Preparing to Leap

small__3965231381I’ve been working on my final edits for Book Scavenger. I began this novel over ten years ago, and I’ve always had the comfort of knowing whatever I put down on paper could be changed. Now I have about two weeks left of revising and fiddling, and then the version I send back to my editor will pretty much be the one that appears in stores. This is exciting and totally terrifying.

It’s terrifying because there’s no turning back now. There are nerves about sharing my writing with a wider audience. I hope people will like my book. I don’t want to disappoint friends and family who have supported me over the years. I want my editor and agent and critique partners to be proud of my book.

It’s exciting because I love my book. Over ten years ago, I set out to write a story I would have loved as a kid. I drew on some of my favorite things from childhood: Goonies; It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World; The Westing Game; The Egypt Game; From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler; Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It took me drafts and drafts and drafts to get all the pieces of my story to work together in a way that finally represented the characters and world I held in my imagination. It’s not a perfect book–I doubt I will ever write something that I would consider perfect–but I love it nonetheless.

As I’m writing this, I’m realizing what I feel in this moment is similar to something I worry about as a mother: How will the world treat this piece of my heart that I love and have nurtured? Will people buy it, praise it, recommend it? Will they hate it, trash it, make fun of it? Will they ignore it?

The fate of my book will soon be out of my hands and literally in the hands of others. These last moments I have with Book Scavenger are me doing my best to prepare my baby for the big, wide world out there.

It helps that I recently saw the rough sketches for interior illustrations. Not only was this an incredibly happy, surreal moment, but it helped me detach from the book as “mine”. The incredible Sarah Watt‘s rendering of the characters is going to go hand-in-hand with a reader’s consumption of my words. When I think of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I think of Quentin Blake’s illustrations. When I imagine Tara Dairman’s Gladys Gatsby, I picture Kelly Murphy’s drawings. When I picture Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web, I picture Garth Williams illustrations.

So this is all part of my process right now. Final edits, fact-checking, fussing with words, and preparing myself to let go, step back, and let Book Scavenger leap out of the nest.



jenn.bertman-2002139Jennifer Chambliss Bertman is the author of the forthcoming middle-grade mystery, Book Scavenger (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt/Macmillan, 2015). Book Scavenger launches a contemporary mystery series that involves cipher-cracking, book-hunting, and a search for treasure through the streets of San Francisco. Jennifer earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College, Moraga, CA, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

You can find Jennifer online at where she runs an interview series with children’s book authors and illustrators called “Creative Spaces.”


Filed under Anxiety, Editing and Revising, Helpful or Otherwise, Uncategorized, Writing and Life

12 responses to “Preparing to Leap

  1. annbedichek

    Love this!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. With all the careful and meticulous work you’ve put in, not to mention the love, how could it be less than wonderful? Can’t wait to see the real thing – with illustrations! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. carolegerber

    I know just how you feel, Jennifer! And I like your comparison of your book to a baby. You will continue to love it after it toddles off into the world and you proudly say, “That one’s mine.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. mariagianferrari

    What a touching and forthright post, Jenn! Letting go is the hardest thing to do. So excited to see this soon in print! Congratulations!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this, Jenn. Our books are our children and we have such similar angst over their well-being as we let them loose on the world. I can’t wait to read your book!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations on taking the leap! I know it’s an exciting time!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. tamaraellissmith

    I love this too, Jenn. And I really feel just what you feel about letting my book (and kids!) go out into the world. Know that we are out here, keeping an eye and gentle hand on your book… 🙂 I can’t wait to read it. And I just went to Sarah Watt’s site…GORGEOUS!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have to jump on the love-wagon, too! I, for one, can’t wait until I get to be in charge of your “kid-book” for a few hours of baby/book-sitting/reading. I will handle the pages gently and lovingly and I know after I spend time with BOOK SCAVENGER that it will stay in my heart!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jenn, This book sounds so fun. Can’t wait for it to be out in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m right there with you, and I needed to read this today. Your point about illustrations helping you detach and allow someone else into your work is a lovely one. I can’t wait to read Book Scavenger.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, you all are just so wonderful. Thank you for your kind words! Whenever I need some encouragement and cheers in the next two weeks, I’m going to visit these comments. ❤


  12. Lindsey Lane

    “How will the world treat this piece of my heart that I love and have nurtured?”
    No matter what happens, you will stand tall as your “baby” sails off into the world because you know you wrote the best book you possibly could. That’s the truth.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.