The Night I Became an Author

When my publisher approached me about Bright Before Sunrises blog tour, I knew I wanted to do something a little different. Rather than have me answer questions, I asked if we could have others answer one.

We asked author friends and an amazing group of bloggers to respond to Bright Before Sunrise’s tagline: One night can change how you see the world. One night can change how you see yourself by sharing One Night from their own life. The posts so far have been heartfelt, amusing, intriguing, thought-provoking. They’re so different, but they’re all wonderful!  They can be read here.

Here’s mine:

 

My twins were eight months old when my first novel, Send Me a Sign, sold.  It was two days after I’d sent my resignation letter to the superintendent, formally announcing I was leaving my beloved job as a teacher to stay home with The Schmidtlets.

This is not the One Night I’m going to talk about. It’s not that I wasn’t thrilled or excited, but at that point it all seemed so distant and surreal. I’d have a BOOK…someday, 18 months from then. And it would have A Cover. And Pages! And I had An Editor! These were all shiny fancy ideas, but they were too much like the first years after my wedding when people would say “Mrs. Schmidt” and I’d look around for my mother-in-law.

I may have *technically* entered the ranks of authordom, but I really didn’t believe it. It felt like dressing up for Halloween or playing let’s-pretend. I’d spent too long writing, revising, querying, writing, revising, querying, rinse/repeat to actually believe it was real.

Edits happened. Massive quantities of Revision Skittles were consumed. I met my editor, saw my cover, had a page on GoodReads… and I still felt like an impostor.

ARCs arrived. I snuggled those things to death, thinking that maybe if I held them tight enough, long enough, that belief would seep through my fingers and I’d start accepting this was REAL, that my dream was coming true.

Nope.

It was one of my Schmidtlets that convinced me. Pip Squeak, toddling around at 18 months old, got ahold of an ARC while we wrestled his brother into pajamas. My husband and I both flew across the room to save it from drool, or the puggles’ water bowl, or whatever other mishap he was more than capable of inventing.

But he was hugging it. And he smiled and said, “Momma’s book.” (over and over and over and over as 18-month-olds like to do).

And I started to cry. Because this teeny little guy in his footie pajamas had recognized what I couldn’t: that was MY book.

More than that, his and his brother’s conception of me as a person would ALWAYS be: My momma writes books. He’d have no knowledge or memories of the years when I was 97% doubts, the times I wanted to chuck my laptop in the trash and walk away forever.

In his eyes I’d ALWAYS be an author.

And once I realize he understood that… how could I not?

In fact, I had a printed canvas made of my first book cover. The plan had been to hang it above my desk. Nope. The Pip Squeak had other plans. It hangs above his crib, reminding me every night at bedtime that he believes in me. How can I not believe in myself.

I’m an author.

And I’ve got a heck of an adorbs fan club.

BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE

When Jonah is forced to move from Hamilton to Cross Pointe for the second half of his senior year, “miserable” doesn’t even begin to cover it. He feels like the doggy-bag from his mother’s first marriage and everything else about her new life—with a new husband, new home and a new baby—is an upgrade. The people at Cross Pointe High School are pretentious and privileged—and worst of all is Brighton Waterford, the embodiment of all things superficial and popular. Jonah’s girlfriend, Carly, is his last tie to what feels real… until she breaks up with him.

For Brighton, every day is a gauntlet of demands and expectations. Since her father died, she’s relied on one coping method: smile big and pretend to be fine. It may have kept her family together, but she has no clue how to handle how she’s really feeling. Today is the anniversary of his death and cracks are beginning to show. The last thing she needs is the new kid telling her how much he dislikes her for no reason she can understand. She’s determined to change his mind, and when they’re stuck together for the night, she finally gets her chance.

Jonah hates her at 3p.m., but how will he feel at 3 a.m.?

One night can change how you see the world. One night can change how you see yourself.

Bright Before Sunrise releases on 2/18 (THREE DAYS!).

ARC-itement & Blurb-blushes

Late last summer I came home from a Schmidtlet playdate at my friend Stacey’s house to find a box of these on my porch.

Today she and her daughter were over and these were delivered.

If I totally ignore the dozens of no-book-happens playdates we’ve had in between, I can say she’s good luck, right?*

Oh, these ARCs are so pretty! And the interiors? ALL THE FONTS. ALL of the lovely, lovely fonts that I can’t wait for you guys to see.

Will you indulge me just a little while I share two of my favorite parts of the ARC?

Eeeeee!

Do you know how honored I am to have the praise of these two uber-talentd authors on Bright Before Sunrise? On a scale of 1-10, my excitement is a 36! Thank you, thank you, Diana and Jen!

I promise I’ll do some ARC giveaways soon. But right now I’ve got to go snuggle some ARCs… or Schmidtlets.

Or both.

*Stacey, leave some dates open for playdates in early winter… I can’t wait to see my finished copies!

Boys+Bots+Birthdays

My twosome is two.

I’m not sure how this happened or who gave them permission to get older, but time keeps marching on and they keeping changing. (On a related note, The Pip Squeak is currently enamored with the word “No” and The Wild Imp told me to “Zip it” last week).

Anyway, I’ve got a double-purpose for this post. Not only to share their cute little birthday faces, but also to tell you about their most favorite book: BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman & illustrated by Dan Yaccorino.

 

 

 

It is SUCH a favorite in our house that they had a BOY+BOT+BIRTHDAY party.

 

 

WHY am I tell you this?

Well, not only because the answer to “Do you need this book in your life?” is AFFIRMATIVE, but also because it’s up for GoodReads Choice Best Picture Book of 2012. And TODAY is the very last day you can vote.

Go do so NOW: http://www.goodreads.com/award/choice/2012#74900-Best-Picture-Books

Or you’ll make this little robot cry

Why I don’t blog more often…

…because if I look away for even a moment, this happens:

Yes, that IS my manuscript.

Notice that The Pip Squeak is totally feigning innocence while simultaneously using his little toes to push the papers around. The Wild Imp is just gleefully mischievous.

Heaven help me once he learns to remove pen caps…

Home.

This afternoon The Schmidtlets scampered around the backyard while St.Matt worked on their sandbox, the puggles napped in the shade of a maple tree, and I picked blueberries.
I dropped handfuls of them into their little sand pails. They washed them in their octopus sprinkler between trips down their slide and visits to watch Dada shovel. The Pip Squeak helpfully pointed out the worms wriggling in freshly turned dirt while The Wild Imp stole berries from his bucket.
Afterward we traded swimsuits and work gloves for shorts and sneakers, plopped them in their stroller, and ran to our favorite ice cream shop. We traded bites on the walk home and I kissed their sticky cheeks before plopping them in the bath.
The past month has been chaotic: I was up in NYC for BEA and Teen Author Carnival, then down in the Carolinas for vacation and visiting old friends. They were wonderful experiences and adventures, but…
Today it was good to feel HOME. 
Even though not a single blueberry made it into the house and I didn’t take a single photograph, it was the perfect afternoon. Not extraordinary. Probably not a day that I’ll remember in a decade, a year, maybe even a month – but perfect nonetheless. Full of those simple moments that are saturated with comfort and contentment.
I wish you all such days.

One!

Why is it that sincere thank you notes are so much harder than ones you’re indifferent about?
Today I sat down to write the most grateful thank you note I’ve ever written, probably ever will write, and the words just would not come.
The note was for the NICU staff at the hospital where the twins were born. A year ago St.Matt was on the first floor watching football and I was upstairs bedresting and reading — and my water broke.
The Schmidtlets were two months early. They were tiny. I wasn’t ready and they weren’t either. Nothing in my years of babysitting or in our baby care classes had prepared me for incubators and feeding tubes and picc lines and lungs that kept collapsing and collapsing. Tubes and tubes and tubes taped all over my babies. Babies I wasn’t allowed to hold. The Wild Imp – who wasn’t wild, he was medicated and sedated into oblivion — I wasn’t even allowed to touch because he was in so much pain.
 
 And the NICU staff somehow held me together, gave me strength, taught me about gavage feeding, and breast-feeding, pneumothorax, and infant CPR. What every bell, alarm, and squiggly line on their monitors meant — how to tell a false alarm from an apnea or bradycardiac event. How to touch a preemie so that he wasn’t over-stimulated and didn’t hurt. 
They were there to clap when St. Matt changed his first diaper. And to laugh when Asher managed to pee out the porthole on his incubator. They cheered with us when the boys began to self-regulate their body temps and we could finally dress them. Clothing, snaps, laundry!– this seemed like such a major victory at the time – and we all looked at the too-big size-preemie outfit and said “he’ll grow into it.”
And they’ve grown so big.  They’re so healthy. They’re so happy and giggly. They’re so mischievous and chatterboxy –– no clue where they get that from.
I’m so blessed.
So appreciative of all the help, support and love the NICU staff lavished on us during our month-long stay.
I thought, way back a year ago, that I couldn’t possibly love anyone more than I did those palm-size babies.
How wrong I was.

Happy 1st birthday, Schmidtlets

Musically Minded

For someone who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket with a lid, and can’t clap to a beat for more than two consecutive claps, I’ve spent a lot of my life focusing on music lately.
First, the Schmidtlets and I joined a baby music class. They love it. The Wild Imp crawls all over the place, singing each new song with a  new mom. (Thank you, other moms, for allowing him in your laps and hearts).  The Pip Squeak, on the other hand, starts every class by clutching my shirt in both his chubby little fits.  A few songs in, he’ll pat my arm or leg along with the beat. A few more songs and he’s clapping.  By the end of last class he even crawled half the distance between me and our lovely teacher… but then he looked over his shoulder, panicked, and scrambled back into my lap.
Second, my lyric permissions for SEND ME A SIGN seem to be (finally) falling into place. I sent my signed contract for one song back this morning and am just waiting on the final copyright wording for the other. What songs are they? I’m not telling yet. Maybe soon, but not yet – I don’t want to jinx anything!
Third, SEND ME A SIGN copyedits are coming any day now. And I know of no better way to get back into Mia’s head than to listen to the SEND ME A SIGN playlists.
Here’s a playlist peek for YOU:
 
— it’s from wayyy back in my college years, anyone recognize it? I love the lyrics. Be VERY glad you’re not here with me right now, because then you’d have to hear me sing along. (Sorry, Schmidtlets!)
Here, you can be anything. And I think that scares you…

Boo!

Happy Halloweenie from some twins who are Teeny

Yes, they ARE dressed up like Winston & Churchill
Hoping your Halloween is full of sugar and nothing too spooky. 

SLOWED to a crawl? How inaccurate.

I’m trying to decide if I should dust the cobwebs off my blog or allow them to stay as festive Halloween decorations.
Probably dust them… I don’t do scary.
Last time I wrote that the twins were starting to crawl. At that point it was *wobble, wobble, move a few inches, beam at me.*
Now it’s ZOOOOOM, CLIMB, STAND, FALL, WAIL – in the same amount of time.
Plus, The Wild Imp is stubbornly convinced that he can stand unassisted.  He SO can’t. He also believes it’s a brilliant idea to hang from the top of the babygate and then fling himself backward.
I spend much of my day diving across the room trying to prevent traumatic head injuries. As a result I wear the bruises instead of him. Many, many bruises.
But, there’s bedtime and naptime and my writing stays alive in these snatches of time. SEND ME A SIGN’s revisions were approved and it’s been moved on to copyedits (HOORAY!) and I just finished revisions on my second book as well. (Lots of Revision Skittles were consumed in the past two months. LOTS).
And my work in progress is a thing of love. I adore it. Everything about it. Even its writing playlist, which I have to stop myself from listening to when I’m not working on it.
The song I play most often is this one:

And while I won’t tell you what it’s about just yet, a HUGE hint is that this band’s name would be a fabulous title for the book.

Let’s Make A Deal

Bargaining with babies is hard. I thought the Schmidtlets and I had a deal: no learning to crawl until after I turned in my revision.
The Wild Imp had other ideas. And he is fast.
Baby A isn’t yet crawling, but he’s still mobile: rolling around like a top, scooting backward across the room, and calling: “Mama. MAMA. MAAAAAAMMAAAAA,” if I dare to leave his sight. Better yet, the little wombat would like me to constantly be within reach of his chubby little paws.
Chasing and clutching aren’t the best revision-companions. But that’s what PEI was for. That’s what the hours between bedtime and sunrise are for.
And I finished last Thursday.
Pressed *Send* on the e-mail to my editor – and then, before I could even gulp a panicked breath or sigh in relief:
THUNDER.
POWER LOSS
THE WAILS OF TWO WOKEN NAPPERS
Have I mentioned that one of the major threads in my book is superstition?
My first thought was one very like my main character, Mia, would have had: That was a very bad sign.
Later, after the twins had been soothed, the power restored, and my confidence petted by some Twitter support, I revised my thinking: That was a very good sign – if the power had gone out even a minute sooner, I would’ve been prevented from sending.
And we all know how little I like to wait.
Apparently the Schmidtlets have inherited that trait from me: The Imp is extremely IMPatient, and Baby A is currently calling my name.  
Maybe we’ll strike a new bargain: Ten more minutes of naptime in exchange for peaches at every meal.
*goes to buy peaches in bulk*
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