I know SO many people who have served as soldiers overseas. Cousins, in-laws, my husband, , people I grew up with, sons and daughters of friends... They all come back affected by war in some way or another.
I've wanted to write this story in so many different ways, and so many different times, and suddenly Kate came to me as this hysterical sort of scatter-brained girl with diabetes, who doesn't want diabetes, so she ignores it as best she can (despite her need of shots).
Aidan's used to be this sort of dorky high school guy who joined the Army knowing it would be his career, and he totally came into his own, until he lost his arm and his career in one devastating blow.
When I write, characters almost always come first, and story later. When the characters came to me as fully as these two did, I knew it would be a fast book to write. And it was.
At the halfway point, it got hard, and I wasn't sure if I could do the story justice. Then I spent some time researching all the organizations that help our returned soldiers with missing limbs and tears streamed down my face. That's when I knew I HAD to finish their story.
It's my husband's favorite - but he's biased from his time in the military, and consequently, his time in the middle east.
This book was picked up by ALBERT WHITMAN TEEN!!
(Did you read the boxcar stories when you were a kid?? Because I totally did, and they're responsible for those - it was super exciting seeing their books at SCBWI, even though I wasn't allowed to share) I've been reading through their YA titles, and each time I finish one, I'm sort of stunned that they picked my book. Used To Be will come out in hardback in March of 2014 - that's the schedule for now!!!!!
I KNOW!!!!!!! Freak out with me people!!!!!!! :-D
To celebrate, I'm going to share some lines from the story - and remember this is pre-edited, and I'll probably have to take it down later...
The lack of snark in my life is starting to be disturbing, but I’m not sure if I have it in me to care.
My ex-boyfriend is about to pull a pinch of fat from my stomach to give me my shot. This is just . . . well there aren’t words.
I feel all shaky and thin, like I could shatter on the stairway if they touch in front of me.
Sleep makes me weak, brings back memories of things I don’t want to think about, only they’re worse in the light of dreams. But the problem with dreams is that the more the dreams taint my memories, the more horrible my memories become.
“No being sneaky around Kate.” I toss my arm over her shoulder. “If you’ve got a missing limb, she’ll notice every time.”
And a teeny, tiny part of probably my favorite scene I've ever written. Ever:
(this part of the scene is from Kate)
“Can I see your arm?” I ask.
Instead of answering, he pulls his T-shirt over his head and drops it to the floor. I forget to look at where his arm used to be. I’m looking at his chest, his tight abs, his back, and whoa. Wow. Shelton’s toned, sort of. He’s thin, but Aidan’s built like . . . I guess he’s built like a man. Different. Nervous tingles hit me in the pit of my stomach. A man. Older, more experience in life, I’m sure in love, in everything.
“That bad?” he asks.
“I wasn’t looking at your arm.” Stupid, stupid lack of filter.
“Are you checking me out, Kate?” he teases.
But I don’t have it in me to tease. Not right now. I run my hand over his chest, down his stomach, and even have the guts to slide my fingertips into the front of his jeans.
“Hmm.” The deepness of his voice vibrates through me.
I pull until I’m sitting on his bed, and he sits next to me. Close enough that the warmth of his body hits me in millions and billions of little places.
His shoulder is covered in welted red scars, but doesn’t look as strange as I thought it would. There are tiny marks down his side to the top of his jeans, and also up his neck and under his ear.
I can feel his pulse quicken, and his eyes are almost wary as he watches me. Maybe he’s worried about what I’ll think. What I see.
“Is it . . .” he shakes his head once, and I’m realizing that Aidan does head-shakes like my dad does breathe-outs. This one makes him seem uncertain. “Is my arm weird? I mean. Is it –”
“It’s fine. Good.” I’m not making sense, and I don’t mean to, but my fingers are on him, tracing the scarring, wondering what it would be like to be part of something so insane. So real...
Anyway - I feel like my blog has been nothing but announcements, and books, and I promise, I WILL eventually get back to talking about writing, but for now, just scream with me, because I've had to hold on to this happy news for a WHILE.