Yes, It’s True

one of those weeksphoto-2And it’s only Wednesday. If your week has been as crazy as mine, pick up a good book and forget things for a while.   I’m picking up not one but two books.  I’m deep into revisions on Stepping Out and as soon as they’re done, I’m back to One Good Deed, which I hope to have finished in early April.

Meanwhile, my May trip to Ontario for CCBC Book week is shaping up.  It looks like I’ll be visiting Guelph, Waterloo, Stratford and Woodstock before jetting west where I’ll spend a few days in Manitoba before coming home.

It’s going to be a busy spring.  I’m counting on it.

The End . . . is Really the Beginning

endandbeginningI’m doing the last bit of fiddling with Stepping Out before handing the manuscript off to the editor at Orca.  This book will be released as part of their Limelights Series. There’s always a sense of accomplishment at this stage of the game. And a feeling of completion too.

But, in fact, this particular end is the beginning of a process that goes on for many months.  From here, the next step is waiting for editorial feedback and tackling the revision notes. There are always revision notes, and there’s never any way to tell ahead of time how complex they’ll be.   I never sweat it. I happen to love revising (I usually revise at least once and often multiple times before sending a manuscript in), and I welcome feedback, so, for the most part, editorial revisions are a guaranteed good time. At this stage, the heavy lifting (fresh writing) is done; it’s a matter of fine tuning.

Once I’m finished with the editorial revisions, there’s generally a stretch of down time until I see page proofs and then get a glimpse of the cover. It’s always exciting to see what kind of visual the art department comes up with.

Some time after page proofs and the cover comes the actual release day . . . then the official book launch . . . followed by professional reviews . . . and the most important thing of all: reader feedback.

So as I type ‘the end’,  I can’t help thinking of my readers who, a year or two from now, will pick up Stepping Out and start at the beginning.

In my world, the end is the start of good things to come.

Stepping Out and Mickey Mouse

laught at yourself-Mickey-Mouse-Walt-DisneyThe first Mickey Mouse comic strip appeared 85 years ago this week and we’ve been laughing ever since. Okay, we were laughing before that too if you want to get all technical about it. But there’s no question the famous mouse has consistently brought hundreds of thousands of people joy over the years.

I’ve been thinking about humor quite a bit lately. I’m in the middle of writing a book tentatively titled STEPPING OUT for Orca Publisher’s Limelights line.  The story focuses on Paige Larrson, a 15-year-old Seattle girl who wants to be a comedian. In fact, that Mickey Mouse quote – to laugh at yourself is to love yourself – could pretty much be her mantra.  Laughter is Paige’s currency in life. As far as she’s concerned, laughter takes the sting out of life’s crap. It eases the pain of nasty comments and dirty looks; agonizing moments in gym class; and those awkward pauses at parties.

Paige has been uploading comedy videos to YouTube, and she’s starting to get noticed. Her daily views are rising. She has subscribers. She’s determined to be the biggest YouTube sensation ever. But her two best friends think she’s undervaluing herself. Without her knowledge, they submit one of her videos to an International Teens in Comedy Festival.  Paige is shortlisted.  Suddenly, she faces the biggest opportunity of her life.  But she also faces her biggest challenge. Because in order to compete, Paige will have to step out of her comfort zone and walk out on stage to perform in front of live bodies. That’s no laughing matter when she has a disability she’s self-conscious about, and the disability will be front and center too.

I’m having fun writing the book, though I have to admit it’s stretching me a little. I love comedy (the wackier, the better; I loved Craig Ferguson with his fake horse and gay robot skeleton), but stand-up comedy makes me uneasy. Especially when newish comedians are performing.  Ferguson was great at giving young comedians the stage near the end of his show. I admired his generosity, but if one came out, I’d tune out. At least I did before I started researching STEPPING OUT.   I would worry that no one would laugh . . . that they’d bomb in a very public and humiliating way. The thought would make me almost hyperventilate.  Certainly it was enough to make me leave the room or switch channels.

At first I thought maybe I shouldn’t be writing a book about a comedian at all. Why am I?  The editor was looking for a manuscript about a teen who wants to be a comedian . . .  the idea that many comedians use laughter as a coping skill has always intrigued me . . . Paige crept out of my consciousness and tugged on my sleeve late one sleepless night and . . . well . . .  insert ‘the rest is history’ cliché here.

It turns out my discomfort is a good thing. At least I hope so. If nothing else, I can relate at a visceral level to the fear and discomfort Paige feels as she goes through the process of preparing for the competition and stepping out on stage.

The big question, however, (aside from: will Paige win?) is can I convey the depth of that emotion to readers?   I hope so.  The manuscript is due at the publisher’s in six weeks. And it’s due out sometime next year.   We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I’m looking to the Mouse for reassurance. mickey-mouse-characterzation-6-638

It’s Time for a Party!

I’m busy writing a speech for tomorrow’s book launch sponsored by Orca Book Publishers. If you’re in the Victoria area, join us at Munro’s Books at 7:30 on Wednesday, May 21st as we formally introduce our spring book titles. I’ll be there talking about Hot New Thing. Joining me will be John Wilson, Kristin Butcher, Sara Cassidy, Kari Jones, Michelle Mulder and Sean Rodman.

Drop by, enjoy a snack, and get a book signed. We’d love to see you!

SpringLaunchVIC_Invite_05-05-2014 EMAIL