Tag Archives: revising

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.

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:

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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?

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

I recently received my next round of revision notes from my editor. She said this round was more polishing than heavy revising, so I named it the “polish version” on my computer, which of course sounds like I’m writing it in Polish. Anywho, my deadline is January 6. I will not be posting anything until then since I’ll be busy revising-polishing-tweaking while celebrating Christmas and ringing in the New Year. So, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE! Enjoy this festive time of year. I’ll post an update soon after the new year. For now, I leave you with this from me, my daughter, my dad and siblings. I couldn’t resist! It cracks me up every time I watch it! Enjoy!

 

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:

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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.

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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!