Title: The Secrets We Kept
Author: Lily Velez
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Release Date: November 8, 2015Summary:
One year. That’s how long it’s been since childhood sweethearts Sully Graham and Cadence Gilbertson broke up, since one adoption and one out-of-state move turned their worlds upside down.
Suddenly, Cadence is back in New York City, but something’s different about her. The light in her eyes, the music in her laughter, the warmth in her smile—all of those things have entirely vanished. In their place stand the makings of a girl Sully can’t even begin to recognize, much less understand.
Still, despite the collective history of heartbreak between them, he’s convinced he can win her trust again, and he’s committed to proving the invincibility of their love no matter what it takes.
But Cadence is quietly harboring secrets of her own. Dark secrets. Ugly secrets. Secrets that could break a person. And though broken herself and unbearably lonely, she’s determined to protect Sully from her terrible, biting truths. Even if it means locking him out of her life forever.
The only problem is it seems her heart hasn’t quite received the memo. One glimpse of him is all it takes for her to trip into familiar (and, she’ll admit, addictive) feelings that threaten to all but consume her. Now her biggest fear is that her secrets will begin to slowly unravel one by one…long before Sully’s resolve ever does.
The Secrets We Kept is a moving story about first love, friendship, and forgiveness, and the enduring bonds that forever connect us and give us our strength.
That evening, he’d been returning home from the library, where he’d met up with some classmates for a group project. When he entered the Peterson home, the Ol’ Man was planted in front of the TV. He reminded Sully of a centaur sometimes, except that he had a knockoff La-Z-Boy for his lower half and not a horse. Pausing in the doorway, Sully checked the time on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles watch he used to wear (a birthday gift from Spencer). This was the hour he and his foster siblings were allowed their allotted TV time. The fact that the channel wasn’t switched to a cartoon or comedy was the first indication that something had happened.
“You got a problem?” His foster parent looked at him with daring, black eyes as he clutched a beer bottle in his hand. Sully was surprised the bottle didn’t shatter in his grip.
“Nope.” It was the correct response to such a question, even if it wasn’t true.
“Then close the damn door. The air conditioner’s on. I don’t work myself half to death so that you brats can waste everything around here.” He took a swig of his beer and returned his attention to the baseball game. “That’s the problem with the lot of you. Ungrateful. When I was growing up, I knew how to be thankful for what I had. Your generation could use a good lesson or two in that department.”
Sully took the diatribe as clue number two. He only hoped that Spencer hadn’t been today’s target. His younger brother’s attitude was evolving the older he got, and he tended to be more reckless and impulsive when it came to backtalk.
“You have to learn how to keep what he says from bothering you,” Sully had told him once. It was an artform, but it was one they’d all have to master if they wanted to survive the wrath of Ol’ Man Peterson. Sully had come to simply ignore any and all incendiary words, letting them ricochet right off him as if the Ol’ Man was throwing darts at Teflon.
He made his way into the kitchen, where he found Spencer looking out the back door’s window. “So who pissed off the Ol’ Man this time?” He pulled open the fridge and reached for a juice box. When Spencer still hadn’t answered, he twisted around. His brother was staring at him with eyes made round by bad news.
It was like something inside Sully’s stomach was free-falling. “What is it?” He discarded the drink on the kitchen counter and stepped closer to his brother.
“Ol’ Man Peterson came in here to make a sandwich,” Spencer started to explain, “but I had used the last two pieces this morning for toast. He went off like he always does and then asked who was responsible. I started to say it was me, but Cadence answered before I could stop her and took the blame. Then he—” He stopped, the knob at his throat moving up and down as he swallowed hard.
“He what? What happened?”
Spencer’s voice grew quiet. “He smacked her, Sully. Harder than I’ve ever seen him smack anyone.”
“Where is she?” The blood in his body was turning to lava. The only thing he wanted to do in that moment was storm back into the living room and confront the Ol’ Man for what he’d done. He’d learned about ‘fight or flight’ in school, how ordinary suburban, soccer moms could lift cars if it meant saving their baby. He was only fourteen, but he was betting he could do some real damage to his foster dad if he had to, if he really wanted to. He really wanted to.
Spencer motioned to the back door, and Sully pushed past him to slip outside. He found Cadence sitting on the patio steps, enveloped by the inky blackness of the night. The leaves on the backyard tree gave off crackling noises as they quivered in the spring breeze, which is why he didn’t hear her cries at first.
He was beside her in the next instant. “Hey,” he said, gentle fingertips on her back and arm. When she looked up at him, when he saw the ferocious, red mark on the side of her face, the lava in his veins roared, a volcano ready to erupt. “God,” he said. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry, Cadence.”
She sniffed, tears still streaming down her face, tears he tried to catch with the sides of his fingers. “You have nothing to be sorry about.”
“I should’ve been here,” he said, homework be damned.
“Just hold me,” she said, and before the last word left her mouth, she was already resting her head onto his shoulder. He pressed his cheek against her hair and wrapped his arms around her, wanting to shield her the way he should’ve shielded her when she’d needed him most. He’d never forgive himself for that.
This is probably one of the most popular questions an author receives, and I’m happy to share my insights about writer’s block in hopes that more aspiring writers will know the truth, which is that writer’s block does not exist.
What we refer to as ‘writer’s block’ is instead typically one of three things: fear, resistance, or lack of planning. In this guest post, I want to talk about resistance because I feel that it’s probably the biggest culprit when it comes to writer’s block, and unless we reveal it for what it truly is, more and more writers will continue to find themselves tangled up in its nets.
To put it simply, resistance is the “I just don’t feel like writing” part of writer’s block. It’s when you feel like you’re in a tug-of-war with your brain because you’ve been staring at a blank page for the past hour and the words just aren’t magically coming to you for some reason. So the writing ceases to be fun and you decide to give yourself a hall pass for the day and skip your writing altogether.
Let’s get this out of the way first: writing is a discipline. Ask any writer and they’ll tell you the same. Yes, we write because it’s a joy. Yes, we write because it’s our passion. Yes, we write because it is impossible for us not to write. But it’s still a discipline—the same thing that makes an Olympic athlete wake up long before dawn to train, train, train in the name of a gold medal.
There are times when I don’t feel like writing either (or exercising, or meditating, or making a fruit smoothie even) but I push through the resistance because I know the reward is going to far outweigh the effort I had to put in. I know that as long as I take the first step, the rest will come.
So really, in effect, the only way to overcome resistance is simply to start writing. I know it’s not the answer most writers want to hear because they want to believe that there’s a miracle solution to their woes, something they can do that will make the entire novel materialize underneath their fingertips with minimum effort invested. But this isn’t the reality. Inspiration doesn’t fly around like Cupid waiting to shoot you with arrows of creativity. That’s just not how it works.
I will tell you this, however: there have been many days (more days than I can count) when I sat down to clock in my writing hours and I wasn’t ‘feeling it’ at all. Not in the least. Still, I wrote.
I wrote through the resistance, I wrote through the “this sucks” moments, I wrote through the “I don’t want to be doing this” phases. I wrote and wrote and wrote, typing one word after the other. And you know what? One of either two things happened: either I made it to the finish line with relief that I was over and done with today’s writing (and then I could celebrate having gotten a few thousand words under my belt), or at some point during the writing process, I rediscovered my joy and my excitement was back! Either scenario was a win-win if you think about it.
Of course, there are questions to ask yourself if resistance repeatedly rears its head. Most important perhaps is this: is this a story that you’re really, truly passionate about? Do you absolutely love your characters? Do you care about the journey they’re taking in your story? Does the plot light you up?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of those questions, you may need to return to the drawing board. Life is just too short to waste time, energy, and brainpower on a story that doesn’t light you up. Besides that, when you’re writing something you love and care about, the words tend to come that much more easily.
Lily Velez has been writing stories since she was six years old. Not much has changed since then. She still prefers the written word and her overactive imagination over the ‘real world’ (though to be fair, her stories no longer feature talking dinosaurs). A graduate of Rollins College and a Florida native, when she’s not reading or writing, she spends most of her days wrangling up her pit bulls Noah and Luna, planning exciting travel adventures, and nursing her addiction to cheese. All this when she isn’t participating in the extreme sport known as napping. You can learn more about Lily and her books at her website.