Tuesday, January 1, 2013

From Plodding to Taking Wing: New Year Thanks!

Happy happy New Year! 2013 - I can hardly believe it’s actually here: the year that The Flame in the Mist will finally be A Real Book. On shelves. In people’s hands, even. Oh. My.

Release Date speeds closer.

People talk about a book launch, and though as I have little idea yet what that’s going to look like, I can imagine a literal launch, as right now it feels like wings are unfurling from my back ready to lift me skywards, and with ever-so-slight tilts of my arms I’ll be riding the winds over mountains and moorlands, rivers, streams, speeding above the earth…

Ooh. As the three months until book release pass, I have a feeling such moments of exhilaration are going to get more frequent. But for now, New Year’s Day 2013, here I am glued to the ground (well, actually, the sofa) sipping my very British cuppa (aka cup of tea, for non-Brits) and relishing the thrill of hovering at this edge, at the same time as basking in calm gratitude for everyone and everything that got me here. Honing The Flame in the Mist took many hours of others’ time – teachers, friends, family and critique partners alike – before it ever crossed my editor’s radar. What would I have done without any of you before at last, in late 2011 (eons ago!), the fabulous Michelle Poploff turned my dream into a reality by offering my a contract.

2012: The Journey
After the manuscript was finished, the adventures of Jemma and her cast of supporting characters were sifted and sorted and crafted into final book shape with the help of the amazing team at Delacorte Press: the copy editors, proofreaders and art directors at Random House Children’sBooks who, after Michelle and I had finished our rounds of to-and-froing, made it into this:

Oh, that cover! Love love love! I'll never forget the thrill of seeing first sketches that Michelle emailed to me back in March. What a fabulous choice of artist by Delacorte: Chris Rahn, whose other work you can see here on his website.

For hosting the "cover reveal", I owe a huge Thank You to Hafsah Faizal, book blogger and reviewer extraordinaire, over at Icey Books. She made the event fun and exciting, and brought The Flame in the Mist to the attention of hundreds of potential readers. Thank you, Hafsah! You rock.

Then there's the website. Finding the images was one thing (see below for extra credit!), but blending and shaping them into the fabulous website banner is all down to the artful eye of Maddee James at Xuni.com. Thank you Maddee, for a wonderful site, just perfect! And thank you, the SCBWI, at whose day-long Social Media worskhop I met Maddee. I also owe them a much larger debt of gratitude for the editor critique session which became a book deal  – but more on that in another post.

Thanks to that Social Media workshop, I also launched into Twitter. It wasn’t long before I was “found” floating in an ocean of tweets by a member of a group called TheLucky 13s – authors who, like me, had their debut books coming out in 2013. Thank you, Alison Cherry, for redirecting my li'l boat toward the Luckies’ blog! One filled-out application later, et voila! I too was a Lucky. And feeling it. These past months, the support, advice and friendship of Lucky 13s members has made what really would have been a much more lonely plod along the Road to Publication into a fun ride. I've learned so much from you guys!

A special shout-out to a few other Middle Grade Luckies: Delacorte-mate Laura Golden, whose lovely Every Day After releases in June, Claire Caterer, whose fun eon-hopping sword-wiedling The Key and the Flame releases the week before a certain other book with "Flame" in its title (ahem), and Liesl Shurtliff, whose new spin on the Rumpelstiltskin tale, Rump, (love that title!), comes out the same day as The Flame in the Mist. I'll be shouting about a lot more Luckies releases as they come along. And other non-Lucky releases I'm looking forward to in

Last, and by no no no means least, a huge Happy New Year thank you goes to my wonderful, bright, goofy husband Jon. Not only is he a talented musician - you can hear some of his Galaxy Lounge album here (check out the "music" page, and if you like it, there's also a link to "where to buy") - he’s also whizz at design and computer stuff that I can’t begin to wrap my head around. He helped me trawl for the website images - he was the one who found this fabulous orange-eyed owl, for starters...

(Woo. I've loved owls since I don't know when.)...and it’s thanks to him that The Flame in the Mist swag like bookmarks, bookplates, posters and pins will soon be available. All that, and he does laundry too? Yup. What a guy. He’s endured hours of solitude while I’ve been stuck in my writing/editing bubble, giving the book wings. But I couldn’t fly without him.

2013! What a ring it has to it. May it be a fabulous year for you all - a time to spread all kinds of wings, orange-eyed owl ones and otherwise. And enjoy the ride. I for one am done with plodding!