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.

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.

TNWSY

PM_Announcement

Hey, remember that time I got a book deal? Yeah I’m still riding on that excitement.

!!!!!

So! I’ve gotten a few questions about the book, and since the deal is finally announced, I figured I’d share. (I’m a bit private when it comes to writing, as it happens.)

1. What’s the book about? 

SPARKLY VAMPIRES! No, not really. Above is the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement for TNWSY. I think Michelle summed up my book extremely well in one-sentence. I tried, and ended up with a paragraph. That’s what happens when you’re a wordy writer I suppose. (Also, HOW EXCITED was I to see the official announcement? EXTREMELY.)

2. How did you come up with the title?

It’s one of the lines from the book, and it kind of kicks off the plot. I had a few ideas prior to it, but when that came to  mind, I was like YES. THAT. DONE.

3. Is it based on real life? 

No, not at all. The high school is loosely based on the high school I went to, and some of the places they visit mirror places here in Orlando, but the experiences and characters are completely made up. Though, they are definitely the kind of people I would have been friends with in high school (and through today).

4. Are you living a glamorous writer’s lifestyle now? 

Let me tell you – after getting the news…I went right back to work. I mean, I was ridiculously teary-eyed for the rest of my shift, but I still worked. And the next day? I painted the cabinets in my house. I know. Rockstar life right here. (And as a follow up to that, no, I don’t plan on becoming a full-time writer. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a librarian, just as much as I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a writer, and I don’t think my life would feel full with one part missing.)

5. What happens now? 

Now I get to start editing! I’m really excited to see where Karen will help me take the book. I know it can only get better from here. And, in the midst, I’m writing, writing, writing and loving it.

6. Any advice? 

WRITE! Don’t look back. Don’t doubt yourself. Even if what you come up with is gibberish (I can’t even explain how bad my first drafts are), it’s something. And something can always turn into amazing with a little bit of work.

Thank you all SO MUCH for your kind words. Thank you for going on this strange, new journey with me. I can’t wait to see where it leads. xxx

MOST EXCITING NEWS EVER

I have some Important News…

MY BOOK IS BEING PUBLISHED!!!!!!!!!

THE NIGHT WE SAID YES is going to be a book! A real book!

My amazing agent Michelle has sold it to the fabulous Karen Chaplin at HarperCollins. It is going to be published. It will be in libraries. And stores. You guys will all be able to read it. And I can’t stop smiling, because how often do dreams like this come true?

I got The Call when I was at work. I stepped outside and promptly started crying in front of the library. Because that’s what I do when amazing things happen. I cry. I’m pretty sure I professed my undying love to my agent. I’m not sure. I don’t really remember those moments too well.

What’s better – Harper preempted for TWO books. I will have TWO BOOKS PUBLISHED. TNWSY is tentatively scheduled for Summer 2015, and my second book for Summer 2016.

Ahhh!

So that’s my amazing news. I will be an author. My little book is going to be read by people. Everything I hoped for is actually happening. It’s weird and crazy and exciting and I still can’t believe it. Because it started as words, a fleeting idea. And now it’s this.

And, you guys, I couldn’t be happier.