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.

 

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?