We have a really special post for you today featuring
HOW TO MAKE OUT by Brianna Shrum!
Jamie reviews the book (spoiler: she loved it) and we sit down to interview Brianna about her newest release and her life as an author! Keep scrolling for all the goods, but first let’s learn more about the book.
Published by Sky Pony Press on September 6th 2016
Amazon ♡ Chapters ♡ TBD
Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way.
So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with).
As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention of the entire school, but also the eye of Seth Levine, the hot culinary wizard she’s admired from across the home-ec classroom all year.
Soon, caught up in the thrill of popularity both in and out of cyberspace, her secrets start to spiral, and she finds that she’s forgotten the most important how-to: how to be herself. When her online and real lives converge, Renley will have to make a choice: lose everything she loves in her new life, or everyone she loves in the life she left behind.
BAMF: Describe HOW TO MAKE OUT in 10 words or less.
Brianna Shrum: If Mean Girls and Easy A had a kissier baby ;D
BAMF: Did you have a blog as a teen?
Brianna Shrum: Naw, when I was a teen I had a Myspace. HAHA. I never really blogged (They just didn’t seem that huge for teens back in the day) but I spent a lot of time changing my Myspace background (it was Legolas) and music (Right Here Waiting), and hanging out on writing/roleplaying message boards.
BAMF: What have you started that has snowballed into something more than you were anticipating?
Brianna Shrum: Oh man, this is a REALLY DIFFICULT QUESTION for me because I have always been such a think-it-out-before-I-jump-in kind of person that literally I will go into Target, see a shirt I like, then think about it for 4 days before I buy it. I can’t even think of a time this has happened to me because I think about everyyyyyy possibility before I commit to ANYTHING.
Perhaps The Bachelor. I started watching that show like a normal human, and now I cry when people go home. I stormed out of the room weeping when Nick Viall got sent home on Kaitlyn’s season. OUTTA CONTROL, I’M TELLING YOU. I am WIIIILLLLDDDD AND FREE, THAT’S ME.
BAMF: If you could write a tutorial for anything, what would it be and why?
Brianna Shrum: How to Turn Your House Into Hogwarts. Last year for Christmas, I put up a Hogwarts Christmas tree (it is still up. I’m not gonna lie to you) and themed the house after Gryffindor. We decorated the fireplace with references to floo powder travel, Hogwarts house points scoreboards, Harry Potter magic everywheeeere. You know what? Maybe I actually WILL write a Turn Your Dwelling Into Hogwarts tutorial this Christmas. YASS. I WILL. (But this year, it’s gonna be Slytherin’s year. *hiss*)
BAMF: What did you learn from writing NEVER NEVER that you expanded upon while writing HOW TO MAKE OUT?
Brianna Shrum: I think tension! Never Never was such a tension-filled book, because at its heart it was about relationships. Ones that went well, and ones that went very wrong, romantic-tense and I-Want-To-Kill-You tense, and How to Make Out is a relationship book at its heart too.
BAMF: What do you hope readers take away from HOW TO MAKE OUT?
Brianna Shrum: Number one priority is I really want readers to laugh. If they open the book sad, I want them to close it happy. And I want readers to feel like, “Ok. Yes. I can make a million mistakes, and things will wind up okay.”
BAMF: What are the hardest scenes for you to write? The easiest?
Brianna Shrum: The easiest scenes for me are probably the scenes building up to a makeout. I LIIIIIVE for unresolved sexual tension. I love writing kissing too, but my favorite thing and the most natural thing for me is that moment when their hands touch accidentally, or when someone leans forward to kiss the other person, then panics, and it DOESN’T happen. The toughest stuff for me is writing awkward fights. The ones where someone is pissed and they have the RIGHT to be. So a lot of the stuff between Renley and Drew, Seth, AND April was like “UGH KILL ME IMMEDIATELY.”
BAMF: What has been the best book you’ve read in the past six months?
Brianna Shrum: I CANNOT STOP THINKING about A Court of Mist and Fury. I WILL NEVER STOP THINKING ABOUT A COURT OF MIST AND FURY, oh my gosh. That’s the one.
I thought this one was REALLY cute and adorable and I was squeeing the entire time I was reading it. Plus Brianna Shrum writes ah-mazing make out scenes and they will not disappoint you. This one has the perfect set up and a great execution plus characters that make choices you may not stand behind but definitely understand them doing in the heat of the moment.
I did think the premise was a little iffy because there is a thing called Google but I gave this one the benefit of the doubt and allowed literary fiction to work its magic and say that sure maybe some people would pay this girl to write How To posts for things that she googled herself. But it got her into some pretty sticky situations so I’m letting it slide.
I thought that Renley blogging was both good for her and bad for her. While she did change some aspects of her personality to “fit in” and “be cool,” I thought she also became more sure of herself. I liked that she started to take charge of her life and do the things she really wanted to do. Especially since she was on the fence about going to NYC to begin with and her relationship with April seemed a bit strained at times. I really want to see a Renley who is a Yes Man but also knows when to say no and I think that is what she got out of blogging.
I really liked her relationship with Drew. Actually Drew was the bomb dot com. He was so open and honest about his feelings and I absolutely love that in a person. He also really cared for Renley and ensuring that she was doing what she wanted rather than what she thought was expected of her to maintain her cool level. And the make out scenes that they had were so steamy. I was here for it. 100%.
This was a really cute contemporary novel about learning to balance the person you are with the person you want to be. I really felt for Renley and I am thinking about starting a blog about kissing and see where it leads me.