Now on to the next chapter of how Michael and Leesie made it onto the shelves and into your hearts. It sort of amazes me that a mere seven months after I sent the manuscript to Lexa, I was writing about my visit to New York and the ARCs going to press.
"The Mormon Angle May Pose a Problem"
from "Storm's Story," Jun 27, 2008, my original website
I feel like I was in NYC a thousand years ago, instead of just a couple of weeks. We’re still in transit. Last week I got to go to BYU’s Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop. Excellent. Check it out. They hold it every June. [It's no longer held at BYU, but it is still excellent.]
It’s was a lot of fun to visit Penguin, meet Lexa’s publisher, Ben Shrank, and talk to their publicist. And Lexa and I got to go to lunch and have a good chat. [This was the famous chat where Lexa told me they wanted me to write Unbroken Connection for different characters. I refused. And that led to Sing me to Sleep. Blessing in disguise?] The galley copies, officially titled, “advance reader copies,” have gone to press. [See? I'd never even heard of an ARC!] Now all I have to do is write my dedication and acknowledgements. Such a miracle.
This whole thing has been a miracle.
Miracle that I wrote this novel. Miracle that I didn’t give up on it. Miracle that I found Lexa in Paris. Miracle that she bought it. Oops. I’m wrecking the story. But you know she bought it.
She fell for Michael just like I’d hoped. I sent her the query and then settled down to finish the revision. I queried a few other likely prospects I dug up, too. It usually takes a couple months to hear back. Often times, much longer. I heard from Lexa the very next week. Here’s her e-mail:
I really enjoyed reading this sample. Your writing is terrific--
evocative, rich and accessible too. I showed it to my boss and he also
liked it. I should warn you: I worry the Mormon angle may pose a
problem here. But that said, we definitely want to read the whole
thing-- so could you please send?
Thanks, and happy Friday!
Terrific!!!! Worry?? But, still TERRIFIC! And those magic words the unagented, unpublished author lives for, “read the whole thing.”
I wrote back:
Happy Friday indeed! Thanks so much for your kind words. I'll have this revision slicked up by the end of next week and will fire it off to you then.
I understand your hesitation re the Mormon stuff. I appreciate your honesty. I know it is a tightrope. That's why Michael is the main character and handles the bulk of the narration. (I have a version completely in his voice.) All my mentors at Vermont College and critique buddies were not Mormons. I had a lot of valuable guidance on how to write this so it entices rather than turns off readers. All Mormon girls outside of Utah end up dating non-Mormon guys. I've tried to make my depiction of a relationship between a bereaved atheist guy and a Mormon girl who thrives on divine guidance as honest and realistic as possible. I ruthlessly cut anything that sounds preachy. I want Mormon and non-Mormon girls, alike, to fall in love with Michael and relate to Leesie.
But, I can talk about this forever. (I wrote my VC critical thesis on the subject.) Far better to show you. I'll send you my "Lexa-ized" revision ASAP.
Against all odds, I got a second request for TAKEN BY STORM from another editor that same day. I finished the revision and on December 6, 2007, sent my precious baby out there to face the storm.