Today is the day. My first true middle grade, STAND ON THE SKY, is out today, from HMH Kids Books in the US, and from Scholastic here in Canada. It should be in bookstores coast to coast to coast!
This is the book of my heart. I have always wanted to write a book about brothers and sisters -- I was very close to my late sister, to whom this book is dedicated.
I've always wanted to write a book about falconry -- the art of hunting in partnership with falcons, hawks, or eagles. I've been obsessed with it ever since came across a hawk caught by its jesses in the woods behind my house, when I was only eight or so.
Also, I really, really, really wanted to write a version of Where The Red Fern Grows (or Sounder, or Old Yeller) that had a happy ending.
So here you go. Where the Red Fern Grows, but in Mongolia, with a sister, a brother, an eagle, and a happy ending.
I've been promising news for a while, and I am finally free to tell you -- I have a new book coming out!
It's called Stand on the Sky, and it's a middle-grade adventure with a classic feel -- I pitch it as "Where The Red Fern Grows, but in Mongolia, with a girl, an eagle, and a happy ending." It will be out in March from HMH Books for Young Readers in the US, and from Scholastic Canada in Canada.
And, guys, look: It's so beautiful!
(Cover art by the tremendous Ji-Hyuk Kim. He's so talented!)
I have a life-long passion about birds and falconry, and I spent the summer of 2015 in Western Mongolia, living with a nomadic family of Kazakh eagle hunters, looking for the shape of a book. I found it!
(photo by Seanan Forbes. I basically spent the whole time in Mongolia looking this gormless)
And obviously it's a shape very dear to my heart.
Many thanks to the Waterloo Regional Arts Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts for supporting my summer of goats and...
So! In November I finished a major edit of Secret Book #5.
Here is how I do it – or how I did it this time. As of the end of October, it had been about six weeks since I looked at this manuscript, which meant I was able to read it and at least TRY to see what’s really on the page, instead of seeing what I intended to put there. This is of course more or less impossible, but time helps. So does printing the manuscript and spiral binding it so that reading it is as much like reading a book as possible. And of course nothing helps more than an actual editor. Thank God for them.
So. I spend some time with the edit letter and some time with my own notes to myself. Then I made an edit plan: I work at the level of scenes and chapters (and occasionally paragraphs), moving things around, deleting things and adding things, to create better pacing and to bring the right elements of the story to the fore.
I finished reworking the opening of Novel #5 and intellectually I think the new opening is better but I have lived with the old opening so long that it seems like the One True Opening and so now I have WRITER DOUBT help.
Yesterday, as previously mentioned, I had a deep read of my editorial letter and my assorted scribblings to myself and based on calls with my editor, with the goal of beginning an edit plan. As predicted I did fall into the pit of despair labelled MY BOOK WASN'T PERFECT THE FIRST TIME AND THEREFORE I AM AN UNFIXABLY TERRIBLE AUTHOR.
But! said pit was only a few hundred kilometers across, and since I was on a train I was able to pass through it in 90 minutes. After that I was able to really begin an edit plan, starting one for the opening (which is the only major structural piece) and actually finishing one for the ALL IS LOST beat toward the end of Act Two. This is big!
Manuscript for fiction #6 submitted yesterday. For my next trick, I am going to re-read the manuscript for fiction #5, pull apart the editorial letter, and try not to fall into a pit of despair and weeping over the fact that the BOOK IS TERRIBLE AND UNFIXABLE AND I AM UNWORTHY, etc. Fun! Wish me luck!