Day 211

Today was a truly terrible day in the United States. A domestic terrorist gunned down innocent concert goers in Las Vegas, murdering at least 58 people and injuring over 500. Let's not mince words. This is just another dark mark on the record of a nation that continues to fight against gun control and be utterly in the pocket of the NRA. It is the worst mass shooting in US history, but after Columbine, after Aurora, after Sandy Hook, after The Pulse -- worst is just another line in the sand. They are all the worst -- and this nation should be ashamed. 

So because I am a writer, and because this is a blog about my writing rather than my political leanings, I want to discuss how events like this -- events in the real world -- can alter your writing.

The first thing that must be said about creating any art in this bleak, brutal world, is that sometimes, some days -- you simple cannot. Some days and some events push your mind too far, and there's no way you can find your way back into the world you're trying to create when the one you must live in is so painfully broken.

That's okay. That's reasonable and normal, and I've finally come to realize that it's alright. It's fine to take a break, to read a good book or watch a good movie or hide in your blanket fort. You cannot expect that the real world won't impact your work when you're building a universe from scratch.

But what happens when you are able to work? What happens if you are fueled by the pain and darkness of the real world and the words keep coming? Sometimes, that happens, too.

I had a great writing day, today. I finished revisions on a Middle Grade novel that I've been struggling to finish for a while. I blocked out the real world, stayed off social media, and dove head first into the world that I've created. It was a lot safer there, today. But I don't write in a bubble, and today, I watched tiny rebellions creep into my book. I knew, as I was writing, that I was being compelled and propelled by the day's events, and I embraced the words that came, because it was like a prayer. My fingers were whispering my deepest wishes for healing for this country and spelling them out in a world that looks absolutely nothing like our own.

For me, today, I rebelled through my work. Another day, I may not have the strength. That's okay. It's a long race and all you have to do to win is finish. Be good to yourself, be kind and do good for one another. Stay safe. The world is dark and more frightening that anything I've managed to imagine.

Day 219

In two hundred and nineteen days, my debut novel, THE QUEEN UNDERNEATH, will be released by Page Street. I've written that sentence and said those words countless times and yet... they don't quite feel real. There are moments that drive it home -- I got to see my cover a few days ago and it is so beautiful and so REAL -- and for a brief second, I could picture holding a book with my name on the spine in my hand. But it slips away, it drifts and turns to smoke. The reality isn't quite tangible enough for me to feel yet, but soon. Two hundred and nineteen days isn't that long. If I were pregnant with this book baby, I'd be nearing the end of the first trimester, and we know I can survive that long. Not patiently, but it can be done.

When I started this part of the journey (we'll talk about writing and querying agents and all that stuff another time), I didn't really know what to expect. I thought I'd do some revisions for my editor and then the book would disappear off my radar until one day I walked into a bookstore and saw it on the shelf. Or something like that...

But for anyone who is interested, I can tell you that this isn't remotely what goes on. I signed the contract with Page Street in February, 2017, but we'd been talking with them since the previous August and I had already done one round of revisions for them before we had a formal offer. The deal was announced in March and I received my first rounds of notes from my editor at the beginning of April. While I was working on those notes, my acquiring editor, Alyssa, left Page Street. I was sad to see her go, and more than a little paranoid about what would happen with TQU, but my amazing agent, Rena, talked me off the ledge and said, "This happens all the time. It'll be okay."

I finished my revisions and submitted them to Lauren, my new editor. I'm a big enough person (now) to admit that I was terrified. Lauren didn't have a relationship with me or my story, yet, and I was worried that she wouldn't love it or care about it.

Sidebar: This was totally rookie paranoia. Lauren has been super awesome. She dove head first into my seedy underworld, embraced my story and my characters, and has done everything she can to make my book a success. And Alyssa, sweetheart that she is, writes to check on me and the book frequently, despite having moved on from the project. While I wholeheartedly acknowledge every author's right to choose their publishing path, I always knew that I couldn't succeed at self-publishing, and this is why. I need these amazing cheerleaders who have taken my story -- a conglomerate of mishmash and nonsense -- and helped me sculpt a novel.

Anyway, I have now revised TQU for Page Street four times, plus worked through copy edits with my copy editor, Ruth. In fact, today (Day 219 prior to publication) I sent in another version. I think this is *close* to being the end result, but editors are not messing around. They know their stuff, and Lauren's not about to let me slide at this late date.

So, I do what they ask. I fiddle and reword, clarify and simplify. And every time I do, I see the artistry and collaborative energies that have gone into every book that has ever been published before. I begin to understand the art of the business, and I am in awe. I hope that I can manage to help every person that has helped birth my book baby, but if I don't, it's due to my own ignorance. 

I had no idea what it took to produce the stories that I have loved, my whole life, and now that I'm starting to understand it, I realize that my heroes weren't just the authors the put words to paper, but the editors, publishers, agents, and designers that fought to get it on the page.

Thanks for being on this journey with me.

Out with the old...

So, now that I'm a big time, fancy author (or you know, I play one on t.v.), I've decided that I needed an author's website. This is actually kind of important. No matter how much I thought writing was about sitting down and hammering out sentences... there's a lot more to this author stuff. So here's my new website, and my new, glamorous blog. (Let's hope I do a better job of blogging here than I did on the old one.)

Which brings me to the point of this tiny, not that interesting post. If you are desperate for some nonsense or 'wisdom' that I typed a while ago, it is still here, for now. I cannot guarantee how long it will be there. I don't have any plans to tend to that old site, any longer. But it's there for now.

As they say -- Out with the old, in with the new.