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

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.

 

Book Trailer

It’s here! It’s here! Check out my book trailer for THE NIGHT WE SAID YES!

More information, and the exclusive reveal, can be found on the B&N Teen blog.

As mentioned in the post, it was so much fun filming. My actors were great, the location was fantastic, and I’m so happy with the final product. (Big shout out, again, to my friend Joe who filmed/edited/scored the entire thing. And, yes, I realize it was filmed during the day, but have you tried filming at night? It’s not easy. Still, I think it gets the feel of the book across pretty wonderfully. I’m so happy!

Here are some photos from the shoot of my adorable and wonderful cast.

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And here’s me looking extremely short next to them. Hi!

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AUTOFOCUS

I know it’s been a while since I’ve last written, and I apologize for that. But…I come with exciting news! When THE NIGHT WE SAID YES sold, it was a two-book deal. Well, I can now discuss my second book!!

My follow-up to THE NIGHT WE SAID YES is called AUTOFOCUS. It follows a girl as she searches for information about her long-deceased birth mother, and, along the way, wonders if who we are is determined at birth, or if we can change as we grow.

You guys, I’m so excited about this book. It came as a random idea I had one day–I saw a girl going to an unknown city looking for answers. I kind of went from there, and the book came to be. I’m so thrilled my editor picked up this story, and I can’t wait to share more about it!

AUTOFOCUS is another YA contemporary, and, no, not a sequel to THE NIGHT WE SAID YES. It’s tentatively scheduled for a summer 2016 release with HarperTeen.