Dear NSA: There’s Another World in my Head

Dear NSA Agents,

It has come to my attention this week, while monitoring my browser history, you may have been baffled. Yes, I binge-read interviews with Madeleine L’Engle. It was me who watched video after video of cartography instructions, and then looped back to gifs of black holes. Between the hours of 8pm-11pm, I did indeed frequent the Jewish Virtual Library website.

Then you realized I came by none of these places via Reddit. Imagine your surprise!

Allow me to clear the air–I am not starting a time-traveling Kosher cult in space. I do keep a top secret sketch diary of my findings in these gems, but my scribblings have little to do with this great nation’s security. I know, I know–you’ve heard that all before. I can feel your eyes glazing over as you read this note.

But what if I told you there is a perfectly good explanation for all it?

There’s another world in my head.

Like this one, it has texture. It has color. Although its borders are names on paper, its core is made of the richness beyond the curtain of my imagination.

I am exploring this world for the first time from the eyes of my beta readers. It is a deepening. A reshaping. The answering of “what” and “why” and “how” this came to be. An unveiling.

I admit, while I hated history class in grade school, the more I investigate social conventions, technological advances, and aesthetic values, the more I am fascinated by all history has to offer. I never thought writing fantasy would lead me down this path.

I am willing to bet that you, dear agents, also did not expect it, either. You do not understand this spontaneous combustion of topical interests. Anyone working a proper government job wouldn’t (I hear the tie cuts off all whimsy before it can reach the brain).

This world building may seem a bit unhealthy, but I don’t want you to fuss over it. So, here’s your out. Chalk it up to a “broadening of horizons.” Maybe I’m in a mid-life crisis in my 20-somes. You can never tell with us Millennials, am I right?

I won’t even be upset if you decide to not read my book once it’s published. There’s dragons, and all kinds of other nonsense in it.

All I ask is that you don’t shut off my internet when the research gets even weirder.

Love,
M. Sanborn Smith

Advertisements

Gail Told Me To Do It: SCBWI

Gail being THE Gail Carson Levine, Newbery Honor winning author of Ella Enchanted, The Two Princesses of Bamarre, Dave at Night, and a slew of other fantastic books I cherished growing up in the 90s.

She’s fairly active on her Goodreads blog, so I threw out a question about finding agents and getting publishing advice. I wasn’t expecting a response; I figured it’d be lost in the mass of fanmail she gets on the daily.

 But guess what? She totally replied.

I know, right?

After a good deal of fangirling and texting my mom (who read Gail’s books with me as a child), I read her advice:

Gail Carson Levine

And so, off to The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators website I went!

Wow. Talk about an arsenal of resources. Guides, podcasts, and bookstores promoting members are just some highlights available. Members are eligible for publishing and promotional grants, manuscript awards, and book launching parties. As it turns out, they have a fairly active Michigan chapter, with a writing group that meets bimonthly in Ann Arbor and Farmington Hills. Score!

When I told my husband about the wealth of information, he said I had no choice but to join–it’s time to invest in my career, and take the next steps towards publication.

After all, Gail told me to do it.

Novel Update: Beta Reader Testing

Let me tell you about the best feeling in the world: two and a half year’s work, printed and bound in my hands.

Me: “I could die right now.”
Printing Services Employee: “Please don’t do that.”
Me: “No, it’s okay. It’s a good thing.”

I wanted to hold it up right there in the store like Rafiki presenting Simba. In the amphitheater of my mind, I heard the music.

See? THIS is what I’ve been working on!

2nd-draft

So high was my exuberance leaving Office Depot that I even followed the receipt online and gave the staff 5-star quality reviews.

When my husband took my printed copy to work, my heart swelled with quiet pride. But handing this same manuscript over to my mother was another matter. She’s the one who taught me to love books and introduced me to fantasy. She also teaches middle school language arts, making her a shrewd editor and an excellent judge of my work hitting the target audience.

I promise, you’ll like it!

Meanwhile, I have a few other beta readers, all with varying schedules and reading speeds. I just found out one is already half-way through the story–I emailed her the copy 4 days ago.

Wut?

So, while I put my foot in my mouth and attempt to give my beta readers the space they need, I will be researching agents. I already feel like I’m in over my head.

I’ll just keep busy while you judge my precious life’s work. Yup.