Normal? Sorry, wrong number.

Blake commentary

Yeah, so did I, Blake. So. Did. I.

But no, the psychosis simply shifts from: No one is ever going to buy my book. I should quit. Clearly, I’m not a good enough writer. I saw Taco Bell is hiring. I’m probably not good enough for them, either. To: Holy sh*t, my book sold. It’s going to be OUT. THERE. What if no one buys it? What if everybody hates it? Oh no, this means I have to do Twitter. And WORSE, Facebook. I don’t know any NYT bestsellers to get a blurb from. And I’ll have to blog in a timely manner. How do I do marketing? My publisher is going to think I’m not savvy enough for this. I’m NOT savvy enough

It goes on and on. And on. Then again, maybe it’s just me. I am good friends with Anxiety. We go way back. But, as days go by, and it sinks in that my book isn’t coming out for like a year-and-a-half, I’m a little less worried about those things. I DO worry, but I mean, this book’s release  is like a full-term pregnancy AND the months of nursing-through-the-night away, and those periods in my life felt like an eternity. I have time––time to stress and time to enjoy this next stretch in my publishing journey.

How the deal went down

I said I’d give a more detailed account about how my publishing deal came about. Honestly, I couldn’t do it right away. It was one of the most intense things that’s ever happened to me. It was scary. It was surreal. I had become pretty accustomed to coming thisclose, or not close at all. I understood rejections. I had solid coping mechanisms in place for them. I did not expect “yes” to be as stressful as a really bad “no.” So I needed some time to pass. For a shocking wave of oh-my-god-someone’s-going-to-PAY-me-so-if-my-book-flops-I’ll-be-failing-all-these-publishing-people anxiety to pass. I have since gotten a grip. Sort of. I’m still scared, but hopeful, too. I love my book. I am tickled fuchsia that the team at Egmont USA loves it, too.

Now, every publisher has different procedures. Some move faster. Some move slower. Two writers at the same publisher may have an entirely different experiences.  There’s a lot of factors involved that affects the pace of a publishing deal. This is how it went down for ME.

3/14/14: The Black Bird of the Gallows goes on submission to nine editors. Silence.
5/1/14: Add three more editors to the submission list.
5/15/14: I send a slightly ranting email to my agent, wondering why I haven’t received a rejection yet. I want a rejection, damnit!
5/19/14: Agent replies with soothing, reassuring words. Then mentions that it’s going to an editorial meeting at Egmont. I relax a little, try not to get excited. Editorial meetings are just step one.
5/22/14: Book passes muster at editorial meeting. It will be discussed next at the marketing meeting the following Tuesday. Now, I begin to get hopeful. I also make the error of thinking this “marketing meeting” is the acquisition meeting, so when Tuesday comes and goes, I’m convinced it got shot down. Agent reminds me that this is BEA week and they are likely focussed on that. I suddenly hate BEA. The. Suspense Is. Killing. Me.
Dr. Who stress photo: dr who please tumblr_m4rw5cRY0M1qbl202.gif“>
6/10/14: Message that marketing liked it and it will be presented at the pub (acquisition) meeting the following day, but not to worry, it “will go through swimmingly.” We are told the P&L will be done ASAP. Oh My GOD!!!!! My agent begins to alert the other publishing houses who have it that an offer is coming. I do obsessive and repetitive google searches on what a P&L is  (profit and loss statement––YOU look it up). I start to experience night sweats.
6/16/14: I again harass my agent for news (which she doesn’t have) because I cannot help myself.
6/18/14: Confirmation that an offer is coming. Hopefully by Friday, which is in two days. Plus, there is interest from another editor. Aaaah!
 photo Kermit-dancing.gif

6/20/14: Email from agent that she needs to talk to me but can’t reach me. Yes, technical troubles after I’ve worn my phone like an extra limb for the past month. Finally, THE CALL. The actual call. There is an offer. (Wow, writing this, reliving that moment, is making me tear up.) I actually leaped into my husband’s arms. If it hurt, he didn’t tell me.
6/26/14: Offer accepted, after some negotiating by my intrepid agent.
7/10/14: Deal announced in Publisher’s Weekly. I cry a little, seeing it there. I’ve gazed at countless weekly “Deals” page, longing for the day my announcement would be in there. And now it is. I feel like I could totally do this:
Legolas photo: Legolas LOTR-mumakil-reallyally.gif“>

For the rest of my life, I will remember getting that call. There are only a few times I recall being that happy. That unbelievably over the moon. I’d achieved a milestone I was beginning to think would never happen. BTW, the other editor ultimately stepped aside because my book has paranormal elements and her house is only seeking contemporary. Rereading my stress-fueled emails to my agent just now was painful. Gad, I sounded like a nut. But I learned about myself and will implement the next time I am on submission: I do not want to know what is happening every step of the way. I thought I did, but all that happened is I went bat-shit crazy for about a month. My family didn’t enjoy that. In the future, I will tell my agent to tell me nothing, unless we have an offer. Ignorance is not bliss, but in this case, it is sanity. So there it is. The highlights and the lowlights and everything in between. Live well, write on! And do some of this:
Dr. Who stress photo: Do the Dr. Dance tumblr_likhw0LDZO1qcldz4.gif“>

Sold!

I’m happy to announce that I’ve sold my YA horror, The Black Bird of the Gallows to Egmont USA! I like so much about this publisher––and I know a great deal about them because I am very good at searching for things on the internet. Meg does research :)

Anyhow, the book will be out in early 2016––in hardcover, people!!––and I’ll share the stuff that comes between then and now. More later, but here is the link to my official announcement!

 

Whaaat?

I got this catalog in the mail a few days ago. I thought I read the title wrong. It seems cruel or a total joke to put, “Gear up for the best school year ever,” on the cover, followed by a reference to lunch bags and backpacks. I mean, kids aren’t even out of school yet. For those of us living in northern states, we just got leaves on the trees. We are NOT thinking about fall. Seriously, people.
catalog

I told my husband, loudly, how stupid it is to pimp back to school stuff in mid June. But I’m a big fat hypocrite. I am. I’m constantly anticipating, projecting possible outcomes. Now, if you are a writer working toward traditional publication (like me), patience is essential. If you don’t have it, you must acquire it somehow––steal some from a zen person, grow it in a jar, whatever––because there is a lot of waiting. Waiting to hear from agents. Waiting to hear from critique partners and beta readers. Waiting to hear from editors, and then, if you are very fortunate, waiting for your finished book to be released.

That said, I possess zero natural patience. I appear to have some (in an effort to be professional and not crazy), but it’s all show. My internal dialogue is that irritating kid in the backseat chanting, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Nobody wants to hear that. Least of all, me. We’re supposed to enjoy the journey, be in the present. All easy––and excellent––advice to give, but living it is another thing entirely. Mindfulness is an elusive state for many. Elusive, but worth chasing. And I am chasing it. Really. Or I will, right after I order this cute monogrammed lunch bag for my daughter. September is only two months away, after all :)

A Sunny Day

On a Saturday morning, this happened:
SunnyDay
I watched my husband start to order the clothes back on, but then he just closed his mouth with a sigh and a smile. We stood there, watching our two-year-old run with gorgeous, giggling abandon through the grass and smothering pangs of longing to do the same thing––to dip back to the days when streaking across the yard would have earned us amused smiles, rather than a visit from the sheriff and a lecture on common decency. Oh, to be free and unselfconscious and joyous. Eventually, the diaper came off too, to be hung amongst the yellow flowers of the forsythia bush (in photo at left) and my daughter transformed into full-fledged wood nymph, complete with trailing flowers and muddy feet and shrieks of pure joy. It was beautiful to observe and a poignant reminder how magical these early days of warmth are. Plants crack through the soil, the ends of branches swell red with tightly curled leaves. It’s all proof that no matter how formidable winter can be, a new season is right around the corner, ready to fill the days with warmth and wake up all the sleeping things.

LOOK at this cover!

Isn’t it gorgeous? Of course it is. The cover gods were particularly benevolent with this one. I’m totally a little bias because this beauty is the literary fruit of my friend Romily Bernard. Remember Me is the second in a trilogy put out by Harper Teen (9/23/14) and follows the misadventures of computer hacker Wick Tate. Find Me, book 1, was un-put-downable (ooh, spell check hates every bit of that word) and I can personally attest that this sequel is even more engrossing. I was lucky enough to read an early draft, and…wow. If you’re a fan of YA thrillers with tech flavor, Romily is your girl. Plus, she’s super amazing and generous. Just sayin’. Now, go ahead and moon over this sublime cover:

Romily Bernard's  REMEMBER ME, coming 9.23.14

Romily Bernard’s REMEMBER ME, coming 9.23.14

How to be an author.

The infectious Avery Flynn in action.

The infectious Avery Flynn in action.


This weekend I attended my Maine romance writers’ conference at the Senator Inn in Augusta. Honestly, I wasn’t ramped up to go. My book’s on submission, I’m torn between a few writing projects and was in a generally hibernative (Is that a word? Spell check says no.) state. However, I had to go because I was on the committee and possessed all the name tags. I got into the spirit of it, and I have to admit, our retreat rocked. With workshops from the brilliant Judith Arnold, the spontaneous Sandy Blair and the absolutely lovely Avery Flynn, I was ready to crawl out of my den and eat some berries.

I’m going to talk about Avery (pictured in action, above), because as I sat there crunching on peanut M&Ms and trying to hold my bladder I was thinking to myself, “I want to be like her when I’m an author.” Truly. And here’s why:

At the end of the conference, when all the awards and prizes were dispensed and everyone was filtering out, Avery very quietly called over Terri, the truly stellar hotel event coordinator. Avery pulled out a promo postcard, wrote down her email address and handed it to Terri with the words, “Thank you so much. Email me, and I’ll send you a free book.” I doubt anyone witnessed this––it wasn’t meant to be noticed––or Terry’s surprised gasp of gratitude. I doubt many of us noticed Terri at all––attendees aren’t supposed to notice the event coordinator. But Avery did and her gesture amazed me. We’re sort of conditioned to worry about rights and contracts and royalty percentages and selling––God, yes, the selling––that it’s easy to forget about giving.

So that wound up being my big takeaway from the retreat. It’s not just about how you write, it’s how you act as a writer. Especially when you think no one is looking.

Avery's smexy book.

Avery’s smexy book.

Words and Music

Some people can’t write with music on, but I find the right soundtrack can clear my head and put me deep in the scene I’m writing. It strengthens my point of view, blocks extraneous thoughts and minimizes the chance I’m going to get distracted by something dumb. There’s a link, I think, between music and words, and when that right song is playing, my fingers feel obliged to keep up. A valuable tool when writing is especially difficult; when self doubt crowds the mind with rubbish. If you think about it, our brains can only do so many things at once: We can’t write and listen to music, and lecture ourselves on what hack writers we are. For me, the rubbish is jettisoned and it’s just me and the music and my words.

This song is on loop right now, the only thing making Chapter 11 of my current work in progress happen:

Chasing the black moment

This is what happened. My agent sent me the list of editors we’re subbing my book to. My sweaty fingers made smudgy marks on my computer monitor as I read each editor’s name. Over and Over. Amazing names. I’ve seen them in acknowledgment pages and on blogs and on panels. What I would give, to work with any one of them. What I would give to see this burning goal of holding my beautiful book in my hands.

I don’t like to blog about writing, because there are so very many blogs about writing that do it better than I ever could, but I’m stealing a term from commercial fiction for this post: the black moment. It’s when it appears that all is lost. It’s the moment of true despair for the hero or heroine. It also marks the turning of the tide. The change of fortune from bad to good. I’m not implying that my present moment is black. Far from it. In the past year, I’ve been a finalist in several prestigious contests, secured an amazing agent and written a new book that I’m proud of. I’m enjoying this journey. The highs have blown my mind. The lows have taught me that I’m made of sturdier stuff than I thought.

But I am ready for that turn of the tide. The shift that will turn me from aspiring writer to published author. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I hope this is my black moment. I’d be okay with that.

The. Worst. Day. Ever.

Kali, "Wiggity-Wu" and "the girlie face" 9/11/01 ~ 1/5/13

When we went to bed that night, we didn’t know that would be the last night she would sleep at the foot of our bed.

I guess that’s just the thing: we never know. I live the best life I can. I try to be good to the people I love. And even to the people I don’t. But I’m not, always. With this dog, I have no regrets. She lived a good life as a beloved member of our family. She was a very good dog; so easy to love. Her sudden passing is a reminder to me–be gentle, be soft. Slow down. Forgive.

Ah, the lessons we learn from our dogs.
Even after they’ve left us.