Tag Archives: featured

My Novel Has a Title and Description!!!

What an awesome day! My editor sent me an email with two great pieces of information: my novel has a new official title and an official description that will go into Bloomsbury’s catalog!

So, here’s the title…….

WHEN REASON BREAKS

Changing a title after working on project for so long can be nerve-wracking. This title is perfect, as it fits the story and it’s from one of Emily Dickinson’s poems that’s quoted in the book. The line is from Poem #340: “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain.” Here’s the stanza with the reference:

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –

Okay, so I didn’t write a light-hearted romantic comedy. Maybe next time. For now, though, this is what will be available in less than a year:

13 Reasons Why meets the poetry of Emily Dickinson in this gripping debut novel perfect for fans of Sara Zarr or Jennifer Brown.

Meet Elizabeth Davis and Emily Delgado. A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily 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.

In an emotionally taut novel that is equal parts literary and commercial, with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls fighting for their lives.

Cindy L. Rodriguez is a former newspaper reporter turned public school teacher. She now teaches as a reading specialist at a Connecticut middle school but previously worked for the Hartford Courant and the Boston Globe.  She and her young daughter live in Connecticut. When Reason Breaks is her debut novel.

GAHHHH!! Even though I know the general process of publishing and what to expect next, whenever something happens, I’m surprised and excited. I guess that’s a good thing. For those of you who were at SCBWI in New York, I’m taking Kate Messner’s advice and celebrating every step. For those of you who weren’t there, remember to savor small victorious moments, and it never hurts to celebrate with Aretha Frnaklin, so here’s the Queen of Soul!

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.

Wordle

One Step Closer to Publication!

First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope your day is filled with lots of kisses, hugs, and chocolate!

So, this past week, I received the major news from my editor that my novel is out of the revision process and in a copy editor’s hands. I received lots of congratulations (thank you!) followed by the question, “What does that mean?” The short answer is that it is one major step closer to publication. Here’s more of an explanation…

The writing process is not linear, but it tends to have steps we all go through from idea to finished product. Here they are:

writing_process

As a journalist, I lived this process daily. Get an assignment, do the research and interviews, draft the article, an editor reads it and makes corrections or offers suggestions, I revise it, it gets read again and, when ready, moves on to the copy desk, where editors take a super close look at it for errors, and then prepare it to be published in the newspaper.

The book publication process is similar, but while the newspaper business runs through these steps daily, months pass between each step when creating a book. Prewriting and drafting could take a year (seriously). In the middle of drafting, you may need to stop and return to the planning phase because something isn’t working and you have to think it through.

When you share it with others for revision suggestions, the revising and redrafting and revising and redrafting and….you get the picture…could go on for months. And in the middle of this process, you may leap back to prewriting/planning if you need to move chapters around and think through the structure and events. At one point, I stopped everything and used post-it notes on my wall to figure out how to tackle a major revision.

I’m not complaining. All of the revisions were worth it. The story I started drafting years ago is SOOOOO much better today thanks to suggestions from my family and friends, and later, my agent and editor. All of the drafting and revising has resulted in a story I’m proud of and excited to share soon with the world.

So, after looping through drafting and revising for months, to be told the manuscript has moved on to copy editing is a big deal, like jump-up-and-down-and-fist-bump-someone kind of excitement. Because this means the manuscript is out of the writing phase and into the production phase. Because if you refer to the chart (yes, I’m a teacher), the story is one pie shape closer to “Publish.” AGHHHHHH!!! Crazy, right?

It's Happening Hi Res

I’m as excited as he is to see what happens through the editing phase! Any comments or advice from people who have been through it?

Where Did September Go?

So, September happened. And according to the calendar, confirmed by the falling colored leaves outside, it is now late October. What the? How does this happen? No matter how long I teach–13 years–the start of the school year is a dizzying, time-stealing tornado that slows down right about now, which is why I’ve come up for air to write this post.

This year, I returned to the same school district, but moved back to my old school in a new position as the 6th and 7th grade reading teacher/specialist. I also started as an adjunct professor at Tunxis Community College, which has been fun and a lot of  work. Then, three weeks into the school year, my beloved furry friend, Rusty, died after 15+ years and countless memories. Here he is, napping by my side, and holding up my manuscript during revisions.

RustyAnd here he is tolerating the shenanigans of my 6-year-old:

VLUU L310 W  / Samsung L310 WLosing him would have been tough any time of the year, but at the start of the school year was especially difficult. I had to keep going, trying to be Super Mom and Super Teacher when all I wanted to do was sit and cry. We still miss him terribly. RIP, little buddy.

On the writing front, I’ve gotten involved with some cool new sites! I am a member of the newly formed Fearless Fifteeners, a group of authors debuting in 2015. I am also a member of Latin@s in Kid Lit, a site dedicated to celebrating children’s literature by and for Latin@s. I also wrote a guest post for YA Highway, which is an awesome place for YA readers and writers.

If you read my last post, you know that I completed a major revision of my first novel and submitted it to my editor. I’m waiting for her next round of comments/notes. The final draft is due in January 2014, with a tentative release date set for early 2015.

I’ll confess that I haven’t written anything creative since turning in my revision because of the full-on crazy that was my life from September through now. Aaron, Richard, Sam, Matt “Sharkey” Hardy, and Anna–characters from my second novel–were respectfully quiet, knowing I had to focus on my new jobs and getting my daughter off to first grade when August rolled into September.

But lately, they’ve started to push their way back into my consciousness. “Knock, knock. Remember us?” they ask. Yes, I hear and see them in my head. No, I have not officially lost my mind. Other mostly-stable writers have confirmed this for me. Having your characters bang around in your head is normal–weird but true.

So, September happened and we’re almost at the end of October. The back-to-school dust has settled. This doesn’t mean life will be less hectic, but it does mean I’m managing the juggling act. Now that I’m at this point, I will find a way to toss the “revise my second novel” ball into the mix and not let anything drop. I’ll do this because one thing I’ve learned on the road to publishing book #1 is that I hope there will be a book #2 and then a book #3, and the only way for that to happen is to keep writing somehow, no matter how busy my “normal” life is.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation 2013

My blog has been quiet because, if you read the last post, you know I had my hands on a keyboard all of July and some of August. Since I’m a full-time teacher, summer is key writing time. This was more true than ever because I was revising my novel based on my editorial letter. Although my official deadline wasn’t mid-August, that was my personal goal to avoid additional craziness when school started again. So, this is what I did this summer:

Summer2013

We had to draw a picture to represent our summer on the first “teacher” day back to school. This is me writing on my bed, with Rusty sleeping on the floor. My daughter Maria is at day camp. This also proves that my sister inherited all of the family art genes. In the end, this is what I accomplished:

Book and Contract

The most recent version of my manuscript (left) was completed and sent to my editor. It clocked in at 41 chapters, 230 pages, 59,487 words. I also signed my contract with Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA! (right) YAY! My editor will read the latest version and let me know what I need to do next.

This summer, I also started to prep for my new job at my old middle school and my new adjunct position at Tunxis Community College. I also worked with four authors to create a new site/blog (details coming soon).

So, I worked a lot.

I did some fun things, too. I went to the Clinton Outlets and the Water’s Edge for dinner, and I took my daughter to see Turbo and a dinosaur exhibit. I visited Boston twice, celebrated my brother’s birthday, and hung out with good friends.

iPhone Pics and Videos 064

My daughter at the dinosaur exhibit in Hartford, CT

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Beautiful Boston!

Still, in the end, I definitely worked more than played. I’ll admit that I was a little sad when I saw my colleagues’ pictures of their summer vacations–beaches, camping, parks, international trips, and visits to Disney World.

All day, I grappled with guilt of the “I’m a horrible mother and should have turned the computer off and went to the beach with my daughter instead of sending her to day camp” variety.

Ultimately, though, I reminded myself this summer had to be a working vacation. Two months of open time is a golden opportunity for writing, and this wasn’t any old job I could have turned down to spend more time having fun. This was dream-come-true work that will result in my first published novel.

I am a rabid overachiever by nature, but reality has reminded more than once that I can’t do everything well and remain sane. I couldn’t have started two new teaching jobs with a unfinished revision hanging over me. I had to be Writing Mom instead of Super Fun Mom to move one step closer to my publishing goal/dream and maintain my overall emotional and mental health.

So, this summer I worked more than I played–and that’s okay. I believe lots of good will come of this–the book, yes, but other things, too. My daughter often “wrote” in her notebook and chose big books, like Great Expectations, from my library to “read.”

Isn't she adorable?

Isn’t she adorable?

Still, I don’t want to be an “all work, no play” person. When my advance money arrives, I will definitely spend some of it on having fun with my baby girl!