Katherine Ernst has done it all—concert tech, kiddie carnival ride operator, attorney—and she’s lived
just about everywhere including New York City, California, New Orleans, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Pennsylvania. After practicing as a high profile criminal and corporate fraud attorney in Philadelphia, she realized that penning legal memos wasn’t nearly as fun as writing Young Adult novels, so she decided to make a career change. Katherine is now represented by Amy Tipton of Signature Literary Agency who is busily trying to sell her first novel. Katherine loves many things, but laying in hammocks, swimming in the ocean, traveling to distant lands, reading about neuropsychology, playing games, and talking politics top her list.
Visit Katherine at www.KatherineErnstWrites.com, or follow her on facebook or twitter.
This weeks excerpt comes from the opening of one of Katherine's books prior to snagging her agent, GOOD GIRLS DON'T DO SUCH THINGS. And really HOW can I improve upon that title? It is EPIC!
If I learned anything from the last eight times I changed schools, it’s that you have to follow the rules. Not the school’s rules. In fact, if you follow those too closely, you’ll end up being labeled a suck-up. You have to follow the rules of being the new kid.
No one ever taught me these rules. It took years of being thrown into a mass of undifferentiated faces to perfect my survival skills, but now that I have, I’m going to conquer my new school.
I’m tired of being lonely. Tired of my only friend being the weird girl that no one else wants anything to do with. I’m smart. I’m pretty. I should be popular.
I’ve probably compiled hundreds of these rules, but three are the most important on your first day and these are the ones I’m mentally reciting on my bus ride to school. (There should be a rule against riding the bus when you’re old enough to drive, but with no car, I have no choice.)
Rule Number One: If you have a common name (and I do), when you hear someone say it, for God’s sake, keep your head down. You’re new here, stupid. Why would anyone be trying to get your attention? The speaker is most certainly beckoning a girl who’s been lucky enough to have a mother who doesn’t insist on finding a better life every year.
But then there’s always that niggling doubt. What if the person heard your name and now they’re trying to get your attention? You don’t want to be labeled the deaf and dumb kid. So, this is what you do. You wait until the person has called your name not twice, but three times. If you hear your name three times, there can be no explanation for it other than the person is talking to you.
I made the mistake of raising my head after the second call once. I figured the second and more urgent repetition of “Sarah!” indicated it was safe to look up. I turned around and smiled at the boy shouting my name. He noticed me grinning and intoned, “Not you, idiot.” (Well, he didn’t actually use the word idiot, but it was heavily implied by his upturned left brow). There’s nothing more embarrassing than thinking someone might want to talk to you and then being unceremoniously reminded that once again, you’re a nobody.
Rule Number Two: Never, and I mean never, talk about your old school. No one wants to hear a chorus of “At my old school we did this,” and “At my old school we did that.” It may be fascinating to you that here there are six class periods whereas at your old school there were seven plus a study hall, but no one else gives a crap. In fact, you’ll come across like you're criticizing everything about your new school (and isn’t that exactly what you are doing, anyway?). It’s best to pretend you fell out of the sky, fully formed, created by God specifically to attend this school. Your new school is going to become the center of your universe now anyway, so the quicker you jettison all memories of your former life, the better.
Rule Number Three: The last and most important rule. Be deadly careful who you make friends with on your first day. You haven’t learned the social hierarchies yet. One misstep could be lethal. You wouldn’t want to inadvertently befriend the slut who gave it up to Pretty Popular’s boyfriend. It’s true what they say about first impressions; if the first thing your classmates see is you cozying up to damaged goods, it’s hard to change their minds about you. It doesn’t matter that you’re not from here. In their minds, if you were a decent person, you would’ve known some random girl in your geometry class was no good.
Hang back. Wait. Don’t make any quick movements. Immerse yourself in the culture, the history, the life of the school. Then, and only then, make friends. And remember, the first girl to approach you (desperate, clearly) is the last person you want to be friends with.