I can’t believe that it’s 2006. It seems like I was waiting so long for 2005 to get here, and now it’s over before it really began. Professionally, 2005 was probably one of the most influential years of my short writing career. There was a lot of good and a lot of bad that happened this year that I feel will really shape the way I approach my writing career.
1) MY FIRST BOOK WAS PUBLISHED: Of course, Red Polka Dot and everything associated with it has really dominated my year. There are few words that can describe how I felt standing in front of an audience, talking about MY book for the first time. It was…surreal. It was magical. It was nerve-wracking. I loved writing Red Polka Dot, and I glad that I was able to share the story with so many people.
2) IT’S NOT ENOUGH JUST TO WRITE THE BOOK: I did more with marketing and promotion this year than I ever imagined I would. I had always heard that authors had to be their best advocate when selling their books, but I didn’t really believe it until this year. While I think I did an okay job of this, I know I’ll have to do better about promoting my work in the future. No one knows my books better than I do.
3) BOOK-BANNING: The challenging of YA books really struck a chord with me, so much so that Mrs. V once suggested that I seemed to be taking all of this book banning stuff way to personally. I thought about it, and she’s right, I am taking it personally. Maybe because two of the books that have been challenged, Geography Club and The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, are books that not only I’ve read (and loved), but I’ve actually talked to the authors.
I’ve spoken about Brent Hartinger’s book before, but I have yet to talk about Carolyn Mackler’s book, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. Years ago, I wrote Carolyn an email asking for advice. She was nice enough to respond back (I even have the email saved), and she offered some very encouraging advice. I met Carolyn in person last year, and believe me, she is the LAST person you would think that would write “scandalous material that leads to the detriment of today’s youth.”
The banning of books is wrong. Plain and Simple.
4) FORGING AHEAD ON MY OWN: I’ve had a lot of issues with my publisher, so much so that as of now, I am staring 2006 w/o a publisher or an agent. It’s really scary. Maybe part of me feels like having an agent or publisher legitimizes me as an author. I don’t look forward to going through the entire process of finding representation again. But, I guess I don’t really have much choice, being that I want to write books.
5) SUPPORT: You know what – Children’s book authors are cool. I’ve had a chance to meet a lot of children’s and YA authors, and I can’t believe I waited until 2005 to get to know these folks. Austin has a really strong SCBWI group, I have a super critique group (although we could use a few more people, especially women, if anyone is interested) and the folks at my “real” job have been nothing but exceptional as far as supporting my writing career. Writing can be a very solitary business; I need to surround myself with people that write just to seek my sanity.
6) FAMILY: I love my parents. I really, really do. I didn’t know what to expect from them once they read the novel, but they were very supporting of what I was trying to say. Mom said she only cringed “a few times” when reading the novel, which is pretty good for her. In addition, my parents really GOT what I was trying to say in the novel. I guess the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. And even though my brother thinks my writing “promotes teenage sex” and “is not appropriate for Christians”, he still found ways to support my career.
7) MRS. V: Crystal is my best friend, and I couldn’t have made it through this year without her. Also, I’ve found that when she’s on my team, she is my best motivator and defender. She doesn’t necessarily like competing with my writing career (her words, not mine), but she also knows how important it is to me, and she’s willing to support me in EVERYTHING that I do.
So, while 2005 had its ups and downs, overall it was a very good year. Something tells me that 2006 will be even better.
Varian, after reading Red Polka Dot, I honestly did not think it contained anything cringable. For some reason, I’m not sure why, I walked into it expecting to find much cursing and inappropriate sex, but that’s not what this book was about at all(although, were I the father, I’d have sent Deke packin day one). I don’t think you can write an upper teen novel and completely leave out the sex aspect, particularly if the storyline involves relationships. Teenagers are having sex, and yes, the Christian ones too. But, if I remember, I only counted maybe 3 f-bombs (a word I used profusely at 15) and the sex scene was really done in a beautiful way. I wished either of my daughters had dated a Deke. After visiting the bookstore this weekend, and perusing all those dirty little YA novels, Red Polka Dot surely isn’t under fire by anyone. Is it?