Friends! It’s been too long. The past few months have been a fast and furious roller coaster of brainstorming, outlining, writing and revising, but I have emerged from my drafting den with four (yes, four!) completed Game Face manuscripts!
Writing my first Kid-Lit series has been an eye-opening journey into the exciting world of publishing. Until now, seeing my stories hit the shelves had always been a dream. Now, it was going to be the reality. (Pinch me!) As such, I took the process very seriously. Four manuscripts in five months is no small task, but with the proper mix of organization, dedication and focus (ahem, no blogging for awhile), I found the winning combination: Research, Revise, Rejoice!
Research: In my new role as Professional Author, I felt the added pressure to craft stories that my readers could connect with. Game Face is all about feisty females who charge the fields before them. My hope is that young girls (and boys!) involved in sports will be interested in checking out my books. As such, it was important that I get the rules right. Sure, a lot of what I write is rooted in creative fiction, but you can’t write a sports series without understanding how to play the games!
The sports featured in Game Face are softball, ice hockey, dance and sports broadcasting. Of the four, I was most familiar with softball and broadcasting.
From Little League through College Club, I played catcher and right field on various softball teams, and was able to incorporate sport-specific material based off of personal experiences from the diamond. For sports broadcasting, my writing and communications background helped inspire various word nerd scenes. For everything else (which was a lot!) I used a variety of research sources – books, internet, videos, performances and, my personal favorite, people! (Big thanks to Amy Mancini, Mary Livingston and Ashley Allen!)
Revise: It’s not always easy sharing your ideas with new people, so when the time came to send my first draft off to ABDO, admittedly, I was nervous! Thankfully, my amazing trio of editors, Megan, Tam and Heidi, instantly understood my vision. They fell in love with my girls, laughed at my corny jokes and enhanced the stories with their own creative and thoughtful tweaks. Together, we collaborated beautifully to create a series filled with passion and pride.
Once the words started to flow, a clear image of the Game Face girls began to emerge.
After the second manuscript was complete, Laura, my art director, and Tim, our amazing illustrator, sent me the first draft of character sketches. (Cue jaw hitting the floor!) There they were: my girls! With faces, and expressions and personalities (oh my!) To be honest, this might have been the coolest part of the entire project. Seeing my characters literally come to life on the page was a total first for me, and it made writing the final two manuscripts that much more exciting.
Of course, throughout the revision process, my agent Clelia continued to be a source of encouragement and support. (Thanks, Clel!)
Rejoice: With manuscripts due in September, October, December and January, I had to devise a writing timeline that was pretty intense. Not only did I have to brainstorm, research, outline and write each manuscript before sending it off to ABDO, but I also had to build in time to do revisions of my own before handing it off to my editors.
Thankfully, I’m good with a deadline and was able to tap into my Type-A organizational skills to map out a plan that was both effective and realistic.
However, I also knew that, in order to produce quality writing, I had to factor in some down time to rejoice and celebrate! After each manuscript was officially accepted, I took about one week off, giving me just enough time to relax and recharge before heading into the next story. Whether getting a manicure, watching a movie, reading a non Kid-Lit book, or simply enjoying a nice dinner out, these little moments along the way helped keep me motived and energetic. Plus, spending quality time with each character before moving on to the next allowed me to really get to know the girls, which ultimately came through in my writing. (Win, Win!)
Although the writing is done, the work is far from over. During this second half of the project, the team at ABDO now takes my completed manuscripts and begins the process of turning them into books! (REAL LIVES BOOKS!) So, check back in for updates and sneak peeks (illustrations, anyone?) as I continue on this ever evolving journey towards December 15, 2017 – the day Game Face officially hits the shelves!
Are you wondering how the stories turned out? Funny you should ask, because a little birdie told me that’s coming up next on the blog ….(gotta love a good cliff-hanger, right?)