A few weeks ago, the announcement became official: my middle grade contemporary book LIBERTY BELLE will debut with Anaiah Press in August 2014. I am beyond excited! I’ve been writing and working hard for years to arrive at this day, and it’s finally here. I’d like to tell you a bit about why I wrote the book I did, and why I chose to work with Anaiah Press to bring it to life.

From corporate daughter to becoming a writer

My family moved around a lot as a kid because of my dad’s job–8 states in 18 years! That’s a lot, but for a shy reader and writer like me, it was pretty overwhelming. LIBERTY BELLE had been writing itself in my head for years. Although my main character Savannah is quite unlike me, her experiences are inspired by many moves as a child and how hard it can be to make new friends while still keeping up with your old friends. And unlike Savannah, I never lied and said my new house had its own bowling alley or that I lived in former President George Washington’s old house…

As a querying writer

After I wrote LIBERTY BELLE, I queried around a little bit. I had a lot of positive response and suggestions for revision, but I set the project aside for a while as I got married and a few months later began to await the arrival of our identical twin sons. Once they started sleeping through the night (after 9 long months!), I was itching to turn back to writing. I missed it! I never feel quite like myself unless I’m writing.

I discovered the Twitter writing community, which has been amazing! Jessica Schmeidler (Managing Editor for the Adventures children’s imprint for Anaiah) and I started chatting after she read my blog post about Pitch Wars, and I ended up querying her with LIBERTY BELLE. I figured why not? I didn’t have anything to lose, and after reading back through it and remembering how much time I had spent polishing and rereading it, I sent it off, not knowing what to expect. Jess and I instantly connected, and I really hoped that we might be able to work together.

To my surprise, Jessica wrote back and requested the full. I was cautiously optimistic. But after several years of querying various projects here and there, I tried not to get excited. There’s a wonderful quote that often runs through my mind from one of my favorite middle grade books, HOLES by Louis Sachar. The quote says:

“If Stanley and his father weren’t always hopeful, then it wouldn’t hurt so much every time their hopes were crushed.”

I’m a positive person, and sometimes it hurts having hope. But you can’t let it hold you back from creating opportunities. So I was ecstatic on January 20 when Jessica wrote me and let me know that Anaiah Press was going to offer me a publishing contract.

And this is how I felt (couldn’t help but give a nod to one of my fave Sandra Boynton books):

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I couldn’t believe that the moment I had been waiting for so long was here.  I celebrated that night with Chinese food and a giant cupcake. (Note to self: don’t combine those two cuisines again.)

Choosing the Anaiah Press family

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I knew instinctively that this was the right opportunity at the right time. I read through the contract and arranged a conference call with Eden Plantz, Executive Editor. My conversation with Eden absolutely sealed the deal. She was completely friendly, professional, and her discussion of the marketing and publicity plans and all of the awesome activities that would be arranged for the book release blew me away. I knew that they were going places, and I wanted to be on board! I signed the contract, and on February 5 the announcement was made on Twitter and Publisher’s Marketplace. Once Eden sent me the deal listing, it started to actually feel real!

(< Okay, technically I signed the contract electronically…but couldn’t pass up the rite of passage–the paper signature!)

I felt welcome at Anaiah right away. Both the authors and publishing team make it all feel like a family. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and am excited to work hard these next few months to help LIBERTY BELLE start to ring!

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