Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Update!

Hi everyone!

Many apologies for not posting ALL YEAR. 😳

In my defense, I've been a liiiiiiittle distracted growing and having and keeping alive this adorable guy, who will be five weeks tomorrow:


My husband and I also bought a house (with grass and trees and actual space for my ginormous piano!), so that's been keeping us busy, too.

I'm getting soooooo excited about the release of my novel, now titled Beneath the Haunting Sea, which is coming out January 9th, 2018! I can't believe how soon that is! I can't believe it's actually happening! Twelve-year-old me is still doing cartwheels. 💚

You can add Sea to GoodReads if you wish, and it's up for pre-order on Amazon and B&N, as well as my favorite local indie Changing Hands.

I've seen my cover and you guyyyyys it's so gorgeous! Cover reveal coming SOON—I can't wait to share it with you all!

I'm looking to transition to a website, Facebook author page, and hopefully a newsletter in the near future, so I probably won't be blogging much here, but do watch this space for updates and links to all the things!

Hugs and books and fuzzy cats,
Joanna

Friday, January 6, 2017

Lifelong Dreams & Magical Stoplights

Dear Readers, I have a story to tell you. An incredibly wonderful, magical story. So brew some tea, gather a cat or two, and get comfy!! I'll wait.





Ready?

Okay.

So.

Once upon a time, I signed with Sarah Davies, the most fantastical literary agent of all. (She is both powerful and wise, and I'm pretty sure she's a wizard.) With Sarah's guidance, I revised the book formerly known as The Whale and the Tree three and a half times from May through September of 2015. It was difficult and mind-bending but ultimately incredibly rewarding. And I was so proud of the final result!! Somehow, my novel—re-titled The Haunting Sea—ended up being more like itself after all the revising than it was at the beginning. The story felt deeper and richer and better.

At the very end of September, we were ready to go On Submission.

*cue excitement and terror and dreams of going to auction and selling my manuscript in under two weeks*

I'm still not sure if querying or being on sub is worse. Each has their own unique torments, but both have several things in common:

    1. Waiting.
    2. Rejection.
    3. Despair.

I'm kidding about the despair part (but not really……)

By November, we had collected a good number of rejections, and several offers to revise and resubmit, otherwise known as the Dreaded R&R. I spoke to two of the editors requesting R&Rs on the phone. One of them really piqued my interest, and after lots of brainstorming and note-taking, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and revised my book again.

I finished in January, right before my birthday, and had visions of an extra special present appearing in my inbox.

Instead, we waited.

And waited and waited and waited.

And collected more rejections in the meantime, until all my fragile hopes were pinned on that R&R.

In April, we finally heard back from the editor……… and it was a no.

I was absolutely devastated, and began to think that this book wasn't going to be The One. I was busy working on something new, and tried to channel all my energy into that.

We sent out a few more submissions. More Rs came in.

At the end of May, Sarah mentioned we might want to think about putting this manuscript aside.

*cue despair and sobbing and ice-cream-eating and way too much Candy-Crush-playing*

On a Tuesday in June, I called my husband whilst driving to go teach piano lessons, and basically expressed to him my deep despair. He told me not to give up yet.

On that same Tuesday in June, whilst driving back from piano lessons, I checked my email at a stoplight. Incidentally, this happened to be the very same stoplight where, in November of 2014, I checked my email and discovered a full request from the agent who eventually became my very first offer of representation, leading to three additional offers and resulting in me signing with Sarah.

So in my inbox on that Tuesday in June, at the stoplight that might be a little bit magical, I found a note from Sarah. She'd forwarded me an email from an editor who had previously been a reader for one of the editors we'd submitted Sea to, but was now an acquiring editor for Page Street Publishing (follow?). Page Street was launching a YA line, and the editor remembered Sea, and was writing to ask if it was still available!

Sarah sent the editor the revised version of Sea, and that curious creature called Hope came out of hibernation and started following me around again…

The editor liked it, and passed it on to her higher up. Sarah had a conference call with everybody at Page Street. Hope stampeded through my living room and made me some cupcakes.

We got a tentative offer… as long as I was willing to do a sample edit of the first few chapters with them. I said HECK YES (in a super professional way, of course). I spoke with them on the phone. I emailed back and forth with the editor I'd hopefully be working with. I actually got excited about digging back into this wretched book again.

I wrote two and a half brand new chapters in three days, and emailed them to the editor.

She emailed back the next day…… and said she LOVED them. She passed them on to her higher up. And HE loved them.

They made their offer OFFICIAL.

THEY MADE THEIR OFFER OFFICIAL, YOU GUYS.

My weird little novel that I first penned during NaNoWriMo 2006—the one about the girl who's cast out from her homeland and the moody boy who plays piano and the talking whale—PAGE STREET WANTS TO PUBLISH IT.

In fact, Page Street IS going to publish it!!

You guys, I am so profoundly, deeply, overwhelmingly blessed to announce that The Haunting Sea is going to be a REAL book—A REAL BOOK, YOU GUYS—and it's coming to a bookstore near you Winter 2018!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's to stories and waiting, to wizardly agents and fairy-godmother editors, to magical* stoplights and dreams coming true.

Here's to happy endings!!


November 30th, 2006:
The newly-completed first draft of The Whale and the Tree.

December 16th, 2016:
Signing the contract for The Haunting Sea a decade later!


______
* I don't actually believe** the stoplight is magical.

** Although, of course, it might be. ;-)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

December Days are Here Again

Happy December, everyone!

So sorry (again) for my scant posts this year. Let's see if I can catch you up!

As of yesterday, I finished the rough draft of my weird little WIP. I totally rushed through the ending just to have something down on paper, and as a whole, the manuscript is *probably* the worst thing I've ever written 😒, but at least now I'll have something to work with when I eventually revise! I was juggling a lot in this book—a huge cast of characters, landscapes/settings that I didn't totally work out/have clear in my head, and an unwieldy plot that doesn't really make sense as it stands. But. You can't revise a blank page, as they say, and for now I am quite happy to have completed my eighth novel!

At least it looks good! I ran out of white paper, so the last quarter is green, haha

And now, as I like to do, here's some stats for Novel No. 8:

Word Count: 66,110
Begun: August 3rd
Finished: December 7th (I was only working on it off and on)
Number of Dangling Plot Threads: At least twelve
Number of Badly Handled Plot Twists: Two
Number of Badly Developed Characters: All of them!! 😐
Number of Times I forgot I had a Whole Army Stashed in a Cave: Too many to count!!
Number of Kittens Born to Rescued Stray Cat During Drafting: EIGHT! 😳


Which brings me to a new topic! Cleo the cat!! You read that right, she gave birth to EIGHT KITTENS about two months ago, four black ones and four gray ones, and they're all ADORABLE BEYOND BELIEF.

See what I mean????
We finally got to bring Cleo home on Saturday, and are currently in trying-to-convince-her-and-Bertie-to-be-friends mode. So far Bertie seems into it, and Cleo just wants to kill him……… they're in separate living quarters right now, but we're trying our best to introduce them slowly! Cleo is THE SWEETEST cat around people, but we think she had some baaaaad encounters with other cats when she was a stray, so we gotta convince her that Bertie is a friend!

Hubs and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary in October! We went to San Diego, and one of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the Maritime Museum—we got to wander about on a bunch of old sailing ships, which was super awesome!!

That's the HMS Surprise behind us!
So anyhoo, that's a bit of what's been going on in my neck of the woods lately! Currently gearing up for Christmas, and enjoying the lovely cool weather I waited sooooooooo long for.

Until next time!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

WIP Love—Halfway Home!

Earlier in the year, I had a weird novel idea sparked by—I kid you not—watching that show Little Big Shots hosted by Steve Harvey (super great show!!).

Things sorta spiraled out of control from there, and whilst waiting on other things, I decided to plot and outline this weird (WEIRD) story. I officially started writing it on August 4th, and have been working on it off and on since then, time permitting. As of this evening, I am OFFICIALLY halfway to my projected word count of 75,000!! *confetti*

Look, I made a mini white board out of a picture-frame shaped like a whale! :-D
Anyway, I'm having a lot of fun with it, even though I'm definitely remembering why revising is SO, SO, SO necessary once you hit that final period on your rough draft…

I'm also getting to the point in the story that excites me the most, which is pretty awesome. But holy cow, I don't think I've ever juggled this many characters before, I'm writing in first-person present, and I'm doing my darnedest to keep SEKRETZ from the reader, which is a super interesting plot device I've never attempted before.

I don't know if this acrobat-turned-assassin-magical-boy-army-of-bears thing will ever see the light of day, but at least it's keeping me out of trouble (sort of) for now, right??

Happy writing, all!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Tail of Cleo (see what I did there)

I now break from your regularly scheduled writing posts to bring you a story about a cat. :)

WARNING: this post contains photos of cats!!

Once upon a time on August 3rd, it was not horribly hot out in the morning so I decided to take my writing out on the patio.

This little black cat wandered up and made friends:



She was SUPER cute and VERY friendly and SKINNY SKINNY SKINNY. I texted the hubs and he said we should feed her so I did. She was so hungry!


After that she kept coming by, sometimes a couple times a day. Sometimes she would disappear for a few days, once she vanished for about a week. We were pretty sure she didn't belong to anyone… and if she did she was not being taken care of! She looked young, somewhere around six months old. We kept feeding her, and she seemed to adopt us.

She even started walking my husband to his work truck in the morning, which is probably the most adorable thing ever:





Last Friday, she came around again, and I noticed that her belly looked rounder than before… Alarm bells went off in my head. My husband saw her that night and agreed that she looked potentially pregnant!!

We didn't know quite what to do… if not for Bertie, we woulda brought her right into the house! As it was, we didn't have room or knowledge on how to help a young cat mama.

Enter the amazing Ashley Carlson, who has experience fostering cats! She volunteered to take the kitty and keep her safe throughout the birth, and afterwards the hubs and I are officially going to adopt her (the cat, not Ashley ;) ).

Cleo hanging out with me!




So now this lovely little kitty, who we've dubbed Cleo for Cleopatra, is warm and safe and won't have to have her kittens in a bush! Can't wait until she's ready to come home. Bertie won't be happy, but he will have to deal. :-D

And there you have it: the Tail of Cleo!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Writing & Reading & Minecraft (oh my!)

Hey everyone!

Just another little quick update… Apologies for the dearth of posts lately! Sometimes it's easier to say nothing at all than to come up with random things to write that aren't what you *really* want to write about but can't yet for whatever reason. (Okay, that was cryptic!!)

But let's see, here's some of the things I've been up to lately:

  • I wrote Part One of Weird New Novel and got up to 26,046 words! It's strange and not well-written yet and confusing and there is literally zero character development, and most of it is spent wandering in a cave, but I think there might be something there anyway…… maybe?? In other words, it's an UNCOMPLETED ROUGH DRAFT. Hoping to get back to it soon! :-)
  • I hit my 30 books reading challenge on GoodReads and am still going strong, which is good, because I have a lot more I want to read before the year is over!! I just finished THE CROWN'S GAME, by Evelyn Skye and I loooooooooooved it.
  • On a related note, my three favorite books of the year so far are:
    • THE WINNER'S KISS, by Marie Rutkoski
    • MY LADY JANE, by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows
    • THE CROWN'S GAME, by Evelyn Skye
  • I got to meet up with some lovely Arizona-based YA writers a few weeks ago, and it was a blast. I had no idea there were so many of us stranded out here in the desert! :-)
  • Hubs and I have been playing a lot of Minecraft lately. It's awesome. The other night we wandered away from our base and almost got hopelessly lost forever, but made it back in the end. I tamed a couple of cows and some sheep and am gonna try for chickens next!! :-D
  • Am currently obsessed with this song, and also this band in general:
And hmmm, I think that's about it! Happy reading and writing and living your life-ing. Until next time!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Summer Sun + Writing Update

Well it's summer, ladies and gents—smack dab in the middle of, in fact. It's hot here. Feels like it's gonna continue to be hot forever (and it kind of is). But I DO live in a place nicknamed THE VALLEY OF THE SUN, so I guess that's to be expected. I super need to stop checking the weather forecast, as it's supposed to be 110+ until basically THE END OF TIME.

Um, I mean… I do super well in the heat and stuff.

But complaints about heat is not why you come to this blog (that's what my Twitter is for!!). How about some writing updates??

I had a lovely time at the mini writing retreat in June! I had more work to do on my fairy tale retelling than I thought, but I DID finish it a few weeks later. I'm super, super thrilled with how this novel came out—I'm falling more and more in love with it the more I work on it, which is the opposite of what usually happens………

It's so interesting to watch a novel grow and change and morph into something you couldn't have initially imagined it would ever be. This particular novel was sparked by a dream I had about a girl riding a reindeer across the ice being chased by wolves. I realized it needed to be a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, and decided to write a short story, hoping to keep it under 10K and submit it to a contest. Long story short (hahaha—I should say SHORT STORY LONG), my "short story" is now an 89K word novel. I'm really bad at short stories, you guys. (Incidentally, that initial scene from my dream never made it into the book…)

But my, I'm rambling. All that to say, this novel has gone through several incarnations, and the latest one is my absolute favorite—I love it to bits!!

In other news, I'm slowly starting to outline a new novel that feels super plot-heavy and ambitious for me, but also intrigues me deeply (so I have to try it, right??). It has: lots of characters, betrayal, winter, an evil king, a prince who can control animals, a kick-butt female acrobat, secretsssss, and many other things!! We shall see how it comes out when I eventually start writing!

Okay, I think that's about it for now. Stay cool out there, everyone!

ETA: Here's a guest blog I wrote over on Adventures in YA Publishing about rejection, going easy on yourself, and how it's okay to take things personally! Hope you enjoy! :-)