Arrive at work at 7:58 A.M. sharp. Check. Count forty-seven steps to cubicle. Check. Arrange pens in their red-blue-black-green-purple order of importance. Check. Apply hand sanitizer before opening email. Double check.
And that’s just the first few minutes of her work day.
Thirty-one-year-old proofreader Bailey Mitchell is a slave to her tics. She inherited Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from her father, and it’s done nothing but inhibit her love life. She’s run the gamut of boyfriends—none of them willing or able to cope with her condition.
Enter 32-year-old Reece Powell, her new coworker at Beach Elite Marketing Firm. He’s more than willing to cope. He finds her habits cute and quirky . . . for now. Reece wins her over, and life coasts along for them until Bailey experiences a devastating blow. Tragedy exacerbates her OCD, and Reece realizes her tics aren’t so cute and quirky anymore. Just like all the others, he has the choice to leave.
But Reece isn’t like all the others.
We all love to read and sometimes you love to take on something new and oh so very different from your usual love story. Sometimes you need a break from the guy meets girl, loses girl, gets girl back kind of book. I love them just as much as the next girl, but sometimes you want a fresh experience—something that just takes over your heart, your mind, your thoughts. But one that will leave you feeling so many different emotions. Feeling happy, feeling loved, feeling sappy, feeling mushy, feeling sad that it ended.
Summer Walden has the magic to do that with every book she writes. Her books are such a change of pace—a breath of fresh air!!! She challenges you, makes you think and just takes you away to another place. Her writing is incredible, so different and she creates magic in the pages. This time, she chose to write about characters in their 30’s and let me just say it was fablous!!!
At 31, Bailey Mitchell is a proofreader who lives alone and has terrible, life consuming OCD. Not just “need everything neat and in order OCD”. She has real OCD—the kind that takes over your life, controls your every movement, thought—it’s debilitating really. She counts steps, aligns her markers, and lives by the clock. She settles for a life without love, having already had her heart broken in the past from someone who couldn’t live with her tics.
“These are the thoughts that occupy my brain on a daily basis: How many steps to take. How many hairbrush strokes. Making sure I line up my proofreading pens just so. Making sure my makeup is just so. Sitting in my fucking desk chair just so. It’s exhausting living a “just so” life.”
Reese Powell has just relocated to Wilmington. His best friend Camden convinces him to make the move and he starts a great new job in advertising. Having been in foster care throughout his life, he has no family—no one to call his own. He is looking for a ‘home’ to call his own and struggles with his own insecurities.
Reese and Baily meet at work, and Reece falls in love at first sight with Bailey’s hot red cigarette pants and her happy walk—like she “just ingested Coke and Pop Rocks.” She “bops” into his life and he never wants her to leave. He finds her tics “hot” and he is head over heels.
“She’s the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Bailey is hesitant at first, she doesn’t want her heart cracked again. They start with chats at her desk, daily lunches, spending time together. The more time they spend together, the more they realize She can’t resist Reese though, and they begin a relationship that is just amazing. And that first kiss!! WOW!!!
“I don’t do things like that…you probably think I’m a floosy.”
“A floosy? …First off, I love that you said ‘floosy’. Second, you’re crazy. I hope you kiss me like that again… And again, and again.”
I LOVE HIM!!! I wanted to climb in the book and kiss him. He has a way of making everything he says hot and dreamy. Just like Baily, I dreamed of Reece’s pieces wanting “to finish the entire bag”.
Reece didn’t want to fix Bailey. He just wanted to love her. Both characters had their weaknesses, but were strong in so many ways.
“Bailey, if you think I wanna fix you, you’re dead wrong. I don’t even wanna help you manage this thing you’ve got going on. I’m only doing it because I know it’s the right thing to do, but I’d much rather you go tic-ing all over my heart and brain.”
Have I said I love him?!!! I PHLOVE HIM!!! Like I said, a complete breath of fresh air. LoveLines had everything I love in a book and so much more. I laughed and cried, my emotions were all over the place. The humor and heartache in the story was a perfect balance. The secondary characters were perfect. Their friends, her family, their coworkers—all of them mixed together made up the recipe for a PHENOMANEL book!!
Thank you, Summer Walden for stepping out of the box and creating a story that had me engrossed—I devoured LoveLines and will read anything you write. You are fablous, your book is fablous, and I love you more than Reeces pieces!! I CAN NOT wait for the next book in this series!! Standing ovation for you!!!
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Interview with S. Walden
You’re known for your dark, edgy, taboo reads, but you went a completely different direction with LoveLines. Why the change?
As much as I love writing taboo, I need a break from it every now and then just like I know readers need a break from it. I see it in discussion groups all the time: “Someone give me a book suggestion for something light and fun. I’m shattered after that last read.” I think there’s a misconception that a book can’t have a meaningful impact on the public if it’s not a totally angsty, rip-your-heart-out story. I’m convinced that’s why so many books out there right now are about rape, loss, betrayal. I think for me, I just needed a breather from those topics. I needed a change. I’ve decided my fans need a change, too (hope they don’t mind!). Plus, I hear all the time that none of my stories sound the same anyway, so why not write a quirky, funny love story about a chick with OCD and the man who finds it sexy? Or schmexy? Why not let that be the next release?
The Too Good series was a bitch. Plain and simple. I was emotionally drained after those books and needed something different. With all my books, I spent a good majority of my professional career in the darkness. I needed light. I wanted to write a story in the light.
So the Too Good series is responsible for inspiring LoveLines?
Well, maybe a little. I think it had more to do with my complete lack of direction. And then inspiration for LoveLines hit me on December 31st at 12:15 A.M. I’ll never forget the day and time. I was lying in bed panicking about the fact that I hadn’t touched my laptop in two months—hadn’t written a thing!—and then BAM! Smacked upside the head with it. I texted my BFF (who was asleep) and used our messaging as my note-taking. There she was. I didn’t know her name yet, but I saw her trying desperately to walk through her office doors before 7:58 A.M. She had a ritual. She never walked into work early. But she was trying so hard to break free from that ritual. I saw her proofreading pens lined up. I saw her new coworker who thought she was cute. Once he discovered her OCD, he thought she was hot. Haha I was off and writing the next day.
Did you know this story would be the first in a series?
Nope. I thought I’d write LoveLines as a stand-alone and then move on to The Starry Trilogy. But then inspiration hit for the second book, TanLines, and I realized I could give readers the ultimate package: a series of stand-alones! I know readers get frustrated having to wait for the continuation of stories they love, but stand-alones don’t quite seem to be enough for them either. So I thought I could write stories that have closure but loosely connect the characters so that they show up in subsequent books. New heroes and heroines in each installment, but readers don’t have to say goodbye each time they pick up a new book. This isn’t anything new. Lots of authors write series like these. But it’s new to me. And I’m loving the concept.
So how long is this series? And what’s the deal with Wilmington?
Right now I’m looking at five books: LoveLines, TanLines, LaughLines, FaultLines, and LifeLines. They follow a wave pattern which makes complete sense since the stories are based in a coastal town—Wilmington, NC. The stories sort of go up down up down up. LoveLines is light and fun (with a dash of angst thrown in). TanLines is much darker and angstier. I pull my readers up again with LaughLines, and then pull them under with FaultLines. LifeLines is the last in the series. My goal is to elicit happy sighs from readers when they reach the conclusion.
I decided to set the stories in Wilmington because I lived there for six years. I went to college at UNCW and have really fond memories of the town. I’m proud to have lived there. I know that sounds weird, but it’s the truth. And I had to put Bailey by the beach. You’ll discover why when you read. It was fun revisiting my old haunts in LoveLines. The Reel Café . . . God, to be in college again! (Well, knowing what I know now, of course.)
Will we ever see another hardcore controversial read from you again? Something like Going Under?
Hey, my name’s not S. Walden for nothin’. I actually have a story tucked away already. I was going to release it after the Too Good series but then thought that might be career suicide. I look at this book as something a publishing house wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. I’m sure quite a few readers will stay away, too. So when I release it, I’m releasing it for me because I believe in the story. I really can’t look at it as a sound business move, if that makes any sense. My gut tells me that it’ll be another divisive read like Good. Only worse. Far far worse. So you see, when I wasn’t writing during those two months after the Too Good series, it wasn’t because I was dried up. I’ve got stories. I’ve got a TON of them. But inspiration to actually write them only comes at the perfect time, and I wasn’t inspired to write this particular story yet. I knew it wasn’t the right time. Just like The Starry Trilogy isn’t the right time. Just like my stem cells book isn’t the right time. What is the right time? The Wilmington Saga.
You just had your first signing at Wicked Book Weekend in Ft. Lauderdale. How was it?
Oh my gosh! I had a blast! I was a nervous wreck the morning of the signing because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but everyone was so nice and helpful. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect first-time signing experience. Ana from Ana’s Attic Book Blog hosted it, and she rocked it out! I really hope she continues the tradition—this was the second annual WBW—because I’ll be there for every one of them. I learned a lot, too. Little things that seem unimportant, but I know they’ll make for a better table presentation for me for future signings. For example, vertical hanging banners work much better than table banners. Plus they’re more noticeable. Also, I didn’t know about the silver versus gold Sharpie thing. Sign totes, shirts, and e-reader covers in silver. Always silver. I’m armed with more knowledge and more confidence for my next signing, Book Bash.
Yeah, let’s talk about Book Bash really quickly. You received an invite. How does that make you feel?
Well, I wasn’t aware how big this event was! At least not until people kept telling me, “You need to go to Book Bash. You have to.” And then I slowly started seeing it. And I realized what an honor it was to be extended an invitation. There are about 25 of us out of around 87 who are new this year. It’s intimidating. I met quite a few bloggers and fans at WBW who told me the truth ☺ But they also said I’d have a blast—that the event is nothing but fun. It helps that I have a support system. Brooke and Lisa from True Story Book Blog are assisting me along with my BFF and my husband, who will be there as Mark Connelly. Haha I’m looking forward to it and to connecting with more of my readers.
Can you tell us anything about the next book in The Wilmington Saga, TanLines?
Hmm….I don’t wanna give anything away because the Epilogue in LoveLines leads into TanLines, and it’s a bit of a shocker. I can tell you the main characters names, though. Taylor and Jenna are fraternal twins. They’re twenty-one. Matt is Taylor’s husband. And that’s about it ☺
About S. Walden
S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about it.
She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her blog at http://swaldenauthor.blogspot.com where you can get up-to-date information on her current projects.