Brooke Wright has only two goals her senior year at Charity Run High School: stay out of trouble and learn to forgive herself for the past. Forgiveness proves elusive, and trouble finds her anyway when she discovers a secret club at school connected to the death of her best friend. She learns that swim team members participate in a “Fantasy Slut League,” scoring points for their sexual acts with unsuspecting girls.
Brooke, wracked with guilt over her friend’s death, decides to infiltrate the league by becoming one of the “unsuspecting girls,” and exact revenge on the boys who stole away her best friend. An unexpected romance complicates her plans, and her dogged pursuit of justice turns her reckless as she underestimates just how far the boys will go to keep their sex club a secret.
“I’m totally excited!” Gretchen squealed as we walked, arms linked, up the sidewalk to Tanner’s house.
Yes, I felt guilty for lying to my dad. It wasn’t Olivia’s house. There’s no Olivia anyway. But I thought it would sound better if the party were being thrown by a girl and not an immature boy. Tanner was just that. An annoying, loud, overbearing football player from my old high school who insisted on being popular whether people wanted him to or not. I think he was only accepted into the club because he had parents who traveled a lot, thus opening his house to the most over-the-top, alcohol-infused, sex-crazed parties in the city. It amazed me that not one of them had ever been busted by the cops.
“What’s there to be excited about?” I asked. “These parties are obnoxious.”
“Whatever, Brooke. You loved them last year.”
“Yeah, that was last year,” I said. “God, I don’t want to run into anyone I know.”
We pushed through the front door and nearly toppled onto Stephanie.
“Oh my God!” she screamed, throwing her arms around my neck and choking me.
“Steph.” I know I sounded less than enthusiastic, but I just couldn’t pretend anymore.
“I was so hoping you’d come tonight!” she replied, pulling away and looking me up and down. “You look so pretty!”
I did look pretty. I wore dark blue skinny jeans with a gray sequins top and alligator pumps. My very first pair of closed-toe heels. I bought them immediately after Beth’s funeral, and I made sure there was nothing sad about them. Not a hint of black. They were purple instead. I wore my hair in a messy chignon at the nape of my neck to show off my mother’s wedding earrings—the diamond studs. I felt confident and sexy.
“Thanks. I love your dress,” I replied. “It’s really cute.”
Stephanie looked down at her outfit. “I know, right?!” She grabbed my hand and pulled me into the living room. “Look who’s here, everyone!”
“No no,” I said, shaking my head and tearing my hand out of hers. “No one needs to know.”
I smiled nervously and looked around. Thankfully no one heard Stephanie or they didn’t care. The music was turned up to the max, and half the partiers were already wasted. There was an uneasy energy bouncing about the room, like a huge fight would break out at any moment. I didn’t like it, or rather my spirit didn’t like it. I could tell because my heart fluttered and thumped, and not to the beat of the song.
I turned around assuming Gretchen had followed me into the living room. I assumed wrong.
S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about it.
She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her blog at http://swaldenauthor.blogspot.com where you can get up-to-date information on her current projects.
I Did Not Get Lucky
Try asking someone how they made it to where they are.
“What’s your secret? How did it happen? What can you share with others in your field?”
The answer usually? “Oh, I just got lucky.”
Hmm. Really? I mean, really? Well, I truly am happy for those people, but my story hasn’t gone that way at all.
Here’s the deal. I’m working my ass off. I’ll be the first one to say it. I am working really, really hard, and very little of this journey has been easy. I understand more about marketing now than I did six months ago, but it’s still a learning process, and I’ve yet to get to a point in my writing career where I can say, “Oh, happy day! I know all there is to know about marketing and promoting!” I don’t think I’ll ever get there. I’m very much on the outside trying to bulldoze my way in, or scale the wall. However you want to look at it. It’s a tough climb. I’m clawing. I’m reaching. My back hurts. My mascara’s running. There’s nothing “lucky” about it. So it’s hard for me to believe when other people talk about overnight success. Hmm. I think there’s a back story there we aren’t allowed to know. J
I am nowhere near awesome, over-the-top success, but Going Under is by far the first novel I’ve written that’s gone anywhere. I squealed when I saw that it was selling well in the UK. Really? Okay. That’s rockin’. And I squealed, too, when I started hearing from bloggers who wanted to promote me. Me? Get out of town! And I squeal every time someone “friends” me on goodreads or “likes” my Facebook page. All good things, but they haven’t come easily. And so I want to take a moment to share the promotional bits I’ve been doing that have allowed me to see success with Going Under. Have I shot to the top of the Kindle lists overnight? Hell no. I’m not even there, but like I said, I’m slowly climbing. Slipping up. Falling back some. Making a gain or two. Falling again. One step forward. It’s work, people. Hard. Work.
So that this isn’t a long, drawn-out post, I’ll just list the things I’ve found to be most successful in promoting Going Under (this list is for my curious fans and fellow indie writers who may need some tips):
1. Cover reveal (Do this several weeks before publication)
2. Release day book blitz (I did it over the course of three days)
3. Giveaways for signed ARCs on goodreads (Holla! Goodreads is your gold mine. These chicks love them some books, and they love to promote them)
4. Discounted price during special events (You’ve gotta if you want to see a climb)
5. Book tours (I did a two-week blitz in April, and I have book tours scheduled for June and August)
6. Replying PROMPTLY to bloggers interested in promoting you (You wanna be featured? Then respond!)
7. Giveaways for e-books, signed paperback copies, and an ultimate grand prize (Who in the world doesn’t like free stuff?)
8. FB, blog, and Twitter posts (Keep everyone informed)
So there you have it. No secrets over here. Those are the things I’ve been doing to promote Going Under. And I don’t mind sharing because I want to see other indie authors succeed. Again, I’m not sharing this post as an author who’s reached any bestsellers lists yet (I totally hope I do, though). I’m sharing as an author who has been receiving messages from FB fans and bloggers telling me my book is creating buzz. So the word is spreading, and I have incredible fans to thank for their devotion to hardcore promoting. THANK. YOU. I feel those two words don’t go far enough, but it’s the best I can do. <3