Monday, January 17, 2011

It's DEBUT DAY for Heather Newton's Novel!!!

*** Please join me in celebrating Heather Newton's debut day for her novel Under the Mercy Trees. Heather is an incredible woman, an incredible writer, and a dear dear heart. If you can afford it, I hope you'll support her by buying her novel. Or asking your local library to order a copy. Or anything else you can think of. I am brimming with happiness for Heather today. And clapping with true vigor and my whole heart! xoxox, everyone. ---Rebecca

                                   Thoughts For Publication Day by Heather Newton

My mother, Suzanne Newton, is a writer, author of nine novels for young adults published by Westminster Press and Viking.  Her first book, Purro and The Prattleberries (about a cat who discovers magic berries in his yard that enable him to speak) came out in 1971 when I was in the first grade.  What I remember most about the publication of that book is how thrilled my school librarian, Mrs. Mullins, was to have the children of a real live author attending her school.  For my remaining five years at A. B. Combs Elementary I could do no wrong in Mrs. Mullins’ eyes–she let me check out as many books as I wanted, whenever I wanted, for as long as I wanted.  It was awesome.

On the eve of the release of my own first novel, Under The Mercy Trees, I decided to ask my mom what she remembered about getting her first book published.  In many ways her experience was similar to mine, but in others the Information Age has made my publication experience radically different from hers.

My mom wrote her first book on a manual Hermes typewriter, using carbon paper to make herself a copy.  Back then writers could actually send their manuscripts directly to publishers without having an agent (gasp!) and that’s what my mom did.  Over a two-year period she sent it out to one publisher at a time via snail mail (simultaneous submissions were a no-no) until finally she got back a thin envelope instead of the fat “we’re-not-interested-here’s-your-book-back” envelope.  She told me that when the mailman delivered the thin envelope she went inside the house, locked the doors and took the phone off the hook so no one would interrupt her while she opened it.  When she read the acceptance she was over the moon, just as I was when my agent called to tell me HarperCollins wanted to publish my novel. 

You can imagine what the editing process was like before the age of the personal computer.  My mom had to make revisions on her Hermes.  The galleys arrived as long unwieldy reams of paper.  Once the book came out, her publisher clipped copies of reviews and mailed them to her–her only indication of how readers were receiving her book.

In contrast, I had a computer to make the many revisions necessary to get my novel into publishable form.  When my agent sent it out, most editors wanted an electronic file they could read on their e-readers.  And during this past year, thanks to the Internet and Google Alerts, I have been able to read every review and reference to my book the minute any mention hits cyberspace. 

One downside of the Internet is of course that it can rob you of writing time if you let it.  It can also make a debut author horribly self-centered–the temptation to constantly see who is talking about you and your book is powerful.  The benefits, however, far outweigh the negatives, and I don’t just mean the opportunity to get the word out about your work via blogging, Facebook and the many other social media sites now available to authors. 

For me, the most wonderful aspect of coming of age as a writer in the Information Age has been getting to know other authors on line this past year.  These writers–mostly women and mostly debut novelists like me–are wonderful, interesting, talented people whose support and encouragement has really changed how I view my writing life.   I no longer see myself as standing alone waist-deep in surf as waves buffet me and I struggle to remain on my feet.  The community of writers I’ve found has allowed me to change that metaphor.  I now feel like I’m nearing the end of a marathon with a lovely crowd of supporters cheering me on as I approach the finish line.  In turn, I get the privilege of cheering for them and celebrating their successes.  I’m so grateful.

14 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I'm really excited about Heather's book and will be reading it soon because she's coming here for a Book Your Lunch on February 1!

Heather said...

Thank you Rebecca! I'll be walking around with a face-splitting grin on my face all day. Bermudaonion, please be sure to introduce yourself if you make it to the Lazy Goat! :)

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

Yay for you Heather!!! I am so excited for you today honey! Have a wonderful wonderful launch!

Kathy, that's so exciting! I love the idea of those Book Your Lunches: have so much fun!

XOXO

DazyDayWriter said...

I loved this, Heather (the quote below); feel much the same. In fact, when I launched SunnyRoomStudio about a year ago (a creative, sunny space for kindred spirits) ... it was with the idea of creating community for creative souls and it has been wonderfully rewarding! Congratulations on your novel -- I will be looking forward to reading it!

And Rebecca, you live in one of my favorite cities: St. Louis. We enjoyed our time there a great deal. If you'd like to guest in SunnyRoomStudio when your book comes out in April ... just let me know. May or June or July... also fine! Warm regards, Daisy @ www.daisyhickman.com

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The community of writers I’ve found has allowed me to change that metaphor. I now feel like I’m nearing the end of a marathon with a lovely crowd of supporters cheering me on as I approach the finish line. In turn, I get the privilege of cheering for them and celebrating their successes. I’m so grateful.

Ann Hite said...

I'll put on my list for this weekend to pick up from Borders. Sounds like a great read. Good luck Heather. If you're in Atlanta reading, let me know.

Robin Antalek said...

what a lovely moment to share with your mother, heather. how extraordinary the similarities and the differences...

jessicamccann.com said...

Congratulations on your book launch! What a great post. Thanks for sharing your mom's memories of her first book. It's so interesting to hear stories from other authors and, as you said, connect with them in ways never before possible. I'm curious, is your mom still writing? Does she go online?

April said...

Yeah Heather! And just so you know... I am so sure Ms. Mullins is very proud of you and trying to figure out a way to get that book delivered....

Melissa Crytzer Fry said...

Your book sounds wonderful, Heather. Must add to my "But, dearest husband, I need MORE books as part of my writing research" list.

Rebecca - thanks for introducing us to such FABULOUS debut authors.

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

Thank you everyone, SO MUCH for supporting Heather on this big day. I just wanted her to smile all day long :)

Daisy: we should talk St. Louis!

Amanda said...

Congratulations, Heather! I got chills just reading the title of this post. "Debut" is such a fabulous sounding word to the ears of a writer, no? And, how lovely that you and your mom have this writing bond in common. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and all the best to you~

novelwhore said...

I LOVE that Heather and her mom are both writers! I can't imagine typing any length of time on a typewriter (I've already used my backspace key five times in this comment!) and think that was a wonderful memory to share. That almost seems a more innocent time - before writers immediately saw a glowing or now-so-glowing review. There was some protection... but also not the interconnectedness with readers. Thanks for sharing.

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

Thank you all so much for supporting Heather. I would sell this book in the snow--that's the kind of chance I think it deserves out there in the market. So here's to all of you and your voices adding to the growing clamor about her book. Love to you all.

p.s. I'm like novelwhore, I can barely type on my computer!!

Mara said...

What a thrilling time for you, Heather. The excitement is contagious! Can't wait to read Under the Mercy Trees --- terrific title, and our Rebecca is never wrong about these things! Yes, I can relate to "standing alone waist-deep in surf" but more importantly I can relate to having so many new friends holding hands on the shore! Congratulations!

"These are the days when Birds come back/a very few/a Bird or two/to take a backward look."

"These are the days when Birds come back/a very few/a Bird or two/to take a backward look."