Save the Date! Impending Novel!

As promised:



Isn’t this cover SO cute? And guess what — you can own it in just a couple of months! In fact, I think you can pre-order it at right now. OOOOOOOOOOH. Exciting OR WHAT?

Yes, Tamara Summers returns! Like my previous Tamara Summers book, He’s With Me, Save the Date is a happy, funny (I think! I hope!) summer romance kind of book. It’s part of HarperTeen’s beach reads list, which has some of the most adorable covers around:

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and hopefully if you liked any of them you’ll like this one, too.

One of the most adorable things about the design of the beach reads (yay Harper art department!) is the back covers, which can be postcards or cruise agendas or other cute things related to the book with notes scribbled on them that hint at the plot. Like this!:


Hee! Awesometastic!

I mentioned Save the Date in passing last year when I was working on it: this is the book about a girl named Jack who has five older sisters (!!!) and has to be a bridesmaid in ALLLLLLL their weddings. As I’ve said before, I’ve totally loved being a bridesmaid every time I got to be one (pretty dresses! parties with ribbons and cake and games and ribbons! WEDDINGS! WHEE!), but I know I was very very lucky with my brides, who were all wonderful and had impeccable fashion sense (especially you. yes, you, the one reading my blog. you were definitely the best. no, I don’t say that to all the brides! only the ones who read my blog!).  🙂

Jack is…a little less lucky with her brides. I mean, she loves her sisters, but they can be kind of crazy. Not only that, but she’s convinced that she’s got a Wedding Curse: If she brings a date, the wedding will be RRRRUINED! By, like, natural disasters and seagulls and break-ups and mumps and emotional fallout and other suchlike catastrophes! Seriously, it’s happened before. So she should know better than to tempt fate. With two weddings coming up this summer, she should avoid boys like the plague until September, just to be safe.

But that’s not as easy as it sounds, because the wedding planner’s son is rather unfairly cute. And charming. Plus he’s around all the time…bringing her doughnuts…and cake…and more doughnuts… (Not that “boys bearing pastry” ranks pretty high on my list of What’s Hot or anything.)

Kissing this guy might actually be worth a hurricane or two…

Of course, you can guess what made me want to write this book — all I could think about last summer was weddings weddings weddings anyway, so there was my research done, check!  :-)  Plus weddings have so much potential for both romance and humor, which is exactly what this kind of book calls for. And apart from my own, I have been to something like twenty weddings, so that helped, too!

Most of the weddings in the book are amalgams of wedding ideas I got from a lot of different places, but one of them is based on one of the most fun and unique weddings we’ve been to, which I picked because (a) it was so different that it fit this character perfectly (for one thing, it was on a beach (cool!)), and (b) it had a real-live natural disaster in it, although the wedding was completely wonderful nonetheless. But I assure you the bride in the real wedding is INFINITELY less crazy and vastly lovelier and more fabulous than Paris is in the book (plus the groom in real life can speak English, so I hope it’s clear that I am exaggerating for dramatic/comedic/hilarious effect, if, say, they ever read it) (yeep!).

(Completely unrelated side note: I have Friday Night Lights on in the background right now, and I think you should all know that Sunshine is watching it with rapt attention. Clearly she has excellent taste, this dog, not to mention her quite remarkable agility. Last week the trainer told us she’s “a natural”! That’s my girl! Didn’t I tell you? Zipping through tunnels! Hurdling hurdles in a single bound! Sashaying along seesaws! Dude, at this pace she’s going to be a movie star or a professional stuntperson or at the very least a contestant on Dance War by April!)

One of the most fun parts of writing Save the Date was naming the characters. I am SO fussy about names, as I’m sure most authors are. Of course, I have kind of a wackadoodle name myself (not short for anything! I swear!), so I totally inflict odd names on my characters all the time. (I’m not torturing them; I love my name! I always liked being the only Tui in the class.) I think an unusual name helps make a character unique and full of personality right from the start.

To tell you the truth, naming the characters in Avatars was a large part of what inspired the big twist/answer to how the world ended, revealed at the end of book one (a CLUE! although a rather obfuscated one, I think). (<– SAT word! FreeRice would be so proud.)

I knew from the start that my Save the Date heroine would have five older sisters, so I could fit in a caboodle of weddings and goofy dresses. I started trying to think about what one would do with six girls in one family, and how to give them names that would also define their personalities and hopefully be memorable. Sometimes with families it’s fun to give the kids names starting with the same letter (like Freddie and Flossie of Bobbsey Twins fame), because this is certainly something people do in real life, and it can help readers remember that they’re related.

But with SIX girls, that would be completely ridiculous and they’d be impossible to tell apart. So another option would be to give them letters-of-the-alphabet names, where the oldest starts with “A”, the next oldest with “B”, the next oldest with “C”, etc., which makes it easy to remember where that character fits in with the rest of the family (this was definitely done in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, where they were also all Biblical names, and I’m sure it’s been done elsewhere too).

That would leave my heroine with an “F” name, though, and I was having trouble coming up with one that really suited her…Frances? Fortuna? Flora? Hrmmm. Not quite right…and none of the “B” or “C” names gave me clear personalities either (especially ones that I could build a whole wedding around).

But while I was thinking about “A” names I hit on “Alexandra” (a name I love), and looking at that made me think of “Alexandria” and then I was like, ding! Names of cities! Which made a lot of other things fall into place, like their parents writing travel guides and Jack being good at packing (WHY IS THIS SIGNIFICANT? You’ll have to read it and see!).

A lot of cities make perfectly great names, and what’s even better, they come with a host of free associations that readers might actually share, even if (like me!) you haven’t been to most of the ones I picked. Like Sydney, the second-oldest sister. I don’t know about you, but when I think of Sydney, Australia, I think of sunshine and the ocean and the opera house and rugged Australians and maybe snorkeling. So it made sense to me that she’d be an outdoorsy athlete who went for a more modern, art-museum kind of wedding.

Victoria, on the other hand, seems flowery and British and artsy in a post-Impressionist sort of way, plus with waterfalls, while Paris is wild and romantic and impulsive and probably sparkly. And Sofia, in addition to being the capital of Bulgaria, is also Greek for wisdom (“sophia”). Those are just my impressions, but they made it a lot easier to imagine the girls and what their different weddings would be like.

HANG ON A MINUTE, you’re saying, where the heck is there a city named Jack? Aha! Clever readers! Jack is a nickname; it’s short for Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. Because after five girls, you start having to go a little farther afield for names, right? So of course she’s like, WHAT. Jakarta? ARE YOU SERIOUS. Oooh, let’s have an excerpt!:


We’ll get one thing out of the way right up front. My name is Jack. Under no circumstances will anyone call me Jakarta. It’s not my fault that my parents are crazy and travel-obsessed, and none of us are going to encourage them by using my real name.

My parents are Ken and Kathy of the Ken and Kathy’s Travel Guide series. You must have seen the books — all about how to travel to fascinating places and have crazy adventures even with a pile of kids in tow. They travel all the time, always to exotic, fabulous, far-flung locales, and their house is full of wild foreign art and knickknacks. But it’s one thing to hang an African mask on your wall or put down a Peruvian llama rug. It’s another thing altogether to name your children after the cities you’ve traveled to, don’t you think?

Mine is by far the worst, of course. I mean, it figures; I’m the youngest, with five older sisters, so they had obviously run out of decent names for girls by the time I came along. I think they were hoping I’d finally be a boy so they could get the Santiago they always wanted.

My sisters don’t have it so bad: Alexandria, Sydney, Victoria, Paris, and Sofia. Those could totally be normal-person names, couldn’t they? Not like Jakarta. I mean, seriously.

I guess it could be worse. My name could be Tlaquepaque, or Irkutsk, or Pyongyang. Or, you know, Pittsburgh. Sometimes I flip through the atlas just to remind myself of all the names that would be worse than mine.

That’s me. Looking on the bright side.


So there you go. A deep inside look at the deep insightful workings of the author’s brain. 🙂

Oh my goodness, and you should have seen how long it took me to come up with a title! My editor brainstormed a zillion wonderful suggestions and I brainstormed a zillion less wonderful suggestions and then when I finally hit on “Save the Date” I was like, well, that seems obviously perfect, which is exactly how a good title should be.

Plus, how cute are those flip-flops? You KNOW you want it!


And then, never fear, Avatars 3 will be close behind! But we don’t have a cover to show for that yet, so I’ll have to save those fun facts and deep insights for another time.

Hey, look at that! A whole blog about writing, and I managed to not mention TV more than once! Until now, of course. 🙂 OMG, Dexter is amazing (and intense! and traumatizing!). And Northanger Abbey was TOO PERFECT. Henry Tilney has always been one of my favorite Austen heroes, and he was SO adorable! AND I was reminded that ROSE TYLER is in the latest one (which I haven’t watched yet), Mansfield Park! Well, the actress’s real name is Billie Piper, but anyone who loved Doctor Who will always adore her as Rose Tyler, I think. So it’s GUARANTEED to be wonderful too! Hooray!

Quote of the Day: “But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way.” — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey