Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Fall (almost!)

Hi all!

The last month has been a whirlwind of getting back into the groove of school--and the craziness of after-school schedules with three busy girls. Yes, I am fortunate to have a glorious block of time during the day while everyone is at school, but when 2:30 rolls around, it's all over--with girls doing quick changes into ballet tights and soccer cleats in the car, figuring out how to get three people to three different activities that all begin at 5:00, and dinner? Really?

But in the middle of all of this, I've had some moments of wonderful.

Exhibit A:

Peter Brown at Square Books, Jr.

How cool is this??? We're holding each others books!

If you've never met Peter Brown, get in your car and follow him like you are a groupie and he's the Grateful Dead. He's so charming, funny, and talented. Naturally, Creepy Carrots is a new favorite in the Hardy house.

Exhibit B:

SCBWI Illustrator's Day in Decatur, Georgia.

A group of us who were in a mentorship program with Michael Allen Austin displaying our finished assignments.

This was my first time to attend an SCBWI Conference that was geared solely towards illustrators, and let me just say that this will NOT be my last. I learned so much from the amazing lineup of speakers which included: Kelly Barrales-Saylor, R. Gregory Christie, Michael Allen Austin and Peter Brown (YES!! Peter Brown, twice in one month). The speakers talked about everything from creating your artistic style to finding the best place to have promotional materials printed.

Exhibit C:

Annette Simon, at Square Books Jr.

Annette wrote and illustrated a clever book about robots who transform themselves into different characters and creations using geometric shapes, and (brilliant) she handed out little packets with cut out foam stickers so that kids could create their own robots. Here is the one made by my daughter Julia.

Annette is also charming and lovely, and I loved getting to talk candidly with her "debut author/illustrator to debut author/illustrator".

Holding up our books!!!

So what have I been doing in the middle of all of this fabulousness?

I'm revising my middle grade novel.

This is my screen porch, and we've been blessed with fall-like weather for the last few weeks. My agent is very editorial (which I love), and on her latest read of my novel, she noticed something. The timeline just didn't work. I needed to compress it down from ten months to four-ish.

And yes. My heart kind of stopped when she said that to me. She was absolutely right, of course. But how in the heck could I figure out how to make it work?

My friend Katie Anderson (whose debut YA Kiss and Makeup will be released October 2nd!) showed me the edits that she received after she sold her book. Her editor downloaded and printed a school year calendar, and she plotted Katie's book onto the calendar.

Inspired by this method, I bought a pack of notecards, a giant wall calendar, pencils, and tons of erasers. I put every scene in my book onto cards and then I placed each scene on the calendar, compressing and rearranging as needed. I then re-outlined the book with the new timeline and have sent it to my agent to see if it works. I'm sure I'll have more tweaking to do . . . possibly a lot more, but once we get the new bones down, I'm looking forward to fleshing the story out once again.

Is all of this incredibly hard? Well . . . yes. But as my friend Neil White told me, "Of course it's hard. If it was easy, everyone would have a book published."