Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fan Girl Scream...NOW!

Okay, so you know how I eluded to the fact that my favorite author of all time...ALL TIME (note the excitement with the caps lock) said she was, and I quote, "looking forward" to reading my book? Well, she also read my blog....and LOVED IT!

The lovely author, who you all should go out right now and buy all her wonderful books, is Marianne Curley (Seriously, if you need to stop reading to go get her books, then stop and come back. I'll be waiting). I will post a link to her website at the bottom of this post. She is a lovely Australian young adult novelist whose books literally inspired me to read and write. If it wasn't for her books, I probably wouldn't be typing these very words.

Her works include "Old Magic" (LOVE!), The Guardians of Time Trilogy, which include "The Named", "The Dark", and "The Key" (LOVE LOVE LOVE!) and her latest work "Hidden" (Book 1 in The Avena Series) should be available soon. I am already counting down and can't wait to get my hands on a copy! Where is that darn pre-order button?

So how did my favorite author find out about "Forget-Me-Not"? Well, I sort of just told her. I decided that it was necessary to pay the proper thanks where it was due. So, I bit the bullet and messaged Marianne (Yeah, we're on a first name basis. It's legit.) thinking the odds of her actually having time to read and respond were very slim (She is super busy writing and doing what published authors do). So, I let it go and tried not to think about it.

Well then she replied. And I cried. And then ran around my house while my dogs barked at me.

She was so encouraging and sweet, saying how she was looking forward to reading my book and how excited she was for me. Later, I sent her the link to this blog just so she could stay up to date until my website is finished (which may be launched as early as next week! AH!). She checked it out and actually said I was funny. And that I inspired her. I. Inspired. Her. WHAT?!

And then she said she was proud of me. Again, WHAT?!

So, why does this particular author make it to the top of my favorites list? Well, her words inspired me during a time when I didn't think I'd be able to see any good in the world.

You see, when I was in the 6th grade, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, which he later died of when I was fifteen. At that point, I couldn't see any real goodness or happiness. I didn't understand and I questioned my purpose. Then, the Lord pointed me to a Borders where I was roaming the young adult section looking for a novel for a book report. I hadn't particularly enjoyed reading up until that point. It was more or less something I had to do for school, not pleasure. I was glancing at the different titles aimlessly when my best friend at the time pulled a book out and showed it to me. It looked like this:

I flipped through a couple of pages, deciding that this would be good for the assignment. (I think it was analyzing a familial relationship. I chose Ethan and his father Shaun for those of you who care.) Well, I started reading and well, couldn't stop. After the book report was turned in, I reread "The Named" one more time before going back to the same Borders and buying the second installment "The Dark" where within the first couple of chapters realized I was in Arkarian's POV and I honestly thought I had died and gone to heaven. Then I zoomed through the second book and went on to the third, "The Key" where I literally balled like a baby when a few choice characters *ahem* died (I'm still in denial about those). Then after wallowing in a depression that only fictional characters can inflict, I realized Marianne Curley had written "Old Magic". I then forced my brother to drive me back to the bookstore to buy it.

There is a reason why God led me to that particular book that day, why it was "The Named" that ignited a fire and a passion within my heart for reading. Of course, I didn't know at the time that this newfound love for books would blossom into my very own career. It is true when the Bible says that the Lord has all of our days and moments planned. The Lord knew exactly who would read "The Named" when it was first published and He knew how it would drastically change my life at only twelve.

So, you see it isn't just the books themselves that changed me, but it's how they helped me cope with a harsh reality that I didn't completely understand at twelve. Marianne Curley's books not only inspired me to read, and love every second of it, but to write too. It was after reading her works that I knew what I wanted to be, what the Lord had laid on my heart. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be a writer so I could inspire other little girls who, maybe, all they need at the moment is a good book that can take them somewhere else. Somewhere safe, somewhere they can realize that they are not alone.

At least that's what these books did for me. And that's why I had to thank the author who inspired this dream. So, thank you again Marianne. You have no idea how much you helped the scared little girl with your beautiful words.

Seriously, I miss Arkarian like no other. It's bad. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Writing, Publishing, and Bears, Oh My!

Just kidding. There aren't any bears in this post. Sorry to disappoint you.

So, how did this whole novel writing/publishing thing happen? Good question. I'm still trying to figure it out even now. But I suppose starting with the beginning would be best. I was fifteen years old when "Forget-Me-Not" was born. It was April 4, 2008 and yes I am a nerd because I can remember the exact day, moment, and time. Don't judge.

I was sitting in study hall doing my best to study for a test I had the next period. I was very studious like so.

Note the confused expression. I honestly don't remember how I did on that test.

When all of a sudden a voice started talking to me. I swear I'm not making this up. This is legit how it all happened. Of course, I don't normally hear voices in my head so I kind of freaked out like this.

Um, hi random voice in my head? 

I tried to ignore the persistant voice (who was later named Adeline Jasely, my protagonist) because my classmates were beginning to stare at me. My head was twitching like a mad woman.

Uh... too much coffee? 

But she wouldn't shut up (she tends to talk a lot). So, I stopped studying and wrote down what she was saying, thinking if I just wrote a little bit, she would leave me alone. Well, four months later I had a manuscript on my hands and a mild case of carpal tunnel.

So, what now? Edit, edit, edit, and did I mention to edit? This was so crucial to the entire process. I read through the entire manuscript and tweaked some things, completely rewrote other things, and basically did my best to make it absolutely perfect. Now it was time for me to let my baby go out into the harsh world of querying literary agents and publishing companies. I wonder if this is how my mom felt when I went off to college...

So here comes the hardest part on the road to publication. Query letters and the numerous rejection letters that will follow. What is a query letter you ask? Good question!

A query letter is a pivotal tool in trying to get published. It is basically a pitch that says, "This is what my book is about and this is why you should publish it!" Writer's Market.com is a great place to learn how to write a good query letter!

I received countless rejections in response ranging from "don't query us again" to very polite responses with suggestions on how to improve my manuscript. I had to learn from my mistakes and move on. Publishing did not happen over night. It took four years of hard work, perseverance, and trusting God before my dreams were finally realized.

Many people have the common misconception that publication will happen over night. Ha ha. No. The road to publication is a long, hard road to follow. It was definitely not easy, but completely worth it.

So here comes the happy ending to my long road to publication. I had sent a new batch of query letters in May 2011 after I had graduated high school. I got several rejections off the bat and several did not even respond. I decided to take a break and just focus on getting ready for college. Well fast forward almost one year. March 4, 2012 I checked my email, shocked and confused to find a response to my query letter. It was a very positive response asking for the full manuscript to review for possible publication. My reaction was something like this:

REALLY?! You want to read it?

I spent the next three days rereading my manuscript and giving it one last good edit before I sent it to Martin Sisters Publishing. I took a deep breath as I sent the email, feeling God's overwhelming peace. It was like He was saying, "This is in My timing."

And so I waited, assuming they would take the full six weeks to read it and make a decision. I religiously checked my email and tried not to think about it every single second of every single day.

On March 31, 2012, only 4 1/2 weeks later, I checked my email at about 12:00 am on my iPhone. I found a response from Denise Melton, the publisher from Martin Sisters Publishing. I sat sleepy eyed, staring at my inbox.

So sleepy...


Information is processing...



And then I did my happy dance with my mom, ran around my house, had to sit down because I couldn't feel my legs, cried a little bit, and then after a few phone conversations with relatives at 12:30 in the morning, I tried to go to sleep. But there was just too much excitement and I don't think I slept for even a minute. I felt like it was Christmas Eve and I was five years old again.

Major Cheesing Here!

And that ladies and gentlemen is how my journey from writing to publication went down. The Lord has truly blessed me and I give Him all the glory. I am excited for the future and I honestly feel like there is so much more that will happen. I can't wait to see where "Forget-Me-Not" will take me!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wait, I'm A Published What?

I'm a published author. Wait, what?

Yeah, that's my reaction whenever my brain suddenly realizes that my book, my baby, my heart is going to be published. And be available for the whole world to read. Insert scream of joy and fear now. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I am absolutely thrilled, astounded, dumbstruck that someone, anyone, is going to read this book (including my favorite author of all time, but that deserves a blog post of its own). However, the nagging voice in the back of my head still creates numerous doubts, the top one being: everyone will hate it. Of course, this is simply fear of the unknown (the unknown being, I've never been published before and don't know what the heck is going to happen). Yet, the Lord says 365 different times in the Bible "Do not fear." Okay, Lord, I get it.

However, I am not so naive to believe that everyone will love it. There are haters out there in the world whose sole purpose in life is to hate on things and people just because they get some sort of strange, sick pleasure out of it. Do I think those people need psychological help? Yes, but alas they will continue to reproduce and continue hating things and people for the rest of existence. 

So as I continue to traverse through life on cloud 9, I am frequently pulled back down to harsh reality whenever the thought of someone actually reading my book crosses my mind. Strange, you'd think I'd be so excited at the thought, wanting to look over their shoulder and watch their reaction? No. I'd rather bury myself in a hole and hope they don't hate it too much. 

But that's just the shy, sensitive writer in me who has to constantly be reminded that if this book wasn't supposed to be published, then God wouldn't publish it.

"Every good and perfect gift comes from above." James 1:17

Okay, so taking a deep breath and trusting God first, I guess I should probably at least mention what my book is about. Right. Almsot forgot that one.

Well, my novel is entitled Forget-Me-Not. It is a young adult paranormal romance with some Native American culture thrown in. It is the first book in the Forget-Me-Not series. I will definitely go into lots more detail about the book itself, my characters, the inspiration, etc. in later posts. 

Forget-Me-Not is going to be published by Martin Sisters Publishing, LLC. They have a website and a blog so please go check them out and their other lovely authors. 

I am also in the process of having website built (don't I sound fancy?), which will have lots of fun things on it and hopefully everyone will like it.

More posts to come! I do have to do this thing called writing, since you know, that's what I am. A writer. I'm currently working on the second installment, which we shall call Morning Glory for the time being, and then I have this other commitment called college. Ha. Oh, I have a seven page paper due when? Right. 

So all of that to say I am both elated and terrified that my dream of publication is coming to pass. This is a precious time and I have so much to be thankful for, but I wouldn't be human if I didn't freak out a little bit, right?

 Hopefully you have liked this first post and will like my novel when it is available for everyone to read. Until next time!