Update: I’m extending the giveaway until midnight on July 4th. So if you haven’t tweeted and commented yet, you’ve still got time!
YA author Emily Murdoch and I have been on what she calls “query road” together for years, sharing our writing dreams, hopes, and disappointments. She was one of the very first writers I met when I first ventured online. And, as serendipity would have it, we got our first book deals within about a week of each other.
So it is an extra special pleasure for me to be a part of her cover reveal. I am thrilled to introduce to you the cover of the contemporary young adult novel If You Find Me.
Isn’t it gorgeous? Don’t you want to read it already, just from the cover? Here’s more:
A broken-down camper at the Obed Scenic and Wild River National Park – dubbed the Hundred Acre Wood – is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey has ever known.
Sure, coping with a bipolar mother on meth is no picnic, but beneath the sun-dazzled canopies of Hickory and Walnut, Carey’s violin transports her from their bare-bones existence in the same way her little sister, Jenessa, finds comfort in her stash of second-hand Pooh books.
Life is dependable that way, until Mama goes into town for supplies and vanishes off the face of Tennessee, sending social services in her wake with a one-way ticket back to their father – a stranger in an even stranger world.
If You Find Me (formerly The Patron Saint of Beans) will be released on April 2nd, 2013, by St. Martin’s Griffin.
And, because Emily is who she is, a portion of all proceeds will be donated to benefit Taylor Hendrix’s Christmas Project. Seventeen-year-old Taylor, battling osteosarcoma, gathers gifts in backpacks to brighten the spirits of cancer teens in hospital during the Christmas holidays.
So – who wants a free, signed arc of this fabulous book?Entering is really simple. All you need to do to be entered in a drawing is the following:
1) Tweet a link back to this post
2) Tell me in the comments that you have done so.
3) If you’re not on Twitter, just drop on over to Emily’s blog and leave her a comment, and then leave a comment here to let me know you’ve done that.
That’s it! It can’t get any easier, right? The contest closes at midnight on July 4th. All names will go in a hat and my Viking will randomly choose one.
The first draft of my second (and last) contracted book is complete.
This morning I am alone with that knowing, except for a purring lap cat and an entire cast of restless and dissatisfied characters in my head. They know, as do I, that their stories are not yet fully told.
For one thing, they belong in a trilogy, not a duo, and they know it. They know that I haven’t yet found the perfect dividing line between this book and the one still to be written, and we are all uneasy with the ending.
They also know things I don’t know. Yet. Undeveloped personality traits, dropped threads, incomplete interactions. Fix it, they are shouting at me. And I will. Really I will. But not today, or even tomorrow.
It is time now to let the story sit and simmer. Locked up together in my subconscious for a week or so, with no way onto the page, the cast of characters can intensify all of the things they want to say to me and to each other. Meanwhile, I’ll be taking a little break to deal with all of the reality that piled up while my head was engaged in creation.
On the other hand, that’s a lot of reality to take in all at once. Maybe I’ll just read a few good books.
I have cover art, but I can’t show it to you yet. And I have the flu.
Yes the two things are related. Life is strange that way.
Friday morning I checked the email and there, hidden between a Coldwater Creek sale announcement and a Twitter follow notice, was the email I’d been waiting for with anticipation for months. Just a short note from my editor, saying that the draft cover art had landed on her desk today and please don’t post it yet because it’s not official.
Click, click, and there it was: a really truly book cover with the title BETWEEN and my name at the bottom. Kerry Schafer.
Huge milestone, right? A moment to jump up and down and shriek and tell everybody in the whole wide world that I HAVE FREAKING COVER ART.
What I felt was an emotional disconnect. It didn’t seem to have anything to do with me, somehow, or to the emotional imprint of the book that I carry around inside me. I inquired of myself about this reaction, gently, as in, “what the hell is up with you?”
Maybe it’s the flu, my self said to my self. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my head is pounding, my throat is scratchy, my muscles feel about as vibrant as overcooked spaghetti and the only thing I feel an emotional connection with at this moment is the bed that I am very far away from.
When I got home the wonderful menfolk in my world supplied all of the enthusiasm I’d been lacking. There’s a lot to be said for a bunch of guys, including a very opinionated Viking, professing their love and admiration for your brand new book cover.
But it wasn’t until I was discussing my reactions with a couple of other writer friends that I began to understand that my response might have nothing to do with the flu and be within the range of normal. For me as the writer, the book is a living thing with a soul. The characters, (including a certain dragon) all look a certain way in my head. What I find myself wanting, as an author, is a cover that accurately reflects this concept of the book.
But that’s not what covers are for. The purpose of the cover is to say, first and foremost: READ ME. It gives hints about what your reading experience will be, entices you in. And the portrayals of the characters on book covers never, ever, look the way I envision them in my head.
Having had a couple of days now to think things over, I have realized that it is an awesome cover. I love it. It still feels a little surreal and distant, but then I’m also still a little feverish and in love with the idea of just lying in bed.
I’m also curious – any other writers find it surreal and strange to see your book cover for the first time? I’d love to hear about your reactions.
Waiting is definitely a THING in publishing, I’ve discovered. There tend to be flurries of intense activity, sometimes with crazy deadlines and a buzz of excitement. And then – nothing. Long spells of absolutely nothing. Sometimes it makes me wonder if I’m crazy, if I just imagined the publishing contract and the editors and even the agent. Maybe I have become delusional because I wanted this book to be published so much. Maybe none of it is real. But then, things start to happen again and there is another little flurry of activity – sufficient evidence to keep me going during the next period of waiting.
What am I waiting for? Well, copy edits on BETWEEN for one thing.
The book went off for copy editing very nearly two months ago now. Every morning I check my email with a mixture of anticipation and foreboding to see if the file has shown up yet in my inbox. And then I proceed to check that inbox over and over all day long until 5, after which I assume all sensible publishing people have left the building and will not be sending me copy edits today.
This will be my first experience with this phase of manuscript preparation. I look forward to it as another step on this adventure, a step that brings the book closer to being a BOOK, instead of just “that thing I wrote.” I worry about things. How many changes will I be asked to make? Will they try to take away all of my semicolons? Because I love the squiggly little guys and will have to fight to keep them.
Only the so far nameless, shadowy power that is the Copy Editor knows the answers.
I’m also waiting on cover art. The subject came up a few months back and there has been no more word. Editor Danielle tells me she’ll likely just find it on her desk one morning, and that she’s pretty much as in the dark as I am as far as the time it may be revealed.
But I also have a deadline for Book Two, so while I wait I’m also writing as fast as I can. I should hit fifty thousand words today if all goes well, and the rough draft should be done by the end of the month. I’ve been having fun with this sequel, and I’ll just hint that research rabbit holes have included: the myth of Prester John, sphinxes, sacred wells, Peyote, and Ponce de Leon and the search for the Fountain of Youth.
I had my author photos taken, which was much more fun than I had anticipated. And I’m beginning to work with the very talented and creative Stefan Friesen on the design for my new author website.
So this waiting thing is more a state of mind as there simply are not enough hours in the day to do what needs doing and twiddle my thumbs as well. Which is fortunate, because I never was good at thumb twiddling and there are no Angry Birds on my iPhone.
I’ve been taking it easy since I switched from the crisis job over to regularly scheduled hours in the office. For me, this means limiting my activities to work, writing, and the minimally necessary demands of running a household – groceries and bills, and just enough cleaning to prevent us from falling into squalor and chaos.
In the last two weeks I have not been to the gym. I haven’t even opened the textbooks for the RN refresher course I’m doing. There is clutter in my mudroom office that requires attention and a stack of mail on the windowsill that needs to be sorted and filed. I’ll get to it. Soon.
Right now I’m in a recovery phase, letting my body just rest and recharge. There’s a little bit of guilt kicking around in my brain, but I’ve locked it up for the time being behind a big metal door, where it can beat its fists and skin its knuckles without bothering me too much.
The truth is, I know better than to burn the candle at both ends for long periods of time. Meltdown is inevitable. Honestly, I think we all know this on some level. If we drive ourselves too hard for too long with too little rest, there is going to be a crash somewhere along the line.
What I think we forget is that we might even be more productive and get more and better creative work accomplished if we take the the time to rest. Picture one of those days when you are trying to write but you are exhausted.
Your brain feels like oatmeal made yesterday morning and left out on the counter to congeal. Your stomach burns from the constant onslaught of coffee and stay awake snacks. Your eyes keep closing. Your fingers stammer and stutter over the keys and typos pop up everywhere. You can’t remember why on earth you ever started to write this book in the first place, or why you are continuing to write it now. You may even dissolve into a puddle of tears and misery over the loss of your creativity and how much this story sucks. Hours pass, and very little gets done. Half of what you do manage to write ends up needing to be discarded later.
Now, consider the possibility that instead of forcing yourself in this way, you take the day off. You take naps, you watch a good movie, maybe you even find your way into a restful place outdoors – a park, the forest, a river, a lake, or somebody’s backyard pool. You get a full night of restful sleep. And the next morning, refreshed and energized, you’re able to make up the missed word count from the day before.
Apart from the possible productivity benefit, our bodies can’t sustain the constant onslaught forever. Stress hormones are produced that can affect everything from immunity to blood sugar regulation. Chances are that if we keep up the insane schedule long enough, we’ll get sick. Possibly we’ll only catch a cold, but the probability of developing a serious or chronic illness increases with high levels of stress as well. And if we get sick, productivity goes out the window.
I honestly believe that the religious traditions that dictate a day of rest every week really are onto something. I’m not acting on this belief at this point in my life, but I am making an effort to slow down a little over the weekend, to engage in guilt free episodes of leisure and allow myself to enjoy them.
Soon, probably this week, I’m going to have to bump up my schedule again. I need to go to the gym, because this too is a healthy thing. And I need to finish the RN refresher course that I started. I need to blog more regularly and catch up on household tasks I’ve let slide. I’d like to do this in a healthy way, though, since I’ve discovered that I kind of like this feeling of not being all tied up in knots.
If you’ve read this post, now might be a good time to ask yourself some questions. How brutal is your schedule? Are you exhausting yourself and depleting your resources? Would you benefit from fitting some regular rest and relaxation into your life? And if so, how might you manage this?
I challenge everybody to put some leisure time into this Sunday, if you haven’t already.