Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Feature: Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond: Christy Raedeke

Everyone, welcome to another fantastic Friday interview!  The Tour de Writing is still going strong--and it is absolutely not too late to join.  Just add your goals and progress to yesterday's post, or next Monday's post.  It's fun!

Today, I'm happy to introduce Christy Raedeke to the blog!  Christy's Prophesy of Days Book One: The Daykeeper's Grimoire recently arrived on bookstore shelves, and I have to say that it was a compelling read!  Interesting premise, and fantastic characters--even an origami folding monkey!  
Christy--it's so exciting that your first book in the Prophecy Of Days series just came out. Give us a little background on the book.

Thanks, Heather! Prophecy of Days is a Young Adult adventure novel about a girl who discovers a Mayan relic, and then gets pulled into a larger mystery surrounding it. 

What was writing the book like--highest high? Lowest low?

Highest high was probably getting an agent; that was the first real validation that someone not related to me might want to read the book! Lowest low was getting a third of the way through writing Book Two and losing confidence that I could pull it off. 

The stress to keep performing must be tough!  Tell us about how you connected with your agent, and how your writing life changed (or didn't) after that.

I’m a big fan of writing conferences and workshops. I think it’s really important to make personal connections with people. I met my agent at the Big Sur Writing Workshop, an intense 3-day writing camp in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Writers are assigned Faculty Members to work with and I was assigned to Nancy Mercado (an editor, now with Roaring Brook Press) and Laura Rennert (Senior Agent with Andrea Brown). This was the 10th annual conference and they gave out an award that year to commemorate it. Shockingly, I won the award and a couple months later, signed with Laura.

Tell us about your journey from agent to published book--what was unexpected for you during this stage?

Wow. The journey is long! Everything takes 4-5 times longer than you think. Seriously, take the timeline in your mind and multiply it by five just to set your own expectations. 

What type of marketing did you do to get the word out about the book? What worked best? What was hardest for you about the marketing aspect?

I really haven’t done a whole lot of marketing outside of the few events I’ve been asked to participate in (PLA Conference, WAMLE Conference, and bookstore events on the west coast). I had some really nice bookmarks made (with fancy tassels!) and have almost gone through 1,000 of them!

I work full time so unfortunately I don’t have the luxury to dream up and execute any marketing beyond what my publisher is doing.

However, the blogging community has become a default marketing tool. I didn’t set out to market to the people I connect with online, but we all sort of support each other and it’s really, really great. 

The blogging community is so fantastic! What online resource have you found most helpful?

I have really enjoyed being part of the Tenners, one of the community sites for debut authors of Young Adult books. It’s been really great to share this unique experience with other like-minded people, and to be able to ask dumb question. I would encourage any new writer to join—they start anew each year. Soon we’ll be phased out and the Elevensies will take over!

What tricks have you acquired to make you write or create when you don’t feel up to writing?

Author Teri Hall shared this tip with me and I swear by it: Get a time and turn off the phone, internet, and email. Then set the timer for 40 minutes and just write. Don’t edit, don’t research, just write. When the timer goes off I then spend 20 minutes doing email, phone, internet as needed, then I set the timer and start all over again. It’s amazing how much you can get written in 40 minutes if you minimize distractions! It sounds simple but when you are on deadline but not feeling particularly inspired, it works! 

I love the timed writing technique!  And I love that you give yourself time to do the internet and distracting things after each writing session.  Christy, tell us about a book that has impacted your writing life.

Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers. I love this book—it’s the first book that helped me take myself seriously as a writer. I’ve given it to dozens of people! 

What is your practical goal with your writing? Do you have a reach-for-the-stars goal that you would like to share?

I’m very myopic with writing goals. My chant: must finish current project. I wish I had grander plans and schemes for taking over the world of Young Adult publishing, but at this point, if I could just getting my son to tie his shoes and finish revising Book Two of the POD series, I would be delighted.

I have another manuscript finished, completely unrelated to Prophecy of Days, but I’m not sure about it. Might be a bit too odd for publication! 

I love concrete goals. So far, what has been the best part of your writing experience?

By far the best part has been meeting other writers! Authors have always been people I look up to and now it’s an honor to count some as close friends. It’s also a delight to watch people I have known in the online blogging community, or met through conferences, get agents, go on submission, and land at publishing houses. The thrill of having a friend get published never gets old! 

If you could create your perfect writing space, what would it look like?

It would be a cozy room, perhaps 15’ x 15’, painted the color of Scottish thistle with one large window, a wall of built-in bookshelves, and a small fireplace. I’d furnish it with a comfy overstuffed armchair and ottoman, a cashmere throw, and a shiny white desk. Underfoot would be a plush rug over dark hardwood floors.

And it would never, ever get messy. Sounds dreamy, no? 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t wait for the muse. For me the muse only comes once I’ve committed myself to the chair and have logged some time on the keyboard. Get in the habit of writing and make yourself accountable by taking a writing class or joining a writing critique group so that you are forced to have something to share each week. And, most of all, write the book you want to read.

Christy, that is sage advice.  Thanks! And, just because I'm curious, coffee, or tea?

LOTS of coffee before noon, Jasmine tea thereafter. 

And, Christy, please tell us about upcoming events so that we might get out and see you and your book in action!

I’ll be at the Brigdeport Village Borders in Portland on July 17 at 2pm. Come by, Portlanders! 

Thank you, Heather!

Thanks, a bunch, Christy--what a fantastic interview.  And, July 17th is tomorrow, everyone.  If you're on the West Coast, in the Portland area, go check her out!

Everyone, please leave a question or comment here for Christy, and hopefully she'll have some time to stop by and answer them!


  1. Wow. Sounds amazing, Heather. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, Christy. Even after you had an agent, you mentioned that you lost confidence. How did you regain it? Any insights to eradicate the confidence bug?

  2. Christy, I heart you.

    Unfortunately, I have yet to read your book. My counterparts (Heather and Tina) have and their reviews whetted my appetite, but alas, time has not been on my side. My cover story is that since this is a series, I am holding off until the next one :P

    You have a fascinating journey to publication and I think it's cool that getting an agent was your highest of highs. Now that you're a big shot author, what events rank as the highest of highs these days?

  3. Thank you to both Heather and Christy. I LOVE to read interviews with published authors, it's so encouraging :) I'm going to take the timed writing thing and put it into practice! And I am excited to read this book!

  4. Heather, thanks for the interview!

    S.A. - Confidence is a funny thing. I wonder if any writer is ever fully confident that they have really nailed a manuscript? I just forged on; the deadline loomed and I just wrote right through my doubts and ended up with something I was pretty happy with. I'm just about to go into revisions and I'm SO curious about what my editor thinks.

    Jonathon - I heart you too! No worries about not reading the book. You can wait for May 2011 and read the books back-to-back :)

    Crystal - I hope the timed writing thing works as well for you as it did for me. I think you will be surprised at how much you can produce in 40 uninterrupted minutes!

  5. Great interview! I've done the timed writing thing myself and LOVE it.

  6. Great interview Christy. I've already heard great things about your book and have it on my list to read. It's always inspring for me to see another author who works full time and gets published. It helps me get over my fear that I can't handle it all. And I love your idea about the timer.

  7. Hi Christy! It's great to meet you!

    I get excited listening to you describe being asked to participate in certain events. I'm still in the process of landing an agent, myself, and I find it almost impossible to picture people asking me to attend events, even low key ones.

    Have you been to any of the events you mentioned yet? And if so, how did you find them now that you're one of the 'authors' in attendance vs one of the 'writers' attending and hoping to meet the 'authors'. (I used quotes because to me, if you're a writer, you write, and if you're an author, you're a writer who's been commercially published.)

  8. Christy - It was great meeting you at your Village Books, Bellingham reading. I'm having a BLAST reading "Prophecy of Days".

    As always, Heather, great interview. I love this feature!

  9. Thanks, Solvang! Glad the timed writing thing works for you too!

    Natalie - It's definitely possible to work and write! I just log lots of late nights after my kids go to bed.

    A. Grey - I mostly attended writing conferences/workshops when I was in the process of finding an agent and a publisher. I really haven't had time to go to one since publication because I've been busy doing signings on weekends. Best of luck getting an agent!

    Robert, I really, really appreciate you coming to the Belling ham signing! It was a delight to meet you. Happy to hear you are liking the book. :)

  10. I really enjoyed Prophesy of Days! I have yet to blog about it because life is a whirlwind but I WILL! Not only do I loved your timed writing approach but I love your timed emailing and blogging approach. That seems really smart to me.

    So I am really curious about your odd new book. I totally loved where Prophesy went and I'm dying to read the next to see what happens (bummed that I have to wait sooo long). I got really involved in the ideas around the Mayan calendar. It makes me wonder where else your prose will take us. Can you tell about the new one?

  11. Great interview, Heather and Christy. I'm definitely going to try the timed writing exercise. Also, I hadn't heard of Prophesy of Days yet, and I'm always looking for something new to read. From Tina Laurel Lee's comment above, it sounds like this is a book not to be missed. Thank you both.

  12. Great interview Heather and Christy! I guess all writers at times have to just unplug and write! :)

  13. Tina - Thanks so much for your kind words about the book! I'm really glad you enjoyed it. My odd manuscript is a new twist on the ghost story, but might just be a little too out there! Once I finish revising P.O.D. 2 I'll give it some attention and see if it's something worthwhile. I really enjoyed writing it because it did not take any of the crazy research that P.O.D. has taken!

    Lori and Laura, thanks for your comments! Unplugging for a finite amount of writing time is a great trick...

  14. I missed this back in July, Heather! I won Prophecy of Days for the WIBIJ I won in the spring. I read it this summer and really loved it. Great interview!