Title: Kissing Max Holden
Author: Katy Upperman
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: August 1st, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea…
After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn’t know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they’re caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.
With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?
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1. What does your writing process look like? Do you know the whole story when you start? Or do you just start writing and go with it (seat of the pants writing)? If you plan it out, how do you do that? Outline, notecards, post-it-notes, etc.?
When I actually want to *finish* a story, I need to have the beginning, middle, and end in mind, and I need to outline. Anytime I’ve had false starts, they’ve been because I dove in without a plan. So, yes, I outline pretty significantly, though I try to keep things flexible enough for add-ins or deletions should the narrative take a turn while I’m drafting. I like to use the “Save the Cat” Beat Sheet method for outlining because, for me, it’s the clearest and easiest way to plan a story with strong structure.
Once I start drafting, I try very hard to write at least a thousand words a day, to keep up my momentum. Usually it takes me about two months to complete a draft, and then I do an immediate revision, fixing problems I discovered while drafting. After some time away, I do another revision, and then I send the manuscript off to my critique partners. Using their always-excellent feedback, I revise again (and then maybe again – ha!) before sending the story off to my agent for notes. All in all, it takes me about six months to go from an idea to a draft strong enough to present to my editor.
2. How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?
I’m honestly terrible at coming up with ideas! I’m definitely not one of those writers with a notebook full of story scribbles. Because I write character-driven stories, I almost always come up with my protagonist and love interest first, and then perhaps a situation they’re dealing with. A lot of times, characters come to me through people-watching, or tidbits I hear on the news, or simply through chit-chatting with friends. Actual plot takes a lot longer, and that usually springs up around conversation with my husband and/or critique partners, when I’m begging them to help me, basically. :-)
3. How long have you been writing?
About nine years now – time seems to have simultaneously flown and dragged by.
4. What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
Read often and read widely. Pay attention when you experience strong feelings about a story, whether they’re positive or negative. If you hated a main character, ask yourself why. If you were wowed by a book’s pacing, make a note about how the author crafted such a page-turner. I think of reading as professional development and, while I’ve always loved it as a pastime, as a writer, I take it seriously.
Also, join a small community of writers, or create your own. This can be a real-life critique group, or a bunch of like-minded people you meet on Twitter. Publishing is a challenging industry, and it’s so important to have a support network populated by people who understand – people who can give you advice, help you celebrate your achievements, and commiserate when the going gets tough.
5. Some favorites:
Books – My favorite genre to read is contemporary, and I prefer books that are heavy on romance. That said, a few of my favorites are Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, How to Love by Katie Cotugno, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, Just As Long As We’re Together by Judy Blume, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter Series (duh).
Movies/TV Shows – My favorite movies are (in no particular order) Moulin Rouge, Dirty Dancing, The Princess Bride, Tangled, and Troop Beverly Hills. My favorite TV shows (again, in no particular order) are Friday Night Lights, Dawson’s Creek, Project Runway, Six Feet Under, Sex and the City, Breaking Bad, and Dexter (but only up through the fifth season -- ha!).
Music – I have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to music, but country will always be my go-to. In fact, I gave Max from Kissing Max Holden my love of classic country. He jams to Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, and Tim McGraw just like I do. I adore Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, The Band Perry, and Jason Aldean, too, and I also like to listen to Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews, James Blunt, and Matt Nathanson, among many, many others.
Food/Writing snack – Jelly Bellies! I have a weakness for sweets and will therefore eat any indulgent treat while I write, but Jelly Bellies are so delicious, and so easy to pop into my mouth when the words are flowing.
Social Media Site – Instagram, easy! I joined a million years ago, and I have not stopped loving it even after more than four thousand photos shared.