Monday, September 11, 2017

"Missing Tyler" by Tamara Palmer

Missing Tyler
by Tamara Palmer

Missing Tyler by Tamara Palmer

Author Tamara Palmer stops by today for an interview and to share an excerpt from her debut novel Missing Tyler. You can also read my review and enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the book.
This blog post is brought to you by Kate Tilton's Author Services.

Summer break has just begun and Kit Carlin is on her way to a funeral - to bury her twin brother. Kit has to find a way to put the broken puzzle of her life back together following Tyler’s death. She navigates through grief and family trauma by finding support in unexpected places, and in a growing understanding of what comes after life. There’s laughter and tears, summer beach time on the New Jersey shore, and the complicated "rollercoaster" of young love, jealousy, and sex. The joys and pains of Kit’s fifteenth summer lead her through a unique journey of recovery and self-discovery - and leave her changed forever.

Book Video
Watch the book video here.

Chapter One
The limousine arrived at 10:00 am sharp. From where I was sitting on the porch swing, I watched the driver comb his hair in the rearview mirror and pick at the spaces between his teeth. Then I eyed the half-eaten poppy seed bagel on the dashboard. Poppy seed, our favorite. Correction, my favorite. Correction, correction, correction – scream, scream, sigh! Ugh.
He climbed carefully out of the limo, all smooth and elegant like, palming the wrinkles out of his jacket and straightening his tie. His face looked heavy with sadness which I imagined him applying like makeup, before he left for work.
I didn’t need him to be sad. He didn't know us. This was just his job. Day in and day out, he took people to bury their dead.
The driver paced himself as he slowly approached our white-washed brick steps, faded by the sun and salt air. Carefully, and with great effort, he climbed each one. When he got to the top he cleared his throat, took a deep breath and knocked on our front door.
“They probably can’t hear you,” I huffed, rocking back and forth on the swing. Its rusted metal chain scraped against itself begging for more grease, or more likely, to finally be retired.  
“Oh!  I’m sorry, little lady. I didn’t see you there,” he jumped a bit and I felt bad. He maintained his practiced politeness, hands held behind his back, and gaze angled downward. Please dear sir, I wanted to scream, stop with the affected air of grief. It’s unbearable to watch. Just be you. You’re allowed to be happy. Please won’t someone be happy? 
“They’re on the back porch,” I told him, lazily pointing my arm to the side of our house where a broken brick path would lead him under the arbor trellis to my parents and grandma. He tipped his hat at me, said nothing more, and walked down the stairs, disappearing around the side of our house.
I continued to swing, pulling my legs closer to my chest. The fuzz of my unshaven legs tickled my arm causing an unpleasant nervy sensation to spread over my body. I pulled my skirt round my legs to make it stop and against the swings desire for stillness, I pushed myself faster.
The driver returned with the family procession tagging behind him. As they reached the limo, I could hear them calling to me. I didn't want to leave my swing for the suffocating tomb of a car. Leaving would mean it was all happening. Like an activated stopwatch, leaving started everything.
I dreamed myself an angel — my body floating effortlessly off the swing, and down the steps. In reality, though, I stumbled my way to the car. The high-heels I fought with Mom to wear killed my feet. I should have listened to her and wore my flats. My black sundress billowed in the light breeze, and my orange scarf floated up to tickle my face. Mom called the orange "inappropriate," when I put it on this morning but didn’t have any fight left in her to tell me to take it off. Had she already forgotten that it was Tyler's favorite color? What else had she forgotten? I’d never forget anything.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"Missing Tyler is engaging from the first pages, and keeps you engaged until the end. [...] A good story leaves you wanting more, and Missing Tyler had that impact on me." ~ Kindle Customer
"Missing Tyler grabbed me from the very start. The writer has a great voice and is a wonderful story teller. [...] I would highly recommend this book to any young readers dealing with loss and change but adults will enjoy it too." ~ P. Calhoun
"Finding Tyler can appeal to the YA reader or their parent. I enjoyed it and rooted for the characters to find their footing in the world and was engaged in the story throughout. The author clearly understands the struggles of her characters lets the reader connect with them." ~ allison
"A heart -warming story that captivated me from the first page. I would look forward to reading a few chapters every night and began recommending this book well before I finished it. Missing Tyler is well written and engaging." ~ Vox
"What an amazing read; very well-written and difficult to put down ! Missing Tyler was filled with such real and honest emotions when experiencing a loss . I felt these emotions right along side Kit. It's the kind of book that lingers with you. I'll be recommending it to others!" ~ TMartinelli

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
The book begins shortly after Kit's twin brother Tyler is killed while riding his bike. Kit reminisces about their childhood antics, most of these shared with Tyler's best friend Brandon, who is now her only source of comfort. Without her twin, Kit feels like she has lost part of herself. She also feels like she's lost her parents. Her father prefers Brandon's company to her own, while her mother is intent on getting revenge against the man who was driving the car that killed Tyler. On top of that, her dad starts staying out late and drinking, and her family is slowly falling apart. In between visits to a grief therapist, her first job, a hot crush, a new friendship, parties, drinking, and sexual encounters, Kit starts writing to her dead brother in a journal. It's going to be a long, hot summer.
This is a heartbreaking portrait of a young girl's grief for her twin and the impact his death has on the whole family. The author realistically portrays the characters, their emotions, dialogue, and interactions. This book provides a good starting point to discuss drinking, sex, and death with teenagers.
Highly recommended.
Warnings: underage drinking, sexual references, sex scenes (not overly graphic), coarse language.

Some of My Favorite Lines
"I didn’t want to leave my swing for the suffocating tomb of a car."
"His normally tanned face was blank and colorless, making it look like he too had been cut out of his time on Earth, but had forgotten to tell his body."
"I closed my eyes and saw Tyler. The same movie was on, as it had been for a few days now, playing on an endless loop against the backs of my eyelids."
"Funerals and weddings, that’s what brings family together, they say."
"We were all alone now: me, Dad, Mom, all in our own versions of grief hell, locked in pain."
"... I cranked up the volume as loud as my ears could take it until my tears felt like the music, cleaning me from the inside out."
"Next year, I’ll turn sixteen and he’ll be forever locked in time."
"Mom and I used to be close, but it’s like part of her died with Tyler."
"I desperately needed to talk, and Brandon was my designated listener."

Interview With the Author
Tamara Palmer joins me today to discuss her new book, Missing Tyler.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
I recommend it for readers over 13, but age can vary based on maturity level.
What sparked the idea for this book?
When I was a child I’d overheard adults re-telling a story of a neighbor boy who’d been struck and killed by a car while riding his bike. Years later, I had the horrible experience of attending a teenager’s funeral. Together, these formed the seed for Missing Tyler.
So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
Wow, that’s a tough one. They seem to come together.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
The middle, for sure. I knew how it would start and end, but it took time and practice to learn how to effectively writing a compelling middle.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope this book provides comfort to grieving teens. I hope it effectively warns teens of the dangers of mixing a crush with alcohol. Mostly, I hope it entertains by creating a realistic picture of what it’s like to emerge from grief and experience the process of reclaiming one’s identity.
How long did it take you to write this book?
I’ve been working on Missing Tyler off and on for 20 years. There were large periods of time where I didn’t write or edit, but from seed to publication it was about 20 years.
What is your writing routine?
I wish I could say I have one, but I steal time when I can. I love writing in coffee shops, something about the background noise allows me to zone into the world on my screen.
How did you get your book published?
I self-published through Create Space (Amazon).
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Don’t give up. Today there are more ways than ever to become published. If this is a dream you have, don’t stop until it’s been achieved. The feeling of holding your own book is worth the process.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I usually feel guilty that I’m not writing when I’m not writing J. Seriously though, I’m definitely a big reader and love to steal away time to get lost in a novel. I spend a lot of time having fun with my 8-year-old daughter and thoroughly enjoy exploring city neighborhoods with my husband.
What does your family think of your writing?
My parents were, and are, incredibly supportive, patiently listening to my terrible first stories and buying me a typewriter, then a computer. And now I’ve infected my daughter. She’s working on a few novel starts of her own.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I had a rather unusual childhood. At age 10, my Jewish family from the Jersey Shore relocated to the farmland of Illinois to live in an intentional community. We left the community when I was 14, and then I re-entered public school in a neighboring small town.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Very much so. I’d get lost in a book for a whole weekend.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
In Junior High, I began to write long short stories and quickly knew I wanted to be Judy Blume when I grew up. In high school, I took every English elective offered.  
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Big time. So many of my personal experiences ended up as stories in my novel, and my unique spiritual upbringing from my time spent in the community is definitely represented.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Hands down Madeleine L’Engle and her Austin Family Chronicles series and Judy Blume’s novel Tiger Eyes were my biggest influences. Now I’m influenced/inspired by John Green and Rainbow Rowell.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
My readers are very kind and complimentary about my writing style and the world I created for my characters. They love the realistic depiction of a teen facing grief, first love, and teen angst. Readers say that the book is a fast read that really draws them in and they can’t put it down.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m working on edits to my second novel, Finding Lancelot. The stories are completely unrelated, even though one is about "Missing" and one about "Finding". Finding Lancelot is a fantastical tale of finding one’s soulmate through past-life regression. It’s a very unique story, one that hasn’t been done much before, certainly not for a mainstream audience.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Tamara. Best of luck with your future project.

About the Author
Tamara Palmer knew she was going to be a writer before she could even write. She would play elaborate dramas out with her Barbies for days, even weeks, on end. As she got older, the stories made their way onto a typewriter. Tamara obtained a BA in English/Creative Writing from Eastern Illinois University, and has had a handful of short stories and essays published online and in print. Tamara blogs frequently for greyzone, the career advisement business she founded in 2012. Missing Tyler is her first novel. She lives just outside Chicago with her husband, daughter, and assortment of pets.

Enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy (US only) or ebook copy (international) of Missing Tyler by Tamara Palmer.