So How Long Did It Take?

Last month I was asked to write an article that would fit in The Author’s Journey column of the Oregon SCBWI’s regional newsletter.

I was honored – and scared – which turns out to be a combination of emotions that actually gets work out of me.

I wrote the following piece in a whir – which may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but I’ve been pretty blocked writing-wise for quite some time. Getting words on a page – any words – felt like a freaking miracle to me.
The fact that the words made sense and seemed to resonate with the readers who took the time to email me was staggering.

And revisiting the serendipitous magic that resulted in a published book was healing for me. It’s always good to remember that dreams come true through a mix of hard work, aligned timing, and simple luck – and you’re only in control of one of these.

I hope you enjoy the article.

The Tragically True Adventure of Kit Dononvan | Patricia Bailey | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSo How Long Did it Take

There’s one question every author gets asked – whether they’re being interviewed or speaking on a conference panel – “How long did it take you to get published?”.

It’s a good question. A valid question. We’re writers, after all, and who better to give us a clue about the path to publication than someone who found a way through the wilderness and got a book on the bookstore shelf.

The only problem is that there are as many paths to that shelf as there are writers. Everyone’s journey is a little bit different. But one thing is true for all of us, and that’s the answer I usually give.

It’s taken my entire life – from birth to right now – to get published.

It’s taken every sentence I’ve scribbled since I learned to hold a pencil. Every book I’ve read. Every teacher who said, “I don’t understand what you mean here,” or “Tell me more about this.”

It’s taken every second I’ve spent daydreaming. Every time I’ve asked “I wonder?” Every hour I’ve passed following my curiosity.

It’s taken years of classes and conferences, craft books and critique partners.

Cycles of hope and doubt, failure and triumph.

It took forever.

And then, suddenly, it took no time and all.

I signed up for a manuscript critique at the Oregon SBWI conference in May of 2015 and had the incredible luck of meeting an agent who loved my book and my writing. I signed with her in June, and the novel was on submission in September. By March 2016 we had a publisher, and by the end of April 2017 my book was on the shelf at Barnes and Noble.

Which means I could say that my path to publication took two years. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

But we all know that’s not quite true. We’re all writers here after all. So maybe a better question to ask is: “Was it worth it?”

And to that question, my answer is an easy one.

Absolutely. Every minute of it.

(Originally published in Oregon SCBWI Newsworthy November-December 2017)

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Surreal Moment No. 6

Surreal Moment in a Debut Author's Life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSurreal Moment – January 4, 2017
The Internet

One of the questions I ask myself regularly is “What would a real writer do?” This question has led me to submit stories to journals and contests, apply for fellowships and scholarships, and generally build a writer’s life. In November, a Middle-Grade focused blog I have been reading for years announced that they were looking for some new contributors. This is a blog I love. A blog that’s inspired me. A blog that’s filled with writers that impress me.

So I read the call for applications and asked myself the question I always ask:

What would a real writer do?

I applied.

Sometime in December, I received an email that started with “We are happy to announce…”

And now, I’m officially a contributor at From the Mixed-Up Files… of Middle-Grade Authors!

Soon you’ll be able to read my thoughts about books and writing in two places. How cool is that!?

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My 2017 Debut Author Interview at Just Another Teen Reading Books

ice-cream-1653441_1280I so enjoyed chatting with Jessica over at her blog Just Another Teen Reading Books.

My interview was part of her 2017 Debut Author series. Check it out and discover my favorite flavor of ice-cream and some of the 2017 debut novels I’ve enjoyed reading so far this year. You might also learn a little more about my novel, THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN, while you’re there.

And be sure to read Jessica’s interviews with the other debut authors she’s featuring this month. There are so many great books coming out in 2017 – you’re going to want to make a list.

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Surreal Moment No. 5

Surreal Moment in a Debut Author's Life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSurreal Moment – January 1, 2017
Klamath Falls, OR.

I know a lot of people spent a fair amount of time in 2016 wishing the whole year would die in a fire. And I know a lot of people are entering 2017 with trepidation. I spent New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebrating both. 2016 – The Year I Got a Book Deal and 2017 – The Year My Book Comes Out.

I have to admit, I’m filling a little bit giddy over here thinking that in just four months my novel is going to be in bookstores and libraries and (fingers crossed) in the hands of happy readers.

I’m running into 2017 bright-eyed and busy-tailed. I hope you’ll  be joining me.

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My Ask the Author Interview

By yomi yomi [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThe lovely and talented Melissa Roske interviewed me for her blog series – Ask the Author. Melissa’s questions came straight from The Proust Questionnaire – and when she’s says she’s putting you in the hot seat, she’s not lying.

You can read my Ask the Author interview with Melissa here and find out all about my hopes, fears, and current state of mind – plus a little bit about my novel, THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN.

Melissa Roske is the author of one of my most anticipated middle grade books of 2017, KAT GREENE COMES CLEAN. It will be published by Charlesbridge on June 13, 2017 and is available for pre-order now.

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Surreal Moment No. 4

Surreal Moment in a Debut Author's Life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSurreal Moment – November 30, 2016
Klamath Falls, OR.

I had a marketing call – with my agent, my editor, and the marketing person at Albert Whitman. They told me all the exciting things they have planned like ARCs, and blurbs, and reviews, and even a place on the table at ALA in January. Then they gave me a list of people – real people –  in charge of publicity and marketing and social media for my little book. They even gave me their email addresses – so they actually want me to contact them. I feel like I’ve crossed through some secret passage into the publishing world.

April 25, 2017 is getting close, y’all. Can you believe it?

My NanoWriMo Failure

www.patriciabaileyauthor.comI had such high hopes on November 1st. Hopes for bursts of inspiration. Hopes for daily writing. Hopes for a complete draft of the novel I have been struggling with all year.

Then I had middling hopes. Hopes that I could manage to pull the great ideas I have for this book a little closer. Hopes that the plot would come together somehow. Hopes that I could hit the voice I’ve been aiming for, that I could nail the characters that I know are in there, that I could find the funny and maybe-kind-of sad story that seems to be hovering just out of reach.

Near November 28th I had low hopes. Hopes for just a few more sentences. Hopes for just a single word that sounded real and true and maybe kind of close to the thing that’s been living in my head.

And at the end I had desperate hopes. Hopes for a magical burst of inspiration and clarity. Hopes for a visit from the genius Elizabeth Gilbert mentions in her Ted Talk. Hopes for a whirling dervish of words and ideas that would spin this novel into its possible self – full and complete, and well, just a little bit wonderful.

The genius never showed – or rather, the genius showed – just not in the cobbler’s elves way I had hoped for. So instead of 50,000 incredible, magical words, I ended up with around 20,000 words and several pages of notes that together I think might lead to a complete – and maybe even good – new novel.

So, I failed NanoWriMo. But my NanoWriMo failure – though painfully real – ended up being a bit of an win for my new book. Not an easy fairy dust kind of win. Not by a long shot. But maybe one that’s a bit inspired – the way something built and torn apart and built again is somehow made better by the sweat and tears and little bit of blood required to create it.

At least that’s my hope.

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Surreal Moment No. 3

Surreal Moment in a Debut Author's Life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSurreal Moment – October 21, 2016
Fly the Point. Draper, Utah.

My name is listed on my publisher’s website – right there next to all the real authors with real books. People like Eileen Spinelli and Patricia MacLachlan.

This is starting to get real, people.

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Surreal Moment No. 2

A Surreal Moment in a Debut Author's Life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com Surreal Moment – October 20, 2016
Fly the Point. Draper, Utah.

I’m reading through the Swanky Seventeens Facebook group where one of the author’s mentioned she just found her book up on Amazon. So I click over to Amazon and type in The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan – because why not? AND IT’S THERE. With my name and a bio I don’t remember writing and a PUBLICATION DATE and a PREORDER LINK.

PEOPLE CAN ORDER MY BOOK you all!
A thought that immediately makes me feel like throwing up.

 

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Surreal Moment No. 1

Surreal Moment in a Debut Author's Life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com Surreal Moment – October 15, 2016
Women Writing the West Conference. Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I am standing outside the door of a hotel conference room having an *actual conversation with TWO New York Times Best Selling Authors about cover art – theirs and MINE.

*Note to readers:  an actual conversation means I’m an active participant. I’m not just standing silently, smiling and nodding. I’m saying real things that make other people nod and smile and say real things back. Un-freaking-real, right?!

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