Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Welcome Wendesday: Guest Author Sara Polsky with Advice for Writers!


"Sophie's inner journey from resignation to hopefulness is authentically portrayed and will provide great comfort to any teen contending with a parent's affliction. Perceptive and sincere." -Kirkus Reviews

 "A heart-wrenching and sincere debut." -Sarah Wylie, author of All These Lives

 "Artful and accomplished, Polsky's first novel offers a heartfelt and vividly insightful examination of a family in crisis. I couldn't put it down." -Michael Cart, Critic and Booklist Columnist

Sophie has always lived her life in the shadow of her mother's bipolar disorder: monitoring medication, making sure the rent is paid, rushing home after school instead of spending time with friends, and keeping secrets from everyone. 

But when a suicide attempt lands Sophie's mother in the hospital, Sophie no longer has to watch over her. She moves in with her aunt, uncle, and cousin--a family she's been estranged from for the past five years. Rolling her suitcase across town to her family's house is easy. What's harder is figuring out how to rebuild her life.

And as her mother's release approaches and the old obligations loom, Sophie finds herself torn between her responsibilities toward her mother and her desire to live her own life, Sophie must decide what to do next.


Sara Polsky, debut author of This Is How I Find Her, has more than a few interesting things to say about being a writer and bringing a book - with all its characters, twists, and emotion - to life. Read on...

When someone asks me what advice I have for aspiring writers, I often say "have patience." I don't just mean patience with the publishing process, which moves according to its own mysterious timeline, but patience with the process of writing itself. When I wrote This Is How I Find Her, patience was the thing I most needed.

The first glimmers of the story popped into my head nearly six years ago, but while I knew who the key characters were from the beginning -- their personalities, their relationships, their pasts, and how they would change over the course of the story -- I struggled to find their voices. My first attempts at the story were 100 percent wrong. They were too laden with backstory, too dreary, or -- worst of all -- they sounded more like me trying to be the writers I admired than like me actually being, well, me.

Finally, maybe a year after first getting the idea for the book, I sat down on the floor next to my bed one day and started typing what might have been the thirtieth or fortieth stab at an early scene...and the voice felt right. (That scene, in only slightly altered form, is now the fourth chapter of the book.) Still, even once I finally locked down the voice, so much else about the book was wrong: the secondary characters weren't as real on paper as they were in my head, and the main character failed to change at all for the first 150 pages.

So a few months after finishing that first oh-so-flawed draft, I opened up a new blank document and started again, trying to tighten up the plot and bring the secondary characters into focus. The second draft was stronger, but it still needed some major revisions, so a third draft followed, and a fourth, and a fifth, and probably a few more where the revisions were small enough that I stopped counting them as whole new drafts. Eventually, in the middle of that process, I signed with an agent and then an editor. And along the way, I discovered something I'd already suspected was true: that revision, as lengthy and frustrating as it can be, is actually my favorite stage of the writing process. I love the chance to go back and refine the mess I started with, in the hope of getting closer to the story I've held all along in my head. I keep all those early drafts and scribblings. And sometimes, when I'm feeling particularly discouraged and impatient about writing, I go back to them to remind myself of how many transformations a book needs, sometimes, before it's ready for readers.

Sara, thanks so much for sharing this with our readers!

And readers, how about a chance to win a signed copy of Sara's debut THIS IS HOW I FIND HER?

Read the rules below, and access the handy-dandy rafflecopter to enter!

This contest will begin on August 21, 2013 and conclude at midnight September 1, 2013.

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Keep up with Sara and pre-order THIS IS HOW I FIND HER:

Barnes and Noble
Book Depository



Pintip said...

Thanks for sharing your writing process for this debut, Sara! The book sounds fascinating, and I wish you the best of luck with it!

Ginger Calem said...

Oh boy, can I relate to your process. You give me hope that it all ends well! I wish you much success with your book. It sounds fantastic.

Julie O'Connell said...

Wow - fabulous relevancy and it sounds terrific, too! Looking forward to reading it!

Hannah said...

I hope I can have enough patience to follow my dreams.