Tag Archives: Joy Peskin

Cover Reveal: EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN

As my fellow emu Joshua McCune so correctly pointed out in his cover reveal post, books are judged by their covers. Sure, word of mouth, blog buzz and personal recommendations can get readers past a misleading cover but that first look can bring out the Judgey McJudger in all of us.

When Joy Peskin, my editor at Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, emailed me the cover of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN in December, she was very circumspect, giving a lot of props to the designer Elizabeth Clark, saying how much the sales and marketing folks like it and ending with “I’ll hope you’ll feel the same.” Then she attached this cover:

EOTNS_hires-600x900

Fortunately, I was sitting at my desk when the email came through and as soon as I opened it, I gasped (a wow kind of gasp), hit reply and said, “OMIGOSHOMIGOSHOMIGOSHOMIGOSH….WOW…I love it…omigosh.”

Yeah, I know, way to be articulate, right? But I’m so glad I did that because Joy wrote back instantly and shared that showing authors their covers is her #1 most terrifying part of her job and receiving my email in response is the # 1 most awesome part of her job.

So what do I love about it? Well, I love the boy. I love the ghostliness of his image since the book is about a boy who disappears. I love the landscape because it is nearly exactly what I pictured as I wrote the book. I love the abstract symbols of connection because so many of the characters in the book struggle with belonging and disconnection. I have no idea about the subliminal magic of typeface but I love the way NOT SEEN ironically pops off the cover.

Thank you Elizabeth Clark for designing the perfect cover. I was lucky enough to see some of the versions that the team at FSGBYR had rejected and all I can say is I am one lucky author because these folks who hardly know me are really looking out for my book.

EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN is due out September 16, 2014.

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Title Search

titleNo, I’m not talking about real estate. I’m talking about the book title variety.books

Sometimes the title to a book comes first.

That’s how it happened with my picture book Snuggle Mountain, I was watching my daughter climb my bed one morning and I thought, I bet my bed looks like a mountain. Boom. I drafted a story about a little girl’s metaphoric climb up her parent’s bed to wake the two headed giant. There was never any question. Snuggle Mountain was the title.snuggle

Evidence of Things Not Seen has had a much different journey.

My first stirrings of this book came from a dream that woke me up. A boy was standing in the middle of a pull out by the side of a road. Just standing there. Alone.

I remember getting up and writing the first bits of a story. (It is still in the novel.) Gradually, I began to place other people in that pull-out, building the world of the novel in that strange patch of dirt.

When I finally came to the end of the first draft, I titled it The Stillwell Pull-out because the Stillwell Ranch butted up against that pull-out. Truth be told, I had called it The Pull-Out but if you Google those words you will find pornographic pictures, not a patch of dirt by the side of the road.

Title aside, I tucked back into another revision of the novel because I’d found a problem with the ending. Namely, that I’d wrapped it up too neatly. And the whole story was being choked by a big red bow at the end.

Thing was, that last section of the novel was called Particles and it held the key to my next draft. I dug into the next revision and remembered that original dream. The boy standing in the pull-out. Tommy.

He was missing. He’d gone missing from the pull-out and he was the thread that connected all these stories. Not only that, he was a physics geek, mostly recently obsessed with particle physics. No one had any idea of where Tommy was but because of his obsession with physics, some kids dealt with his disappearance by speculating that he went into another dimension.

I took the novel down to the floorboards and rebuilt it.

When it was “finished,” I titled it Particles because of Tommy’s obsession with particle physics and because I wrote the novel in multiple viewpoints like particles in space. I sent it to Erin Murphy who sent it to Joy Peskin at Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers who loved it (see The Call).

After the acquisitions meeting, Joy told me that the sales and marketing folks were not wild about the title and that she’d said, “No problem. There are lots of title possibilities on the pages of the novel.” I love that she met their hesitation with a positive attitude. It helped me not worry. I knew we’d find a title and I wasn’t attached to Particles. (Word to the wise: Unless it’s perfect, don’t get attached to the title).

Sure enough, when she sent me the first edits, she had circled a bunch of possible titles that were right there in the pages: Anything is Possible; Everything Can Be Explained; The Space Between.titles

I tried them on. I polled friends. Anything is Possible sounded like that Stephen Sondheim musical Anyone Can Whistle. I wasn’t sure I could carry off the irony of a title like Everything Can Be Explained (ahem) by Lindsey Lane. And while I liked The Space Between, sales and marketing was ‘meh’ about it.

Back to the drawing board. Fortunately, Joy went to the drawing board with Angus Killick, associate publisher. She threw out about hundred title ideas, read sections of the book and talked about the ideas in the book. (I still can’t decide if I would have like to be in that meeting.)

And then she hit upon it. Evidence of Things Not Seen. It comes from a quote in the Bible: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) From the moment I read it, I knew it was perfect.

Why?

Because the book is about mystery, about faith, about carrying on, about finding small things that buoy us up even in the face of hardship.

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The Call

loveYou know the story that a friend tells you about how she met her life-long partner the minute she stopped looking for her life-long partner? Like she was sitting at a park reading a book and this person sat down next to her and spilled coffee everywhere and then said something so self-deprecatingly funny that your given-up-on-love friend says something commiseratingly funny back and then they make each other laugh for the next twenty years. You know that story?

Okay, well, that’s sort of what happened the day I got the call.

It was Friday, May 10. I was sitting on my sweet little porch writing a long email to my agent Erin IMG_1859Murphy. I was updating her about what had been going on in my life, by way of explaining why I had been so out of touch that week. You see, Erin had sent my manuscript out to a list of editors that Monday, May 6. I think I responded by saying, “Yea.” Or something equally short. Twice during the week, she forwarded me emails from one editor in particular who was reading the manuscript and loving it. I responded smileywith a smiley face and a wahoo but returned to the task at hand: resolving a protracted two-year struggle with Board of Adjustment over my beloved porch. It was 14 inches into the setback and they wanted me to lop it off. I was getting ready for my last hearing and busy preparing for my Norma Rae moment when I would prevailnorma against the bureaucracy and persuade them that cutting off 14 inches of my porch did not make sense. By Friday, I felt ready for the hearing in three days so I sat down to update Erin on what was going on, comment on the list of editors who had my manuscript and expand on my delight about that one editor who had emailed. It was a cozy, pour-a-cup-of-coffee email. I think it was even raining which is rarity in Texas so it made the moment even more indelible. La. La. La. Press send.

You get the picture?

Two seconds after I heard the whoosh of the email being sent, the phone rings. It’s Erin.

“Hi,” I said, “I just sent you an email.”

“I know,” she said, “Did you get my email?”

“Umm, no, I was writing you.”

Then she reads me the email that editor Joy Peskin of Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers had sent her that morning, saying she was very interested in the manuscript and wanted to talk.

That’s when I started jumping up and down on my porch, followed by flopping into a chair, followed by squealing, followed by “omigod, omigod, omigod.” (Oh, btw, this is all happening on Erin’s birthday, which is omigod special too.)excited

Breathe.

Then Erin and I talked business. I said, “I think I should talk with Joy. I mean, I love that she loves my book but we need to be able to talk and work together and turn this manuscript into the best book it can be, right?” “Absolutely,” said Erin.

Exactly four hours later, my phone rang again and it was Joy. I had my list of questions ready, thanks to Erin and my VCFA pal and critique partner Anne Bustard. Here are a few of them:

  • What do you love about the manuscript?
  • What do you think needs to be developed?
  • What are your thoughts about making the manuscript longer?
  • How do you work with authors?
  • What is the acquisitions process at MacMillan/FSG?
  • What are some of your favorite books?

I remember Joy saying, “Great question,” every time I asked something and then she launched into her answer. I remember writing down the answers to her questions but mostly, I was listening to her voice. I liked the brightness of it and the tumbling energy I heard when she talked about books and characters and writers.

Here’s the thing about questions: They provide a framework for a gathering information but I love when the Q&A twists into a conversation that connects and meanders. So after I was done with my list, I asked her if she had any questions and she asked me where I got the idea of the book. I told her the whole story: from the dream that woke me up; to my graduate lecture at Vermont College of Fine Arts; to the revisions I made in the last year.

And then she said this:

“You know, sometimes, when I walk around New York City, I’ll pass by an apartment building where I’ve lived and I’ll wonder if part of me is still living a parallel life in that apartment.”

That’s when I knew she understood the manuscript she had in her hands and me and that we would work together beautifully making it into a book.

So far, so great.

Lane_295webLindsey Lane’s debut young adult novel THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS UNSEEN will be published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers in September 2014. Her picture book SNUGGLE MOUNTAIN (Clarion, 2003) is now available as an app on iTunes. You can follow Lindsey on Facebook or find her at her website.

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