Wednesday, March 6, 2013

You Heard it Here First!

Two years ago I was pleased to share my friend Linda Phillips' news of signing with an agent. Today, I am even more excited to share her announcement of signing with a publisher! And you know that I'll be the first to offer an ARC or off-the-presses copy of her debut young adult novel when it is released.

Carol: Tell us about CRAZY. What were your significant milestones along your path to publication? How did you mine your own life experiences to write it?

Linda: CRAZY (my working title) actually began as a collection of 20 poems that were loosely centered on the theme of my mother’s bipolar disorder and took about 15 years to write. It was largely a cathartic exercise on my part to work through years of angst and unanswered questions of my teen years.

If you remember, you read it and said,  “This needs to be a book.” (Carol grins.)

I teach full time, I am the mother of teenage twin boys, and I fully participate in my husband’s parish ministry.  I’ll get right on it……from 4:00 to 6:00 a.m. weekdays or all that spare time on Saturday after groceries, cleaning, lesson plans and school activities with my boys. 

But the idea felt right, and I was hooked. 

By the summer of 2009 I had a much-edited manuscript I took to the Highlights Foundation Writer’s Workshop in Chautauqua, NY. Patti Gauch, former senior editor of Philomel, was my designated mentor, and she graciously went the extra mile with me.  The biggest thing she did was point out that my YA book had an adult voice, and a mother that dominated the scene.   

My comfort zone collapsed. 

I spent the next year (still teaching) writing a revision based on Patti’s invaluable critiquing.  In addition to her input, I began to step out of the protagonist position, to put necessary distance between the story and myself.

The following summer vacation was a marathon agent query and in October, 2010 I signed with Julia Kenny at Markson Thoma Agency in New York.  She has the patience of Job, both in dealing with all my “nervous Nelly” emails, and the two years it took to land a deal with William B. Eerdmans. 

At this point, we have a tentative release date of August, 2014.  As my pals, the Beatles said, “It’s been a long and winding road” and I can’t wait to see what lies around the bend. 

Carol: Why did you use free verse to write your story?

Linda: My father passed along his love of poetry to me, and I’ve dabbled in it since high school. I have used it to think things through, both the good and the bad.  It has been like a best friend to me all these years, and the most effective way I knew of understanding life experiences.

Carol: What do you hope that your readers will gain from reading your book?

Linda: When the book opens, Laura is a nervous, frightened, and depressed teenager. She is obsessed with hating her artist mother who appears to be mentally disintegrating before her eyes. She worries everyone in her small mill town is aware that her mother is crazy. When her mother has a nervous breakdown, Laura becomes frightened that she will suffer the same consequence if she pursues her own passion for art. 

She sets out to find where she fits in the art world, and ultimately, to get to the bottom of what has caused her mother’s illness.  In the process, she discovers an inner strength that enables her to ask her mother for forgiveness and to begin a new relationship with her. 

This is a story of hope, born out of Laura’s determination to find the truth and to understand and accept it.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder affects 5.7 million adults 18 and older in the U.S. population annually. Millions of adults with the disorder are in the process of raising children.  I hope that my book may serve as a support, a conversation starter, or perhaps a catalyst leading to medical help for teenage or adult readers affected by this disorder. 

Thank you, Linda, for this insider's look into your book and your path to publication!


When she’s not writing, Linda can be found walking or bicycling the greenways near her home in Charlotte, trying out a new vegan recipe, or settling in for a stretch with her Nook.  In between, she might be found walking, praying, or exchanging writing ideas with her appreciative writing buddy, me. 

12 comments:

Barbara Younger said...

Loved reading how this book came to be. Congratulations!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Well I just loved getting a little more in depth look at the story line and also learning more about your journey, Linda. I'll be back to sign up for the giveaway! I am eager! But not nearly as eager as you, I know.

Thanks Carol, for the interview!

Rosi said...

Congratulations to Linda for all these accomplishments. Thanks for running the giveaway. It sounds like a wonderful book.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Joyce, Barbara and Rosi for stopping by. We won't be giving away Linda's book for another year, Rosi...by then you'll be back in the running for another book--if not way before then!!

kathleenrupff said...

Wow, so very nice to learn about Linda and her story. Hits close to home...Look forward to reading it!! Congratulations, Linda!

miriam said...

Linda, I can't wait to read it. Sounds like an amazing story! I know how long the road to publication has been, and I'm looking forward to buying a copy (or a few)! Miriam

Gail Hurlburt said...

Linda... I would love to read your book. I have a sister and a cousin with Bipolar Disorder. My mother was a lover of poetry.

Jean said...

How exciting, Linda! I personally know several teens and a lot of adults who will really relate to this book.

Blessings on it and on you!
Jean

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Miriam, Jean, & Gail for leaving your comments. I know it will mean a lot to Linda too!

Linda Vigen Phillips said...

Thanks to everyone for the kind comments. Kathleen, Gail, and Jean you all fit right into my target audience, and I truly do hope and pray that this book will be a support to anyone whose life has been touched by Bipolar Disorder.

Carol Baldwin said...

Been my pleasure to host you, Linda!

Young Authors Program said...

Wow, Linda! You and I have a lot in common. I too have a mother with bi-polar disorder and am slowly but surely getting the courage to talk about it. There's a MG book I started on the same subject that's been sitting, well, for years now. I too want to start the conversation. Can't wait to read the book!!