Progression

I originally wrote THE NIGHT WE SAID YES using Google Drive. This way it was always available, even when my laptop was not. During my lunch breaks at work, I’d edit on my work computer. It was an easy way to move a file around.

The other day, while saving my current work in progress in Drive, I found a few original versions of TNWSY. (I save EVERYTHING.) It was so weird and fun, looking at these works in progress that actually turned into something REAL. Anyway, I thought I’d share the original first paragraph, what it turned in to, and, of course, the finished product.

FIRST VERSION!

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Different, but not really! It’s still the none-too-happy Ella being dragged to a party. It’s still setting up her til-death-do-we-part friendship with Meg. But originally, I had a whole scene where she was getting ready for the party. I had her calling Meg for outfit advice. I had her fretting, but at the same time, not wanting to fret, about what the night would bring. And then Meg pulls up.

The first person to read TNWSY, my friend Katie, suggested I cut the first two pages. Hard to hear at first, but amazingly spot on. Why start before the action when I could start in the middle of it? It was a slow build up that really wasn’t necessary. So I deleted the entire beginning. It was a lot less painful than it sounds.

NEXT VERSION:

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This is the version I queried agents with. When querying, you send a letter about the book, and then the first few pages (depending on what the agent requests). This is what I hoped would peak their interest. (Surprise: it did!)

Now, here’s the final version:

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There was quite a bit that changed with TNWSY, from my first draft to my editor, to the final product. We added a lot, changed names, changed entire scenes. But the story itself stayed the same, the feeling stayed the same. And, as it turns out, quite a bit of that very first page. Strange how that happens, right?

It’s fun seeing how things change over time–how they grow and breathe and move into something new. Sure it’s scary when you’re deep in it–when you’re creating that first scene, when you’re editing that first scene–but it’s nice knowing that there’s an end point, a light at the end of the tunnel. And that, sometimes, your end might not be so different from your beginning.

 

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?

Editing Process: Step Three

(Read more here: Step One, Step Two…)

It’s been said before that publishing is very much like this: nothing, nothing, nothing, DO EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW AND YOUR DEADLINE IS TOMORROW, nothing, nothing, nothing.

I haven’t had quite the same experience. My editor is wonderful when it comes to deadlines; she doesn’t rush me, and gives me a concrete date to work towards. My experience, however, is more like this: nothing, nothing, nothing, LOTS OF UPDATES, nothing, nothing nothing. Each makes me shriek with delight.

What updates? Well, some really cool ones:

  • I’ve submitted my headshot and bio for the book jacket.
  • Speaking of, TNWSY has an official book jacket description.
  • It also has a release date…
  • AND A COVER!

Another stereotype about the publishing industry is that things remain hush hush until they can officially be revealed. Well…that’s 100% true. I can’t reveal my cover yet (it’s still being revised), nor the description. But seeing them, knowing that they’ve been created, makes everything feel so much more real. I mean, seeing your name on a cover? AMAZING.

Editorial wise, I’m done for now. Big edits for the book are complete. TNWSY is in copyediting, so soon i’ll get a draft that shows all of my grammatical issues. I’m sure there will be quite a few. I overuse commas. A lot.

So right now i’m on downtime until the next round of updates. Each ones makes me more excited than the next. And the fact that my book is officially coming out in less than a year?

AHHHH!

My Writing Process

YA writer Valerie Cole tagged me for the My Writing Process blog hop. She’s great, so visit her blog, or follow her on Twitter.

1) What am I working on?
A few things! Publishing is a lengthy process, so TNWSY is still in editorial stages. I should be starting copyedits within the next few months, so that’s exciting. Aside from that, I’m editing two manuscripts with my agent right now, in hopes of one of them being my follow-up book. She always finds things to pull out and elaborate on to create a much fuller manuscript, so i’m always eager to hear her thoughts.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I write contemporary YA, and there’s a lot of contemporary YA out there. I like to focus on friendships, romance, and family, and how the three intersect and inform one another. I love writing strong, do-anything-for friendships, because those are what were most important to me in high school. And I like to show how they evolve over time, just as the friends themselves grow and change. And though the bonds may be different, they’re essential in a different way.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I wrote about why I write YA here! And why I write about relationships here! Check it out!

4) How does my writing process work?
First comes the idea. It’s usually a flicker, a scene or location or a character. Then I think about it for a while to figure out if it’s something I’d like to, or even can, attempt. And then I try. At first there’s not a lot of plotting (and sometimes there’s none at all), but the scenes come to come and I write them as I see them. Sometimes I jump around. Sometimes I write it in order. It honestly depends on the story, on my thought process. And sometimes, when everything is right, it’s magically finished.

So that’s my story. I was going to tag people, but I think most writers have done this already. And if not…you’re tagged! (I’m clearly not good at these blog hop.)

Editing Process: Step Two

(A continuation of my “editing process” series for TNWSY.)

“Dee, turn it up!”

That was the first line I ever wrote in my very first variation of TNWSY. I won’t even say draft because it was merely a scene, not even a chapter. In the end, I didn’t use much from that first bit of writing, mostly just the setting (a bedroom) and the two girls talking, but even their names changed. (There is no “Dee” anymore.)

But, somehow, in all of the drafts and revisions and edits and craziness, that line remained. It’s not the first line, but it’s still in the book. Which is kind of cool, at least to me.

Because currently I’m going through my book another time. There are line edits now, corrections and suggestions in track changes for me to go through and revise. I like these kinds of edits because I know exactly what my editor is looking for. It’s not “elaborate on this theme,” It’s “elaborate on this scene.” It assures me that the rest of the book is succeeding, and that there’s still a chance to make small moments bigger, better. And after going through all of the edits and thoughts, I’m super happy to be with the editor I have because she gets it. And that’s really awesome.

In theory, this might be my last revision before copyedits, so I’m a bit nervous about making everything as perfect as possible. I suppose we’ll see.

But as I go through it and see how things have changed and evolved from that first draft, I smile whenever I find an original piece. Because it all started from a thought, a line, and now here it is. It was a simple note played once, and now it’s a full song getting ready to be heard. It’s bigger, better, louder.

Turn it up, indeed.

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.

Necessities

So as you can tell, i’ve had a pretty exciting past few days. It’s been kind of surreal, really, hearing that other countries think they can sell my book (ahh!), and officially becoming a contracted author. Honestly. What has my life become?

But before I get all I AM THE GREATEST WRITER OF ALL TIME, I want to pay tribute to how I got here.

Through very, very honest friends.

Here’s the thing about writing a manuscript – usually the first draft is not good. Mine was not at all. I mean, it was a story with a plot and major characters. There was a beginning, middle, and end. Things happened and upon reading it, I thought (hoped) it might have potential. But after editing it to make it all shiny and pretty, I didn’t go straight to querying agents. I queried my friends.

A few of my amazing friends became critique partners. They’d read and go over my manuscripts before anything. They’d tell me what was good, what was bad, and what maybe, possibly had potential. They were honest and brutal. They were kind and helpful. AND THEY WERE AMAZING.

They told me when I used words too often (eyebrows, apparently), and told me when a character just wasn’t sitting right (one actually wrote “I want to strangle her right now.”) They told me when the plot felt meh, and when something just didn’t make sense.

And all of those critiques made not only my manuscript better, but me as a writer better. I need their input. I value it so much. And I know that no matter how many negative things they say about the story, they’re doing it because they want the story to succeed. There’s never anything more.

And now? I love getting messages from them like, “I just saw someone at B&N who reminded me SO MUCH of *insert character here*” or “that was such a *character* thing you just said.” Because, oddly enough, the story that felt real to me all that time, now feels real to them, too.

(Special shout-out to Katie, Colure, Michelle, Misty, and Joe. And S, of course.)