Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More Milestones

I know many of you are interested in the actual process of preparing a book for publication. You'll recall that I did edits in September. Those were strictly from my brilliant editor, Erica. Once those were finished, she dropped Para off for copy edits. Last Friday I got a big, fat package in the mail that was my manuscript, complete with copy edits and a few last line edits Erica had added.

Right now I'm going through and checking each of the copy edits. Most of them are great (apparently I have a love affair with "of" that my copy editors don't share...every time I see another one they've taken out I cringe in embarrassment), but there have been a few things that I don't agree with. And here's the really scary part for me...

I "stet" them. Which means, after the copy editor's hard, hard work, I go to the margins and saying, sorry, I don't agree with this change. And the weirdest part?

I can.

It feels weird to me still, and I honestly feel guilty overriding their changes, but I haven't had to quibble over much. Copy editors? Seriously amazing. And the whole process is so fun and wonderful I'm having a blast.

Of course, I might need to take a break as soon as I finish going over the changes. Last night I had a dream that Barbie was coming out with a new Stay at Home Mom Barbie (TM)* and that my publisher asked me to write a nonfiction book about being a mom (using the Barbie as a metaphor throughout)--for teens. They even had the cover all planned out: a banana. I don't even want to go into what that image might have meant in my subconscious.

In fact, I'm still not sure what any of it meant. All I know is that I agreed and had a killer opening already planned. So, Erica, if you guys need that book? Give me a call. In the meantime, I've got more edits to look over.

*I thought of it first, Mattel.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Universe Repaid

Dear Universe,

Well, I owed you, didn't I? You really came through for me on Paranormalcy selling. Sorry it took me so long to keep up my end of the bargain. Hope you like purple, because they were all out of pink.

Of course, next time I tempt fate I'll have to come up with something even bigger. And I still owe you that Ode to RPattz post. No worries, Universe. I'm good for it.

Thanks again,

Kiersten


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Getting a Book Deal CHANGES EVERYTHING

I am overwhelmingly grateful for my book deal. It definitely ranks up there among the Best Things that Have Ever Happened to Me, along with being born to awesome parents and meeting Hot Stuff. So, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into just how much my life has changed since I got my deal. I'll use last Thursday as an example, even though I don't get Big German Book Deals every day. (Personally, I think all mornings should start with a phone call about German book deal offers, but that's just me.)

1:00 AM--Collapse, exhausted, into bed after scratching out another 1200 words. Fall immediately asleep, only to be awoken at
1:30 AM--and accompany bawling Dojo to his room, because heaven forbid he wake up in the middle of the night to find me IN MY OWN BED. The horrors. The horrors. I am the worst mom ever for not sitting awake all night in his room.
3:30 AM--Wake up aching, sweaty, and cramped from falling asleep in the rocking chair while waiting for Dojo to fall asleep.
3:30 AM--Collapse, yet again, into bed.
6:30 AM--Weep tears of exhaustion as my kids come and demand I wake up. Except not really, because tears are futile in the face of their FEED ME NOW demands.
7:00 AM--Pretend to sleep on the couch and spin sweet dreams of a well-rested fantasy life. Finally get up and sneak into the kitchen to write a blog post before Dojo screams at me to come and watch Up with him for the five thousandth time.
8:00 AM--Answer the phone as I wrestle with Nayna to get her hair brushed. Find out about an incredible foreign rights deal. Laugh.
8:15 AM--Laugh some more as I pack daughter's lunch.
8:45 AM--Laugh some more.
9:10 AM--Panic as I realize that all of the laughing and dancing leaves me with ten minutes to dress myself and both kids before Nayna needs to be at school.
9:28 AM--Pull into school parking lot just in time, parking my tiny, ten-year-old Kia amidst the Lexuses, Buicks, and BMWs. Consider possible ways to work in my German book deal to conversations, but have only talked to the women next to me twice. No appropriate segue besides, "Hey, little Jonathon looks adorable today bythewayIamgoingtobepublishedinGermany. Do you know anything about the assembly tomorrow?" Decide I ought to have a shirt made, instead.
9:45 AM--Grocery store run for the two items that we inevitably run out of during the week.
10:00 AM--Home with Dojo, starting three hours of pretending like I might be able to write something, but actually just being dragged around by my All-Powerful and Rather Short Overlord. 34 lbs of pure whiny bossiness, that one.
11:00 AM--Finally get a hold of Hot Stuff to tell him about the deal. He's at work and all that ends up getting through is "Deal" and "Germany." He is forced to hang up, unsure whether I was talking about foreign rights or WW2 treaties.
12:00 PM--Realize I never got a chance to shower.
1:00 PM--Pick up Nayna from school.
1:30 PM to 6:00 PM--Count down until Hot Stuff comes home. Actually manage to communicate what happened to him. "Wow. Really, that's amazing. Wow." My thoughts exactly.
6:00 PM--Rush kids into car to go and pick Hot Stuff up from train station. Wish we had more than one car.
6:40 PM--Get home, throw something frozen together for dinner, listen to the kids whine about how they don't like it. At least Dojo didn't throw up again.
7:30 PM--Sit in the rocking chair until Dojo falls asleep.
8:30 PM--Stumble out of Dojo's room, having fallen asleep waiting. Again.
8:30 PM to 11:45 PM--Try to scratch out another chapter. Fail. Miserably.
12:00 AM--Collapse into bed, knowing it'll all start again the next day. But at least I have Germany...

So. Yeah. Did you notice that nowhere did the words flow magically from my fingertips? Turns out even when you have a book deal, writing is still hard, and finding time to write is even harder. And your kids still misbehave, even if you have a book deal (I know! What are they thinking??), and you still have to run errands, and you still have to clean (wait a second, you're thinking, there was nothing about cleaning, to which I respond, shut up, I don't want to talk about it), and you still make crappy dinners that no one, including yourself, wants to eat.

In short, while I think about my book deal constantly and always get warm fuzzies at the thought of my book being a BOOK in the not-too-distant future, life hasn't actually changed that much. It's like my wise friend Natalie said: Don't wait for something out of your control to happen in order to be happy. Start being happy now. Because those things that change your life forever? Well, your life is still your life afterward. It's just your life plus a husband, or a baby, or a book deal, or a chinchilla. (If, however, all you are waiting for to make your life complete is a chinchilla, by all means go buy one today!)

Life in all its monotonies is an awesome thing, and I'm grateful every single day for mine--but next book deal I'm totally holding out for a clause that states I never have to clean again. Now THAT would be life-changing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What's in a Name?

Or a word, even. I've been thinking about translation issues lately, specifically translation from English into, say, Polish or German.

No real reason.

I wonder how much of voice is language, how much of humor is culture and wordplay. Evie's a funny narrator (Kiersten says, very humbly and grateful that other people agree); how much of that will translate easily over? If she's shifted and squeezed and changed to come out another language on the other side, will her personality change, too?

I'm absolutely fascinated by this idea, how, by changing languages, we become different people. My sister knew a girl who grew up in another country speaking Spanish. When she moved here for college, she spoke strictly English, dating and eventually marrying someone who also spoke strictly English. I'll never forget the comment my sister made, saying, "I hope he knows that she's very different in English than she is in Spanish."

Obviously I'm totally dependent on language for self-expression. I like being able to precisely express myself, to play around with words and phrases for humor. I can't do that very well in other languages (okay, just singular other language, and it's been so long since I studied Spanish I probably can't do anything, period). So for someone who speaks both Polish or German and English to be able to take a book, a character, a voice, and translate them floors me.

I think it's incredible.

My only problem with the whole thing is that I won't be able to read and see what German Evie or Polish Evie is like. Because I'd love to meet them. Regardless, I'm grateful and amazed and thrilled that whole countries of people I couldn't communicate with will be able to meet my writing.

But here's something that really got my over-tired brain whirling last night: what if someone translated Paranormalcy into German, and then someone took that German version and translated it back into English? THAT would be interested to see.

Am I totally geeking out on my own here, or do you, too, ponder the mysteries of language and how they define us culturally?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Guest Blogger

Today, in lieu of writing my own post, I've got a Very Special Guest Post for you. To preface, the man who wrote this is one of my heroes and always has been. For example, when I was a little girl and could see witches and monsters outside my window, they'd always be held at bay if he was around. When I was an older girl and dealing with monsters in my head, he'd always notice and help me work through things. He's supported me my entire life, and I don't think anyone was prouder or less surprised when I got my book deal.

I give you: My Dad.

Hi, Kiersten's dad here. First I must admit that I do not blog, blahg or blargh. I do faithfully follow Kiersten Writes and I absolutely love, love, love it! While Kiersten may not include many personal details, the blog is unmistakably Kiersten's personality! I also read each of your comments and enjoy them! I visit a few of your sites as well.

Also, I must admit is that I do not write. And (gasp) I don’t really read much. I very seldom finish reading a book. I start quite a few, but they do not hold my attention and get put on the shelf. The only books I finish are the ones where after a few chapters I lay in bed at night wondering what is going to happen to so-and-so and will happen next. I am happy to tell you that Paranormalcy fits into that category. I would lay awake in bed worrying about Evie and how she was going to survive, even though I knew there was a sequel planned!

Kiersten started preparing to write Paranormalcy before she was in kindergarten, writing (or drawing) creative stories. She begged for new books all through elementary, jr. high and high school. She asked for tickets to writers conferences for her birthdays. She devoured books and remembered all the characters and story lines. She read and wrote and read and wrote and never gave up. She would come out of her room sobbing because either a character died, or something wonderful happened to them.

I imagine I am describing most of you!

My main message is keep at it! I love your comments and I am sure that your families love seeing your creativity and personality on your blogs/blahgs/blarghs and in your writing.

Best of luck to all of you!

Sincerely,

Kiersten's Dad

There you have it. My dad says keep at it--so keep at it! (I know, best dad ever, huh?)

Also, I will never forgive Lucy Maude Montgomery for killing Matthew.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Everyone Has a Book Inside

And, depending on where that book is located, it can be very painful and require surgical removal.

After getting a book deal one thing I hear (and my mom hears, and my dad hears, and anyone who knows me and tells anyone else about it) is this: "That's so cool! I should write a book." And my answer is always the same.

Yes, you should!

Absolutely you should. If you have an idea that you've always wanted to write, by all means, write it! Quit procrastinating. Writing is fun. It's challenging and entertaining, and that sense of satisfaction you get when you write the last word on your very first novel? Amazing. It really is an accomplishment. I recommend writing as a hobby to anyone.

But did you catch that? What I said, right there, right above this sentence? Let me reiterate: I recommend writing as a hobby to anyone. Because sometimes, these same people, after telling me they should write a book, get a sly look in their eyes and ask how much money I made.

Oy.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you want to make money writing, look into freelancing. If you try and write a novel for money you will a) hate it and b) hate it and c) hate it. Cracking into publishing is

very

hard

work.

There's this myth out there. I call it the Stephenie Meyer myth. The myth goes as follows: You've never written a word in your life, but one morning you wake up after the most amazing dream. The book flows out of you like the waters of life itself, one month later you have a book deal worth moneymoneymoney, and voila! You're famous! You're rich! And it was ALL SO EASY!!

First of all, I guarantee you that it wasn't easy for Stephenie Meyer. I also assure you that her story didn't happen like that, and is still one in a million. In fact, the odds are probably even worse.

The other thing people ask me is how long it took to write Paranormalcy. Well, it took me three weeks.

Three weeks, plus two solid months of editing several revisions.

Three weeks, plus two solid months of editing several revisions, plus three previously written novels.

Three weeks, plus two solid months of editing several revisions, plus three previously written novels, plus four years of writing, plus a degree in English with an emphasis in editing, plus a whole lot of sleep-deprived nights and missed social outings, plus a lifetime of reading and paying attention while I was reading to figure out the mechanics of how this whole English Language thing works (and how it doesn't).

Because this is where writing switches from a hobby to a profession. As with any profession, you need the tools of the trade. And--I'm sorry to shatter any dreams out there--it takes work to learn this stuff. A lot of people say they could be a writer if they only had time. I'm a writer because I made time. Sure, I could have been a lawyer if I had taken the time. But I didn't. And thus, I am not a lawyer. (Thank goodness, too, because we have a lot in my family and the conversations get ridiculously boring.)

I'm not saying you must have a degree in English. Far from it. Becca Fitzpatrick, whose novel Hush, Hush debuted on the NYT bestseller list (and who is awesome), has a degree in Public Health. But you know what she did? She took classes. She found a critique group. She learned how to write. And anyone can do the same thing.

Do I believe everyone has a book in them? Of course I do.

Do I believe everyone has a publishable book in them? Not unless they're prepared to do a whole heck of a lot of work. I also believe that doing the work, learning the mechanics, is worth it regardless of whether or not you ever get published.

You're going to get tired of me saying this, but here it is again: Write because you love to write. If it never becomes more than a hobby, you still have a freaking awesome hobby. And if you want it to be more than a hobby, it's going to be one of the hardest--and most rewarding--things you'll ever pursue.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a picturebookectomy scheduled for later today. Can't get the dang thing out of my lower intestine.