So it’s in publisher’s marketplace, which means it’s OK to share… I sold a book to Bloomsbury! This is my YA contemporary, SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD, which I actually wrote before PRINCESS FOR HIRE, but we just started shopping it a few weeks past. And I have to tell you, it means so much to me that a different strand of my writing will be out there. I’ve heard lately that in this “climate”, funny and poignant stories won’t sell. But ’tis not true!! (I mean that in the most professional way possible, of course. If you heard a neener neener after that, well, that wasn’t me. Must be your subconscious.)
Here’s a little something about it…
After discovering her father’s big Multiple Sclerosis secret, Payton Gritas’s structured life crumbles. So begin her excruciating ‘chats’ with Ms Callahan, a school counselor aiming to save Payton from drowning in denial by encouraging her to write Focus Exercises on any random object. Payton chooses Sean Griswold, her alphabetical connection since kindergarten. More specifically, she chooses his somewhat over-sized head.
As Payton’s research grows into something a little less scientific and a little more crush-like, it spawns more and more questions about Sean and his dome. Like what’s with the scar? And why is a fifteen year old training to be the next Lance Armstrong? Payton finds answers to these questions by getting inside Sean’s blond head, while Sean somehow finds a way into her guarded heart. But when Payton realizes her Sean obsession won’t ultimately mend her battered relationship with her dad, she must shift her focus to the one person who can find the way forward – herself.
When I’m in a more subdued state, perhaps, I’ll be able to share more about SGH and my writing journey with it (or you could, you know, read through this blog). But for now, let’s just dance.
Last week, while the rest of the children’s publishing world was in Bologna, Italy, I was in Florence. The other one. The Alabama one, which is certainly not Italy but still a vastly charming town. Although they did have fountains, oh yes they did.
(Um, the umbrella is so the fountain doesn’t get me wet. I really thought it was funny at the time) And here is the very meta fountain inside the beautiful Florence library.
I got to drive there with Rachel Hawkins, drive home with Irene Latham, and had a great time speaking on a panel at the SCBWI schmooze. Thanks to Pat Wheeler and Shelia Renfro for making it happen and for a fabulous lunch. It was great dipping my toes in the speaking waters. Well, almost drowning since I jabbered so much. Little, holed up author let loose!
Irene brought chocolate. I’m offering it to the camera for some reason. I do not know what that reason is.
Rachel and I actually got there early so we hit up the used book section of Salvation Army and found matching copies of this book:
I broke out into a cold sweat when I saw it, because I remembered reading it in sixth or seventh grade and freaking out and swore I would never enter my attic in case there was a vampire. An easy oath, being as we didn’t have an attic, but still. Spooked! So I was actually nervous to read it again because I wasn’t sure if it would hold up. And sure enough, my writing brain got in the way and I got annoyed with a few technical things and didn’t even have nightmares this time around. It’s still a decent book, though. The style is kind of different, and Caroline B Cooney manages to make something unique out of the idea, which at the time was actually probably more fresh. And maybe I’m just a mature adult now. Yes, that must be it. No. Lies. Thanks to Louis Duncan and Christopher Pike and RL Stine, I’m still a paranoid wuss. Like shower curtains. CAN NOT CLOSE THEM! What if my scary ex (who was the head of the football team and a total golden boy so of course I fell under his demonic spell!) was lurking behind there, knife poised? I mean, OK, so I never dated a football player, but what if my neighbor did and the guy just got the wrong house? **For a great post on this book and many more early-nineties teen horror faves, check out the geekening blog! Anyway, I swore off scary media of any kind after I saw the PREVIEW for The Ring–not even the movie, just that freaky girl doing the dead-girl crawl was enough for me. But then I was at the library and I saw this: And thought, hey maybe it will redeem the vampire/cheerleader book. And it can’t be that spooky–Lauren Myracle doesn’t usually write horror. Yeah, um, that was stupid. Because that sure ain’t puff paint on the cover. Blood is usually a give away that some sort of spookiness will go down. Dude. Kept me up until 1:30–I even had to re-read the ending three times because I was just kind of shocked. And then, of course, I couldn’t be alone with my THOUGHTS, so I tried to wake my husband up, but he was like, "You aren’t waking me up because you were reading that book with the blood, are you?", which is just not what you want to hear from your knight in shining armor, but whatever. My next solution was to block out the SCARY BLOOD SCARINESS by plotting out my next book about princesses, and maybe throw in a sub-plot involving glorious moonbeams! Yay! So shiny! I woke up about and hour later with my kid hovering next to the bed. Oh my gosh, y’all, I don’t think she could have scared me more if she was standing behind a closed shower curtain. So then I had to let her get in bed, to PROTECT her, and then I had to get my other kid so she wasn’t alone and then our bed broke from the weight of four people. Moral of the story: Don’t read this book, unless you have a small family and a big king-sized bed. Also, now that I think about it, I might re-read some of my thirteen-year-old faves now. Oh man, this one… So gave me the willies, and I grew-up in DRY VEGAS!!!
I’ve been gearing up to do a revision post for awhile, but as I’ve stated before, I prefer to wait until I’m out of the forrest before I describe the trees. I wish this was all more process oriented, but I’m not very good at following a process. Or being oriented. Instead, a brief timeline on the revisions leading up to this point followed by a flushed out explanation of past month or so. August 2005–Started the book when hubby went out of town with daughter for a week. Pounded out 20,000 words in a month (all words which eventually ceased to exist), then promptly shelved the novel for almost two years because it was too "cute" and not "literary" and I was "stupid". September 2007–started querying agents with other novel. November 2007–grew frustrated with the waiting and decided to work on another project. Sent the first couple of chapters to my friend, Lisa, who encouraged me to/demanded I finish by Christmas and deliver it to her with a big, red bow. January 2008–finished first draft. Still owe Lisa a red bow. Jan-March–shared with critique group. Revised. Shared with a writer friend. Revised again. At this point, it was still pretty rough but… March 2008–offered representation for other novel as well as Princess. We decided to submit Princess for Hire first. Which means… April-May 2008–Revised. Rinse, wash, repeat June 2008–Offer! Huzzah! This story must be PERFECT! August 2008–First Revision letter. Holy Crap. Work. To. Do. (Such as cutting the last half of the book for later use in the series, rewriting two major plot lines, switching up and flushing out characters, and world building. Sorry, WORLD BUILDING). October 2008–Turned revision in feeling pretty good about my masterpiece. Glad I got that over with, it’s PERFECT! Which brings us to December 2008 and revision letter 2. In pictures…
One of the weird things about being from Las Vegas (besides, you know, random strangers divulging their wild nights of debauchery, thinking perhaps a native would have similar scruples even though this particular native had never even entered a Vegas club until this weekend, let alone "accidentally" married a cocktail waitress), is how the Strip culture filters into everyday events. While many Homecoming dances involve DANCING, ours included cruising the Strip in limos, Vegas shows, expensive dinners and hotel room parties (good, clean hotel room parties with hot fudge sundaes. Swear it). Teens go to the dance to get a picture and then leave. So I’m gonna guess mine was one of the few HS reunions located in a former MTV Real World House:
With an after party here:
And not a country club or Elks Lodge in site.
When I first heard about the reunion a couple months back, I was iffy about going. Not because of my HS memories, but because every movie I’d seen about reunions made it seem like a Lame I-gotta-prove-myself Fest. Think:
But it wasn’t! I mean, there were definitely girls dressed in 2008 versions of these dresses. And they looked dang good in them and I spent a minute or two wishing I’d gone that way (or at least shopped for something new!) until I dropped some fruit from my plate and had to crawl around the Real World floor. Very glad for my trouser jeans then. And weirder still, people were nice! Like, I had conversations with people who intimidated the heck out of me in HS and now ten years later, it was almost level playing ground. Except for those girls in the hot dresses. No, even them. Really, I kept waiting for someone to say something like, "Oh, I should have known you’re a mom when I saw your thighs." or "Children’s books. That is so cute!" but nothing. Nada. I’m almost tempted to get on facebook and go trash talk just so I get my money’s worth. During my flight home, I remembered another reunionesque movie I saw years and years ago on my parent’s ol’ Betamax (Before VHS, which was before DVD’s, which was before DVR)
In case you haven’t seen it, Peggy Sue attends her 25 year HS reunion (wearing her prom/homecoming dress and for some reason that cemented in my mind that you had to wear it and almost didn’t attend solely based on that. Would post a pic if I had one on hand, but trust me on this. Be glad I didn’t) Anyway, Peggy Sue’s hubby, Nicholas Cage, cheats on her even though she can still wear her prom dress 25 years later and so she gets toasted at the reunion and faints when she’s named reunion queen and… Boom. Wakes up back in high school with a chance to change her present/future. Now I might be in the minority here, but I liked HS. It was a fun/crazy/emotional/eye-opening time, and if I’d gone Peggy Sue on the dance floor (passed out and flashbacked ten years. Duh), the only thing I might change is my bangs.
Yeah, no "might" about that. (I tried to find a bang picture from HS, but all too heinous. Instead, my fake yearbook picture from 1976. Yeah, I wasn’t alive then. Too bad, ‘cuz I rock that hair). Because I’m glad I was clueless/smart and insecure/self-assured and sarcastic/sweet and popular/dorky. I’m glad I angsted over stupid boys and kissed smart ones and endured ridicule and hung tight to my friends. Besides being great research now, all those experiences helped shape the Lindsey of 2008. I am who I am partly because of those four years. The most nerve-wracking moment was walking into the football game for the first time in ten years. There’s that long stretch of sidewalk right before you hit bleacher, and the moment you look up at the crowd and think, please please my friends better be here. And ten years later, they were.
Sometimes I procrastinate blogging on a topic because I know I can’t do it justice. Plus, all present brain power is being sucked into the revision vortex. Still, here’s a list of the top six awesome NY moments, in random awesome order… 1.Old Friends Three of my good friends from PA came up for a day to eat, see a Broadway show (Mama Mia–their choice, but cute), split a cab, and eat some more. It’s easy to forget how much I miss the friendships forged in our little student commune until I see someone who I used to see nearly every day, who knows me so well, and it brings it all back. I went through moving mourning all over again when we said goodbye. I’m very lucky to have such friends. (PS–friend/pirate with glasses on does have an eyebrow, it’s just covered up by her flesh-colored eye patch.)
2.Research at the Met Something I hear again and again about the Metropolitan Museum of Art is "You have to spend the whole day there." Which sounds good in theory, but not when you only have 2 1/2 days. So I condensed it into four short hours, most of which was spent in the Egyptian wing. An entire Princess Series plotline breathed within these two works of art…
Hard to tell in this picture, but there are two princesses. The little wall plaque explaining the story behind the art was helpful, but wrong. See, I now know the real story behind the story. And it’s a good one 🙂
What does a hippo have to do with princesses? I’m not sure yet, but I have had three hippo nightmares since I took this picture. They’re haunting me, demanding I expose their hippo secrets.
3. Meeting Agent The thing about phone and internet relationships is no matter how tight you are with someone, there’s bound to be an awkward moment when you meet. Will I know her if I see her? Do we hug or shake hands or air kiss? Will she like my shoes? Does it matter if she likes my shoes? Why am I even wearing these shoes–they hurt my feet. So I obsessed over this moment, when I met Sarah and when I met my editor, Emily. Which is very silly, yes, but the details were something I could control. I bought three potential outfits and settled on this one. But then I was walking to our appointment and saw my reflection in a store window and thought, "What am I, a secretary? I’m an artist! Where’s the creativity?" So I stopped in H & M and bought a slightly less secretarial skirt. But only slightly. Sarah was/is great. I still marvel that someone so experienced in this business sees talent in me. Me! We met up in a coffee shop and went over my contract before heading over to the Hyperion office, at which time I… 4. Signed Contract This isn’t why I went to New York, but the timing worked out that I got to sign my contract with my editor and agent smiling benevolently down on me. I’m trying very hard not to smile here as they hand me the first copy but obviously can’t play it cool. I’M SIGNING MY OWN BOOK CONTRACT!!! See, still working on it. Chill, Lindsey.
Did I feel stupid asking my editor to snap the pics? No! I’m not cool, remember? I was too busy focusing on my shaking hands. So many clauses. Deadlines. Royalties. References of me as "The Author". Eek!
OK, the deed is done. And I can’t keep it in anymore. Sarah, however, is eternally cool and collected. And British. And awesome.
5.Editorial Discussion After dining on fish I can’t even pronounce at the Union Square Cafe, Emily and I went back to the office to spend the rest of the afternoon discussing books. My books, as it were. Emily is most excellent–she remembered more about the book than I did. We went over some ideas for book one and roughly outlined the next two. Revisions are so much easier now that I have that big picture (although I did not get a picture of Emily, sadly). The most surreal moment was sitting in a conference room, with a bookcase that will someday hold my book on the right, and a perfect NY view on the left. Emily kept asking if we should close the blinds and I said, "Can we keep them open? How many times do I get to discuss European monarchies while staring at skyscrapers?" (View from window may have been slightly different than one from top of Empire State Building)
6.Canceled Flight Thanks to Delta, I revised two chapters after my connecting flight to Raleigh was canceled and I was rebooked on the late night red-eye to Birmingham. Which would have been disastrous with children, but without them I was blessed with seven straight hours with nothing to do but write. When my computer ran our of juice, I waited by an outlet plug. The Guy using it was on his cell, and I was starting to get annoyed with his hogging until I realized it was GUY Fieri from Food Network. (Wasn’t he nice to pose for this picture?) I had a fangirl moment as his show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is most likely the reason I gained eight pounds this summer. I mean, I saw Heidi Klum at Bloomingdales and still didn’t get as excited. I eavesdropped on his conversation and when he left got to use the now-holy outlet plug. My writing has since been blessed with killer food descriptions.
So that’s it. Was it worth it? Yes a million times. There is so much value to face time, I think, not to mention GUY time. Already counting down the days/months/years until I can do it again.