Saturday, May 9, 2015

0 Michelle Dalton, author of SWEPT AWAY, on not overthinking your first draft

SWEPT AWAY is the latest novel by Michelle Dalton, although for this particular title, Carla Jablonski wrote it using the Michelle Dalton pseudonym. We're delighted to have Carla stop by to tell us more about SWEPT AWAY and her writing process.

What do you hope readers will take away from SWEPT AWAY?

Mandy is dealing with something very real – how much of yourself do you give up for your friends or for love? She’s struggling to realize that she doesn’t have to be a clone to be best friends with someone or to hide her opinions from the boy that she likes. That’s a hard lesson to learn (even for adults!), but a very important one. So I hope readers will recognize the value of being true to who they are even as they fall in love.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

You know what’s bizarre? It changes depending on what I’m writing, or what phase of writing I’m in! Usually I write a rough first draft (and I mean rough!) at home, with music – or even the TV (shocking, I know) blaring in the background. I always do my revisions on hard copy, and that’s when I change it up from book to book because I leave the house with it. For Swept Away, the more I could be near water the better, or at least outside. For other books I’ve worked on benches in museums, on buses, or with specific music playing.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Write even when you don’t feel like it. Most writers find ways to create those rituals you ask about – there’s a reason for that. It helps you sit down to work even when you’re not in the mood. It becomes a habit, a very good one to have, because it’s very easy to NOT write.

And perhaps most important: Don’t overthink your first draft. The point is to just get the story out of your brain and onto the page. The best advice I ever got as a writer came from Anne Lamott from her book Bird by Bird (an excellent book on writing!).  I can’t quote her exactly (four-letter-words are involved) but basically it’s that you have to learn to allow yourself to write a really bad first draft. Like, REALLY bad. My first drafts are barely in English. These are not the first drafts I send in to my editor, mind you. This is what I write only for myself. Then, once the shape is there, the basic plot, the characters starting to emerge, I go back in and revise and revise and revise and develop and cut and add and revise some more.

And that’s why I tend to work in public places. I go through so many revisions that if I didn’t I’d never see another human being while I’m working!


Swept Away by Michelle Dalton
Simon Pulse
Released 5/5/2015

Beachfront love blossoms in this refreshing summer romance, in the tradition of Sixteenth Summer and Seventeenth Summer.

Mandy Sullivan isn’t exactly looking forward to the summer months as tourists invade her seaside hometown on the coast of Maine. Her best friend, Cynthia, has abandoned her for camp and her older brother just announced he’ll be staying at college taking classes for the summer, leaving Mandy with nothing to do and no one to hang out with. Hoping to keep herself busy, Mandy takes a volunteer job at the Rocky Pointe Lighthouse. On her very first day, Oliver Farmingham asks for a private tour. A new—and incredibly cute—face in Rocky Pointe, Oliver seems more interested in Mandy than the lighthouse and its history.

Without her best friend at her side, Mandy is scrambling to act the right way and say the right things when Oliver is around. Cynthia—not Mandy—has always been the confident, flirtatious girl that everyone wanted to be around. As Mandy and Oliver spend more time together exploring the coast, biking through the woods, and attending the local summer festivals, their budding friendship becomes much more. But with Mandy’s insecurities creeping to the surface, can she open her heart to someone who will only be in town for three months?

Purchase Swept Away at Amazon
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picture-Carla Jablonski author editor teen readersCarla Jablonski is the author and editor of dozens of best-selling books for middle-grade and young adult readers. "I kind of do it all -- adaptations, branching books (Choose Your Own Adventure style), serious novels for teenagers, fantasy, and now, graphic novels."

Her most recent book, Resistance, the first of a graphic novel trilogy (illustrated by Leland Purvis) is A SYDNEY TAYLOR SILVER MEDAL winner. Book 2 in the series, Defiance, will be available in July. Two of her books for teens, Thicker than Water and Silent Echoes, were selected for the prestigious NYPL "Books for the Teen Age" list. She is the author of the six-book series, The Books of Magic, based on Neil Gaiman's comic classic of the same name.

Her books are sold in many countries, and she always gets a kick seeing her titles in other languages. "My favorite is the Thai version of Books of Magic," she says. "The alphabet is so beautiful, and I find it funny that my own words are completely unrecognizable to me!"

In addition to writing and editing books for YA readers, she is at work on several books for adults, and is also an actress, a playwright and a trapeze performer. These pursuits have allowed her to do a lot of traveling, particularly to Scotland, and she's met many wonderful and amazing people. "The trapeze thing is definitely what surprises most people -- even people who know me, and especially myself!"

What did you think of our interview with Michelle Dalton/Carla Jablonski, author of SWEPT AWAY? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin

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