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Elizabeth Scott

Guest Blog: Michelle Hodkin on her journey to publication

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Michelle Hodkin's first novel, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, will be published in Fall 2011. Her website is at http://www.michellehodkin.com/ and you can follow her on twitter at michellehodkin


I can’t believe I’m doing this. A year ago, I’d pretty much just realized that 60,000 of the 90,000 words of the very first draft of my very first novel ever were junk. And now here I am, guest blogging for Elizabeth Scott, as a fellow author.

How did it happen? I was not one of the myriad writers who has been writing books and poems and short stories since they were six years old (I envy those writers HARD). Instead, as a kid, I wanted to grow up to be a duck. As a teenager, I wanted to be an English professor. As a college student, I wanted to be a lawyer. That last one stuck, long enough for me to go to law school, pass the bar, and practice for a few years.
But then, on May 15, 2009, I was taken hostage by an idea. Now, I’ve had lots of those. Some ideas, like adopting my pit bull, were good. Other ideas, like eating unrefrigerated sushi that one time were really, really bad.

I didn’t know which category my idea on May 15, 2009 fit into. It was for a book. And I’d never even once contemplated writing a book before in my life. I didn’t know anything about writing them. But a very dear friend of mine was in the process of querying her novel, so when the idea kept me up at night, when I had to pour out thousands of very bad words in the span of three very long days just so I could get some peace, I begged her for help.

She told me to get it all out. And then pointed me to Janet Reid, Nathan Bransford, and Kristen Nelson.

So I did both. I wrote my heart out and started reading writing blogs every day. And my words on a page were actually related to the next words on the next page and the page after that, and after a few months, I had a rough draft.

And it was AWFUL. I had no outline and no clue what I was doing, so my story changed almost completely about 30,000 words into the book, and again 60,000 words into the book. And then I was faced the truth as spoken by the incomparable Sara Zarr: “Revision is where you earn your money - and if you haven't made any money yet, revision is where you pay your dues.”

So I started rewriting. But in the middle of that, I attended a writer’s conference, where I met agents and had the opportunity to have the beginning pages of my manuscript critiqued. And to my extreme and utter shock, a few agents I met requested it.

I was completely up front about the fact that it wasn’t finished, but they wanted me to send it when it was. So I kept rewriting, and did that pretty much every day until one fine day in late March, 2010, the day I got an email from Diana Fox. She was one of the judges in the Backspace Writers Contest I entered to win a scholarship to their May conference back in Februrary. She loved my query and two pages, and wanted my full.

So I freaked out. Was my manuscript really, REALLY done? Was it perfect? Because the agents say it has to be PERFECT. And I wasn’t sure. But like it or not, I had to send it—and not just to Diana, but to the other agents who had requested it in the fall. So I did. And I waited. And a couple of weeks later, Diana got back to me.

But not with an offer. She loved it, but there was something missing, and she wasn’t sure what it was. So after our amazing conversation (about my book, but also life, the universe, and everything), I took an unflinching look at my manuscript. And over the next few days, came up with some ideas.

I started rewriting (yes, again), but I got an email from Diana about four days after our phone call. She’d been thinking about my book “a lot,” and wanted to talk again. I thought maybe she had a revision idea for me. But she had something even better: an offer.

I was beyond. I let the other agents know and I ended up in that awesome, awful position of having to make a choice. It was one of the hardest choices I've ever had to make. And then I sent a very, very difficult email to a very, very awesome, intelligent, insightful person.

Then, eleven months from the day I started writing, I signed my contract with Diana.
But of course, there was more revising to be done. I ate, breathed, and slept revisions, and a few weeks after our contract was inked, we went out on submission. A week after that, I almost died, because a real live publisher offered to buy what was, to me, still just a Word Document. And then a week after that, I did die, because the offer turned into an auction. Right before I was flying to New York for BEA and that Backspace Conference—because I’d won the scholarship.

My flight was, coincidentally, on the last day of the auction, and I spent it with Agent/Angel/Godsend Diana. We got pedicures, but somehow, funny thing, we couldn’t relax. And then we ate lunch, and alternated between talking at 10,000 miles per minute and staring in complete silence at her phone.

And then what happened next topped it all: Simon & Schuster won, 375 days after I started writing my first book. I would never have forgotten that day, but the outcome was more than I ever could have dreamed of. Ever. And so here I am, in the midst of my editorial revisions (see a theme here?), hardly able to believe my life.

But if it can happen to me, it can happen to you.

because I missed you all SO much! (or, in which I give away SIXTEEN books!)

Monday, October 25, 2010

I'm back from the doctor and sadly, my stupid lungs are still not totally better. Ugh.

UGH! (mostly because I'm tired of being sick and I'm really REALLY tired of taking antibiotics. I swear, I've taken just about everything that's out there, I think. Next thing you know, I'll be eating moldy bread ;-)

Anyway! Because I'm feeling a little blue, I thought--well, you know what I thought! Contest always cheer me up and this one...

Well, it's a big one--FOURTEEN hardcover YA novels (yep, 14!) and TWO of the hottest ARCs out there are up for grabs and for your chance to win all SIXTEEN books, all you have to do is have a US mailing addy and tell me what your go-to-comfort-read is (mine is either Lolita, How To Eat by Nigella Lawson, or Possession by A.S. Byatt)

Comment with your fave comfort read--and leave a way for me to contact you if you win, please!--by this Friday, October 29th at midnight EST and then--well, you know the drill...

Almost forgot! Here's a couple of pics of the SIXTEEN books for you:

Can't wait to know what your fave comfort reads are!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hey there, this is Elizabeth's husband. She's got a really nasty cold and the doctor told her she could either work on her book that's due every day for a few hours or she could answer her email, blog, fb, etc.--but not both.

Since she's got the book due, she's going to be offline for at least the rest of this week and probably most of next, until she's feeling better.

hello, links!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Last week, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about how e-book sales are changing the adult book market, and how hard it can be for literary novelists to get a book deal --I liked the article, but a Slate blog offers up an interesting (and very different) take on the subject

Tess Gerritsen wonders how much--of even if--authors should be online

A thoughtful post about writing...and the Beatles

Nathan Bransford wants to know if you're thinking about self-publishing

Agent Rachelle Gardner on being in it for the long haul

Interesting blog post about writing books, and how each one is different--and some are more difficult than others

Also! Don't forget to that you can win a copy of Her and Me and You from yours truly! (And yes, this contest IS open internationally)

Interview with Lauren Strasnick (and win a copy of her new book!)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Today, I'm doing a Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit interview with Lauren Strasnick about her new book, Her and Me And You

Me: Tell us about your book in ten words or less!

Lauren: Creepy Twins! Broken friendship! First Love!

Me: What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

Lauren: Be fearless.

Me: What do you wish you'd known about being published/publishing before your book/first book came out?

Lauren: Ha, well, not that it would have changed anything – this is still my absolute dream job – but the amount of promotional work that goes into launching a book – who knew?! I’m in the midst of promoting H&M&Y right now, while also trying to meet a deadline on my next book. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tricky juggling both!

Me: What's the last book you read that you loved so much you had to tell everyone about it?

Lauren: THE BASIC EIGHT by Daniel Handler. That book blew my mind. Teen satire. A funny version of Donna Tartt’s THE SECRET HISTORY. Sensational.

Me: What blogs do you *have* to read?

Lauren: Funny enough, mostly style blogs. A few favorites: http://www.liebemarlene.com/, http://vanessajackman.blogspot.com/, http://www.turnedout.tv/, http://www.garancedore.fr/en/, and http://www.thesartorialist.blogspot.com/

Me: Random Bonus Question: What's your favorite salad dressing?

Lauren: Plain old oil and vinegar (although I like ranch and thousand island on my french fries!)

Thanks for stopping by, Lauren, and to celebrate the release of Her and Me and You I'm giving away one copy--and for your chance to win, all you have to do is tell me what you think the one NEW tv show I should try (when I have time!) by midnight EST this Friday, October 8th.

Between Here and Forever cover!!! (and links too, of course--it is me, after all!)

Monday, October 04, 2010

Let me start with a congrats! to Alicia, who won last week's contest--and yes, there will be one this week. (How did you know??)

Moving on, I--of course!!--have links to share, along with something else:

My next novel, Between and Forever, has two characters from Bloom in it (yes, for real!) and:

a. it's going to be surprising who they are
b. it's going to be even more surprising to find out what role they play...

I also think the cover is gorgeous *and* pays homage to Bloom in a really cool way.

Don't want to wait until May 24, 2011 to see the cover of Between Here and Forever? Ok, here you go--and let me know what you think!

And now for the links:

Is having your book come out in trade paperback and not hardcover a bad thing?

How writers can fight worry/envy/etc.--or, as Ally Carter says "the crazies"

The power of biting your tongue--so, so, SO true!

A really interesting look at editing--and how it can become overediting

Little chunks of time to write DO add up

Lovely post about, IMO, the best book on writing about there--Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird

And one more post about hardcover vs. trade paperback
--this time by a soon-to-be-published author --"the only thing that matters to me is this: I need to sell enough copies of The Kitchen Daughter to earn out my advance and impress publishers enough to make an offer on my next book, so we can start this cycle again. I just want a chance to place another bet."

And of course, I have close with yum! links....Pumpkin Pie French Toast (for my husband, the pumpkin pie lover), Chocolate Cookies n' Cream Cookies, and "You got your peanut butter in my chocolate!"--"You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!"["(Yes, I'm THAT old!)