Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Year That Was...

I sit here looking back on 2009 from the lofty perch of two whole days into 2010. I have the honor of being the first Girl to post in this New Year and the distinction of being late again to do so. What--you wouldn't want me to do something weird like make resolutions and keep them or anything would you? ;-)

No no. Instead, I thought I'd kick off the year by doing absolutely nothing productive yesterday (a sort of tradition for me--it's like a transitional period from one year to the next) and then do something fun today like... announce the winner of the DARKLIGHT release week contest!

RKCharron come on down!!

You are the winner of a signed, hardcover copy of DARKLIGHT!!

YAY!!! *muppet arm flail*

Please email me at lesley (at) lesleylivingston (dot) com and send me your address!!

And, see, this is what looking back on 2009 means to me! The fact that I can do that--that I can give away a copy of my second book--is what this year has meant to me. I published my first book this year. I wrote the sequel. I saw it launch (yes yes-- I know, in the US. The Canadian release date is mired in confusion which I hope to have cleared up next week when the HC Can offices are open! Promise!). And I finished the first draft of the third book in the trilogy. Ye gods, I have written a trilogy. Everything else?... Pretty much a blur.

Well, not exactly a blur... but the overarching theme for me for 2009 was, of course, the insanity of sudden, acute writerdom! It was a year of tremendous excitement, fun, anxiety, weirdness and wonder. And I would have lost my mind somewhere along the line if it hadn't been for the extraordinary support of family friends and you guys.

It's funny. You spend so much time reaching and reaching for something and then suddenly you have it in your hands and you say "Holy Hell--where did this come from?? And what do I do with it now that I've got it?" That was what 2009 was for me. Half "brass ring", half "be careful what you wish for", all of it... ultimately... awesome. I can't wait to see where 2010 goes from here!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year Everything (And Nothing) Changed

The first thing I thought of at midnight last New Year’s Eve was that 2009 would be the year that I was going to be published, something I’d dreamed of all my life. I could not believe it was finally here. I was convinced that this was going to be my year, that something – no, everything, in my life was going to change.

In some ways, it did. Because of a clerical glitch, I ended up taking a semester off from my teaching job, and so I began, last January, as a “full-time” writer for the first time in my life. I decided that my job was to write. And write I did. I revised a manuscript last winter and then wrote two new manuscripts over the course of this past year. The September Sisters came out in February, and in May I sold my first book for adults. I found myself staying up late at night doing edits on various books, writing blog posts, and responding to book-related e-mails. Although I’d been a writer for a long time, this was the year that I really felt like I became a writer.

And I learned a lot, about writing, about myself as a writer, about publishing, about publicity, about getting rejection (Yes, there was still rejection this year), and about time management, about how to be a writer and still be other things, too.

Because, yes, all these things changed, and my career had finally taken a vastly different and better turn this year, but everything else in my life did not change. I was still a full-time mom and a wife. Holding my finished book in my hands for the first time was amazing, but so was the birthday party I threw for my son around the same time. It was fun to be asked to sign a book during my son’s preschool party, but I was also thrown up on in public by my other son just a few short days later. And yes, I was ecstatic to get a great review in Publisher’s Weekly, but when I saw it for the first time, I was back in Philadelphia for my father-in-law’s funeral.

This was the year that everything changed, and nothing changed at all. It wasn’t a perfect year, but it certainly was an adventure, and isn’t that the kind of year that makes for the best stories?

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Glance Back

Two thousand nine. Hmmmmm. What a year. Just to be able to say "I'm a published author" is surreal. My road to publication was anything but smooth so I suppose that makes it all the sweeter. Well - I can say that now. You couldn't have convinced me of that when I was in the middle of rejection hell by a large quantity of agents and publishers. But yes, I'm holding my debut novel in my hand and it's beautiful and it's dedicated to my boys. It's also dedicated to single mothers. I've been one for many years and I know how hard it is to keep the candle burning.

One can't reflect on an entire year without counting blessings. I couldn't be more grateful for my editor and for my agent. Not only are they gifted at their jobs but I'm even more happy to call each of them my friend. This journey has given us lots of time to get to know one another and my only regret is that I'm not their age! I wish I could fly up to New York and meet them for dinner, laugh about the stuff they laugh about and join in on their twenty-something conversations. I do try and to their credit neither one of them have ever once made me feel like I could be their mom.

What else? Let's see. Ohhhh, I'm still in shock over this one . . . I became an empty-nester this past year. My baby left for college! Now both of my boys are at universities and are working on artsy majors. I guess that means there's no hope for a business person in my home. Wall Street will remain as illusory as it ever was. Michael is majoring in photo-journalism and Will wants to be an audio-engineer. He'll hopefully be a record producer and Michael will either heed the call of the wild and jet off to Africa, work his way over to the action in Iraq (over my dead body he's been known to run forward while looking backward), or more optimistically he'll get a job with the Tennessean, stay close to home and marry and father a granddaughter especially for moi!

On the low side, I lost someone very dear to me. Josiah Berger, a lovely fun-loving and wonderful nineteen-year-old young man, was my son's best friend. He had watched me labor over every draft of Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter since he was a young boy. He never missed an opportunity to encourage me and his smile has left an indelible print on my heart and in my mind.

And finally, 2009 has brought new relationships that I never, ever expected and that's been thrilling. I have been richly blessed by so many people. Old friends and new friends, bookstore personnel, book reviewers & bloggers, and especially the lovely folks who have bought my book. To everyone who has written to me, encouraged me, edified me, invited me to be a part of your book club meetings or shown up at my book signings, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. To my fellow Novel Girls, I'm hoping to actually meet y'all this year. The RWA convention is in Nashville. What to you say? Let's meet there with a party after at my house???

Happy 2010 to all of our loyal Novel Girl Followers. I hope it's filled with more joy than your heart could possible desire. Thank you for sticking with us.

Much love and peace to you all! Lisa

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking Back

I can't believe that this is my last post on TNG in 2009. My, how things have changed--and how quickly this year flew by. Looking back, at the start of the year, I had no idea what to expect. I was filled with a strange combination of excitement, fear, and the urge to just shut my eyes until it was all over. As I've said before, I'd compare it to childbirth.

My anxiety only grew as my book's release date approached. By the time June 1st rolled around, I was nearly certifiable. I guess it was because there were so many things that I couldn't control, like bookstore placement and Amazon reviews. And for the first few months after my book released, I remained a basket case. Now, finally, six months post-release, I think I'm sort of back to normal.

Until it all will start up again in a few weeks when I realize it's time to launch another book. Not that I'm complaining or anything, but I think I should start meditating, like, yesterday.

Despite all the nerves about launching my book, it was also the year I could truly officially call myself an author. I didn't have to have those awkward conversations where you tell someone you're a writer and have to say, "But the book won't be published for like two years" so they totally think you're lying.

This was a year where I launched my first book, turned in my second, wrote a third. (That I'm in the middle of revising. Again. Don't ask.) So yeah, by all quantifiable measures, I'd say 2009 was pretty kick ass.

Catch you guys in 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Year Ahead

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend! We did, and with a new Wii in the house, the younger set hasn't been bored since Friday. We'll see how long that lasts!

We still have too many cookies and lots of leftovers in the house, but the kids are home all week, so nothing should go to waste. Next year, less cookies. (Though, I say that every year!)

This week's topic is what we're looking forward to in 2010. On the serious side, I'm hoping for continued good health, happiness, and success for my family and friends. On the less serious side, I can't wait for LOST to return (February!), and for the Olympics to begin (also February!).

I'm also looking forward to the release of A BREATH OF MAGIC (May), my oldest son graduating from high school (June), and my daughter completing her first year of college (she made the honor roll her first semester, so hopefully that will continue!).

Finally, I'm looking forward to another year of fun here on the TNG. How about you? What are you looking forward to in 2010?

So, this post is short and sweet, but we're heading out to the movies this afternoon (hmm, Avatar or Sherlock?) and then I have a ton of work to do.

I hope everyone has a terrific New Year and I'll see you next week!