Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Little Book that Could

First you write. And then you rewrite and rewrite.

Then you query.

You are rejected.

Rewrite, query, reject and so forth. Multiple times.

Agent Edward Necarsulmer wants more!

Rewrite, submit.

Ding, ding, ding! FSG buys it on first round of submissions!
hard copy AND an ebook. Random House's Listening Library buys the rights to do an audio book.

You've made it! Right?

Then there's the waiting for two years for an actual BOOK to be produced, high expectations, more writing, then marketing-induced psychosis.

For realz. You make a God box and keep putting the book in there. It's the only real thing you can do - take deep breaths and get out of your own way.

But it doesn't become a best-seller and you have to accept that. Being published by FSG, you, your agent and your editor were hopeful that Edges would be an award-driven book  - but it did not get on anyone's radar. You are not John Green.

Book #2 is loved, but ultimately rejected because the sales of book #1 are not high enough.


You stop worrying about sales and focus on writing new stuff and teaching writing.

Almost two years later, the rights revert back to you, and you buy out the Macmillan warehouse, so they can make room for shiny "new" things.

That's okay with you - they weren't marketing you anyway. This is what happens, and it's not personal, it's business.

And yet.

You are still asked to show up at events, speak on panels. And you've just been tweeted that your book, Edges, is on the syllabus for a class called YA Lit at The University of Utah. (And guess what? John Green is there too, along with your grandmother.)

And yes grasshopper, you go back to the work of writing, knowing that it's not about sales, but about communicating and finding the voice of the particular story. And that it's all about connecting you to the human race.

And you love your day job just as much: empowering kids and teens to find their own voice through creative writing.

Life is AWESOME!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Flu and Downton Abbey

I just watched 17 episodes of Downton Abbey in three days. That's right - you heard me. Most of them were on Tuesday and Wednesday when I was in bed with the flu. Now I am slowly starting to feel better, but I have been staring at my manuscript for the past hour - yeah, just staring - I can't seem to construct a sentence -

I've never done this before - given myself the gift of a marathon of this magnitude. Who has the time?

But that was the gift of the flu.

Facebook can make one feel left behind on certain things, and I had missed the whole Downton Abbey craze. On Sunday, people started posting about the beginning of Season 3. I asked Facebook: do I really have to watch from the beginning?

The resounding answer was yes. My husband was watching a football game, so I took my computer under the covers and logged into Netflix and watched the first episode, and then the second. On Monday night I watched the next two episodes, but then I couldn't fall asleep, thinking about Anna and Bates, Mary and Matthew. Do I like Mary anyway, are we supposed to like her? And that Thomas!

Tuesday morning I ran errands, but by 10:30am it was clear that I should not be driving, or writing, so I got back into bed and finished Season 1. But I had to have more! So I ended up paying for it, streaming on Amazon Prime. Two more. Sleep. Then yesterday I watched the next seven glorious episodes in Season 2, topping it off by watching Sunday night's movie-length episode on PBS.com.

So now I know. And I love it. It is a well-crafted story with rich, interesting characters whose motivations you understand, can even relate to, even though they live in a reality far away from where you are (in bed with the flu?)

Never heard of Downton Abbey? Here is why it is so popular.

And who doesn't love Maggie Smith?