Monday, March 7, 2011

Thoughts and Feelings on Becoming a Sophmore Author

I haven't posted much lately about my publishing journey and 'the trying to figure it all out' part (supposedly the purpose of this blog) and I feel a little guilty about that. But since this darn journey is so long and filled with so many hours of sitting by a roadside and waiting for something to happen it doesn't allow for that many scintillating and/or illuminating posts. However, as most of you heard or read about last week, I do finally have some news: my second book titled THE BREAK sold to Great Plains Teen Fiction for publication in Spring 2012!

Here's the PM announcement:
Nelsa Roberto's THE BREAK, in which a teenager is left alone during Spring Break to watch over her beloved, and increasingly forgetful, grandmother and will do anything to stop her from being sent to a retirement home, to Gregg Shilliday and Anita Daher at Great Plains Teen, for publication in Spring 2012, by Kris Rothstein at Carolyn Swayze Literary Agency.

And the longer blurb found on my agency's website:

The Break. When Abby Lambert’s parents leave for an emergency Doctors Without Borders mission she knows she’ll have to give up her long-anticipated March Break ski trip with her friends to watch over her grandmother (Nona) Lucia. She doesn’t like it but if she doesn’t stay home she fears her mother will finally commit Nona to the Sunny Haven Community Retirement Home and Abby has no intention of Nona ever leaving her. So begins the craziest week of Abby’s life. She somehow agrees to help out at the very place she’s been trying to avoid – Sunny Haven. And to make her life even more stressful, she has to deal with Kyle DiLuca – the stuck up nephew of Sunny Haven’s owner. But when Nona disappears on a bitter winter night Abby discovers that assumptions aren’t always facts and intentions are only as good as what you can deliver on. Rights Sold: Great Plains Teen, Canada, for spring 2012.

So beyond being obviously thrilled that THE BREAK will be published (I truly do adore this story and the characters so much) what am I feeling about no longer being a debut (newbie) author?

Well, the most overwhelming feeling is one of GRATITUDE. I'm so grateful that Great Plains Teen and my awesome editor, Anita Daher, are behind this story and feel as passionately about it as I do. There is never a guarantee that the next book you write will be received with any enthusiasm. It's all a crap shoot, as we know. To receive the validation that people whom you respect and who know this business and see so many stories believe this one is worthwhile enough to spend their time, effort and money on is very humbling.

Gratitude is closely followed by RELIEF.

Yup, I'm relieved that I'll be published again. I have many stories inside me. I know not all of them will be published but I always have hope that the one I'm writing will be 'it'. But I'm also aware of how very, very hard it is to keep writing in the face of so many amazing books and so many talented writers out there. But as a beginning writer what I have learned is that you need to tune out a little bit of that overwhelming noise that is the publishing world. Keeping the focus on writing stories that you care about is the best thing you can do in trying to get (and keep getting) published. My personal formula for getting published (Passion + Persistence = Published) can be easily applied to Staying Published. There may be months or, more likely, years between books but all you can do is keep writing and keep that passion for writing alive.

The third thing I'm feeling is ANXIETY.

Unfortunately, this feeling doesn't stop the second time around. The excitement of knowing your words will see the light of day is always (for me, anyway) quickly followed by it's ugly sister: anxiety. The sophmore effort has a little more anxiety oomph for me as it has those extra thoughts layered in about trying to do better than your first effort. Why even bother writing if you don't learn from your past mistakes and make your next effort better? Then you start to worry are you repeating yourself? You want to keep the style and your voice consistent so that when someone picks up your books they feel like they are part of a family but, at the same time, you want to stretch and grow as a writer, even if only a little bit. Gah. I know, I know. Just enjoy the fact that it's being published, Nelsa. Sheesh.

I really liken this sophmore experience to being a sophmore in high school. You've gotten over the huge thrill and fear of starting your first year. You've bumped along, made some new friends, made some mistakes but hopefully haven't screwed up too much as you try and navigate the alien landscape before you. Now, in your second year, you kind of know what to avoid, who to trust, you don't get lost as much but there's still so much to learn, still so many things that you haven't experienced yet. It is still a long journey ahead (and you may never graduate!) but, as the old Beatles song goes: "I'll get by with a little help from my friends".

So thanks for listening to my thoughts and, as long as I keep writing, hopefully the journey will continue.


  1. Still a freshman here, waiting nervously for classes to start. ;)

    I have a feeling you're going to be staying in this school for a good long while, and then graduating with honors. :)

  2. Congratulations!! I am looking forward to reading your first book and now your next. An insightful post for those of us still working towards publication. I hope your journey continues long.

  3. Hi Linda: And I have a feeling you won't be a freshman for very long, my friend! Thanks for the support, babe.

    Hi Deb! Thank you. Your support means the world to me.

  4. So happy for you that your journey with Great Plains continues. I like the idea of a story with a multi-generational slant.

  5. Hi Sarah! Thanks so much. And your own journey with Great Plains is about to begin in April, isn't it? So looking forward to Signs of Martha!

  6. Hoping to follow in your footsteps and be a soph too someday! What you said about repeating yourself really rang true for me. I think the fear the fear that maybe we just have one story comes to a lot of writers. Well, to me, anyway. Congratulations!

  7. Hi Lena: I have no doubt you'll be a soph. Your freshman year (and book) are sure to be fabulous! And we must banish those fears of repetition and one book wonders from our minds! We have too many stories there that should be taking up that space instead. :)