Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cover Reveal and Guest Post: While He Was Away by Karen Schreck

I'm very pleased to join Sourcebooks in this special black and white edition cover reveal of While He Was Away by Karen Schreck!  The author has also written a guest post on writing for me to share with you all!

One year--he'll be gone for one year and then we'll be together again and everything will be back to the way it should be. 

The day David left, I felt like my heart was breaking. Sure, any long-distance relationship is tough, but David was going to war--to fight, to protect, to put his life in danger. We can get through this, though. We'll talk, we'll email, we won't let anything come between us. 

I can be an army girlfriend for one year. But will my sweet, soulful, funny David be the same person when he comes home? Will I? And what if he doesn't come home at all?

If you ask me, this cover definitely makes a difference!

Guest Post: Top Tips for Writing Even When the Writing Gets Tough

My birthday falls in January, just a few days after New Year’s Day. This January, I received an incredible gift from my publisher, Sourcebooks Fire. My young adult novel, While He Was Away, is being released nation-wide into Walmart with a brand new cover!

When my editor at Sourcebooks, Leah Hultenschmidt, graciously asked if I’d be open to this possibility last fall, I blinked, breathed deep, confirmed I wasn’t dreaming, and said, “Yes!” I held on to the possibility until it became a reality. Then, and only then, did I celebrate.

I won’t speak for all writers, but for me, writing is an act of faith. I love the work deeply, or I wouldn’t do it. I’ve generated a lot of pages that have never seen the light of day, written multiple novels that I’ve relegated to folders on my laptop. Keeping the faith in anything, especially writing, can be hard.

The fact that Sourcebooks believed enough in While He Was Away to bring it to life the first time felt like a much-needed confirmation of years of hard work. The fact that they are standing behind my book again in this way . . . well, it feels like a miracle. I’m truly grateful.

Without further ado, here are my Top Writing Tips (they’ve help me a lot; I hope they help you in some way):

1. Read a lot. Read voraciously. Read like a writer. Read some more. Read people who write in your genre or in a style that is similar to yours and take note of how they do what they do. Read people who write in a completely different way to keep your head clear and give you new ideas. Just. Keep. Reading.

2. Develop a ritual for your writing. I wouldn’t think of telling you what to do. You need to find what works for you, and sometimes that changes with your circumstances. This year, I’ve been working at an ad agency in the city. My ritual is to hunker down in the quiet car on the train and GET A LOT DONE. Previously I’ve written in the very same quiet corner of my local library. In basements. On couches. In bed. By candlelight. I’ve found that consistency and ritual can trigger my creativity. Ring the bell and I’ll salivate. Kind of like that.

3. Don’t be afraid to be messy in your work. Don’t be afraid to push forward even though it isn’t perfect. Nothing is perfect! Embrace that reality, and be kind to yourself. And forgiving of the words on the page.

4. Fall in love with revision. “I’m not a writer,” I once heard a writer say. “I am a re-writer.” I LOVE that. I love the word revision. Re-vision. Seeing again, anew, as if for the first time. Revision gives great perspective. And I think it’s where the real work gets done.

5. Never give up. Keep the faith. Years may pass. But the more you write, the more the very act of writing becomes rewarding. Writing is soul-work; it lends meaning to life. That’s what I believe, and that’s what sees me through. Publication—well, that a wonderful thing. But the writing—that’s where it’s at.

About the Author:

Karen Schreck is the author of the young adult novel WHILE HE WAS AWAY (Sourcebooks Fire, May 2012), as well as the novel DREAM JOURNAL, which was a 2006 Young Adult BookSense Pick, and the award-winning children's book, LUCY'S FAMILY TREE. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize and an Illinois State Arts Council Grant, Karen received her doctorate in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She writes and teaches for a living, and she loves visiting schools and other gatherings of readers and writers to talk about her books the writing process.

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