The last time you all heard from me, I was busy planning. Planning my blog tour, planning my book release, planning my launch party. I was so busy with promotion and all that, well, planning, that I stopped even trying to write.
More on that later. Let’s rewind to the 11th hour when I’d done everything imaginable to make Parched a success, and it was time for me to enjoy the ride.
First, the reviews came tumbling in. Anyone who says this isn’t terrifying is lying! Don’t believe them! But despite all the nervous-making, the reviews have been great! And if you mash the best bits all together, Parched sounds like the most awesome book ever written in the history of the human race. It’s a fun game, (if you’ll forgive me fudging the strict rules of citation and quotation). Let’s play:
Fans of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet (1987) will want this thrilling, imaginative soul quencher. Crowder’s stunning debut is sure to become a modern classic. The writing, especially the descriptions of the drought conditions and extreme thirst, is excellent all the more impressive for its restraint. Makes one want to love the whole world with more courage, gentleness and hope. ZOMG. ZOMG. ZOMG. EVERYTHING I COULD WANT IN A MIDDLE-GRADE. OMG.
 Rita Williams-Garcia
 School Library Journal
 Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal
 Elizabeth Phinney, Amazon
 Eden, Goodreads
See—that was fun, right? The thing is, you can’t take reviews too personally—positive or negative—if you want to keep writing. But more on the whole writing bit later.
After the reviews came release day.
You’d think that seeing your book on a bookshelf in a bookstore would be the most thrilling thing about that day. And don’t get me wrong—it was great, really great. But by far, the best thing about launching my debut novel was seeing the community that had built up around me rise up and hold my book high for the world to see. It’s the best feeling, ever.
The Emu crew threw me a fantastic blog party, and my agency mates tossed confetti all over facebook and twitter. Fellow Vermont College alums and students posted pics of my book all over the country and penned swoon-worthy reviews. The Lucky 13s celebrated in their own bomb-diggity style. My launch party at Tattered Cover was packed with teachers from my school, buddies from my tennis and soccer teams, family and a few very supportive local writer friends.
It was amazing. Really. I feel so very honored.
It took me a while to come down from all that excitement. Promoting a book and writing a book use very different parts of my brain, and they don’t always play nicely together. But any writer worth her salt will tell you that resting and thinking and reading are as important to the writing process as actually getting the words down on page.
And I still wasn’t quite ready for the writing part…
My book launch ended in some lovely, surprising news. My next two Young Adult novels were picked up by Philomel Books and I signed on for another middle grade with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. That makes three books on the horizon for me. I always wanted a long and varied writing career, and now, there it is, right in front of me.
So last week, I cleaned my office. I put away all my bookmarks and teacher guides, and I celebrated the last leg of my blog tour. It had been about two months since I had worked on one of my stories, since I had written anything other than a blog post or press release.
It was time. I was rested. My mind was quiet and I was eager to get going again.
I’d love to tell you that the words flowed onto the page, that it was a delightful, inspiring week. It was not. I wrote very little, and not very well. By the end of the week, I had 2,000 words, a quantity some writers can crank out in a morning.
But writing is as much about habit and discipline as it is about inspiration. I know how to get myself back into the habit of writing, so that the inspiration is welcome. I know that the words will come, and that they will be good, if not the first time around, then maybe the second, or the third. I’ve got a great community around me who will challenge me and cheer me on as I write my way through this story and the next one, and the one after that.
I am so very proud of Parched. And I will continue to spread the word about this story to schools and libraries and readers, wherever I can find them. But as people much wiser than I have said, the best part of your writing career should always be your work in progress.
So off I go, to get to work. Wish me well, Emus.
This is Melanie’s last post as an Emu’s Debut. In the future, you’ll find her up in the Emu Emeriti tab, or in the comments section, or at her own website: www.melaniecrowder.net.
She graduated in 2011 with an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Melanie is the author of PARCHED (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2013) and AUDACITY (Philomel, 2015).