Title: Twelve Months of Awkward Moments
Author: Lisa Acerbo
Publisher: Torrid Books
Publication Date: August 30, 2018
Page Count: 234
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
Dani Can’t wait for senior year at college. A straight-A scholar whose anxiety is a daily struggle, being awkward, introverted, and studious has become a way of life. She vows this year will be different. It’s time to move beyond her comfort zone, but that’s not easy.
Dani’s wild roommate and handsome best friend hate each other; her crazy family won’t leave her alone; and a new job forces her to be social. Unfortunately, when college romance finally calls, Dani is unable to answer thanks to a stalker who has her all tied up.
I’m applying for a receptionist position at a physical therapist office. Stress has left my stomach upset, my head throbbing, and my bladder full. I need to find the restroom to both relieve my need and gulp down some headaches medicine. I bolt up the concrete stairs on the sunless, November day, and enter the dingy white-walled lobby. A large white sign directs me to the Quest Physical Therapy office on the second floor in room B-Two. I hurry up the flight of stairs and search for the restroom. There’s a men’s room to the right and ladies on the left.
I stop, dumbstruck. “Out of order” is written on the momen’s room door. Seriously? I glance at my watch. Less than five minutes before my interview. No time to run downstairs. Chance the men’s room? What’s the possibility someone would be in there? I open the door and glance around. Nothing. Safe.
I slip inside, and I’m about to enter a stall when a man exits the one next to me. A noisy flush sound swirls behind him. Tall, manicured, in a chalk gray polo shirt and khaki pants, he stares at me.
I stammer my reply. “Sorry. Girls’ room not functioning. Thought this was empty.”
His eyes fill with mirth. “Don’t let me stop you.” He shuffles to the sink.
I really have to pee. What are my options? I sprint toward the empty stall, watching his broad shoulders as he washes his hands. He eyes me in the mirror. I send him a weak smile before I close the door.
I pull down my sensible interview panties and wait. I can’t go knowing he is still in the room. I want to hear him exit out the door. Tense seconds tick by, but they feel like minutes. My bladder screams for relief as the water faucets shut off. The paper towel dispenser releases its crunchy square. Finally, the bathroom door opens. I wait until it slams shut. Relief. It’s a long time coming.
After I quickly wash my hands, swallow my headache meds, and check my hair and teeth, not wanting to linger in the little boys’ room and encounter another stranger. I peek at my phone. One minute early. A few deep breaths for courage as I march down the short hall before I enter Quest Physical Therapy.
A manicured blonde receptionist sits behind the desk. She stare up at me inquisitively when I approach.
“Can I help you?” she asks.
“I have an interview with…” I scroll through the notes on my phone. “Brice James, or is it James Brice?” I’m suddenly confuse. She doesn’t help me out.
“I’ll let him know. Take a seat, please.”
As I wait, I scan the room. Feeble old folks using walkers and canes sit next to super-fit athletes harnessed into walking casts and recuperative braces. A few middle-aged men and women with various ailments fill in the crowd.
An office door opens. Gray polo man enters the room.
There was never supposed to be a fairytale chance that I’d be the one in serious trouble. I’m the studious introvert. The college student who actually went to school to get a degree in something I love. The rule follower. The good girl. The last one asked to the party.
Evil doesn’t care when bad things happen to good girls. Someone like me isn’t supposed to have a stalker, a man who makes panic track through me like a virus, a man who devours me like the cat in the Grimm fairytale. But here I am.
I try to twist my head away, his palm smashes into my face, hitting my cheek and ear. Pain rings through my head. He draws back, knowing I’m trapped in my own living room. Dread coils in my stomach. Nausea ripens like week old bananas.
“This is what you want.” He spits the words. “This has always been what you wanted from the first day we met. I hate when women play games. For a while, I believed you might be different, but you’re not.”
He inches towards me again, his fist raised, clenched and trembling. I’m unable to speak. I gag on my breath.
“Or is this what you want?” His hand squeezes my arm so hard, I yelp. One small part of my brain realizes this might be my last chance to act. A sob escapes as I rip my arm away and run. But where can I go? I’m terrified of what follows.
“Damn it, Dani! There is nowhere to go. What do you think you’re trying to do?” His voice is placating and whiny at the same time. Time slows as I sprint from the living room to the bedroom. My thoughts flee back to my ordinary life a few months ago.
About the Author
Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and adjunct instructor at a local community college. Her previous novels have been published through a variety of indie presses. She has a short story “Carnivorous” coming out in October as part of an anthology titled Carnival of Nightmares. When not writing or teaching, she spends time with her family, friends and pets. She also fosters dogs to help them find their forever homes.
An Interview with Lisa
What inspired Twelve Months of Awkward Moments?
Stories from friends and family inspired me to address the subject of anxiety in students. Twelve Months of Awkward Moments, and the main character Dani took shape after learning about different people’s daily struggles with anxiety. The more I spoke about the topic, the more anecdotes I heard. Anxiety at the high school and college levels also seems to be on the rise, and schools need to deal with it effectively. The National Education Association (NEA) article, The Epidemic of Anxiety Among Students, does a great job discussing the severity of the matter (http://neatoday.org/2018/03/28/the-epidemic-of-student-anxiety/).
I hope Twelve Months of Awkward Moments starts a conversation on the topic. While years of teaching gave me a unique perspective, Dani is a fictional character even if some of her adventures are based on my personal experience with anxiety and stories my daughter told me about her time at college.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
To stay sane, a writer must try to find some sort of satisfaction in every part of the writing process, even the parts that are less enjoyable. For me, revision has always been that challenge.
I’m fine the first three, four, five times I revise, but then I stop seeing mistakes and create new errors throughout the book. I am a person who cannot self edit. Ever. At all. After Twelve Months of Awkward Moments was accepted for publication, the revision process really began. The editors at Torrid are amazing, and they made revision much less of a chore. I also take breaks from writing to read. The only way to improve the craft is to read, write, and then repeat the process. Read. Write. Repeat. If all else fails, reach for a large glass of wine, grab a chocolate bar, ride a horse or a bike, or find a furry friend to cuddle with. My foster dogs have saved me from certain insanity many times.
Is there a time of day or night when you’re most creative?
Coffee fuels my writing mornings. Coffee is the only thing that keeps me going during the day. All day, every day. By evening, I’m a zombie. After a few too many morning cups of coffee, some articulate thoughts enter my mind and I attempt to jot those down. Unfortunately, they don’t always travel from brain to computer keyboard in a coherent manner. Once my dogs get up, they whine until I pay attention to them.
What audience are you targeting this book at?
The book is classified as “New Adult” because the protagonist is a senior in college. I wrote it with older high school students and college students as my target audience. College is a time when students take on additional responsibility and independence, and that can exasperate stress and anxiety. The main character Dani makes mistakes throughout the novel, and the reader can see the connections to her anxiety, but she grows from those mistakes, learns from them, and ends up stronger.
I hope y’all have enjoyed learning about this cute book as much as I have. I also sincerely hope you enjoyed the excerpts but especially the author interview!
Have a great Thursday and happy reading! What’s on your September TBR?