Monthly Archive: October 2014

A bit of news…

On a recent gray, chilly October morning, my day started with my dentist informing me that I have a cavity (damn those pre-Halloween mini-chocolate bars). Then I burned myself with a curling iron and got stuck in traffic and was in a mad rush to make it to work on time. I figured it was just going to be one of those days– the kind wherein nothing goes my way. The kind that practically demands a big glass of wine after work.

Boy, was I wrong– about everything except the wine champagne. Because later that day, I got a call. A call from my fabulous agent, who had the best news ever.

WE HAVE AN OFFER!

I’m so thrilled to announce that my YA contemporary debut, FIRSTS, will be published by Thomas Dunne Books/St Martin’s Press in 2016! My editor is the wonderful, super-smart Kat Brzozowski. I can’t even express how excited I am to be working with her on FIRSTS.

I’m still pinching myself that this is all happening– that what started as an out-there idea in my head is now going to be an actual book, a physical thing I can pick up and flip through. (And maybe hug tightly to my chest from time to time. Just kidding. Sort of.)

I feel like the luckiest writer ever to have the dream team of Kats supporting me. My rockstar agent, Kathleen Rushall, who has been so unfailingly positive and helpful every step of the way. And my new editor, Kat, who is so insightful and enthusiastic and knowledgeable. She has made me feel right at home already. Both of these lovely ladies understand my book so well and I know that I couldn’t be in better hands.

What a difference a year makes. At this time last year, the idea for FIRSTS was just taking shape. I had no CPs and no agent. I was querying a different book and poring over other writers’ success stories, hoping that someday I would have my own to tell. I was reading widely and writing every day, turning it into a habit. I was learning to trust my instincts more. I was determined to never give up.

And in the end, I think that’s the most important thing– not giving up. Not quitting because it’s hard or because finding an agent or getting published is taking longer than you thought. FIRSTS was the third book I wrote. Beforehand, I wrote two NA contemporary books that I shelved. There were times when I felt sure I’d never be published. But ultimately, I realized that the only way I would ensure that nobody would ever read my writing was if I stopped writing. So I kept going. I kept writing and learning and querying and entering contests. (Like Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars, which was the greatest experience. Read about it here!)

The one thing I did stop doing was comparing myself to other writers. Everybody has a different journey and a different story, and rarely do we know the full extent of these stories. Once I stopped comparing myself to other writers and focused on enjoying the stage of the process where I was at, I honestly felt like a huge weight had been lifted. Like I had given myself permission to live in the moment I was in, not the moment I wanted to be in or the moment somebody else was in.

Now I’m in this moment, and I’m loving it. I couldn’t be happier that FIRSTS has found its perfect home with Kat and Thomas Dunne Books!

Now, for that glass bottle of wine champagne…

PWAnnouncement

PMFIRSTSAnnouncement

On keeping a routine fresh

I’m the kind of writer who needs a schedule to be productive. Without my routine, it’s easy for me to become unmoored and start to feel lost. I firmly believe that those butt-in-chair hours are so essential to everything—work ethic, progress, creativity, growth. And I always know that I’m going to have a good day when I have logged some writing time before I head off to work in the morning. Athletes talk about endorphins—about feeling their best right after a workout. I feel like that after I write.

But life gets in the way, and some days the routine gets interrupted. Some days, I just can’t sit down at my desk for my planned time before work and commit to a writing session. I know this, but I still struggle to feel like I’m on an even keel when I deviate from my routine. I start to blame myself for reasons why I couldn’t put in the time. I feel less creative and therefore less fulfilled.

The struggle for me is not letting my routine turn into a rut. Routines are key to consistency as writers, but adaptability is just as important—being able to change things up and go with the flow. A routine shouldn’t feel like a chore. I shouldn’t be hard on myself if I sit at my desk for an hour and only have two hundred words to show for it. Or if I decide to read instead of write one day.

So my goal is to be more open, more spontaneous. I want to pick up my tablet and write on my lunch break because I feel like it. Write at the kitchen table or visit the library for a change of scenery. Brainstorm or research something for my book instead of churning out words.

What I’m learning is that words are impossible to quantify, and progress in writing can be measured in so many different ways. A day isn’t only a good day if two thousand words are added to your word count. Maybe you only write fifty words, but they’re fifty words that fit perfectly. Or maybe you read a great book and feel inspired. Maybe you play with a new idea, something you want to work on down the road. Maybe you take a walk and mentally recharge.

These are all important aspects to development as a writer—and the more forgiving I am of myself, the happier I feel the end of the day. And the more likely I’ll be to plunk down at my desk at midnight for some spontaneous words.

I’d love to hear from other writers—how do you combat a writing rut?

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