AUTOFOCUS Release, Orlando Love

Today is Friday. This past Tuesday, AUTOFOCUS officially released into the wild. Then, on Thursday, I celebrated the one year anniversary of THE NIGHT WE SAID YES being published. It’s a crazy experience, knowing something I wrote – something I imagined – is out in the world. That people from all over are reading it. That they’re discussing it online, and having favorite characters and quotes. Writing is such a personal experience that when the book is finally published, it’s…crazy. And terribly exciting.

All that said, the week has been overshadowed by a lot of sadness. I’m devastated by what happened in Orlando, Florida. I’m devastated that I live in a time where people are still full of so much hatred. I’m proud to say the city is rebuilding, and that there’s so much love being passed around. People from all over are coming here to show their support. There are so many beautiful rainbow flags flying over the interstate. The city is united, and while I love it, I hate that a terrible situation caused it.

I love Orlando.

Here’s what I wrote on my Facebook page:

For those who don’t know, I live in Orlando; it’s been my home for so long. It’s why all my books take place, at lease in part, here. Last night I was discussing the scene in TNWSY where Ella says she feels safe in Orlando–that the only thing she fears is bad ex-boyfriends. That’s kind of how I felt when I was in high school. I was in this small bubble where nothing could go wrong. Though times have changed, and it’s completely idealistic, I want to raise my daughter like that. Not to fear, but to love. And love and love and love. So, I dedicated my second book to her–and I’m celebrating that love today. Thank you all for your love, and for reading. xo

Books Read in 2014

Here they are, the books I read in 2014! My typical goal is 50, but with a new baby this year and writing/editing books of my own, that proved to be…difficult. Still, I think I conquered a lot.
(* = book not yet released)

  1. DRAMA HIGH by Michael Sokolove
  2. PAGE BY PAIGE by Laura Lee Gulledge
  3. THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK by Matthew Quick
  4. MAN MADE BOY by Jon Skovron
  5. BOXERS by Gene Luen Yang
  6. SAINTS by Gene Luen Yang
  7. THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU AND ME by Amanda Grace
  8. ROOMIES by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr
  9. THE SPECTACULAR NOW by Tim Tharp
  10. SEPTEMBER GIRLS by Bennett Madison
  11. THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY by Laurie Halse Anderson
  12. DUDE, YOU’RE GONNA BE A DAD by John Pfeiffer (I know, I know…)
  13. THE ACCIDENTAL LIFE OF JESSIE JEFFERSON by Paige Toon
  14. A USER’S GUIDE TO NEGLECTFUL PARENTING by Guy Delisle
  15. THE PROMISE OF AMAZING by Pamela Druckerman
  16. BRINGING UP BEBE by Pamela Druckerman
  17. BEBE BY DAY by Pamela Druckerman
  18. WHAT I THOUGHT WAS TRUE by Huntley Fitzpatrick
  19. HIDDEN: A CHILD’S STORY OF THE HOLOCAUST by Loic Dauvillier
  20. WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING by Charles J Lockwood
  21. SEX CRIMINALS, VOL 1: ONE WEIRD TRICK by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
  22. THE HAPPIEST BABY ON THE BLOCK by Harvey Karp
  23. WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart
  24. THIRTEEN WEDDINGS by Paige Toon
  25. BABY LAUGHS by Jenny McCarthy
  26. EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU by Nina LaCour
  27. FORGET HOW YOU FOUND US edited by Nathan Holic (with a chapter by ME!)
  28. THIS ONE SUMMER by Mariko Tamaki
  29. OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord
  30. CONVICTION by Kelly Loy Gilbert*
  31. MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES by Jasmine Warga*
  32. DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE by Lance Rubin*
  33. SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli*
  34. STARBREAK by Phoebe North
  35. LOST AT SEA by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  36. SECONDS by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  37. IN REAL LIFE by Cory Doctorow
  38. PAPER AEROPLANES by Dawn O’Porter
  39. HAWKEYE, VOL 1: MY LIFE AS A WEAPON by Matt Fraction, illustrated by David Aja, Javier Pulido, Alan Davis
  40. ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Stephanie Perkins
  41. HAWKEYE, VOL 2: LITTLE HITS by Matt Fraction, illustrated by David Aja, Steve Lieber, Jesse Hamm, Francesco Francavilla, Matt Hollingsworth
  42. THIN SPACE by Jody Casella
  43. BETTER OFF FRIENDS by Elizabeth Eulberg
  44. THE RISE OF AURORA WEST by Paul Pope
  45. MS. MARVEL: #1: META MORPHOSIS by G. Willow Wilson
  46. ON THE FENCE by Kasie West
  47. BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson
  48. YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler
  49. SHE IS NOT INVISIBLE by Marcus Sedgwick
  50. MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME, edited by Stephanie Perkins
  51. A manuscript by my friend Joe
  52. A manuscript by my friend Jennifer

In all, YA beat out any other category (obviously), followed by graphic novels (some really great ones this year). Non-fiction primarily revolved around being a mom, which is not surprising. I also read a ton of picture books, which I didn’t list. (SO many beautiful ones! I must point out, specifically, THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE: THE UNIMAGINARY FRIEND, which both L and I adored.) So what are my reading goals for this year? More plays I think and more adult fiction. I don’t see either happening, though, because have you seen the amazing YA books coming out in 2015? Specifically by debut authors?

Exactly.

Happy reading!

Some Fun Now

A few fun book updates:

My advanced copies are in! Look at them! They’re beautiful!

photo 1-3 photo 2-3

I might have cried (a lot) when I opened the box with them. I also might have non-verbally cheered. (I have a cold now, so my cheering was rather raspy.) Still, I’m beyond excited to see the book as a Real Thing. Each step of the way is exciting, each update thrilling, but seeing it as this – an actual physical thing – is truly amazing. I’m so in love.

(Also terrified because that means people will be reading it now.)

Aside from that, the book is available for pre-order, if you’re interested, on Amazon and the HarperCollins website. Which means i’m on the HarperCollins website, which is INSANE.

So insane.

All that to say, my book is doing well.

And I hope you are, too.

Books Before They’re Books

Inspired by fellow 2015 debut, Adam Silvera, here’s a look at where my books are pieced together.

photoI have a journal for each of my manuscripts. I bring them around and jot down notes/ideas/scenes as they come to me. The full book isn’t written in them (i’m a much faster typer), but they have a ton of details I like to go back and look at.

On the left is, obviously, the one for TNWSY. My friend Katie got it for me because it’s circus themed. Before it tragically lost its cover, it said “reach for the sky, be adventurous,” which is kind of fitting for writing your first novel.

The middle one is for my second contracted book with HarperCollins (more on that later, but yes, I have a second book set to be published-!!!!-it’s also a YA contemporary, and this one takes place in Tallahassee because I clearly only like to write about places I’ve lived in). My friend Sarah got it for me. It’s blue and thick and hasn’t lost its cover…yet.

The one on the right is for something I’m currently working on. My friend Michelle got it for me, and the story is fun and sweet like her.

I used a journal I bought myself once, and the manuscript fell apart. So i’ve decided to only use ones given to me, because then I associate the person with the book. And I wouldn’t want to let my friends down, right?

So those are my books. And it’s weird thinking that inside them lies actual books that one day will see the light of day. (And the inside of a library!)

Editing Process: Step Four

Since my book is coming out in a little over 10 months (it seems so far away, and yet so close…), I’m starting to actually DO things for promotion. Such as…create a Facebook page! Make little promotional cards to hand out at events (more on that later)! Talk about the book some more! I guess it’s starting to actually exist, and that’s both exciting and terrifying.

Editorial wise, copyedits came in. I was a bit nervous about these, as i’ve heard horror stories where copyeditors made writers change everything. Thankfully, my copyeditor was fantastic. She had little suggestions here or there, asked for my approval on anything she changed, and really mostly changed things to suit Harper’s style guide. (Shout out to my copyeditor – you’re the best!)

Now i’m working on the dedication and acknowledgements. It’s funny – I’ve imaged what i’d write since the book sold, and now when I can actually put words on paper, i’m drawing a blank. I want to thank everyone. Can I do that? Just…thank you to the world? (Okay, I should probably be more specific.)

TNWSY aside, I had my first public reading! I read for the book launch of FORGET HOW YOU FOUND US last week and it was so much fun. It was a great introductory event for me, because there was only so much pressure. There were four other writers reading, I only contributed one chapter, I did not represent the entire book. I loved meeting/hanging out with the other authors, and just being part of the entire experience. It was such a privilege to be able to contribute to the book, and even more so to read my chapter.

So one reading under my belt. A few more to go?