May 17, 2013, 3.51 pm
Whew! I hit my big rewrite deadline this Wednesday, exactly on time...and it feels good. Guess what else happened? We found a new house! We're still waiting to hear final confirmation that all the credit checks, etc., have gone through, but with luck, we should be able to move in exactly a month.
...Which will mean that we're moving when I'm 8 months pregnant. Eep! Plus we're moving into a smaller house, so we need to do a massive purge of stuff beforehand (not just books anymore!), not to mention getting the whole house clean and organized for the movers to work with...
But whatever! Sometimes we just need to stop and be happy about what we've got. Right now, I am happy that my pre-submission rewrites for Low Road are finally done, and we have a good house to move into before the new baby comes. Those are both really big sources of satisfaction and relief! (And please wish the book luck as it flies out into the publishing world!)
Also, about an hour after sending off my rewrite, as a reward for myself, I started reading an e-ARC of Jo Knowles's new book, Living With Jackie Chan - and oh, I fell in love. It is wonderful. You can read my full review on Goodreads, but here's the short version: if you're a fan of Sarah Dessen or just a fan of great characters, heartfelt stories, and a strong narrative voice, you will love this book. It's my favorite of all of Jo's novels so far, which is saying a lot.
I gave myself yesterday as a day off, because I needed it after the last, manic two and a half weeks of super-revision. I met a friend for cake at my favorite new cake café in town - tea and apple sponge cake, mmm! Afterwards, I helped MrD make a fun craft project. Then I spent the evening hanging out with more friends at a fun clothes-swap event, laughing and gossiping, eating more cake, drinking (nonalcoholic) apple ginger beer and taking home a sparkly new scarf, a knee-length waterfall cardigan (that luckily falls around my massive pregnancy belly!), and a sparkly beaded bag.
This morning, it was time to get serious again. I wrote 3,043 words of my next freelance project, which is due in just two and a half weeks. This weekend, I need to sort and clean the house like a madwoman - and, if I can, write another 2,000 freelance words as well, even though I won't have any long writing sessions to do it in. I am Back to Work, in every possible way...
But it's good to take the time to celebrate. It really is.
May 11, 2013, 9.08 am
The past week has been pretty intense, for one reason or another...and between my rewrite deadline (next week) and my next freelance deadline (in three weeks) - not to mention our house-hunting and, I hope, big move! - the situation may not improve until mid-June.
But! At least today I'm finally blogging again, over at Girls Heart Books. This was a very heartfelt post I wrote yesterday afternoon, talking about faking it through the hard parts (of writing AND life).
I'd love to read your comments either there or here! I miss you guys! I can't wait to get back to a less breathless routine, with more time for blogging and generally hanging out online. Just one more month to go...knock on wood!
May 5, 2013, 6.17 pm
This afternoon, MrD found a German picture dictionary, aimed at children, in the pile of books we'd been planning to discard in our Epic Book Purge. He pulled it out, got very excited, and he and I spent the next twenty-some minutes playing with it, teaching him some German words just for fun (even though I was really supposed to be washing dishes for dinner at that point - oh well)...
...and I was filled with the most amazing warmth and a sense of dèja vu. I finally realized why: because when I was his age, my family had a similar children's picture dictionary (or maybe textbook???) of German, and I still remember snuggling up to my mom, learning German from her and the book.
Take it back even further, to the 1920s, and my Croatian-American grandfather (whose family had started out in Austria at some point before moving to Croatia in the 19th century) learned German as his first language from his parents, even though he grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. (Croatian was his second language, only finally followed by English when he started school!)
I remember walking through Vienna for the first time when I was 20, realizing with amazement that I was walking through the same city where my Croatian great-grandfather had lived as a teenager, when he was training to be a tailor. I'm not personally religious, but when I stepped inside the massive, gorgeous Stefansdom cathedral, knowing from family history that my great-grandfather had gone there for Mass (and knowing from music history that Mozart had been married there, too, looooong before that!), I was overwhelmed.
I went to Vienna that first time for a semester-long exchange program when I was in undergrad. Then I went back again for a whole year with a Fulbright scholarship when I was 22, studying music history at the University of Vienna...and I went back to live there for another six months with Patrick when I was 24. Since then, though, I've only been back once, for a week-long research trip, way back when I was working on my PhD thesis about 18th-century Viennese opera. It's been...oh, eight years now, I think, since I've been back? Which is way too long!
It's probably a good thing that I don't have a massive amount of spare money right now...because I am SO tempted to just buy last-minute tickets for me, Patrick and MrD and scoop us all off on a plane to Vienna for a long weekend, flinging aside all responsibilities completely!
Maybe the truth is, I'm just trying to flee my rewrites, which are, y'know, hard work...or maybe all the fantasizing I'm doing about European mini-breaks lately has even more to do with the fact I'm in my third trimester of pregnancy, and it'll be a long time before it's (even this) easy (i.e., not that easy!) to travel again.
But the book I'm revising right now, Low Road, is thematically all about family histories: roots and connections, immigration and transformation...so really, this is all perfect fodder.
And it's nice to be practicing my German again.
May 2, 2013, 8.36 pm
Thanks so much to Lindsay Eland, who tagged me for the Next Big Thing meme! And thanks so much to everyone who voted (here, on my other blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter!) for which project I should talk about here today.
The truth is, my hope and (hopeful!) expectation is that my next published novel will be Antonia O'Toole Takes the Low Road to Hollywood, which should go out on submission later this month - please wish me luck! And you can read about that book in my last Next Big Thing meme (posted back in October, before I'd even started the rewrite process). (You can also check out my Pinterest collage-board for it!) Ohhh, do I love this book.
But! Since I'd already posted this meme about Low Road, the majority voted for me to talk about something new: my current first-draft WIP, Family Magic! (I'm about 3/5 of the way through the first draft and hoping - SO hoping! - to finish it before the new baby comes.)
What is the working title of your next book?
Family Magic! Or, to give it the full title, The House at the Crossroads, Book One: Family Magic
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I wanted to write a really fun, cozy family novel for kids, the classic kind I've always loved reading - but with lots and lots of magical adventures! (Of course, being me, 3/5 of the way into my "cozy family novel", we've already graduated to magical chases and battles with canal monsters in a magical not-quite-Venice!)
What genre does your book fall under?
MG contemporary fantasy, with lots of humor and adventure.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Aagggh, this one is hard. I honestly don't know that many kid actors right now, and the four main characters range in age from 6 to 14! But I'd love to have Emma Thompson playing the villainess and Judi Dench playing the hob housekeeper, Mrs Jones.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
It's hard to be the only sibling without magic, especially when you live in a house that's balanced between worlds; but when eleven-year-old Elen Parry's mum disappears through one of the House doors, Elen is determined to do whatever it takes to get Mum back - even if she doesn't have the powers of her impossible fairy sister, Sophie, her frighteningly pragmatic little goblin brother, Oliver, or her hopelessly abstracted older sorceress sister, Seren.
Who is publishing your book?
Someone fabulous, I hope! :) I haven't gotten nearly that far yet.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Hahahahaha. We'll see? (I'm HOPING to finish in June, so that would be about 6 months, but scattered between other projects.)
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Well, I love MG family books like Hilary McKay's Casson family series and Jeanne Birdsall's The Penderwicks, but mine includes so much fantasy adventure, I'm not sure how well our books would resemble each other on the shelf! I hope they would have a fun party together, though.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Noel Streatfeild, Hilary McKay, Susie Day, and everyone else who's written a book that really perfectly encapsulated "family" to me.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Comedy! Danger! The most embarrassing first-day-at-a-new-school ever! Plus a house with doors that open into all sorts of different magical worlds...and of course a brand-new family I absolutely love.
And you can check out my Pinterest board for it here.
Does anyone else want to play? If so, please consider yourself tagged!
May 1, 2013, 2.40 pm
I'm in the middle of intense revision madness right now, which means - as my poor family can attest - that I'm alternately grouchy, weepy, or exhilarated, depending on how the rewrite is going from hour to hour. I'm also going to be even slower than usual about replying to emails, etc., until after I turn in the rewrite (in 2 weeks). (And maybe for a while afterwards, since I'll then be racing towards my next freelance deadline!)
BUT! There are cool things I wanted to pass on, and I also wanted to ask for advice.
First, the cool stuff!
(I didn't even know until today that were WERE Nooks in the UK! But they're actually on sale for £29 right now, which I find...strangely tempting! Alas, I can't see any real reason to get one - after all, I do already have a Kindle! And yet...and yet...what about you guys? Do any of you have a Nook? What do you think of it?)
I am so glad "Dueling Magics" is finally free on the UK sites as well as the US ones! I'd been feeling really guilty about that until now. And of course, everyone else in the world can still find it free in every format on Smashwords.
2. In exactly 9 days, my first Kat book will be coming out in France as Kat, Apprentie magicienne, tome 1! Just check out the gorgeous cover:
I love it so much - and it makes me desperately wish that I could read French! (Or at least that I could hop the EuroStar over to Paris to visit it in stores later this month!) I can't wait to get my author copies.
And the advice?
I've been tagged to do a "Next Big Thing" post tomorrow. Unfortunately, I belatedly remembered that I already wrote one for Low Road (the novel I'm revising right now, which I hope will go out on submission this month) several months ago. Erk! So my question is: do I re-post my Low Road blog post from earlier, since so much time has passed? Do I write about Stolen Magic instead? Or should I write about Family Magic, the WIP I'm 3/5 of the way through first-drafting?
Any votes or other suggestions would be gratefully appreciated. Thank you!