Win a copy of Kiss the Morning Star! Details at the end of this post.


The dog yawned

and almost swallowed

My Dharma

 It’s strange how a plan can unfold sometimes—an umbrella shooting up at the touch of a button and extending out in all directions quickly, effortlessly.  In so many ways, this journey is exactly the wrong thing to do.  I mean, what kind of daughter leaves her grieving father and takes off across the country for no reason, or no reason she can say out loud?  But I look at Katy beside me—I see her clutching that book like always, the bright flash of her blue toenails on the dash—and I can’t help but smile.   

It comes over me in a rush, as we pull into a spot at Camden State Park, the sun setting in an impressive fiery red ball behind our campsite. 

 The light.  Red like the iron ore dust that settled on the sills of the shabby apartment where I abandoned my father.  I can still hear the trains rattling through the thin walls of my bedroom at night, the whistle growing so loud and then fading, into the distance.  I can still see his pale face at the window, the small motion of his hand, waving goodbye—a sorrow-laden blessing. 

 A feeling.  Real feelings, rushing over me like the strands of the retro bead curtain in Katy’s basement, each one familiar and fleeting, clacking together softly in my wake.  It’s the first time in forever I’m actually interested in what comes next—or even in what happens now. 

Excerpt copyright © 2012 Elissa J. Hoole

About the book:

The summer after high school graduation and a year after her mother’s tragic death, Anna and her longtime best friend Kat set out on a road trip across the country, armed with camping supplies and a copy of Jack Kerouac’s DHARMA BUMS, determined to be open to anything that comes their way. 

What people are saying:

“An enormously engaging, exquisitely written, laugh-out-loud funny, original story that transcends coming out to finding yourself and the true meaning of love.”–Julie Anne Peters, author of Luna and Keeping You a Secret

“Not so much a coming out as a coming up, Anna’s quiet, rich story will work its way into readers’ hearts.”–Kirkus

Released: May 15, 2012

About the author:

Elissa Janine Hoole has a longstanding love of road trips and beat writers, but it was a summer-long ramble out West that inspired this debut novel, when she and her husband set off across the country with a backpack full of Kerouac books. Now settled in her home in northern Minnesota, Elissa teaches middle school English and writes until midnight, sipping cold coffee and ignoring the laundry.

She still suffers from acute wanderlust from time to time, but road trips now involve a mini-van and a chorus of “Are we there yet?” from two small dharma bums-in-training. Visit her at


Elissa has been kind enough to contribute a copy of Kiss the Morning Start for a giveaway!

Just comment on this post to enter.

For extra entries:

-Be a follower on Twitter [+1 entry].

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Please list your extra entries in the comments.

The contest is open in the US only, and ends on May 30th at midnight EST.

Good luck and happy reading!