From First Draft to Publication: A Long and Winding Journey | Holly Schindler
THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY—my first MG novel—releases February 6th. So often, I think we see books for sale on Amazon, with their beautiful covers and their reviews, and it looks so easy…But I know my own journey from first draft to publication was long and winding, with plenty of bumps in the road.
I drafted THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY in ’05, at the end of a make-or-break period. The backstory: I got my master’s in ’01. Mom encouraged me to devote full-time attention to getting a writing career off the ground (it had actually been a lifelong dream). Because I’d already published short pieces (poetry, short fiction, and literary critique), I honestly thought it’d take about a year to write a full-length novel, I’d sell it, have money in the bank, and be off and running.
The truth was that it took seven and a half years to sell my first book—a YA novel, A BLUE SO DARK, which was published in ’10. But about four years into my pursuit of publication, I hit a period during which I was really down in the dumps. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think, to a great extent, my blues were triggered at that point because I had such a school-oriented marker (I started my pursuit of publication the day after my grad school commencement ceremony), and the majority of my big school-related accomplishments had taken four years to complete (it took four years to get out of high school and to get my undergrad degree). Four years into my pursuit of publication, I didn’t feel as though I’d made much progress at all. The only thing I really had to show for my efforts was a skull-sized hole in the drywall of my office, created by banging my head against the wall.
I wound up pushing through it, putting the old rear in the chair and getting to work. Fueled by a new I’m going to make this work resolution, the first book I drafted was THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY. But that first draft wasn’t a middle grade novel—it was a picture book. This time around, editors were finally willing to offer “good” rejections—“no”s that actually offered advice. They all liked the voice, told me the writing was good. But they said that it wasn’t a picture book, that the concept of folk art was too advanced for the picture book readership.
So I set about turning a 1,000-word picture book into a roughly 45,000-word novel, complete with secondary characters and subplots. After a few more rounds of submission, I snagged an agent who wanted to rep THE JUNCTION as a middle grade novel.
But even that didn’t mean that I sold the book quickly or easily…it still took my agent a year and a half to sell the book, to Dial / Penguin (with several rounds of revision in-between rounds of submission), and the book went through a few more rounds of global revision after acquisition.
That’s the thing about going after a writing career—every writer’s path is unique to them. You never know when that “yes” is going to hit. But one thing that I think is true of most writers is that it takes several years and countless drafts before that “yes” finally comes. It was certainly true for me.
Every single time I think about my make-or-break moment in ’05, I’m so grateful I put that old butt in the chair. I honestly can’t imagine a life not writing.
About the Book
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” meets Because of Winn Dixie in this inspiring story of hope.
Auggie Jones lives with her grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town. So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.” But Auggie is determined to prove that there’s more to her—and to her house—than meets the eye.
What starts out as a home renovation project quickly becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time.
Holly Schindler’s feel-good story about the power one voice can have will inspire readers to speak from their hearts.
“…a heartwarming and uplifting story…[that] shines…with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“Axioms like ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ and ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ come gracefully to life in Schindler’s tale about the value of hard work and the power of community…Auggie’s enthusiasm and unbridled creativity are infectious, and likeminded readers will envy her creative partnership with [her grandfather] Gus.” – Publishers Weekly
Author site: hollyschindler.com
Site for young readers: hollyschindlermiddles.weebly.com (Holly Schindler’s Middles – I’m especially excited about this site. I adored getting to interact with the YA readership online—usually through Twitter or FB. But I had to create a site where I could interact with the MG readership. I’m devoting a page on the site to reviews from young readers themselves! Be sure to send your young reader’s review through the Contact Me page.)
THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY Trailer
Enter to Win a Copy of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, Feb. 2-9: A Rafflecopter giveaway
For more on THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY by Holly Schindler, please visit the next stop on her blog tour: Jody Casella’s ON THE VERGE (This stop is scheduled for Feb. 7.).