Dreaming is good. Doing is better. If you
want to reach your dream of getting your book published, then it’s time to get
back to work on your manuscript. Last week I talked about characters—making
your reader care about them by making them relatable, and making their goals
crystal clear with high stakes. But those are just a few things your can do to
strengthen your manuscript. Another is checking your dialogue—especially when
you have many characters who show up scene after scene.
When dealing with multiple characters,
it’s easy to assign dialogue to the wrong one. Each person needs to be involved
in the conversation in some way and that way can be spoken or with a gesture.
During the drafting stage, you just want to get the conversation on the page. Mare
says this. Jax replies that. Ander looks at Mare, but says nothing. But
once you’re in the revision stage it’s important to be sure the right dialogue
is assigned to your characters. You may wonder why it even matters. Just
getting the point across is enough, right? Well, no.
In Spin the Golden Light Bulb, the story revolves around a team of five kids. When they all speak in the same scene, it can be tricky to get the point across and make it sound natural. But it’s even harder than that because there are certain things that Jax would never say. Other things that Mare would definitely say. And Ander, well, Ander is Ander. He would never just look away without saying anything. How do I know? Because I know my characters like they are my own kids. Ander loves to be a part of the conversation. It would be very unlikely that he would be tongue-tied!
During revisions, I did a separate read through
for each of my five main characters. I also did a sixth read through for the
secondary characters. During each one, I would highlight their dialogue only and
ask myself, “Would Mare say that? Is that the best response she could give?
Does her response shed a light on who she is? Does what she’s saying move the
conversation forward? Does it sound like something a real person would say? But
most of all, I’m deciding if Mare is the person who should say that line,
rather than maybe Kia or Jillian.
The process may sound tedious, and it is.
But it’s so important especially with multiple characters in a conversation.
You want your reader to get to know each one and this will help it to happen.
You want your reader to be able to tell who is speaking, just by the sentence
that’s spoken. Ander calls Kia by a nickname. Always. So when a sentence
contains the nickname, it’s easy to know he’s speaking. The other kids never
call her that. So when I’m revising I make sure that’s what he refers to her
as. Ander loves to be the center of attention. He makes bold statements.
Jillian is dramatic. Very. Mare is blunt. Dry. Kia is intense. She’s a worrier.
Jax is quiet. Introverted. These descriptions don’t sum up all the reader knows
about the five kids, but they are examples. And these types of things help me
decide who would say what, when they’re interacting.
So that’s my best tip for dialogue. Make
sure the right person is saying each line. Your story (and characters) will
make more sense that way. I hope this helps as your revise your own manuscript.
It’s definitely helped me!
On an author-life note, I’ve been paired
up with a lovely teacher and class of fourth graders from Ohio for the Kids
Need Mentors Program run by Kristin Crouch, Kristen Picone, and Jerrott Lerner.
I’m so excited to work with them this year! I had an amazing experience last
year with a class of fifth graders. It’ll be fun to see what comes of this new auther/
educator collaboration! I’ve also hit the 5,000 word mark on my new middle
grade WIP. Not bad for just a few weeks. Hopefully I’ll get a few thousand more
words in this week and get to a point where it feels more like a story and not
just a premise. Wish me luck!
I hope you’re making progress on your writing projects too. Keep at it. Don’t give up. Even a few words a day makes a big difference. I’ll be in my corner of the internet cheering for you…as I pour another cup of very creamy coffee and get back to work myself!
Thanks for checking in today. I’ll see you again next week!
Sorry for the aggressive title today but I think many of you can use that reminder. I actually need it myself sometimes too! On the blog last week, I said that publishing is just crazy sometimes. It’s slow. It’s fickle. It’s unpredictable. But really, what business isn’t? And we all need to remember that publishing is a business. It’s not a book group or a hobby convention. Publishers are trying to produce the best books for their intended audience. Literary agents are trying to choose books that publishers will buy. As a writer, neither of these things are in your control. Likewise, once you do have a book deal, you have no control over how many people read your book or what they think of it. And all of that can be so frustrating.
saying, you can’t please everyone? The same is true with books. Not every
reader likes the same book. Not every agent will be wowed by the same book. Not
every editor or publisher will see the same potential in a book.
So the truth
is, the best way to ensure that a literary agent chooses your book, a publisher
chooses your book, a parent, teacher, bookseller, librarian, or reader chooses
your book is to write a good book.
still, there are no for sures in publishing.
I love the Caravel series by Stephanie Garber more than I like the Harry Potter books. Does that mean anything? Not really, just that books are subjective. I’m not telling you anything you haven’t heard before. But what I will say is that if you’re trying to get your manuscript published and eventully into the hands of readers, then get back to work. I know, I know. You’ve been working on it for two years–maybe three. Well, maybe you need to work on it more. Have you been querying it for six months with no interest from agents? Not even one? Then look at it again. Something probably isn’t working and it’s not the agent. It needs more polishing. It needs something.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing tips on revision. We all know we need to revise, but sometimes we forget where to start. Both new and seasoned writers need to look for the same things, and whether you’ve written half a manuscript or twenty, it’s easy to overlook the basics when a newly finished draft is staring back at you. One of the most basic tips I can offer is this:
Make me care about your main character.
What does your MC want the most? What will happen if they don’t succeed? Are the stakes clear? Are they dire enough? Is your MC likeable? Will the reader route for them? A reader will follow a character through almost any journey if they care about them. Is your MC trying to save the world or find a hidden carrot? Who cares as long as we feel for your character and want them to succeed. Bottom line: make the reader care!
There are so many points to look for when revising your manuscript, but creating a MC that your readers will want to read about is one of the most important. So this week, get back to work on your MC. Read your first several chapters with fresh eyes. Would someone else feel for them? Would they turn the page to find out why achieving their goal is important to them? If the answer is no, maybe you need to up the stakes. Maybe you haven’t dug deep enough and shown how it will impact their life. Or maybe your character just isn’t likable. If they come off as brash or unrelatable, your reader won’t cheer for them in their quest. But if they are, their quest will become your reader’s quest. They’ll read on to discover what happens to them.
In Spin the Golden Light Bulb, eleven-year old Kia Krumpet wants to win a Golden Light Bulb. It’s pretty simple. But unless the reader understands why (in her mind) her whole life will fall apart unless she wins one, my readers won’t keep reading. I mean, a Golden Light Bulb is a pretty shiny trophy and all that, but it’s what the trophy represents, what winning represents, that make readers want to (hopefully!) stay up past their bedtime to read Kia’s story.
took me four years to write—four years to get right. It may not take you that
long, but remember, there are no shortcuts to writing a good book. You have to
put the work in. You have to do more than just dream of seeing your book on a
bookstore bookshelf. And believe me, I spend quite of bit of time doing that
So make your readers care about your main character this week. It will pay off so much down the road, in making your publication dream come true! I did that very thing earlier this week. I received copyedits for Pop the Bronze Balloon from my editor. But as I read through the manuscript, I used the opportunity to look at Kia through fresh eyes. I asked myself, Is her goal clear? Are her stakes clear? My readers have followed her through two books already and now for this final installment, I had to be sure that they still care about her and her quest. Will she finally get what she wants? Hopefully my readers care enough about her to find out!
I should have news on the updated release date for Pop the Bronze Balloon soon, (yay!!!) so check back for that! I’ll be posting it on social media as soon as I know. BTW, if you aren’t following me on Twitter or Instagram, please do! I’d love to connect with you. And if this post was helpful, please leave a comment. Interacting with other writers makes this whole community feel closer so if you’re here, let me know!
Thanks for stopping by the blog. 🙂 Have a fantastic day, everyone. I’ll be back again next week!
Hello there! I’ve missed you guys. I mean, I’ve really have! I hope this summer was all you hoped it would be—or at least some of what you hoped it would be. I hope you were able to read a little, write a little, or even travel a little. I hope you were able to enjoy the sunshine and spend time with your favorite people—or revel in some alone time too.
The last time I checked in with you, our family was in the process of moving. My husband and I sold our house of twenty six years (I know, right?!), packed it up, and moved with our two college kids about thirty minutes east to a brand new area—a brand new house. No small task when you’re dealing with so many years of memories and so many years of life. The move was some parts easy, some parts stressful, and a really long process. Some days I was an emotional mess, some days I was physically wrecked, some days I floated on cloud nine, some days I worked on auto pilot. My writing and blogging took a back seat, that’s for sure. But now that we’re in and mostly settled, I’m so glad we made the move. I love our new home and even though a few boxes are still sprinkled throughout every room and we have projects galore to tackle, I feel energized by this new space and refreshed. And definitely ready to get back to writing. How lucky am I that this is my new writing view?
I had a long
conversation with my husband and son about goals recently. It was the night
before my son moved back to college for his second cross country preseason. He
was struggling with his running goals, trying to pin-point what he hoped to
accomplish this season. He was worried that after running for so many years, he
had lost his love for the sport—not a good feeling the night before his
official training was to begin. My husband had some wise words for him…ones
that got me thinking about my own goals for writing.
He asked him
why he had joined the cross country team way back in seventh grade. Was it
because he loved running? Or something else? He responded, “I joined because I
wanted to be on a team with nice kids and I had a feeling I could be good at it…
I wanted to run in college.”
to talk about goal setting and my son soon realized he had set a goal for
himself way back in seventh grade. His whole high school life revolved around
doing what it took to achieve his goal. And he did it! He was recruited to run
for his first choice college and he did. He achieved his goal.
But the funny
thing about goals is that once you achieve them, what’s next?
sometimes there’s a bit of a letdown. It happened to my son and it happened to
I know exactly
how it feels to flounder and lose focus after you achieve your goal. It feels
As some of you know, I spent 8 years trying to get an agent. If you don’t know my story, you can read about it here. It was ten years before I got a book deal. You can read about that story here. My dream came true when my middle grade novel Spin the Golden Light Bulb debuted in January, 2018 and because my book deal was for two books, the second, Flip the Silver Switch released later that summer. It was a whirlwind for sure and I’m still trying to believe that I really do have two published books!
But for the
last year, I’ve sort of worked on auto pilot when it comes to writing and all
that comes along with being published. I signed a contract for a third book in
the series, which I know is a very huge deal, and I’m so grateful. But writing
that book was so much harder. I wrote it on proposal. I wrote it on a deadline.
I wrote it while trying to help promote two books, do Skype classroom visits, in
person classroom visits, a bunch of book signings, and mentor a fifth grade
class. It may sound like a dream come true for some writers and believe me, in
some ways it most definitely was! I still pinch myself that this is actually
But at the
same time, it’s been a little overwhelming. My writing hobby quickly turned into
a job and a crazy juggling act. And I’m a terrible juggler! I found myself
saying yes to more than I can handle and no to things I love. I found myself
reacting to my own life instead of choosing my own path. That’s why this chat
about goals really resonated with me.
Where was my
focus now that my publishing dream had finally come true? What was my goal
anyway? To sign with a literary agent? Yes. To get my book published? Yes. But
what then? Was my goal to do school visits? Book as many book signings as
possible? What were the things about being published that I was hoping to
achieve that I couldn’t as an unpublished author?
It took some
serious thought, but I’ve realized a few things. One is that I just really love
to write stories. I also love to blog here and interact with other writers. And
I love talking to kids and writers about chasing their dreams—even when those
dreams seem so far out of reach. My goal is to write things that resonate with
readers and inspire them to chase their dreams—through my middle grade books
and through my writing focused blog posts.
signings and in-person school visits are a bonus, but they take time to prepare
for—time away from my family and from writing. Skype visits are more manageable
and they still allow me time to interact with kids. That leaves me more time to
blog to my heart’s content which will hopefully inspire more of you! It also
leaves me more time to write middle grade books.
So this fall, I’m getting back to the basics. I’m re-focusing my writing. I’ll be writing more and blogging more. Just saying this makes me feel more energized than I have in a very long time! So stay tuned because the swirl and spark blog is about to sparkle once again! I’ll also be posting more on Instagram (because I love it!) so follow me there if you aren’t already. I love the positive, creative vibe there—so many great accounts to follow! You can find me by searching Jackie Yeager.
reading this post helps you to realize that if you’re in a writing funk or just
feel like you’re floundering a little in your every day life, maybe it means
you need to find the joy in what you’re doing again. Or maybe you need to re-focus
your goals. Fall is the perfect time to do both. We weren’t put on this earth
just to flounder. We were put here to thrive. So use this first week in
September to re-write your goals. Make a plan to chase your dreams. They’re
yours for the taking!
I know you
can do it. If I can write a whole book you can. If I can sign with a literary
agent, you can. If I can get a book published by a fantastic publisher,
illustated by a spectacular artist, you can. If kids all over the country can
read my books, someday they can be reading yours too. I believe that and I hope
you do too!
If you’ve been clicking around my website, you may have noticed that the release date for POP THE BRONZE BALLOON has been pushed back to 2020. Publishing is a crazy business sometimes and this is one of those times! But it’s all good. This book will be worth the wait , I promise! I’ll keep you posted on the actual release date when I have it. In the meantime, if you haven’t had a chance to read Spin the Golden Light Bulb or Flip the Silver Switch and you’d like to, they are now both out in paperback! I’m still pinching myself about that one too! Click on the links below for the details.
Thanks for stopping by the blog. Now I’m off to work on copy edits for Pop the Bronze Balloon and then my WIP, a new middle grade project that’s un-related to the Crimson Five books. I’m over the top excited for this one! Wish me luck and have a fantastic week, everyone… I’m wishing you luck on your projects today too!
After gushing about my literary agent, Rebecca Angus for so long, I finally get to gush about her as a writer too! Tomorrow is a HUGE day for her…she becomes a published author! I’m so excited to help her celebrate by welcoming her to the blog today and telling you about her book. But first, here’s a sneak peek…
Inspired by Texas history, WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN is Rebecca’s debut novel—a retelling of the Alamo with a modern twist. Published by Red Adept Publishing on July 9, 2019, it features Texas A & M University as well. I can hardly wait to read it myself!
Congratulations, Rebecca! Your hard work, perseverance, and
patience have paid off. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with all of
us today. Cheers to you tomorrow on release day. I have a strong feeling that
your story will be read far and wide!
Before I share the gorgeous book cover, Rebecca’s Bio, the book blurb, and the purchase link, I thought it would be fun to pick her brain a little with 9 quick questions…in honor of her book’s July 9th birthday!
1. You’re a writer and a literary agent. When in the world do you find time to write? Is it every day for a few minutes or do you write in spurts when you have a pocket of time?
I actually find the author part more daunting. I have a really good routine when it comes to working as an agent. However, when it comes to prioritizing my own books and writing, I definitely feel the pressure. I have to schedule writing time, and that can be difficult. Most days I find time after Mini Agent has gone to bed to put in an hour or two of writing, but I do try and write wherever I can hide from the 3-year old. Sometimes it’s the bedroom. Other times it’s the bathroom. Possibly under the bed or in the closet if that is the only space available. I’m kidding… partially. Really it just comes down to when I have time to write.
2. I’m seriously in awe of all you accomplish in a day! Did you start writing before you were an agent or after?
I started writing before I was an agent, although, writing definitely played a big role in helping me become an agent. My writing journey is pretty typical. I was a book obsessed teenager with a writing dream of my own, but it wasn’t until right after college that I started writing seriously. I am a military spouse and I met my husband at Texas A&M University. We got married our senior year of college and he deployed to Afghanistan the year after. While he was deployed, I had been living in Washington away from my friends and family and I turned to writing as a way to combat the stress and loneliness that I felt during that first deployment. I actually wrote WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN in 28 days during that time, and dove straight into revisions shortly after. A few months later I found my literary agent, Jessica. She has been an amazing champion for this book!
3. 28 Days? That’s amazing! Writing can be such a blessing in the toughest of times. It sounds like it certainly was for you. Where did the story idea for WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN first come from?
Well, I knew this question would come eventually, but my husband inspired this story… yes—that is very awkward for me to admit. I drew so much inspiration from our time at Texas A&M, and my experiences as a military wife. Our love story began at A&M, so the love story central to WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN also parallels to those same themes. The main character, Tapley, was actually inspired by Tapley Holland who was the youngest defender of the Alamo, and played a significant role in the history of the Alamo itself. We loved the name Tapley so much that we named our son after him as well. There is so much history in this story, but there is also so much of my own life in it as well that it’s very personal. It took me awhile to come to terms with the fact that people are going to read these words that I wrote and experience my own feelings in their own way. It’s a very vulnerable but exciting feeling as an Author.
4. Is it awkward for me to say that I can’t wait to read about your love story? The time period, the setting, and your inspiration for the story have me dying to read this immediately! Tapley is such a great name too. How cool it is that your son now shares the name too. I seriously love that! So, how long did it take you to write the manuscript (including revisions) … and to get it published?
WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN was a solid 28 days of writing from the heart. Every emotion, insecurity, and frustration I felt being a military wife was put into that story, and I didn’t outline any of it. While I knocked the book out very fast, I will never pants an entire story again. I definitely prefer going into a story more organized. However, sometimes the characters in the story have a mind of their own and your plan of action can completely change. Don’t be afraid of change in the story—work with your character. After all, it’s their story. I found my agent a few months later, but it took us a solid year of revising and changes before it was submissions ready. I received the publication offer in January of 2018.
5. I’m guessing that’s a day you’ll never forget… and that’s such great writing advice for any writer drafting a novel. Who’s your favorite character in the story?
Definitely Tapley. You can’t help but fall in love with him. He’s loyal to a fault, but he’s brave and honest and he’s not afraid to fight for what he wants.
6. Tapley sounds like an amazing MC, with such noble qualities. In your spare time, when you’re not writing or working as a literary agent, what do you like to do?
My happy place is on the back of a horse. I have been riding horses since I was five, and I have the most amazing tall, dark, and handsome one my life named Marcas (I’m talking about my horse, of course). He’s my shoulder when I need to cry, my best friend. When I’m not at the barn you can most likely find me chasing my son around or building garages for his hot wheels out of Legos.
7. Marcus sounds almost as amazing as your MC…and I can picture the Lego’s scattered around your house while you write! Do you have any writing rituals like a favorite drink, spot to write, or music to listen to?
Wine. All of the wine! Writing is my calm down ritual for the day and I always partner it with a glass of wine in my favorite Doctor Who mug. As for my favorite writing spot…I think the answer is wherever it’s quiet. I do create a playlist for each of my WIPs that I listen to while I’m writing.
8. My mug is usually filled with coffee and flavored creamer, but maybe I should try wine. That does sound like a better writing sidekick! What will you do to celebrate on release day?
Can I use wine as an answer again? We have a special Texas bottle of wine that we’ve been saving for my release day. My husband is actually out in the field this week doing Army things, so we are going to celebrate on Saturday when he gets home.
9. That sounds lovely and just know that you have a whole team of clients, including me, and so many others who will be toasting you tomorrow! You, without a doubt, deserve the celebration! So lastly, for all the writers who are wishing for the news that their manuscript will one day be turned into a book, what piece of advice would you give them?
Everyone has their own
writing journey. It can happen at different stages of your life, at different
paces, and at different levels. Whatever your writing journey is, focus on your
individual successes and try not to get caught longing for the successes of
others. I know I give that speech to my authors on a weekly basis, but I
frequently have to remind myself of the same thing. This is my writing journey
and it will be what I make it, not what others perceive it as.
Thanks for the reminder, Rebecca. That’s such an important message for all of us to remember. Especially in this world of social media where so many other writers are sharing their journeys. It’s a blessing and a curse to know what else is happening around us!
On that note, here’s a little bit more info on Rebecca, including social media links, so you can learn even more about her as an author and as an agent…and her debut novel. It sounds amazing and I seriously cannot wait to crack my copy open!
Rebecca Angus is a Senior Literary Agent with Golden Wheat Literary, and romance author. Rebecca has over five years of experience in the Publishing industry, and she’s excited to work with new authors and illustrators. She started as an editorial and submissions intern at Entangled in 2014, and from there she moved into an intern position at Golden Wheat Literary. After interning on both the publishing side, and the agent side, she set her sights on becoming a Literary Agent and found her home at Golden Wheat Literary.
When she’s away from books, she is an Army wife, science teacher, toddler chasing Mom, and equestrian. The military moves her family way too much. She lives in El Paso, Texas with her family.
Rebecca is a supporter of diversity and inclusion in publishing, and she is a member of SCBWI NM.
Here’s she is doing what she loves…
of WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN:
When Aubrey Harrison wrecks her truck on the side of a dark
Texas highway, she wakes up in the year 1836, in another woman’s life—someone
who looks just like her. Struggling to understand her new reality, Aubrey
connects with Tapley, a handsome cattleman with a tragic past.
As Mexican soldiers begin to fill the small settlement,
Aubrey recognizes the first sign of a deadly battle yet to come. A bargain to
save her new family’s cattle business leads to murder, and Aubrey is forced to
take shelter within the walls of the Alamo, even though she knows that’s the
worst place she could be.
The fate of Texas was sealed before the battle ever began, but with it, a new love may now be lost somewhere between the past and the present. An attempt to change fate comes with the high price of Aubrey’s future, but she’s determined to give history a fight it will never forget.
And here’s her gorgeous book cover…
To follow Rebecca and purchase WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN:
Thanks, everyone for stopping by the blog today. I hope you have a spectacular day, doing something you love! Don’t forget to connect with me on Instagram or Twitter if you haven’t already. That’s where I spend most of my social media time lately. The links are on the side bar. And until we chat again, as always…
I thought it was high time I checked in with you!
I hope you’re all doing well. I’ve been off the charts out of touch for a bit
and I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to. I may ramble a bit, but I guess
you’re all used to that—especially when we have so much to catch up on!
The last time I checked in with you here, it was
January. The snow was falling and I was chin deep in slush while drafting Pop
the Bronze Balloon, the third book in
THE CRIMSON FIVE series. At the same time, I had just brought my son back to
college for his spring semester. I was also getting ready to move my daughter
to Orlando for a semester long internship at Walt Disney World. Besides all
that, my husband and I were in the midst of house projects. So many house
projects. After 26 years in our current home, we had the brilliant idea to embark
on a new adventure…put our house on the market and move into something new in
So many people have asked us if we were bored while the kids were away. Well, if you know me at all, you can imagine that I missed them terribly! But we were definitely not bored. The house projects were endless. My draft took longer than expected. Revisions after that took forever. I’m only now at a place where I can truly say that I love this book! I’m gearing up for another small revision round before it goes to the editing team but we are getting there. The release date has been pushed back to November, but it’s totally fine with me. In the scope if things, a few more months won’t matter and the finished book will be better!
As far as the house projects go, they paid off! We put it on the market a few weeks ago and I can hardly believe it, but it sold in two days. We have a hot real estate market happening around here right now and it certainly worked in our favor. It’s been such a bittersweet process making the decision to leave the home we love though. It’s the only home my husband and I have ever lived in together and the only home our kids have ever known. We’ve made amazing friends here and I wouldn’t have wanted to raise our family anyplace else. But as amazing as it has been to call this house, this neighborhood, and this town our home… we’re all ready for a change. Even though the kids will only live with us for a few more years, we are seriously bursting at the seams and have been for so long! We’re all ready to live someplace new and to make more memories together. Besides, our family will only get bigger and it’ll be nice to have room for everyone—however often they stop by!
The neighborhood we’re moving to is only thirty minutes away from where we are now and our new house is perfect for us. It needs some updating and TLC but I’m on it. Besides writing, interior design is my secret passion. I’m so grateful that I’ll have a blank slate to work with soon and a new place for all of us to call home!
That’s pretty much why I stepped away from this blog for awhile. Between house and book projects, I was simply overwhelmed! But now that my revisions are turned in and we have a closing date, I can breath while I pack for a few weeks. I can also share some fun news with you…
Both Spin the Golden Light Bulb and Flip the Silver Switch are releasing in paperack! That’s right. The Crimson Five book series will be available on August 20,2019 in a sparkly new format! I’m so excited. As much as I adore hardcover books, paperbacks are so much more accessible to readers and for many people easier to read! Plus, they’re both updated editions. More on that later but for now I will say that I’m thrilled with these editions and I cannot wait to hold them in my hands! My author copies should arrive soon and I will definitely share pictures.
As we all know, our kids procrastinate when it comes to summer reading. So if you’re so inclined, both books are available for preorder from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and indiebound. All you have to do is order and they’ll magically appear in your mailbox, just in time for your kiddos to meet their summer reading quota—and discover a new series in the process! Besides, Pop the Bronze Balloon releases later this fall and they’ll definitly want to read the first two first.
Thanks for stopping by to hear my life’s story—I mean
update! I hope your life update is a positive one too. But take it from me, if
you’re overwhelmed, it does get better—eventually!
Have a sparkly day, sweet friends and until we
I can hardly believe it. Today marks one year since Spin the Golden LightBulb was published, and the official end of my debut year. It’s a little bittersweet. My book baby has grown up right before my very eyes!
One year ago, hardly anyone knew it even existed. Now many readers do. They know my characters, like Kia, Ander, Mare, Jax, and Jillian. They know all about the Piedmont Challenge, and they even know quotes from the book—ones that I scribbled in my notebook over seven years ago! It’s still strange to think that, but also wonderful too. The first phrase I ever wrote in my red notebook as I brainstormed the plot was this…
I know my chances stink. But somebody has to win—I pick me.
And now not only are these words actually found in the book (on page 5), but people have read them…and they’ve read the other words too. I sometimes still pinch myself over that! So just because, I thought I’d share a few other highlights from my debut novel’s first year out in the world too…
A few days before release day, my husband and I stopped by our local Barnes & Noble to see where my book would be shelved eventually, in case they ever decided to stock it. I literally (and audibly!) gasped to see it already displayed—on an actual bookstore shelf!
On release day, we had a launch party for Spin
the Golden Light Bulb at the elementary school where I worked as a reading
teacher. It’s the place where I wrote parts of my first manuscript—the one that
happily stays hidden in my desk drawer now. Over 100 of my closest family and
friends attended—and bought copies of my books! I didn’t even think I knew that
Signing those books was surreal (there’s that word again!) and I’m grateful to each and every person that spent that magical night with me. I signed my very first copy for my daughter, and as I took out my golden pen and looked out at the crowd of people, I felt like I was living a dream.
I found it hard to keep it together when the real kids behind the Crimson Five kids (my World Finals Odyssey of the Mind team) gathered around me for a picture with the book. The kids on the team, which included my son, were just eleven years old when I first toyed with the idea of writing an Odyssey of the Mind inspired book. That night they stood next to me as 18 year-olds on the verge of graduating high school. They were the perfect inspiration for the characters and I was thrilled to finally be able to share their story (even if it was an over the top version!) with all of them! It was a night I’ll for sure, never forget.
I did my first book signings and school visits in the spring. It was all kinds of amazing to chat with kids about publishing and the making of Spin the Golden Light Bulb! When people say you will never forget your first few book signings, they aren’t kidding. Some were attended by almost a hundred people. Some were attended by two. But all of them were fun because well, I was doing a book signing. Something I had dreamed of doing for over ten years!
Spin the Golden Light Bulb welcomed her sibling book, Flip the Silver Switch into the world over the summer on August 21, 2018. I don’t think she minded sharing the spotlight though. We had a smaller scale launch for FTSS basically because I felt bad asking my friends and family to do the whole book launch thing again with me so soon! And because STGLB had only been out for six months, it actually felt like another launch for it too!
In the fall, I met my Kids Need Mentors teacher, Erin and her class of 5th graders. I read chapter one of Spin the Golden Light Bulb to them during their first week of school, and received letters from them a few weeks later. How cool is that?
Spin the Golden Light Bulb made it’s first
appearance at the Rochester Children’s Book Festival in November. It’s my
hometown book fest, the biggest of its kind in the area and I was honored and
thrilled to finally participate as a published author! I was interviewed live
by our local TV station and yikes that was scary! I guess in a year of firsts,
that one was definitely memorable!
In a surprise ending to debut year, Spin the Golden Light Bulb was named by the Children’s Book Council and the National Science Teachers of America to their 2019 Best STEM Books K-12 List! I was and still am humbled and thrilled to receive such an honor.
There were so many other highlights from this year but to be honest, I can hardly wrap my head around them all. The whole year has truly been a blur! I feel so grateful and I want to thank everyone who made my first published book’s debut year truly wonderful. The team at Amberjack Publishing and my agent, Rebecca Angus made this dream come true. I am forever grateful for their belief that readers would love this story as much as I do. So many people have been my cheerleaders this year: The Electric 18s. The booksellers. The teachers. The librarians. The bloggers. The reviewers. The parents. The children. My family. My friends. You’ve all help spread the word about my book and showered me with kind words. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I never posted the acknowledgments pages because it honestly never occurred to me. But so many people play a role in bringing a book to life and so today I want to share my thoughts on that with you. For those of you interested, here they are!
Thanks sweet friends for following along on my journey. You have constantly made me feel like publishing my first book is a big deal, even when author imposter syndrome set in and I felt like I was just pretending…playing dress up as an author! Now that I have a year as an author under my belt, I finally feel like I am.
So with that, I’m off to celebrate. I’ll be toasting at 6:30pm with this lovely bottle of wine I received at my launch party one year ago tonight. I may even read a few chapters—of my very first published book!
Thanks for checking in, sweet friends and remember…if you ever wonder if dreams really do come true. I’m here to say they do. They really do!
Happy New Year! I hope 2019 has gotten off to a
good start for you. I absolutely love the first week in January. Maybe it’s the
daydreamer and planner in me, but I
always have such high hopes for the year and putting some of my plans into
action is just plain fun!
First of all, I’ve joined the 30 day Yoga With Adriene program called DEDICATE and I’m loving it so far. I’ve done several of her other yoga videos in the past, but re-committing to the whole yoga thing this way is just what I need (and want!) right now, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Besides Adriene’s videos are so encouraging and motivational. Check them out if you’re into that sort of thing.
I began drafting my WIP again this week also after
taking a few weeks off over the holidays. The story is coming together and I
love it so much! It’s nowhere near great yet, but I can see glimmers of
greatness here and there, so there’s that. I plan to keep writing every day for
the next several weeks. Butt in chair. Laptop on lap. That’s me for the
In my effort to check in with you more regularly
this year, I thought I’d kick off 2019 by sharing my very first pocast
interview. It seems everyone (but me!) has climbed aboard the podcast train—so
when the lovely Michele McAvoy, children’s author and the host of My Messy Muse pocast series asked me to
chat with her, I happily agreed. I mean, I love to talk with other authors so I
thought, how hard can it be?
I have to admit though, as the days approached leading up to our phone call, I did feel a little panicked. I haven’t done many “live” interviews and phone interviews are especially hard. There are no visual cues to tell you when the other person is done speaking, if you’re being too long-winded, or if they’re bored out of their minds listening to you! But Michele made it easy. She’s super friendly, and very easy to talk to. My only regret is that we didn’t have more time to talk about her books, her writing tips, and life in general. I actually think we could’ve talked all day!
So if you’re interested in listening, here’s the link: http://www.michelemcavoy.com/podcast/ Hopefully something you hear will inspire you to keep working on your own writing goals. And if you have a chance, check out Michele’s other interviews… and her website too. Her books are as adorable as she is!
Enjoy the chat, my sweet friends and best of luck
this month with your endeavors—writing and every other kind too. I know you
have what it takes to get them done. Dedication, perserverence, and a “never
give up” attitude can go a long way. I’ll focus if you will. Hopefully together
we’ll get where we want to go. Thanks for checking in with me!
I hope you’re doing well! I thought I’d check in with you one more time before we officially say farewell to 2018. What a wild year it has been, don’t you think?
I hope yours was mostly on the happy side. I say mostly because I think it’s unrealistic to think that a person can have a year that’s 100% wonderful. Even the best year ever needs some bland or stormy days to make us appreciate the sparkles and sunshine.
And if your year wasn’t mostly wonderful, then okay…good
riddance! Because that’s what’s so fabulous about life. We constantly get
do-overs. We’re constantly given opportunities to make our lives what we want
them to be! Every day. Every month. Every Year.
Personally, my year was more than mostly fabulous. My family is happy and healthy, my two book babies published in 2018, and I met some incredible people (of all ages!) through my writing journey this year. I’m so grateful for 2018. I will forever think of it as the year my book dreams came true. I still pinch myself nearly every day when I realize that I can now call myself an author and that real human people are reading books that I’ve written. It’s all so surreal and without a doubt, surreal has become my most over-used word of 2018!
With that said, it doesn’t mean I didn’t have struggles in 2018. I struggled with author impostor syndrome constantly. I mean, why would anyone want to come to my book launch party or read my books? Surely the ones who do are really just being nice! Thoughts like this took over my brain more often than I can count. But, I think I’ve jumped that hurdle and landed on my feet. I realze now that people are busy. They arent going to read a book just to be nice. Unless we’re in school, we read things we want to read.
I have many author friends who have published books. I truly want to read all of them, and not because I want to be nice. It’s because I want to read what they wrote! It’s that simple. So I’ve learned to accept that when someone says they liked my books, they might actually mean it! For those of you who chose my books to read this year, even if only out of curiosity, I thank you from the every corner of my heart. xoxo
I also struggled this year with balance, like many of you. There are only so many hours in the day for family, friends, work, housework, life obligations, fun, and self care…and I constantly felt like I was disappointing someone. But I’ve learned to cut myself some slack and do the best I can. That’s all any of us can ask of ourselves anyway!
I’m still figuring out what it means to live my life as an author, with all of the obligations that come along with that role and about how it fits into my life as a person—as a mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, neice, and friend. What I do know, after experiencing this more than mostly fabulous year, is that none of any of it matters without the people you care about most. So if there’s one thing that I will continue to prioritize, it’s family and friends. But at the same time, if I don’t take care of myself, no one else will—no one else can. And that means proiritizing the happiness I find in writing. It’s not just my career, it’s my joy. I love writing stories for kids and I love talking about writing stories for kids. I look forward to doing more of both in the new year!
So as 2019 approaches, I’m hopeful for another
mostly fabulous year. I do anticipate there’ll be more than a few bland or stormy
days, but hopefully the sparkly and sunny days will be right around the corner too
as we ring in the New Year!
That’s what I wish for you as well. I hope your 2019
is filled with mostly sparkly and sunny days. I hope each morning your cup is
full of your favorite coffee or smoothie, and with it you start each day with
positivity, confidence, and peace. I hope you’ll find the courage to make time
for yourself—to chase your dreams. You have what it takes to make yours come
true—I know you do.
Leave me a comment below with one word or phrase (or more if you like!) that sums up your dream for 2019. I’d love to cheer for you every step of the way! Mine is BRONZE and it sums up more than one dream I have for the coming year. What’s yours?
It’s been awhile! Over the last few months I’ve felt so guilty for not posting on this blog. I mean it has been ages! Day after day, as I’ve struggled to keep up with life in general…which for me means trying to maintain a good balance between being a wife and mom, and being a debut author, I would think of my five year-old blog fondly, and wish I could stop by for a chat.
I’ve seriously chastised myself over and over for neglecting it, which is so ridiculous, I know. But I do miss blogging and I’ve seriously had so many things to post about. But to be honest, this year has been a whirlwind—both personally and professionally and I just had to place this blog on the back-burner, much to my dismay. That doesn’t mean I haven’t checked in on this site though. I actually check in often, like several times a week to update it—or at least make sure it doesn’t need urgent attention.
But finally today, I decided to take a break from the other things. I’m currently in the middle of holiday prep—like so many of you and also in the middle of drafting. I’m working on a middle grade novel and one day soon, as soon as it’s in a more complete form, I’ll share the details with you. But for now, I’m keeping my fingers on the keyboard and pressing on. I have thousands of words left to write. Thousands. I know that’s pretty vague, but I’ve learned that when I say exactly how many words I’ve written, I feel pretty crappy when the next time I talk about it, the number has not increased as much as I’d like. So for now, all I’ll say is that my goal word count is 60,000 and I have a ways to go!
As you guys know, I had two books publish this year…my first two! That’s basically why this year has been a little crazy. Spin the Golden Light Bulb released in January and Flip the Silver Switch released in August. I had so many questions leading into my debut year. There were so many unknowns for me. But I was in a pretty unique position in that I had a chance for a do-over with my second release. That doesn’t mean I didn’t mess up a lot of stuff the second time around though. It’s forever been a figure it out as I go kind of year.
So because of that, I’m working on a post that will give you the inside scoop on what the debut year of a published author is really like. I have lots of tips (and reality checks) for you. Hopefully you’ll find some of it to be helpful! Stay tuned. I’ll be posting it soon after the one year mark, which is January 9, 2019!
Aside from that, I have some big news to share…
Spin the Golden Light Bulb has just been named by the Children’s Book Council and the National Science Teachers of America to their 2019 list of BEST STEM BOOKS K-12!
Like, what?? Are you kidding?
I’m thrilled, ecstatic, honored, and still in a state of absolute disbelief!
STEM education is an initiative to get kids excited to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math. This list recommends books that inspire innovation as student’s improve their reading skills.
As many of you know, Spin the Golden Light Bulb was inspired by the Odyssey of the Mind program and my team of 11 year-olds who once upon a time competed at the World Finals. Their story inspired me more than I can say, and I had hoped to write a story that would inspired other kids too. To think that prestigious organizations like these believe that my book does that, is truly a dream come true. I’m beyond grateful that Spin the Golden Light Bulb is included on this list along side many other authors that I admire. It’s more than I ever expected or dreamed for my first published book!
Here are the links to the press releases and the complete list of books:
So with that, I’m off again. Thanks for sticking with me this year as I’ve been on and off the blog. I’m looking forward to 2019. It should be a bit calmer, so I will be checking in here more often. Wish me luck on this draft. I’ll do the same for you…
Cheers to the end of 2018, and all the words we’ll be writing before the calendar page flips again!
Thank you to all of you who entered my 5 Year Blogiversary Giveaway! Whoever said that giving is much better than receiving, is a wise person because this was so much fun!
If you’ve won one of the five prizes, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with 5 YEAR BLOGIVERSARY GIVEAWAY in the subject line. If you’ve won a critique, I’ll give you instructions on how to proceed. If you’ve won the gift card or one of the two Book Bundles, please include your address, so I can mail out your prize!
The winners are:
Critique of 1 Manuscript Chapter:
RB Frank (WritingOutLoud2)
Critique of 2 Manuscript Chapters:
Amy Hillman (ArHillman)
$25 Barnes & Noble GiftCard:
Vi Figueroa (@teacherfig)
The Crimson Five Book Bundle:
Miss Nikki (MissNikkIin5th)
The Crimson Five Book Bundle plus Bracelet:
Shari Sawyers (SawyersShari)
I plan on doing additional giveaways throughout the year, so if you didn’t win…maybe you will next time!
I hope you’re all having a productive week. Mine has been wild and emotional! Between dropping my son off at college, Flip the Silver Switch releasing, and now preparing for Saturday’s launch party, it has pretty much been a roller coaster ride! I have a pit the size of California in my stomach and I’m guessing it won’t go away until after the launch party or until I get used to not seeing my son’s sweet face every day. And really, will I every get used to that? I don’t think so!
Wish me luck on Saturday. Hopefully all will go well! We’re having cookies and cupcakes, kids activities, and a few MG and YA book giveaways…what could be better than that? I’ll be signing books too which is still pretty surreal to me! I guess I better figure how I’m signing this book though. I have a great inspirational quote that I sign on copies of Spin the Golden Light Bulb. Yikes! I need another one now.
But I’m not complaining. There was a time when signing books was so off my radar. I just wanted to get my story written. So if that’s where you are right now, just keep at it! Keep writing the words, and keep polishing them up. Your writing and story will improve with each read through. Soon it’ll be sparkly and ready to query.
And remember, it only takes one YES. I hope yours comes soon!
Thanks for checking in! I’ll be popping back in next week with an update on the launch party. 🙂