The Story Behind Matt’s Story

I didn’t plan on writing a companion story for THE NIGHT WE SAID YES.

In fact, in between writing TNWSY and MATT’S STORY, I finished two other manuscripts. Seriously. But while editing the book with my editor, it just felt, I don’t know, lovely being back in that world. With my Ella and Matt and Jake and Meg. So I kind of wanted to dabble. For fun.

At first I started hanging out with Meg. I was writing her story, after TNWSY ended. What happens with her as she approaches college. But nothing felt right. I love Meg, and the story wasn’t doing her justice. And it wasn’t fun. So I scrapped it.

And then I woke up one morning with a vision – Matt in a classroom, alone. So while eating breakfast I started writing that scene. And I enjoyed being with him – and these other new characters he interacts with – so much that I brought my laptop to work and kept writing during breaks. And then I went home and kept writing. Even when S interrupted so we could talk to one of his friends in the UK via Skype, I had one eye on my laptop.

And by the end of the day I had nearly 8,000 words. It was INSANE. I had never written that much in one day. Ever.

The next day I read it over and didn’t hate it. I changed a few things here or there, elaborated, deleted,, but still felt good. So I sent it to my agent a bit later, asking if something was maybe, possibly there. To my utter delight, she saw it too, and told me to write about 10,000 words more. Okay.

Interestingly, those extra words weren’t that hard, either. I worried I’d hate it, would push it aside, but no – on the contrary, I loved elaborating on his time away. I loved creating this little world for him that his friends didn’t know about. And it was great timing, really, because it came as I was doing some final edits to TNWSY. I knew so much more about him. It added so much to the story.

After some back and forth edits between my agent and I, we gave it to my editor and, oh man, she saw potential in it, too. Which was so incredibly amazing to hear.

Because here’s the thing – I love writing, I do, but sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s absolutely brutal getting out 10 words. But Matt’s story was fun. It was different and weird and cool and I don’t know. There was no pressure, it was all for myself. And now it’s going to be something. And, yeah, it’s totally not necessary for people to read to fully get TNWSY. But to me, it’s important. To me, it makes Matt so much more whole. And it’s kind of cool knowing that writing doesn’t always have to be a struggle.

I’m so excited it’s going to be out there.

So if you decide to check out the ebook, I hope you like reading his story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Book 2 and Giveaway 2

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen that yesterday I finished writing Book 2. To say I’m excited is an understatement.

Here’s a visualization of what happened after I finished typing the last line:

There were also tears and high fives and whatnot.

I’m really excited because, unlike TNWSY, I did not write this manuscript in a month. It took a bit longer, and I was really worried that it would be a million times harder, scarier. I finished one book, what if I wouldn’t be able to finish another?

But the thing is, I needed to write it. It was never a choice. I needed, wanted, loved to do it.

So, yes, it’s done. It’s a first draft, so it’s clearly a mess. I changed an ethnicity of a character halfway through. Two minor characters have the same name. One part actually says “WRITE ABOVE CHAPTER BETTER BECAUSE, COME ON, THAT WASN’T GOOD.” There are also hundreds of grammatical errors, probably, and many cliche moments. So, a lot of editing will be needed. But writing, getting out, the first draft is always the hardest part for me. The hardest part is now done!

TO CELEBRATE…I’m hosting another giveaway! As you may recall, I like buying books from my library to give away on this blog. This way I’m supporting my library while celebrating my readers.

This time I’m giving away The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney! Daisy is a beautiful writer, and all around lovely person. I’m thrilled to be giving away her debut book. (The sequel, The Rivals, came out earlier this year, so if interested, pick it up!)

A bit about the book:

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way–the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds–a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl’s struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone–especially yourself–you fight for it.

It really is as great as it sounds. Here’s the copy up for grabs:

It’s the original hardback cover. With the exception of a few bent pages, it’s practically as good as new.

TO ENTER! As you know, I like to refer to my manuscripts my their initials. Book 2 finally has a title and it’s abbreviation is: TSWB. To win, guess what the title is! The best, craziest, funniest, favorite answer (as judged by my husband, not me) will win. The deadline is Friday, May 18th at midnight.

Okay? Okay. Good luck!

Editing Agents

I did a ton of research before querying agents and learned something interesting. There are, apparently, two types of agents: ones who offer editorial suggestions/revisions and ones who don’t. What I wanted most was for my MS to be good, so I decided to only query agents who mentioned that they would work with me to perfect my MS, and offer editorial suggestions prior to submission.

Let’s just say that it was the best decision I could ever make.

My agent is amazing. After agreeing to work with her, within a week she sent me a document that basically outlined a few areas I could beef up and/or improve. I loved reading her advice, and loved applying it to TNWSY. Because everything she suggested was spot on. They made my book so much better, deeper, more complex. It’s like she opened up my idea and fluffed it up a bit.

Now i’m onto line edits and while opening my track changed document was a bit jarring at first (what? so much is bad?) I saw quickly that her changes were all for the better, and, honestly, there weren’t that many big ones. (It’s like seeing the red pen on an essay. You just assume everything written is bad, and don’t look for the compliments buried within.) She had grammatical suggestions, places to emphasize, places to stretch out. And as I accepted the changes, I saw how it all worked really well. And how she’s totally right about nearly everything. And I know it’s not required to accept every suggestion, every edit an agent offers, but I actually love everything she’s done. Truly.

So! My advice is this – when looking for agents, decide which kind you want to work with. If you’d rather just go straight to submissions, that’s fine! But if you’d rather get down to the nitty gritty and uncover diamonds in the rough, perhaps go with an editing agent. I adore mine, and I hope you’ll like yours, too.

All Together Now

After I started sending TNWSY out to agents, I immediately started Book 2. I was told it was the smart thing to do – concentrate on on my second attempt to distract me from rejections. And it worked! Here’s the thing, though – aside from writing and editing my query letter, I didn’t do any additional work on TNWSY. It’s been a while since I’ve been in that story.

So I was a bit worried when I had to jump into TNWSY edits for my agent. What if I couldn’t find the voice again? What if I didn’t like something? What if she didn’t like something?

But a funny thing happened when I opened the Word file – I felt at home. I felt like I was revisiting old friends, ones who never really left me. While I was still worried that my edits weren’t perfect enough, I gave myself into them and had fun. It was really quite cool. The edits let me explore my characters more, and discover new aspects of them. And I loved that. Each edit in the past added in that way, too, but for some reason this one felt different. Perhaps absence does make the heart grow fonder.

It’s really weird now going back and forth between stories, between characters and voices, but I like it. Because I love TNWSY, and I don’t mind saying hi to it again every once in a while. See how its been doing. Ask if it has any advice for Book 2. You know, I think they’d get along  quite well.

Have you ever worked on two stories at once? How did you deal with it?