I have to thank Joy Preble for taking the time out of her busy schedule to do this for me and to Paul at Sourcebooks for arranging this.
The topic that I asked Joy to guest post on was Road to Publication seeing as she is a first time author and here is her guest post.
Road to Publication
Joy Preble, Dreaming Anastasia, Sourcebooks, September 1, 2009
I’ve always been a writer. I wrote this absolutely insipid little Thanksgiving play in the second grade and whined and nagged until my teacher let me perform it in front of the class with some friends. My Pilgrims – who were all girls – had such classic Pilgrim names as Marsha and Julie. Actually, I think there was one guy Pilgrim – John – but I played his part in a dual role. That particular part consisted of a not particularly politically correct, “Hey Julie, look. Those Indians sure look friendly.”
Despite that early literary gem, I never really focused my efforts. Occasionally in my blog, I whine about this with amusing and self-deprecating statements such as I should have done this when I was nineteen and still had prodigy potential but seemingly I was too busy with bad choices involving tequila and rebound boyfriends. This has either had an amazingly profound effect on my work or not.
But eventually, the muse began to smack me around hard enough for me to actually listen, and, I started to sell some stuff in newspapers and magazines. I joined a critique group. And finally somewhere about five years ago when I was having one of those horrible years at work that either cause you to get off your butt or accept that you’re on the slippery slide to nowhere except possibly quitting everything, getting a blue vest and taking that job as a Walmart greeter (not that that’s a bad thing, just that I have a feeling it wasn’t what my parents had in mind when they were helping me pay for my private school English degree)- I found that I really did have ideas for novels that could actually have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Actually, that’s not fully true either. The full truth is that one day my main character Anne’s voice came to me. She was snarky and funny and smart and strong and the more I played with her as a character, the more I knew that I wanted to throw obstacles at her and see what would happen. And for whatever reason, from there, the rest of Dreaming Anastasia – a not so dead princess, a mysterious hottie guy who might or might not be good, a villain with a secret, a crazy Russian folklore witch – kind of evolved.
By the fall of 2005, I’d finished a first draft. I’d taken some pages to a Houston SCBWI conference at some point and had some thoughtful feedback. But no one was falling all over themselves to get a fuller look. I queried an agent or two. Got soundly rejected. And then on Super Bowl Sunday, Februrary, 2006, during half time, I queried four other agents. One actually sent back a no before half time was over! One never responded. And the other two – shock of the century – asked for partials. Eventually – and if you’re new to this business, this is a pretty average time line – after a little bit of revision to see if I could do what she wanted me to, I signed with the wonderful Michelle Andelman, who was then at Andrea Brown Literary. And in the summer of 2007, she sold Dreaming Anastasia – then called Spark – to Lyron Bennett at Sourcebooks. Along the way from then until now, Michelle left ABLA and I changed to my favorite cowgirl and agent extraordinaire, Jennifer Rofe, also of ABLA. Then Lyron left Sourcebooks and my new editor now is Dan Ehrenhaft, who is one rocking human being in all senses of the word since he actually plays in a rock band in NYC with none other than Libba Bray! (Okay, that freaked me out. And meeting him for the first time was a little crazy. But eventually you go okay. So he knows every author I have the literary hots for. This is a good thing.) And along the way I revised the heck out of the manuscript for both Michelle and Lyron and more recently a host of wonderful copy editors. Copy editors, if you don’t know, ask you questions like “So, Joy. I see you’ve got a little riff in here about Anne’s sweater. Don’t you think you drag it on too long?” or, when on like page 250, I had one character noting that another character was doing something he’d never done before, I was told, “Nope. He did it back on page 15.” And things like that.
But here’s the great thing. Eventually, I had written a book. I’ve made amazingly wonderful friends with my fellow authors in the Class of 2k9 and people I’ve met at conferences. I lost an agent and an editor – which let me tell you had the potential to turn out really, really badly – but it was okay. A wonderful cover artist created a cover that got all the story elements just right. People in the blogosphere have begun to buzz about my book. And most days, I have to pinch myself. I am deeply and profoundly grateful for this opportunity. I send people so many “thank yous” that I sometimes wonder if they begin to think I don’t mean it. But oh, I do!! And on September 1st, Dreaming Anastasia will get its chance to be born. Anne and Ethan and Anastasia can tell their story. And if I’m a lucky girl, this is only the very beginning
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Joy Preble grew up in Chicago, though she moved to Texas and inexplicably began listening to country music, which she claims she didn’t like until then. She has an English degree from Northwestern University, and she teaches high school English. Dreaming Anastasia is her first novel. She can be found online at www.joypreble.com
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