As my faithful blog followers know, I enjoy giving away books, recommending well-written books, and sharing updates on my own WIP Half-Truths.
But my favorite post is when I announce an author landing an agent or a book deal. This post inaugurates a new series I am creating: "You Heard it Here First." I look forward to adding posts as I share more authors' news in the future.
|Miriam is an elementary/middle school teacher currently working with homeschool students. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Charlotte, NC.|
I am very excited to introduce you to Miriam Spitzer Franklin, a hard-working writer who was one of the original members of the SCBWI Charlotte critique group. I have watched from the sidelines as Miriam has persevered and didn't give up on a story that she believed in--and that I loved! I'm pleased to announce that EXTRAORDINARY, her debut middle grade novel, will be published by Skypony Press in Spring 2015.
Take it away, Miriam!
Carol: Tell us about your book. What prompted you to write it?
Miriam: EXTRAORDINARY is about ten-year-old Pansy Smith who vows to become an extraordinary person after she learns her best friend Anna, who hasn’t been the same since a brain injury at summer camp, may soon be cured. Because the girls’ last words to each other were angry ones, Pansy wants to make it up to Anna by becoming the kind of best friend that Anna deserves. Although the subject matter is heavy, much of the book is humorous as Pansy formulates an elaborate plan to reach her goals, persevering in the face of many challenges.
I started with Pansy’s character, a girl who seems mostly average in every way and wants to become an extraordinary person. I knew that friendship would play an important role, and I was inspired to write Anna’s character because of my niece, who had meningitis at age two and suffered a stroke and permanent brain damage. At first, Anna’s brain damage took place five years before the story started because I thought it would be too sad otherwise. But eventually I realized if I wanted the story to work, Pansy’s emotions needed to be a large part of it. In my last revision, Anna gets sick a few months before the story begins.
Carol: I personally know you have had a long journey towards publication. Can you share how many years you spent writing and revising it?
Miriam: This manuscript has been through so many revisions and rewrites I’ve lost count! The first version ended up in a drawer for years while I worked on other projects. Many of my original readers said it felt like two separate stories--one about Anna and one about Pansy--that weren't connected. One day when I wasn’t even thinking about it, the solution came to me out of nowhere and I knew exactly what I needed to do.
Originally, Pansy’s motivation for becoming extraordinary wasn’t clear. In order to link the two storylines, I changed it so that Pansy wants to become extraordinary BECAUSE her friend is going to have surgery and she wants to prove she’s the kind of friend Anna deserves. In my rewrite, the story lines become linked together on the first page when the reader finds out what Pansy’s motivation is for the change.
I revised again before signing with my agent, after the first round of subs, for a revision request for an editor, and one last time before subbing my final round.
Carol: How did you find your agent?
Miriam: Finding an agent was the only thing quick in this process for me, and different from books I’d subbed in the past. This time I posted a query letter on the Blue Boards (now SCBWI boards) for feedback, and received a request from my agent before I’d even sent out any queries. She requested the full within a week, a revision request two weeks after that, and I received the call a week after that.
Carol: What role your agent took in getting this publisher?
Miriam: I’m the one who suggested subbing to SkyPony Press. I saw that they were interested in books with special needs themes. It took them a long time to read the manuscript, though the editor, Julie Matysik, kept checking in and saying she was still interested and would get to it soon. Eight months after my agent sent the book out, Julie responded with an enthusiastic “I love this book!” and an offer.
Carol: What have you been asked to do for marketing?Miriam: My editor has sent an author’s guide with marketing suggestions. I’m starting by setting up an author’s website; I’ve also been strongly urged to set up an author’s FaceBook page or a Twitter account. I’m interested in setting up school visits once the book is published since I’m a former teacher and more comfortable talking to groups of kids than groups of adults! But it seems most of this can wait until the cover is designed and the catalog goes out in the fall.
Carol: What's next?
Miriam: I have two other completed middle grade manuscripts as well as a younger middle grade, still in progress. Although I’m focusing on my debut right now, I’m hoping my editor will take a look at one of my other manuscripts when we’re finished with revisions.
Congratulations to Miriam who persevered, wrote, and rewrote. I can't wait to see this book in print!