Essence's Debut: The First Two Months

I can’t believe my debut novel Essence has been out for two months! What a fun, unexpected ride this has been.

My favorite part of the process has definitely been the opportunity to share in this journey with all of you. From chatting with readers to reading blog posts and checking out my Goodreads and Amazon pages, it has been an honor to realize Essence’s characters no longer simply exist in my head.

They are out in the world now. They are making mistakes and struggling desperately to learn from them. They are entertaining you, sometimes frustrating you, touching your life and bringing shades of your own experiences to the forefront of your thoughts.

They are reminding you of things. Of that summer you spent in Yosemite, of that complicated bad boy you once met, of the mistakes and lessons you learned when you first tried to figure out who you wanted to be when you grew up.

And, you know what? It’s a damn honor to share in these memories with you.

Here are some of my favorite reader quotes so far:

  • “I loved every second of Essence, and as soon as I finished it I wanted to start reading it all over again. And I still probably will.” -Ashley F. (The AP Book Club)
  • “This is kind of the ultimate summer read for me–fast paced without being fluffy, addictive writing that doesn’t drop in quality.” -Rachel M. (Giant Squid Books)
  • “Cults are one of the most unsettling things to read about, and I felt unsettled for the entirety of the book, which I think just goes to show how well O’Kane wrote this book.” -Rochelle (Goodreads)
  • “Intriguing. A fine job. Spent most of the book trying to figure out what would happen next.” -Joe S. (Amazon)
  • “I love this book! The day I purchased it, I was only planning to read a few chapters. I couldn't put it down until I finished it.” -Britt C. (Goodreads)

Please keep the reviews coming, and thanks so much to everyone who has already taken the time to comment on social media and/or leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. I appreciate your feedback so much! Have you picked up your copy of Essence yet? Here are some handy purchasing links:

Thanks again for your support, and I hope you have a wonderful day!

ESSENCE Blog Tour Schedule!!

I can't believe my debut novel ESSENCE will be released in less than a month! This means it's time to PARTY and celebrate with a shiny, exciting, all-around-awesome blog tour!

Photo Courtesy of Careyjamesbalboa
My tour will be broken into two bits: a pre-release tour from May 19th through June 6th, and a post-release tour from June 9th through June 20th. More information about the post-release tour will be available soon.

In the meantime, let's celebrate my pre-release tour with a full list of dates, hosts and topics. We have some FABULOUS bloggers on-board, and I am SO EXCITED to get started!!



A HUGE thank you to all the bloggers who will be hosting me. Let the partying begin!!

(And please don't forget my next "Path to Publication" post next Monday as well! Have a great weekend!)

ESSENCE Sneak Peek: Read the First Three Chapters HERE!

Want a sneak peek of my debut novel ESSENCE? I am thrilled to announce the first three chapters are now available!

Please click here to read, and feel free to copy and paste this book code if you would like to post this sample elsewhere.

Like the story so far? ESSENCE will be released on June 3rd by Strange Chemistry Books, and it is available for pre-order from the following booksellers:

United States
United Kingdom
Australia / New Zealand
Thanks so much for your support!

ESSENCE Countdown: The Story Behind the Story

Yipes! My YA novel ESSENCE now debuts in thirteen weeks!!!!! To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to tell you a little bit about the story behind the story, about the summer that started it all.

Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons
When I first arrived Yosemite National Park in April 2004, I had no idea I would someday set my debut novel there. I didn't realize its towering, granite cliffs and secret waterfalls would beckon me to create an entire alternate reality--one filled with moss and decay, adrenaline junkies, romance and dark secrets hidden just below the surface. 

I thought I was simply reporting for duty: taking a risk and packing up my entire life into one backpack for the summer. (I wasn't even fully aware I was a writer back then!)

I had just accepted a sight-unseen position at the park's concessionaire, Delaware North Parks & Resorts at Yosemite. I had just saved all my money for a plane ticket from Orlando, and I had just agreed to share a 10' x 10' tent cabin with a mystery roommate for the next four months. 

Curry Village Tent Cabins. Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons
To say I was excited would be an understatement. To say I was thrilled/terrified/jumping out of my skin would be a much better description. 

The summer would be epic, of course. That mystery roommate, Mary Siner, would end up becoming one of my closest soulmate friends--one I still turn to for advice and support ten years later. I would climb cliffs and raft the Merced River, and I would watch shooting stars and explore the mountains and the deserts of California. I would make friends with people from all over the world, and I would fall hopelessly, desperately, head-over-heels in love with a boy the way only a 22 year-old can. He would later break my heart, and the lessons I would learn from that relationship would resound in my head and my heart long after I finally found the strength to tell him goodbye.

Yosemite Crew making moves on the East Side. Summer 2004
I wouldn't regret a single moment of anything that happened that summer, because that was the summer I learned how to truly feel things with my soul. I learned how little I actually needed to be happy, and I learned that sometimes, you just have to close your eyes and take the leap. I learned that the world is filled with incredible people, and nature is sometimes so astounding it literally steals the breath from your lungs. You don't have to always follow the path everyone else is following, and the secrets to life are the experiences you have and the company you keep. 

Yosemite would forever alter the way I viewed myself and my place in the world, so it's only fitting my debut novel would star the park as a character itself. 

I hope I have captured it in such a way that you can glimpse how profound and astonishing it is to me. No other description would do Yosemite justice.

Check out my other ESSENCE Countdown posts here:

ESSENCE Countdown: Taking the Plunge

Photo Courtesy of Andrea Westmoreland
Hello, everyone! My debut novel ESSENCE's launch date is creeping ever closer: t-minus three months, two weeks and counting... Yipes!

In the flurry of everything that has been happening lately, I find myself being pulled backward and forward at the same time. I often think about my childhood self--that wiry, bow-legged five year-old who proudly decided she was going to be an author before she even learned how to read. I also think about my thirty-two year-old self--the present-day me who seems collected and controlled on the outside, but who is absolutely SPINNING OUT at the realization that my original life's dream is looming just on the horizon.

What if I fail?

What if everybody in the entire universe hates ESSENCE?

What if I'm incapable of becoming the person my five year-old self so confidently believed I would be?

These are scary thoughts, and they have been rattling around in my head ever since my amazing agent Hannah Bowman sold ESSENCE to Amanda Rutter and the crew at Strange Chemistry Books last summer. Here are a few more:

What if I'm a fraud?

What if I can't do this?

What if I let everyone down?

But you know... I'm beginning to realize that sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith. I poured my heart and my soul and my guts into ESSENCE--more-so than I did with any other book I've ever written. And I had a blast writing it--so much so that I would miss an entire night's sleep sometimes. I've never felt so possessed by a story before, and I've never let a book write itself the way I let this book write itself.

And you know what else? I'm sure some people are going to hate it. That's the truth of our reality, and there's nothing I can do to change it. So... Why worry? People will buy it or they won't; they will like it or they won't.

At the end of the day, that doesn't change the fact that I did this. I chased this dream and pinned it down before it could slip away. I decided I would regret holding back more than I would regret failing spectacularly.

So... Here goes. Time to take the plunge.