Behind the Story: Friends Like This

I have an obsession with friends-to-lovers stories, and stories about close-knit friends in general, which is where the idea for this story came from. I wanted to write the friends to lovers romance that would make my heart happy and the friend group I wish I’d had.

Keep reading for more about the inspiration for the people and places of Friends Like This

The Characters

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Aaron with bright blond hair and an infectious smile. He was my first baby crush and BFF. 
No, I’m not writing to you as Rae McKinley. From ages 4-6, I had a sweet little boy in my life named Aaron (not Cooper) who was the inspiration for the Aaron you read about in Friends Like This. He moved away before first grade and I haven’t seen him since, but when I started dreaming up this best friends to lovers romance, I remembered him. Of course, the resemblance stops at his features and the way he made my 5-year-old heart feel.
Sarah and Mackie
Mackie’s calm, sure of herself, slightly raunchy, and take no bullshit personality as well as Sarah’s protectiveness and willingness to cut someone for Rae were both inspired by my real-life close friend, Laura. 
I grew up going to a tiny private school. My class sizes were small and everyone was close and there tended to be more boys than girls. While Joel isn’t inspired by anyone specifically, when I was thinking back to some of those friends, I realized he has some qualities in common with one of my former classmates, Mike, who definitely annoyed me and playfully teased me the way Joel does with Rae.
Miles is one of the most fully fictional characters I’ve ever written. He’s nothing like anyone I know and I can’t think of any public figure or character like him. I just heard his voice in my head and saw him so clearly.
If you ever wanted to dig into my psyche… well, Rae is a pretty good look at that. She’s essentially a bolder, more extroverted, and slightly more dramatic version of me. We’re both enneagram 9s, love spy shows, and cry at everything. 😉

The Friendships

As mentioned before, from kindergarten through sixth grade, I went to a little private school with very few people in my class. Because of that, we were all fairly close. That was a piece of the inspiration for the close friendships these characters have, but rather than those friendships fading as mine did, I chose to have them grow into something deeper and more complex—something I wish I would have had. Their friendships were also inspired by my middle and high school years living right near downtown and spending all summer running between my best friends’ houses and having fun.

The Locations

Ida, NY is a fictional town based heavily on my hometown of Owego, NY. Like the six main characters in this book, I lived right near downtown. Several of my closest friends lived on the same block. There was a bakery on the same block, and we spent plenty of time going back and forth between each other’s houses. Rae’s house was inspired by my own, while Aaron’s was inspired by one of my close friend’s. Certain restaurants like Marion’s and The Pit are also inspired by actual locations—but that’s more the aesthetic than the food. Oh, and speaking of food. If you hear the characters mention spiedies, those are a real thing authentic to the Binghamton area of NY. You learn more about them here.

The Card Games

Like Rae and her friends, I spent many many nights up late playing Nickels, Bullshit, or Spit. And many afternoons. Mornings. Any time, really. It’s what my friends and I always did when we were together. And yes, one of my friends and I always teamed up to cheat at Bullshit. You can learn more about the card games below.

The Music

If you haven’t listened to the playlist for Friends Like This, you can find it here. However, if there’s one song that gives me all the Friends Like This feels, it’s Old Friends by Ben Rector. His entire album, Magic, captures the nostalgia that I feel when I’m in the Friends Like This world incredibly well.

Have you read Friends Like This yet? If not, make sure to grab your copy and fall in love with Rae and Aaron and their best friends & the entire town of Ida.

Not Ready

“I’m not ready for this.”
They are the words I thought in early January when I heard your diagnosis.
The words I repeated over and over on the brink of a panic attack in my bathroom when I found out the tumor wasn’t shrinking.
The words on loop in my mind as I cried in my kitchen the day I found out you had less than two months left.
The same words have been radiating through me today.
I’m not ready.
Not ready to say goodbye.
Not ready to grieve you.
Because I didn’t get you for long enough.
And it’s not fucking fair. It’s not fair.
None of it’s fair, and I’m not ready.

I will never forget the first time I met you. Killian was only a year old and you’d stopped by with Nate on Thanksgiving. Nate, of course, didn’t make the pronunciation of your name clear. You blatantly corrected me with a fierce tone. It terrified me, but a second later you made it clear how important it is to stand up for yourself.
It was the first of many lessons you would teach me on how not to give a fuck. Didn’t always pass that class with flying colors (I’m a type 9 after all), but I learned by your example.

At the beginning, I was afraid to let you in. Afraid to grow close then lose you if you and Nate broke up. How ridiculous of me. It didn’t take long for you to become a true sister. Though we didn’t see eye to eye on everything, you always respected me, and I appreciated that.

A little piece of truth, I was upset when you moved to Maine. I selfishly wanted to keep you where I could see you every weekend. Family gatherings were less fun without your particular brand of snark (and encouragement that I should definitely show my cleavage).

Our girls’ nights were replaced with frequent texting and hour plus phone conversations. During our last phone chat, you told me the only thing you didn’t like about our new house was that you couldn’t picture me walking around in it since you hadn’t seen it.

That sums you up so perfectly, that you wanted the full picture in your mind’s eye.
I hate that you didn’t get to see it. Didn’t get to sit around the kitchen table with us for one last ‘garbage party.’
But I hate even more that you couldn’t have many of the ‘lasts’ you wanted. That your life was slowly robbed from you. First by the extreme pain and then by the side effects of chemo.

I am grateful for our last visit, a last hug that I knew might be my last with you but hoped it wouldn’t be. I was glad it helped with some of the burden you felt, even if the trip was bittersweet.
I’m mostly upset that because of COVID and life, I didn’t get one last in person visit with the fullest version of you. It had been two years since I’d last seen you in person, and damn it, I wanted more. I’ll always want more.
I suppose that’s the selfish side of it all.

You taught me so much, let me see a side of you that you didn’t show to everyone, and encouraged me to follow my heart. Even in those pain-filled moments, you encouraged me to keep writing.
I can’t thank you enough for everything you shared with me. Your light, your love, your pain. I’ll do my best to keep passing those bits of you on.
I have a feeling you’re not done with lessons yet, though. You’re everywhere now, and I’m sure you’ll be guiding me and sending me some more to learn and grow from when I need it. Like the final words you left us with.

Ugh. This sucks.
Cancer sucks.
And it’s not fair. None of this is.
I’m not ready, and I never will be.
But I love you so fiercely, and thus I have to grieve.
I’m sure you’re embarking on your greatest journey yet. I hope it’s amazing. I look forward to meeting with you again someday, in whatever form.
I love you. Always.

Anxiety & Self-publishing

“Your book probably sucks.” “No one is gonna read it anyway.” “Why did I even start writing?” “I don’t know how to do this.” “It’s never gonna amount to anything.”

I wish I could tell you those were shitty things someone else said to me and I promptly ripped them a new one and cut them out of my life. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I haven’t figured out how to rip anxiety from my life, though I’d certainly like to. Those phrases are just a few among the many that roll through my brain on a given day because of my anxiety.

Wait. We all face doubt, right? Absolutely, we do. But this is where anxiety differs. Those thoughts begin to control me until a spiral forms. And then my chest tightens. Tears threaten. And I feel useless. The negative self-talk begins again, and I’m caught in a vicious cycle.

I’m lucky that I can mostly manage my anxiety. Usually the blend of venting to a trusted friend, listening to some really good music, and appealing to my logical side will eventually pull me out of it. Typically, that happens within a matter of hours, but as I’ve learned with self-publishing, it takes a little longer. Days.

I’m writing this now from the depths of an anxiety spiral. I’m one tiny trigger away from imploding into tears. I don’t say this for pity (I HATE that), but because I know I’m not the only one out there who feels this way.

Writing has always been the ultimate dream for me. Besides being a mom, there was nothing I wanted more. I have extreme determination with no intention of giving up. But I want to. With everything inside of me, I want to, because self-publishing, trying to be the entire business entity of creating, marketing, selling my books is the ultimate trigger. Every day. For someone with anxiety, that’s hard. No, more like excruciating.

What I see: No KU page reads today.
What logic tells me: Lots of people have already read this book, eventually more will trickle in & you had a lot yesterday.
What my anxiety tells me: This is a crappy book. Obviously people don’t like it. You’re a four-star author at the very best. Don’t bother promoting, people don’t want to read it anyway.
What happens: My author friends share other author friends posts (as they do mine) and say lovely things.
What logic tells me: Look at everyone supporting each other, this is awesome!
What my anxiety tells me: What that friend wrote is way better than your book. They don’t actually like your stuff they’re just trying to be nice. They know you can help them too, so they just pretend to like you.
What happens: I find a really cool blogger who might like my stuff.
What logic tells me: Message them, if they can’t help or aren’t interested, they’ll tell you.
What anxiety tells me: Your books aren’t niche enough. They won’t want to read them. They’ll ignore your message. If they don’t like your book they’ll tell everyone they hate it. Your books aren’t as good as what they’re reading, don’t even bother messaging them.

These are just a few examples of life with anxiety. Self-publishing and being an author has become my biggest trigger because it’s the thing I want the most. It’s the one thing I always felt like I was good at. (Anxiety right now: You’re shitty at this too. You have no place.) It’s incredibly hard to fight against it and some days I absolutely want to give up.

That’s why I’m writing this. Self-publishing is hard. Having anxiety can be debilitating. But I know I’m not the only one to struggle through either of these things or the combination of the two. If you’re struggling, too, I highly recommend finding a good outlet. Somewhere you can let go and let it out or talk it out. Find your safe space. Take a break if you need one. Focus on your mental health. Do what you need to do for yourself. But whatever it is that anxiety is telling you you’re not good enough for, you don’t deserve, I can tell you, you absolutely do.

You are enough. You deserve good things. And you can have the things you dream of.

Writing this blog is my way of giving anxiety a giant middle finger. It can’t take this from me, even if it tries.

I wish you all the best with whatever you’re working on, whatever you hope to achieve. And if you’re struggling with anxiety, I wish you strength in fighting it and encourage you seek further help if you need it.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America is a great place to find more info and support if you need it.

Until next time, take care.

Cover Reveal

Faking It for the Holidays releases in six weeks!

I’m excited, are you?

Scroll to see the cover and read the blurb. And don’t forget to pre-order. Pre-orders placed during October will be at 50% off the price!


Sam and Kaila have been best friends their whole lives. Thirteen years ago, they made a pact never to date to protect their friendship. But when their well-meaning mothers keep setting them up on terrible blind dates, they decide to fake date through the holidays. With a set of rules in place, they won’t break the pact, right?

What the hell was I thinking? Fake dating? Fake dating the girl I’ve been madly in love with for most of my life? I’m an idiot. Of course, as always, I said yes to her. Like always, I’d do anything to make her happy. And, okay, maybe I thought If we pretended to be together, she’d realize how amazing we could be and forget about the pact. Instead, I’m more in love with her than ever and have no idea if she’ll ever allow herself to see me as more than her best friend.

This is fine. It’s all fine. We’re just fake dating. We have our rules. We have the pact. We’re best friends: always and only best friends. But the longer we fake date, the harder it’s becoming to ignore the spark I feel between us. It’s always been there, but I’ve always ignored it. I’ve focused on our friendship because I can’t risk what Sam and I have. But his touch makes my heart race and his arms feel safer than ever before. It’s okay. I can handle this. Stick to the rules. Abide by the pact. This will all be fine, right? Fine, fine, fine.

I can’t wait to share Sam & Kaila’s story with you! Check back for teasers and for daily updates, head to my Instagram.

XO Bethany

Weekly Rec: gods in Alabama

The Rec:

This week’s rec is gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

What it’s about:

For 10 years Arlene has kept her promises, and God has kept His end of the bargain. Until now.

When an old schoolmate from Possett turns up at Arlene’s door in Chicago asking questions about Jim Beverly, former quarterback and god of Possett High, Arlene’s break with her former hometown is forced to an end. At the same time, Burr, her long-time boyfriend, has raised an ultimatum: introduce him to her family or consider him gone. Arlene loves him dearly but knows her lily white (not to mention deeply racist) Southern Baptist family will not understand her relationship with an African American boyfriend. Reluctantly, Arlene bows to the pressure, and she and Burr embark on the long-avoided road trip back home.

As Arlene digs through guilt and deception, her patched-together alibi begins to unravel, and she discovers how far she will go for love and a chance at redemption.

(Note: This is the book description from Amazon)

What I love about it:

So much, honestly. This is one of my favorite books of all time for a reason. It packs so much heart and emotion along the main character’s journey. Really, that’s what the book comes down to: her journey and her realization and understanding of what family really looks like and what the bonds of love will lead you to do for someone else. I feel that in almost every book Joshilyn Jackson writes. There’s always a mystery/thriller element, but that is purely the vessel by which she tells a deeper, more meaningful story, typically about the bonds of family and friendship, what love is, and the personal journeys her characters go on. The same is true of this story. It’s impossible to explain exactly why I love this book so much without giving everything away, because it’s truly the tiny moments laced throughout the bigger story that make this book as special as it is.

My favorite quote:

This quote is so good. I remember needing to write a random book for some improv thing in an acting class once and using this. The guy who delivered it reminded me of Josh Gad and just said it was so much drama and mystery in his voice. So good. That said, I still remembering reading this line for the first time and thinking that I wanted to know everything. There aren’t that many lines from books that I remember reading for the first time, and even though it’s been 15 years, I still remember how this line made me feel when I read it.

You’ll love it if you love:

  • Family drama
  • Complicated families
  • Stories set in the south
  • Complex heroines
  • Family secrets
  • Sexy and extremely supportive men
  • Suspense/Mystery

I hope you’ll check this book out and give it a read, it’s truly one of my favorite books ever. If you’ve read it, hit the comments and let me know if you like it. It’s currently available on amazon in a variety of formats. The kindle edition is 10.99 to buy.

Check back next week for another book rec and follow me on Instagram @bethanymonacosmith for daily updates and shenanigans from me.

Behind the Story: Freaking Love Part 1- Inspiration

Freaking Love is officially out in the world! You can read it here.

With Freaking Love finally out on Kindle Vella this week, I wanted to share a little behind the scenes about the inspiration for this story.

Please note: This contains spoilers for the first couple of episodes of Freaking Love. If you haven’t read it yet and want to remain spoiler-free, avert your eyes now. Otherwise, continue on.

When it started…

I’d have to look back at the date to be sure, but I’m almost positive it was early spring of 2017. There’s a possibility that it was 2016, but that seems too early in my memory.

What it started as…

This story started as a script. I’ve always loved screenwriting and it came very naturally to me because I love telling all the parts of a story. I love the idea of how you can overlay music with a scene to heighten its effects. I love all of that. What’s funny is I hate writing in the third person and it took a long time for me to find the right stylistic fit to make this into a book. When I heard about Kindle Vella, the serialized format really seemed to fit with that serialized way I thought of this story. That said, in its origins, it was actually set over two linear timelines. The past, the high school days that this story tells (though that’s now set in the present-ish time) and a present about twelve years later, exploring the family dynamics and personal relationships somewhat like Parenthood. Because of this, it was originally called Nontraditional, because it was about a group of families raising kids and many of those families and situations were nontraditional.

The inspiration…

Like with almost anything I write, the inspiration didn’t come from one specific place, but rather a compounding few things that came together and created this story in my mind. The first was that a boy I used to crush hard on and was once close friends with got engaged and I started thinking about the almost relationship we had and wondering how it would’ve gone if we’d ever actually dated. I realized it probably would’ve gone pretty badly. Then I laughed, thinking that I’d probably have ended up pregnant or something.

The next day, I was listening to Yellowcard in the car (they’re one of my favorites) and the song Ten came on, which is a (fairly sad but beautiful) song about a miscarriage. The singer reflects that that baby would’ve turned ten that year. And it got me thinking what would’ve happened if I’d gotten pregnant at seventeen. Which took me back to my previous thoughts.

Finally, for some reason or another, I decided to listen to Last Play at Shea by Billy Joel. I grew up listening to him but since my mom didn’t really like the song, I’d never heard Scenes from an Italian Restaurant before. It seemed to fit with the theme of this story that was rapidly building in my head. And so it became mostly what you see in Freaking Love today.

Final fun fact…

Because I originally wrote it in two timelines, I know plot points for these characters that happen YEARS ahead in the story, so there will probably be a time jump to early adulthood at some point.

Are you enjoying Freaking Love? Like and follow for more behind the scenes content and for lots more from me, follow me over on Instagram @bethanymonacosmith

WIP Wednesday 7/14

This week’s work in progress teaser is from a short but fun middle school chapter during which an important nickname that will be frequently heard throughout the entire series is born. 

Hope you enjoyed this little snippet! 

Do you have a fun or sweet nickname? Have you ever given a nickname to someone else? Let me know in the comments.

As always, like and subscribe for more teasers and behind the scenes. You can also follow me on Insta @bethanymonacosmith

Teaser Tuesday 7/13

This week you’re getting three teasers for the price of one!

These teasers are from the first three episodes of Freaking Love, which is hitting Kindle Vella this week. These three episodes will be free to read.

I’ve been working on parts of this story since 2017, so I’m crazy excited for everyone to finally be able to meet these characters and jump into their world!

I hope you enjoyed these teasers. Check back next week for more. And don’t forget to follow me over on Instagram @bethanymonacosmith for more teasers and behind the scenes fun.

Freaking Love is launching on Kindle Vella this week, so don’t forget to check it out!

Weekly Rec: The Love Interest

The Rec:

This week’s rec is The Love Interest by Kayley Loring. It’s a fun rom-com set in New York City featuring a mid-twenties wannabe author and a jaded mid-thirties bestselling author. Also, there’s a cock.

What it’s about:

Jaded NYC author Emmett is struggling to write the next book in his action-thriller series. Fiona is just starting grad school with hopes of becoming a regency romance author. Both seeking inspiration, they meet randomly at a diner in the middle of the night and spend the rest of the wee hours of the morning together before watching the sunrise and making out for a while. 

But things are over before they start when Emmett unknowingly takes a job as her professor, meaning he can’t date her. In no uncertain terms, things. Are. Over. There’s just a tiny hitch: things can’t be over because they’re both totally into each other. They decide to write letters to each other in lieu of a traditional romance, but nothing is ever so simple when love is involved. Also, there’s a cock and plenty of very aroused nipples.

What I love about it:

This book is laugh-out-loud funny. The female lead is quirky and funny but strong and sure of herself. The male lead has a scar on his heart and has become a jaded, asshole New Yorker. But he’s just the right amount of asshole to make you love him, not hate him.

I loved a lot about this book. I loved the chemistry between the leads. I loved the way the love letters allowed you to get to know the characters without it feeling like too much exposition and the way they took the place of a typical date.

I loved that these characters were allowed to be mature and really fall for each other with natural challenges preventing them from being together rather than forced drama. It made their happiness feel earned and more enjoyable.

And, of course, I loved that ridiculous cock.

My favorite quote:

There are so many hilarious quotes in this book, but this one is my absolute favorite. I may not be from California but I relate to this so hard. 

You’ll love it if you love:

  • Rom-coms
  • Relatable characters
  • Swoony moments
  • Awesome meet-cutes
  • Romantic letters
  • Love stories set in NYC
  • Hard nipples
  • Cock 😉

I hope you’ll check this book out and give it a read. If you already have, tell me in the comments if you liked it. It’s currently available to read for free in Kindle Unlimited or to buy for 2.99.

Check back next week for another book rec and follow me on Instagram @bethanymonacosmith for daily updates and shenanigans from me.

WIP Wednesday 7/7

This week’s work in progress teaser is from a chapter all about how much middle school sucks.

Buuuut it’s a whole lot better when you’ve got five best friends who have your back. Especially when one of them is your person, your best friend in the whole world, who happens to be a sweet, swoon-worthy boy who’d do anything for you.

Hope you enjoyed this little snippet! 

As always, like and subscribe for more teasers and behind the scenes. You can also follow me on Insta @bethanymonacosmith