I’m self-publishing my debut novel, THE WATER CHILD, in March 2021! And has it ever been a journey! I started this book almost 10 years ago. I queried, won contests, found an amazing agent in Kaitlyn Johnson, had positive feedback from publishers, and now I’m self-publishing it as my debut.
Well to answer that I’d have to go into why I wrote THE WATER CHILD which you can read about here. Or the mini version: This story started on a horrific day, March 3, 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami struck the coast of Japan near where my in-laws were living. I didn’t start out trying to write a book about the tsunami, but I’d learned how to deal with PTSD from other events in my life like 9/11 by writing. The writings from that year turned into a book after critique partners read a short story I wrote and encouraged me to turn it into a novel. Now that novel, after 10 YEARS, is finally going to be in my hands and hopefully in yours as well!
SP: Becky, welcome! We’ve been dying to hear from you! Wow, you got TWO book deals in TWO weeks! That’s practically unheard of. Tell us, what’s your secret???
BD: Thank you for having me! It was definitely a wild two weeks. I guess the secret is to keep writing, be patient, and have lots of books on submission! My agent has sent out four novels over the last couple years, and throughout the waiting, I keep writing something new. It just worked out that we heard back on two books at the same time, from two different publishers!
Wondering how to write evocative descriptions that don’t drag on and weigh down your prose? Remember to use the five senses and choose one or two memorable details, rather than a laundry list of general information.
For example, when describing a person, instead of saying your male hero is “average height, with a slim build and brown hair,” (forgettable) say, “my head barely reached his shoulder, he smelled strongly of cinnamon, and his hair looked as if he’d run his hands through it many times already.” (Memorable).
SP: Hi Kara! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey?
KM: Hello! Thanks so much for having me! My writing journey began in earnest in Summer 2016. I’d spent the last year lackadaisically querying agents with the contemporary YA novel I’d written in the Spring of 2015. I was getting requests followed my rejections, and I knew my manuscript needed more help than I knew how to give it. I entered Pitch Wars and my manuscript was selected! I credit the program with changing my writing life. Not only did it teach me how to revise a book, but also it connected me with other writers, which has been so important to my journey. A few months after Pitch Wars, I signed with my first agent. A few months after that, my debut novel JUST FOR CLICKS sold!
Didn’t get a chance to attend Yall Write? Still hoping to go back and watch the replays? I don’t know about you, but the holidays are already hitting hard and I’m barely finding time to check all the boxes on my mile-long to-do lists. In case you don’t have time to go back and listen to the full replays, I’ve taken notes for you. Skim the day one notes here. For the day two cheat sheet, just keep reading!
SP: Hi Shannon! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey!
I’m originally from Pittsburgh, PA but now live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my husband and kids. I’ve worked as a business writer for a long time, but am definitely a dreamy creative person at heart, so I always had this idea that I’d try to write a book “someday.” And I did spend a couple of years kind of trying it but not really committing – I’d start something and put it away when I got stuck and then I’d do that again and I guess at some point I realized that if I didn’t commit to finishing and seeing it through it was never going to happen. So, when I had the idea for this book, I just tried to turn off the self-doubt as much as I possibly could and I kept going, while simultaneously learning all I could about craft and the writing business. I was introduced to my agent, Nicki Richesin, through a mutual friend. Nicki has a great editorial eye and this made all the difference for me in prepping the book for submission. And I couldn’t be happier about the book landing at Candlewick Press – it’s been a great experience working with the entire team there and especially working with my editor, Kaylan Adair. After going through the debut experience, I will say that persistence and patience are key – taking a book from concept to publication is a loooong process. It was two years between when I sold my book and when it came out and that’s not counting drafting, prepping for submission, waiting while on sub. It’s good to have more than one project to think about because there’s a lot of waiting involved.
This past weekend was the virtual version of Yall Write conference. I’ve never been before so I don’t have a baseline to compare with, but the virtual version was great! I could meal prep, deep clean, even do a little yoga, while listening to some of my favorite authors. Who knew 2020 would provide such flexibility!
I know several of you were working or had other obligations and couldn’t make it but have no fear! I have taken copious notes for you. Well, mostly copious notes. There may have been a few sessions where my meal prep was burning or I was distracted…so those sessions are a little sparse and/or nonexistent.
Pen Friends ~ So happy to introduce you to a good friend and YA author, Chelsea Bobulski, author of The Wood and Remember Me, (out with Macmillan) who recently announced her new 4-book deal, with Wise Wolf Books!
SP: Hi Chelsea! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey!
CB: Thank you so much for having me! My journey has been ten years in the making if you can believe it (although, really, it has been the trajectory of my entire life). I’ve always loved storytelling in all of its various forms. Whether it’s a good book, TV show, movie, play, or even video game, I’ve always loved exploring human nature, both through reading and through writing, although it wasn’t until I took a class at the Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio my senior year at The Ohio State University that I ever thought I could really make a career of writing. Before that class, I’d put my favorite authors on a pedestal, thinking they must have been born published authors, because there was just no way the average person could write a 300+ page book, let alone dozens of them. But taking that class with YA author Lisa Klein opened my eyes to the fact that every author, whether on their first book or their one hundredth, starts the same way: with an idea and a blank page. To make a very long story short, I began pursuing traditional publication right after that, although it took me five books and five years to get my very first book deal, and now, in my tenth year of pursuing this career, I have two books published and countless others that may never see the light of day, some due to the fact that I wrote them early in my career when I was still learning and growing as an author, and some due to the market just not being right at the time for that type of book (although I’m hopeful that I may get the opportunity to pursue them someday).