ACKNOWLEDGING THE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

In the months leading up to signing with my agent, I got in the habit of flipping to the acknowledgements page of middle-grade books to peruse who the author thanked and how fervently they thanked them.  I didn’t realize how much the tender, earnest gratitude other writers pledged towards their supportive spouses and children was making me sweat until I saw the acknowledgments page of Scott Seegert’s VORDAK THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE. Here, after dedicating the book to his own glorious self, Vordak refuses to commend the contribution of others to its publication, observing, “A herd of bison would have been more helpful.”

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I felt a thrill of YES and VORDAK, YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO UNDERSTANDS ME.  Then I found a quote from Franz Kafka telling his fiancée, “You once said you would like to sit beside me while I write. Listen, in that case, I would not be able to write at all…one can never be alone enough to write…” Oh, Franz, I hear you, too, dude.

 

My husband and I worked out a plan last summer whereby he’d be the family breadwinner, and our kids would be the family bread-eaters, and I would try being the family writer. In planning, however, we failed to acknowledge that I already have a couple of full-time jobs managing our household and parenting two intense little people who want nothing more than to spend their day talking to me, negotiating with me, playing with me, squabbling near me, and lying down on various parts of me and asking me to read to them. In addition, my husband is pretty introverted and many days, I’m his only social outlet.

We’ve tried various methods of preserving a quiet, protected daily writing space and time for me.

writer at work

 

I’ll be frank, though: bit by bit, I’ve been disintegrating. I’ve always been unusually sensitive to disturbances in the Force around me, which my doctor is now calling generalized anxiety disorder. When I’m out of balance, I develop really odd anxieties. (One fun example: after my twins were born, I developed a fear of my home’s mailbox.)

mailbox_lizard

And I’ve found that even with a regime of medication, supplements, meditation, and therapy, if I don’t get enough alone time, I’m neither a good writer nor a good member of our family. Instead, I hide in bed and fantasize about:

  • digging a moat around and bricking up the doorway to our home office
  • finding a way to become the sound-hoarding Soundkeeper from THE PHANsoundkeeperTOM TOLLBOOTH
  • inventing reverse hearing aids that allow you to turn silence up or down as needed (better than ear plugs, we’ll call ‘em Hearing Thwarts, $19.99 per pair plus shipping and handling. Stock up for the holidays!)

It’s not easy. Nevertheless, when my editor asked for my own dedication and acknowledgements pages, I did thank my family. It’s understated, but it’s there. While there’s a mailbox-fearing creature ready to hijack my hippocampus pretty much whenever, I’m not a jerk nor an evil overlord at heart.

It’s worth noting, however, that my kids’ school summer vacation begins tomorrow. So if you hear I’ve disappeared, please do me a favor – don’t tell the authorities that I’ve likely taken my laptop to sit amidst the nearest herd of bison to get some peace and quiet.


Christina UssCHRISTINA USS has never found a frilled lizard in her mailbox, but there’s always a first time. Her debut novel THE ADVENTURES OF A GIRL CALLED BICYCLE comes out Spring 2018 from Margaret Ferguson Books/ Holiday House. Tweet her if you know of a herd of bison seeking a Writer in Residence @christinauss or drop by http://www.christinauss.com.

 

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Filed under Anxiety, Families, Uncategorized, Writing and Life

Going Out with a Bang (of Fireworks)!

It’s the last day of our celebration of the release of Sarvinder Naberhaus’s BLUE SKY WHITE STARS, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Sarvinder’s book celebrates the beauty of America, so to wrap up the launch of Sarvinder’s debut, we thought we’d go out with a bang and talk about our favorite Fourth of July memories!

Debbi Michiko Florence: When we lived in Upstate NY and my daughter was younger, Bob, Caitlin and I would go to Bob’s brother’s house and then both families would go to the park in downtown Saratoga. We’d set up blankets, check out the booths and play cards and board games until it got dark. Then the fireworks show would start – and it was spectacular, but the best part was spending it with family. I miss those days! Our kids are all grown up and while we sometimes still get together with Bob’s brother and sister-in-law, I miss having the kids around.

Hayley Barrett: I love a parade and my neighboring town, Wakefield, has the best 4th of July parade in Massachusetts. A few years ago, I had the joy of seeing Rex Trailer — a local television personality from my childhood — ride by on a SPECTACULAR and high-spirited palomino horse. He would have been about 82 years old at the time and rode like the true-blue cowboy he was. Boom, Boom, Boomtown Forever!

Katie Slivensky: Growing up in my neighborhood, we would all decorate our bikes in red, white, and blue and have a giant bike parade to our local pond. There, we would swim and bbq and celebrate with bomb pops and all our neighbors! It was one of my favorite days of the year.

Jason Gallaher: There is absolutely nothing like going out to Coeur d’Alene Lake in Northern Idaho on the Fourth of July. I have so many memories of hopping in a boat, water skiing all day, then bobbing along just after sunset and watching fireworks blast over the lake. It’s beautiful, and I’m positive it’s the inspiration behind Katy Perry’s “Firework.”

Sarvinder Naberhaus: My favorite 4th of July memories happened AFTER it was all over. The fair used to come to town, and set up at the park just down the hill. I could see it from the tops of my climbing tree. They had a Ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl, swings (my favorite because I was flying). My neighbor girl and I would go down after it was all over. What a mess! But as the hazy lazy days of summer dragged on, it was hard to find an adventure. So we’d go down and sift through the plethora for “treasure.”

You can see fireworks and so much more of America’s landscape and history in Sarvinder’s BLUE SKY WHITE STARS, out now! Grab a copy for yourself from IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your favorite bookseller!

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Bike photo from Bike Provo; Ferris wheel photo from Northforker/Katharine Schroeder

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The BLUE SKY WHITE STARS All-American Author Interview! Plus a Recipe!

Cue the marching band! Light the fireworks! It’s time for an All-American Author Interview! 

I asked Blue Sky White Stars author Sarvinder Naberhaus  about her favorite American foods, pastimes, and traditions. Here’s the scoop:

The 4th of July is coming, and you’re invited to my backyard barbecue bash. What tasty treat should I grill up for you? A hot dog? A hamburger? Something else entirely?

A grilled hamburger is good, but so is a grilled hot dog. It’s probably a toss-up, but I’d top either of them with barbecue sauce. 

Barbecue sauce on a dog or burger?! That’s some American ingenuity, right there. I’ll forgo my usual ketchup-mustard-relish-onions combo next time and try it. 

Batter up! We’re headed off to enjoy America’s favorite pastime — a baseball game. When the snack vendor comes our way, do you want peanuts or Cracker Jack?

When I was young I’d walk to Pammel Grocery and buy Cracker Jack. I only bought them for the prize. I would eat them, but never really liked them. I lived for the prize. 

Here you go, Sarvinder. All the prizes just for you.

Happy Thanksgiving! Do you choose a slice of apple pie or pumpkin pie? And what’s your favorite side dish?

Definitely pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Favorite side dish? French Silk Pie! 

Pie on the side? That takes the cake!

My kids love my pumpkin bars too, so I’ll share the recipe at the end of this post. 

Have you ever visited Washington D.C. and the Smithsonian museums? Which was your favorite? 

The Air and Space Museum. I’m fascinated with the stars and wanted to be an astronaut, hence the ending of Blue Sky White Stars. 

Readers will have to rocket to their nearest library or bookstore to see BLUE SKY WHITE STAR’s spectacular ending. Kadir Nelson’s illustrations are stratospherically stunning. 

It’s a perfect summer night with exactly zero mosquitoes. I’ve packed the station wagon with snacks and pillows. Let’s go to the drive-in! Which classic American film should we see? *crosses her fingers for JAWS*

My favorite movie is THE SOUND OF MUSIC, but for the drive-in, I say GREASE. 

Speaking of summer blockbusters, I’ve revved up the DeLorean’s flux capacitor. Let’s time travel! Which famous American would you most like to meet? 

There are lots of people in BLUE SKY WHITE STARS that I’d like to meet, but I’d have to say Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

Great choice! I’d love to hear Half Pint’s stories first-hand. Can you imagine getting writing advice from her? Amazing. 

Nothing is more American than a… In that spirit, it’s time for the speed round. Hold on to your 10-gallon hat, Sarvinder!

 

Fireworks or fireflies?

Definitely fireflies on a warm July night, millions blinking over the fields of Iowa. A sight to behold. 

Jazz or Country? Country. My favorite singer is Amy Grant. 

Nascar or rodeo? Nascar.

Coke or Pepsi? Neither. Dr. Pepper!

On that appropriately independent note, I’d like to thank you, Sarvinder Naberhaus, for participating in this All-American Author Interview. And now, for the grand finale:

Sarvinder’s Famous Pumpkin Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting

Grease a 10 x 13 ” pan. Preheat oven to 350.
Mix together:

4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 c. sugar
2 c. pumpkin (1 15 oz. can)

Then add:

1 c. vegetable oil

Next add:

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Spread batter into pan. Bake 20 minutes. 

Frosting:

Soften 4 oz. cream cheese and 3/4 c. butter (1 1/2 sticks)
Blend cream cheese and butter with 1 tsp. milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 3/4 c. powdered sugar until smooth. (Frosting recipe can be doubled. Freeze half for another day.)

Frost cooled pumpkin sheet cake and cut into bars. 

Enjoy while reading BLUE SKY WHITE STARS. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I write for young people and live to make kids laugh. My picture book BABYMOON celebrates the birth of a new family and is coming from Candlewick Press. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is coming in spring 2019 from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books and will be illustrated by Diana Sudyka.
I’m represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

 

(Vendor photo: Apr 5, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Ballpark vendor Chico Sakulsky sells peanuts and Cracker Jack before the Pittsburgh Pirates play the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

 

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Our Favorite America!!

The launch for Sarvinder Naberhaus’s BLUE SKY, WHITE STARS continues! To keep the celebration going, we talk about our favorite cities, states and national landmarks in the USA!

Terry Pierce: City – It’s a tie between Boston, MA, and Portland, OR. I love the “intimacy” of both these large cities and their “walkability” (a word I just made up to mean “ease of walking.”). Portland is the essence of the Pacific Northwest with its small coffee houses, frequent bookstores and gorgeous distant mountain scenery. Boston’s incredibly rich history, amazing food (Hello, North End!) and sight-seeing points of interest make it a favorite big city to visit (yes, I visited Robert McCloskey’s mother duck and ducklings statue—what children’s writer wouldn’t?).

Natural landmarks – No doubt, Yosemite National Park. There is nothing like it with its massive granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, abundant wildlife and the lazy Merced River meandering down the middle of the valley floor. When I drive through the Wawona tunnel and see the full view of the valley, it still takes my breath away. It’s truly spectacular and makes me appreciate the amazing natural forces of our planet. I mean, to think that a glacier carved away the solid granite and sculptured the valley is mind-blowing.

Debbi Michiko Florence: Oh it’s hard to pick just one place, so can I pick a few? While there are many landmarks, states, and cities in the U.S. that I love and enjoy returning to, because I’ve moved so often in my adult life, my favorite places are those that take me to be with family.

San Francisco – City of my birth – I love the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, the foggy mornings, and all my precious memories created there.

Huntington Beach, CA, and Portland, OR – My parents live in Huntington Beach and visiting them means down time, relaxation, walks to the beach and on the pier, sunshine and ocean. My sister and her family, and my stepson, live in Portland and there’s nothing like hanging out with family while visiting a vibrant city with great food and sights.

Christina Uss: I will narrow down my list of eight million to two.

Philadelphia. I went to college here and spent four amazing years soaking in the history and culture of Philly. I’d finish classes for the day and then have to decide – did I want to go for a run up the steps of the Art Museum with the theme song to Rocky playing in my head, or go visit the Liberty Bell, or peruse an original copy of the Declaration of Independence, or stroll down Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest residential street in the U.S.? Or just go eat a cheesesteak or a butter-soaked Amish pretzel? Or do ALL of them? I adored how day-to-day life of people of so many diverse backgrounds was swirling around these historic sites every day, all hours of the day. Philly feels to me like a place where every layer of American history from colonial times to an hour ago is alive.

My heart swells with patriotic pride when I visit any part of our National Parks system, often called America’s Best Idea. I particularly love the ones out west with historic, epic National Parks lodges built in the early 1900s, like Many Glacier in Montana’s Glacier Park, Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone Park, El Tovar at the Grand Canyon. I was so grateful in my former life as a bicycling adventure tour guide to get to stay in these lodges; they struck me as the most brilliant combination of human architectural vision and craftsmanship with spectacular natural settings.

Katie Slivensky: Tough one! I love Glacier Bay National Park. It’s just so gorgeous and eerie and serene and wild. Also, Mackinac Island. Lots of horses. No cars. Beautiful sights. And FUDGE.

Anna Crowley Redding: Acadia, specifically Night Sky Fest, a week in the park with astronomers looking at planets, galaxies, and constellations!

Carole GerberCharleston, SC. Gorgeous city with wonderful restaurants, and mannerly, friendly people with beautiful southern accents. Did I mention there are lots of beaches nearby?

Hayley Barrett: I’m a true-blue Boston girl. I love that dirty water!

Jason Gallaher: Hands down, without a doubt, my favorite place in America and the whole wide world is Malibu, CA. I love strolling down the pier, I love having deep conversations with local dolphins by cackling back at them, I love recreating scenes from The Craft at Leo Carrillo Beach, and it definitely doesn’t hurt that Miley Cyrus just came out with  a song named after the city.

Sarvinder Naberhaus: I love the Grand Canyon and national parks!

You can see even more beautiful pictures and descriptions of America in Sarvinder Naberhaus’s BLUE SKY, WHITE STARS! You can find out more about the book here, and you can order a copy from IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your favorite bookseller!

 

 

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Blue Sky White Stars, the book journey

Blue Sky Cover w text

Front Cover

BLUE SKY - BACK COVER

Back Cover

My journey with this book started with getting my agent. I had given Joan several of my manuscripts and was excited when she called and took me as a client. 

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       She wanted me to add more people and Americana

She sent Blue Sky to my editor, and when Lucia saw this manuscript, she asked if she could call me.Of course I was very excited!  I had just gotten a few rejections and I was planning on revising it. Lucia had a vision for this book right from the start. It was really her vision that brought it all together.

Of course that vision included Kadir Nelson as the illustrator. When I went to his website and looked at his artwork (this was before I knew who Lucia had in mind), it hit me that he was the perfect artist for this book, with his rich blues and deep browns. He has also done books that contained several of the subjects in my book, such as baseball and Abe Lincoln, and space.

When Lucia spoke with me on the phone, she asked me to revise. She wanted me to add more people and Americana to the text. So of course I brainstormed for months, thinking about the flag and words that describe it, that could also describe people.

When I write, I ask myself a lot of questions, so I asked myself, “Where else has the flag been?” And the answer was immediate. To the moon! And I knew I had my climax, even though this was a concept book. I had always wanted to be an astronaut so this was the perfect ending.

Lines cover rounded

            LINES out August 21

For me, space is always the perfect ending for my books (see my upcoming board book, LINES). 

Dial did decide that they were going to be doing special 4th of July displays around the country with this book, so I got to sign 2000 copies ahead of time, putting my signature alongside Kadir’s. IMG_2632

The only thing was, I got the books late, so I only had 4 days to do so.

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Here I am signing some of my 2000 copies the first time

Then, later on, it ended up that the ink stuck on the previous pages, and so we had to resign 2000 copies all over again!  IMG_2633

I doubt my small hometown will have the display at my local bookstore, but I hope people will send me photos if they run into one.
I also ended up doing quite a lot of backmatter, that the editorial team wanted me to do, last minute. So I had less than a month to research and write the backmatter for all the topics of this book. Non-fiction research takes a lot of time because there are contradictory facts and you have to dig deep to find the truth. In the end, they forgot to tell me that they had cut it. I found out when I got the final pdf, right before being sent off for printing. In the end, I think the current end pages match the tone of the story much better.  I told my editor this would make for a good story someday! 

So that is a little about this book and how it came into this world. Thanks for sharing my special day with me!

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Happy Book Launch, Sarvinder!!!

This week we’re celebrating the birth of a nation. Well, not exactly, but close. Sarvinder Naberhaus’s stunning picture book, BLUE SKY, WHITE STARS, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, is a beautiful tribute to America and its diversity. What perfect timing for the release of this tribute to America and her flag, folded between two of our country’s most celebrated patriotic holidays, Memorial Day and Independence Day!

We all know that a great party (launch or otherwise) must have music! So, what better way to begin our celebration than with songs—specifically, patriotic songs—songs we learned in elementary school that still sing in our hearts and lift our spirits when we lend our voices to our country and her flag. So, to kick off the release of BLUE SKY, WHITE STARS, I asked the EMUs here in our nest to talk a little about their favorite patriotic song.

Christina Uss: My favorite patriotic song is “America the Beautiful.” When I rode my bike across our great country, I was inspired to spontaneously burst out singing it over and over and over again. There are many things to love about the U.S. of A., but this song is what bubbles up for me when I am knocked silly by the scenic beauty that is EVERYWHERE around us. I feel lucky as all get-out to be able to live and travel freely here whenever I see the fruited plain of Illinois, the amber waves of grain of Kansas, the spacious skies of Montana, the purple mountains majesty of Colorado, the alien’s play-doh playground of Utah, the sweep of the Pacific Coast in California, the bike paths of Virginia, the swimming holes of Missouri…I’ve gotta stop now or I’ll never get any other writing done, there’s JUST SO MUCH!

Jason Gallaher: It might not be considered your traditional patriotic song, but I really love Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America.” I think that song is timeless and expertly captures the anxiety teens/early-twenty-somethings feel about becoming a suburban stereotype. The kids just want to get lost in the music-go-round, dang it, and not get stuck in that suburbia sprawling everywhere!

Terry Pierce:   My favorite song about America is “This Land is Your Land” (composed by Woody Guthrie in 1940—betcha didn’t know that?). As a child, my family moved quite a bit and always explored the areas where we had traveled and lived. When I learned this song in the third grade, I loved it because I connected to many of the places in the lyrics: California, New York, forests, the Gulf, deserts and valleys. It gives tribute to the many and varied places in our country, with the message that this extraordinary place we live belongs to all of us. This is something I strongly believe, that it’s our duty as citizens to protect and cherish our land.

Hayley Barrett: I’ve always loved “My Country,’Tis of Thee.” As a child, I didn’t realize that the song was likely related to a landmark in my town. Author Samuel Francis Smith is said to have been inspired by the bell and steeple of Old South Church to write these lyrics, “I love thy rocks and rills, thy woods and templed hills, my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.”

Sarvinder Naberhaus: I have so many songs that I love. When teaching 4th grade social studies, my kids learned “50 Nifty United States.”  I love that one! “This Land is Your Land” is also another favorite as well as “America the Beautiful.”

Thank you, Sarvinder and Kadir, for bringing this stunning new book into our lives. For a closer look at BLUE SKY, WHITE STARS, please visit its website HERE.

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY, SARVINDER!!!

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About Terry Pierce…

Terry writes board books, picture books, easy readers and middle-grade adventure novels. She lives in the California desert but avoids the summer heat by retreating to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to hike, bike, write and dip her head in high mountain sky. She’s a Vermont College of Fine Arts graduate and teaches online children’s writing courses for UCLA Extension. Her latest books include My Busy Green Garden (Tilbury House) and Mama Loves You So (Little Simon).

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Can I Really Be An Author?

ed7fec70-79c7-0134-cdfe-0aec1efe63a9.pngToday, my first-ever novel is officially out in the world. It’s real. It’s published. It’s in hardback. This has been my dream ever since I was very little. It always seemed clear to me that the best possible job was to be an author. Getting to make up stories for a living? Sign me up! I’ve always loved books as physical objects, and reading has been my favorite activity since I was in grade school. I always idolized my favorite authors, fantasizing about the awesome, creative lives they must lead.

Today I can really say it: I am an author. But it’s funny how even now, now that there is official proof, I still don’t quite believe it. It’s hard to even write that sentence without a reflexive little voice that goes: “Oh really? Who do you think you are?” 

I never used to think I’d doubt myself as an author. I thought if I published a book I’d feel worthy, and that was that. I never expected that sneaky imposter feeling to arise. As I wrote about in my last post, throughout the creative process of this book, I constantly questioned whether I could actually do it. I sort of felt like I was pretending the whole time. When people would say, “You’re writing a book?” I’d brush it off. “Well, I’m attempting, anyway,” I’d say. I sort of always had this feeling that it didn’t count. I was just lucky, I’d tell myself. I was in the right place at the right time. Or, they think I can write a book but really I can’t. 

But as we wrapped up the final rounds of editing, I felt something shifting. After reading and re-reading the manuscript so many times, being so close to it for so long, I finally realized something seemingly obvious: this is real. This is not a drill! This is a real book. It’s not pretend. It’s not a meaningless Word document. It’s meaningful to me, and so much work has gone into it, and it will soon exist in the wider world.

In that moment, I realized that even though I didn’t always believe in myself as an author, I did believe in the story of the book. I do believe in Ivy, the book’s protagonist, who in many ways is a version of my younger self. I believe in the emotions that Ivy feels, and I believe in her journey. She is very real to me. So for her sake, I must believe in this book. I must believe in myself.

I will always have moments of doubt– of thinking, can I really be an author?– but I will always strive to tell stories that are important to me, because writing and reading stories is still my absolute favorite thing to do. I will have countless more day jobs, and a million unglamorous moments, and unfinished drafts, and plenty of creative self-doubt, but I won’t deny what is now true: I’m an author. I think my little self, curled up alone reading all day, would be very pleased.

Lily Myers is a writer, feminist and witch from Seattle, Washington. Her debut novel, This Impossible Light, is out today from Philomel. She blogs about self-love and feminism at The Shapes We Make.

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Better

I’m going on 2 years here on EMU’s Debuts. I’m going on 8 years of working towards being a professional author. And I’m going on 32 years of being a writer.

And I have to say: I’ve gotten better at my craft.

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It doesn’t always feel like I’ve improved. A lot of the time, I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m one giant faker. But stepping back, looking objectively at my writing, the kind of notes I get from critique partners, my agent, and my editor…

I’ve gotten better.

This is a really important thing for me to state publicly. I struggle with Imposter Syndrome at levels higher than I can possibly sum up in a blog post, but as I know so many other authors who struggle with it, too, I want to share this sentiment.

I’ve gotten better. And you’ve gotten better. (And you! And YOU! And YOU!)

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You’ve all gotten better, I swear. You’re doing great. And you’ll keep getting better.

I’ve written in the past about the stress of turning around a second book super fast after my first one, and how I felt like I could never live up to the writing in my Book 1 with such little time to work with. But honestly, upon reflection, going through some of the final rounds of edits on Book 2… it’s a pretty darn good story. I don’t know if it lives up to Book 1, but it’s startlingly well put together for how little time I’ve had to devote to it. A few years ago, I never could have written something at this level this fast. (Don’t get me wrong–4 years winning NaNoWriMo straight certainly taught me to write fast, but to write well fast? That’s a different story.)

I’m not writing this post to brag about my Book 2. Honestly, I have no idea how it will be received. I just know how I feel about it. And right now, I feel like it’s still kind of a mess. But a proud mess. With lots of good parts. A mess that can be cleaned up into something I’m reasonably happy having published–and something I never could have written a few years ago.

So take pride in your messes. They’re coming together in ways you never could have dreamed about in your past, no matter how sloppy they feel to you in the moment. There’s so much rejection and criticism in this business, that sometimes, we have to be reminded that we have things to celebrate, too. And one of those things is the simple but crucial fact that we’ve all gotten better.

Way to go, us!

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Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for August 1st, 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or on her website, www.katieslivensky.com.

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Thank You and Fare Well!

All sorts of words can be used to describe the purpose of this post.

Goodbye.

Farewell.

Ta-ta.

Later.

Adios.

Adieu.

Ciao.

See ya.

But I most like “farewell” because my feelings about leaving the nest don’t feel permanent or sad. What I really feel is gratitude for the opportunity to work with such a phenomenally talented group of authors, and I sincerely want everyone to fare well in their journeys on the writing path. Because writing really is about the journey, at least to me.

I’ve always felt writing is akin to trekking a long path into the mountains, full of ups and downs, challenges and rewards. If you do the hard work of putting one foot in front of the other you will advance.

Keep moving.

Keep progressing.

Keep discovering the rewards around the bend, out of sight but waiting.

 

 

The EMU’s nest is one of those rewards I’ve experienced on my writing journey. I’ll admit, at first I was hesitant to join because I worried about using social media. All these “young pups” were so savvy with social media—could an old dog (or in my case, a cat) really learn new tricks? I thought hard on it and finally realized this was yet another part of my journey. Take the next step, Terry, I thought, see what’s around the bend. So, I embraced the opportunity and signed up. And thanks to the kind and patient leadership in the group (Jason, Debbi, Andrea), I’ve not only traversed the valley but I’ve reached new heights and made many new friends along the way (seriously guys, we really should take a camping trip together!).

 

 

So, thank you, my fellow EMUs, for letting me walk alongside of you on the writing path (I dare not name names for fear of missing one of the flock!). This has been so much fun! I’ve learned a thing or two about the writing business and book promotion, strengthened friendships, and have been reminded to keep moving forward, keep persisting and the rewards will come.

 

May you all fare well on your writing journeys!

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About Terry Pierce…

Terry writes board books, picture books, easy readers and middle-grade adventure novels. Her latest books, MY BUSY GREEN GARDEN and MAMA LOVES YOU SO were both launched on EMU’s Debuts. Terry  lives in the California desert but avoids the summer heat by retreating to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to hike, bike, write and dip her head in high mountain sky. She’s a Vermont College of Fine Arts graduate and teaches online children’s writing courses for UCLA Extension. She also has a grown son who is an amazing outdoor photographer (all outdoor photo credits to Greg Pierce).

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Filed under Farewell, Writing and Life

After the Ecstasy, the Editing

Everything editors, agents, and authors have told me at SCBWI conferences has turned out to be true, particularly the things I didn’t believe would be true for me.

For example, I’ve been told that getting a book deal will not magically transform me into a permanently satisfied, optimistic, and resilient human.  When SCBWI folks said stuff like that, I remember thinking, “Oh, I’m sure that’s true for the other pre-published writers here, but not me. Once I get a book deal, I may still be an easily-exhausted anxiety-prone weirdo, but then I’ll be that weirdo WITH A BOOK DEAL AND THAT WILL MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE.”

Nope. Sigh.

After the ecstasy of getting “the call” in 2016 from my darling agent and connecting with my talented editor to begin the publication journey for my debut middle-grade novel, I expected to wallow in utter contentment for a long time. Years of wallowing. At the very least I’d wallow through the whole process of getting my manuscript out into the world.

Then the first round of revision edits was delivered to my door, and with it arrived the Mind Games Writers Play On Ourselves (yep, MGWPOO).

I got caught up in such MGWPOO favorites as:Shel Silverstein head

  • I’m Not a Real Writer
  • Before I Can Handle Criticism, I Need to Die
  • Chasing False Measures of Success
  • Envy of All the Other Writers Who Don’t Struggle with This Crap
  • The 33 -Minute Limit of Success-Fueled Joy-Basking Before I Find a Way to Undermine Myself
  • The Permanent Longing for Success That Makes Hope Painful.

 

TheySidecar (4) come roaring along with every new delivery of manuscript revisions, like rumbling motorcycles leaving greasy tire tracks across my soul, and this thousand-pound steel sidecar is attached to every single one: Beating Myself Up for Falling into Mind Games Again.

What’s an anxiety-prone weirdo to do?

First, I think, find another writer somewhere who will tell you that you are not alone in this. (You’ve found me. I’m telling you. You’re not.) Airing out the mind games, bringing them into the light of discussion with your fellow writers shows them up for what they are: common. Common as commas.  I’m beginning to think none of us can publish a manuscript with some of them in the mix.

Editing Kit Kats

Next, it seems smart not to assume the mind games will pass us by.  We must arm ourselves for the ongoing battle; perhaps with weapons of Show Kindness to Fellow Writers and Give Yourself Time and Turn the Nebulous Sense of Mortal Despair into a Concrete To-Do List. I’m still working on this concept as my battle armor currently consists of a jar of Kit Kats.

But I’ve got my MGWPOO out in the open now, here in the light of EMU’s Debuts, and that’s a start.

(Many thanks for the warm wit and wisdom of my agency-mates Anne Nesbet, Ann Bedichek, and Sophie Petersen for convening the Special Committee on Writerly Mind Games and How to Defeat Them. Check out Anne Nesbet’s Middle Grade Mayhem post on the same topic!)


Christina Uss

CHRISTINA USS is a bike writer, bike rider, mother of twins and dweller of Massachusetts. Her debut novel THE ADVENTURES OF A GIRL CALLED BICYCLE comes out Spring 2018 from Margaret Ferguson Books/ Holiday House. Help her learn to dodge the MGWPOO at http://www.christinauss.com.


 

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Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Anxiety, jealousy, process, rejection and success, Uncategorized, Writing and Life