Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BANISHED to be published!

I'm pretty much overjoyed to report that my Young Adult series has found a home. Delacorte Books will publish BANISHED and its sequel in fall '10 and '11. Thank you, thank you to Barbara for once again navigating the deal brilliantly, and to editor Claudia Gabel for seeing some promise in my work.

I have to say it was a particular thrill to browse through the books published by Delacorte Books For Young Readers - and see so many of my kids' favorites there.

Here's the announcement from Publishers Marketplace:
Children's: Young Adult
Sophie Littlefield's BANISHED, in which an ostracized girl from a small town discovers she's heir to an ancient legacy and the powers that come with it, to Claudia Gabel at Delacorte, in a two-book deal, by Barbara Poelle at Irene Goodman Agency.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Eight-Legged Sage


Once upon a time, when the world was newish, there was nowhere for aspiring authors to go to learn about the publishing business. Oh, you could buy a lunkish brick of a tome that was out-dated before its ink was dry that purported to list agents and suggest ways to make a favorable impression when querying them, but at least half of the mysterious cabal declined to participate, and the advice was banal and lacking in gritty details and, well, spark.

Gotta have spark. That's my motto.

Nevertheless, my early querying was utterly spark-free; I plodded along through the swamps and thickets of rejection, unsure of whether i was just going in self-defeating circles. For tips I relied on eavesdropping on whispered snatches of conversations among "real" authors. I was starting to feel a little tawdry, to be honest.

Then one day I stumbled on a blog - a very special blog, whose very authorship was a matter of giddy speculation. I read it. Everyone read it. The revelations contained within were astonishing. Secrets as precious as rubies dripped from every post. The prose was unadorned and unequivocal. There was no coddling. I didn't care. The truth was plenty enough.

Eventually it reached the end of its lovely run. Still unagented, but infinitely wiser, I was sorry to see its end. But then another blog popped up, and another - both authored by a not-quite-as-mysterious, but still-plenty-elusive agent who took it upon herself to clarify whole great elements of the querying and publishing process. She pointed out where lay the minefields, ways to boost one's chances, describe one's work in the most flattering light, improve one's chapters.

Again, I read them. Everyone read them. You, friend, should read them. And learn.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No Asky No Gety

I just stole this little graphic from a website about books about the civil war, of all things. I was there because I had looked up the guy who designed the cover for A BAD DAY FOR SORRY. It's the best cover on the planet, I'm convinced, and I was looking for more information about the designer, whose name is David Rotstein, and he did one of the civil war books...

But when I saw that darn funny graphic it struck me: I'm not a big "asky" type. I tend to kind of let chips fall where they may. Got to change that some, got to learn to advocate for my book. I've got a great editor and the world's best agent so I'm covered there. We wanted a little bitty change to the cover, long story, but we asked for it and - lo and behold, when I saw the revised version, we got it! Funny how that works.

(It doesn't much work on kids though. You can "asky" all day long for them to move their damn backpacks somewhere that you won't trip over them coming and going, and you'll never "gety" it.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Kind of Fan Every Writer Needs

I went to Crimebake last weekend - a great conference put on by the New England chapters of MWA and SinC. It was just the right size - not so big as to be intimidating for a crowd-phobe like myself, but with plenty of new people to meet.

One of the best things about it, though, was that I got to attend with my brother Mike. He's an amazing writer, but that's not what made it so much fun. No, it was the knowledge that one of my most supportive fans was *right there* with me the whole time.

I write good stuff sometimes. I also write mediocre stuff. And really bad stuff. And some of my ideas are strange or unworkable or just plain don't make sense. Since Mike and I talk just about every week, and get around to discussing most of our story ideas and works-in-progress, he's heard the chaff as well as the good ones. And yet he's never discouraging, never critical. When I get off the phone from one of our conversations, I'm always ready to dive back in.

Confidence is a funny, delicate beast. It takes huge amounts of nurturing, and yet the smallest setback can crush it. I wish for everyone at least one friend like Mike, someone who's there for you both for the good times and the crummy ones, who never gives up on you even if it appears that the rest of the world has.

And P.S., Mike is cooking up a thriller that will blow your socks right freaking *off*....get back to the keyboard, MW, if you are reading this!!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What a Difference Two Years (and 400,000 words) Makes...


I was just reading a journal entry from October, 2006. I'm a very haphazard journaler and I almost never read over old entries, but this notebook fell open by accident as I was reorganizing some shelves.

It took me a minute to remember that was the year I became a truly serious writer. I'd dabbled forever, and one day - inexplicably - I'd decided it was now or never. I joined Beth Patillo's Club One Hundred (you can learn more about this great motivator here) and then re-upped.

By October, I was close enough to the end of the book to be thinking about submitting it - and writing the sequel. Here's what I wrote:

"I need to make a final push to get this thing done. I don't think I can really start on book two until I do. And I need to act fearless with the agent search - definitely a case of Fake It Until You Make It - I have no idea how bad the self-doubts and rejections are going to be - safe to guess they'll be fairly bad though.

I know I'll be tempted to cause my own obstacles, procrastinate, head in the sand etc. - but I really need to work against that by making the whole process as methodical as possible.

Now it's just a matter of remembering and sticking to that."

Well, well. As it turns out, the self-doubts were near-debilitating, the rejections were daunting, but I stuck to it and methodically sent out about fifty queries. And fifty on the sequel. Eighty on the book that followed that. And then finally I wrote A BAD DAY FOR SORRY....and I'm really glad I didn't give up.