What’s Making Me Happy This Week? MY BOOK DEAL!

In case you didn’t catch my social media barrage, I have a new book deal!

Yep, that’s right, books 5 and 6 are comin’ atcha in 2019 and 2020! So how’d you like to hear a little more info?

Better Than The Best Plan is a book about a girl whose single mother is arrested, and because she has no other family, she finds herself in foster care. Only it turns out, she was in foster care for the first two years of her life and never knew it. Twist? She’s going back to live with the foster mother who first cared for her for the first two years of her life. It’s a story about what family means, and how family can define you. It’s a story about experiencing the other side of life. And of course, because it’s a book written by me, it’s got a sweet summer romance.

The story of the way this book came to be is actually pretty cool. The idea first came to me in 2013, and I wrote the very first words (actually just a couple hundred) of it in the Las Vegas airport while leaving the Vegas Valley Book Festival (and some of those very first words actually made it into the draft that exists now!). But I promptly set it aside in order to work on other things.

Fast forward to November of 2015. I was in sort of a low place about writing. My books were having a hard time finding readers, my publisher had just passed on a partial I’d submitted, and it was starting to feel like maybe this wild author ride could be over for me (maybe irrational, but like I said, I was low). I’d also spent the last year learning how to be a mom to a sweet and wild little boy. It was a great but exhausting year. My head wasn’t completely on straight.

At the same time, like much of the rest of the country, I was furiously listening to the Hamilton cast album.  And one night, in a fit of optimism, I searched for tickets. I found a resale pair for January that wasn’t too terribly expensive, and also found a super cheap flight and a super cheap hotel (turns out there’s not a lot of tourism in NYC in January, so it’s a good time to visit if you don’t mind the cold!). My husband, because he is a saint and saw how sad I was about the state of my writing situation and exhausted from momming, urged me to treat myself. So I found a friend to buy the other ticket in the pair, and I booked the trip!

Now cue my super star agent, Stephen Barbara. He heard I was coming to New York and said he wanted to set up some meetings for me while I was there. Um, yes please! He said he had an editor in mind who was looking for an author like me to add to her list, and he thought we should meet. He wanted me to pitch her the partial I’d written. So before I headed back to midtown to see Hamilton, I headed down to the Flatiron Building to meet with Joy Peskin, the editorial director at Farrar Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers. We sat in her office for something like an hour gabbing about books while I told her about my hopes for my writing career. It was so relaxed and fun, and I loved talking to her. Stephen did some good matchmaking. We clearly had some chemistry on the literary front. She told me to send the partial when I got home.

And that night I saw Hamilton with the original Broadway cast and it was INCREDIBLE and life changing and I’ll never ever forget it.

Ok, so back to the book deal. I sent Joy the partial, she loved it, but she wanted to know if I had any other ideas. And so I said, “Well, I’ve got this idea I’ve sort of been thinking about, but I haven’t written any of it.” And I told her about this idea I had for a book about a girl who wound up in foster care for the second time, only she never knew there was a first time. She was instantly intrigued, and asked me to go write 20 pages and send it to her. So I did, and this time, the words poured out (I think I ended up sending her more like 40 pages!). She took it to acquisitions, they loved it, and suddenly I’d sold a book that I’d written only a couple chapters of. Crazy! But I was so thrilled, because again, my meeting with Joy had been fantastic and I knew I had to work with her.

This was March 2016. Yep, over a year ago. That’s how long I’ve been sitting on this news. It has been PURE TORTURE, but we had to finalize the deal, and then we had to come up with a title for this brand new book, and then we had to get through the holidays, and then … blah blah blah. But finally finally FINALLY the news came out on Tuesday, and I’m so happy!

I just turned in the revision on the completed manuscript for Better Than the Best Plan. As I imagined after that very first meeting, working with Joy on this book has been an absolute dream. I love getting on the phone with her to hash out plot problems or talk through characters. It has been the best writing experience I’ve ever had. And now I’m starting to develop the shiny new idea I have for the second book in the contract.

And the best part? I’m back to feeling optimistic about writing again. So thank you Stephen, for finding me the perfect home, and thank you Joy, for helping me find my voice again. I truly can’t wait for you guys to read this book. I think it’s going to be really great!

And that’s what’s making me happy this week!

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