********If you've been following this blog for several years than you may have already met Linda Phillips, one of my closest writing buddies, friend, and prayer partner. Like a midwife, I've watched as Linda has labored over her debut young adult novel, Crazy, and I can't wait to hold a copy of it in my hands. Over the next two blogs Linda shares what she has learned in the process of writing and bringing her baby--oops, her book--into this world.
I hope you will welcome Linda, and Crazy into your lives.
|Linda and I at a Charlotte Mecklenburg|
Performers Showcase event
First, the synopsis:
Fifteen-year-old Laura Walberg can't imagine life without sketching or painting. When her artist mother has a nervous breakdown the same week Laura's teacher pressures her to enter a prestigious contest, Laura must face her fear that art will send her over the edge, too.
Driven by shame and rage, Laura hides her disintegrating home life from everyone, including her best friend. Neither her older sister nor her father recognizes her fear of going insane. Desperately alone, she considers suicide, faith healing, an unlikely relationship with a super-jock, and a new artistic endeavor. When Laura’s mother becomes violent, Laura vows to find the demon that is driving her crazy. An amazing discovery changes Laura forever and opens her heart to the mother she never knew.
Next, the BIG question:
What have you learned in the process of writing, editing, and getting Crazy ready for publication?
Well, I know the ultimate reward for writing a book is seeing it on the shelf, but I’m here to tell you how much I value all that I have learned along the way. In fact, I’ve learned so much it makes me wonder what I thought I actually knew before I started!
Speaking of getting started, my adventure began with a collection of adult poems that I wrote as a cathartic release from the emotions connected with my mother’s bipolar disorder. I soon had a collection of twenty poems, some of which were published in adult literary journals. I began toying with the idea of trying to get them published as a poetry collection when you suggested they would be happier in a novel. I really started working on shaping them into a book in 2007.
You and I trundled off to Chautauqua, NY for the 2009 Highlights Foundation Writer’s Workshop, where I took my very raw novel and my growing desire to see my name in print. Thanks to my mentor for the week, Patti Gauch, I learned that my YA book was, of course, written in an adult voice. For some reason, that minor little detail had escaped me completely! I owe a debt of gratitude to Patti for setting me on the right path, and giving me an invaluable, detailed critique that took me a year to work through.
The next big lesson that I learned was about time management. I was still teaching school and finding writing time was often a frustrating challenge. Being a morning person was helpful, and often I would write in the pre-dawn hours before school. I dropped out of an active role in SCBWI and began saying “no” to as many commitments as possible. When I finally felt like the manuscript was ready for submission, I treated finding an agent like a second job one whole summer vacation.
It paid off with the offer from Julia Kenny for agent representation at Dunow, Carlson, and Lerner (she was actually with MarksonThoma at the time).
Oh boy, here’s where the first lesson in patience really kicked in and stop me if I go on too long, because it is never-ending! Written in verse, set in the sixties, with nary a mention of werewolves or dystopian worlds (when those things were really hot)--well, needless to say, my book was not an immediate sell! We came really close several times, but not close enough after about thirty submissions. I was ready to throw in the towel, but Julia wasn’t. She suggested that I try some small, independent houses on my own, since they neither require nor desire agent representation. In the meantime, she stayed in the background providing full support and advice.
|Linda was excited to meet Julia in person in NYC!|
That meant another “summer job” of querying, but admittedly with dwindling hope. I guess the next big lesson learned was “if you’ve got someone backing you who loves your work, for heavens sake, don’t give up.” So I didn’t. Within three months I had two offers from my querying efforts while I was attending a wonderful Free Expressions workshop called Your Best Book with Lorin Oberweger (speaking of learning experiences, check her out!). And before that amazing week was out, Julia received an offer from Eerdmans, one of the original thirty submissions, which we jubilantly accepted. I know I learned tons that week, but it might boil down to how to stay sane while juggling three offers at a workshop with your WIP.
Join us next week when Linda shares what she has learned about herself, revision, cover design, and one of her poems from Crazy.