Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tahereh Mafi's Book Launch Party

Last night Derek and I went to Tahereh Mafi's book launch party for Shatter Me. It was held at this tiny university that we had never heard of before - Soka University of America. This place had hands down the most gorgeous college campus I have ever seen in my life. It was such a shame that we were there after dark. I'm sure it's even more beautiful during the day!

I can't tell you how excited I was to go to this party. The whole way down to Orange County, I felt like it was Christmas Eve. I've met authors at signings and stuff before (mostly in college), but this was the first time I was going to meet an author since I decided that I want to become one myself.

The evening did not disappoint. As I said, the setting was beautiful. The party took place in this lovely meeting room with a ceiling so high I couldn't even see it clearly. There was such a supportive, excited vibe there. Some of the guests were Tahereh's friends and family members, but a lot of them were just fans of her and her blog, like me. But here's the funny thing about fans: They know you, but you don't know them. In this case, it was, "I know you, but you don't know me."

You see, Tahereh was in the elevator that Derek and I took upstairs to the party. As soon as the door shut, I looked around, smiling politely, but as soon as I saw her, I lost my composure. My finger flew up and I pointed at her like an idiot. I think I stammered, "You'''re!" She nodded with immeasurable grace, then Derek complimented her typewriter purse and they talked while I continued to stare like an idiot.

Around the time the event was supposed to start, the president of the university made a little speech, then Tahereh herself welcomed everyone. There was a delicious cake with a picture of Shatter Me on it. Derek chatted with Tahereh's brother about how cool the university's campus was. The fangirl idiot in me assigned Tahereh's brother fame-through-association, so I wasn't able to speak to him with any more composure than I spoke to her.

Later Tahereh sat down at a table and started signing books. A Barnes & Noble vendor was there selling them, which was lucky because my pre-ordered copy hadn't arrived yet. There was a long line of people and I was wearing heels, so Derek and I sat down in some comfy chairs and just observed everything for a while. I was tempted to dive nose-first into the book, but I resisted because I do have some social graces. Once the line died down, we joined it, and then I got to talk to Tahereh Mafi. And do you know what??? SHE RECOGNIZED ME. I wasn't sure how at first, but then she explained that when I commented on her blog (which I had a few times) she looked at my picture and because I had said nice things in my comments, she remembered me! Hell, this was Christmas! I felt so honored. After she signed my book, Tahereh even got up and came around the table and hugged me! Derek was beaming because he knew how much this all meant to me.

After that we drove home. By the next evening, I had finished Shatter Me and fired off an email to Tahereh telling her how much I loved her book and how happy I was to meet her. I didn't expect a response, but I got one a few months later. She apologized for taking so long and explained that she was very busy, but she appreciated the message.

I tell you, that girl is a Class Act.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Few Firsts

I sent out three queries for Mina yesterday. It was scary. I had worked on the letter for days and gotten several people's input, but I still worry that it isn't perfect. No, I'm sure it isn't perfect. I'm worried that it isn't good enough to get an agent's attention.

Today I got my first rejection letter via email. It was from one of my top three agencies. It was impersonal, but very kind, the sort of thing it's hard to get angry about. I'm a little sad. Even in 24 hours I had built up expectations, and the rejection, especially from an agent I so admired, was a blow. But I knew this was coming. I did. And I know there will be MANY more. I've read interviews with other authors enough to know that rejection is inevitable.

I'm comforting myself with some Parks & Recreation while I continue to work on my synopsis. (The queries I sent yesterday didn't require a synopsis, but most of the others do.) I had heard that synopses were difficult to write, but *tears hair out* OMG! Compared to this synopsis, the query letter was easy, and the novel is looking easier all the time! How do you fit 260 pages into 1-2 pages? Or even 3-5? If I figure it out, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I'm doing micro-synopses of every scene in my book. (There are 97 of them.) My plan is to string these little synopses together once I'm done and hopefully create a synopsis of the entire book.

(UPDATE, 7/29/12: This micro-synopsis method only sort of worked. I would not recommend it. It's not worth the effort, and there are better ways to write a synopsis.)

In much, much, MUCH more exciting news, tonight I'm going to a book launch party! It's Tahereh Mafi's for Shatter Me. I've followed Tahereh's blog for months. Reading it is kind of like getting affirmations because she always says such complimentary and encouraging things. It's strange, but those little compliments, even though they're not meant specifically for me, do sometimes keep me going.

I've been curious about book launch parties ever since I started writing, and as this is the first one I've heard of that's in the same state as me, I am determined to go. It's going to take Derek and I two hours in rush hour traffic to get there, but I am so excited. This will be the first time I meet anyone associated with the publishing world in person. Since my pre-ordered copy of Shatter Me hasn't arrived yet, I'm just going to buy another one there (if they're selling them) so that I can get it signed. Eee!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Full Circle - A Year in Review

Last November, I abandoned a story I had been working on for a few months (Safira) and picked up the seed of Mina in the form of a short story I wrote in college. It's been a full year since I made that decision, and it fills me with pride to say that this November, I will finish and query my first novel.

I feel very nostalgic remembering last November. So many things have changed since then. I now write on a desktop iMac instead of a laptop, and due to that fact, I write at home instead of at the Coffee Bean down the street. I still get coffee there almost every morning, but I no longer stay until lunchtime.

Last November, I was terrified. I wanted to write a novel, but I had no idea how. I read debut authors' blogs with envy. Those authors seemed like Olympians to me - they lived in a magical place that I could only dream about. Granted, without an agent or a book deal, I haven't yet seen Olympus, but I'm no longer terrified because I believe my book is good enough to be published.
Photo by Cynthia Koelewyn
Also last November, I had just discovered Florence + the Machine and I listened to her music on repeat - three songs in particular:
  1. Dog Days are Over (of course)
  2. Cosmic Love
  3. You've Got the Love
Today, in full-circle form, I downloaded her new album and I'm listening to it as I write this and as I make the final revisions to Mina.

On a personal note, Derek and I just returned from a New England cruise. One of our dearest friends has fallen quite ill, and he wanted a big trip. There were over a dozen of us in our party. It was cold, but we had a lovely time. To the right is a beautiful photo one of our friends took of us.