Category Archives: North Shore / South Shore

Kickstarter Complete: 5 Lessons Learned

This week I sent off the last of it–my limited edition novels funded by my KICKSTARTER backers. Those who paid $25 or more received signed copies. Now that I have some space from the project as a whole, I thought I’d share some tips for those launching KICKSTARTER book projects of their own.

1. Do lots of research first. I mean this both in the empirical way and the soul searching way. I looked at many (MANY) kickstarter projects for books. I saw what others were charging and what rewards people were getting. I focused on successful projects or projects that were almost over and had most of their funding. I also thought a lot about what creative concessions I was willing to make. For example, I offered to change a character’s name for $1,000. You may not want to do that. Some other campaigns (mostly ones for fantasy chap books) offered to let backers decide plot points. That was NOT something I wanted to do. I make all plot decisions.

2. If you can complete your project with less money, raise less money. You can always do an extension. I raised 5,000 for my campaign. Other book campaigns were about that much. Friends who had successful projects said that was a good number and I could raise it. But let me tell you, that last week getting from $4,000 to $5,000 was STRESSFUL. By the last week, I was second-guessing the goal. And you can’t change the goal or the time frame once you set it. And as KICKSTARTER reminds you every step of the way, if you don’t receive full funding, you don’t get anything. Take that to heart. (Sidenote: I’m sure you can tell from the above paragraph that I’m not a business major/math-minded person. I know. I’ve been aware of this for awhile. Maybe I should’ve engaged one of my friends who doesn’t suck at math to help. Might have saved some money on TUMS that last week too.)

3. Utilize the talented people in your life. It takes a village. I mean, that’s basically the guiding concept behind KICKSTARTER, right? I got so many compliments on my kickstarter video. And it wouldn’t have been half as entertaining if I didn’t have a talented husband to film and edit it. My video was a short bit about why I need the money then outtakes of me screwing up. In short, C.K. made me look much more charming than I actually am. One thing I wish I did: get someone do create concept art. Like a picture of the main character. If I could do it all again, I would’ve called in some favors on that front. Maybe even make postcards printed with the art. That way  I could’ve given something tangible to the people who backed me for less than $25. There are lots of folks out there who don’t want another paperback, especially those who have transitioned fully to eReaders. But those people still want to support you and everyone likes getting postcards. (Right?)

Shipment from Publisher’s Graphics

4. Do the campaign in a month. No one wants to think about your kickstarter campaign for more than that. Start revving up interest prior to when the campaign starts (blog posts, facebook updates, tweets), but the actual “I need your money to make my dreams happen” shouldn’t be in people’s feeds for more than a month.

5. Order extras. I’m using the extras for giveaways on goodreads.com and my facebook page. I also had ten requests for full manuscripts from lit agents. No one offered representation because they didn’t think that North Shore South Shore had a traditional niche market. My novel is about emerging adults–a relatively new literary market that appeals to readers between YA and Adult fiction. Agents just couldn’t picture it. I’ll be sending some of these agents copies to help them do just that and prove that the novel is indeed sellable.

Special thanks to…all of my kickstarter backers, C.K. Sample, Glen Edelstein (cover design), Publishers’ Graphics, all my friends who tweeted or shared on facebook, and the good people at KICKSTARTER for accepting my project.

Follow me on TWITTER.

 

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Kickstarter–SUCCESS!

I take a spin class every Friday morning and the teacher is both a spinning instructor and a yoga instructor. She oddly pairs yoga affirmations like “Be thankful for what your body can do” with spinning affirmations like “Let’s GO! Burn off that good livin’!”

Her style is off-putting to say the least. But today, when she inevitably tells her minions  to “Dedicate our class to someone” as we go on three minutes of climbing resistance, I will dedicate my spin class to everyone who helped get me funding on kickstarter.

THANK YOU!

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

With ten hours left, I’m 102% funded and I have 70+ backers. I’m grateful for your generous pledges. I’m also grateful for your support in bringing awareness to my project (and for not hating me the past few days when all I’ve talked about is kickstarter). The tweets, status updates, etc. were instrumental in widening North Shore South Shore’s audience.

Thanks for bringing me to the next step in this process! Thanks to you–I’m actually going somewhere. It’s quite the opposite of spin class. My legs cycle furiously to loud music and I get nowhere.

Next up: Electronic release!  Like my facebook page for details. (It’s coming soon. I’m sending the manuscript to a formatter next week.)

Have a nice weekend everyone!

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Mommy & Novelist…Or Maybe the Other Way Around

Jackson prepares for the Mud Run.

Alternate title: “How To Write and Market Your Novel, Be a Stay-at-Home Mom, and Deal with the Pull of Guilt from Both Your Literary Baby and Your Real Baby.”

I started writing North Shore South Shore in 2007 when my husband was relocated to Los Angeles. I was working as an editor for AOL’s TV Squad. I joined a writer’s group with my husband just to fill some time. I took the relocation hard and didn’t have many friends in L.A. or much to do for that matter. But I drafted the first iteration of my novel.

We moved home just a year later, I started working as a high school English teacher, and North Shore South Shore collected figurative dust filed away on a USB drive. Plus I started back pursuing my second Masters. For a solid year, the novel was just a large file, forgotten and finally moved to make room for lesson plans and graduate work. I looked at it a few times during school breaks. I had to revise much of it and add a fourth narrator. But I couldn’t even get to writing because I would have to read the whole thing before I could put fingers to laptop.

In 2010, I had Jackson and finishing North Shore South Shore looked unlikely. But in the summer of 2010 (five-month-old in tow) I buckled down during naps and after bedtime. North Shore South Shore was “coming along.” I even started posting about it on my facebook page (because if you don’t mention it on facebook, it’s not real). By the following summer, I had something of a manuscript and an active, charming 15-month-old. I had also finished my second Masters. My husband’s voice was now a familiar refrain: You need to finish it. How many people say they are going to write a novel and never write one? You have over 100,000 words. You never know–it might get published.

Jackson takes the road not taken.

And I have him to thank for the completion of North Shore South Shore. My refrain was something like this: I don’t have the time. I have the baby to care for. I have a part-time teaching gig still. It’ll never get looked at anyway. But, despite my best efforts to convince myself NOT to finish the novel, I finished it. I created this blog to document the process. The book became an old friend that I would catch up with whenever I had the chance. I looked forward to times when I could work on it the same way I looked forward to taking Jackson to the zoo or the playground.

While writing the book was a focused, intense process, marketing my book to both buyers and literary agents is a multi-headed monster, like the mythical one that Hercules kills in his labors. But Hercules killed his wife and kids (ain’t no Disney ending there) and therefore is suspect as a role model for this process. Talk about missplaced rage.

Still, I’m left with the task of fitting it all in (and without mythical role models). Oh, and I should mention we’re potty training right now. My days alternate between the guerilla marketing of North Shore South Shore and taking care of Jackson. I confess, sometimes I just want to focus on caring for and playing with him. When I’m working on novel stuff, Jackson beckons “I play you, Mommy” and grabs my hand. (Cue pang of guilt.) I feel like I’m missing something. He’ll never be this age again. “It goes so fast so enjoy it,” said the lady in the diner peering over her walker with tennis balls on the bottom and I get this eerie feeling that my octogenerian self is warning me. (It should be noted that before said lady walkered over to our table, I was trying to make Jackson sit in his high chair and he was calling “Help! Help!” to other diner patrons.)

But if I’ve spent the whole morning with Jackson, my literary baby beckons.

So my days include (but are not limited to) potty training, updates to the novel’s facebook page, emailing queries to agents, cutting up fruit for snacks, play dates, formatting the book for release to eReaders, scouring Pinterest to fill out North Shore South Shore‘s Pinterest page, tweeting, emailing, diaper changing, playing with blocks or trains or play-doh, and the occasional art project.

And despite every expectation that I should not be able to accomplish both, things are getting done. I’ve had several requests for full manuscripts from agents. My kickstarter project started two days ago and is already 31% funded. My facebook page has over 300 fans. And the book is finished and will be released in October.

And my laundry is done. And my apartment is (somewhat) tidy. Because mommies can do anything. After all, we gave birth. That s*** was ridiculously hard.

If you’ve read this far, you’ll allow for some advice (not of the sage variety but advice nonetheless):

1. It’s okay to want to work on your work, especially if you’re creative like me. Just as my child is a living, breathing being in need of my love, North Shore South Shore is an ever-expanding and contracting text that has taken on a life of its own via twitter, facebook, and kickstarter. Taking care of both babies feeds my soul in different ways. I’ve learned I’m learning to be at peace with working on the project.

Jackson paints a blob.

2. Do something meaningful with your child (either once or multiple times a day depending on the age). I find that Jackson’s attention span for me is only about 20-30 minutes. After that, his interaction level decreases and he moves on to something else. So I try to do a few activities in a day with him. We paint, craft, build block towers, pretend play with Go Diego Go toys, build Thomas Tracks, and read books. Some days I spend a few hours in the morning with him at the Botanical Gardens or the Bronx Zoo and then I spend more of my afternoon marketing North Shore South Shore or doing quick stints of proofreading.

3. Get in some work when your child is napping or eating. The naptime work session is obvious. But I get in some writing after I set Jackson up with breakfast or lunch. I find it takes toddlers at least a half hour to eat anything. He is a gourmet who savors each cheerio, each bite of penne, each strawberry half. By contrast, I eat lunch standing at my kitchen counter, putting away dishes with one hand and stuffing a sandwich in my mouth with the other. Because of my obsessive need to multi-task and damaged relationship with food, I can get plenty done during his lunchtime.

4. If you feel like there’s something you want to do, DO IT. Write the book. Start the business. (I have a friend who makes beautiful invitations from home and another who crafts adorable bows for little girls.) Finish the degree. (I have two friends working on their dissertations right now.)  Just do it. I certainly believe you can.

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In the First Person

Many of you already know from the sample chapters provided on this site that my novel is told in first person. In fact, other than the prologue, the novel alternates between four points of view: Kylie Baines, Ben Carrick, Colette Baptiste, and Matt Tracy. I chose to tell the story this way because while the characters’ fates are intertwined and rich in history, they all drift in their own particular orbits. I needed four narrators to move the plot along as well. And I hope with this last edit that I’ve sharpened each narrative voice so that it’s entertaining for the reader, not distracting.

They all bring different qualities to the table. Kylie is leading a double life and the story revolves around her family, romantic relationships, etc. It’s completely neccessary that the reader see her perspective. Ben is more lighthearted and tells anecdotes about the friends in high school. Kylie would never tell an anecdote for sheer amusement but Ben seems genuinely interested in getting the group back together (like the good ole days) and therefore he easily dips into an idealized, slightly romanticized past. Colette, as Kylie’s cousin and the daughter of kingpin Denis Baptiste, is essential to the plot. She provides insights into the Baptiste family and fills in some of Kylie’s background (the time after high school but before the start of the novel). But Colette is spoiled rotten so she has none of Kylie’s seriousness.

And then there’s Matt Tracy. He was the last narrator I wrote into the story. I did so at the behest of a writer’s group I attended with C.K. when we lived in Santa Monica. Perhaps because Matt was the last narrative voice to take shape or perhaps because adding him was not my idea, he’s been the most difficult narrator for me. With the other three characters, I hear them in my head easily. Sometimes it takes a few hours to get a dialogue down and then several more to tighten it up but I always know what Kylie’s, Colette’s, and Ben’s take on the situation is going to be. Kylie will feel the gravity of the scene intensely and over-analyze her own part in it. Colette will dismiss anything that would require emotional maturity then feel guilty for doing so, all while cracking jokes about the other characters. Ben will feel the scene more acutely than Colette but he really doesn’t have much at stake. He’s happily engaged and about to start his Masters program. But Matt is a strong, silent type. It’s challenging to give a voice to someone who would prefer not to chime in.

I say all this because three of the full manuscript requests came back as “thanks but no thanks.” Actually, I shouldn’t make it sound so cavalier. The agents took the time to give some great feedback that extended beyond “it just didn’t fire me up to sell it.” One of the main critiques is about the narration. One agent said that towards the end of the book, my narrators seem fashioned from the same cloth. It’s a fair critique and I worked hard these past few weeks to rectify it. I think I owe this agent a thank you. I believe I have a more polished book now. But another agent said that she didn’t like the first person narrators switching all the time. She wanted to invest in one person and hear the whole thing from his/her point of view.

 

All this got me wondering: should I have written this book in the omniscient third person? Or even limited third person and used Kylie’s POV?

Personally, I like first-person narration. It’s one distinct voice. I don’t have to like the narrator or want to talk to him/her. But I’m more excited to read the book if I do sympathize with the narrator. I also enjoy the changing perspectives. The Help and Gone Girl are good examples. For the former, I loved all three narrators. For the latter, I’m only a few chapters in but I don’t like anyone yet. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like the story so far.

Third person narration is fine but in my reading experience, the author needs to chose one character to focus on. Furthermore, the limited third person often clumsily dips into other character’s minds. Even the goddess of novel writing, Jane Austen, does this. I taught Pride and Prejudice several times at high school level and reread it each time. In the beginning of the novel, when I’m supposed to dislike Darcy along with everyone else in Meryton, I get glimpses of his feelings for Elizabeth and I feel a little cheated of the big reveal.

 

But I digress. I’m really writing this to find out what other readers think.

Do you like first-person narration or third? And why? 

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Finding an Agent…

I went into this process with no expectations. I think I would be happy just to have my family members and friends reading my book on the Kindle (or their chosen electronic device) and telling me that it was indeed “good.” A work friend of my mom’s, perhaps, could say that she was “really into it.” A student I used to teach might say “I read the whole thing in like three days.”  I really believe that might be enough. I’ve never identified myself as a career writer so I have only a medium amount of emotional stock in this process. I’m an English teacher. I have two Masters degrees to prove it. Not an novelist. I just happened to write a book.

Until I started querying agents…

So far I’ve queried exactly 100 literary agents. I find myself looking for a few minutes here and there so I can check my database, quickly cut and paste the query letter (and maybe a few chapters), and send it off to another possible agent. Also, and this is more annoying-yet-unstoppable, I find myself checking email obsessively. Even every few minutes.

Refresh.

Refresh.

Be an email from an agent asking to see more–not an email from Nordstrom offering 25% off Marc by Marc Jacobs.

I have gotten some feedback. Three agents asked to see partial manuscripts and one agent asked to see the full manuscript. That request for a full manuscript sent me off the edge. I was just about to feed the baby dinner when I got it. I found myself frantically microwaving Dr. Praeger’s broccoli pancakes and calling my husband (not picking up), my mother (not picking up), ANYONE! Thus, the all caps tweet a few days ago. I had to tell the world. (Mom called a few minutes later. Then C.K. too.)

Of course I’ve heard nothing since then. Oh, the emotional trials!

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Julian McMahon…The Inspiration for Blaise Baptiste

 

Now many of you may disagree but I think Blaise Baptiste is just about the coolest character name I came up with for NSSS. He’s the second son of the Baptiste crime family patriarch Denis Baptiste, Jr. (Sidenote: Baptiste’s eldest son Brice is estranged from the family and works for the D.A.’s office.)

Blaise, like any second son from lit/film/etc., is preoccupied with proving himself to his father. He wants more responsibility within the family business–and he wants more power.

When the novel opens, Blaise is thrust into the spotlight of the family because his father has been arrested and Blaise has to keep it all together. Of course he has Kylie, Denis’ niece, to help him but their relationship is tense at best. Blaise is quick-tempered and not equally quick-minded. His mouth gets him into trouble and his fists get him out of it.

When I was writing the book, I imagined a 20-something Julian McMahon as Blaise Baptiste.  And let me tell you, it’s not terribly hard to imagine Julian McMahon.

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Pimp My Ride

 

One of the great things about having a facebook page for North Shore / South Shore is that I can get immediate feedback when I have questions about the details. One of my favorite facebook conversations was from last summer when my question about the Baptiste’s ethnicity spawned several comments. They are French-American but that didn’t seem tough enough for a family of high-powered dangerous criminals. People suggested I make them part Creole or just make them Irish (but that might entail changing the last name).

Today I asked what kind of car a mobwife should drive. I chose a Mercedes Benz sedan for Denis Baptiste’s wife Erica. And I think it will be white. Like the responses to the Baptiste’s ethnic background, the comments about Erica’s car were entertaining and insightful.

Yes, definitely white. White interior too–because she is obviously high maintenance. White because it one might expect black for a villain. A white car says “My husband just beat his charges. After I pick him up at the courthouse, we going to Whole Foods.”

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You don’t have to love it…

 

You just have to like it.

My facebook page, that is. I plan on getting my book on the kindle this summer and C.K. suggested I start promoting. Since my favorite online community is the “fotchbook,” I thought I’d start there.  I will shamelessly promote my book as the best thing since sliced bread. I will also entertain you with soulful wit and insights to live by.

www.facebook.com/NorthShoreSouthShore

LIKE IT!

 

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Annalynne or Blake for Colette Baptiste?

It’s not just a matter of curly or straight. Blow dryers can fix the former and hot rollers can fix the latter. Who do you think is right to play Colette Baptiste when my amazing book eventually gets made into an insanely successful premium cable series? You’d think Annalynne McCord is edgier and her work on Nip/Tuck was amazing. But then you’ve probably not seen Blake Lively in The Town.

Would a picture help?

 

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The Third Chapter…Meet Ben Carrick

Here’s my favorite guy! Ben Carrick! I love this narrator. I think I created someone that I’d want to be friends with. He’s getting married to my love interest Matt’s sister. And he’s known everyone since high school. So he likes to tell stories.Incidentally, he’s my sister’s favorite too.

Chapter 3

Diet Coke, Anyone?

(BEN)

“Man, this elevator takes so damn long.” Taylor whined. This kid was always whining about something. Ever since high school. We had been waiting on the fifth floor of Darcy Hall for all of three minutes.

“You think that went well?” I said. I was preoccupied about the meeting I just had with the head of CSU’s English department. I really wanted to get into their MFA program for fiction writing.

“Ben, I think you’ll get in. Your dad’s Desmond Carrick. I’m surprised there isn’t a building named after him here. They should use some of that dinero to get new elevators.” Taylor laughed then he had some kind of epiphany, “Ben! Do you know who goes here? I just figured it out.”

“Who?”

“Man, where is this elevator? We could have taken the stairs like ten times.”

“Dude–FOCUS. Who?”

“Kylie Baines. Kylie Baines.” Taylor hit me in the arm then pushed the elevator button a few more times. “Kylie Bah—.”

“That won’t make it get here any faster.” After Taylor mentioned Kylie, his antics irritated me more than usual. This guy needed to calm down. Holy shit. She did go to CSU. One of my best friends and I didn’t even remember where she went to college. Well, best friends once upon a time.

I met Kylie back in high school—around the same time I met my fiancé. We went to school on Long Island. Not the same school though. I went to Chancellor High. All boys filled with raging hormones and no girls to interact with, no girls to help make us men. Mostly male teachers—assholes. Too tough on us if you ask me.

It was definitely one of those schools that you hated and resented while you were there, but when you left, it was a different story.  I proudly wear my class ring now. In fact, I got a great deal on a new Benz CLK just last week because of it.

The elevator door finally opened. Taylor jumped in and started pressing “Close Door” before I could even move.

“Yo, can I drive back?”

“Taylor, I got the car yesterday.”

“So? Help a guy out, Ben. Come on. My dad gets me a fucking pre-owned Lexus and you get a brand new Mercedes…for what?” The elevator stopped a few floors down to let some more people on, and Taylor’s shouting trailed off into a tense whisper, “For quitting school in England and coming here?”

“My dad probably paid the same amount for my Benz as your dad paid for your Lexus, or at least close.”

“Yeah, right.”

He didn’t believe me. In fact I’m not sure how much the car was. But Dad said he got a deal and I have Chancellor freaking High School to thank for it. I was lurking around one of the nicer cars in the Mercedes Benz showroom with my dad when the salesman eyed the Chancellor’s crest on the ring and asked what year I graduated. Turns out, he had a son that just graduated and a son that was going into his sophomore year.

We got to talking and he said how he loved the school because it was so disciplined and blah blah blah. He said he wished he lived on Long Island when he was growing up because he knew that his parents would have sent him to Chancellor and blah blah blah. Of course, Brooklyn had some good schools. He went to a great school. Had I heard of it? It’s getting closed down. Shame. So many good Catholic schools getting closed down. What a damn shame.

But, all my bullshitting with this salesman (and my class ring) paid off and soon enough I was getting a pretty sweet deal. I was thinking of maybe getting the car in navy blue. I always see CLKs in white or silver. The salesman looked at me and patted me on the back. He gave me that look of solidarity—that type of ethnic / religious / similar background solidarity (whatever you want to call it). I always find these looks amusing because I’m not a Catholic. I just went to the best all-boys school on Long Island. Chancellor just happened to be a Catholic school.

Let me clarify. My mother is Jewish and my father is Catholic. That explains my name. Benjamin Carrick.  I was brought up kind of Jewish with some Catholic thrown in. My mom tried to get us to follow all the Jewish traditions, but she gave up. Not that she was totally broken up about it. No one could ever accuse Mara Carrick of being a devout Jew. I just think that neither she nor my dad wanted to bend on the religion thing. Yet, I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mom go to temple by herself or my dad go to mass (you know, other than Christmas or Easter).  My dad is one of those “microwave” Catholics. You know what I mean.

Still, I get gifts on Christmas and Hanukah, so that means I get the best of both worlds, right? I definitely like the Catholic holidays better—anyone who has sat through a Seder at my grandmother’s house would probably feel the same.  I really don’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God though. Seems like he was a cool enough guy to make me want to celebrate his birthday. I don’t know. So, I don’t think about it.

Okay, now I’m getting tangential—as Siobhan would say. That’s a good word. Tangential. “Use it three times and it’s yours!” I can hear her voice in my head right now. My fiancé is trying to help me increase my vocabulary so I subscribe to this website that sends me a new word every day. Today was “juggernaut” (by the way, when the hell would you use juggernaut?) The day before yesterday was “tangential.” I don’t even remember yesterday’s word.

“Dude, I swear if you go to school here, you should plan an extra hour just for the elevator to make sure you get to class on time.” Taylor broke in again. He kept lifting his heels, popping up and down.

“And you care that I get to class on time?”

The elevator doors opened on the first floor. I had just forgotten that Kylie Baines goes to school here too and there she was. When I saw her, I was stunned for a moment. A little scared even. But then I remembered it wasn’t me she hated. And it wasn’t Taylor either. I was pretty happy just then that my fiance’s brother Matt wasn’t standing with us. That would have been awkward. What do you say to someone who used to be one of your best friends? Especially with the way Matt broke things off.

Immediately I thought of the first time I met Kylie. We were at a dance my freshmen year of high school at Chancellor. My friends were the biggest dorks. I remember my tie had Sylvester and Tweety on it. We were required to wear khakis or suit pants, loafers, and a man-tailored shirt to all school functions. But to the dances, we didn’t have to wear the school tie or any tie for that matter. My mom insisted that I wear one though. She hated the way man-tailored shirts looked without a tie. So, I insisted that the tie be my Looney Tunes one—an even trade I think.

I was pretty nervous. I mean, I had met Siobhan before but she looked incredible that night. And Kylie looked great too. Kylie always looked older than all of us. She could have passed for a junior or a senior. And we were all dorky freshmen. When I started realizing that I would have to talk to these girls, I got all sweaty. I definitely remember thinking how the night probably would have been better if I sat home and played video games with my younger brother Adam.

Kylie and Siobhan spent most of the night hanging out with Bret Dillon. Bret was a freshman like us but he was built like he was in college. So my chances of getting with Siobhan were crappy.

The one time I did get to talk to Siobhan all I could muster up the confidence to say was, “Too bad they don’t have Diet Coke, right?” We were standing at a card table covered with a plastic tablecloth and Dixie cups full of sodas. I can’t believe that’s the most suave thing I could think of to say.

“Too bad they don’t have Diet Coke, right?”

“Yeah, too bad.” Siobhan made a face at Kylie like, Oh don’t mind my brother’s idiot friend, Ben  He’s slightly retarded. Then she looked back at me like, When are you going away? After a pause, she just said “Yeah, I guess I’ll have to drink full-calorie soda tonight.” Then she went over to another group of kids.

What was she supposed to say to that? Furthermore, what was I suggesting? All girls obviously drink Diet Coke? Clearly, she would want Diet Coke because she needs to lose a few (which she didn’t). Even today, Siobhan is one of the skinniest girls I know. I swear if my fiancé turns sideways, she might disappear.

“You drink Diet Coke too?,” Kylie smiled, willing to chat for a moment with the kid in the Looney Tunes tie.

“Yeah, it’s all my mom ever buys. I never really had Coke so now when I have to drink it, it just tastes too sweet. I think my mom put it in my bottle as a baby” I’m embarrassed right now as I retell this. What an ass I was. But Kylie played along. She totally saved me.

“Me too. That’s so funny. My mom never buys anything but Crystal Light and Diet Coke. You know…other than milk and orange juice and stuff.”

Was her mother a rich Jewish woman who only wears track suits and spends most of her day doing aerobics videos? I couldn’t tell at that point. The conversation didn’t go much further.

Siobhan came back over to rescue her friend. “So are you having fun, Ben?” Siobhan asked. Maybe after Kylie and I talked, she was more comfortable. Or she just realized she wouldn’t look uncool if she was polite to me.

“Uh, well, I guess,” I rolled my eyes. I totally blew it.  I tried to feign indifference about the situation, the dance, the lack of Diet Coke, her, but she caught on. Siobhan walked away, back to the herd of OLV girls.

“Okay, so maybe I’ll see you later. Good luck with the soda, Ben.” Kylie looked back at Siobhan then smiled back at me.

I had nothing. I wanted to step back about three minutes and rethink that roll of the eyes. I learned that night that pretending not to be interested in someone you really are interested in never works out. When you like someone, you have to just go for it.

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