Monday, October 12, 2009

It's ALI-I-I-I-I-VE!

Turns out that the prep-work for NaNoWriMo has primed the pump after all, bolstered by a very motivating and positive critique of the experimental first chapter I threw together to submit to last weekend's SCBWI workshop. I find myself constantly thinking of the storyline and characters, watching them get acquainted in my head as they discuss how to work out the plot kinks while I go about my other life. Yes, I'm actually starting to feel like a writer-coming-out-of-retirement...still a little nervous for November 1st, but hopeful. Excited even. (hugging self happily!) On your marks, get set...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Big Question

I've been flying under the radar for quite some time now, due to a variety of distractions/challenges/problems/stressors, including but not limited to: narrowly avoided financial ruin; a late-spring flood that filled our basement and main floor with smelly, muddy water; several weeks spent living in hotels and the basement of a generous friend; the search for a new home and the requisite packing and moving; and, as if all that weren't enough, the illness and unexpected sudden loss of my mother.

In the midst of all of that, life continued to move forward, even at times when it seemed unbelievable that it would, but not much writing took place. As the dust now settles on the last, difficult year, I'm gradually finding myself with the time and energy to look towards the future and decide where to go from here. And for me, part of that is to ask myself:'Should I...write something?'

In some ways I feel like an entirely different person from the one who in the last five years feverishly churned out four novels, saw two of them published, did school appearances and signings and publicity and public speaking, all fit in between 'regular life' activities of kids and work and general wifery. So I now ask myself the question I never thought I would consider: do I even want to write, to channel my energy in that direction anymore? It feels so good to just BE, without the self-induced pressure to always be producing something. "Simplify" is my new motto: will it only complicate life to climb back on the rollercoaster of words and pages and revisions and agents and publishers and editors (oh my!)?

Even more scarily than the 'should I?' creeps the other question through the back of my mind: "Can I?" Am I just feeling this way because I'm rusty and out of practice, needing to warm up my writing muscles until they are loose and humming, until my brain is leaning forward towards the next sentence, the next page? Or have I (God forbid), LOST MY WRITING MOJO?

And if I have lost it, I really want to know that?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Still Taking On Oxygen

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted here! Time tends to slip away like sand, and although there were many occasions where I thought about posting, something else would inevitably call my name and I'd be off in another direction. Also, I've had some eye-opening experiences over the past year with a relative who has chosen to use her blog as a platform to defame and denigrate other family members, which has left me with a rather bad taste in my mouth about blogs in general. Nevertheless, my Flux editor says I must blog, so blog I shall!

Continued great news on the writing front: THE OTHER SISTER continues to sell far beyond expectations, and the Lucy book, now formally titled REMEMBER THIS, will officially hit the shelves in September 2008. REMEMBER THIS had some last minute cover issues: specifically, one of the models on the original cover couldn't be located to sign a release, and, unbeknownst to me, a horrible substitution was made. I didn't find out about it until I stumbled across the pre-order version of the book on, at which point I emailed Andrew Karre and asked, “What happened to Nana Lucy?!" (BTW, despite the fact that I did admittedly use the words 'horrible substitution', I mean no offense to the interim cover model; you just weren't my vision) Thereafter followed many weeks of breath-holding and fingernail-biting while Andrew finessed the situation and generously called in all the favors in his arsenal, and the end result made it all worthwhile (for me if not for Andrew!) I would venture to say that the new-and- improved version of Nana Lucy on the cover is an improvement even over the original, and the fact that she's related to Sandy is simply icing on the cake!

Speaking of Andrew, he and I are currently negotiating revisions for CATCHING AIR, with the hopes that it will land somewhere on Flux's 2009 list. SUMMER ON LAKE TULABY is still floating around in the NYC publishing pool, but I've decided that I'm not satisfied with its current manifestation and am secretly working on a revision that will take it closer to its original form (shh, don't tell my agent, it's a surprise and I'm not sure whether he'll think it's a good one!) Meanwhile, RETURN TO LAKE TULABY insists on taking shape in my mind, begging for attention ever since Michael Collins told me that publishers get really excited if you can hand them a ready-made series. And Andrew wants a YA book on concussion...

Otherwise, family, work, pets, friends, summer, sports, life ... endlessly unpredictable, amusing, and fulfilling!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ready to Push the Button

G-L-O-R-Y B-E!!! I never thought I'd see the day, but tomorrow my beloved agent, David Forrer, is sending out Summer On Lake Tulaby to editors at seven publishing houses (William Morrow/HarperCollins, Grant Central/Warner Books, St. Martins, Pocket, Ballantine, Putnam, and Bantam.) He said that he 'doesn't want to send it to too many,' since the London Book Fair is coming up in April (although seven still sounds like 'many' to me.)

And because this is the most delicious thing anyone has ever said to me, I must shamelessly repeat it: I was asking him about the process, saying, "So, you just print out 7 copies of the manuscript and send them to these editors?" and he replied, "No, I'll probably send them via email. I know these editors well and they're fine with me emailing things if I think it's something important."

Well, gentle readers, I'm sure I don't have to tell you that that one should carry me for awhile!

Friday, February 22, 2008

And on Friday Night, She Rested

It's Friday night, and I'm reflecting on a productive day: dementia evals and therapy clients, a two hour tele-conference conducting oral exams as a member of the ND Board of Psychologist Examiners, emailing my revised 460-page manuscript for Summer On Lake Tulaby to my agent in NYC... the evals went smoothly, the therapy was productive, the licensure candidates passed their exams, and the agent emailed back to say he was going to begin reading the manuscript immediately.

The older kids are at the hockey games with their friends, and the youngest is having a sleepover. My darling husband, who installed every light fixture in the entire first floor of an apartment complex today, is making popcorn for the movie we're about to watch.

Seriously...who could ask for anything more?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Life Intrudes...

Just when it seems like the runway is straight and the sky is free of clouds, the demands of 'normal' life bring all planes and projects to a screeching halt. I headed into October grandly thinking 'I'll just wrap up the revisions on the Lucy book and then probably have some time left over for Summer On Lake Tulaby', only to find out that every single day seemed to be crowded with distractions. Not only were there a rather unusual number of work-related responsibilities (including a talk to be given to the residents on Post-Concussion Syndrome and a five-day trip to Colorado Springs for the Association of State and Provicincial Psychology Boards, not to mention a-million- and-one patients on my schedule), but also lots going on in family life (kids busy with sports and music lessons, a major school dance and a Pay-It-Forward trip to Chicago, as well as preparations for our traditional Spooky Halloween dinner). Suffice to say, it was always easier to find something else that needed to be done aside from rewriting books I've already written!

So now it's November and I'm finally working on the revisions on the Lucy book. For the first time, I find myself hoping not to get emails from my editor or agent; lucky for me, 'next week' in the publishing industry seems to translate in reality to 'sometime in the next couple months.'

I did receive notice that my first royalties check for The Other Sister is on the way, so I'm thinking a new laptop is in my future. Life is good.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Notes from the Trenches

Good writing news and bad writing news:
1)The good news is that the 'soft' offer from Flux on my National Write A Novel In A Month manuscript turned into a concrete offer (complete with an advance!), so look for another S.T. Underdahl book next fall! The book has no name yet; we simply refer to it as 'the Lucy book', since two of the main characters are named Lucy (which probably sounds like a bad idea, but read the book and you'll understand.)

2)Perhaps calling it 'bad' news is an overstatement, but the NYC agent (who, BTW, did the negotiations on the Lucy book contract), wants a few more changes on the Tulaby book. Nothing I can't live with, though, so it's back to work on that one. It's a learning curve, folks.

Other breaking news:
In 'real' life, my oldest is off to his first high school dance (the kind where you actually have to go out and buy special clothing!) and our youngest seems determined to be the youngest person ever to require full dentures; how many teeth is it normal to lose at once? All the in-betweeners are busy with cross country, Castaway weekends, drum lessons, skating, friends, iPods, Legos, and on and on and on. The days are endlessly rich and interesting, even in just our own little world.