Sunday, June 24, 2018

Behind Every One of My Published Books is the Story of How it Almost Didn't Happen

Hello, fellow lovers of YA!

I never got around to writing a release day post for A KISS IN THE DARK back in March, so I promised myself I'd put something together when I finally had the chance, because this book definitely deserves it.

In April, I flew back to my home state of Connecticut for a joint BUSTED/A KISS IN THE DARK launch party. What I told the crowd that night was this:

"Behind every one of my published books is the story of how it almost didn't happen."

Photo Credit: Michael Lello

Want proof? Read how LYM came to be published two years after going *off* submission here, and get the details on BUSTED's 5-year journey to publication here.

I've probably mentioned this before, but A KISS IN THE DARK was not supposed to be the second book in my 2-book contract with Simon Pulse. Book 2 was supposed to release in 2016, one year after LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE debuted. The story that originally got approved was a novella that I converted into a full-length novel. And that I should've just left alone, because no matter what I did to it, I hated it. So did my editor.

In the middle of rewrite #3 on this manuscript from hell, my editor left Pulse. I adored her, and I was devastated. It didn't help that I was weaning myself off antidepressants after a nasty battle with postpartum depression. Just the thought of trying to scale the mountain of agony that was this novel without her exhausted me. Sure enough, when my new editor contacted me, the verdict was this: either rewrite the story again, or start fresh with a new idea.

I was honestly relieved that someone had given me the option to walk away from this manuscript. That was how much I despised it. But now I had a whole new novel to write, so Book 2 was moved to 2017.

Turns out thinking up a new concept was the easy part. The story was partially inspired by a Superbowl commercial. (Hint: Audi)

Anyone else remember this???

The other factor in the inspiration equation was a blackout... that also occurred during the Superbowl. 

Superbowl XLVII (Photo found online)

All this football-related inspiration is pretty ironic, considering how little I watch or know about sports. But the titular kiss occurs during a football game, and the story includes flashback chapters that tie the identity of the mystery kisser to a fire that nearly destroyed Macy Atwood's best friend’s house – and was also the final straw in destroying their friendship. 

I go into more detail about the challenges of getting the earliest draft of KISS written here, but the long and short of it is this:

- The concept was approved on proposal, or a synopsis + 30 sample pages.

- The first draft was an 81,000-word mess. I had to hire a babysitter just to get it written.

- I'd written exactly what I'd detailed in the synopsis, and then got a 7-page edit letter from my editor asking me to rewrite the whole thing.

- Two major rewrites followed, in which I deleted two characters and approximately 40,000 words that would be rewritten from the ground up.

- Revisions were so intense that the pub date got moved once again - this time from 2017 to 2018.

I barely talked about this book publicly, because I honestly thought the pub date might be moved a third time, from 2018 to NEVER.

Luckily, I was wrong. All those edits paid off, and A KISS IN THE DARK turned into something I was really proud of.
On March 6, 2018, it became my 3rd published novel.

Photo Credit: Michael Lello
So there you have it, the story behind the story of A KISS IN THE DARK.

If you bought the book, THANK YOU! If you'd like to, it's available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, etc.

If you reviewed the book, THANK YOU! Reviews are so important to a book's visibility, so if you're willing to leave a few lines ("there were words and I liked them" totally counts as a valid review) on Amazon or B and N 's website, I am truly grateful to you.

And if you're an aspiring author who thinks it's never going to happen for you, I leave you with the words I've been saying since my first book got its second chance all those years ago: You never know. No, really. You don't.