Home    |     Bio    |     Books    |     DBAW Tour    |     News    |     Press    |     Events    |     Contact

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Story Secrets: SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK by Sydney Salter + Giveaway

I'm excited to have friend Sydney Salter, who is no stranger to terrific YA - she first came out with MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS. She's here today to spill secrets on her brand new release, SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK. (And see giveaway details below!)

Welcome, Sydney! (Readers, check out previous Story Secrets here.)


You’d think Polly Martin would have all the answers when it comes to love—after all, her grandmother is the famous syndicated advice columnist Miss Swoon. But after a junior year full of dating disasters, Polly has sworn off boys. Now she’s just trying to survive her summer job at Wild Waves western-themed water park (under the supervision of ex #3 Sawyer Holmes) and focus on herself for once.

So tell us the truth - what is the story behind the story, Sydney?
After watching more than one friend morph her interests to match her man de jour, I decided to write about a girl who didn’t really know herself because she was always letting boys dictate her hobbies and pastimes. I also thought it would be fun to write about someone who worked at a water park. And then there was the cute skateboarder who kept winding down my street each morning… Throw in our family boat trip during a scary thunderstorm and I had enough to write a novel.

I'm amazed you wrote this in a little over a month - how did that happen?
Even though I hadn’t intended to participate in NaNoWriMo in 2008, my editor approved my SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK synopsis on Halloween so I decided to jump right in the next day. I finished the first draft by the second week in December—I sure had to use my imagination to write about all that swimming and sunshine!

With a publishing deadline, I didn’t have time to let my usual critique partners read the manuscript. My mom gave it a quick read-through and so did my teenage daughter, but then it was off to my agent and editor. That felt really strange since I’d lived with my other books for months and years before publication.

So how did mismatched shoes play into this story?
One morning, I headed off to my critique group meeting unsure about what I’d write about later that afternoon. I had no idea what exactly would happen next in the story, but I had 1,666 words to write that day. When I pulled into the bookstore parking lot, I noticed several mismatched shoes on the ground near an overturned grocery cart. I joked to my friends about putting them into my novel. Well, I did, and it turned into one of my favorite scenes: grocery cart races!

Inspiration or perspiration?
While I do experience moments of inspiration—a flash on insight that sheds brighter light on a dim idea—I’m mostly a perspiration writer. I’ve learned that I get a whole lot more accomplished if I park myself at my desk for a few hours every day than if I wait for the mood to strike. I do like to try new things, travel to new places, and make new friends so that I have plenty of material to draw upon.

Do you share your work with anyone, or is it top secret?
I don’t like to talk too much about my ideas. Since I’ve been writing synopses for my agent, I have started sharing ideas with my close family members and my critique group (we’ve been together for eight years). I never used to share my works-in-progress until I’d completed a solid first draft, but with my most recent story I shared my new chapters so I could get immediate feedback and create a cleaner first draft. I guess you could say that I’m becoming better at sharing—just don’t ask me for a bite of my brownie (I’m still not good at sharing my chocolate!).

How have your own experiences played into writing SWOON?
Relationships are at the heart of SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK—and I used a lot of my own life experiences to create those dynamics. I know how difficult it can be to have close relationships with a divorced parent; I have lived with three generations of women under one roof (lots of drama!); and I know how scary falling in love can feel when you don’t want to get hurt. But I also know that it’s totally worth the risk!

Secrets to spill?
*whispers* I don’t have any ex-boyfriends. Although I experienced plenty of boy drama in high school, I married my first official boyfriend. We met during my first week at college and it just worked. I feel like I know a lot about relationships, having been in one for most of my life, but I’ve never experienced a breakup.


Thanks, Sydney!

And here's the trailer for SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK:

For a chance to win, leave a comment below on either a) whether you've ever matched your likes/dislikes to a boyfriend or girlfriend or b) your best or worst story that took place while wearing a bathing suit (I can think of a few!). Deadline is 5pm PST Monday, please include a way to contact you. And may the best swoon win!


  1. Well... My worst moment in a bathing suit had to be when I was 13 I believe. I was such a bean pole and all the girls already had developed. I had not. Well I decided I need to wear padded bras and my bathing suit needed padding too. (duh can't have boobs in clothes then not in a bathing suit) I had my mom buy me a bathing suit and sew pads in it. I thought I looked super cute in my one piece. ERR boy was I wrong. As soon as I got into the water the top part of my bathing suit was weighed down so it looked as if I had saggy boobs that were misshaped!

  2. I never matched any likes or dislikes to a boyfriend. Although I do have to say after years of watching sports with one, I kinda started to enjoy watching. I don't do it anymore because I have too many other things to do, but I don't mind as much when they are on.

  3. Hm...I've pretended to like music and movies that a boyfriend liked

  4. I don't usually match my interests to people, whether they be a boyfriend or a friend. But I have had friendships where they are based on only one common interest, e.g. hockey. So every time I'm with that friend we talk about hockey or watch hockey or hockey related movies, etc. So that's kind of a strange thing.

    And my worst story in a bathing suit? Probably when I slipped on my friend's deck outside when I was about 8 years old, and I had the wind knocked out of me completely, but I didn't know what happened and I couldn't breathe and my Mom wasn't there, and I was paranoid and my friend's Mom was just like "You'll be okay." That's it. Needless to say I was totally traumatized: I thought I was going to die or something!


  5. I'm a little shamed to say that I have match my interests to a boyfriend, like my ex? he used to like really short pixie haircuts on girls so I cut ALL my hair off and had it really short for him! I know! It could have been worse if I hadn't like how it looked, though! Thankfully, I did.

  6. I'm definitely guilty of matching my interests when it comes to somebody I'm interested in. Tho its more in group situations. I'll purposely steer a conversation to something my crush will find interseting so we can start our own seperate conversation. Ha, then they get to know me and they find out just how opinionated I am:)

    Also, for my worst story in a bathing suit I'll keep it short and sweet, tho its not sweet so I guess just short. It involves me, my crush, the whole 7th grade, and my bikini top coming undone in a pool. You can guess the outcome, but for sake of not having to relive it too much I'm just going to leave it at that.


    P.S.- Congrats on STREET CREED! :D

  7. My worst nightmare, while wearing a bathing suit, happened when I was thirteen. I felt like such a hot-shot; strutting my newly developed boobs in my new bikini... Ooh, baby I was on FIRE! :)

    Unfortunately, my guy friend must have woken up that morning and decided, "Gee, I feel like sticking a crab down someone's pants!" because thats exactly what he did! I mean, yeah, the crab was tiny, but a crab! In my suit!
    I'm not a screamer but boy, I could've had a banshee running for her money... I was shrieking like a madwomen.
    The worst part was a bunch of high-schoolers (hot guys) saw my traumatizing moment as "silly antics" and laughed at me.
    I was redder than a tomato. :)
    Love, Hannah S.

    xoxosweeet (at) yahoo (dot) com

  8. I'm loving these stories! Bathing suits and disaster, like chocolate and peanut butter...

    I tried to sew my own bathing suit once - it was great until it got wet, then it got kind of...stretchy. Not quite as bad as Cleverly Inked, though!

    Before I really felt comfortable in my own skin and with my own preferences, I was influenced by boyfriends, especially with things like music and where to go, what to do, etc. Then I met someone who took dominant personality to a whole new level - fortunately I recognized it and got out relatively quickly. I think he was the kind of person who wanted complete control. Not healthy! After that, I was more careful.

    I think it's ok to like what your friends and loved ones like, though, if it means getting to spend quality time with them!

  9. I don't think I have ever matched a like or dislike with my boyfriend because we happened to like the other's likes and dislikes. It makes us who we are.


  10. When my now husband and I first started dating he was into the Grateful Dead. I followed right along and started to wear tie-dye shirts and ankle bells :) Definately no me at all.

    foltzsfantasticbooks at gmail.com

  11. b) I'm no longer in my 20's so no happy stories ever occur in a swimsuit.