Writing: 2013 in Review

In regards to writing, 2013 has been exciting, to say the least – most notably because TNWSY was sold, and I have an editor, and, YAY! But writing didn’t stop there. Oh no.

Actually, writing-wise, my year started out rather slow.

Project 1: I started work on a new concept early in the year, a topic very close to my heart. I learned quickly that it’s not always the easiest – or best idea – to write what you know. Every word felt forced. Writing wasn’t fun. I only accomplished about 9,000 very poorly written, really despised, words. (For comparison, TNWSY is a bit over 60,000 words.) So I put that project to sleep and immediately felt better. Will I ever go back to it? I’m not sure. I hope to one day, with a new perspective, but for now I’m happy letting go.

Project 2: I had a new, very fun idea that I was keen to work on…and work on it I did. Writing was fun again, but only for so long. At about 30,000 words I realized the story didn’t stand out at all, and it wasn’t something I wanted to tell. It wasn’t unique. It wasn’t going anywhere. I had an ending in sight, but no middle ground. I knew it wasn’t something I was proud of, and I had no ideas of ways to make it better. So, again, I gave up on it and felt better. I didn’t hate it, but I knew it wasn’t the right story for me. It just felt blah – I didn’t need to write it. Will I ever go back to it? Probably not. But it’s still saved, just in case.

Project 3: At this time, Burrow Press, a local Orlando publisher, came into the picture, Each year they put out a 15 Views of Orlando book (among other great books) where local writers contribute a different chapter. The entire book is one story, but each chapter is written by a different author, and they’re allowed to take the story in any way they want. Also, each chapter must take place at a different Orlando location. It’s really unique. Anyway, I was asked to write the final chapter, the epilogue, and jumped at the opportunity, The story was so far from anything I’d ever personally write, that the experience was wonderful. I wrote fast, and was happy with what I created. (I was also able to be in a book with my friend Jenny, which is just awesome) I loved contributing to the book, and cannot wait to see it in print. (Out in April 2014! The book is called FORGET YOU FOUND US; 15 Views of Orlando Vol. III. You can read the first chapter here.)

Project 4: Newly restored, I decided to dabble with a short story idea I had a while back, which never amounted to anything but one page. I started fresh and wrote it…in one day. Seriously. I was obsessed. It was a crazy experience; I only broke to Skype chat with a friend in the UK. So, I sent the 8,000 words to my agent, after editing it, and she liked it too (!!!), with the only suggestion to make it longer. So I did. Again, quickly, easily. Now at about 20,000 words, it’s my little novella that I love dearly. Where it goes next, we shall see…

Project 5: After that, I figured it was time to attempt another full-length manuscript. Again, I jumped on an idea that was floating around in my mind and wrote. And wrote. And wrote. I never outlined it, I just kind of decided what happened as I went. And in a weird, way, it worked. I finished it! It was not very good at first – names were all mixed up, characters weren’t fully developed, the plot wasn’t fully developed, but it was finished and I was so relieved that I could do that again. So I spent a while fixing it up and making it shiny before sending it on. To my delight, agent liked it, too, so we’re editing it now and improving it in ways I never would have thought of without her. Yay!

Project 6: While waiting for agent’s reaction on Project 5, I had a dream that inspired an idea. It was small at first, a tiny flicker, but I started daydreaming about it, and started letting my fingers tap along. I wasn’t planning on writing anything, but it just happened. I’m about 20,000 words in now and still obsessed with it. It’s the first manuscript I’ve written that i’ve needed to do a bit of research for, which I am, and it’s fun. It’s very different than my other stories, but I like that about it. I don’t want to say much now, but I can feel it turning into something, and I’m so excited to see where it takes me.

Project 7: TNWSY, of course! In the midst of all of this, I’ve been editing my book (BOOK!) with my editor (EDITOR!). It’s such an exhilarating process, and I’m thrilled to continue it through the new year.

So where does that leave me now? Continuing my edits for TNWSY, figuring out Project 4, editing Project 5, writing Project 7, and perhaps starting a Project 8 after all of that is said and done. There’s an idea there…there’s always an idea. And though I’m realistic enough to know that some projects will decline and fail as they have for me in the past, I’m still thrilled to see what grows and flourishes in 2014. So, to another year of writing and inspiration and wonder.

Editing Process: Step One

One of the first questions I ask whenever I tell people TNWSY won’t come out until 2015 is this: “Why so long?”

Yes, it does seem like eons away, but there are a lot of steps between “congratulations we’re making your manuscript into a book!” and “congratulations, your book is now on shelves!” A lot.

So I thought I’d write about the steps, as I go through them, for those interested in the whole publishing process. (Granted each editor and publishing house may do things differently, so this is just my experience.)

Step One: Editorial Letter

Last week I received the infamous editorial letter. The first editorial letter is a basic overview of things your editor wants you to look at and work on. It could be very long or very short. It could be very detailed or very vague. Each editor is different.

For TNWSY, mine was  a basic overview of a few things my wonderful editor would like for me to elaborate on, punch up, work on. Four points specifically for me to look at, and focus on as I go through the entire manuscript again.

It’s been really fun so far because I haven’t visited TNWSY is quite some time. I’ve missed the characters, the locations. It’s nice saying hello again, and concentrating on areas wonderful editor thinks need a bit more attention.

I will say, I feel very lucky , because none of the editorial notes asked me to change anything HUGE about the book. They just asked for moreAnd, heck, of course I’d love to write more about this story.

I’ve worked so much with my agent, that it’s interesting getting a new person’s opinion, a new view of the subject at hand.

So that’s where I’m at now. I’m revisiting and relearning. I’m adding more to the story, and giving the characters more life. And it’s pretty great.

Book 4

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 2.45.30 PM

 

Publishing is a tricky business.

When we sold TNWSY, I received a two-book deal, which was (and still is) extremely exciting. Aside from TNWSY, I had two other completed manuscripts to offer, and had high hopes one of them would be the perfect fit.

As it turns out, things aren’t that easy.

The second book just wasn’t right, and I agree with that. It’s kind of…a mess from being re-written so many times. So it’s sitting on my laptop now, wondering if it’ll ever be anything more. (I hope so. I plan to strip it down and start fresh one day because I really like the characters. But, we’ll see, right?)

The third book was a no go, too, because another writer beat me to it. Just as I was about to pass it along to my agent, a deal was announced that was very similar to the story I wrote. So, I pushed that one aside, too, with plans of re-writting it eventually and changing it up quite a bit. (I’ve already started, in a way, too. There’s an outline.)

And then there was the started Book 4 that I left halfway through. It wasn’t right, I knew that.

So that leaves me with a two-book deal and only one viable book. Well…as of yesterday I finished writing and provisionally editing my fourth manuscript! It was insane and crazy and weird to think I’ve written that much. I finished it at work, honestly, during my dinner break. So I didn’t cry and flail like I wanted to, but I did smile endlessly and take the above screenshot.

Will that one be my follow-up? I have no idea. But I have hopes for it. It was fun to write, and different from the other stories. So we’ll see.

What i’ve learned most, though, is to not be discouraged by these set backs. If anything, they’ve made me write more, made me write better. Made me stretch what I knew and liked. They challenged me, and I always love a good challenge.

This comes with being a writer. You get used to the excitement. You get used to the let downs. And you carry on, knowing you’ve got it in you.

So, yes, I have hopes for this book, but i’m not done. I already have an idea brewing for Book 5, and we’ll see where that takes me, right?

Community

If you’ve been to my website recently, you might have noticed the shiny new Goodreads logo on the right (—->). This means two things:

  1. I finally joined Goodreads. Friend me?
  2. My book did, too! You can mark TNWSY as “to read” if you’d like. Or, “to not read.” Or, “that book some chick wrote.” You know, whatever suits you.

In other news, I run two monthly programs at the library, and am at the cusp of adding two more. (I also run other programs, but they’re usually one-time events, such as the My Little Pony program coming up. Let’s not be surprised that i’m dressing up as the librarian pony, Twilight Sparkle.)

My first monthly program is the book club. Mostly full of ladies my mom’s age and older, we meet once a month to loosely discuss a book. I say loosely because usually about 30 minutes are spent on the book, while 30 on personal lives, gossip, normal chatter, etc. The ladies are lovely, and while we sometimes have disagreements (was I the only one who enjoyed A Discovery of Witches?), we always meet back up happily. And the older ladies are hilarious. (We just had our one-year anniversary!)

My next monthly program is my prized possession, my nerdfighter meetup. Once a month, teens and older meet to simply hang out. We make crafts, we play board games, we chat. They usually stay from the beginning of the program until the library closes (four hours!) and in the process talk about everything, from books they like to serious moral debates (seriously!). I love this program so much because it’s given an outlet to those looking to find fellow neat people, and simply hang out. Those wanting a safe, fun, judgement free zone. My ultimate goal as a librarian was creating something like this, and i’m so glad it’s come to be. These nerdfighters are my favorites. (Sept marks the one-year anniversary of the first meet up!)

I recently received a grant to bring technology to the library for teens, so I invested in filmmaking equipment. We’ve had a few programs since, and eventually, come fall, i’ll make it a monthly lesson/activity. I’m excited about this.

Last, two nights ago, a co-worker and I hosted a Tea and Talk program, in which ladies in their 20s and up came to drink tea, eat scones, participate in Downton Abbey themed games, and create British-style fascinators. Though we weren’t sure if it would be a success, it was an absolute blast with more than 20 people showing up. All of the women asked for a follow-up, a monthly event for them to have a ladies night out.

Upon creating the next Ladies Night Out event, I realized something very cool – people just want to hang out. Young and old, they just want excuses to meet new people, try new things, and be involved. And I’m so thrilled that the library can be a place for that.

There’s the continuous debate about the importance (or, to some, the lack of importance) of libraries. They’re just holding grounds for books! We have the Internet, who needs them? The thing is, they’re so much more than that. Yes, they have books and movies and such, but they also have community. They’re an open place to simply hang out and meet new people. They put you in the middle of a group, or an organization. They’re a fun zone. They’re a safe haven.

One of the teens messaged me a while ago, and told me that since joining our meetups, she’s made real friends. And that, thanks to these meetups, she’s not as embarrassed by herself, and feels part of something.

I’m so amazed that something I created can cause that much of a reaction. And i’m so happy that libraries are around to make this girl feel that accepted.

TNWSY is going abroad!

THE NIGHT WE SAID YES has had a bit more exciting news lately….

It’s being translated!

Translation rights have been bought by the Italian publisher Rizzoli, and Random House Germany

I’m so excited that my book is going to reach more readers, and I can’t wait to see these Italian and German editions.

SO much thanks goes out to the international agents at Regal Literary. They’re truly amazing, and have placed my book into the hands of two amazing publishers.