Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Blog Tour: Firsts + GIVEAWAY

Title: Firsts
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: January 5, 2015
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

Guest Post from Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Because Firsts is about Mercedes' high school experiences, I thought it would be cool to find out a little bit more about Laurie's high school experiences. 

Below, Laurie shares a memory from her freshman year of high school that I think many of us will be able to relate to because we all have our secrets. We have secrets that we spill, and we have secrets that we keep.

There was a class I took in grade nine—I don’t even recall what class it was, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that I remember my teacher asking us to introduce ourselves and say what we wanted to be when we grew up. I got up with my big braces-clad smile and proudly told everyone I wanted to be an Olympic long-distance runner. 

People snickered and whispered. I felt my face turning red. The teacher asked if there was something more practical I had considered as a backup plan. Obviously, mine wasn’t the answer she was looking for. I was embarrassed, mortified that I had just aired my dream in front of everyone. I wished I could take it back. As my classmates each started talking and saying the right things—doctor, lawyer, teacher—I sat there and wondered why I couldn’t have said something normal like that. I told myself I’d never put one of my dreams out there like that again, so vulnerable to being trampled by people’s giggles and judgment. I was too na├»ve to realize that not everyone would cheer for me or think my dream was cool, but it was a hard lesson I learned that day. 

Here’s a spoiler: I never became an Olympic long-distance runner. My sporty phase petered out sometime mid-high school, when I ditched my running shoes for clunky high heels I could barely walk in. But even as I changed, there was one big dream that kept thrumming under my skin like a second pulse, and that was my dream of becoming a published author. Except I didn’t admit it out loud. When I started writing seriously, I didn’t tell anyone about it except my close family and my two best friends. I guarded my dream, locked it away. Only when I had a book deal did I drum up the courage to create a mass Facebook post and tell everyone else what I was up to. Even then, I was nervous. I was scared I’d be judged or questioned or even ridiculed. My heart was pounding when I hit “Publish” on that post. 

Do you know what I thought afterward? I thought I could learn something from my ninth-grade self, the one who proudly declared that she wanted to become an Olympian. That girl wasn’t afraid that her dream was too big. She knew that saying it out loud didn’t diminish it. Some people might laugh or roll their eyes or wait for you to fail. But dreams don’t disappear in a puff of smoke. They don’t just evaporate into thin air. They stay with you, burrowed in your skin, even if they don’t come true. They’re part of you, as vital as blood. 

Ninth-grade Laurie was a wannabe future Olympian. And adult Laurie is proud of her for saying so.



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