On The Twitter this weekend, I wrote that the rooftops in Philadelphia looked sugar-dusted.
That was true. But the streets looked more like clumps of icing. Sugar-slush.
Philadelphia is a beautiful, sparkly city and it was darn cold when I visited. Nevertheless! I pulled on my jacket (not my cool wool jacket ... because I couldn't fit that in my 400 pound suitcase) and met up with my editor, Mallory.
Allow me a moment to gush:
I read a quote by Richard Peck that I reference all the time when people ask me what the editing process is like. He said the best editors hold a flashlight while you dig for buried treasure in your manuscript. Or something like that. I might have mauled his quote. Nevertheless, that was the gist of it. ;) And it's how I felt when I was working with Mallory.
Until I worked with her, I didn't realize editing was such an art. I think many people hear "editing" and assume it's all grammatical stuff, but that's actually the very last aspect that gets worked. (This is a post for another time, but I've never been enthralled by grammar rules. My approach to grammar is very Captain Barbosa-like: "They're more, what ye' call, guidelines than actual rules.")
Even when something wasn't working in the book, Mallory had a way of helping me look at it differently. Revising a book is H A R D. Even in the best situation, it's so stinking hard. Taking a story apart and reworking it morphs me into a melodramatic, ice cream guzzling maniac. Maybe it's not hard for the best, most talented authors out there. Maybe it gets easier as you go. But it's very hard for me. That said, because I had such a great editor, I didn't feel defeated, even through the hard parts. There were lots of times I felt like we holding up scenes together, looking at them as if they were sparkly little things in a curiosity shop.
How can we position this better?
How can we polish this up?
Could we smooth this rough edge?
What's the best way to display this so it catches the light ...
I learned so much about writing and storytelling from working with her.
In addition to being such an incredible and talented editor, Mallory's a wonderful person to be around. So I'd been looking forward to hanging out with her for weeks.
Sadly, I'm a major party pooper in winter, because I'm so paranoid about ice and snow. I think anybody who has broken has many bones as I have would probably understand this fear, right? I'm so careful, but ice makes me nervous. Team Scholastic knows that, and they're wonderful about offering an arm or whatever. Plus, I don't mind being a princess and taking a cab when I need to. (For this country girl, taking a cab is always a thrill anyway ;). So I told Mallory I'd be shuffling the whole time and she told me we wouldn't even venture out, if I didn't want too. But Philly does a great job keeping their sidewalks clear (Thank you, Philly!!!). And the city was so beautiful that I at least wanted to see a tiny corner of it.
... and then we got outside and I realized it was like six degrees. So we only ventured a few streets over to a cute little bistro.
We ordered drinks and truffle fries and then Mallory said, "I have a surprise for you. It's the best surprise ever."
I could hear my heart hammering in my ears then, because I thought surely, surely it can't be THAT SURPRISE. The book's not out for another month. I didn't know when authors actually received copies but I'd assumed it was around the same time it was released.
I asked, "... is it going to make me cry?"
She nodded. "Oh yeah."
And whoa, did it ever.
Mallory gave me a hardback copy of my book.
A Snicker of Magic is a book!!! A REAL BOOK.
It's so, so beautiful, whimsical, and FUN. Scholastic went above and beyond with this story, packaging it in such a lovely way.
Nina Goffi designed the book, and I'm quite certain she sprinkled fairy dust all over it:
The cover is embossed! The front pages look like a chalkboard!
Mallory gently pulled the cover away so I could see the endpapers. The beautiful Emily Heddleson came up with this idea, and I'm WILD over it. Felicity's words!!!!!
The actual hard cover is purple and yellow: so bright and whimsical and fun.
... and there's a sweet little secret under the jacket too, in the lower corner of the cover ....
But I won't spoil it for you ; )
I can't imagine a sweeter way to see my book for the first time. I'm thrilled Mallory gave it to me, that we celebrated over sunset-colored drinks on a snowy day. Sounds of laughter and happy-chatter and clinking glasses bubbled up all around us. We toasted to magic. And dreams come true.
"To Felicity Pickle," Mallory said.
To Felicity Pickle - a quirky girl brave enough to see the world a bit differently.
This is Mallory. AND THAT'S OUR BOOK:
If you'll allow me another geekout moment: Tracy, the lovely PR Czar at Scholastic, retweeted that picture of me and Mallory. RL Stine (!!!!!) responded with this:
R.L. Stine tweeted me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you think I'm going to print that out, you are most certainly correct.
It's a scary thing to have a book in the world. It's a dream-come-true, 100%. But it's surreal to hold something that started in your imagination. I'm overwhelmed by the love Scholastic has given this book. And for the ways booksellers and librarians and readers are already embracing it. I think a story belongs to everybody. That's how book-magic works. One of the sweetest compliments I got at Winter Institute was when somebody said, "I feel at home in this book. I feel like it's mine." I love that. And it brings me to this:
For as long as you decide to hold it in your heart, I hope Felicity's story brings you heaps of joy. If you have fun during the 200+ pages you visit Midnight Gulch, I'll be so happy.
But deep down, I guess I'm also hoping one reader might find their own magic inside the pages.
That she's reminded that her words matter and mean something.
That he realizes there might just be a major victory on the other side of that thing he's so afraid of.
That she remembers, even on the darkest days, hope is always fluttering somewhere so close.
That he, or she, reads the book and remembers the person who made them feel unconditionally loved and spindiddly and capable of magic. Because you absolutely are capable of magic, is the thing. You don't even need a carton of Blackberry Sunrise (though it would be awesome). You only ever need to be your geeky-awesome self.
Last thing, and then I'll hush: somebody asked me what I was most anticipating when the book was published. Seeing the cover? Seeing the book on a shelf? Seeing a young reader holding the book? Getting a note from someone who liked it?
Don't get me wrong, all of those things would be THRILLING. I pity the people within squealing distance of me when, and if, those things happen.
But the first answer that popped into my mind was this: I can't wait to give my parents a finished copy of the book. Because even though they've been over the moon about all of this, they never - not once - doubted it would happen someday.
Last night, I gave my finished novel to my parents.
And it was just as sweet an experience as I thought it would be.
I'm so blessed to have people in my life who make living so magical.
Welcome to the dreamy-blue world, Felicity Juniper Pickle. I hope you find a home in someone's heart. Cheers to you. And cheers to Mallory and my agent, Suzie, and Scholastic. And to my parents and friends and dog. Here's to magic. And wonder. And hope.
And a most spindiddly dream come true.