KINGDOM OF SECRETS to be Published by Delacorte!

I am overjoyed to announce that my debut middle grade novel, KINGDOM OF SECRETS (formerly THE BALLOONIST), is going to be published by Delacorte Press! I’m still pinching myself over the news! Despite the usual glacial pace of publishing, everything has been moving at warp speed for the last few weeks, and none of it has played out the way I expected. Here’s how it happened…

By November, my manuscript had been on submission for about eight months, and I’d fallen into a slump. I didn’t think KINGDOM OF SECRETS was going to sell, and revisions on my other WIPs had stalled. Every time I sat down to write, my brain and/or the English language refused to cooperate. The only thing that seemed to be working for me at the time was writing kids’ poetry, something I’ve always done in the margins without any aspirations of publication. So I put all my energy into my poems and started a new account on Instagram (@teacup_rhymes) to showcase them. One of my first posts was this short poem by Shel Silverstein with this rather ironic caption.

 “Ever since I started writing #kidlit, traditional publication has been the goal, with a primary focus on my middle grade novels. But lately I’ve fallen into a slump. As happens to most of us #aspiringwriters, I’ve grown discouraged by the pace of the process, the hurdles, and the constant rejections. It’s led to a pretty serious case of writer’s blah, if not full-scale writer’s block.

But recently I came across this poem, which reminded me why I started writing in the first place: to put something in. Poetry has always been something I wrote primarily for myself and for my daughter, but I realized I had a folder full of poems lying around gathering (virtual) dust. So why not put them in? They’re silly and imperfect, but I’m pretty proud of them. And at the very least, they’re mine.

I’ll get back to those middle grade novels eventually, when the blah has passed. But in the meantime, this account is my effort to put something in. And maybe – hopefully – you’ll get something out of it.”

Just four days after I posted that, I found out that Wendy Loggia, a Senior Executive Editor at Delacorte, was interested in my book. I got the news precisely when I least expected it. And precisely when I’d convinced myself it wasn’t going to happen. 

I’d heard that the acquisition process was as drawn-out and tense as everything else in publishing, so I braced myself for more waiting and potential disappointment. But I went from having an interested editor to having a full-fledged offer from Delacorte in a matter of hours. Several other editors were still reading my manuscript, so my agent went back and worked her magic behind the scenes. Delacorte increased their offer in exchange for my signing with them immediately (known as a pre-empt), and I accepted. Within two days of the initial communication from Wendy, I had a book deal! 

Then came the waiting. I was told it would take at least a month and a half for the paperwork to be processed and for the deal to be made official – meaning my smiling face would appear in one of those famous little blurbs in Publisher’s Weekly. In this case, I actually welcomed the extra time. It would give me the chance to update my website, plan next steps, and mentally prepare for what was about to happen. But just a couple weeks later, I checked Twitter and there was I was – in Publisher’s Weekly! At first I thought it was a mistake, but my editor assured me they’d just announced sooner than anticipated. I would’ve panicked, but I didn’t have the chance – I was too busy responding to words of congratulations from friends, family, and strangers. It was exhilarating, exhausting, and overwhelming. I didn’t feel prepared, but then again, maybe I never would be. 

This is the time of year when I normally reflect on past achievements and future goals. 2019 has been a wild ride, to say the least. It started with the high of signing with an agent, followed by the launch of my picture book, Abra, Cadabra, & Bob, which had its own share of ups and downs. Then a productive writing summer gave way to the autumn blahs. And now I’m ending the year with a book deal. Who’d have thunk it? (Answer: Not me.)

As for goals, I’m going to post more in the coming months about my plans for debut year (I already have a 4 page list!). At a minimum, I expect 2020 to be exhilarating, exhausting, and overwhelming. And, if the trend continues, it’ll be nothing at all like I’m expecting.


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