I am amazed that someone took the time to do this, and oh, so glad they did.
Finish the book that scares you. That’s the final lesson. Because AMAZING things will happen.
I may have mentioned the Magic Bird Book. Once or twice, perhaps.
I can finally, FINALLY tell you things about it. Some things that have been secret for days, and some for weeks, and some for nearly a YEAR. So we’ll start with that last one.
Magic Bird Book is, and always has been, named GEARWING. And GEARWING is a crazy, middle grade, Victorian, steampunk-ish fairytale with dragons and airships and all manner of FUN.
Which brings me to other secrets: you’re all going to get to read it, if you want to. This just went live on Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf:
Zareen Jaffery at S&S Books for Young Readers has acquired at auction two middle grade novels by Emma Trevayne, author of the forthcoming YA sci-fi novels Coda and Chorus. In the first book, Gearwing, a boy accidentally travels from his home in Victorian London to an alternate, fairy-populated, steam-clogged version of the city, only to be caught in a web of dangerous politics; his only hope of returning home lies with the legend of an enormous, wish-granting clockwork bird. Publication is set for Summer 2014. Brooks Sherman of FinePrint Literary Management brokered the deal for North American rights. Brazilian rights were pre-empted by Companhia das Letras by João Paulo Riff at Riff Agency, in association with Kathleen Ortiz at New Leaf Literary & Media.
I’m trying so hard to be calm and I am FAILING SPECTACULARLY. I am so obnoxiously proud of this book and I was so anxious about it finding the perfect home, the perfect editor who could help me make it even better, and I shouldn’t have worried because I GOT HER. Zareen…GAH. Thank you. My eloquence is gone but thank you, thank you so much. The week this book sold was CRAZY. I was at ALA signing copies of CODA and getting updates on what was happening with the auction and it was just the very, very best kind of craziness.
And I need to thank Brooks, too, because he understood this book in the most perfect way. The full extent of his rock-star-ocity has yet to be revealed, but trust me, he is a rock star. And Kathleen Ortiz is a rock star, too. She sold those Brazilian rights faster than I could blink!
And, you know, my CPs and betas and friends and whatnot who kept me sane while writing this book because that is NO MEAN FEAT, seriously.
This book is going to be SO BEAUTIFUL. There will be illustrations and gorgeousness and surprise things! It makes my heart flutter just thinking about it. I absolutely can’t wait for it to be out in the world.
Look at what the awesome Safari Poet made!
Thank you so much! And she has a bunch, so go over and grab ones for books you’re looking forward to. 😀
HELLO. Yes, I am ALL CAPS excited.
CODA and CHORUS are going to be published in Germany!
THAT’S REALLY ALL I NEEDED TO SAY.
Oh, and thank you to my lovely publishers! Both of them! 😀
So there is AN EXCITING THING happening, and it makes me feel like this:
Starting today, over at The Cabinet of Curiosities, some incredibly talented authors (and I!) will be sharing dark and creepy Middle Grade short stories. Every Wednesday, there’ll be a story from Claire Legrand, author of the magnificent The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, Katherine Catmull, author of Summer & Bird, which is just delicious, Stefan Bachmann, author of The Peculiar, which I have raved about before, or me, your friendly neighborhood author of Coda and Magic Bird Book.
Should you be inclined toward such things, your twisted and mysterious Curators of The Cabinet of Curiosities can also be found on Twitter @CabinetCurators, and the first story is already up on the blog.
SIX MONTHS TO CODA!
For some reason this feels really huge, like we’re entering the home stretch. Pages have been proofread, ARCs are beginning to make their way out into the world. This is both exciting and a little nerve-wracking, and all I can really say about that is that I hope people enjoy it. Final decisions are being made. After almost exactly 2 years (I started writing it the last week of December 2010) I don’t get to change it anymore. That’s kind of weird.
While all that’s been happening, I wrote most of a (very messy) first draft of another MG book, finished the first round of edits on Magic Bird Book, and last weekend, resumed work on CHORUS, the sequel to CODA.
Returning to CHORUS has been interesting. I wrote a decent-sized chunk of it last December/January, and then for various reasons to do with timing and deadlines and more urgent things, I put it aside. I looked at it briefly in April, but really it hadn’t been touched for almost a year. I know the whole basic plot, but did I know what I meant to write in the sentence after the last one I wrote in January?
I jumped that hurdle, though, and being back with these characters is a lot of fun, not only because of the awesome music I get to listen to while I write it. (OK, a big part of the fun is the awesome music.) Writing it makes me think a lot of the time when I was writing CODA, and comparing that to where I am now, with just six months before it’s on shelves, is kind of surreal and so, so cool.
That’s pretty much it! There’ll be some exciting announcements soon about stuff happening in January and beyond, but I can’t quite talk about them yet. Stay tuned!
It sounds obvious. It’s not.
For most of us (not all) gone are the days when writing happens in a bubble, a lone person at a typewriter or keyboard or notepad. We have friends near and far, local critique groups and online crit partners who get our chapters in email. Plus agents and editors, some of whom might be our agents and editors, others who hold those jobs but are just friends to us. It’s easier to be connected now, and easy to share.
Obviously, it’s important to choose who you want to share with. Showing a piece of writing to someone can be scary, even if you love it. Sometimes especially if you love it.
With all the other challenges I faced with Magic Bird Book that I’ve already detailed, it was a long time before I felt comfortable showing people any of it. To date, only four people in the world have the full manuscript, a significant drop on the number of people who read CODA for me, chapter by chapter, as it was being written. When Magic Bird Book finally started to click, there was a delicious terror in the back of my mind that maybe, just maybe, it was really good. And a not-so-delicious terror that I was totally wrong about that.
The only way to get a sense was–if you’ll forgive me for this–to set the baby bird free. I started to show people chapters. Not many people, and not many chapters. They offered advice and criticism, enthusiasm and support. Enough to help me keep going.
When I finished what was, on the whole, the second draft, it felt book-shaped enough to give my agent and one of my critique partners the full, everything beyond the chapters they’d already seen. I held my breath. Brooks, with my knowledge, shared it with someone else whose opinion I value enormously. I held my breath some more.
I was terrified. Not so much terrified that it was a bad book, but terrified that I was wrong in thinking it was a good one. That I’d well and truly lost perspective on it, lost my eye for my own work. A bad book is fixable or trunkable. Loss of judgment is a much trickier demon to face.
I don’t think I need to elaborate any more on my pride in this book and that was never the point of these posts, so I’ll only say that, thankfully–according to people I trust–I haven’t lost my judgment. It’s not perfect, but that’s okay for now, and more importantly, that’s part of the reason I work with the people I do: because I trust them to tell me that. Relationships with critique partners, agents, editors, and friends who read my manuscripts don’t work if I don’t believe them when they tell me something needs to be fixed. They also don’t work if I don’t believe them when they tell me something is great.
Doubt happens. Fear is, or can be, a fantastic tool if I let it fire me up but not burn me. Confidence and a thick skin are both necessary in this business. But if the people who read my work–by my own choice–tell me there’s a problem and I think they’re idiots, THAT is a problem. If they tell me something’s awesome and I still think they’re idiots, that’s a problem, too. Those relationships can’t work, and if I felt that way, my attitude would probably need a hefty smack with the clue-by-four.
I’m lucky to work with an agent whose vision and opinions I trust implicitly, critique partners with breathtaking talent, an editor (for CODA and CHORUS, at least) who gets me in an amazing way, and friends who aren’t afraid to tell me hard truths about my books. If there’s one thing I’ve never appreciated more than I have while writing Magic Bird Book, it’s the value of those relationships.
At the time this goes live on the blog, National Novel Writing Month will be drawing to a close. I have no idea yet how “well” I did or whether the draft I wind up with resembles the plot sculpture I have in my head at the time of writing this post. I don’t know if I lost the story and found it again, or if Third Book Syndrome is a thing, or if it had totally different needs than CODA and Magic Bird Book. We’ll see. A lot of you will have participated in NaNo, some of you might have the first full draft of a book you’ve ever written. Congratulations, seriously. That’s an awesome thing and you should be really freaking proud. If you read this whole series, I hope even one sentence of it was of some use to you. But if I could wish one thing on everyone who has just finished the first draft of first novel, it’s what I talk about in this post specifically. Don’t settle. Choose to work with people–from friends to agents to critique partners to editors–whose opinions matter to you. There are times for doubt and modesty and confidence and terror, and there are times to throw those things out the window and believe the people to whom you’ve entrusted your work, maybe even your career.
With that, Lessons From Magic Bird Book are over, school is out (for now) for Emma. Back to normal posts about music and cake and whatever I decide to rant about when the mood strikes. Thanks for reading.