Top 5 Things I Wished I’d Known by Laura Lascarso – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Laura Lascarso who is visiting with us to celebrate the recent release of When Everything is Blue. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

Top 5 Things I wished I’d known before I was published and one bonus!

1. There be rejection. I had been warned going into publishing that rejection is a part of the process, but I was continually surprised at both the volume of rejections and the range of reasons why my work was getting rejected. I’ve since moved from mainstream to indie publishing, which has significantly improved my spirits, but in the meantime it never hurts to build up a thick skin.

2. Grow your readership. I was fortunate to be published by mainstream fairly early on in my career, but I didn’t do much to cultivate a readership, thinking the majority of the marketing would fall on the publisher. Unfortunately, when my debut novel didn’t take off, my publisher wasn’t all that invested in growing my readership, which meant I had to start all over.

3. There will always be someone prettier than you. Yeah, so jealousy is a thing as much as we wish we were all so far above it. It’s hard sometimes to see others’ success and not ask yourself what you are doing wrong (or what they are doing right). I’ve learned that it’s best to focus on what I can control, which is the quality of my storytelling, and that if I work hard enough, one day my prince will come.

4. Celebrate your successes, aka treat yo’self. This is a really important thing for writers to do for each other and for themselves. Publishing books can mean long hours (after your regular day job) for not a lot of monetary reward, so whenever something goes your way, take a moment to pat yourself on the back and thank whomever helped you achieve it.

5. Take time off. As much as I wished at times I was a machine, I am not, and in order to sharpen the saw, it is necessary to let my creative fields lie fallow in order to reap the benefits of next season’s harvest. Did I fit enough clichés in there? It must be time for me to take a vacation!

6. (Bonus) If you build it they will come. Stay focused on your craft and the story you want to tell. Everyone has their own style, preference and rules that they follow. Be true to your vision and who you are as an artist, and your work will find its readership.

Sometimes the people we need most aren’t bonded by blood but by something deeper.

When they were kids, golden boy Chris Mitcham rescued dweeby Theo Wooten from the neighborhood bullies and taught him how to “be cool.” Now, years later, Theo’s developed feelings for his best friend that “arise” at the most inopportune times. Theo hates lying to Chris, but in coming out, he might lose the one person who understands him best, a risk he’s not willing to take.

When a relationship with another young man goes south, Theo is forced to confront his own sexuality along with his growing attraction to Chris and the stunted, tenuous relationship Theo has with his father. Will Chris abandon Theo when he learns the truth, or will he stand by him in this tumultuous season of self-discovery? In this quirky coming-of-age romance, Theo’s path to manhood is fraught with several awkward firsts, a few haters, but also the tender comfort of an unexpected lover.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Be Cool

Being horny and almost sixteen is the absolute worst.

Take it from me, Theodore Wooten III, resident expert in the spontaneous boner. The cause of my lovesickness: Christian Mitcham. The cure: hell if I know.

With his sun-bleached hair, warm brown eyes, and devil-may-care attitude, people gravitate to Chris like sugar ants on a soda can, me included. He’s been my best friend since sixth grade when some neighborhood punks held me down on the sidewalk and tried to spit in my eyes. Chris called them off and threatened to beat their asses even though he was outnumbered and outgunned. I guess they believed in his conviction. I know I did.

“Chris is back.”

My twin sister, Tabitha, rushes into my room, even though the door was mostly closed. When we moved into this apartment, the owner paid a contractor to split the master bedroom into two bedrooms, so that we could each have our own room. Tabs got the en suite bathroom, and I got the window. Considering the view overlooks Chris’s property, where he can often be found strutting around shirtless in the wild, it now seems like a fair trade.

“You’re supposed to knock,” I grumble. My gut is a brew of excitement and nerves at the knowledge that Chris is back. My feelings toward my best friend have become more complicated over the past year or so. I’d hoped a summer apart would simplify things.

“I did knock, Theo. You just didn’t hear me,” says Tabs, she of the last word.

I was watching some skate videos online with my cans on. The music was loud, but not that loud. I toss my tablet on the bed, stand, and stretch, delaying the inevitable.

“Oooh, he looks good,” Tabs says as she opens my window, piquing my interest even more. “Buff and tan. He’s been working out.”

“Probably just surfing.” A cloud of swampy Florida air envelops me as I steal a glance over her shoulder. She’s right. He’s even more godly than two months ago. Lucky bastard doesn’t even need to try. Ever since Chris turned thirteen, his muscles have been bursting out like microwave popcorn. He lifts a burger to his mouth and sprouts biceps, sits up in bed and boom, there are his abs. Meanwhile, I grow taller and lankier and have to deal with my mom telling me to stand up straight or I’m going to get scoliosis, which I’m pretty sure isn’t how that disease works, but it’s hard to argue with my mom when she thinks she’s right.

My sister calls down to Chris. He’s carrying a new surfboard—midnight blue, probably a gift from his dad. He glances up and lifts his free hand in a friendly wave.

My gut twists in a nausea-inducing way. The feelings are still there, the sharp knife of longing that slices down my sternum and scrambles my guts. I lift one hand in greeting and hope I’m far enough away so he can’t see anything unusual on my face.

“Come down,” Chris calls. “Bring your suits.”

I’m already wearing my board shorts and a T-shirt. Standard summer attire. We live close enough to the beach that I can bike or skate there, even though my mom hates me going through all the traffic. Sometimes I just go to skate along the sea wall and smell the ocean. It reminds me of Chris.

The twist in my stomach coils into a hard knot of anxiety at the thought of our reunion, but it’ll be weird if my sister goes and I don’t. Plus, I’ve missed him like crazy. I got so bored this summer, I was finally able to nail a nightmare flip on my skateboard. Something to add to my college applications.

“Be right down,” Tabs calls to Chris, then bounces out of my room like a happy Pikachu. My sister’s always been the cheerful, outgoing one. I’m slightly sour.

I glance back out the window to find Chris still looking up at me. Of course I’ll be down. As if there was ever a question. I always do what Chris tells me. And until recently, I’ve been happy to do it. I trust him to know what to do in just about any situation.

Me, not so much.

I trail behind Tabs across our driveways and through the gate into his backyard. He’s laid out on a lawn chair, shirtless of course. His hair’s gotten longer. He likes it that way, so he can tuck it behind his ears. He’s got a deep summer tan, and his abs are even more ripped than when he left for summer a couple of months ago. His sunglasses are reflective so I can’t see his eyes. I worry he can tell I’m checking him out, so I stare at the shrubbery instead.

“What is this, a race?” Chris rises from the lawn chair to give me our usual bro-hug. He means my height. I must have grown two inches over summer, but I didn’t realize the difference until I have to lean down a little to embrace him. I catch a whiff of his hair—a mixture of sunshine, salt spray, and coconut shampoo. His skin is warm and feels good in my palms—dangerously good.

Chris hugs my sister too and asks her if she highlighted her hair. She did. He tells her he likes it, and my sister’s smile cracks wide open. We have good teeth, my sister and I, bright white and straight thanks to orthodontia. Our dad’s a dentist and our mom’s a dental hygienist. Our smiles are the one trait people say we have in common, though they probably see a lot more of Tabs’s teeth than my own.

“I wish my hair was your color naturally.” Tabs tugs at Chris’s golden locks playfully, which draws another deep chuckle from him. I study the flecks of quartz in the concrete and try to ignore the fact that my sister is flirting with my best friend. And she’s doing a really good job of it.

About the Author: Laura Lascarso wants you to stay up way past your bedtime reading her stories. She aims to inspire more questions than answers in her fiction and believes in the power of storytelling to heal and transform a society. When not writing, Laura can be found screaming “finish” on the soccer fields, rewatching Veronica Mars, and trying to convince politicians that climate change is real. She lives in North Florida with her darling husband and two kids. She loves hearing from readers, and she’d be delighted to hear from you.

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