Oh Learning Not to Drown, it feels like just yesterday that I was anxiously awaiting your arrival, pacing my office with on the phone with my editor, agent and publicist, obsessively checking Goodreads for any reviews, preparing for a my very first book signings and parties with.. itchy skin and an upset stomach… as well as brand new sharpies. And look how grown up you are now!
Maybe it was because of the sheer amount of people who came to welcome you into this world or maybe it was from the lack of sleep when you arrived, but I kind of forgot to post pictures here of your first week in this world. It’s a good thing, actually, I was so wrapped up with being in the moment of having my debut novel come out that I forgot to chronicle your arrival.
So to celebrate your 6th month birthday I am finally posting pictures of your release week.
Many of you around the world continue to ask me via various social media outlets if Learning Not to Drown will be translated and released in your country. Other than Germany (release date TBA), there aren’t plans for international releases yet, but my publisher is working on it.
As much as I love hearing that you are excited about my book and want it in your language, there isn’t much I can do about it… but…
You can help!
My editor wants to hear from you! She wants to know where in the world people are interested in Learning Not to Drown. And, if she has letters from you, she can bring them into acquisition meetings to show that there are already readers who want the book in those areas. That can make a huge difference.
If you want to see Learning Not to Drown in your country, write a letter to my editor using the contact form here:
PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT THIS FORM MORE THAN ONCE! Thank you!
Behind every cover is not just the story written by the author, but also one of how the visual representation of that book came to be. This is the story of how Learning Not to Drown ended up with its incredible cover.
You might be surprised to hear that most authors get little to no say in what their covers look like. Since I can be really
picky, controlling, hands-on, I wanted to give my suggestions on what I’d like to see. I also am very aware that I don’t know anything about what makes a good cover for a book and the professionals Atheneum/Simon & Schuster definitely do, so I timidly asked my editor if I could give them a small list of some artists that I thought would represent my work well. My editor told me that YA books usually have photos on the front, but, decided to give an illustration a chance. It turns out that Edwin Ushiro was on both my list and theirs. He painted a beautiful swimmer inspired by Clare, surrounded by water both dark and light, tumultuous and calm. I immediately hung his painting in my office across from my desk, where I could easily be inspired by Edwin’s art. But, early testing of the cover came back with some tough results – most people thought the book was mid-grade, not YA.
Michael McCartney at Simon and Schuster got to work on designing another cover for Learning Not to Drown while I continued to work on edits… and continued to have stress nightmares about my cover.
When the final jacket came to me, I fell in love.
Although the photo was taken years before my book was completed, it looked like it had been created just for Learning Not to Drown. I instantly looked up the photographer – Kelia Anne MacCluskey – and almost passed out when I discovered that she took the photo WHEN SHE WAS ONLY SIXTEEN.
I haven’t been able to meet her yet in person, but I was able to connect with her via email and do an interview. After finding out more about Kelia, I was even more impressed – not only is she the photographer (at that time largely self-taught), but she also was the model, AND she taught herself how to use photoshop through online tutorials and experimentation. She is a true artist, and I look forward to see much more of her work in the future.
AS: I love that the photo looks almost like a painting. Can you tell me a little about the process from taking the photo to manipulating it?
This morning I woke up to some great news: Learning Not to Drown is being translated into German and will be published by Magellan GmbH & Co. KG! I’ve got a fair amount of German blood in my body, making this an especially proud moment for me.
They aim to publish within the year, but it might take up to eighteen months. As soon as I get a specific date, I will let you know.
I made the announcement on twitter and immediately my notification feed was filled with questions about when it will be translated into other languages and released in other countries.
And the answer: I have no idea. I wish it were as easy as seeing a message from you and *BAM* it would appear perfectly translated in your language in your country. The process can be complex, but my editor and the foreign sales department over at Atheneum are working on additional foreign contracts, and hopefully the future will hold more translations for Learning Not to Drown.
Hello! I woke up to the news from my publisher that we are going to share a little taste of LEARNING NOT TO DROWN with you! An exclusive excerpt is living here: http://bit.ly/1fz4VRp
If you want a chance to win a finished copy of my debut, LEARNING NOT TO DROWN, you can head on over to Goodreads to enter this giveaway! http://bit.ly/1fVvbGJ
After 10 years of working on my debut novel, Learning Not to Drown I finally get to share it with you in less than a month!
The book comes out on April 1st, and we’ve started to schedule some discussions and signing. So far, the week of my debut I’ll be in Los Angeles and New York. I’ll also be speaking on a panel at the LA Times Festival of Books. All dates will be updated as they come in on my events page here and on Facebook.
If you are interested in pre-ordering the book, call your local independent bookstore, or check out some other options on the Learning Not to Drown page on the Simon and Schuster website. For now, the book will be released in the USA in English only, but international orders can be taken through Amazon and shipped to your country.
To everyone who has participated in Book Club: Thank you! I thoroughly enjoyed reading along with you and hearing your opinions during our discussions. I loved being exposed to new authors – thanks to those of you who suggested books and voted – and I hope you liked the selections I picked out as well.
In case you missed it: at our last meeting, I announced that I would no longer be able to host our book club. With Learning Not to Drown being released soon, trying to finish my next book, and spending time with my family, I have run out of spare hours.
Thank you again for making book club great!
I am an author. I represent myself through words, through stories. I am not a model. I am not an actress. When you turn a camera on me, I’m most likely to make a funny face, or at the very least, smile. In fact, I can probably count my posed, serious photos on one hand.
And yet, as an author I have written a serious novel on a somber topic, and when my publisher asked for a picture to represent me, and my novel, I needed to take a serious photo. The hair was flat ironed, the make-up was applied, the dress was put on. I did it all myself, and second guessed it the whole way.
A candid picture captures a moment, but a portrait is set up to make a moment. We all try to look our best in a portrait.
And what if our best isn’t good enough?
Isn’t pretty enough?
Isn’t skinny enough?
I found myself on a trail I liked to hike, feeling like an asshole because I was wearing a dress and heels instead of my familiar Nikes and running shorts and tank top, pressured to take a photo that I know will represent me in a way I’ve never been before: as a published author. It all seemed so far out of my comfort zone – except behind the lens was my friend Bobby, and next to him was my husband and we were chatting like we would any afternoon.
It morphed from a photo shoot into a hang out, and I paused often from the smiling and laughing and swatting at the thousands of gnats on the trail that had taken to surrounding the three of us. I paused to think about my book, to think about Clare and Luke as Bobby snapped pictures.
As expected, Bobby’s work was beautiful and we had several shots to choose from. He did what he does best – tell a story. A little about me, a little about my book. The mood is right, a mix of hope and sorrow, captured in lighting, focus, and composition.
His work is perfect, but I’ve been raised to pick apart my flaws. Always seeing the beauty in others, struggling to see in myself that perfection is in the imperfection.
The photos sat on my desktop for months, shared only with my publicist for the Atheneum catalog, while a pancake I decorated with whipped cream, chocolate chips and marshmallows continued to be my visual representation on twitter.
And they sat, and I waited. For the right moment, I guess, the moment when I was ready. Being ready might mean that the book is coming out soon and I don’t have an option. Being ready might mean that I’m tired of having a pancake represent my face. Being ready might mean that I need to stop worrying about being judged, because the scrutiny my picture gets will not matter to me as much as the scrutiny my book will get. It’s a good warm up. So here they are.
We started book club this year with one of my all time favorites: Nancy Farmer’s The House of the Scorpion, so I am especially excited to dig into our next book club selection: The Lord of Opium. We finally get to find out what happens next for Matt as he takes the place of El Patrón as the leader of Opium. After our book club discussion about The House of the Scorpion, I can’t wait to hear what you all think about the sequel. Hope you’ll join me on Monday, January 13 at 1pm PST in my ustream channel.