Monday, January 6, 2014

32 Inspired Openings 2014


These Monday posts are usually about starting books, but I thought I would use it today to talk a little bit about closing out 2013 and starting 2014. And then I realized that there's a parallel in there too.

Launching into a new year is always a reflective time. Somehow in adulthood, I lost the ability to look forward at a blank calendar and see only glittering possibilities. Do you know what I mean? I see everything through the filter of what I didn't accomplish last year, and what I didn't do as well as I wish I had.

Let's start there. With my failures.
  • Toward the end of the year, I failed miserably at critiquing several manuscripts that I wanted desperately to critique for friends. By the time I get through everything I have to do, I tell myself every night that I'm going to read them for an hour, and then the next thing I know, I've read the same words I read the night before and I'm asleep. The year has been one of complete exhaustion.
  • I failed miserably at figuring out and keeping within my limits. Knowing I needed to spend less time on social media, I brought more people in to help with Adventures in YA Publishing, forgetting that that would also require more organizational and management time. And I organized and launched YA Series Insiders, which I love and love doing, but which still takes up a big chunk of time that I don't have. I haven't been able to keep up with the First Five Pages Workshop critiques the way I want to, and I haven't even been able to supervise the coordination of it as I should.
  • I failed to keep up with friends as much as I wish I could.
  • I failed to understand the difficulty and the depth of the emotional journey of going through the editorial process on a full-length manuscript with an editor. The revision process with my CPs and Beta Readers and even my agent were a breeze. But facing the depth of what I didn't know, and coming face to face with my own writing in the way that you see it as you go through the editorial process is astonishingly taxing. And time consuming. And draining. And ultimately uplifting. 
Yes. Uplifting.


via flickr

Because in all of those failures, so much has happened this year.
  • I found an agent.
  • I sold a book. Three of them. Gulp. 
  • I've revised BEHOLDEN, faced my writing demons (painfully, I admit), and survived the editorial process stronger as a writer and a human being. Ouch. I learned more than I would EVER have believed possible.
  • I've beta'd and/or critiqued eleven manuscripts, not counting the First Five Pages entries.
  • I've been to eleven countries, not counting the U.S. Eleven. (Turkey, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, Oman, The UAE, The Bahamas, The Czech Republic, Austria.)
  • I attended SCBWI NY and did the fabulous, week long Breakout Novel Intensive workshop with Donald Maass, and YALLFEST.
  • I gave my first half-day workshop on Social Media in Dallas.
  • I launched YASeriesInsiders.com and found some AMAZING friends in my fellow members.
  • I wrote a discovery draft for a version of Book 2 that I ultimately will not use, but WILL use for something else because it was the most powerful thing I've ever done.
  • I wrote a discovery draft for a version of Book 2 that I will use. And that I love.
  • I realized I have a deadline. Six months from now. To actually write Book 2, go through my usual 8 drafts of it, and turn in in while struggling to apply all that I've learned through the editorial process I went through on Book 1.
  • I realized I will have to do the above with a new editor, because mine has moved to a position of greater responsibility at another publishing house.
  • And somewhere in there, I've adjusted to all the family upheaval we've had this year, adjusted my business life, and adjusted to Jan being on the blog less, getting new blog partners, and all the training and sorting and so forth that involves.
Maybe that doesn't sound like as much to you as it does to me. Boiled down to a bullet point, each item doesn't begin to convey the hours and hours and hours involved, but the truth is, that is only the beginning of this incredible journey I embarked on when I signed my book contract.

Every author, every author, who is in this business of ours does all of this and far more. They may not do it all in the same way, or in the same order, but it's all part of the process. The more of that process I see, the more I am inspired and bowled over by the sheer talent, organizational skill, energy-level, and life-skill shown by the authors whose books I loved even before I realized what all is involved in getting those books not only written but presented to the world.

One of the things that amazes me is that I had no idea of what was coming. I thought I knew. I thought I was ready.

I wasn't.

There will be more milestones next year: ARCs and trade shows and book launches and book reviews and deadlines. My book will be out in the world, and I hope that readers will like it, but that will be out of my control. Sales will be out of my control. So many things will depend on chance, as they have throughout this process. So far, I've been beyond lucky. I keep waiting for the axe to fall.

I don't know what any of 2014 will look like. I've never done gone through a launch like this before.

I'm scared. I don't want to fail anyone, not my publisher, not my agent, not my family, not my friends and cps and readers. Most of all my readers.

2014 is going to be new, uncharted territory for me. The pages of my calendar are--literally--blank because I don't know my schedule and I don't know what to expect, except in the vaguest possible terms. I can look at that with fear, or I can look at it with wonder and see the glittering possibilities.

I plan to do that. I will try to do that.

I also want to thank all the amazing blogger/social media friends and mentors who have given me so much over the past few years. I hope you know who you are, because listing you all would make this post twice as long.

And I especially want to give a shout out to the people who have inspired me and helped me over this past year here on Adventures in YA Publishing: Jan, Lisa, Alyssa, Kate, Talynn, Clara . . . You are wonderful!

Finally, I want to wish Jan every success this coming year. I couldn't have done any of this without her. I'm so sad that she doesn't have the time to do as much on AYAP this year, but I am thrilled that she has started up her new virtual assistant business for authors. It's the perfect job for her.

For the first time in a while, I'm heading off into uncharted territory. Starting this new year has made me realize that every year is like starting a novel. Each begins with glittering possibility. We launch into the story and every sentence leads to the next, but we still have to search for something new and shining to begin every chapter and every day.

Whatever comes this year, I'm going to hold on to three things:
  1. I love to write. I love the process. When I'm writing, everything else falls away.
  2. I am beyond lucky to have the team at Simon Pulse put their faith in me and in BEHOLDEN and shepherd me through this process. 
  3. One of the highlights of my year was standing in book signing lines at YALLFEST talking to fans and being infused, and overwhelmed, by their pure love of books. It was a great reminder that no matter what happens this year, I am going to be sharing it with book people. And book people are fabulous.
YOU are fabulous. I hope your 2014 is a great one and that you will bear with me as I bumble through it.

via flickr

32 comments:

  1. Martina, thank you for sharing this! You are such a strong and beautiful person, and you handle challenges with such thoughtful ability and persistence. And while you may see small failures, but I see wisdom--the kind that doesn't come easily and must be paid for. We all have limits. ;)

    I know I can speak for everyone who knows you and what a wonderful person you are--we understand the incredible pressure you are under, and we are at your disposal to help however we can. We are so excited for you, so thrilled for what is happening, and the rewards that all your hard work is about to bring. I know sometimes there are things we can't help with, things you have to shoulder alone, and in those times, we are waving the pom poms and cheering you and your fabulousness on! :)

    Ange

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    1. Oh, my stars, Ange. THANK YOU. (And thanks for making me tear up this morning, woman. Because I had time for runny mascara :D) Seriously, YOU are amazing. And trust me, I need the pom-poms and the friendship. Thank you immeasurably for both. Not to mention for YOUR general fabulousness. Any that I possess (cough cough) only rubbed off from those I have the good taste to associate with!

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  2. So agree with Angela. You're amazing and do so much to help writers and promote books. I think you accomplished so much last year just in getting an agent and book deal. That doesn't include the busy travel schedule and beta reading 11 books. Plus keeping up so much blogging and social networking.

    So excited for you that you will be a debut author this year. I can't wait to learn from you.

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    1. Thank you, Natalie! That means a TON coming from you, with all you do to support writers and wave the banner for books in general. I've learned so much from the writers who have been kind enough to share their experiences I will try to pay it forward. There's that not-so-fine line though between helping and boring people with details. :) I'll try to stay on the right side of that. And you'll be here soon enough. I have every faith!

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  3. Wow, I think you've accomplished a lot! As for those failures...well, who the heck can do everything!?

    :)

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    1. Thanks so much for that reminder. It's one I really have a hard time with. And I look at so many authors who just seem to nail the writing/social media/living life balance and feel overwhelmed and inadequate. I know the schedule has to adjust. It's just hard letting go!

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  4. What a year you've had! So impressed. :)

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    1. Thanks, sweetie. It's been a mind-boggling year. Ups and downs though and a whole lot of new. :)

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  5. Thank you for this amazing, honest post and for this blog which has been a wonderful resource for me and so many others. Here's to a great 2014, despite the insanity, pressure and things we will certainly perceive--in the moment--as failures. All of it is part of growing, learning, moving forward...living!

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    1. I can't believe your book is out next month already! SO excited for you. And I can't wait to get it in my grubby hands. Whatever happens, it will be a great year. And well said, all about growing, learning, moving forward…living. Love that!

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  6. You've definitely been busy. That's what it takes to make it these days, right? Here's to working your guts out, learning a ton, and accomplishing!

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    1. Which is how you've done it, and yep. It's what it takes. No complaints at all from this girl--I just need to take better notes. :) Hugs, Crystal!

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  7. You are awesome. I wish I could say I'd done more to help, but thanks for the inclusion. I look forward to smiling along with you in the coming year and beyond because - let me say it again - you are AWESOME.

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    1. You know, I am reading these comments and feeling overwhelmed, because the people who are commenting and saying such kind things are seriously the best people. Lisa, if there is a soul more deserving of success and fabulous things than you, I don't know who it would be. So constantly inspire me. Love and hugs!

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  8. Thank you for sharing this. It's scary to hear that it's not all rainbows and glitter after signing a book contract, but I think it's important for those of us still dreaming to go into it with our eyes open. And you accomplished so much that it's inspiring. Just the thought of visiting 11 countries makes me want to climb back into bed for a nap. :-) Here's to an awesome 2014!!

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    1. You know, the funny things is it all comes down to expectation management. I've been beyond blessed and fortunate in every step of the process. The places where the rainbows have slipped were all due to my lack of understanding and preparation. Dipping my toe into the room beyond the publishing door, I'm just starting to see how much more complex it all is than just writing a solid manuscript. And how many definitions of solid there are. And how many steps, and hours, and people, and leaps of faith are involved in getting that manuscript to market. That alone is incredibly humbling and frightening, because all those people have to be invested in the manuscript, and the stakes go up when you think of letting any of them down. :) And not going to lie -- I'm still not over jet-lag (or fully unpacked!) from the last trip. A nap sounds really, really, really good! Also, definitely a fabulous 2014 to all of us. *Clinks Glass*

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  9. Martina, what a wonderful post! 2014 will be wonderful…so full of freedoms and possibilities. Yes, sometimes there will be stumbles, but that's part of life. I'll be here to help you with Beholden in ANY way possible :)

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    1. You rock, Julie. Thank you so much, and right back to you as well. It's such a sense of limbo in the interim, isn't it? Filled with so much to do, and still all that vast unknown. I'm so proud of you for the leap you are taking, and I can't wait to shout it from the rooftops too! :)

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  10. I wouldn't consider it a failure to a) realize you need to prioritize your time between social media and writing, and b) taking action to delegate! Those are both obstacles in themselves. I say chalk that up to a win!

    Christine

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    1. Love your viewpoint. It's all easier said than done though, right? And I've never been much good at that balance thing. :)

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  11. Martina - thank you for your honest heartfelt transparency. Ever since I've known you, you are the bar I set my sights to. You are a constant source of inspiration. There is no way BEHOLDEN will not be a success, because it is a part of you - and you are starlight. Love you to bits.

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    1. Listen to you, you must be a writer or something. :) Would you PLEASE just get your butt out here so I can hug you? You're making me seriously consider having to go out to visit my mother. And that is dire indeed. But what you just wrote is going into my rainy day jar because it is absolutely beautiful. And I am hugging you across the span of 3000 miles right now. You are A-MAZING. And sweet. And I SO needed to hear this right now because my eyes are crossed in BEHOLDEN commas and inserts and tiny squiggly red marks I can barely see.

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    2. Hugging you back and conspiring with your mother. :)

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  12. Martina, big congrats! That's awesome. Wishing you all the best for this year, and thanks for sharing those uplifting thoughts on writing.

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    1. Thanks, Nicole! I wish you the same. Hopefully, it's going to be a fabulous writing and publishing year for everyone!

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  13. Holy Guacamole, Martina! What a year. I think the coming year will be just that much better for you because you sure have laid the groundwork for a great year. Congrats.

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    1. I don't know about how solid my groundwork is, but I've got such a fabulous support network, Rosi. I'm beyond lucky! Thank you so much for the congrats and good wishes. Hugs!

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    1. I really have trouble with that word, Luanne. It still feels more like luck. But from your mouth to Fate's ear, and I'm knocking on every piece of wood I pass. :) Also, same to you. May this be YOUR year of fabulousness.

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  15. "book people are fabulous" - it does make all the rest of this uncertain rollercoaster journey worth it!!! thank you so MUCH for sharing.

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  16. Sounds like you've got a full year in store, Martina. Wishing you the best with it and your book launches!!

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  17. You put a lot in perspective in this post. Thanks.

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