Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wow. Thanks everyone!

The blog tour and auction are over and we raised just over $4100.00 to help prevent violence.  By "we" I mean everyone who commented during the tour.  By "we" I mean all the blogger who hosted me.  By "we" I mean everyone who donated such fabulous items to the auction.  By "we" I mean everyone who bid.  And by "we" I mean the awesome women at Teen Book Scene who set up this tour for me, as they do for many authors, simply as a labor of love.  That's right, gratis.

We hit our goal of 250 comments so I will double my $1/comment donation, and donate $500 to Family Violence Prevention Fund.  Great fundraising everyone! THANK YOU!!

For highlights of the tour, stop on over to A Good Addiction where I have the closing post.

Did you miss the tour?  Not to worry.  You can catch up right here:

Friday, October 1: Random House Buzzers

Monday, October 4: Karen at For What It's Worth Reviews (Guest Post: Writing an Issues Book)
Tuesday, October 5: Corrine at Lost For Words (Review)
Wednesday, October 6: John at Dreaming in Books (Christian POV Scene)
Thursday, October 7: Jessica at A Fanatic's Book Blog (Cut Scene)
Friday, October 8: Page Turners (Guest Post: Writer's Tips)
Saturday, October 9: Jami at YA Addict (Review)

Monday, October 11: Sandy at Pirate Penguin Reads (Guest Post: Cycle of Abuse)
Tuesday, October 12: Michele Corriel (Revision: Obsess Much? Write a Novel)
Wednesday, October 13: Kelsey at The Book Scout (Cut Scene)
Thursday, October 14: Hattie at DeRaps Reads (Character Interview - Jace)
Friday, October 15: Sammee at I Want To Read That (Guest Post: Letting Your Characters Drive)
Saturday, October 16: Michelle at See Michelle Read (Review)

Monday, October 18: Sarah at Sarah's Random Musings (Guest Post: Interviewing DV Victims/Research
Tuesday, October 19: Taylor at The Library Lurker (Review)
Wednesday, October 20: Teens Read (On Inspiration)
Thursday, October 21: Lea at YA Book Queen (Photo Essay)
Friday, October 22: Linna at 21 Pages (Jace's POV Guest Post)
Saturday, October 23: Kelsey at The Book Scout (Cut Scene)

Monday, October 25: Jami at YA Addict (Cover Post & Create Your Own Cover Contest)
Tuesday, October 26: Arya at Sea of Pages (Review)
Wednesday, October 27: Weronika Janczuk (You're Not Crazy, Your Characters are Talking To You)
Thursday, October 28: Michelle at See Michelle Read (Cut Scene)
Friday, October 29: Stephanie at Steph the Bookworm (Animated Movie Short or Vlog)
Saturday, October 30: Sandy at Pirate Penguin Reads (Review)

Monday, November 1: Kari at A Good Addiction (Playlist + Ipod Giveaway)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Spend my money, please

If you're just coming in on the Split blog tour and charity auction, I have a little news for you:



If you want to comment belatedly, please go here:

Each Monday, Kari at Teen Book Scene, the fabulous coordinator of the tour, updates the link so that all you have to do is click on a post, comment, and repeat, to catch up.

For those uber-procastinators (like me):  I will donate $1/comment toward the $250 comment goal until October 31st.  If we reach the comment goal, I'll double my donation to Family Violence Prevention Fund.  So spend my money please and help prevent abuse.

On November 1st, I hope I have good news to announce.

And, in case you don't know what I'm talking about, you can read it about here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

And introducing at last... Before the Split Blog Tour and Charity Auction

It is October, my favorite month of the year. Paradoxical as it sounds, fall makes me feel like the world is shaking off the thick humidity of summer and starting new.  Maybe it’s because the cool air clears my head, lifts my spirits and hones my energy.  I’ve always associated October with crispness – crisp air, crisp leaves on the ground, and apple crisps.  It was only after working at the domestic violence legal clinic that I started to associate it with something else:  National Domestic Violence Awareness month -- something that actually lifts my spirits as well.

We know that abuse is horrible and the statistics are overwhelming. The CDC estimates that one in four teens are abused by an intimate partner and UC Davis estimates that boys who grew up witnessing abuse are four times more likely to become abusers.  All year long that can make us feel powerless.  But I think that this is the month when we turn our attention to these disturbing statistics with the hope that by increasing awareness, more people will speak out.  More people will get help.  And more people will help in return.

So… the Before the Split Tour Begins.

To honor National Domestic Violence Awareness month, you’ll find me touring
Split. The fabulous Kari Olson at Teen Book Scene, who is coordinating the tour, has lined up twenty-six stops.  Through interviews and posts, I’ll give you a look inside the novel-making process, both by talking about writing as a craft and by giving you a peek at cut scenes (those scenes that didn’t make into the novel), draft versus the final product, and even a mini-scene from Christian’s point of view.  Read an interview with Jace (I’m told the questions will be hard), watch a vlog, and enter the Create Your Own Cover contest. You can follow me! 

About Split

My debut novel,
Split, is narrated by Jace Witherspoon, a sixteen year old boy, who drives practically non-stop 19 hours from Chicago to Albuquerque on the night he finally hits his father back.  He hasn’t seen or heard from his brother, Christian, in five long years but Jace shows up, unannounced, on Christian’s doorstep with nothing more than a few bucks in his pocket, the latest bruises that dear-old-dad gave him, and a secret. 

is about what happens after.  After you’ve said enough, after you’ve run, after you’ve made the split.

I chose “after” because I always wondered what happened to the survivors I worked with after they left the legal clinic, with their orders of protection in hand.  I chose “after” because I believe that leaving is the first step. And I chose “after” because I think that what you do after you are free from abuse helps determine who you become – stronger or weaker, better or worse.

But there’s also the story of “before.” 
The Family Violence Prevention Fund’s initiatives focus strongly on the “before” and on preventing abuse.  In addition to many other programs, they have these great campaigns like Coaching Boys into Men that give a good role model or Lessons from Literature and Start Strong to support teens and families.  These initiatives focus on what we really want to achieve – stop the violence before it starts and interrupt the intergenerational pattern of abuse.

About  “Before the Split” Blog Tour & Auction for Family Violence Prevention Fund

After reading
Split, some bloggers, teens, and bookclubs I spoke with wanted to do more about domestic violence and I do, too.
You want to help, too?  Well you can. 
Blog Tour
Yep, follow the tour and comment on the posts.  Comment because you want to chat.  Comment because you have something to say.  But most of all, comment because I’ll donate $1/ for every comment to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, with a goal and cap of $250. If your comments reach that goal, I’ll double my donation.

But the fundraising effort doesn’t stop there.  Oh, no.  Excess is my middle name.  (Actually, I don’t have a middle name, but that’s not important now.  I’ll take that up that with my parents.  And therapist). 

Over 40 authors, editors and agents have donated fabulous items, including:  personalized, signed copies of books by seriously awesome author, memberships to or to Children’s Literature Network, and even items you can’t buy anywhere:  critiques of your manuscripts and querries. 

Ihe items will be waiting for your bids all month long.  Bidding will close on November 1, the last day of the tour, and then we’ll tally and total. 

Follow the Before the Split tour.  Have fun.  Get stuff you want.  And, while you’re at it, make a difference.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Before the Split Blog Tour and Charity Auction Tour Schedule

To honor National Domestic Violence Awareness month, I'm combining a blog tour for Split, with a charity auction. (More info here).  Over 40 authors, agents and editors have donated manuscript critiques, personalized books, and more to an online auction that anyone –reader, writer, booklover -- can bid on and buy.  All proceeds go to the Family Violence Prevention Fund. In addition to the auction, I'm donating $1/comment on my 26-stop, month-long blog tour, coordinated by Kari Olson at Teen Book Scene. If I reaches her goal and cap of $250, I will double the donation.  Follow the tour, get stuff you want, and make a difference.

This is where I'll be by 5 PM everyday:

Friday, October 1: -- "Before the Split" Intro

Week One
Monday, October 4: - Guest Post
Tuesday, October 5: - Review
Wednesday, October 6: - Scene from Christian's POV
Thursday, October 7: - Cut Scene
Friday, October 8: - Guest Post: Writer's Tips
Saturday, October 9:  , - Review

Week Two
Monday, October 11: - Guest Post: Abuse Cycle
Tuesday, October 12: -- Guest Post on Revising
Wednesday, October 13: - Cut Scene
Thursday, October 14: - Jace's Interview 
Friday, October 15: - Guest Post: Letting your Characters Drive 
Saturday, October 16: - Review

Week Three
Monday, October 18: , - Guest Post: Survivor Interview
Tuesday, October 19:  - Review
Wednesday, October 20: -
Thursday, October 21: , - Jace's Photo Essay
Friday, October 22: - Jace's guest post
Saturday, October 23: - Review

Week Four
Monday, October 25: - Cover Post + Create Your own Cover contest (win a signed audion book)
Tuesday, October 26: - Review
Wednesday, October 27: - Guest post: You're Not Crazy, Your Characters are Talking to You
Thursday, October 28: - Cut Scene
Friday, October 29: - Animated short scene
Saturday, October 30: - Review

Closing Ceremony
Monday, November 1: , - Play List + Ipod Giveaway

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Split, back in California.

Split is lounging in the California sun.  I'm so jealous.  Wish I could be there, too.

Check out the geometry in the pix.  Not bad at all.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Despicable Me -- The New Villain in Stories for Kids

Despicable Me is ushering in a new era of kids' villains.  It breaks a lot of the rules and I loved every minute of it.  I know, I know, I'm not the target audience, but my kids (12 and 8) are.  And they loved it, too.

A bad guy who isn't a bad guy?  Talk about a change.

Imagine Despicable Me as a query letter:

45 year old* Gru, who wants nothing more than to be the best supervillian in the world and thus earn the affection of his mother, devises his greatest plan ever:  stealing the moon.  But when his competition, Vector, steals the shrink ray he needs, Gru must find a way to get it back, ** SPOLIER** even if it means adopting three little girls who can innocently penetrate Vector's fortress by selling Vector's favorite cookies.  In this playful tale, Gru learns that capturing the moon and earning the title of Greatest Supervillain isn't as important as capturing the hearts daughters and the title of Great Dad.

Here, I imagine, would be the response:

Dear Writer,

After perusing your hysterical and entertaining tale, I regretfully must pass.  While I tend to be vague in these letters, let me give you a few pieces of concrete advice:
1) Children don't care about and can't relate to the desires of a 45-year-old villain.
2) While the three girls are the catalysts for Gru's transformation, they are not the primary protagonists of the story, nor do they solve their problems on their own. *Spoiler* Rather, they are rescued by said 45 year old man.
3) I'm not sure it is morally sound to cast your protagonist as such a clear example of an anti-hero in children's literature.
4) It's missing some opportunities that the story has created:  (i.e, where are the bogie bots at the end?)
(Truthfully, number 4 is because I wanted to see them boogy-ing again)
Thank your for your submission.  Best of luck in finding a home for the story, perhaps in adult literature.

Kids' villains have become increasingly funny (Kim Possible, Meet the Robinsons) and even likeable (Despicable Me, Shrek, Megamind).  While I don't think we'll see a true anti-hero (someone who intends to and does something truly awful and is unlikeable) in stories for young kids any time soon,  I suspect we'll see a wave of books to follow this growing trend, stories with an even stronger anti-hero than Where the Wild Things Are and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Stories with an anti-hero who intends to cast about evil, (though the consequences will be tame and the anti-hero will be bumbling) instead of someone who is overly excitable or just in a bad mood.

*I'm guessing as to the exact age.  Suffice it to say, from the kids' perspective, really old guy.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

At long last... a photo

Split, who has been a bit negligent in communicating with me, is still on the road!  Finally, he has sent me some pictures.  He is with a friend in Cleveland, OH, who has convinced Split to visit a college campus.  Yay!  Get him moving in the right direction.

Here he is, lounging on a mailbox, thinking about the Gehry building and pondering life in an institution of higher learning.

And now, getting closer ....

And closer...

But apparently, he was too intimidated to go inside  Case Western.  (A good school).  He is a bit young, I suppose.  Someday... he'll actually go inside.  In the meantime, thanks to my friend for hosting Split and taking him to see what's in his future.

Next stop.  I know he's scheduled to visit his Class of 2k10 buddy, Tagged at Mara Purnhagen's place.  I wonder if Tagged might teach him about graffiti...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Evolving Voice in the YA novel

In lieu of a post, here's an article I wrote on The View from the Loft.  Check it out.  Hope you like....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Final moments in books

In the last couple of years, I've been thinking about what makes for satisfying final moments of a book -- the kind that makes you sigh and put the book down on your chest, still open to the last page because you want to savor the moment, because you aren't sure you want to close the book yet.

My question about final moments was thrown into sharp relief when I took a screenwriting class and discovered that I can quickly and easily recall the ending of about half or a third of the movies I've seen.  On the other hand, there are only a handful of books whose final moments I can remember. I asked some other writers and found that I'm not alone in this.  Final moments of books are rarely memorable. Why is that?  Are movie endings better?

At first, I thought it was a strong image.  And while I'm sure that's a factor, I'm not sure that is the only factor.  After all, many, many books' final moments are on a strong image and honestly, the image didn't make them any more memorable.

Then, I thought it was because movie endings are a so clean and everything is wrapped up, but then, some of my favorite movie endings are not.  The end of Shakespeare in Love, for instance, is Gwyenth Paltrow walking on a beach with the voice over narrating something along the lines of:  "My story starts at sea, a perilious voyage to an unknown land." (Go to minute 3:25 to see what I'm referring to.)

Or even the little joke at the end of Patriot Games, where we cut to black while we are waiting to hear whether the next baby in the family is a girl or a boy.  Sure, the ending was tied up, but something else was happening in those endings:  they were giving the viewer a way to let the story continue.

Does that translate to the page?  I realized that there were only three(Jazz by Toni Morrison, Project X by Jim Shepard, and Invisible by Pete Hautman),  and they all had something in common:  they weren't really endings. (Well, maybe I take too much credit when I claim to have 'discovered' this.  More like, it was nicely gift wrapped for me.  I was lucky enough to talk to Jim Shepard when he came to the University of Minnesota and asked him about endings, citing his book as one of the few whose endings stays with me.  He told me that Project X ends en medius reus).  Which got me thinking about Invisible, which ends with a bit of twist that indicates that there is more of the story to come and Jazz, which is one of the best endings I've ever read.  Jazz ends by bringing the call and answer techinque of the musical art form of well -- jazz -- to lit.  Wikipedia defines the call and answer this way:  Part of the band poses a musical "question", or a phrase that feels unfinished, and another part of the band "answers" (finishes).

Morrison ends my throwing out the call and waiting for the audience to answer.  Her final line:  "Look.  Look at where your hands are right now."  They are, obviously, on the book.  She is giving us a hint about the narrator of the piece, but also empowers the reader to act, to move, to think and by doing so, answer her call.

So maybe the Shakespeare in Love prinicple applies here.  Maybe final moments in books, like movies, are most memorable when they leave room for the reader.

I'm still not sure why movie endings leave a stronger impression than books, so what do you think?  Who has written an ending that you love?  Why?  What makes a final moment satisfying to you? 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Blog Resurrection & Top 3 BEA lessons

So... that mini-break turned into a major break.  Sorry 'bout that.  Lots going on... most of which you will get to hear about in time.

Most recently, I was at BEA.  Sort of.  I went to NYC with the Class of 2k10, a group of middle grade and YA novelists who are debuting this year.  I've been in touch with these writers via email for about a year, but had met only one of them previously.  It was wonderful to meet all these writers who had been encouraging and helping each other. They were funny, intelligent, witty and as varied as our books are.  Shari Maurer, whose novel Change of Heart just debuted, put together the tour and the hysterically funny Shannon Delany, author of 13 to Life, introduced us to some great bloggers.

I started off by lunching with my editor who told me, off handedly, that Split is in its second printing!!  I went through the day on a cloud, completely misunderstanding what that meant. (Reality set in far later.  More on that below.)

Class of 2k10 started by reading at Books of Wonder in Manhattan.  I never really understood what it meant when I read "pumping hands" to describe shaking someone's hand until I met the owner.  He was enthusiastic and wonderful, to say nothing of what happened when he came in front of a crowd.  I did my 2 minutes, panel-style on Split with my editor in the audience and a good friend and writer, Nicholas Kaufmann.  But I really had to work to keep it together in front of my editor who still intimidates me beyond words, regardless of how kind, personable, and un-intimidating she is.

Throughout the weekend, when we talked at The New York Public Library to 3 fabulous classes of kids and when we went to The Voracious Reader in Larchmont, I was tickled to hear from the author's mouths about their books.  I learned that Shannon's book started as tweets, that Jame Richards' can tell a true story about the how a girl was saved in the Johnston Flood by a mattress and a courageous man, and that I'm not the only one of us authors who is struggling with that sophomore effort.  It was reaffirming and supportive and a lot of fun -- everything I'd hoped for.

My last evening in NYC was  my birthday as well and I'm now of the age where I'm just starting to greet birthdays with the slightest bit of hesitation, wondering if I really want this to come.  I really like being in my 30s and the 40s are getting closer rapidly.  But, reading at The Voracious Reader, where the owner and her window display, is so kind helped me forget about it.  Then, a friend and blogger who happened to be in NYC as a choreographer took me out for an incredible desert at Cafe Lalo.  (Don't miss their Pear Almond Tart) and we gabbed and munched.  I even got a birthday candle to blow out and they played Happy Birthday on their speakers.

So, here's my top 3 things I learned around BEA.

3) Standing out in a crowd of talented and funny authors is a hard thing to accomplish.  So, don't bother to try.

I quickly abandoned all competitive urges and instead, reveled in the company.  Every author has struggled just as hard, worries just as much, and seems always interested in how much to charge for school visits, what publicity has worked, and second book blues.

2) Second printing does not equal earning out.

Printings these days are small and so the publisher expects/wants/hopes to go through a number of printings.  It does not, as I had hoped, mean that you've exceeded or even met your publisher's expectations.  I had a rewarding email exchange with my editor after I returned that helped me realize that my publisher would be pleased if I sold twice as many books as my first print run.  Earning out is not about when the house starts making its money back.  Rather it's about when an author begins to get money beyond the advance.  I found out from my fairy godmother (agent) that you can roughly calculate your earnings by taking 10% of the list price and then multiplying that times the books sold.  BUT don't bank on that amount because of those horrid things called returns if the bookstore can't sell all the copies it has bought. (Yikes!)

And, I found out from a fellow class member that any royalty statement that you receive in which you haven't earned out, shows how far in the deficit your publisher is on your advance. (Double yikes.)

And I read (on the web somewhere, can't remember where so I'm not sure if I trust it) that 85% of authors don't earn out.  And of course that if you don't earn out, you are less likely to get a second contract.  I'm trying to fight off panic and trying, though not succeeding, to stop watching that fickle and meaningless Amazon sales rank.

1) Gespalten is the german world for Split (at least according to

On my final night in NYC, my birthday, I got an email from my fairy godmother just before the clock struck midnight that told me that she has sold German rights.  Gespalten will get a new cover and a translation!  I'll be paid in Euros (which of course, means less and less each day).  Turns out that "issue" books don't generally get translated and that means that Split has done what I'd hoped for -- surpassing the issue and becoming a book about Jace, his family, his struggle, and his journey.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Break from blogging

Mini-break while I catch my breath. I hope to post again after I return from AWP's conference in Denver next week!  I'm excited to hear what everyone has to say and will be presenting, too.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Split goes to Hollywood!

After the lush R&R at Bonnie Doerr and Island Sting's place, Split has journeyed again on its tour.  This time, it went all the way across the country for a hopping good time with Split's buddy, The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams.

In truth, Split confided to me a few hesitations before visiting a witch, what with her fuzzy little familiar and her sudden cases of floating attacks.  But, as some of you might know,  Abbie is one fun witch.  Even Booklist says so (in longer words).

And Abbie's writer, Rhonda Hayter, is no different.  Though maybe she's a little more grown up and a little more responsible.  I say this because Rhonda took such good care of Split.

See how she holds him up and letting him see the sites?  She was even kind enough to send along copies of the pix.  Here's her email to comfort Split's worried writer.

Split enjoyed his visit to Hollywood very much.  He had his photo taken at the Hollywood Highland mall where he posed in front of the Hollywood sign. (above).

He dropped by the Kodak theatre where they do the Oscars and American Idol and ...

he visited Mary Pickford

and the Star Trek crew in front of Graumann's Chinese theatre.

He'd have written you a postcard, but he's unfortunately short on hands. 

Hmpf!  There are enough hand or hand prints around him, but you know how it goes.  They hit the big time and then they never write, they never call...  But I'm so glad to see he's having a good time and fitting in with all the celebs.  Personally, I think he and Patrick Stewart would get along great!  (More on this later).

It was particularly kind of Abbie and Rhonda to host Split, considering that Abbie is about to make her big debut! I know I'm eagerly awaiting April 1st, when I'll look for her to fly on over and make an appearance at my house.  Keep an eye out; she might breeze her way over your place, too.

In case you want to now a little more about her, here's Abbie's trailer to check out, too.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Awesome pix

Previously, I mentioned my college roommate, Jenny, who had come out for Split's launch.  Intelligent girl that she is, she married a massage therapist, John Magruder.  Turns out John is multi-talented.  Quite the photographer.  He is currently doing a year of self-portraits.  When he read Split, he contributed this one:

Split - - 84/365 by QuantumJedi

Love this composition.

John has some amazing shots of the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.  This guy has an excellent sense of place and movement.  Look at those Chicago shots, while you're at it.

Those of you who have read Split know that Jace is photographer.  If he could take shots of Albuquerque and Chicago, they might look something like John's.

Considering that this is John's "second talent," I might need to head down to Chicago for a massage.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bon Voyage, Split!

I was happy to celebrate Split's launch on Saturday and to wish it a fond farewell as it begins its multi-city tour.  Since a book doesn't have to pay for accommodations, food, or even travel, it can afford to go where I can't.  So, the lucky thing will get to visit many spots without me.

On the other hand, I seem to be getting pictures and anticipate it might send me a postcard now and again.

Its first stop on its whirlwind tour was Winston-Salem, NC.

It kicked off its tour by visiting its buddy: the middle grade eco-friendly adventure novel, Island Sting.  Bonnie Doerr, author of Island Sting, generously welcomed Split into her home and even took its picture for me.  

Here it is, sitting on the porch of her lovely home:

Awww, it looks so little as it ventures out into the world!

And then pondering the view from the well.

I hope it is careful and doesn't fall in.

But I'm sure Bonnie is taking good care of it, keeping out a protective eye.  I do hope it is behaving well and that Split and Island Sting are getting along well. 

I'll keep you posted as it tours, visiting its fellow books from the Class of 2k10 and other cities.  We'll see what kind of adventures Split can have as it tours cross-country.

Bon Voyage, Split, and good luck!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Launch Party for Split

The day finally arrived.  I got up late, trying to get my rest and so was still in my p.j.s when the first of my surprises arrived:  an enormous bouquet of balloon from the loving husband (TLH).  I'm not sure that words will do the size of this justice.  So:

They had to be delivered because they couldn't fit in my SUV.

I spent the rest of the day picking out passages to read and rehearsing them while TLH got errands done, took the kids to a birthday party, and made a lamb stew for when we got home.  Mmmm, the house smelled fantastic while I worried about whether I should read this scene or that, calling a writer friend and asking her advice.

Finally, I had my post-it notes stuck to my book, passages picked out, hair curled, and the sitter had come for the kids.  TLH and I got out of the door around 15 minutes late, but I wasn't really worried, comfortable that the wonderful caterer, The Coffee Gallery, and the stellar Loft staff had everything ready.

And did they ever.

So sophisticated...

I arrived and ran into Francine Tolf, an all around comforting person and elegant writer.  We had spent a year in the same writing program, and Francine recognized in me, a fellow reading-phobic.  She said I looked calm.

I wasn't.  But I wasn't nervous either.  I was so excited that I could not stop smiling.

I went up stairs and was greeted by Brian Malloy, a writer whose work I've admired for some time and who was gracious enough to introduce me.  I signed a book for him and thought about the first time we met when I asked him to sign his book for me.

Then people started coming.  I had asked the Loft to arrange for 30 people, figuring we could add seats.  Brian said that they had set up for 50 and I thought, well, they know this better than I do, newbie that I am.  Turns out, they had to add seats.  It was packed!

Usually, that would make me even more nervous.  Instead, I could feel the energy in the lobby feeding me.

And, then, I got the best surprise of the night.  My college roommate, Jenny, who lives in Chicago, appeared!  She had flown up just for the occasion, which was glorious enough.  But it was also deeply meaningful for me.  Jenny went into social work, interviewing sexual assault victims at the same time that I started working at the domestic violence clinic.  For three years, we walked in step, learning about professional distancing and coping with the stories we were told.  If I had a hard day and needed someone to ground me, she was the person I would call.  It was a powerful moment to have her with me as I stepped into this new career, too.

I got ready.  Brian introduced me and I went up to the podium.

If you follow this blog, you'll know that I had to learn to trick myself into public speaking and then struggled even harder with reading my own material.  So, I decided yesterday that this reading wasn't for me; it was for my readers.

And that became vibrantly evident as I stood at the podium.  So many of the audience members were not only friends, but had been a part of the journey as I wrote Split, providing me with emotional support or manuscript critiques, or acting as a sounding board, or feeding me little lines and moments for my book.  And now, they had come to celebrate with me and it gave me a chance to finally say thank you.

From the first time I read, four years ago, until now, my goal for readings had been simple:  I wanted to enjoy myself.  I reasoned that if the reader ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

And for the first time, I got it.  The reading was easy and fun.  I got some laughs, talked about all the things I wanted to say, forgetting to thank only a few people (and the Loft, of all places).  The Q & A was fantastic, with two of my friends, (Jenny and Kit, who had also worked with Domestic Violence victims) feeding me the best questions.

Post-reading, I signed books -- I have no idea what I wrote to people.  I just hope what I wrote makes sense.  (I have a book that is signed from a debut novel on her launch night that says, Swati, I can't wait to read your swati when it comes out.)

And then the reading was done, but the high was so great, that I could barely sleep, got up a few hours later, still smiling and still too excited to sleep.

Now I know I promised more about the "Split Tour" today.  Forgive me.  It will be up on Tuesday.  This post is long enough on it's own.

But I'll leave you with this:  one of my teachers, Alexs Pate, told me that getting published is like getting married.  Somehow, once those vows are said, you are different and you can never go back and you never even want to.

After last night, I see what he means.