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Em and Em   by Linda Budzinski
Publication Date:  Sept 15, 2015
Publisher:  Swoon Romance
Genre:  YA, Contemporary

The last thing sixteen-year-old Emily Slovkowski wants is to move away from her home at the Jersey shore, gorgeous surfer boyfriend Zach, and her entire identity. But that’s kind of how Witness Protection works, and Em must prepare herself for an epic do-over as she starts a new life in the Midwest.

Even as she pines for sandy beaches and the night life of the shore, the newly-named Ember O’Malley finds herself making new friends, taking photos for the high school newspaper, and thinking an awful lot about the paper’s editor, an oddly cute cowboy named Charles.

When Em stumbles upon a shady beneath-the-bleachers exchange between one of the school’s football coaches and a student, she refuses to get involved. The last thing she needs is to be witness to another crime or call attention to herself. Besides, she finally has some real friends – well, real except for the fact that they don’t know a single thing about her – and she prefers to keep it that way until the trial.

But as her day in court approaches, Em begins piecing together what she saw that day beneath the bleachers. And, as her own past secrets start to catch up with her, Em needs to figure out who she really is – Em or Em.

Guest Post

Guest Topic: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Getting Published

EM & EM is my second novel, and Swoon Romance YA had the option on it through my previous contract, so the road to publication for this book was pretty smooth and unremarkable. However, I did learn something important as I was writing it.

One day on Twitter I saw a quote attributed to James Patterson. I think it actually was paraphrasing something he’d said in an interview with Writer’s Digest, but the quote was: “Write the story, not the sentence.”

Wow. That hit hard. I am such a sentence writer. I’ll write and revise and tweak a sentence until I drive myself crazy, sometimes forgetting that the most important thing—the part the reader cares about—is the story. Not to say skillful, polished writing isn’t important or that readers don’t appreciate it, but in the end, the most beautifully composed sentences in the world mean nothing if the reader fails to connect with the story.

While writing EM & EM, I tried to keep that principle in mind. It was tough, because it goes against my writing instincts and style, but in some ways it was very liberating. And I think ultimately it helped result in a story readers will enjoy. I certainly hope so!


Linda Acorn Budzinski decided in the second grade that she wanted to be a “Paperback Writer,” just like in the Beatles song. She majored in journalism in college and now works in marketing and communications. She spent 18 years at a trade association in the funeral service industry, where she discovered that funeral directors are some of the bravest and most compassionate people on earth. Linda lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, Joe, and their chihuahua, Demitria. She has two step-daughters, Eris and Sarah. THE FUNERAL SINGER is her debut novel. She is represented by Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger Inc.

THE FUNERAL SINGER is Linda Budzinski's first novel.

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