So, yesterday I had one of the highlights of my year so far when I attend #BehindThePen 17 in NYC. These pictures are ones that I grabbed from the Internets (I'll have more later). But here are 5 reasons why it was so awesome.
1. It was sold out. You can't tell from these pictures but it was PACKED. People traveled from across the country (and from other countries) to chill with us, and I don't think words can explain how incredibly cool and humbling that is.
2. Mimosas. Great music, great decor, great mimosas... they were all present.
3. Reading readers who read are the best ever. Meeting people who want to meet you and support you is again, beyond words. As my girl Nia Forrester always says, y'all make me want to be better, for real. I always leave hoping that it comes across how much I truly, truly appreciate meeting you and all the love you show me. It's humbling, inspiring and my heart is still smiling (cheesy but true).
4. #4Writers4Love finally got to connect in person! I've met them all separately before but this was the first time that me, Nia Forrester, Lily Java and Rae Lamar were all together-- and our conversation, the time we got to hang and vibe with each other... man, it was for real one of the highlights of my year. Love y'all.
5. Sharee, Saida and the entire Sistah Girls Crew are so awesomely fantastic. Seriously, you guys KILLED it. It was gorgeous, fun, the vibe, music and energy were right and it was just really, really cool. Take a bow, ladies. I'm honored to have been part of such a dope-ass event.
Keeping Willow the third book in The Prototype Series is now live and available for purchase on Amazon! Click here to purchase. Happy Reading!
Okay, so here's the Keeping Willow playlist. Normally these Prototype playlists are pretty diverse in terms of genre, but this one is mostly all soul music for some reason. I dunno why really? Maybe that was just indicative of my writing mood this go-around.
As usual, the playlist includes most of the music mentioned in the book and a few jams that just fit the overall vibe of the story, or illustrate what the characters were going through. Some are just songs that I listened to a lot while I wrote. Actually, now that I'm looking at it, this entire list is full of songs that I listened to a lot while I was writing.
There are a couple of songs that I pulled that just remind me a lot of what I think Devin's drumming would sound like—the song by Flying Lotus featuring Kendrick Lamar, "Never Catch Me" has frantic drums that just lift the track to the next level and the opening drums on "Partners in Crime" by The Internet are so dope. That song actually fits the vibe of Devin and Willow's relationship overall.
I think more than any of my other playlists this one is really curated for the book in terms of the actual sequencing of the songs.
At any rate, hope you enjoy!
Listen to the Happiness In Jersey Playlist and the Finding Kennedy Playlist.
Keeping Willow. Coming 8.10.17
Hey y'all. So, the third book in The Prototype Series, Keeping Willow is coming out on Aug. 10. Woo-hoo! Let's just say this book was a long time coming. Three years, in fact. Sheesh.
But Willow and Devin's day has finally arrived and I'm happy to get their book out because these people took me through the ringer. They took a few twists and turns and at times irked me to no end but these two characters are probably among my very favorites ever. They have heart. They have soul. They have growing pains. Together, they can be explosive-- sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a not so good way. But I love these two separately and together and I hope you'll dig them too. I think I may've even learned a few new things about myself writing this book, which is always a nice added bonus, right?
Anyhoo, check out an excerpt from Keeping Willow, arriving 8.10.17, below.
From Keeping Willow. Coming 8.10.17
BACK THEN. DEVIN.
“Low Low, you gotta get up.”
Nothing. The lump in the bed didn’t move.
“Willow.” I touched her shoulder, partly because I couldn’t see her head. It was buried underneath my comforter.
“Baby, you gotta get up.” I shook her shoulder this time, and she finally stirred, blinking up at me sleepily. I smiled, even with tired eyes and her hair wrapped in up in a red sleep rag thing, she was gorgeous. Just stupid pretty. My gaze dropped to her full lips before meeting her eyes.
“It’s almost 3:30.”
She blinked heavily again. “Already? Shoot.”
The fact that she was wearing her nighttime hair tie meant she was serious as hell about that nap. “You’re gonna be late.”
I sat down on the edge of the rumpled bed, searching for my shoes. It was mid-afternoon but it’d been cloudy all day. The light trying to stretch its way through the window was muted, casting a soft blue-ish glow over the room because Low insisted on buying me blue curtains a couple of months ago.
“It adds dimension to the room,” she told me. I didn’t care about curtains but they did make the room look more relaxing, I couldn’t lie. Marvin Gaye was playing on my record player and I grinned because Low had finally really gotten into the warm sound of vinyl after fighting me about being “old school.”
She yawned and rolled onto her back and tucked her arm underneath her head, like she didn’t need to be at the airport in Dallas by 5:30 to catch her flight home.
“I have a little time. It only takes an hour and half to get to Dallas and my flight doesn’t leave until seven.”
I shook my head, eyeing my shoe underneath her backpack. Other than her bag in the floor, the room was clean and airy, because of Low. It was so comfortable, I felt like crawling into bed with her and crashing too.
“You’re pushing it,” I told her instead. “You still gotta get dressed and you know what an event that is.” She wasn’t wearing anything except my old red Hawks t-shirt. “I don’t want your dad thinking I’m the reason you missed your flight home.”
Willow sighed audibly when her phone buzzed on the bed next the pillow. She picked it up, squinted at the screen, and tossed it back onto the blue comforter.
“My mom,” she answered my unspoken question. “I just didn’t want to talk to her while I was over here.”
“What’s up with that?” I met her eyes, brow furrowed.
“She thinks I’m ‘playing house’ with you because I’m over here so much.”
“Since when did she say that?”
Willow shrugged, pulling off her hair thing and tossing it onto the bed. “The other week. She says she doesn’t know why they pay for me to live on campus when I really live over here.”
I bit the inside of lip, my gaze scanning the room. Willow’s books were on the small desk she insisted on getting for me. Her clothes took up practically half of my closet space. One of my dresser drawers now belonged to her and her soaps and girly whatnots were in the bathroom shower rack. But I liked it that way. I wanted her near, all the time.
We hadn’t spent a single day apart in months and I was kinda tripping because I really didn’t want her to leave now, even though I knew she needed to see her fam for the Thanksgiving holiday. She was flying in to Houston a little earlier though, since she’d be coming into Atlanta the day after Thanksgiving to be with me. Our new manager, Jay Little, had three shows lined up out there--- Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Trav was still hesitant about buddy but these gigs proved he was ready to handle us, in my opinion. Plus, I was looking at what he was doing with another band out of Atlanta, Black Bottom. They were blowing up and had just brought him on as their manager a few months before.
Doing the gigs in Atlanta was big but I also wanted to check for my moms and Omar, see how they were doing. Moms finally landed a job, not where she wanted, but it was something at least, working in the cafeteria at Omar’s middle school. But the gap between unemployment and her finding work left them in a tight spot. And her punk ass landlord went up on her rent. I’d been sending money when I could but my paper was low too.
“Can you give Kennedy back her headphones for me?” I looked down at Willow, who yawned and stretched again. She worked the early shift at Aroma today, the coffee shop near campus where she started at the beginning of the semester.
“Where are they?”
“On your dresser somewhere I think. Or maybe in your truck?”
She twisted her lips, thinking. “You’re bad as Jersey, losing other people’s stuff.”
“They’re not lost!
“But you don’t know where they are.”
“They’re somewhere near here. I do know that.” She smiled, as I absently rubbed her calf, since she still hadn’t made a move to get up. “Oh my gosh, last night she was amazing, right?”
Kennedy joined the band as a singer at the beginning of the semester, when she moved to Tyler to stay with her grandma Pepper, Trav’s neighbor from the down the street. Kennedy changed everything when she joined Prototype. Zay elevated the band when he’d joined. But Kennedy completed it. She’d changed Travis too, because dude was in love with her on some “alter my entire existence” type shit. Buddy actually told me that the other day, and was dead ass serious.
“She’s next level. She’s startin’ to get why she’s dope, which is the key. You can’t just be good. You need to know what separates you from everyone else so that you can lean into it.”
Willow’s eyes were lowered when she looked at me and she tugged at the bottom hem of my t-shirt.
“I love it when you talk like that.”
“Like all…” she shrugged grinning. “Devin-y. I’m gonna get t-shirts made with your quotes.”
She bit her lip, still smiling at me. I knew that look in her eyes and I grinned, my groin tightening because that look, coming from Willow Elizabeth Harden, was better than any high I’d ever known.
“What’s up?” I asked, letting her pull me toward her by the hem of my shirt, wrapping me in her coconut scent.
“We have a few minutes,” she breathed, against my lips. She bit hers, then released it.
“Nah, we don’t, love.”
She nodded against my mouth, “We do,” she whispered, reaching and wrapping her arms around my neck, pressing her mouth against mine, her tongue tracing the seam of my lips, making me uncomfortably hard.
She pulled back suddenly, and in one quick motion, pulled her t-shirt over her head. Her eyes were still on me, her cheeks flushed because she was still brand new and getting used to her body, and to me looking at her body. But she liked it.
“We do,” she said again, as she kneeled on the bed in nothing but a pair of purple underwear. The afternoon light creeping through the blinds left a zigzag pattern on her belly that I traced with my fingertips. I bit my lip shaking my head as I took her in. Damn.
“You better look and see what time the next flight is.”