I’m going to delete my old LiveJournal blog in a few weeks/months/whenever I get to it, so first I’m combing through old entries and making a “best of” kind of book for myself. I started blogging in 2005, five years before my first book was published, and I love reading through my journey to publication. Mostly. There is a lot that I just don’t want on the world wide web anymore, so over the next couple of weeks I’m sharing a few throwback pieces with you. THEN DESTROYING THE REST. Get it while you can.
This is a post I wrote on March 9, 2007.
I’ve spent a good chunk of the day packing, an activity I do not recommend because it leads to backaches and heavy bouts of nostalgia. I mooned over pics of hubby and I in high school, back when we were chubby-cheeked and tan. Then I read through some old journals and came across this picture taken at my seventh grade water park trip.
I used to rip up pictures of myself in junior high and hide them in the couch. I don’t know why I thought the couch was a good hiding place and not the, oh I don’t know, garbage can. Maybe it was a cry for help. Maybe I was just too lazy to get up. Somehow, this survived. I used to OBSESS about this picture–and it’s not because the neon green on my suit put Kelly Kapowski to shame. At the time, this picture was living proof to anyone that dared to argue that I was unquestionably hideous. If I ever started to believe for a moment this wasn’t true, one glimpse of this picture would prove me wrong.
I wasn’t an insecure kid. I was smart, did sports and other activities, and had friends. I enjoyed life. But this picture is part of what held me back from true confidence.
My thighs were huge. My chest was flat. I didn’t know how to get my bangs high enough. I didn’t know how to dress. My ears looked pokey, my nose too ski-jumpy and I could not figure out how to smile for a picture. In short, I believed I would never “get” a guy, unless he was visually impared or especially desperate.
I started to get over myself in high school when a guy friend of mine admitted he had a crush on me in junior high. He said he followed me around the day this picture was taken because he thought I looked so good in the suit. I wanted to pull it out and point out my obvious flaws, but I’d been taught you shouldn’t argue a compliment. Especially when it makes you look psycho.
I look at this girl now and wish she could have known how beautiful she was, not because of how she looks in a bathing suit, but because of who she is. I long to show her how lucky she is to have a fully functional and healthy body, and that boobs and butts aren’t ultimately what’s going to get the guy.
But I can’t go back. The closest thing I have to a time machine is my writing. When I write, I think of her. Of me. Of who I was then and who I am now. What will make my writing really worthwhile is if I can someday reach a girl like me and somehow help her to be stronger, smarter, and secure enough in herself to rip up her “ugly pic” and get on with her life.
ARCs are going out now for GOING VINTAGE now, which means bloggers/reviewers/librarians/teachers are starting to read my book. Or at least adding it to a pile of books next to their bed. Or a list on their e-reader.
As an author, I can still convince myself that my book is whatever I wanted it to be during that blissful time after I’ve written it but before people are reading it. Once it’s read, though, I lose that ownership. Readers will interpret my words based on their background, tastes, and viewpoint. Some will like my book. Some will not. And honestly, before every publication date, I have to give myself a little pep talk about that. This usually involves me sitting in front of a mirror and repeating, “I’m (my book is) good enough. I’m (my book is) smart enough. And doggonit, people like me (my book. Sometimes).”
Thanks Stuart Smalley. Your pearls of wisdom continue to inspire.
So already, some people have read my book. Authors, who also kindly blurbed my book. Blurbing is a gracious act, because not only do the authors take the time to write something positive, but they spent a few hours reading my book. And it is such an amazing bonus when it’s an author who I personally read and adore. So here they be:
“Lindsey Leavitt’s best book yet. Mallory’s voice is addictive! GOING VINTAGE is witty, hilarious, real…impossible not to love!” ~Becca Fitzpatrick, NYT bestselling author of Hush, Hush series
I adore Becca. I get nervous when she reads my writing because her romantic tension is so amazing. And if you don’t know who Patch is yet, well, go forth. Merry Christmas
“GOING VINTAGE is heartfelt, funny, and full of insight. I wanted to jump into the pages and become friends with the whole cast.”
– Sarah Ockler, bestselling author of Twenty Boy Summer and The Book of Broken Hearts
I’ve read all of Sarah’s books to date (and bawled my way through Twenty Boy Summer) but the one I recommend this month is Bittersweet. You’ll want to wrap yourself up in a warm blanket with some hot chocolate.
“Lindsey Leavitt made me want to go vintage. Readers everywhere will identify with this smart and likable heroine, as well as with her yearning for a simpler and (seemingly) less complicated time.”
~ Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries, as well as 1 million+ amazing, bestselling titles
Speechless. So speechless. Meg Cabot is hands-down one of my all time favorite authors and a huge reason why I write YA. I totally cried when I got this blurb. Really just honored, as cheesy as that sounds.
Just over 3 months until release! Meanwhile, two days left on my book giveaway. Hurry, before time (and the world) ends.
When 2012 first started and there was all this Mayan calendar, end-of-mankind doomsday clogging up my news yahoo feed, my first reaction was not, Oh, my poor children! or Oh, save mankind!
No. It was…
CRAP! I have a book coming out in 2013.
I put all that work into this… this… Work of ART and now the apocalypse is going to hit and everyone will be so busy eating their own limbs out of starvation that they won’t want to cuddle up with a book about abandoning technology. Plus, I want to watch the San Francisco Giants accept their World Series glory next April. And there’s the next season of Mad Men. Oh, and I want to see my children grow up, ect.
Look, I want to cover my bases here. If life as we know it shuts down in two weeks, I want to go out with a bang. So I offer you this simple giveaway. Below are five books coming out in early 2013. Five ARCs (advance reader copies) you can read and own now, before time stands still. Because if everything ends, wouldn’t books be the thing you miss the most?
(One of my favorite Twilight Episodes Evah!)
*Signed copy of GOING VINTAGE by Lindsey Leavitt
*Signed copy of FALLING FOR YOU by Lisa Schroeder
THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab
ALSO KNOWN AS by Robin Benway
JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman
Why is that picture upside down? Why is it all dark and blurry? I don’t know, okay? I DON’T KNOW! But those are books, and they are in my possesion, and soon they can be in yours, so enter already.
US residents ONLY
Now, I need to finish planning my Disneyland trip with my 2-year-old. She turns 3 the day after poop hits the fan, so I thought I would share the wonder that is The Mouse before everything goes to pot. Plus, she still gets free admission.
All you have to do is fill out the little form below. And here’s to 2013 (Oh, please. PLEASE LET THERE BE A 2013)
Hello readers! Rather than explain away my absence this past couple of months, I thought I would just show you what I’ve been up to. It’s been a fantastic fall with lots of fun events and travel, although whew, I’m so glad to have the chilly winter (65 in Vegas today, brrr) dedicated to more days like today: 2:30, jammies still on, house a disaster, but 1,250 words written. And this blog post. So let’s begin. (please excuse weirdo formatting, don’t have patience right now to fix!)
On a Thursday night, I spoke to the Las Vegas Writer’s group in the back room of a sports bar. I stood on the stage for the band with a nice disco ball overhead and a tip jar to my right. The writers were warm and smart and wonderful, and it was a delight to meet like-minded folks who are geographically close. The next morning, I flew to Denver for an author tea with sixty some booksellers from the Mountain/Plains region and signed books for the whole lot. Every speaking gig or signing is so different as an author. Love it.
Had to throw this pic in there. September seems to be fancy auction time in Vegas, and this year I made some baskets for THE PUBLIC EDUCATION FOUNDATION and SPREAD THE WORD NEVADA, both great local charities promoting literacy here in Nevada. We also made a book basket filled with teen reads, all donated from over 15 YA authors. Reminded me what an awesome community I’m in, both here in Vegas and online with writers.
Fun SCBWI workshop in Cedar City with authors Emily Wing Smith and Brodi Ashton. We stayed in the suite of a charming bed-and-breakfast. Our room was Asian inspired, so naturally we strapped on the kimonos and took this picture. We did a first-pages reading and I was struck by the amount of talent in that room. So many authors are so close, think it’s just a matter of time, place, and persistence.
Obviously, the highlight of fall./the year/my life was my trip to Italy. Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Tuscany… I can not even tell you how amazing the whole experience was. I came away with a larger world view and a notebook filled with book ideas.
This should be it’s own blog post because it’s a big deal.
BUT INSTEAD I’LL JUST WRITE IN ALL CAPS.
PLEASE DON’T BE ANNOYED WITH ME.
FINE. I’ll stop.
I was very fortunate to have a short story published in the anthology, WISH YOU WERE HERE, published by Stephen’s press. This was my first a. published short story for b. adults and was c. a satire, so it was fun to stretch my creative muscles a bit. Each other was given a vintage Las Vegas postcard as inspiration. I choose the wedding chapel above, and from there wrote A UNION OF HIPSTERS. You can buy your copy here, and I really hope you do because it’s so interesting to see what sort of essay’s and stories came from the cards. I got to meet the authors at a panel sponsored by the Vegas Valley Book Festival in October. You can also hear me read from my story in this
Vegas Valley Book Festival is my favorite event of the year because it’s on my home turf and over thirty YA authors come into town to do panels and sign books and play. Here I am at the Bellagio with fabulous ladies Abby McDonald, Elizabeth Eulberg, and Marissa Meyer.
NCTE was in Las Vegas this year!!! That’s me with Editor Caroline in front of that beautiful picture of my book! This picture was taken by my mother, who also wore a yellow sweater, so we walked around the convention hall talking books in all our mother/daughter glory.
Met so many wonderful educators and had the chance to hop onto a panel with author Kate Messner, who is just a star in every way. Also got to meet many members of the Nerdy Book Club, a bunch of teachers who have started a blog that is catching on huge.
AND I spent some quality time with one of my writing beffies, Irene Latham, including a trip to Red Rock Mountains near my home. Her recently released book, DON’T FEED THE BOY, is so charming, I’m reading it with my daughter right now and even my six-year-old will sneak into bed with us because she loves the illustrations so much.
Here we are with teacher Colby Sharp at Nerdy Book Club party. I want to move to Michigan next year just so he can by my daughter’s fourth grade teacher!
Learned some fabulous news that I will share, I promise, promise, promise just as soon as I can. No, not share. Proclaim. Shout. Exclaim. Roar!!
Otherwise, I’m spending the rest of the month writing my 2014 release novel, about… stuff and called… something. It’s going very well, thanks for caring.
And we are less than four months away from the release of GOING VINTAGE. So excited about this novel, feels like my first boyfriend and gingerbread cookies and schnitzel with noodles all rolled into one catchy song.
Summer, where did you go? We had a good time, didn’t we? Spontaneity, lake trips, quick weekend getaways, a book release, sleeping in, eating whatever and whenever we wanted. In short, this summer will go down in the books as one of the best the Leavitt family has seen perhaps since Mr. Leavitt and I fell in love in the glory days of ’97.
But this summer was also interesting for me as it was the first summer in quite a few years that I didn’t have an intense, end-of-summer deadline. I have a contemporary book due this fall, hopefully to be released in 2014. I have a mid-grade book I’ve been fiddling with that isn’t contracted. So I thought, writing-wise, this summer would be a breeze. In some ways, it was. I had a sitter for just a couple hours a week, a day or two to daydream, outline, get a couple of chapters in when I felt inspired. But the problem was, I didn’t feel very inspired, especially on this contemporary I was working on.
Oh, I certainly liked the story. There were some characters and dynamics that I could discuss for hours (and did with some poor, unfortunate writing friend). There were characters I wanted to meet, themes I wanted to explore, and a romantic dynamic that I’d been thinking about for years. Notice there is no mention of a plot. A hook. A POINT. And because of this, because there were no high stakes or drive in the story, I would often sit down and write these fun descriptions and back story without any idea why the scene mattered or where I was going next.
This isn’t my first rodeo. I knew I was doing something wrong. But I didn’t know how to fix it, how to suddenly infuse conflict into all these other elements. This was something that had never happened to me before, something I hope doesn’t happen again. Finally, I finished the first couple of chapters and sent it to my editor. We scheduled a phone call and she very nicely pointed out THERE WAS NO PLOT.
Sometimes you don’t know the plot when you start a story. Sometimes you follow a character along until you realize the rest. Plot is even a dirty word in some literary circles. But you still need conflict, an inciting incident. There has to be a reason to root for that character. At this point, this story was lacking in all those areas.
During this phone call, my editor made a comment about another story I’d sent her years ago set in Las Vegas with a paranormal twist. She mentioned how much she liked the Vegas setting in that story and I said, yeah, yeah, maybe I’ll dig that up after I finish this book I’ve been working on for three months. But once I got over those three months–three months paying a sitter, three months away from my kids–I realized the Las Vegas story I should have been working on all along. I went to LA for SCBWI conference and to sign with Lisa Schroeder, and Lisa said exactly what I’d been feeling, “Maybe you should shelf that hard novel and work on the one your editor mentioned.” Boom. I told her about the idea. She asked some questions, I got going, and within thirty minutes I’d ditched the paranormal element, made the story a straight contemporary, found my conflict, my character, my love interest, my story timeline.
Sometimes you have to flounder through the wrong book before you find the right one.
I’m not giving up on the first story, but that one still needs to marinate for awhile. Sometimes you can’t force it, deadline or not. A story doesn’t need to come fast for it to work, but I have found that once I get that A-HA moment where that one line hook happens, then I can move on with a story at a solid pace. So now, end of summer*, I start again, with a nice tan and fresh story idea. Bring it on, fall.
*Meanwhile, to celebrate the end of this crazy summer, I’m giving away a copy of GOING VINTAGE on goodreads. You can enter here!