News from Heidi
Here you can find news about the book, festival, and what's happening with Heidi.
The character's name "Brick" is lovingly inspired by my friend's son, Brick, who was born the same week I came up with the character. (Also, this little cutester was just named "Student of the Month.")
At one point, I shopped the manuscript around (the first "Brick" chapters) as a novella called Low Sky Dreaming. The novella placed second in the Quarterly West Novella Competition judged by best-selling writer Bret Lott who wrote the Oprah Book Club Book, Jewel.
I did a reading from the manuscript (pre-Bellwether Prize) to an audience of about 200. I was so excited! Then I learned that the students' attendance was a class requirement. Still, it was a great reading!
I chose the name Nella for the mother in honor of Nella Larsen, the Harlem Renaissance writer who was black and Danish, and is my literary muse.
When I'm working on a writing project, I write the acknowledgments page first and then keep adding to it. It's kind of like writing the Oscar acceptance speech in advance: just in case, I really do finish the book, I'll remember everyone I want to thank.
Worst advice I heard on the journey to publication: "Stop working on this manuscript. Your writing shows promise, but you'll never get this published."
Photo by Bright Star via Flickr
Best advice I got on the journey to publication: "You just need one gatekeeper to say yes to the manuscript. Now you just have to find that person."
I met Barbara Kingsolver last night when she was in town for an interview at the Writers Bloc about her new book, The Lacuna (a book with a biracial protagonist by the way).
Barbara Kingsolver was so lovely and kind--I nearly burst into tears. I was just so happy to be able to thank her in person for choosing The Girl Who Fell From the Sky for the Bellwether Prize, and for, well frankly, changing my life!
If you haven't heard her speak, you must. She's a vivacious woman--smart and funny. The surprise of the night came when she suddenly introduced me to the audience as she talked about creating the Bellwether Prize and asked the crowd to congratulate me with applause. It was such an amazing moment. As we filed out of the auditorium at the end, people approached me to congratulate me. It was surreal. What an amazing night. What an amazing woman. I can't thank her enough. I hope the book makes her proud. I have a lot to live up to!
First things first! I promised the answer to the quiz I posted about the book's title.
Here it is: I considered the following titles for the book at various stages: Low-Sky Dreaming; To Feed My Sleep, and Light-skinned-ed Girl. I didn't come up with Nella's Song until I was writing the quiz though I kind of like the sound of it now. But I LOVE the title The Girl Who Fell From the Sky--which was a suggestion from the publisher.
But now onward for the countdown: Fun Fact 90: I used Revising Fiction: A Handbook for Writers by David Madden--recommended by my friend, writer Murad Kalam--as a guide when I was working on the final drafts. (The book is no longer in print, but you can find used copies on www.abebooks.com.)
I'm counting down the last 100 days before the book's publication with 100 Fun Facts about writing the book. Stay tuned by subscribing to my News feed. (See the tan box on the right-side of this page.)
Here are the first 10:
Look for the answer to the question right here on Nov. 16 --the day I think I might meet Barbara Kingsolver in person! I'm terribly excited.
99. This book has been 12 years in the making! I started a version of this book in 1997 shortly after I left corporate law.
98. I have worked on the book at 6 different artists colonies including: Jentel (twice), Djerassi, Ucross, Ragdale, New York Mills Cultural Center, and Hedgebrook.
97. When I was very stuck with the novel, I trained and ran a marathon to cure my writer's block. It kind of worked.
96. A deal with my buddy Laurie Braun to write 200 words each week and then read them aloud to her in-person or over the phone kick-started my writing too. Many of those 200-word passages are still in the book today. Thank you LKB!
95. There is a real-life Aunt Loretta; and she is beautiful too!
94. When Barbara Kingsolver called me last year to tell me that I'd won the Bellwether Prize, I didn't answer the phone because I thought it was a telemarketer. (She left a message--whew!)
93. I got a mean rejection letter from a literary journal that didn't like the chapter I was sending out as a story. That story ended up winning the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition and is part of the book.
92. I like to write with blue ink best.
91. I got to meet Vanessa Williams a couple of years ago after she read a short excerpt from the book. She was so beautiful and so incredibly nice! Can I just say: I love her!
Stay tuned for more Fun Facts--the countdown continues next week! Maybe you have questions about the book I can answer? Let me know!