The Rules of Summer Camp

Excerpt: The Rules of Summer Camp

The Rules of Summer Camp, Sarah ReckThe Rules of Summer Camp

Bethie is a Pax Baxter super-fan. Aaron is Pax’s best friend. When they meet at camp, sparks fly.

Bethie is a Pax Baxter fan. In the last two years, she’s been to 21 concerts in 7 different states, has 435 live songs downloaded onto her iPod, and just earned Gold status on the online PaxBoard.

But, Bethie has a secret—it’s not Pax she wants, it’s his best friend, Aaron Mayze. Aaron is a staple at every Pax event and even has his own dedicated section of the message board. Bethie is head-over-heels for him.

When her mother’s new boyfriend makes life unbearable at home, Bethie decides she needs a change. No Pax Baxter summer tour, no more mooning over Aaron. Time to get her head out of the clouds and back into reality.

She picks the only summer camp she’s ever heard of—on one of Aaron’s t-shirts. The last thing she expects is him to actually be there.
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Sunshine, by Virginia Sanderson / flickr

Taking a chance

When Swoon Reads launched, I was nearly done with The Rules of Summer Camp. I still had revisions and writing group and some re-working to do, but I was almost there. Also, I wanted to submit to agents, as I’d done with previous novels. But I didn’t stop thinking about and considering Swoon Reads. Because I really, really like what they’re doing.

Swoon Reads publishes YA love stories with the help of their reader community. Basically, writers can submit their novels to the site and the community of readers reads the books, comments on them, rates them, and hopefully enjoys them. Then the team there makes publishing decisions based on the novels and the community. I don’t want to call it crowd-sourcing, because it isn’t, but it is definitely a community of readers with one thing in common: love of YA romance.

Swoon Reads is a place for the sort of YA books that I like to read. Fun, contemporary YA romance. It doesn’t have to be heavy or issue-driven. Maybe even something that can be described as “cute.” Something light to take to the beach or on a road trip. Something that a teenage girl (who I imagine being a lot like I was at that age) can escape in to for 250 pages and leave on the other end with a smile on her face and warmth in her heart and a flutter in her stomach.

And the best part is, that’s what The Rules of Summer Camp is to me. I’m glad that Swoon Reads gives this kind of novel a chance.

So I’ve considered for a while whether or not I wanted to submit it.
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Time, by Judy van der Velden / flickr

A history of writing in my life (part 3)

This is part three of the history of my writing life. If you missed it, here’s part one and part two.


I already talked about my early years and my schooling years, so now it’s time for a short foray into the years since then.

I wish I could be a writer full time, though I can’t imagine getting any more writing done than I already do. Now, I have to squeeze writing in time during my lunch break, on the weekends, in the car (Google text to type is both great and awful at the same time), before bed — any time I have a few minutes. Mostly, though, I’m just exhausted and uninspired and don’t write at all. Still — I have a feeling that if I ended up with the time and ability to write full time, it would end up as a constant list of things I did instead of writing.

I’ve written a lot since graduate school. One short story, a handful of poems, several novels. All of the novels are YA. I’ve queried four of them. I’ve had no offers of agent representation. It’s a maddeningly, frustrating, seemingly-endless loop of write, revise, re-draft, edit, set aside, read, touch-up, query, reject, reject, shelf it — start over again with something new.

As I started out five years ago, I tried to remember to stay on top of the trends. Instead of vampires, I tried a riff on werewolves. The novel, The Moonstone, is not one of my best. In fact, it’s probably only slightly above my MFA thesis in terms of writing, plot, and longevity. To be honest, I don’t even like werewolves and the supernatural / paranormal / fantasy obsession in YA fiction. What business did I have writing it? I know now that I was so eager to publish that I thought hitting the edge of a trend would work. Too bad werewolves never picked up post-vampire age.

Moving on, I tried to merge the uniqueness of my birthday (February 29) with a fantastical notion of what happens after death. In-Between and Ever-After came out of this, and I still adore this novel. It’s unfortunate that I was about a year behind on this trend, too. I started querying about the same time as Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and a few similar novels popped up. Even though I queried a little bit with The Moonstone, this second novel felt more a part of me than the previous. So getting rejections from both queries and requested manuscripts was more devastating than before. It also taught me a lot about the process, about “agent speak,” and about my own expectations. I still love this novel, and I probably always will. But what I know the most is that I really want to make sure that somewhere, sometime, in my career, I revisit the meaning and interest of Leap Day.
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