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!

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.02.40 AM

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:

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.03.23 AM

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:

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 9.23.44 PM

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.

 

Matt’s Story!

Exciting news – THE NIGHT WE SAID YES is getting a companion novella! Ahh!

TNWSY takes place two nights, exactly one year apart. In the THEN chapters, Ella meets Matt and they have a great night together with friends. In the NOW chapters, it’s a year later, and Ella is seeing Matt again, after several months apart. Well… MATT’S STORY: A NIGHT WE SAID YES NOVELLA will be the time in-between, as told by Matt.

Official description:

Seventeen-year-old Matt had the perfect life in Orlando. He met the girl of his dreams, rocked out on bass in an awesome band, and partied with the best group of friends he could ask for. But then his family gets a call and he has to move back to Texas—immediately. Now stuck with no possibility of ever seeing his friends in Orlando again, Matt is ready to give up. But can he open up his heart to new friends and a second chance?

I had so much fun going back into the Ella & Matt universe and giving Matt a chance to share his side of the story. I love Matt, and I’m so thrilled HarperCollins is publishing my novella! So much love to my agent and editor who agreed to do this with me.

MATT’S STORY will be published by Epic Reads Impulse, a HarperCollins digital imprint, on August 4, 2015. It’ll be available anywhere you buy eBooks (and it’s already up on iTunes and Amazon).

The Story Behind the Cover

Untitled-4THIS is the cover for THE NIGHT WE SAID YES! Isn’t it wonderful? Doesn’t it scream “I AM THE BEST BOOK EVER?!” (Okay, maybe not, but I’m kind of proud of it.) As I mentioned on my cover reveal yesterday, I’m extremely happy with the direction HarperTeen decided to go. Yes, the romance is central, but so is the friendship. To me, friendships are relationships, and, especially in high school, best friends are just as important as boyfriends/girlfriends. I try to show that in my book.

But here’s the fun part of creating this beautiful cover: when my editor asked if I had any thoughts on the image, prior to design, I pleaded for one thing – for it not to be a kissing cover.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there are some LOVELY kissing covers out there, and, yes, my book totally has kissing in it. But if you were to see a cover with two people kissing, and then were to read my title…what would you think?

EXACTLY.

Apparently HarperTeen had the same idea, and already said no to that type of cover. It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing you’re on the same page with your publisher. It’s also hilarious, to me, thinking that they were discussing that.

After, I was asked if I wanted just Matt and Ella on the cover, or if I preferred all four of the characters. I asked for four, but left it to them, because they know best. They know what image will work. But, as it happens, they went with four, believing in the friendship plot. (The message of friendship is also woven into the official description, too, which I adore.) And I cried with happiness at the final image.

So what you see here today is the final product, and what will grace bookstore and library shelves June 16th of next year.

HarperTeen designers, I love you.

(Don’t forget to enter to win a signed advanced copy of TNWSY! Go here!)

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?

It’s All In The Details

There’s a minor character in TNWSY that works at a mini-golf course. He hands people their clubs and oftentimes has to fish discarded balls out of the small lake by hole #9. He has to wear khaki shorts and a green polo shirt everyday, and he sweats through both in the Florida heat. He doesn’t like the job much, but it’s a job.

None of that is in the book.

It’s weird knowing that much about a minor character, right? I brainstormed a scene that included all of that, but never wrote it. It just didn’t fit in the end. So the character’s back story (and related scene) never came to fruition. Readers of the book won’t know about it. And yet, I know about it.

There are so many extra details that go into book that might never be read. Be it scenes never written or moments edited it out, there are always these little bits hanging around the writer’s mind and, possibly. computer. And I have so many of them!

Sometimes I forget what was cut, and just assume a certain part is still in the story because I know it so well. I assume everyone will know a main character’s favorite song because I know his favorite song.

Maybe i’ll reveal some of these things once the book is out – i’d like to, really, because otherwise they’re small details lost.

Or maybe I won’t and I’ll let readers decide where said character works in order to pay for dates with his girlfriend. Who knows. Books belong to their readers, right?

Forget How You Found Us

photo-3A bit ago I mentioned contributing to a book called FORGET HOW YOU FOUND US, part of Burrow Press’ 15 Views of Orlando series. Well, the book is out and I received my author copies yesterday! I’m in a book! So exciting!

photo 2

A bit about the project:

Burrow Press, an Orlando publisher, started a series called 15 Views of Orlando, where 15 writers each contribute their own chapter, with each chapter taking place in a different part of Orlando. The chapters, though separate, must somehow continue the story, whether by elaborating on a character, a location, a theme, etc. So, when writing, there’s no outline, no concrete plot. The first writer creates their chapter, then the second tacks his or hers on. The cool part is that writers have no idea where the plot is going once their chapter is contributed, and have no say in how the story – or even the character they create – concludes.

I had the privilege of writing the epilogue, so I was able to read the entire thing. It was weird, concluding a story that I didn’t create, and utilizing characters that started out as other people’s creations. But also extremely fun, because it was a challenge. It was something new and unique. And the plot? So different from the stuff I usually write.

And so, the book is out! It’s so neat seeing my name in print, and only adds to the bubbling thrill of TNWSY’s release next year. I’m so honored to be a part of the publication, with all the other talented authors, and can’t wait to hear what people think.

Here’s the synopsis for the book:

Forget How You Found Us is a loosely linked literary portrait of Orlando, FL as told by the city’s best writers. The stories within follow Olivia and Sabrina, two teenage sisters brand new to the “golf course community” of Lake Nona. Olivia is tired of living in the shadow of her older sister’s rebellion. Since the move, their only communication has been through notes and poems written in each other’s journals. But when Sabrina runs away from home, and Olivia’s only friend mysteriously disappears, a sequence of strange events follow both sisters, as well as a peripheral cast of characters that includes the distraught mother of the missing girl, the groundskeeper of the Kerouac House, a homeless bridge troll, and William S. Burroughs.

Read the first chapter here (which was written by a high school student, as part of the publisher’s literary outreach).

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!