Wilamena Carlisle is on a deadline — an astrological deadline — to find someone to love.
Williamston-based author Darcy Woods, 38, weaves the tale of Wil in her debut young adult romance novel, “Summer of Supernovas.” The 17-yearold protagonist lives by her astrological chart. She was born under the Fifth House, which makes finding the “right one” difficult.
Astrology isn’t the only characteristic that makes Wil different. She hangs with a Russian friend. She’s also a piercer who wears vintage dresses and studies the sky.
“I can’t write a beige character,” Woods said. “Wil has an unapologetic way about her. She doesn’t try to conform. It’s how I wanted to be when I was a teen.”
While studying the sky from the top of a water tower, Wil meets the dreamy Grant, who mistakenly believes she is a jumper and tries to save her. And that’s where the fun — and the teenage angst — breaks out. Grant is perfect except for one thing: He’s the wrong sign. His hunk of a brother, Seth, is the right sign, but is he perfect for her?
As Wil romps through this mixed-up dating triangle, the plot takes unexpected twists and turns. One such twist is the kind of mistaken identity — Grant and Seth look alike, especially in the dark — that you would expect from a Shakespearean comedy. This book is funny, quirky and refreshing.
“I wrote the book I wished I had when I was that age,” Woods said. “The (teen) years are a magical time in your life. They are intoxicating, and the intensity of emotion can be overwhelming.”
Woods said that although the book is edgy, it doesn’t push too far.
“It’s relatively tame for contemporary teen romance,” she said.
Woods celebrates the release of “Summer of Supernovas” with an event Tuesday at Schuler Books & Music’s Eastwood Towne Center location. The release party, which is free and open to the public, includes live music and cupcakes.
A graduate of Haslett High School, Woods was always an avid reader. But she got started as a writer on what she calls “a whim.”
“It was a bleak February,” she recalled. “My husband said, ‘You should write a book.’ I sat down and stared at the laptop, and then I began writing. From that moment, I wondered why I hadn’t been doing it before. It felt like oxygen to me.”
As she wrote, she gravitated toward young adult literature, particularly romance. She entered her first manuscript, “Spark,” in the 2011 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Contest and was one of the seven finalists in the young adult category. Just two years later, she won the Golden Heart award for “Summer of Supernovas.”
At the massive Romance Writers of America convention, she nearly tripped over romance writing legend Nora Roberts on the way to the podium to accept the award. As she looked up at herself on the JumboTron, the first words out of her mouth were “holy shit.”
But like most unpublished writers, Woods went back home and went back to work.
“It took a year to sell the book. I had two offers, but both fell through,” she said. “It was grueling and gut-wrenching.”
Finally, the stars aligned for Woods in the form of a preemptive offer from Random House Crown Books. While the business side was difficult, Woods never lost the joy of writing.
“When I’m writing, I really love the moments when that one word or one phrase makes it all come together,” she said.
Darcy Woods Book release party
7 p.m. Tuesday, May 24
Schuler Books & Music (Eastwood Towne Center location) 2820 Towne Center Blvd., Lansing
(517) 316-7495, schulerbooks.com