I am delighted to welcome today's guest to the blog who gives us some honest insight into their writing life and journey to publication!
Here we go...
Katherine Rothschild is a Lecturer in the Program for Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University, a former ballet and Arabic dance instructor, and an obsessive Twitter food truck-follower. Her first-person essays have been published on KQED/NPR, in The San Francisco Chronicle, and in several other Bay Area and California publications, and her academic work is published by Purdue University Press. She holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, a PhD in Applied Linguistics, has received artist’s grants from Vermont Studio Center and Kindlings, and is a longtime member of the SCBWI. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.
Some important things to know about Katherine...
Ketchup or Mayo? Mustard!
Night or Day? All the time!
Inside or Outside? Outside, always.
Dogs or Cats? Both!
Twitter or Facebook? Both and neither!
e-book or Paperback? I do both, but a confession about ebooks: I had always hated them until I had kids. I was spending long hours at the playground, and I kept forgetting a book. So, I downloaded one to my kindle app (this was years ago now) and I found I could read in short bursts while yelling things like: “be careful!” and “don’t eat ground food!” So, I love real books, but most often now read on my Kindle app.
Sun or Rain? Both!
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? Keyboard though I wish I was a poetic writer and wrote longhand. It seems romantic.
Comedy or Drama? Both! I pride myself on making you laugh and cry in the same sentence if possible.
Chips or Chocolate? I love salty—so chips.
Sixteen-year-old Sabine Braxton and her identical twin, Blythe, don’t have much in common. When their father dies from an unexpected illness, each copes with the loss in her own way—Sabine by “poeting” (an uncontrollable quirk of bursting into poetry at inappropriate moments) and Blythe by obsessing over getting into MIT, their father’s alma mater. Neither can offer each other much support . . . at least not until their emotionally detached mother moves them into a ramshackle Bay Area mansion owned by a stranger named Charlie.
Soon the sisters are united in a mission to figure out who Charlie is and why he seems to know everything about them. Neither is prepared for the secret they uncover. Confronted with the truth, Sabine chooses to learn all she can about the father she never really knew—and ultimately she must decide if she can embrace the legacy he wanted but kept hidden from his children.
This is the story of a book
but it’s really the story of a writing life.
YA contemporary author of WIDER THAN THE SKY Soho / PRH
It’s so important for newer or younger writers to see that writing is a journey—and a long one. I’ve been writing my whole life. I wrote my first novels in tri-color ink on binder paper in Mr. Zedaker’s seventh grade biology classroom. If you’re curious, it was a teen camp romance—of course! And I kept writing from there.
I was accepted into UC Irvine’s undergraduate creative writing program, and studied with Michelle Latiolais and Geoffrey Wolf. At the end of the year, Geoff Wolf pulled me aside and said something like: “If you don’t continue writing, it will be a mistake. Go to grad school.” So, I did. I attended Saint Mary’s of California’s MFA program and studied with Lynn Freed, John Fleming, Rosemary Graham, and Lou Berney, who are all amazing teachers and award-winning writers.
But the most important thing I can say abou the writing life is that although I earned an MFA in Creative Writing in my twenties, I didn’t start to think of myself as “a writer” until I realized the kind of writer that I am—and that’s a children’s book author. For a long time after graduate school I tried to be something I’m not—an adult author. It was a frustrating time of incomplete manuscripts and terrible short stories. But in that same time, I became a wife and a mom—and that’s what brought me back to who I really am. It was when I was pregnant that I stopped trying to write adult fiction. I was working on a historical fiction for which I had to read these huge research texts, and I just couldn’t do it. I had preggy-brain in a big way. But I wanted to read and I wanted to write, and my dear friend Jennifer Chambliss Bertman of Book Scavenger fame said, well, I’ll send you some books.
She sent me Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever. And it changed my life. I was like: OH. This is the kind of book I want to write. And that’s okay. People can write books about tweens and teens and forget about adults.
From there, things got easier and harder. I spent a long time finishing a first draft, longer revising it, and just about the same amount of time waiting for publication (I sold my book almost a full three years before it will debut).
A writing life often goes something like this:
1. Write a bunch of stuff but never finish a book.
2. Finally finish a book!
3. Realize it’s a huge mess.
4. Spend years revising.
5. Get a critique group and feedback.
6. Think it’s done!
7. Send it to agents.
8. Rejections! Turns out it needs more revision.
9. Do more revision. Then more.
10. Get an agent finally, hallelujah!
11. Revise (Still not published.)
12. Sub-club, for what seems like a hundred years.
13. Write another book.
14. Maybe book one gets published, maybe it doesn’t!
15. Maybe it does!
16. Write another book.
At least, that’s approximately how it went for me. I detail both how to query a book (https://www.katherinerothschild.com/single-post/2013/12/04/Yellow-Fever) as well as how I got my agent ( https://www.katherinerothschild.com/single-post/2013/12/05/Todays-Outfit) on my blog.
But what I will say about the process is that it’s long and only for those who intend to spend their lives writing. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not about one book, or even two books, or three getting rejected or getting published. It’s about the writing. It’s about persistence in writing, about loving the reward of writing stories, and about not worrying about the publication process so much. It’s very hard not to worry sometimes, of course, but letting go of the worry to enjoy writing is really the whole point of writing.
So, even now when I get down about publishing, I go back to the writing to remember what I’m really doing here. And that’s being a writer.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!