Today I am excited to share an excerpt of Mary Chris Escobar’s latest novel Neverending Beginnings. Not only will you get a sneak peek of the book, but you’ll also get to enjoy the fun interview we had PLUS a fabulous guest post written by the author herself! And to top it all off, there’s a giveaway to enter too!
Guest Post by Mary Chris Escobar
I recently ran across a playlist that I made when I was writing Neverending Beginnings. Making a playlist for the book you are writing is a pretty common practice for many writers, but it wasn’t something that I did for my second novel, or the two novellas I have written. In fact, I had completely forgotten that I had done this for my debut novel and it was really fun to stumble across just as the novel was released in paperback this summer.
The version of Neverending Beginnings that is out in the world today had a long and winding journey to publication. The first version of it was met with positive accolades for my writing style, but a desire for bigger, more exciting things to happen. I substantially re-wrote the story, adding a bigger plot hook and lots more tension. Then I ultimately ended up tearing that second story apart to include the repeating week structure that is the defining characteristic of the novel today.
Listening to the playlist I made all those drafts ago, was like flipping through a scrapbook full of memories. Some of the songs completely made sense for the book as it exists today, others not as much. I thought it would be fun to share some of the highlights here.
This song is from a local band in Richmond, Virginia where I live. I met David at the DMV one Saturday years ago — true story. It contains the amazing lyrics “If you get to close to beauty, you begin to see the flaws. But I really don’t think that’s too close at all.” Since I always strive to write flawed characters, this one could go on every book playlist.
This song could also be on every book playlist, because it is for me it is symbolic of good storytelling. I grew up watchingFamily Ties and the love story between Alex P. Keaton and Ellen may very well be one of the first romances I encountered. He was trying to date her roommate, but she got under his skin (mostly by standing her ground). When he chases her to the train station to confess his love, this song is playing in the background. It’s not about the song itself, but about the emotion it invokes for me.
I honestly have no clue whether I picked this song because it was reflective of things my main character, Kate, was learning or as a reminder to myself to be brave and put my work out into the world.
I think my characters sang along to this in a bar in the second version of the story. Maybe. If not, I have no idea why it’s on this list (perhaps because I sang along to it in bars when I was 26 like Kate?)
This song is the closest to embodying who Kate is for most of the book, “I never loved nobody fully. Always one foot on the ground. And by protecting my heart truly, I got lost in the sounds…” One of my goals in writing Neverending Beginnings, was to write a female character who was afraid of commitment. I felt like I was reading a lot about women running toward relationships and marriage and wanted to create a character who was more hesitant.
Those are the highlights of the playlist I created while writing Neverending Beginnings. I would love to hear what songs come to mind for readers! And if anyone has any insight into how that Aerosmith song landed on my list, please do share.
David Shultz: https://vimeo.com/5283028
Billy Vera: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK0hl0u26t0
Idina Menzel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luiRqbZ7t8U
Regina Spektor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wigqKfLWjvM
Author Interview – Mary Chris Escobar
1. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?
Sure! I’m an author, living Richmond, Virginia (which may or may not be considered the south, depending on who you ask). I write lighthearted romantic comedies. When I’m not writing, you can find me sipping a craft beer or enjoying a chocolate croissant at the coffee shop around the corner from my house. I also spend some of that non-writing time advising undeclared college students. Which is appropriate, since I still feel a little undecided myself, at times.
2. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest novel and the inspiration behind it?
My most recent publication was the paperback release of Neverending Beginnings. The novel is best described as the movie Groundhog Day meets My Best Friend’s Wedding. The main character Kate, gives a splendidly horrible toast at her best friend’s wedding and wishes she could get a do-over. She wakes up the next morning a week in the past — with the chance to do exactly that.
The inspiration behind the story was actually I toast I gave at a wedding. I thought I had prepared adequately, but realized after the best man’s perfect toast that mine was way too short. It took me approximately 30 seconds to deliver it and guests were confused, scrambling for their glasses because they were expecting the toast to be much longer. While this was not even close to horrible in the way that Kate’s toast in Neverending Beginnings is, it did give me the idea that sparked the story: what if it had really, truly, been a disaster?
3. How long did it take you to write Neverending Beginnings? What is your writing process like?
Even though it was just released in paperback, Neverending Beginnings was the first novel I wrote. I was writing on the side, just for fun, while I was in graduate school, so it took quite a long time— probably a couple years. I spent at least another year to a year and half on revisions. The repeating weeks were not part of the original story. I added those in as an “edit” later. I put quotations around “edit”, because it was really more like a complete and total rewrite.
As far as process, I am a pantser, meaning I fly by the seat of my pants when I write and don’t start with an outline. I generally know how I want the story to end, but I flow with the twists and turns as the story unfolds. This means that I write extremely rough first drafts and spend a lot of time in edits shading in the nuances of characters and fleshing out scenes.
4. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
Yes, thanks for asking! Earlier this year I wrote two short stories as part of blog hops. I loved the characters and continued their story week by week on my blog over the course of several months. Once the story was told I was thinking about polishing it up and publishing it as a serial told in three parts. However, as I dug into the edits I realized there was a whole novel there. So that’s what I’m working on now. The overarching theme of the story is the concept that“fresh starts” are virtually impossible. The past is always a part of who you are. There are also squirrels.
5. Did you always want to be a writer?
I think so, but I didn’t officially figure it out until I was nearly 30 years old. I was always acting out stories with my stuffed animals as a young child. In middle school, I wrote New Kids on the Block fan fiction and then followed that with some bad poetry in high school. In college, I was always given feedback that I was a “good writer” on my papers. I think until I started teaching and grading papers myself, I mostly thought instructors wrote that on everyone’s papers. I later learned that offering the comment “well-written” is usually about style and voice, not simply that the paper is spell-checked and on topic. I didn’t officially find my calling as a writer until I took a class at a local arts center and fell in love with the process.
6. Who are the authors that inspire you and what genres do you enjoy reading?
I really do write what I read, so I enjoy reading lighthearted women’s fiction. Some of the first authors I remember reading in the genre were Meg Cabot, Alison Winn Scotch, Megan Crane, and Emily Giffin. Recently I loved The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke and After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
I don’t have a chance to read as much romance as I would like (because there just aren’t enough hours in the day for all. the. books), but I have critique partners and beta readers who are romance writers and I am constantly inspired by their work ethic, spirit of collaboration and general kindness. A great deal of my knowledge about the business side of publishing is courtesy of the romance community.
7. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
I’m paraphrasing a bit here but it was: “one of the kindest things you can do for yourself and those around you is to stop looking to the left and right and just run your race.” A wise former colleague of mine said this, and it has really stuck with me. We have this tendency to make other people’s definition of success our own, but we aren’t doing ourselves or anyone else a favor by doing that. Like most good advice it’s easier said than done, but ultimately I’ve found those times when I’ve stayed true and authentic to myself, even when it’s difficult, have made the greatest impact on the trajectory of my life.
And now for a few “just for fun” ones …
8. What are the things you can’t live without in your kitchen?
Garlic, olive oil, pasta and cheese. Also avocados.
9. What are the things you can’t live without in your wardrobe?
Dark jeans, gray and black shirts, colorful cardigans and comfy flats. Also at least one fun dress and totally impractical pair of shoes.
10. What would we find if we looked in your handbag right now?
Like most people that spend a lot of time traveling places by foot, I carry a really large bag. (Also, as a writer, it is imperative that a laptop fit in there when necessary.) If you were to look in my handbag right now you would find:
- my phone
- a couple seashells from a beach trip last month
- a pen (Uniball, extra fine in blue)
- a small beat-up journal I’ve had for years
- an umbrella
- a PayPal credit card reader
- business cards
- home and office keys
- a planner
- proof copy of Neverending Beginnings (which I guess is sort of my equivalent to carrying around a picture of my child)
- a reusable shopping bag
- sunblock (lavender-scented)
- a little pouch with lip-gloss, lip balm, lipstick (yes, all three), bobby pins, hand lotion, ibuprofen, and mints in it
11. Either or…
Dogs or cats? Cats, though only in pictures, since I’m allergic.
Red wine or white? Rose. Just kidding (not really). Red in the winter, white in the summer. Rose all year.
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Summer or Winter? Fall. (Apparently I’m not so good at either/or …)
Sleep in or get up early? Sleep in
Apple or PC? Apple
Neverending Beginnings by Mary Chris Escobar
Book Description: This contemporary romance is Groundhog Day meets My Best Friend’s Wedding. Readers who like women’s fiction by Meg Cabot, Emily Giffin and Allison Winn Scotch will enjoy this romantic comedy.
Kate is alarmed to find out that her best friend Amy is getting married after dating for only six months. Her alarm turns to shock when she learns that the groom-to-be is Kate’s old college ex. As the big day approaches, Kate’s inability to hide her feelings is threatening to ruin her friendship with Amy.
Kate’s last minute, vodka-fueled wedding toast has her wishing she could turn back the clock and make things right. Imagine her surprise when she wakes up the next day and finds out she can.
Forced to relive one of the most painful weeks of her life, Kate slowly works to repair the damage she has done. In the process, she learns a lot about herself and the cynically charming best man, Ben.
Excerpt – Neverending Beginnings
The screen on my phone lit up. I had silenced it before I went to bed. It was a text message from Ben. Did you get the squash yet? I smiled and clicked on the message to reply, then changed my mind and called instead.
“Hello,” he answered. There was a little gravel in his voice. It was nice.
“Just wanted you to know that there is a whole basket full of squash and salsa and spaghetti sauce in the trunk of my car.”
“You didn’t mention the salsa and spaghetti sauce the other night. I mean that’s a total game changer, I wouldn’t have even given you a hard time for blowing me off over that.” I could hear him smiling, which made tingles run the length of my spine.
“So what are you up to?” I asked.
“I was actually cutting out tiny people to glue onto this model I’m working on.”
“Like stick people?”
“No, tiny photographs of actual people.”
“Really. Where do you find something like that? Is it like clip art?”
He laughed. “Sort of. There are actually whole websites where you can download them for architectural purposes.”
“What are they wearing?”
“Um … are you trying to chat up my tiny model people? Because I think I might have to protest on their behalf. I mean they’ve never even met you. . Now if you’re asking me … ”
I hadn’t, of course, meant that at all, but I laughed. And tried desperately to fight back the onslaught of images and feelings the mere hint of intimacy with Ben seemed to produce. Perhaps calling him while I was lying in bed had been unwise.
“I, um … just wanted to make sure they were, you know, not going to embarrass themselves by being out of date … fashionably speaking. That’s all,” I tried to recover.
“Oh, I see. They certainly appreciate the concern.” He was still smiling.
“So, other than an update on the squash situation, and propositioning your tiny model people, any word from Jack?”
“I can call you tomorrow if I hear, though.”
“Yeah, that would be great.”
“So, are you having a good visit with your dad?” he asked.
I hesitated. “Yeah.”
“You don’t sound so sure there.”
I tried to remember if he knew about my mom. I don’t think it had come up this round, but there was the dessert … except that was last round. The combination of tired and tingly all over was making details hard at the present moment, so I just asked, “Did I tell you my mom passed away last year?”
“No. Wow. So I guess it is sort of weird being back there, huh?”
“Have you been back a lot?”
“No. Not much at all, actually.”
“How … I mean was it sudden … if you don’t mind me asking?”
“No. Not sudden. Cancer. And actually thanks for asking, most people are scared to.”
He was quiet, probably not sure what to say. As usual with him, I kept talking. “So my dad is starting to go through things. Wants my help tomorrow. I’m really dreading it.”
“I guess so,” he said sympathetically.
“He’s right. It’s time, and intellectually I know that. It just sucks … you know, emotionally.”
We were quiet again, but it wasn’t awkward. Never awkward.
“I didn’t mean to unload all that on you … I barely know you …”
“No, no … thanks for telling me. Now we won’t have that awkward moment later when I ask about your family.”
“Right, awkward, sort of like how I just asked what your little people were wearing.”
“I’d file that more under adorable, actually. And for the record, seriously, if you ever want to ask what I’m wearing, that would be nice, too.”
“Duly noted.” I smiled.
“So I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything tomorrow. Otherwise, Tuesday night?”
“Good night,” he said.
I hung up relaxed and sleepy. As I drifted off, I thought for the tiniest of split seconds, that possibly a phone relationship with Ben might not be the worst thing in the world.
About the Author – Mary Chris Escobar
Award-winning author Mary Chris writes women’s fiction. She was destined to write romance from a young age (as a child, her stuffed animals always got their happily-ever-afters). She lives in Richmond, Virginia in a renovated parking garage with her husband. Find her on her website, on Twitter or just about anywhere good coffee or craft beer is served.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
Check out the other stops on the Neverending Beginnings blog tour!
July 6 – Sweet N SassyBookaholics – Review & Excerpt
July 7 – Living Life With Joy – Guest Post. Q&A & Excerpt
July 8 – Coffeeholic Bookworm – Review & Excerpt
July 9 – Mallory Heart Reviews – Review & Excerpt
July 9 – Julie Valerie’s Book Blog – Review & Q&A
July 10 – Sinfully Good Reads – Excerpt
July 13 – Hey Said Renee – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
July 14 – A Love That Can’t Be Stopped – Excerpt
July 17 – Samantha March – Excerpt
July 20 – Polished & Bubbly – Review
July 23 – Chick Lit Goddess – Review
July 24 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
July 28 – Writing Pearls – Review & Excerpt
July 31 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
August 3 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt