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Based on a True Story: Separating Fiction from Fact

Finding Mr. Better-Than-You is about a girl who gets dumped at the start of senior year and is determined to find someone better than her ex.

The lead, Cam, is a girl who loves romance and believes in rom-coms, happily every afters, and thinks having a boyfriend is everything. But in her quest to find someone new (and stick it to her ex), she finds that there are more important things than boys.

I came up with this idea after I got my heart crushed. But when I sat down to write it, it was more than a year later. I was in a very different place. A much better place. And the first draft was hard.

Very hard.

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In part because it was going back to those feelings that I was glad to be rid of. And in part because there were things from my experience that I thought I wanted to replicate in the book. Yet, I also didn’t want the story to be mine—I wanted it to be Cam’s. The two didn’t always coincide. In fact, they often butted heads.

What resulted was a first draft that fizzled. Cam wasn’t fleshed out. She wasn’t her own person.

The first draft didn’t work. At all.

It was back to the drawing board. A complete rewrite.

I had to figure out who Cam was–with me and my experiences taken out of the equation. There was a new outline. Cam still got dumped, she still had amazing friends, she still loved rom coms, and still grows—but it became her story. She became her own person, as did the others in the book. (i.e. Her ex is very, very different than my ex.)

Was the second draft perfect?

Not even close.

I revised this book more than my last two (possibly three) books combined. And while I may not have felt this way while I was in the editing trenches, I’m so happy I did.

The book is now the one I wanted to tell. About friendship and love and finding yourself. Cam found her voice. And while her experiences are no longer my experiences, I think they’re ones many can relate to.

It took a long time from the first draft to the final one, but the journey has made it a book I’m proud of and one that I can’t wait for you all to read!

Finding Mr. Better-Than-You goes on sale January 14! Don't forget to add it to your Goodreads shelf!

Author spotlight

Shani Petroff

Shani Petroff is a writer living in New York City. She's the author of the “Bedeviled” series, which includes Daddy’s ...

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