Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Finding Balance

Given the CHAOTIC week I just survived trying to crank through my copyedits, I've been thinking a LOT about balance lately. Most specifically: HOW will I make time for everything I need to do without letting anyone down and/or snapping-and-running-around-with-manic-hair-and-wild-eyes-and-scaring-small-children???? 

(Which *might* be a tad counterproductive being that I'm a children's writer and all.) 

Seriously, I don't know how some authors do it. I don't have kids, I don't have a day job, and I am SLAMMED. (Mind you, my schedule has some SUPER insane things going on that I'm probably not supposed to reveal yet--but STILL) It. is. DAUNTING.

And while the awesome Jen Rofe (an agent friend of mine--ABLA FTW!) has been giving me some excellent tips on making "winning" to do lists and setting priorities and stuff, (btw, Jen will actually be interviewed on my blog tomorrow--make sure you stop by!!!) I still can't help feeling like there's this MOUNTAIN of things to do and clearly not enough hours between now and the release of my book to do them all. 

But... I'm starting to realize that that's okay. 

I'm pretty sure there ARE going to be things I don't have time for, and that it's not going to necessarily be so much about juggling and trying not to drop balls as it will be about learning which ones to set down for a moment and pick back up when I can.

Like last week, for example. I HATE taking blogging breaks. (I miss you guys!) But... it had to be done. So I set that ball down and picked it back up again this week when I had the chance. And when something else gets thrown at me that I need to make time for, I'll set it down again. 

So I guess the point I'm trying to make (because really, I DO have a point) (at least I think I do) (my brain IS pretty tired after all those copyedits) is that the next year is going to be a lot of... "figuring it all out."

I've never launched a series before--and I have NO idea what I'm doing. So I'm just going to do the best I can, and hope it's enough. And THANK YOU in advance for bearing with me. My email response time may get a little slower and I may occasionally miss days of blogging (or swap in some guest posts or something...) But I will always pick things back up again as soon as I can. 

It's going to be stressful. It's going to be crazy. But I have a feeling it's also going to be pretty darn awesome. So I hope you'll stick around to watch it all unfold.

(if nothing else "the crazy" should be pretty entertaining to watch)


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Epic Milestones!!!

Sorry again for disappearing on you guys last week--those copyedits were a LOT more work than I expected. Here's a TINY glimpse of what my week looked like:

This represents THREE WHOLE DAYS--no, that is NOT an exaggeration--of me mapping out my book page. by. page. trying to figure out where I lost two months of "book time" in the revision and then finding places to fit it back in. Holy Headache, Batman!

And don't even get me started on the "stetting" and grammar correcting and fact-checking for consistency. Seriously, copyedits are NOT FUN.


Copyedits are done, fed-exed off to S&S, and I got word from my editor that she got them--and that it even looks like I did them right!!!!!


Another milestone officially passed! I'm now one. step. closer to KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES becoming a REAL BOOK!

*dances more*

And speaking of milestones, I had another one happen this weekend. I have been going to SCIBA events for a couple of years now (love SCIBA--SUCH a great organization!). But I was always sort of attending unofficially, since SCIBA events are technically designed to put book sellers, teachers, and librarians in touch with published authors--which... I wasn't. (I will be eternally grateful to SCIBA for letting me come anyway). Well, this time, in light of my news--even though I wasn't officially on the program because, uh... my book won't be out for about a year--they wanted me to know that I had crossed over to being "official" now. So they gave me one of THESE badges this time:

(Sorry--took the pic on my iPhone so the resolution's a bit iffy)

Yeah, the red ribbon totally clashed with my outfit--BUT I SO DIDN'T CARE. So, so, so, SO cool getting a real author badge for the first time. Can't wait till the day I can also see my name in the program as one of the "participating authors." SOON! :)

And while we're on the subject of milestones ... I actually had one more happen last week. A BIG one. One that totally made me cry--in a good way, of course.

I can't tell you anything about it--and I certainly can't show you. But... I can give you a *tiny* clue:

Yeah... I got my first cover proof. AND IT HAS MY NAME ON IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(I know that seems like a given--but dude, there is NOTHING like seeing a book cover with my name on it. NOTHING!)

The font and text color and background color are all just placeholders right now and are probably all changing, so... I really haven't shown you anything. But now you know it exists. KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES HAS A COVER!!!


NO IDEA when I'll be allowed to show you but trust me when I say IT IS GOING TO BE PERFECT!!! 

*hugs the cover proof*

*cries again*

So... that was my week. HOW WAS YOURS???????

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

10 Things I've Learned From Copyedits

So, I opened my door on Saturday morning and found THESE on my doorstep:


*jumps up and down*

For those who don't know, copyediting is a different kind of editing. It's all done on paper, and your draft is COVERED in the strangest and most confusing marks EVER. Most of which--THANKFULLY--apply to the typesetter, not you. But there is a lot of very technical, very grammar and detail oriented stuff you DO need to address, which has taught me ten surprising things:

1. I should have to give back every single "A" I ever earned in English. (No really, I'm sure my copyeditor agrees.)

2. Whenever a copyeditor's note starts with, "Technically," you're going to feel really dumb.

3. Spell check failed me. A LOT.

4. I apparently have NO IDEA how to use commas. (They are being added, deleted, and moved on pretty much every. single. page.)

5. I also seem to have no idea how to use hyphens. And there are a TON of words that are apparently supposed to be hyphenated. For example: good-bye. I have been spelling that wrong MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!!! #mindblow

6. I also have no idea what a dangling modifier is, but I apparently had a bunch of them that needed fixing. (And I still can't tell why the suggested change is better!)

7. But the bright side is, if you consistently break a grammatical rule (even totally unintentionally) you're allowed to keep breaking it. They just mark it as "consistent with the style of the MS." Like... okay, we know this is wrong, but she keeps doing it so we're just going to let her and call it her "style." :)

8. It's also a good idea, if you're going to capitalize something, to do it consistently every time you type the word. Sporadically switching back and forth seems to confuse copyeditors. A lot. 

9. Also, if you're going to make a statement toward the end of the book along the lines of: "X amount of months have passed" it would be helpful if X amount of time had actually passed in the timeline in the book. 

10. And, most importantly: fixing all this stuff takes FOREVER. 

Not gonna lie, this process is TEDIOUS. And I'm actually on a pretty tight deadline for it. So I'm sorry to already be doing this to you guys, but I'm going to take the rest of the week off blogging, and maybe part of next week--however long it takes to get. this. done. 

And then I promise I will be back to normal blogging again. I still have all kinds of exciting things I want to tell you guys about. But it will have to wait till I meet this deadline.

In the meantime, I'm also holding a pretty darn awesome contest--if I do say so myself--that you definitely don't want to miss out on. If you haven't entered yet, I strongly recommend you do that HERE.

Hope everyone has a great rest of the week. See you all once I turn these darn things in!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just when I think this week can't get any cooler...

I keep waiting for all of this to feel less surreal (and to stop talking about it CONSTANTLY and probably driving you all crazy!) but... stuff keeps happening that is just so overwhelming it's like... THIS IS THE COOLEST THING EVER HOW CAN I NOT GUSH ENDLESSLY ABOUT IT???????

So... sorry guys, you're welcome to ignore me if you've had enough. But I just. can't. help myself!

I mean, how can I not get all choked up/insanely excited when a PM announcement pops up in my inbox with MY BOOK DEAL IN THERE???????

From Publisher's Marketplace:

Children's: Fantasy
Shannon Messenger's debut middle-grade series KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, about a girl who discovers there are secrets buried in her memory that others would kill for, and has to figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world before the wrong person finds the answer first, to Liesa Abrams at Aladdin, in a six-figure deal, in a pre-empt, in a three-book deal, for publication starting in Fall 2012, by Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (North America). 

Obviously I knew it was coming. But still--when it finally did, yesterday? It was ... a "moment." And there was a lot of staring at the email and thinking.... OMG THAT'S ME!!!!!!!!

Also surreal? More than 100 people have already added my book on Goodreads in the last 4 days.  


I... I don't even know what to say about that. Or about Goodreads giving me a real "author page" of my own. Or about the discussion someone started, where they suggested my book--MY book--was going to be a top book--and so far no one has argued with them! (no agreement, either. But hey--I'm GOOD with no arguing!!!) (And btw, there are whole new realms of panic and pressure that come with that suggestion. Holy High Expectations, Batman! *bites nails*)

And then there are the hundreds and hundreds of comments, tweets, emails, FB posts, text messages, and phone calls I've gotten from all of you, filled with so much love and support I really don't know how to process it all. I'm doing my best to reply to them, because seriously they mean SO much to me. And I'm back from LA now--after spending a crazy few days researching a scene and connecting with some amazingly awesome people--so hopefully I'll be able to catch up on the rest. But if I miss yours accidentally--I'm so sorry. Please know that I read it, loved it, and so so SO can't thank you enough for it. 

I also know I keep promising you a contest--and I PROMISE I have one coming for you. But I'm saving it for Monday because my brain is totally floopy right now and I don't trust myself to organize the last final things.

Plus, a few of you are calling for something... else... to happen first. 

Not sure how many of you have really been following my blog long enough to know this but... a LONG time ago I made a certain deal with my followers that when I sold my book I would post a clip from the humiliating performance I gave a long time ago on a low budget game show (the story behind that can be found HERE.)

Well... the time has finally come. I scored five extra months with the whole not-being-able-to-announce thing (there were SOME advantages to that.) But alas, I can stall no longer. 


There will be bangs of doom. There will be humiliating YouTube Clips. There will be SHANNON SHAME GALORE!!!!! 

And then... I will probably flee to Mexico to start a new life as a maraca player. Ole!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What REALLY went on during the last five months!

So... what do you do when you've gotten THE BIGGEST NEWS OF YOUR CAREER and you CAN'T TELL EVERYONE?????

You... take a lot of pictures to commemorate every tiny milestone so you can share them all when you're FINALLY allowed to spill.

So here's what REALLY went on during the last five months:

It all started with an EPIC series of phone calls:

Lots of exciting, surreal, life-changing conversations that finally led to an email from Liesa Abrams that started with this:

Laura just passed along your email address and I'm SO excited to write to you officially as your editor now. Woohoo!!!!!

Yeah... I totally cried. Good tears of course. But yeah...

Then came the inevitable question (from the *few* people I was allowed to tell):

What are you going to do to celebrate??????

To which I--of COURSE--went all Superbowl Champion and was like: 

I'm going to Disneyland!!!!!!

Where I suddenly realized: OMG my publisher is ALADDIN and THERE IS ALADDIN STUFF EVERYWHERE (different Aladdin--but still!). So of COURE I took a ton of nerdy pictures:

And even bought some nerdy souvenirs for my desk:
(Yes, I now buy pretty much anything Aladdin/genie lamp related)
(my husband has decided to find it cute)

There were also presents from my amazingly supportive CPs:

Sara 1

And Sarah 2
(this shirt won't make a whole lot of sense to any of you yet, but someday it will...) 

And then... the WAITING started.

And I waited.

And waited.


Sometimes I entertained myself with vague tweets between me and my friend Natalie Whipple with a secret hashtag only we knew (Natalie was ALSO sitting on secret book news):

Pretty sure everyone thought we were super weird. But we thought it was pretty entertaining.

And then, I didn't have time to play around anymore because THESE arrived:


Yeah... I got a bit emotional getting a package from Simon & Schuster with MY book inside.
(and um... pay no attention to the title on there--that's the old rejected title, not the new shiny)

It was SO HARD not to tell you guys what I had going on--especially since I had deadlines and stuff that sometimes prevented me from blogging. But I powered through.

And while I was in the middle of the revision, I went to ALA, where I of COURSE spent way too much time at the S&S Booth. 

This is me with the lovely Venessa, who was nice enough to get me invited to the S&S Party one of the evenings:

(me with Jo Whittemore, Elana Johnson, and Editor Anica Rissi)

It was VERY surreal to be introduced to S&S people as: "one of our new authors."

Alas, my editor wasn't there. But I wasn't TOO brokenhearted about it because I'd found out she was going to be at SCBWI LA, so I knew I would get to meet her there.

Before I did that though, I finished up my revision, sent it off, and then went to Comic Con, where once again I spent WAY too much time at the S&S booth:

(This is me with the awesome Anna and Carolyn)

And spent quite a lot of time looking for the perfect Batman thank-you gift, because Liesa has a *slight* Batman obsession. 

I also met Brandon Mull, part of the amazing Liesa Abrams family, and he was awesome enough to sign THIS in my copy of BEYONDERS: A WORLD WITHOUT HEROES: 

Yeah... that was pretty much the coolest thing ever. And should give you some idea of how amazing Liesa is to work with.

Then finally, FINALLY it was time for SCBWI LA, where I got to meet Liesa myself (I *may* have attacked her pretty much the second she stepped through the hotel doors--poor thing). 

And she was sweet and generous enough to take me out to dinner with a few other S&S authors:

(that's me with Alan Silberburg, Hillary Homzie, Jo Whittemore, and James Riley)

(Liesa is NOT pictured because she hates having her picture taken even more than I do--something I didn't know was possible. So instead she was the one taking the picture of all of us.)

I'll tell you more about meeting Liesa another time, because this post is already reaching epic lengths. And we'll fast forward through another two months of waiting, and title changes, and more waiting, until we finally get to THIS:

The day I finally signed my contract with S&S!!!!!

They are now OFFICIALLY AND LEGALLY STUCK WITH ME (I *may* have used that  phrase when I emailed Liesa and Laura to let them know the signed contracts were on their way. Good thing they're used to me.)

That's when I finally got the "we're ready to announce" email from Laura and a few days after that the news hit PW. And you guys know the rest BECAUSE I HAVE NOT STOPPED TALKING ABOUT IT SINCE!!!

Don't worry, I *promise* I will stop talking your ears off about all of this soon. Just... give me a few more days. I have FIVE MONTHS of pent-up enthusiasm to release. 

Plus, I still have a few things to do--like an epic contest to launch (yay!) and a deal I made with you guys a loooooooong time ago to fulfill (ugh!). So keep an eye out for all of that. Trust me, you won't want to miss it. Major Epicness in Store!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New and Improved! (Well... I hope...)

Wow, you guys. Just... wow.

I really don't have the right words to thank you for all your enthusiasm and support yesterday for my book news (and if you're scratching your head going... huh? you can find the announcement HERE.)

Those of you who spread the word about it--thank you so much! And if you @replied me or messaged me or emailed me and haven't gotten a response yet, bear with me. I'm actually out of town at the moment (doing some research for a scene, amazingly enough) so it's a bit challenging keeping up. Especially since the response was so amazing. (*chokes up a little*) But I WILL get to it because you guys are awesome. THANK YOU.

And since the news was so epic--and I had FIVE MONTHS to prepare for it--you may notice a few changes to this blog now that the secret is finally out, starting with a new OFFICIAL AUTHOR PHOTO!!!!

Yes, that's right, you may have already noticed this (or seen it on FB and Twitter yesterday when I switched it) but Shannon-with-the-strangely-too-dark-hair-and-plain-green-background is gone!!! And she has been replaced with this:

I'm... not sure what I'm supposed to say now... 
Um... ta da?

So... yeah. That's the photo you'll now be seeing in blogger feeds and Twitter feeds and Facebook Feeds. I hope you guys like it, because I am SO not in the mood to go through another photo shoot again. 

HUGE thanks to my friend Matthew Allende and his company Devende Photography for putting up with my I-hate-having-my-picture-taken curmudgeon-y ways (not gonna lie, I was difficult) and taking some amazing photos of me. (Seriously you guys, if any of you are in SoCal and need a photographer, you should use Matt, he is AWESOME.) I also want to thank my friend Lucy for doing my make-up (yes, I had a friend do my make-up. I figured if I was doing this I was doing it RIGHT) and making me look far better than I actually do in real life. And my hair stylist Kris, who's styling held up even though it was SUPER windy that day.

Other things you may notice: there are two new tabs on this blog now: BOOKS (Squee!) and ARC REQUESTS (double Squee!).

I already had a few of you request ARCs yesterday (which seriously made me teary. Thank you guys so much for wanting to read my book! You have no idea how exciting it is to hear that!) so I have created a simple FORM for you to fill out. Sadly, I can't guarantee that by filling it out you absolutely will get an ARC, but it's your best chance. S&S has direct access to that form and will be selecting people from there. So if you haven't filled it out yet and would like to, go HERE.

Also surreal/amazing? MY BOOK IS ALREADY ON GOODREADS!!! No idea how that happened so fast but within a couple hours KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES had its first official listing on the internets. So if you're a user of Goodreads and you want to make me incredibly giggly and happy, you are welcome to go HERE to add it to your shelves. *hugs and cupcakes in advance*

I've also updated my "About" page, "FAQs" and "Contact" info. And I'm in the process of designing a brand-new-shiny-author-website (!!!!) so keep your eyes out for plenty more changes to come in the months ahead.

And in the meantime, thank you guys again for all your love and support. Yesterday was one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of crazy-surreal days, and YOU GUYS made that happen. I have an epic contest organized to thank you properly, but I'm waiting until I'm back home (and not on Hotel WiFi--which is NEVER as fast as it should be). So keep checking back--you WON'T want to miss it. Awesome, AWESOME prizes are to be had.

Oh and um... since this is the kind of post where it clearly feels like I'm asking for a comment section full of compliments on my photo--ugh--I'm going to end by saying um... so, anyone else craving a cupcake like I am????????

Monday, October 10, 2011


It’s funny. I have dreamed of writing this post, pretty much every day for three years (THREE YEARS!) as I researched and plotted and wrote and revised my book, and revised again, and then revised a million more times. 

And I’ve drafted this post dozens and dozens of times over the last five months (FIVE MONTHS!) as I’ve sat silently on the news, waiting for the green light to announce. (hardest secret to keep, EVER!)

But now that the moment is finally here, I’ve come to realize that some things are so overwhelming and amazing and incredible and surreal, there just aren’t the right words—even for a writer.

So I’m going to let this do the announcing for me:

S&S Takes Messenger’s Middle-Grade Debut

Keeping up with the high-priced deals, Liesa Abrams, executive editor at Simon & Schuster, took North American rights to three books, in a six-figure pre-empt, by newcomer Shannon Messenger. Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary brokered the deal for the middle-grade fantasy series, and the first book, Keeper of the Lost Cities, is scheduled for fall 2012. In Cities, a 12-year-old girl who can read minds, and is something of a social outcast, discovers the reason she has her abilities when she meets a mysterious boy. Rennert elaborated: “She’s never felt at home because she isn’t. There are secrets buried deep in her memory, secrets about her true identity and why she was hidden among humans, that others desperately want and would even kill for.” Messenger is in her 20s and is one of the founders of the free, online writer’s conference, WriteOnCon.

(from Publisher's Weekly. The full link is HERE)

So... yeah. Crazy, awesome, amazing, emotional, almost-impossible-to-wrap-my-head-around news. I thought I'd gotten used to it these last few months but seeing it like that? A real announcement with my name and my book's name? *eyes get misty* I don't even know what to say.

Except this: THANK YOU. For following me on this crazy journey, cheering me on, and supporting me every step of the way. It has been a long, stressful, hectic road (which is really only just beginning--eek!) and I truly, truly believe I wouldn’t have made it to this point without you guys.

And now that it’s FINALLY out in the open, I have so many things to tell you about--like meeting my amazing editor over the summer and the things I've learned from working on real Edits (yes--I've already gotten them. In fact, I'm done with them!) plus some more details about my book—WHICH I CAN FINALLY TALK ABOUT!!!!

I also have an epic contest planned, which I really think you guys are going to love. So make sure you check back--I will have that up and running as soon as I come out of this shocked/amazed stupor I'm in at the moment. *stares at name in print* *stares some more.*

And ... okay, I have to say it at least once (and then I will TRY to restrain myself);

*clears throat* 

OMG I HAVE A BOOK DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!