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November 30, 2016 by J.C. Lillis

A&B heart

This book, you guys.


Two and a half years ago I posted this photo after I’d bellyflopped giddily into Chapter One, all hope and big ideas and sheepdog enthusiasm.

Six months ago I stared stonefaced at a middle stretch that refused to unsnarl itself, until blood slowly dripped from my eyes and my fingernails grew gnarled and impeded my already-sporadic typing, and I began to accommodate the dreadful notion that nope, this thing might not ever get done.



Today it released.



It was a long weird road, this one. I’m still not sure how I got to the end. I suspect the cat, having had enough of my moping and procrastination, began sneaking into my office at night to resolve plot holes and punch up dialogue. (Thank you, Charles. Your salmon entree is in the fridge.)

Like he isn’t spoiled enough.

I’m trying to give myself permission to be excited today. That’s not the easiest thing, for obvious reasons. I mean, the day after this shitshow of an election, I posted this on Twitter:

…and I believe that, honestly, but as I’ve watched things go from bad to worse to NO GOD NO PLEASE STOP THE HORROR CAROUSEL I WANT TO GET OFF this month, it’s been hard to keep the faith and stave off hopelessness. Maybe you’ve been feeling that way too.

But look: we’ve gotta keep reminding ourselves that stories are powerful. That they can open minds and hearts. That they can introduce people to the lives, loves, and struggles of others in a way no political speech or abstract argument can. That ALL kinds of stories are needed and important in the years to come, whether they’re dystopian thrillers that hold a mirror up to society’s evils or breezy romcoms where all folks get to love who they love and everyone gets the happy endings they deserve.

So I’m celebrating today, as best I can. Happy birthday, A&B, a book about determination, artistic ambition, professional envy, first love, renewed love, and makeshift families. I hope it brings you some smiles, warm fuzzies, and a couple hours of escape from reality. And if you’re a writer—listen, I know it sucks when a book won’t cooperate, but hang in there. With hard work, a healthy dose of self-pity, long stretches of procrastination, and a stubborn unwillingness to give in to despair, you too will cross the finish line with something book-shaped in your hand. I can’t wait to read it.



Eighteen-year-old Barrie Krumholtz is a super-tall optimist hell-bent on a single goal: securing a slot on Pop University, a reality show for singer-songwriters helmed by her #1 musical idol. When she humiliates herself on national TV and loses a spot in the finals to smug balladeer Ava Alvarez, the door to Barrie’s well-hidden dark side swings open. Never a quitter, she uses her bitter envy of Ava to shape a bold new artistic direction, and people love it. But when Ava ropes her into a secret collaboration, it sparks feelings neither girl expected—feelings that might threaten their creative identities and distract them from their professional goals. Can love and ambition live side by side? Is happiness an art-killer? They’ll figure it out with the help of a blue guitar named Fernando, a keyboard named Rosalinda, and a few new friends who feel like home.

(Rated R for Rivalry, Romance, and Really Neat Subplot featuring Brandon and Abel from How to Repair a Mechanical Heart.)




Barnes & Noble

(It’s only available as an ebook right now, but the paperback should be out by January. If you’d like a paper copy, stay tuned for updates!)


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