How to Fall

My new novella, How to Fall, will arrive on December 19, however, you can pre-order it right now! (Woo-hoo!) Here’s a super quick video update about why I’m so excited about the story and why I hope you’ll pre-order it TODAY!

Here are the pre-order links I mentioned in the video:

And the synopsis:

Learn about the early days of Zach and Sarah (from How to be Alive) and how they became the couple that everyone loves.
Long walks on the beach and romantic seaside proposals are a girl’s dream come true…except for Sarah. She gives a whole new meaning to summer break when she runs out on her overzealous boyfriend, leaving her both single and homeless. With her life now in disarray as she attempts to move past her vindictive ex, Sarah finds her footing with help from a group of struggling musicians and an unlikely friendship with a retired professor, Gemma.
Zach is serious about making a go of it as a professional musician and has a determination and drive that borders on obsessive. Through late night talks with his new, unexpected roommate he discovers a kindred spirit in the bookish Sarah. Giving each other permission to be who they are, Zach and Sarah are emboldened to pursue their dreams and perhaps something more.

And, finally, an excerpt:

My feet slid in my flip-flops as I ran. It had rained all day, was still misty. The moon hid behind the clouds and I ran. Slow down, a little voice inside my head screamed. I ignored it. Down the road, down the wood-planked walkway, up the stairs over the dunes. Away. I had to get away.  I stretched my foot down to the final step and — nothing. In a split second, that felt like three minutes, I took in the fact that I was ahead of myself, had missed a step. My arms flailed out in search of the railings, but not before the back of my left calf skidded down the wooden step with most of my body weight landing on my left foot, which was now pinned behind me.

Perfect. Because this day needed to get worse. A marriage proposal and now this. I groaned out loud and dropped my head in my hands, not bothering to move my leg.  “Seriously,” I said to no one at all.

Kids.  He told me he wanted three children. The scrape on the back of my leg burned. Who knows that at 20? Really, who? My foot throbbed. He wanted to start a family sooner rather than later. I wiggled my tense fingers, sore from gripping the railing. “Let’s get married right after college. I want to be young, fun parents,” he had said.  More throbbing. I rocked to the side and uncurled my foot. A wave of pain shot through it as the blood rushed back in. I squinted my eyes closed and tried to focus on the waves, tried to clear my mind.  I took in a deep breath of salt air.

I heard voices approaching on the steps above me. I am not ready to talk about this. I won’t. Not yet. I just need to clear my head. I mean, I’ll let him drive me back to the house. The house!?  I’m living with his family this summer. Working here. What am I going to do? I can’t just leave. I need a plan before I talk to him. Jen will be here in a week. Can I make it with him for a week, stay with her and then go home? Except I like my job. I want to stay. Just not there, with him.

The voices got closer and I felt my panic crescendo until I realized it was just a father and son coming down with their flashlights to look for sand crabs. Propelled by my relief (and the immense desire to not have to talk to anyone at the given moment), I pushed myself off the step and took a few steps, relieved to notice that really only my toe was sore. Well, that and the scratch, but certainly not my whole leg. Maybe nothing was broken, or maybe just my toe.  There’s nothing that can be done for a broken toe anyway, right?

About ten feet from the stairs, I flopped down in the sand and stared at the water. It was dark. Not much moonlight was squeezing past the clouds; just a thin line reflecting silvery off the water. A fun summer at the beach — that was all this thing with Derek was supposed to be. We haven’t even dated six months. Where was this coming from? We hadn’t even said I love you. Or rather, I hadn’t. He just said that for the first time, along with all the stuff about marriage and kids. When had I given the impression that I wanted any of that?

My answer might not be “no” forever, but I had two more years of college. Was sort of thinking about maybe going to graduate school. Marriage and kids were not in my five-year forecast. How did I miss that they were part of his? More specifically, that his ideas on it all included me. We were just dating; I had never assumed it was a forever thing. Was that bad? Should I not date someone I couldn’t see myself married to? It was never how I imagined that working.

My hands had clenched into fists around handfuls of sand. I released them and dug my fingers deep into the rain-cooled granules before lying back and staring at the moon. I pulled my legs up to bury my toes in the sand and pain surged up my left foot. I bolted upright and stretched my legs out in front of me, squinting into the dark for visible signs of damage. The second toe on my left foot looked a little swollen, maybe bruised, but everything was in shadows. I tried to curl the toes and winced again.

My cellphone vibrated in the pocket of my shorts. I pulled it out to discover two things: Its screen was cracked, and I had somehow missed a string of text messages from Derek. They started out OK: Where are you? I’m worried, and progressed to infuriating, I don’t know why you are so upset. I thought you wanted to start a family. When had I ever given that impression? We had never talked about it until today, when he brought it up during an evening walk on the beach.

His words kept echoing in my head. Young, fun parents.Three children. Then, when I’m pretty sure he could tell I wasn’t buying in, he started offering other evidence as to why it would be imperative to start a family sooner rather than later: The earlier you start, the easier it will be to get back in shape after pregnancy. He was majoring in exercise science and planning to go to physical therapy school. (Plans he was not putting on hold to start a family, mind you.) His random health tips had already started to grate on my nerves before this, but this last one made me want to scream. I hurled my phone toward the ocean, watched it land only about ten feet from me and dropped my head in my hands again. Over. I just wanted this to be over.

“Excuse me,” a voice said from above me. “Is this yours?”

I looked up and saw a man, his arm outstretched, holding my cellphone.

“Oh, um, yeah. Thank you.”  Then it dawned on me. “I didn’t hit you with it, did I?” I certainly hadn’t seen anyone walking in front of me, but I wasn’t completely paying attention either. I actually had no idea where he had come from.

I squinted up at him. He looked confused. Also vaguely familiar.

“No, I just saw it in the sand, thought it was worth a shot to check with you.” Then with a smile and a gesture to the cracked face he added, “You throw it pretty regularly?”

“Very funny,” I said, but felt a smile spread across my face. “The cracks are from when I fell over there.” I nodded my head toward the stairs. “The throwing was related to a particularly unfortunate text.”

Seriously, his face was so familiar.

“Do I know you?” we both said at nearly the same time.

“Parktown College?” I asked, on a whim, though he looked just a little older than most of my friends.

“That’s it. You were in my stats class last semester.”

“Oh, right; we talked after class that one time.”

“You totally helped me understand ANOVAs.”

It sounded familiar, but I certainly couldn’t remember the details. It couldn’t have been a long conversation. I gave him a questioning look.

“No, seriously; you explained it in a way I understood so much better than the instructor. I stopped you because I overheard you explaining it to someone in your group and I could tell I would understand you. Totally got me through that part.”

“Well, then. Happy to help.”

“Are you a math major?”

I laughed. “English, with a graphic design minor. You?”

“I’m starting the master’s in educational leadership in the fall. I was a history major in undergrad. Never had stats, so I was accepted on the condition of completing that class successfully.”

“I’m Sarah, by the way.”

“Zach.”

“Nice to meet you, again, Zach.”

“So this unfortunate text message — want to talk about it?” he asked casually, sitting down next to me in the sand.

Just in case you need them, here are those pre-order links again:

Thanks for watching, reading and being so generally awesome, supportive and amazing!

(And because you are so super amazing… I’m giving away one free advance copy of How to Fall to the first person to correctly identify the pink and white cat behind me in the video above. First correct answer in the comments wins!)

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