The Next Big Thing…

Last week my lovely friend Caroline Richmond tagged me in a post entitled The Next Big Thing, which consisted of a  WiP-focused questionnaire she first saw over at Miss Snark’s First Victim. I had so much fun reading about Caroline’s WiP, I thought it’d be fun to play along using my own work-in-progress.

So, without further ado…

What is the working title of your book? 

Cross My Heart

Where did the idea come from?

The characters, really. Love-interest Max came first, then protagonist Jillian, and then (eventually) the story built itself up around them. Over the years, lots of angsty, tear-jerker-type country songs have aided in its conceptualization.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary YA. More specifically, it’s a romantic drama.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’m a self-professed old person, therefor I know nothing about teen actors. I have no idea who the people pictured below are (movie stars? models? randoms?) but they’re just how I see Max and Jillian in my head. Cute boy with spikes and an angular jaw. Girl-next-door-pretty teen with dark hair. Perfect.

Max     JillianWhat is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Aw, man… I suck at one-sentences synopses! How about a tiny snippet from my full pitch? It paints a fairly decent picture of what the story is about:

After a rash but steamy mistletoe kiss, Jillian begins to realize that her growing affection for hot-but-hurting Max extends well beyond friendship. But their clandestine kiss must remain clandestine, because  according to Jill’s ever-elusive father and Max’s fracturing sister — Jill’s best friend– Max is utterly off limits.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m lucky to be represented by Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Literary, who is enthusiastic and savvy and awesome. In my perfect vision, Cross My Heart will go the route of traditional publishing.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote the first (poor) draft in a month, June of 2010. That’s right — over two years ago. I queried it unsuccessfully, then sat on it for about 18 months. Then, this summer, I rewrote the whole story using the two main characters (totally re-imagined) and small bits of that original first draft. I ended up with a product I’m proud of and confident in.

May we see an intro?

Here are the first few lines:

       The pounding at my window comes late, and it scares me shitless.
       The last of the trick-or-treaters have called it a night. My father and stepmother have long since stowed the leftover fun-sized Snickers bars and diligently checked the locks; they’ve been asleep for hours. The house is quiet and inky dark, too big for our family of three. It feels particularly hollow tonight, which might explain why I’ve been tossing and turning, chasing sleep for hours. 

What other books would you compare this story to?

Jennifer Echol’s upper YA contemporaries are comparable to the tone and romanticism of Cross My Heart, and it’s similar to Sarah Dessen’s novels in its focus on family and friendships and the way relationships change with the coming of age. A recent comp might be Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Many a Taylor Swift song, I’m pleased to say. Also, the music of Tim McGraw, Lady Antebellum, and various Classic Country musicians. My earliest, cherished critique partners, who never hesitate to compliment my voice, and my more recently found critique partners, who are brilliant and lovely and generous. Also, my husband, who’s so very supportive and shares some of his best attributes with Cross My Heart‘s Max.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?


Um… kissing. Lots and lots of kissing. And romantic tension. There’s lots of that, too. Also, baking (Jillian’s an aspiring pastry chef), Western Washington, holidays, football, secrets, lies, and betrayal. And I’ve heard that Jillian can be humorous — sort of sarcastic and dry — so that’s fun.

So, now I get to tag a few friends in the hope that they’ll tell us all about their Next Big Thing…

Jessica Love
Temre Beltz
Alison Miller
Sara McClung
Rebecca Behrens

And you too! If you decide to post about your Next Big Thing, please do link me in the comments of this post so I can stop by and check it out!


61 thoughts on “The Next Big Thing…

  1. katharineowens says:

    Katy- It’s so funny to “know” someone but not really have a good idea of what they’re working on. This post solves that problem. Hooray!:0) I love the sound of this book. Your intro is beautifully written and intriguing. I would definitely read more. I like Max and Jillian already.

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks so much, Kat! Jillian and Max have a special place in my heart, so it’s exciting to hear that the little bit I shared about them in this post is something people are responding to. 🙂

  2. Suzi says:

    Definitely something I’d read.
    Jillian’s an aspiring pasty chef–that’s pretty cool. So does that mean we not only get to drool over Max, but all the tantlizing treats she bakes too?

    • katyupperman says:

      YES! Jill talks about her tasty treats quite often. It was a fun aspect of the story to research… I tried out lots of Jill’s recipes on my family. 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Focus on family and friends and lots of kissing is my perfect YA recipe when it comes to stories I love to read. So, of course, those things are always prevalent in the stories I write, too. 🙂

  3. Mrs. Silverstein says:

    Baking, football, inspired by Taylor Swift songs…clearly, this book will be on my “pre-order immediately, do not pass go, run-do-not-walk to the bookstore” list someday. Sounds fantastic!

  4. Yahong says:

    Those first opening lines, Katy! Love it. 😀 And I’m pretty sure any WIP inspired by a lot of Taylor Swift songs would have a lot of romantic tension, hehe. Interesting to hear that you wrote the full draft over two years ago — same for me, and I’m glad I’m not alone in this case. 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks, Yahong! And yeah, funny how something seems so fantastic when you first write it, then after two years of distance all its flaws stand out loud and proud. Hopefully through rewriting, we’re both coming up with stories that are bigger and better!

  5. Temre Beltz says:

    Aw, man! Katy, I am totally swooning over here!! Fast heart beats and everything – I just love any glimpse that people get to see of your incredible, beautiful story. I feel so incredibly lucky and privileged to have read it. I can’t wait for it to one day be shared with everyone. I also loved getting to see the “pictures” of Max and Jillian – so neat to see how they are imagined by the author herself. I love everything about this post, but love even more that for as intriguing as Cross My Heart sounds, it is even that much MORE amazing in its entirety. Go, Katy!!

    • katyupperman says:

      You are the SWEETEST! Thank you for your support and kind words. I hope someday I get to share Max and Jill with the whole world! And, I can’t wait to read about Your Next Big Thing… 😉

  6. Rachel says:

    LOve it!!! Feel free to let me swoon over your work any time 😉 This sounds so great. I also did this meme (but with a little less questioning) on Monday.

  7. Rebecca B says:

    Katy, when can I read this? Seriously! Kissing! Baking! What more could I ask for?
    Thanks for tagging me! I’m looking forward to doing my post ASAP. [And thanks for giving me a blog topic, too, which I am in dire need of right now :)]

  8. Sara McClung says:

    Katy, every time you post about your WIP, I WANT TO READ IT RIGHT NOW.

    I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus, but these Next Big Thing posts are so much fun to read, I may have to take you up on my tag 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks, Sara! I hope you do a Next Big Thing post as well. I’d love to learn a little about what you’re working on, and this one’s pretty quick and easy. Nothing like a ready-made topic to break a blog hiatus. 🙂

  9. Tameka says:

    I’m so intrigued already! I would definitely read this as I can’t get enough teen drama! I think spiky haired boy with an angular jaw is perfect book boyfriend material!

  10. Jaime Morrow says:

    Before I forget, the guy in the picture is Dean Geyer, one of the actors from the show TERRA NOVA that was on last season. He’s very, very attractive and a good actor too. 🙂 Good choice!

    Your story sounds great, Katy, and I think it needs to be on bookshelves so we can all read it. I think I might have to do this whole Next Big Thing meme even though it’s a tagging kind of thing. 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Very, very attractive AND a good actor?! Looks like I’ve chosen well! 😉

      And yes, I absolutely encourage you to do a Next Big Thing post, Jaime… In fact, I’m tagging you! (Ha! Now you HAVE to do it, and I can’t wait to read all about your WiP! :))

  11. Liz Parker (@LizParkerWrites) says:

    Katy, this sounds awesome! I love the part of your intro you shared. The voice is perfect. Go ahead and get it published so I can read it. Okay? 😀

    I may have to do this. Possibly a post this Wednesday if I don’t to RTW. I’ll let you know.

  12. Jolene Perry says:

    I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! I read your blurb and was totally stoked, and then was so worried that it wouldn’t live up to this great vision I had for it, and then it totally did. Can’t WAIT to hear where this sells to 😀

    • katyupperman says:

      Oh, Jolene… You’re the BEST! I’m so glad this story lived up to your expectations, and I can’t thank you enough for your invaluable feedback. Thanks to you, it’s even better than before! (And please do send me the next YA you work on. You and Christa rock the mystery/psychological thriller!)

  13. Alison Miller says:

    Can I just tell you how much this post makes me LOVE your story, and you already know how much I LOVE YOUR STORY. Honestly, I just want to read it again. And again.

    Also, that pic of Max? PERFECT.

    Thanks for the tag, friend. I may snip the vulnerability cord and share too. Maybe.

  14. Krispy says:

    I love how much music has inspired your WIP, though I’m not a big country music fan myself. It’s funny too because the other day, someone was just talking to me about how YA Taylor Swift’s songs are, so I’m not surprised they inspired you! 🙂

    And here’s my post: Survey Thingy

    • katyupperman says:

      Ooh, can’t wait to check your post out!

      Taylor Swift seems to be a bit polarizing. I get the sense that she rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but I adore her! I find her songs PERFECT inspiration for YA. 🙂

      • Krispy says:

        Yeah, I have sort of a love/hate relationship with her because she does often rub me the wrong way. BUT she does write ridiculously catchy music (there are a number that I love singing to, haha) and I do agree that she’s good at really channeling the feelings of the YA years.

  15. Elodie says:

    I need your book. Now. 😀 You know I always love your excerpts and that one is no exception and your book has everything I love in a story! 🙂
    Crossing my fingers for you and for this story to be picked up when you go on sub!

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks, Elodie! It seems publishing often requires a healthy dose of luck, so I’ll take any I can get. I sincerely hope to share this story with you and EVERY ONE someday!

  16. Nicole Mc. says:

    This sounds sooooo good. We are definitely drawn to the same things. Praying to the publishing gods that this is in print sooner than later!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. zanne says:

    I thought that I commented on this, but I don’t see it now. Maybe I just responded on Twitter? I really enjoyed reading this and I cannot wait to read your book someday! It sounds so good!

  18. Jill says:

    Sounds great. You said you wrote the first draft in one month….how long do you “sit” on an idea before writing it? Do you just *get* the idea, sit with it briefly (a week or two) and then dive in? Or outline? Just curious 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      I sit on ideas for a long time. Like, months. And while I wrote the first draft of this story in a month, in hindsight I can say that it definitely wasn’t good. I spent nearly two years toying with ideas for improving it, then I rewrote it almost completely. That took about a month too. And yes, I definitely like an outline.

      How long do you let your ideas stew, Jill? (Love the name JILL, by the way, as evident by my MC. :))

  19. Jill says:

    Thanks for the reply.

    And the fact that your MC’s name is Jill is just another reason I’m positive I’d love the book….I wouldn’t mind being a bakery chef either 🙂

    I’m still new to my writing “rediscovery”. I’m 31, so I feel late to all of this. I have MUCh to learn and admittedly am very overwhelmed by all the info out there, can’t seem to absorb it all. I have been inconsistent with projects over the last couple of years and I tend to not let ideas sit long enough. I think I need to think about them more, but I’m also anxious to write in order to get more practice and learning in.
    I’m in a funny place: uncertain if I’m suited or more in love with MG or YA…my voice, etc…ideas in my head that I can”t seem to make into a “story”. A lot of unfinished stuff!

    I so admire that you accomplished so much. Seriously. It seems like you’re passionate about your current manuscript, and that’s awesome. I tend to be in a place where I’m having trouble reining in my ideas.
    It’s quite depressing and anxiety-provoking 🙂

Comments are closed.