My Next Book!

My second book is now on Goodreads, so I figured now’s a good time to share the title and synopsis with you guys! Are you ready? The title is…(imagine me doing a cheesy drumroll with my hands on a table)…

THINGS JOLIE NEEDS TO DO BEFORE SHE BITES IT

And here’s the “official” synopsis:

Jolie is a lot of things, but she knows that pretty isn’t one of them. She has mandibular prognathism, which is the medical term for underbite. Chewing is a pain, headaches are a common occurrence, and she’s never been kissed. She’s months out from having a procedure to correct her underbite, and she cannot wait to be fixed. Normal.

While her mom and sister watch worst case scenario TV shows, Jolie becomes paralyzed with the fear that she could very well die under the knife. She and her best friends Evelyn and Derek take it upon themselves to construct a THINGS JOLIE NEEDS TO DO BEFORE SHE BITES IT (WHICH IS SUPER UNLIKELY BUT STILL IT COULD HAPPEN) list. Things like: eat every appetizer on the Applebee’s menu and kiss her crush Noah Reed.

Their plan helps Jolie discover what beauty truly means to her, and those who might appear beautiful on the outside may not be all that perfect inside.

Kerry Winfrey is the master of taking heavy topics and infusing them with her honesty and humor. Her look at how we view and measure beauty will surely resonate with teens.

Okay, so that last part was basically just me including a compliment.

I am really, REALLY excited about this book. LOVE AND OTHER ALIEN EXPERIENCES was a personal book for me, but THINGS JOLIE NEEDS TO DO BEFORE SHE BITES IT is personal on a different level. I had an underbite in high school, and even though I knew a couple people who had one (and who had surgery to correct theirs), I still felt like a total weirdo. Like there was something wrong with me. Like I needed to be fixed. Even though this book is (hopefully) funny, parts of it were pretty painful to write! It was hard to revisit the, frankly, terrible way I felt about myself when I was a teenager.

But I’m certainly not saying this book is autobiographical…it’s not. I mean, I WAS afraid I was going to die in surgery, but I didn’t make a plan to kiss any crushes beforehand. Instead, I went to a Ben Folds concert the night before my surgery and then forgot I wasn’t supposed to eat after midnight and got a roast beef sandwich at an Arby’s in a gas station. What a book that would be.

It’s out on July 10th, 2018 and I can’t WAIT for you to read it. It’s about beauty standards, terrible movies, podcasts, childbirth classes, amateur low-budget musicals, sisters, best friends, those TV shows where surgeries go wrong, Applebee’s, and kissing. I wrote most of it when my baby was teeny-tiny and sleeping beside me in his rock n play, and I kind of can’t believe it’s gonna be a real book.

In the meantime, you can add it on Goodreads! Do it!

LOVE AND OTHER ALIEN EXPERIENCES comes out today!

Today is the day: my first novel, LOVE AND OTHER ALIEN EXPERIENCES, is out!

The thing about having a book published is that it’s kind of like any other day. I mean, maybe if you have a launch party or something that will add some pizazz, but for me this is basically a normal day. So far no one has showered me with donuts, gifts, or one of those flower blankets that horses get when they win a race. But the day is still young, so I guess any one of those things could still happen.

Everything in me wants to turn this into just another day, and in a lot of ways, it is. Having a small child is a good way to keep yourself grounded, because a baby literally does not care about your book coming out. A baby just cares about whether or not you’re gonna feed him graham crackers and let him crawl on the fireplace, even though he knows he’s not supposed to.

But I know that this is a dream I’ve been pursuing for a long time, and this is a day I’ve been waiting for basically my whole life. Although people have already been reading ARCs, now many more people will be able to read the book and love it or hate it or use it as a coaster. And when I get a second to stop and think about it, that’s pretty exciting.

I’m very, very grateful for those of you who ordered the book, especially those of you who have already read it in ebook and purchased it again in paperback. I appreciate the support SO much. I have a few interviews that should be going up soon, and once they’re up I’ll share them here! Sidenote: book promo for me so far has mostly been scheduling interviews during my kid’s naptime. My life is very glamorous.

I have to go get a tiny person out of bed and give him a bottle, so until next time, here’s a link to read about the book, watch the trailer, and buy it if you’re so inclined.

Just Keep Writing

My first book (LOVE AND OTHER ALIEN EXPERIENCES, in case you somehow missed me talking about it constantly?) is coming out in less than two months. Or I guess you could call it my first published book…or, even more accurately, the first book I’ve completely finished.

Like most writers, I have other books. In my case, they’re unfinished books, but they still exist in their partial, imperfect, unpretty forms. Books that once represented “maybe someday,” books that are ideas I once believed in, books that I once spent my nights and weekends on.

Back in 2011, when I was writing a weekly column for HelloGiggles about YA, I was also trying to write a book. In retrospect, it’s kind of shocking that someone at HelloGiggles allowed me to write such long, rambly pieces every week that were mostly about YA but sometimes just about my own personal feelings. 2011 Kerry had things to say and she finally had an outlet and the world was gonna hear about it!

The world remained mostly uninterested, but at one point an agent emailed me to ask if I was working on any YA of my own. An agent. Like, a real live human agent emailed ME, this girl who worked a ridiculous office job that occasionally involved putting on safety goggles/heatproof jackets and touring steel mills, to ask if I was working on a book.

WELL. I just so happened to be working on something, so I polished it up and sent it off and waited, all the while thinking, “Is this it? Will I have an agent? Is this book going to be published?”

It was not it, and I did not get an agent, and that book did not get published. Make no mistake, the agent was extremely nice to me, but she told me she couldn’t represent that book. I was disappointed, of course, and I stopped working on that book…but I didn’t stop writing. I wrote lots of beginnings to books that never got finished, scenes of things I never fleshed out, and eventually I wrote an entire first draft of a book about band camp (I still think there need to be more books about band camp, btw; it’s a transformative experience).

Anyway, back to my point. A couple of nights ago I decided to take a look at those pages I sent that agent, because I hadn’t read them since. I expected to cringe, and I did. But what I really found out was that those pages weren’t bad. Like, I could string together sentences. I made jokes.

BUT THERE WAS NO PLOT. Like, I’m not sure where I actually intended to go with that book, since it was only the beginning, but there was no big conflict. No drama. Just a bunch of angst and people making jokes. And also, surprisingly, my humor was kind of mean. I think of my books (okay, so I’ve only FINISHED one book but I’m working on my second now!) as primarily funny, but I don’t like to be mean. I like my jokes about people to be rooted in warmth, like we’re celebrating their endearing qualities even as we’re poking fun at them. But the stuff in this book was just kind of mean-spirited. Like, thank God that didn’t get published! I wouldn’t want it out there.

And then there’s the band camp book, which REALLY had no plot, despite the fact that I wrote an entire draft. There’s a cute boy, SURE, but you can’t just read 250 pages of cute boys being cute, no matter how much I wish that was true.

So here’s my point, I guess: at the time I wrote both of those books, I thought they were The Ones. You know, the ones that would get published eventually. At the time, I felt like I’d been trying to write a book for so long, but now it’s 2017 and my first book is coming out in July (well, for the second time…it’s kind of confusing). If you’d told me then I would wait six years, I would’ve been like, “UH, EXCUSE ME?” It would’ve seemed like forever.

But here’s the thing: I wasn’t just waiting during those six years. I was living. I was reading. I was writing, A TON. I was doing all the stuff I needed to do to become a better writer, to write something I would actually be proud of publishing.

As I wrote my weekly column about my favorite YA books, I dreamed that someday I’d have my own YA book that someone would read and love and write about. And now my first book is coming out, and I hope someone does love it.

So I guess what I’m saying is if it feels like you’ve been working on something forever and it’s not going anywhere…just keep going. Keep living, keep reading, keep writing. You’ll get there.

Just, like, write something that has a plot. Trust me on that one.

A Preorder Giveaway! (and thank you notes from me)

LAOAE giveaway
So as you may know if you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr or Instagram or have talked to me at any point recently, LOVE AND OTHER ALIEN EXPERIENCES comes out on July 11th, 2017. That means it is currently available for preorder! Several really wonderful people have let me know that they’ve already ordered it, and I’m just so overcome with gratitude that I wanted to take some time to say thanks. So! Here’s the deal. If you’ve preordered LOVE AND OTHER ALIEN EXPERIENCES (or if you order it at any time before July 11th), shoot me an email at welcometoladyville@gmail.com with your address and I’ll mail you a thank you note. And you will also be entered to win a little prize pack I put together, WHICH INCLUDES:

-A notebook that says “A little step may be the beginning of a great journey.” When I saw this, I was like, “THAT’S IT; THAT’S THE BOOK!” because one little step outside of her house is the start of some really big things for Mallory.
-The book Film Listography: Your Life in Movie Lists, because obviously Mallory’s brother Lincoln is keeping track of all the movies (sorry, films) he sees.
-A little stuffed Mulder and Scully set, because I also have these and they are very cute.
-Some alien/space themed socks
-Various X-Files stickers/patches
-A package of Twizzlers for PLOT REASONS that you have to read to find out, but honestly I trust that you can always use Twizzlers even if you haven’t read the book
-Some nail polish that I will choose for you at a later date, because Mallory’s BFF Jenni is a beauty vlogger but she would definitely want to know more about you before picking out a polish shade for you.

I’m not exactly going full Oprah and giving away new cars here, but I just wanted to send out thank you notes because I am really, really grateful. I know that I am just one little debut author, and I know that we all have limited money to spend on books. The fact that anyone is preordering my book is bananas, and the fact that I know some people have preordered AFTER ALREADY BUYING IT IN EBOOK WHEN IT WAS OUT IN 2015 is Gwen Stefani B-A-N-A-N-A-S. I am OVERWHELMED with gratitude and I appreciate everyone who has preordered this book so, so much. Please, let me send you a personal and probably weird (let’s be honest) thank you note.

TL;DR: Preorder LOVE AND OTHER ALIEN EXPERIENCES from your preferred retailer & email me your address at welcometoladyville@gmail.com and I’ll send you a thank you note and enter you to win a prize pack FULL OF GREAT STUFF! Proof of purchase is only necessary if you win, because I can’t imagine a person who would lie about buying my book to receive a thank you note from me. That would be the weirdest lie ever.

My (Imaginary) Episode of Crybabies

Have you guys ever listened to the podcast Crybabies? It’s hosted by Susan Orlean and Sarah Thyre, and it is amazing. It’s just…famous people talking about what makes them cry! And if you’re an emotion junkie like me, you’ll love it. I haven’t listened to it in a looong time, because now that I have a baby I’ve become an EVEN MORE EMOTIONAL person and I don’t need any help crying. Typically people talk about songs, movies, music, or other media that makes them cry…but also once Moby talked about how he saw someone eating an egg sandwich on the train. It’s a nice mix of stuff, is what I’m saying.

Anyway, I’ve given a good amount of thought to what I would talk about on my own imaginary episode of Crybabies. A lot of things make me cry, so it was hard to narrow it down, but here goes:

-The episode of Playing House where Maggie gives birth (“Let’s Have a Baby”)
I always love a birth episode, just like I always love a wedding episode. But wedding episodes don’t usually make me cry, while baby episodes have me sobbing like…well, a baby. I already love the dynamic of Playing House, and the birth episode does such a great job of bringing everyone together. Emma is there being confused for Maggie’s wife, Maggie’s ex is there being extremely unhelpful, her sweetly strange brother is there to assist as her doula, and that alone is already making me emotional. But then Maggie starts to feel like she can’t do it, and Emma gives her a VERY touching pep talk about Maggie’s wedding and Maggie’s deceased mother and that’s all I’m gonna say about it. You need to watch it. I’m tearing up typing this.

-The movie The Spectacular Now
Not the book, which is extremely well-written but extremely depressing and kinda hopeless. There’s this scene between Sutter and his mom near the end that just made me LOSE IT. After we left the theatre, Hollis and I went to Target and I wandered up and down the aisles crying to the point that he was worried about me. Sorry, it was an emotional movie!

-“The Best Day” by Taylor Swift
I actually can’t listen to this song without crying, and I’ve listened to it A LOT. It’s all about her mom and her childhood and the part that really gets to me is when she sings “I grew up in a pretty house/and I had space to run” and oh noooo help I’m getting emotional right now! It’s just…I don’t know, it’s nice to see her acknowledge that she had such a great life and parents and brother and ugh I can’t even talk about it.

-The last story in Tenth of December by George Saunders
I mean, hello, have you read it?

-The entirety of You’ve Got Mail
Last time I watched it, I burst into tears as soon as The Cardigans started playing. KATHLEEN WAS JUST WALKING WITH SUCH PURPOSE. Other parts that make me cry: when she’s decorating her shop at Christmas and talking about her mom, and when Tom Hanks says “Don’t cry, shopgirl,” and he should probably just say “Don’t cry, Kerry,” because I AM SOBBING. EVERY. TIME.

There are for sure more that I’m not thinking of right now, but those are my most visceral crybaby moments. What are yours? I’d love to hear them! Also, yes, I haven’t blogged in awhile but I’m deep in Book 2 revisions right now and for some reason whenever I have a ton to do, I always want to update my blog. Shrug emoticon, you know?