Friday, January 10, 2020

"How to Speak Boy" by Tiana Smith

How to Speak Boy
by Tiana Smith

How to Speak Boy by Tiana Smith

How to Speak Boy by Tiana Smith is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Two sworn enemies start to fall in love through anonymous notes in How to Speak Boy, a fun and charming YA novel from Tiana Smith.
Quinn and Grayson have been fierce speech and debate rivals for years. They can't stand one another, either in competition or in real life.
But when their AP Government teacher returns their school assignments to the wrong cubbies, they begin exchanging anonymous notes without knowing who the other one is.
Despite their differences, the two come together through their letters and find themselves unknowingly falling for the competition. Before the state tournament, the two of them need to figure out what they want out of life, or risk their own future happiness. After all, what’s the point of speech and debate if you can't say what's in your heart?

Book Video

Pantyhose were invented by the devil. This is a well-known fact. They squeeze the life from your ovaries while simultaneously giving you a wedgie big enough to make any middle school bully proud. And to make things worse, they are never a perfect color match, no matter what the package says. But right now, they were the perfect distraction.
I picked up two different options and turned to my best friend, holding them close to my face to compare.
“Do you think my skin tone is closer to Peaches and Cream or French Vanilla?” I asked.
“Don’t they know it’s not good to call skin by food names?” Naomi asked, leaning in close to get a better view. “The girl in this one looks like Emma Watson. Think she modeled for Hanes back in the day?”
I shrugged.
She grabbed the one from my left hand. “This one.”
“M’kay. Help me find all the ones in size small.”
Naomi scrunched her nose and stepped toward the rack. “There’s no kind of organization here. Why do you need so many?”
“Because they get more runs than a marathon, and I need enough for the whole speech and debate season. Coach’s rules. If I ruin a pair each tournament, that’s sixteen pairs.”
“You know, if you got some nicer quality ones, they probably wouldn’t snag as much.” Naomi looked behind a pile of tights to see if more Peaches and Cream nylons happened to be hidden there. Her black curls fell into her face, and she brushed her hair out of the way.
“Like I have forty bucks to spend on a single pair of pantyhose,” I said. “I’m seventeen and I don’t have a job.”
Naomi didn’t reply. She just held out another package for me to add to the pile we’d started collecting on the floor. This was why we were friends. She didn’t judge me for my geeky love of speech and debate, and I didn’t act awkward around her because she was taller than Taylor Swift and 99 percent of the boys’ basketball team.
“Thanks again for driving me to the speech and debate barbecue,” I said, gathering the pile up in my arms. We’d only found eight, but that would have to last until I could get more. “And thanks for stopping here on the way.”
If I’d taken the bus, it would have eaten up half my day. And stopping for nylons would have added at least an hour to the trip. It wasn’t like Boise, Idaho, was known for its impressive public transportation system. I definitely didn’t need all that time alone with my thoughts right now. Then again, the whole point of this trip was to distract me from what was going to happen at the barbecue, so maybe I should have taken the bus after all.
Naomi slung an arm over my shoulders as we walked to the checkout.
“Life wouldn’t be worth living if I was actually on time for a game,” she said, and a pang of guilt zipped through me.
“Tell your volleyball coach it’s my fault,” I said.
Naomi grinned. “I always do,” she sang. I tried to slug her in the arm, but she danced out of the way.
We made it to the front of the store and I let the nylons tumble to the counter. The worker raised his eyebrows, but I didn’t feel like explaining why a high school senior needed so many pantyhose on a Friday night. Let him imagine what he would.
“September’s almost over,” Naomi said to me as the worker scanned my items. “Volleyball season ends soon anyway. If my coach hasn’t cared before, she won’t now.”
“What must that be like?” I mused aloud. “To have a coach who doesn’t have a death grip on every detail of your life?” Mine was a tyrannical robot in human skin. She controlled how I did my hair for tournaments (French twist—classy but alluring), how tight my skirt suit was allowed to be (just enough to remind judges I’m a woman and should be taken seriously), and even the MAC Ruby Woo shade of lipstick I reapplied between each round (okay, full disclosure, I really loved that lipstick).
“Forget your coach. And her opinions,” Naomi said, helping the worker put all my nylons in a bag. “Like, take tonight, for example. You nervous?”
I grimaced. I’d been doing so well at not thinking about it.
Naomi saw my expression and put a hand on my shoulder. “See, Quinn? That’s what I mean. It makes zero difference what your coach thinks. You’re still A-plus team captain material, no matter who she announces at your speech and debate welcome barbecue thing.”
I paid the cashier and we walked through the automatic doors and into the crisp fall air.
“If she doesn’t pick you, it’s her loss. You know you’re the best on the team.” Naomi clicked the button on her key fob, and her Jeep chirped.
“That’s not true,” I said, climbing in the passenger seat and placing the bag at my feet. Naomi turned the keys and I messed around with the temperature controls until I wasn’t dying. This time of year always ping-ponged between hot and cold, and the leather interior of Naomi’s car magnified it by infinity. “She could pick Grayson.”
Grayson Hawks. My mouth twisted in distaste. He was the poster child for Tall, Dark, and Handsome, and he wore trendy hipster glasses that were all kinds of pretentious. He had everything in life handed to him, no matter if he deserved it or not. Spoiler, usually he didn’t. We’d been competitors in practically everything since he’d moved here, and he came out on top more times than I cared to admit. Sometimes I won, but he was always just there, making my life harder than it needed to be. In speech and debate, in school, in gym class—it didn’t matter what it was, he made it a competition.
Everyone loved a good-looking geek, especially someone as charismatic as Grayson. He had this perfect light brown skin and wavy black hair that looked so smooth and shiny. Everyone thought he walked on water, even though it was all a show. It really wasn’t fair. He was almost guaranteed the team captain spot.
He’d probably do anything to get it too. Just like when he ran for class president junior year, when he’d dated Zara, his only real competition, only to dump her right before the election speech so she’d bomb it. He never denied the rumors either. My friend Carter asked him about it once and Grayson had only laughed. Who does that?
Naomi snorted as she backed out of the parking spot.
“If your coach picks him, it’s because he’s the governor’s son and she’s playing favorites. As much as I think you’re wrong about him, you’re still the one who’s been on the varsity team all four years.”
Yeah, and once he’d made varsity, he’d proceeded to taunt and torment me at every competition. It was like he defaulted to some kind of “annoying” preset whenever I walked into the room. What made things worse—he routinely beat me at competitions. Like the universe had it out for me.
But I tried to believe Naomi. Tried to stop my racing heart from banging out of my chest. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was anxious about tonight or simply because thinking about Grayson made my blood boil. I hummed along to the radio for a measure or two, but my throat turned dry and I swallowed instead.
More than anything, I really wanted to beat Grayson at something. Maybe he got better grades and he had all the teachers in his pocket, but I wanted to take something from him that he wanted for himself. So that just once, he could know how it felt to come in second.
I changed the radio station again and again until Naomi swiped my hand away from the controls. We’d first bonded over our love of boy bands, and now music was a common theme of our friendship. But her Jeep was older than we were, and didn’t have any way to connect our phones to the speakers. We had to endure whatever happened to be on the air at the moment.
As we drove closer to my coach’s house, my pulse picked up speed. Before I was ready, we pulled up front and I was out of reasons to delay.
“You sure Carter can give you a ride home?” Naomi asked, putting the Jeep in park. Carter was my closest friend on the team. Off the team as well, except for Naomi. We grew up together, so he’d seen me through all my worst stages, including the years of braces and the time I’d accidentally gotten a brush stuck in my hair and had to shave the left side of my head—he stuck by my side the whole time. That was true friendship right there.
Carter had no filter whatsoever, and I liked that he was so open with his thoughts. So many people in high school were fake, but with Carter, I knew where he stood. I was always so introverted and I counted on him to bring me out of my shell. When we were together, he didn’t act quite so out there, and I didn’t hide from all social interactions. I clung to that with a strange kind of desperation. It wasn’t like I had a whole lot of friends to begin with.
I would have asked him for a ride here, but shopping for pantyhose might have actually killed him.
“I’m sure,” I said, unlocking my seat belt. I took the nylons out of the plastic shopping bag and began placing them in my shoulder bag, taking my time. Naomi saw through me, of course.
“Go on, get. Your coach has already made her decision by now, so you might as well get it over with.”
I sighed and stepped out of the car. Naomi was gone by the time I’d made it up the sidewalk and walked around back, the way we always entered. Coach was grilling on the patio and she nodded in approval as I took off my shoes and left them in the pile already gathering outside. We’d had enough events at Coach’s house to know wearing shoes inside meant murder. Voices drifted from the open door and I made my way inside the kitchen, smiling at Carter when I saw him leaning against the counter, talking to someone. My smile froze when I saw that it was Grayson.
I wasn’t sure I could make polite small talk right now, at least, not with the one guy who could take away my chance at being team captain.
“Quinn!” Carter called, motioning me over before I could pretend I had someone else claiming my attention. I moved slowly. Grayson was wearing a blazer. Like an actual suit coat with jeans. The suck-up.
“Hey, Quinn,” Grayson said, turning to me. “You ready to lose tonight?” His question, and the way he said it, with eyebrows raised and cheeky grin in place, set my teeth on edge. I wondered what his mom would think of his political mind games.
“Oh, I’m sorry, are you talking to yourself again?” I asked.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“I love the enemies-to-lovers trope and felt that it worked exceptionally well here. The banter between Grayson and Quinn is witty, snarky, and a lot of fun, and both of the characters were extremely likable and relatable. Several of their interactions caused me to cackle out loud or, at the very least, brought a smile to my face.” ~ Roger Hyttinen
“… this is one of my favorite types of books. Clean love stories that aren't necessarily surprising but have characters that I can support and root for.” ~ Sandy Farmer
How to Speak Boy was a cute enemies to lovers, meets and falls in love with your pen pal love story but with a YA twist. […] a great addition to the YA genre.” ~ Mo_the Librarian
“Oh my word. This was such a cute YA romance! I went back and forth as to who this secret pen pal was that Quinn started falling for, while she was having feelings for Grayson. This has got enemies to lovers, a love triangle, forced proximity, and frankly, the tropes meshed nicely. But, though the ending approached 10/10 on the predictability meter, I still loved it! If you are a fan of To All the Boys and The Kissing Booth, be sure to check this one out.” ~ Rachel
“Oh how I loved this adorable quick and easy read! It reminded me of You've Got Mail and is perfect for high school girls. It's clean, it's funny, it's a little bit formulaic but I could totally live with that. I loved the falling into friendship then romance. It was fun to yell at the characters since we the readers get to be somewhat omniscient. I highly recommend this book.” ~ Historical Graffiti/ACME Teen Books

About the Author
Tiana Smith
Tiana Smith is a copywriter turned novelist who grew up in the Rocky Mountains. When she isn’t writing, she’s chasing after her ninja boy, reading, or binging the Disney Channel. She’d love to be fluent in sign language, but for now she gets by with awkward hand gestures and even more awkward French. She has double degrees in Honors and English from Westminster College but wants to go back to school to be a lion tamer.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of How to Speak Boy by Tiana Smith (US only).


Featured in this post: