My lovely, amazing friend Emma Trevayne tagged me in her blog post today. Here it is: http://emmatrevayne.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/the-next-big-thing-project/. Basically authors answer 10 questions and then tag other authors to share their ‘Next Big Thing.’ Not only have I known Emma for many years, but I’ve been with her on her journey to publication. Her first book, CODA, is coming up in May ( I may have read it in the early days and I’m not lying when I say it was in my top 5 favorite books of last year), along with the sequel and an additional middle grade novel in the future. I’m so tickled proud of this girl and am continually grateful for her as she helps me along my own journey. (As you can see by my previous enteries the querying process (and writing itself!) is a rollercoaster of emotions. Emma will often get ‘OMG WHAT? HOW? PLEASE HELP ME!!!’ messages and every single time she gently guides me back to non-hystericalness. I know that isn’t a word, but sometimes a non-word is the best way to convey the severity of a situation. That was a joke. Okay. Moving on.)
So, Emma mentioned that I’m currently writing a MG novel. This is true. However, I’m still in the drafting stages and a full post on it feels a bit premature. I will tell you this though—A set a twins. One is autistic and the other is not. That is not the only way they are different. A path of confusion, lies and redemption leads these two to an unfamiliar place. Vague enough for you? Good.
I posted something similar a few months about the manuscript I’m currently querying, but this is refreshed. Now onto it………
What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I wanted to write a book from the point of view of a family member dealing with their loved one with a mental illness. I felt that if I could approach the story in a way that was honest, but had a twinge of humor, it would be relatable to readers. Also, I think many teenage girls can identify with wanting to have the perfect life—Teenagers have an immense amount of pressure put on them, not just with school, but with peers and all those raging hormones. If you add in a family illness, it’s sometimes more than they can handle.
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Emma is very similar to Victoria Justice. She has a girl-next-door look, but her features are very striking. With the long, brown hair and killer smile, she’s fairly spot on for who I’d imagine Emma to look like.
Gavin. Oh my sweet, sweet Gavin. Well, this was easy. In fact, I had a picture of how I envisioned Gavin on my desktop so I could…um…reference when I needed to. Aaron Johnson is my Gavin.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Emma Davis is a high school senior who is desperate to keep a family history of mental illness at bay, but she discovers love will drive her a different kind of crazy.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m currently querying agents. There is interest and I’m hoping to have good news soon. I don’t have anything against self-publishing, but it’s not the path I want to take.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
First draft took about 4 months. The next 18 months were revisions, workshops, revisions, revisions, critiques, workshops, revisions, edits, edits, critiques and edits. (Rough estimate, of course 😉 )
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Like Emma said, this question is hard! It has elements that are similar to the Ruby Oliver series by E.Lockhart in terms of a snarky MC dealing with mental illness. While mine focuses on schizophrenia, and much more serious mental illness, I think the approach can be considered comparable. However, there are some very real moments showing the severity of the disease in prose similar to that of a Laurie Halse Andersen book, but again, I think Ms.Andersen’s work is brilliant and I’m a little weirded out saying anything of mine is like anything of hers. (<—- insert self-deprecating writer talk.)
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I think mental illness is still viewed as a very taboo subject, and having several people in my life living with various forms of it, I wanted to write a book showing the good, the bad, and the ugly of the disease. Also, there aren’t many books about mental illness from a loved ones point of view.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s a heavy subject matter, but at the core, it’s a love story. Oh! And there are cupcakes! And The Beatles! And Disney Movies! And…and…LOTS OF OTHER REALLY GOOD THINGS!
Writers are artists. Like painters, we have a blank canvas, a palette of paints, and a vision. For writers, we have a blank page, a brain full of words, and a vision. No matter the medium of art, we all have to figure out how to make our vision come to life. Writers are notorious for writing and deleting (or erasing, however one rolls) while letting self-doubt to slowly leak into our brains, making the entire process come to a screeching halt. This is why NaNoWriMo is so great. There is no time for self-doubt. There is no room for deleting or self-loathing. You just have to do it. That is the difference, in my opinion, that makes people successful in winning NaNo or not.
Look. We all have busy lives. We work, either in or out of the home, have families, have bills, commitments, etc. These are all valid excuses, but if the hearts desire isn’t there, it won’t happen. I will say that there were days, several of them, when I was so behind, I thought giving up was my only option. I listened to people say, “Oh…You’ve done so good no matter what!” But you know what? That wasn’t good enough for me. It wasn’t good enough because if I didn’t finish, if I didn’t push myself when I thought there was nothing left for me to give, I wouldn’t have known my full potential. I wouldn’t have learned what it meant to commit to characters so near and dear to me, and watch them come to life, in just thirty days time. I wouldn’t have known the virtual hugs and hand-holding, the over abundance of encouragement and support, not just from my WBP girls, but from an enormous community of writers I’ve found on the same journey. We lifted each other up, carried one another through, and celebrated at the finish line. I have felt no greater feeling in my life since giving birth to my son. That is how powerful of an experience this was. Seeing the culmination of something you created come to life, seeing it breathe the air and see the light of day, was nothing short of absolute bliss.
Where do I go from here? Well, I go right back in and finish this sucker. NaNoWriMo may claim you can write a novel in a month, but I beg to differ. I think what you have at the end of the month is a novel missing words, lacking in structure and a overall mess. Does that mean it’s garbage? No. It just means it needs some TLC and that is where editing comes in. This is where I am right now and will be for the months ahead. Rome wasn’t built in a day, or a month, and neither was a well-rounded novel.
You hear that people? It may not be perfect, but it’s mine. Every word was from my heart and now, I’m going to make them look as beautiful as I know they can be, but for now, I’m just going to relish the fact I won NaNo. I won, one agonizing word at a time, and I feel pretty freakin good about that.
Oh. That’s right. I have a blog.
My apologies for my absence. It’s with good reason though. See, I’ve entered into the querying world and most days I can be found chewing my nails down to my knuckles and consuming entirely too much caffeine. (I’m pretty sure that both of those things cancel out each other, or feed into each other. I’m not sure which.) I say my absence has been good because I’m moving forward. It’s scary, but I’m doing it.
On one of my original posts I mentioned I got my first rejection. To that girl who wrote it, (Yes, I realize it’s creepy, and very pretentious to talk to myself, while writing about myself) I just have one thing to say to you: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!
Sense of humor. Any person who has gone through the literary process of querying to try and find an agent has to have one. If you don’t, you will get sucked into the vortex of self-dispair while your husband wonders why you’ve been in the same pajama’s for days and there is empty Nutella jars all over the house. You have to have a sense of humor when you get four rejections in one day. You have to find something to giggle about when you get one of the many form letters from an agent, especially the one that reads: ‘Not interested in this.’ (Yes, it said just that. No ‘thanks’. No ‘have a nice day’. There wasn’t even a ‘sincerely’. I think spending two years on a manuscript and going through the soul crushing process of querying should at least warrant a ‘sincerely.’) You might even chuckle when an agent sends you a rejection late on a saturday afternoon, and find yourself thinking, ‘THANKS FOR THAT!’
Sense of humor. Yes, it’s mandatory. I’m still in the early parts of querying too, about a third of the way through my targeted list of agents. Realistically, I know it may not happen with this project. It may not even happen with the next. I have to be prepared for that because this journey isn’t a race, it’s a marathon. Now, I’m in no position to run a marathon, but I can tell you that this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Blood, sweat, tears, and two years of my life are in this manuscript. I’m asking a professional to take it on, without any compensation at first, and try and sell it. I want someone to read it and love these characters as much as I do. I want them to hear their heartbeats and feel every emotion. It’s a lot to ask. For that, I’m grateful for any agent that gives my book a glance. For me, it’s my passion, but for agents, it’s their business. We are different breeds, but I think we’re in it for the same goal.
I know the statistics. Landing an agent is one thing, but selling a book is another. Luckily for me I have a few dear friends who have been through this process already and have graciously listened to my hysterics and given me so much valuable advice. There’s comfort in that.
So, you won’t hear me complaining. (It sounds like I’ve been doing nothing but complaining, right? I’m not really. It’s a process, a process that is really, really hard, but if it isn’t hard, I wouldn’t know the true struggle.) I’m in the real life Hunger Games, fighting and clawing my way through a jungle of equally talented writers. I think the thing that separates the one who gets the agent, and the one who doesn’t is the same thing that Katnsis had: Luck. Yes, you have to ability and drive, but being that one query, at that right moment, with the right agent, is luck. That makes me feel a bit better.
For now, I’m going to indulge in my sense of humor and know I’m traveling the same path that so many of the greats have walked before me. That, in and of itself, is pretty cool.
I knew it was coming. I was prepared. I survived. My first major agent rejection. I say ‘major’ because it wasn’t one of the formulated emails that said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ but more of a ‘let me see more’ followed by ‘I liked it a lot, but not enough.’ Those were the exact words. ‘I liked it a lot, but not enough to offer representation.’ I have to say, it was kinder than expected and whether it was sincere or not, I always tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. Plus, it’s easier on the ego. There wasn’t a plain ol’ just not interested or even worse, no response at all. All in all, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but of course it still stung a little, especially when this literary agent was someone I respected a lot.
This is a journey. I know this and I’m ready for it. This manuscript of mine is my heart and soul and I only want someone who will love it as much as I do representing it. This book has been with me for two years, revised and edited beyond original recognition. Workshops and strangers have read it and gave their honest, and sometimes painful, feedback. Now, it’s being looked at by writers and friends I trust the utmost. All of these thing just make it better…it makes ME better.
There are some people who think writing is a competition, who can write the fastest and get there first. I was never one to force myself to first place when the job wasn’t well done. I prefer to go at it slow and steady and know I exhausted myself in training so that I will finish the race with my head held high.
(P.S. The giveaway for the two signed Veronica Roth books is still going on for the next four days. Comment in the ‘Welcome’ post below this one for a chance. 🙂 )
That sounds so silly, but yes, I welcome you to my new website. There are a few areas of the site that are still a work in progress, but after my nephew (who is 17 and did this site completely from scratch while dealing with his neurotic Aunt) worked so hard, I was excited to share.
What am I doing here? Well, I wanted a place to blog about my adventures in the writing world, and the road to publication (I hope!) Plus, I read a ridiculous amount and wanted to share my love of that as well. I’m sure you’ll see plenty of whining and hystericalness from time to time, along with mindless babble on a variety of topics. It sounds riveting, doesn’t it? IT WILL BE.
Anywho, to welcome you all here and encourage you to join me on my journey, I’m having a giveaway. A copy of BOTH Divergent and Insurgent, signed by the author Veronica Roth. If you haven’t read the first two books of this series, here’s your chance. If you have, well…Four misses you.
So, leave a comment and tell me about you (or just tell me to buzz off.) Follow me here or on Twitter @ImMelly2 and I’ll announce the winner on August 1st.