The Sweetheart Sham (Southern Charmed #1) by Danielle Ellison
Publication Date: December 4, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen: Crush
In a small town like Culler, South Carolina, you guard your secrets like you guard your cobbler recipe: with your life. Georgia Ann Monroe knows a thing or two about secrets: she’s been guarding the truth that her best friend Will is gay for years now. But what happens when a little white lie to protect him gets her into a fake relationship…and then the boy of her dreams shows up?
Enter Beau Montgomery: Georgie’s first love, hotter than ever, and much too much of a southern gentleman to ever pursue someone else’s girl. There’s no way to come clean to Beau while still protecting Will. But bless their hearts, they live in Culler—where secrets always have a way of revealing themselves.
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a hilarious “fakeship,” a scorching-hot impossible relationship, and a heartwarming best-friendship that will make you want to call your best friend right here, right now.
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“Beau Montgomery, what on earth!” someone, I think it’s Will’s mom, says with a squeal. I can’t single it out because my heart seems to stop beating.
Everyone scoots toward the patio entrance and gathers around. Will drops my hand to move closer.
And then I see him.
He’s standing behind Mrs. M next to his dad, a big smile on his face, and he’s tall. Real tall. His dark hair is longer and nearly falling into his hazel eyes, definitely a length that Orry won’t like much. His jaw is strong, some muscles pressing under his polo. He looks nothing like the boy I remember.
And suddenly I’m a little self-conscious. What am I wearing today? I can’t even remember. I could look down but that would mean looking away from him, and then maybe when I look back he won’t be there. I don’t know if he even sees me, but I see him. Clearly. After more than two years of nothing.
“Beau, is that you, boy?” Orry calls. Beau steps around the rest of the family toward his grandpa. He’s closer now, and I can get a better look at his face. My eyes explore his features and rest on his lips, which break out into a small smile and—Dang, is it hot out here?
“Hello, Granddad.” Orry pulls him into a hug and Beau has to lean over to reach him properly. Orry looks like a kid in his arms.
Cheese and rice, even his voice is sexy. Deeper but still with a familiar feeling that it stirs up in me, and an accent with a hint of Georgia twang instead of South Carolina cadence.
I like it. Lord help me, I like it.
Orry holds him out at arm’s length and examines him before giving him a pat on the shoulder. “You look more like your daddy than I expected. How tall are you?”
“Six one, sir,” Beau says.
“You look good, grandson, real good. Atlanta treating you well?”
“Yes, sir, it is.”
I want to move, but I can’t. My feet are stuck to the ground, not that I should move anyway. I don’t reckon I trust myself around him. Especially not right now when I’m not sure if I want to hug him or kick him somewhere that would hurt. I’d do a good job of it too and make darn sure my kick was as painful as him not showing up that night.
“When’s your momma coming?” Mrs. M asks him.
“Not until closer to the wedding,” he says.
I watch as Will hugs him. They’re both smiling, and it reminds me of before when he was here. They were inseparable—we were—and now I’m just standing here like an idiot. Which I am. Will looks in my direction, and then Beau’s eyes are on me, too. It’s even worse when he’s looking at me, especially now with a hidden glimmer in them. It’s not how he said hello to the others; it’s almost like his eyes hadn’t seen me before, and now he’s hyperaware. Just like I’ve been since his dad yelled his name.
He takes a step toward me.
I was asked to talk about challenges in getting published and offer some words of wisdom. But if you’re an aspiring author, then you probably know the challenges; you don’t really need me to recap them. So instead, I would like to share five things that I have learned through the years. Five things I wish someone had told my younger self because then maybe I wouldn’t have felt so alone in it.
1. It’s hard.
Writing words, shaping stories, getting an agent, finding a publisher, editing a book, releasing a book…there is not one portion of the process that is “easier” than another. I think they all have their own challenges. Even if you’ve done it multiple times and pushed through it, sometimes you’re in a certain step and it feels like you will never move on. You will.
Will that be easy? No. It never is. But don’t give up. Don’t let it defeat you. Instead, find new ways to tackle the issue. Rewrite. Find a reader you can discuss options with…and try again. Try again. Keep trying. Writing and publishing is hard, but that means you get to give it more and more.
2. You’ll meet some of the best people.
The creative life does not have to be a solitary one. This may not be news to you, but other writers are awesome. They get you, your struggles, your triumphs. Art is bonding in a way that few things are, and I know I have made some amazing friendships and connections. Embrace these. Get to know other writers, other authors, and bloggers/readers. Build relationships with them, and enjoy the time you have with them. And most importantly, as these relationships change – which they will with marriages, births, new books, busier schedules—don’t take that personally. I have found that this community changes frequently, bringing in more people along the way, and there’s nothing like seeing a friend succeed and blow up in way where they get to live their dreams and you get to smile because you knew them when…
3. Everyone has been where you are.
Everyone. Bestselling authors don’t (typically) become that overnight. They have to work at it. They have to grind, to promote books, to face rejection, to lose sleep because they’re trying to fix a scene that’s wrong. Whatever you’re facing, you’re not the first author to face it. It’s easy to see someone else living the dream (more specifically, your dream) and feel like you will never get it. I can guarantee you that at some point, the literary god you admire felt that way too. I can guarantee you that the person tweeting about finishing a draft probably feels that way too right now. As does the person excited about a new agent. Doubt is normal. Fear is normal. Worrying that you’re never going to reach your goal is normal. The difference is you can’t let those things stop you. The person you’re watching didn’t.
4. Getting published is not the end goal.
At least it shouldn’t be. That’s a temporary goal, one that when you reach it, can leave you feeling like “what’s next?” I know it was this way for me. I had three books come out in 1.5 years…and then I had nothing. I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t have a clear path. Have a game plan. Know where you want to go in five years, how you want to get there, and what you can do right now to make it reality. Publishing this one book is a huge deal, I’m not downplaying that, but what’s next?
5. Be kind to yourself.
“The hardest walk you will ever make is the one from your car into the gym.”
A random woman, three years ago, said this line to me and I have never forgotten it. We were walking side-by-side on treadmills, talking about how hard it was to get inside the building because sometimes you just don’t want to. And sure, now I love the gym but this still rings true. It also fits for writing. Some days you don’t want to, or you can’t, or you are on social media seeing everyone else kill it and you just feel like you’re the absolute worst.
It’s okay. Remember #3? Well, this is true here too.
If you mess up, if you don’t hit your word count, if you do the wrong thing, then forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t wallow in your failure. Instead, keep going. Tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to do it better.
6. (bonus) You’ve got this.
Put in the work, trust yourself, surround yourself with a solid community, and don’t quit.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Danielle Ellison is a nomad, always on the lookout for an adventure and the next story. In addition to writing, she’s the founder and coordinator of the NoVa TEEN Book Festival. When she’s not busy with books, she’s probably watching her favorite shows, drinking coffee, or fighting her nomadic urges. She is newly settled in Oklahoma (for now) with her cat, Simon, but you can always find her on twitter @DanielleEWrites.
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The Sweetheart Sham Prize Pack (US):
-Pampering goodies (sweet southern soap and bath bombs)
-a “peanut butter <3s jelly” mug
-ice cream erasers
-heart shaped sunglasses
-a copy of “Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit” by Jaye Robin Brown