Category Archives: Resurrecting Emily

My Novel in Word Art

This is a quick post to show off my novel in word art form. In the past, I have had my students run projects through Wordle to create a “word cloud.” The actual size of each word in the cloud is based on the number of times it is used. It’s a great way to have students analyze key words and phrases that may have been overlooked during a first read.

I wasn’t surprised by the results for the characters’ names. Emily and Elizabeth are the main characters, and Ms. Diaz, Kevin, Tommy, Sarah, and Abby are supporting characters. I was surprised at how small “Dickinson” was (to the right of Elizabeth) considering Emily Dickinson’s life and poetry heavily influence the story. I also have a thing for body parts, it seems: face, eyes, hands, head. Hmmm.

Anyway, I’m a visual person, so I thought this was fun and cool. Try it! If you do, take a screen shot and share it in the comments.


Help Me With A Title

I received my editorial letter recently and have been planning my revisions. Since today was the last full day of classes, my mind is shifting from teacher mode to full-time writing mode. The new scenes are playing out in my head, and I’m itching to get them on paper. One thing that will change is the title.

The working title has been RESURRECTING EMILY. The reasons? you ask.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

Well, I have a thing for Emily Dickinson (I love her), and she has a strong influence throughout the story. In some ways, I want to help “bring her back” to the forefront with young readers (most of my students know nothing about her). Also, the two main characters are named Emily, although one always goes by her middle name, Elizabeth. One of the Emilys attempts suicide. Which one? you ask. Well, you’ll have to buy the book to find out.

The title, however, has an obvious religious reference and my novel is not about traditional faith. So, I need a new title, preferably a first line or other phrase from a Dickinson poem since her work is featured in the book. I have some possibilities, and I would love for you to chime in and vote. I’d like to send my editor the best ones.

I was able to shorten the list with the help of my family. If you know them, this exchange will not surprise you. If you don’t, then welcome to my world. (All in good fun here. We’re a tight crew.)


Sister: Cleaving sounds like cleavage and it’s on teens’ minds. No.

Me: How about A PAIN SO UTTER?

Sister: It makes me think of cows. No.


Brother: Geez, what kind of book are you writing?

Me: You’d know if you bothered to read an early draft.

Brother: I thought it was about high school.

Me: It is, but it’s not a romantic comedy. It’s about more serious issues in high school–teen depression and attempted suicide.

Brother: I missed that part in high school.

Sister: They covered that in health class when you were skipping.

Mom: How about WHEN PAIN HURTS?

Me: It’s not from a Dickinson poem. And, when doesn’t pain hurt?

Brother: Well, I guess if you’re into that kind of thing.

We all look at my sister-in-law.

Sister-in-law: Don’t look at me.


Me: Why do I bother?

Dad: Come on, guys, when you write a book, it’s like your baby. You put a piece of yourself out there. This is serious.

Everyone is laughing too hard to hear him.


Anywho…..please help me. Here are the ones that survived the family get-together. Trust me–they all “fit” the story. Comment here, on my Facebook Page, or on Twitter. If you could rank them in the order you like them (first being the best), that would be awesome!! Thanks in advance for your thoughts!!






My New Facebook Page!

Earlier this week, I found out that my debut novel, RESURRECTING EMILY, will be on Walker’s Fall 2014 list, if all goes according to plan. This may seem like a long time from now, but it really isn’t. So, I’m now panicking…I mean, preparing…and trying to get my name and face on as many social media sites I think I can handle (which isn’t many. Pinterest is so tempting, but I can’t! Not yet!)

So…this is a quick post to let people know that I now have a Facebook Page that can be liked. I added an icon thingie on the sidebar of this blog, and I’ve programmed it so that whatever I post here will go to my FB page and my Twitter account. (Let’s see if all of this actually works.)

My hope is that my original FB account will be more personal and the page will be all things book-related. I’m sure there will be some cross-pollination, but in general, I want to post pictures of my daughter, dog , etc. on my personal account, not the public FB page. (Although Rusty is an attention monger and would love his furry mug posted everywhere.)

See, there he goes again! But, isn't he cute?

See, there he goes again! But, isn’t he cute?

So, go ahead and “like” me if you want ongoing book news. The page is bare-bones right now, but I promise to post all sorts of scandalous stuff there soon (not really).

The Calm Before What Comes Next

So, it’s been almost a month since my novel RESURRECTING EMILY was bought by Mary Kate Castellani at Bloomsbury/Walker, and I have been……exhausted. Weird, right? I mean, I screamed and danced and told just about everyone I spoke to, and then I was like, Whew! (wipes brow), and I’ve been  napping a lot since. I like to think I’m recharging during this calm before what comes next.

When I think about it, I tend to work this way. I push  myself for an extended time, and then when a goal is reached, I crash. I remember once coming home from college after finals and a year as managing editor of The Daily Campus. I fell into a dead sleep for so long that my mom came in and put her finger under my nose to check if I was still breathing.

Now, I work full-time as a teacher, I’m raising a 6-year-old daughter and caring for a 15-year-old mutt, I’m writing and attending my monthly critique group, and I’m doing a mediocre job with Weight Watchers (stuck at 11 pounds). So, yeah, I’ve got a lot going on, and I’m generally sleep-deprived.

On top of all this was the brewing book deal. When emails were being exchanged about the acquisitions process, I thought I was cool, but I was so not cool. I was freaking out inside. So when the deal was done and the excitement was released, I settled into this post-news calm and have allowed myself some time to crash, just like I did each summer after college.

After spending a significant amount of time on a project that required loads of emotional and intellectual energy, I’ve cleared a major hurdle. But the race isn’t over–not even close.

I’ve reached a personal goal, but there’s lots of hard work ahead of me. My editor said I will probably receive her revision notes by the end of April, so soon enough, I will dive back into this project and dig deep to make it even better.

In the meantime, I’m going to allow myself a little mental break. I’m going to enjoy the glorious weather (finally) and push my daughter on the swings. I’m going to spend time with family and friends, and I’m going to nap every chance I get. I’m going to recharge my batteries so that I’m ready for the next leg of the race.

BOOK DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On Monday night, I got the okay from my agent to announce that my first novel, RESURRECTING EMILY, has been acquired by Mary Kate Castellani at Walker Books for Young Readers, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing!

I was all…

Jennifer Lawrence

And then I was all…

happy dancing

I want to say THANK YOU! a thousand times to my agent, Laura Langlie, for being so persistent and supportive. And of course a GIANT SIZED THANK YOU! to Mary Kate for saying yes and making a dream of mine come true!

I’ll post more details as I get them, but for now I’ll be busy doing my happy dance!

Abby Sciuto, Elizabeth Davis, and Me

Me as Abby Sciuto on Halloween

What do TV’s coolest forensic specialist, a fictional YA character, and a high school reading teacher have in common?

Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but here’s the story.

Almost two weeks ago, I was scrambling around, trying to decide what to be for Halloween. Yes, the teachers where I work dress up, and I don’t need to be asked twice to participate in the holiday. This year, I wasn’t sure what to do, but then I decided to be Abby Sciuto from NCIS. I must be a big fan, right? Not really. I watch limited TV. Still, I’d have to be living in a cave not to know who she is. Then, I must be a big fan of Pauley Perrette’s, right? Not really. I know very little about the actress. So, why Abby? Because a teen version of her is what I pictured in my head as I developed the character Elizabeth Davis for my yet-to-be-published novel, RESURRECTING EMILY.

In my mind, Elizabeth was beautiful, tough, creative, and smart with jet-black hair and light green eyes. While writing the novel, I decided to make a mock book cover that I would pin to my wall.  I had just read THE SECRET and listened to a CD about manifesting dreams. Creating a visual of what’s desired was one of the suggestions. Some of friends will laugh about this (go ahead, ha ha), but I grew up with a superstitious Brazilian mother. If she told me to light a candle every Tuesday to ward off the evil eye, I did. No questions asked. So, I created a book cover that would make my graphic designer sister

The mock book cover I made to visualize my dream

cringe, but the point is that I chose a picture of Pauley Perrette as Abby Sciuto to represent Elizabeth. I couldn’t find a picture of a Goth teenager that captured the exact image I had of my character, but Abby as a 15-year-old–at least physically–would come close. Here is how my character is described in the novel:

Emily Elizabeth Davis: major attitude from the tone of her voice to the swagger in her walk…A Goth girl in a small, New England town. In a big city, she would blend in. But here? She stood out to say the least. She carried her attitude easily on her sturdy frame. She was taller than many girls her age and had an athletic upper-body.

Her pin-straight hair was dyed jet-black and pulled tight into a ponytail. Uneven bangs and black eye makeup framed light green eyes. Her angular face, with its strong cheekbones and jawline, was decorated with an eyebrow piercing, big black hoop earrings, and a pouty mouth painted deep purple. Loose, army-green shorts sat low on her hips. She wore black wedge flip-flops; her toenails and short finger nails were painted blood red.

Dressing up as Abby Sciuto was fun. I mean, when else could I get away with wearing a red dog collar and neck tattoo to work? But it also made me feel like I gave a little life to Elizabeth Davis, a fictional girl who’s been a part of me for many years now. Hopefully, soon, you’ll have the chance to get to know her.

No News Is…

…good news because it’s not bad news, but I wish I had some good news to report.

I haven’t posted anything for a while because I thought, I’ll post something when I have news about the book. But then, I didn’t have any news that I could report. Some things have happened, but I have learned through other online blogs that when it comes to having a manuscript on submission to editors, writers have to ix-nay the alking-tay. It makes sense. It’s kind of like when I tell the world that I have a date, which is always breaking news considering my love life, and then there’s all sorts of excited talk and high hopes. Then, I have to go back to everyone I blabbed to about the date to report that the guy was a rabid gerbil enthusiast or former drug dealer. In other words, not my type.

So, it would be more than a little bit embarrassing to report: “I might have a book deal!” only to report days later: “I don’t have a book deal.” Also, the blogs argue that if an editor Googles a writer and reads in her blog that the manuscript is on its fifth revision and third round of submissions, well…that doesn’t sound good.

On the other hand, hearing about what a writer goes through can be helpful to someone like me, a first-time novelist who had no connections to the publishing world when I started to query agents last summer. Many successful authors have been turned down numerous times before they landed a book deal. (J.K. Rowling anyone?) Just the other day, I read a blog post by Mandy Hubbard, an author and agent whose road to publication included nine drafts and several rounds of submissions to editors. Her novel, PRADA AND PREJUDICE, was bought by an editor who had read it for the third time. I like hearing stories like Hubbard’s because they help me to better understand the process and how long it takes. Of course, these stories also help me to believe that yes, it will happen, although it will take time.

So, while the general consensus is that mum’s the word when the manuscript is on submission, I think it’s safe for me to say that I love my agent, Laura Langlie. All of her comments and suggestions have been right-on. The manuscript today is very different compared to the one she first read, but I think it’s a much better manuscript. I trust that she will find the right home for it, and when that happens, I will post the good news.

In the meantime, I will blab about other things here, like bad dates and good books. On second thought, I think I’ll just stick with good books.