



This summer isn’t exactly living up to my expectations. That’s the polite way of saying that falling into a pit of poison ivy would literally be an improvement.



So far there’s only one reason to crawl out of bed. The bad news is, I’m late again.



I throw my hair into a quick ponytail and tuck the t-shirt I slept in into my jeans, then find my way down the dark hall to the ridiculously bright kitchen. The paint color is called ‘cheerful mornings’, like that’s possible. Temporarily blind, I feel around for the fruit bowl and grab three apples.



Horses love apples almost as much as they love those red and white peppermint candies. Unfortunately, Dad stopped buying candy after my last trip to the dentist. Somehow he missed the dentist’s memo about soda, which is the only decent thing that’s happened to me all summer.



Outside, the air smells like salt and buzzes with flies from the nearby barn. I swat at one with my soda can.



“Die, foul beast!”



But it doesn’t die. The stupid things never do. They also don’t spend all summer without their best friend.



I charge down the hill, but skid to a stop at the driveway. It’s covered in perfectly white stones, like a layer of snow that I’m not allowed to mess up. So I ballerina-toe my way across, arms way out to my sides for balance. I’m the world’s most ridiculous tightrope walker – a soda and apple in one hand and two apples in the other.




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