Category Archives: Bloomsbury

When Reason Breaks Releases Today!!!

This post is also published on the Latin@s in Kid Lit site. Instead of writing something else for my own blog, I am cross-posting it here. Makes sense, right?

 

Reason Breaks Blended CollageToday is the official release day of When Reason Breaks, my debut young adult contemporary novel published by Bloomsbury! Yay! The novel is about two girls, both sophomores in high school, who struggle with depression in different ways. Here’s part of the official description:

A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

To celebrate my journey, which started seven years ago, I’m sharing some pictures I took along the way.

 

IMG_3086This first picture represents the writing, revising, and editing phase done alone and then with critique partners. It took me three years to write the draft that I used to query agents. Yes, that’s a long time, but I was working a full-time job and a part-time job, while single-parenting. My writing place is on my bed, and without fail, my dogs–first Rusty (RIP) and now Ozzie–have kept me company. This has been very sweet, except for the times they pawed the keyboard. Notice the guilty look in his eyes.

 

 

 

IMG_1294I landed an agent, Laura Langlie, after a few months of querying. I revised based on her feedback, and then the manuscript went out on submission. It stayed out there for a long, long time. We received some valuable feedback after the first round, so I revised again and went back out on submission. Finding the right agent and editor is kind of like literary Match.com. You might go on lots of dates that don’t work, but that’s okay, because the goal is finding the perfect person. So, it took a long time, but the book landed with the perfect person, Mary Kate Castellani at Bloomsbury. This is a picture of the manuscript next to my contract. Receiving the contract is one of those “oh-my-goodness-this-is-happening” moments. At this point, the deal had already been announced online, but seeing the contract in black-and-white makes it real.

 

IMG_4414AHHHHH! ARCs. This was a big moment. I didn’t taken any pictures during revising and copy editing. They wouldn’t have been pretty. But, please know that a lot goes on between the previous picture and this one (major understatement). After revisions, the manuscript went to copy edits. That day was significant because it meant drafting, for the most part, was over. Changes could still be made, but the story moved from creation into production. I received a blurb from the amazing Margarita Engle, and the cover was revealed. Soon after, these beauties arrived at my house. And AHHHHH! ARCs! Even though I had seen all the pieces–manuscript, blurb, cover art–it was different seeing it all put together in book form.

 

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The ARCs went on tour to other authors debuting in 2015, friends, and family. I also gave a couple away on Goodreads. This was the copy that went to the first winner, Ali. I have signed thousands of things, but this was the first time I signed a copy of my novel. Around this time, the book was listed on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other places and became available for pre-order. Holy wow!

And people were actually reading the book, which, of course, was always the goal, but as ARCs went out and reviews popped up, I became aware that what had once belonged to me–what had only existed in my head and heart–was really out in the world. Here is photographic evidence of actual reading going on.

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image_3Now that ARCs were out in the world, I considered ways to help market the novel. One thing I learned from other authors was that I had to do my part when it came to marketing. I didn’t go overboard with swag. I decided to create a book trailer and print book marks and postcards with a QR code linked to the book trailer.

The book trailer was a fun, family experience. My sister’s dining room table was the work station, with my image_2nephew–a high school freshman–doing all of the real tech work. He’s a genius with computers, so he handled putting it all together. The opening voice belongs is my niece, and I narrate the rest of it, although my voice was altered to be lower and much cooler, in my opinion. Bookmarks have been distributed to teachers, librarians, and bloggers. Postcards went to high schools, public libraries, and independent bookstores in Connecticut, in addition to some libraries and bookstores in other parts of the country. Writers always question “what works,” and I think the answer is different for each of us. Bookmarks worked for me because I’m a teacher and I have lots of teacher friends who asked for 50-100 at a time. I knew they’d get into the hands of teen readers. Also, I have received some positive feedback from the postcards. A few librarians emailed me saying they received the post card, viewed the trailer, and planned to order the book; some even invited me to participate in events. So, in my mind, these three things were worth it.

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While the ARCs were “out there,” the manuscript continued to be worked on through copy editing and then first pass pages, which should be called the 100th pass pages because everyone involved had read the manuscript so many times. First pass pages are cool because the manuscript is typeset, rather than being on regular paper in the standard 12-point Times Roman. After the first pass pages were returned to the publisher, the next time I saw my novel, it was in……..

 

 

 

HARDCOVER!!!

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These came earlier than expected, so I was surprised when I found them on my doorstep. My daughter hugged me and said, “Wow, Mom, they’re beautiful. Congratulations.” I might have gotten a little teary eyed. That day, I donated a copy to my local library and then brought copies to my family. My mom cried when she saw it. My mom doesn’t cry easily. I might have gotten a little teary eyed then, too.

During this last month before publication, I’ve been excited and nervous and, most of all, grateful. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in this process. It takes a village to write and publish a book, and because of everyone who supported me along the way, I saw my novel on a shelf in Barnes & Noble for the first time this past weekend. Wow!

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Available at:

Indiebound Barnes & Noble | Amazon Powell’s Book Depository | Books-A-Million | Target

And please look for it at your local libraries.

The 777 Meme: 7 Lines From Page 7 of My Work in Progress

I’ve been tagged by Jennifer Brooks for the 777 Meme!

The rules:
Go to the 7th line of the 7th page of your work in progress.
Post the first full 7 lines.
Then tag 7 friends.

My work in progress, titled AESOP’S CURSE, is with my agent. If she thinks it’s ready, we will submit it to my editor at Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books. They have the right to review my next project first. Here is a basic description:

High school freshman Alexandre Hart discovers he is the reincarnation of Aesop, the fable teller, and he must reverse Aesop’s curse–his final words to a Delphi village–to better his karma and prevent a repeat of the deadly curse. While dealing with his karmic mission, Alex must also face a senior bully, his long-time crush, his feelings for his best friend, Daniella Falcón, and his reluctance to take risks.

A beautiful picture of Delphi

Alex has been having recurring nightmares in which a stocky, mean-looking dude has been chasing him. One night, Alex decides to stop running in his dreams and meet the man who, he thinks, might kill him in his sleep. Here are the lines when they are finally face-to-face, ready to have a conversation that will reveal Alex’s past life, his karmic mission, and that the “dream stalker” is really Kyros, his spiritual adviser.

I am not usually a rule-breaker, but I added more lines so that you get a better sense of the scene. Here it is:

 

“Are you ready to talk?” he asked in a raspy baritone.

“Sure,” I said, trying to act unruffled, hoping he didn’t notice my shaking legs. A part of me still thought I should be running for my life.

“Let’s sit,” he said. Chairs and Main Street appeared out of nowhere. We sat facing each other in the middle of the empty road. Even at this hour, I expected to hear something, like music escaping from an open window or leaves rustling from a summer breeze. Instead, the sound of my heartbeat pounded in my ears, and the streetlights overhead provided the only illumination.

For a few moments, neither of us spoke. I had rehearsed what to say a thousand times in my head, but in the moment, I went with the obvious.

“So, you’ve been chasing me.”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I need to tell you something. I usually try to get through to you more subtly, but you can be a little clueless, so I decided to use a more direct approach this time.”

He was usually more subtle? Has he tried to talk to me before? And why did he call me clueless? I’m not clueless, am I?

He grinned.

Okay, that wouldn’t be fair if he could read my mind or hear my thoughts or whatever.

“So, what do you want to tell me?” I asked.

He stared at me, but stayed quiet for a moment, which only made me more nervous.

“You know, Alex, I’ve thought long and hard about how to tell you this. I’ve decided not to sugar-coat anything. I’m simply going to spit it out.”

The more he stalled, the more anxious I became. Closing my eyes, I moved my head straight back and then from side to side, trying to release the tension building in my neck. After, I watched him and waited.

“I am your life coach,” he said.

“What?”

“I am your life coach.”

“My life coach?”

“Yes. I’m kind of like your guardian angel, but different. You have a guardian angel, too. I’m not her. I’m your life coach, your spirit guide, your personal adviser.”

“My life coach?”

“Yes,” he said more forcefully. “And, this is what I mean by clueless.”

 

That’s all for now! I was supposed to tag 7 new people, but most of my author friends were on writing deadlines. I am, however, tagging Venessa Schwarz, who is a contestant in the first ever Pitch Fiesta being run by Latin@s in Kid Lit.

Enjoy an Excerpt from WHEN REASON BREAKS

A few When Reason Breaks Advance Reader Copies (ARC) are in readers’ hands, and more will be printed and distributed for promotional reasons within the next month or two. The first page of the ARC has an excerpt from the novel, and since the ARCs are out there, I figured it was fine to share this piece with all of you. If you need a brief description of the novel before you read the excerpt, click here and then come back.

Here’s a little extra info to put this into perspective: Emily and Elizabeth are not friends, but they share a mutual friend. They are at a Halloween party but are talking alone in a room in the house. Emily was there, reading a book and avoiding the crowd, and Elizabeth stumbled in looking for the bathroom. Here is a part of their conversation.

 

With wide eyes, Emily asked, “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” Elizabeth smiled and sucked hard on her straw.

“You’re lying,” Emily said with a grin.

“Maybe, but this isn’t about me. It’s about you. Tell them. Get it over with, Delgado.”

Emily shook her head and hugged the book to her chest. “Tell them what?”

Elizabeth stared at Emily. They were quiet, listening to voices in the hallway and the music pounding below them, so loud the floorboards vibrated.

Elizabeth sprang forward from her sitting position and crawled the few feet that separated her from Emily. She kneeled and sat back on her heels.

“Look at me,” she whispered. Emily pushed her back into the wall and locked gazes with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth scanned Emily’s face and then framed the girl’s eyes with her fingers.

“Ah, there it is,” said Elizabeth.

“What?”

“Hold still.” Elizabeth pressed down her index finger, closed her eyes, and said, “Click.”

“What are you doing?” asked Emily.

“I’m taking a mental picture of you.” Elizabeth leaned in closer. Emily inhaled sharply.

“I see you, Emily Delgado,” she whispered. “Your problem isn’t really about your friends or Kevin or your dad. You try to hide it, but I know.” Elizabeth patted Emily’s leg. “Trust me, I know.”

 

What do you think? Want to read more? Well…..you still have a little longer to wait, but for now, you can add it to your Goodreads list or you can pre-order it if you want to get it delivered to your house the day of its release (2/10/2015). I’ll be sharing other excerpts over the next few months, so stay tuned!

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Available for pre-order:

Indiebound Barnes and Noble | Amazon Powell’s Book Depository | Books-A-Million