First Chapter Reveal: The Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate Strohm + Giveaway (US/Canada)
Today we're super excited to reveal the first chapter of Stephanie Kate Strohm's THE TAMING OF THE DREW, releasing April 5, 2016 from Sky Pony Press. Before we get to the chapter, here's a note from Stephanie:
Hi, YABC! I’m so excited to share the first chapter of The Taming of the Drew with you! The Taming of the Drew holds a very special place in my heart, because back when I was a teen like Cass, my main character, I was a proud, self-proclaimed drama dork. You could usually find me clomping around the gym-slash-auditorium in my character shoes, loudly declaiming Shakespeare or belting out “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat.” If this sounds like you, you’re in for a treat! Not into Shakespeare? No problem. The Taming of the Drew may be set at a Shakespeare theater in Vermont, where the actors’ lives offstage begin to mirror the drama onstage, but at its heart, The Taming of the Drew is a story of kickass female friendship, finding love in the most unexpected places, and the magic of summer. Although, actually, the first chapter is mostly about maple candy. And who doesn’t like candy? Enjoy!
~Stephanie Kate Strohm (THE TAMING OF THE DREW, Sky Pony Press)
Ready to see?
Scroll, YABCers! Scroll!
Here's the chapter!
Freedom might have smelled like cow manure, but it had never tasted so sweet. I crumbled another piece of sticky maple goodness off the leaf-shaped candy I’d bought after my last pee break. Man, even the gas station candy was fancy in Vermont. The most gourmet thing we had at the Vince Lombardi Service Area was Kit Kat bars. I licked my fingers clean before putting my semisticky hand back on the wheel.
More air. Louder music. I jammed my left finger against the button on the side of the door, rolling the car window all the way down, cow poop scent be damned. Mmm. The fresh, stinky air whipped my hair, sending red tendrils smacking against my sunglasses.
As “Born to Run” blasted out of my speakers, I yelled out the window along with Bruce’s growl, startling a field of particularly pungent bovine clustered near a split-rail fence.
Like any self-respecting person from New Jersey, I loved Springsteen. Actually, I was highly suspicious of anyone who didn’t love Springsteen, regardless of their home state. I was just glad I hadn’t let Dad ruin Bruce for me. Although, to be fair, could anything ruin Bruce? The man was un-ruinable.
Maybe I wasn’t born to run—as my not particularly successful athletic career could attest to—but I’d never been more ready to run. Things hadn’t been great at home before the Sext Heard ’Round the World, but after, it was like World War Z had erupted. At this point, I would much rather face an army of zombies than hear the name Heather ever again.
Okay. I knew Heather wasn’t the reason my parents divorced. It was probably coming anyway. I’d gleaned enough from television to know that most parents didn’t constantly scream at each other. It was more like Heather had become the blond, perky embodiment of their divorce. And I’d heard more than enough from my mom on the topic of Heather to last a lifetime.
Sometimes I wished Mom was more of a let’s-repress-all-this-stuff-and-never-talk-about-our-issues kind of mom and less of a let’s-share-all-the-details-of-my-personal-life-with-my-teenage-daughter kind of mom. There were things I didn’t need to know. And things I could never un-hear.
Snap out of it, Cass. I shook my head, trying to clear it. None of that mattered anymore. I was driving north, farther and farther away from Jersey and my parents and everything. And every mile that put a bigger distance between me and the stupid Ruth’s Chris Steak House where Heather worked was a mile I relished.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House. What did that even mean? What was a Chris Steak House? Was Chris a preparation of steak? It wasn’t Ruth Chris’s Steak House, so it wasn’t her last name, whoever Ruth was. It made no sense.
I turned the volume up even louder, blasting all thoughts of Heather out of my brain. I definitely wasn’t in Weehawken anymore, and that was the important thing to remember. Hell, even just a quick glance out the window confirmed I was way out of Weehawken. I knew Jersey had farms, because of all the tomatoes and stuff that showed up in the grocery store with their cheery Jersey Fresh! labels every summer, but there weren’t any near where I lived. Vermont was serious farm country. Gently rolling hills, bales of hay, big red barns, tall silos, and even a couple weathered farmhouses complete with wraparound porches and gingerbread detailing on the eaves. And, of course, cows. So many cows, lazily flicking their tails back and forth as they grazed in the summer sun.
When I’d imagined making my professional theater debut, I never imagined cow country. I certainly wasn’t complaining—I was only a couple weeks out of high school and about to grace the stage of Vermont’s only professional outdoor summer Shakespeare theater. And yeah, that may have been a lot of qualifiers, but it was still a real theater. My stomach tumbled over into a nervous happy flutter. A real theater. I’d only ever been in plays at school or theater camp before. But out of all the people who’d auditioned for this internship, I was one of the chosen ones. And now I was being paid to act—a meager amount, but still—just like a real job. Just like I’d always wanted. I knew, of course, that out of the millions of people who wanted to be actors, very few actually were. But getting this part made me think that maybe, just maybe, I could be one of those few. Now all I had to do was act my face off.
The road curved, cutting away from the fields and gradually climbing as it arced toward the small mountain range I saw to my right. As I turned the car around the bend, the trees by the side of the road got denser. It was like from farm to forest in a heartbeat. Everything was so green and lush, I felt like I’d rolled right into Narnia.
I passed a wooden sign nailed at the start of a dirt road: Lake Dunmore Thataway. Crap! Assuming, of course, that Shakespeare at Dunmore was actually at Lake Dunmore— which seemed like a pretty safe assumption—that was my turn. I swerved quickly to the right, just barely making the turn, which of course sent my maple candy flying off the passenger seat. Noooooo! Not my sweet maple goodness!
I bent down to get the candy—five-second rule—when something hit the back of my car. The force of the collision jolted me forward a few inches. I screamed in a not very dignified way, sat upright, and threw the car into park. And in the process, I smushed the maple candy into a pale brown goo. I quickly wiped it on a crumpled Burger King napkin in my cup holder. Awesome. I’d gotten into a car accident over candy, and now I couldn’t even eat said candy. I’d gotten into a car accident! Oh my God. I’d been driving this thing for less than a day, and I’d already been in an accident! I was so dead.
Oh, crap, crap, crap. Crap on a stick! I turned the car off and smacked my head against the steering wheel. You know what this was? This was karma. I had accepted Dad’s don’t-hate-me-I’ll-let-you-drive-my-old-car-to-Vermont-and-keep-it-there-all-summer bribe, and now the universe was punishing me. I’d accepted that bribe under false pretenses. I did hate him. I just wanted the vehicle he’d cast off after his midlife crisis insisted he chauffeur her around town in a brand new Beemer.
I screamed again. A heavily bearded guy in a plaid shirt was knocking on my window, and he looked pissed. Was this how Deliverance started? I’d never seen it. Now, I wished I’d had. It probably contained some tips I could have used. At least one person always survived. That was how horror movies worked. So, there’s always a chance. Unless you have glasses. In which case, you’re screwed.
He knocked again and he still looked pissed. I took a deep breath, unbuckled my seat belt, and opened the door.
“So, you want to tell me what the hell happened?” the guy demanded, crossing his arms. From what I could see underneath the heavy beard, he was much younger than I’d originally thought—he might even have been close to my age.
“Why don’t you tell me what the hell happened?” I jumped out, shut the door behind me, and crossed my arms right back at him. “Unless I’m mistaken, you rear-ended me.”
“Technically accurate, but—”
“Yes,” I interrupted, “actually, in every way accurate. If someone hits you from behind, the accident is that driver’s fault.”
“Not if the front driver stops suddenly for no apparent reason.”
“Nah-uh. A basic rule of the road requires that a driver be able to stop safely if a vehicle stops ahead of said driver. If said driver cannot stop, he didn’t leave enough space between himself and the vehicle before him. Ergo, your fault.” Thank you, Ideal Driving School.
“Did you just nah-uh me?” he asked incredulously.
“Yes. Yes I did. And then I dropped some knowledge. And then I ergo-ed you. Boom.”
“Did you just drop the mic?” The incredulity continued.
“Dropped the heck out of that mic.” My hand was still frozen in mid-air. “Bringing back an old-school burn. Old-school burn on you.”
“Cool hand gesture.”
What a smartass.
“I can think of a different hand gesture that would be more appropriate right now,” I muttered. Curling my hands into tight fists, I could practically feel my middle fingers itching against my palms. But I wouldn’t let those birds fly. After all, I was a lady.
“I’m sure you could.” He narrowed his eyes at me, like he was afraid I was one step away from going full-on reality TV villain or something. Which I so was not. I had never ripped out anyone’s weave. Ever. “Regardless of technical fault, you were still driving irresponsibly.”
“I was driving perfectly responsibly.” My nostrils flared— a surefire tell that I was lying. Luckily, this weirdo didn’t know that. Or that I’d crashed the car for maple candy. The car! I pushed past him and ran to check the fender, wedging myself in front of his filthy Jeep Grand Cherokee. I squatted down, running my hand along the back of my car. No bump. No dent. Not so much as a scratch or a flake of silver paint missing. Holy flying gumballs. I had seriously lucked out.
“There’s no damage,” I heard from behind me. “I checked.”
“No damage to the fender, maybe.” I quickly stood up and turned, crossing my arms defensively again. Generally speaking, I preferred not to be standing butt-out when confronting people. It’s really hard to have the upper hand that way.
“I think you mean the bumper,” he corrected me. “The bumper is the part of the car at the rear designed to absorb the impact of any collision.”
“Thanks,” I said. “That was a really enjoyable lesson on car parts. Quite timely and absolutely necessary to this conversation.”
“So, we’re done here?” He shoved his hands in his pockets.
“Not done! I haven’t decided if I’m suing you yet.”
“Suing me!” he exclaimed. “For what ? Look, the car is fine.”
“I’m not fine! I could sue you for emotional damage! Or whiplash! Owww, my neck . . .”
“Oh, please,” he sneered. “Save that performance for the academy.”
“You could at least apologize, you asshat.”
His eyebrows rose a little at asshat. Whoops. Once again, my temper had gotten the best of me. I took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. Flying off the handle wasn’t going to win any arguments.
“Fine. I’m sorry I was driving perfectly normally and a collision occurred that was technically my fault but was actually your fault.”
“Great apology, bro,” I snorted.
“Are we done now? Or have you decided to sue me?”
“Not going to sue you. If for no other reason than that would require exchanging contact information. And I have no desire whatsoever to contact you ever again.”
“I can assure you, the feeling is mutual.”
“Great. See you never.”
We were still standing on the side of the road glaring at each other.
“Try not to rear-end anyone else today.”
“Try to drive like a normally functioning human.”
“Thanks. Drive safely.”
“I don’t think I’m the one who needs a reminder to drive safely here.”
Okay. That was enough glaring, even for me. I stomped back to my car, slid into the seat, and slammed the door.
What a ridiculous douchewaffle. Obviously I wasn’t going to sue him, since that meant Mom and Dad would find out I got in a car accident, even one that wasn’t technically my fault, and I sure as hell didn’t want to lose the car. So why did any words remotely related to legal action pop out of my mouth? Something about that guy just got under my skin. But here was the important thing: I’d had an incredibly lucky break. The car was fine, I was fine, and I’d just seen Señor Pantalones Locos drive off in my side mirror, never to be seen again. It was over. Time to move on. I put the key in the ignition and carefully eased back onto the road.
After rounding another bend, heading deeper into the forest and under the shade of the trees, I was immediately distracted by a squirrel. A GIANT squirrel. The King Kong of anthropomorphic squirrels. It was even taller than the roof of the Bait ’n’ Bite General Store it stood next to. The squirrel was dressed in an old-fashioned red-and-white-striped bathing suit and held a sign that read Welcome to Lake Dunmore: Home ofSome-More Summer Fun!
Wow. Now there was something you didn’t see every day.
THE TAMING OF THE DREW
But Cass can barely lace up her corset before her troubles begin. Her leading man, Drew, is a complete troll, and he’s going to ruin Cass’s summer. Even worse, Cass’s bunkmate Amy has somehow fallen head over heels for Drew. Cass can’t let Amy throw herself at a total jerk, so she comes up with a genius plan to give Drew the personality makeover he so desperately needs: they’ll tame Drew just as Petruchio tames Kate! But as Shakespeare’s classic plays out offstage, Cass finds it harder and harder to resist falling for Drew herself.
The best kind of entertainment,The Taming of the Drewis smart, funny, fresh, and original. You’re going to love this badass heroine and her friends. You might even end up liking Drew, too.
For the 12+ reader, this is an ideal book for the theater-loving teen or light romance readers. With solid messages about being a good friend, following your dreams, and learning to stick up for yourself, this book is more than just lightweight fluff--though the snarky voice of the main character is sure to draw readers in from the start.
About the Author
Stephanie Kate Strohmis the author ofPilgrims Don’t Wear PinkandConfederates Don’t Wear Couture. She graduated with a dual degree in theater and history and has acted her way around the United States, performing in more than twenty-five states. She lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.
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That totally cracked me up! I now can't get Dueling Banjos out of my head. Lol! This book sounds totally fun and hilarious!
the opening of the chapter is one of the best I've ever read. And this character is so spunky and just spits out wahtever is first to her brain. I already love her and can't wait for this book.