Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Few Thoughts on Getting Published

THE STAR THIEF will be out in paperback in just a few weeks now! 
As my debut year comes to a close, and we reach the birthday, or perhaps bookiversary of Honorine and her constellations launching into the world, I have some thoughts about how I got here, that I thought I should share. 

At one point during this past year, I found myself at a book event, discussing the long, grueling publishing process with a fellow writer. They knew I was traditionally published, and asked how I had found my agent. It was pretty simple, actually. Querying. 

My fellow writer was surprised. 

They told me they had never heard of any writer actually finding representation that way. To them, it sounded impossible. 

But reader, it is not. It is difficult. It can be slow. But it is definitely possible. In fact, I would have to say most of the published writers I've met found their agents with cold queries and patience. 

My query process started years ago. At the time, just learning how to write a query letter, and that I even needed to look for an agent seemed overwhelming. 

I did what I was comfortable with and able to do. I queried, and worked on my writing while I waited for replies. That and time was really all it took. I would have loved to spend time getting my MFA, attending conferences, going to the big book conventions, but I had neither the time nor the funds as a baby writer. I spent my time on craft.

This is all to say that I see writers worry that they need to do things beyond writing to eventually reach publication. While these things might be fun, and might help you improve your craft, they aren't requirements.

If you can't get to conferences, you can still get published.
If you can't spend time in an MFA program, you can still get published.
If you didn't study creative writing in college, you can still get published.
If you don't attend conventions, you can still get published.
If you don't have any idea how online pitch contests work, you can still get published.

What you must do to get your book published is finish it. What you must do to get your book finished is write it. What you must do to improve your writing is read widely and write consistently, however that works for you. There are no other requirements. Read, write, submit. It is possible. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

New Year New Projects

Here I am at the start of a three day writing weekend, and realizing I haven't updated in way too long.

The Star Thief will be out in paperback in April. Very cool, more to come on that as we get closer.
I did not finish NaNo last year. Boo. November was the middle of heavy work on another project, which took up most of my writing time. I did however get a great start on another project, which I hope to dive back into soon.
I find myself in a weird stage as an author, one I hadn't really anticipated pre-publication. It's a land of submitting work on proposal, so instead of writing and revising whole novels, I'm working on sample chapters and synopses. Lots of synopses.
As a panster, I find this challenging. I like to figure out where my story is going during the very first experimental drafting phase. Now I have to work it all out before I really get started on the body of the novel. Ah well. It's a great problem to have. Challenges create growth, and the most important thing I want to accomplish as a writer is to keep moving, keep growing, keep improving. There's never a finish line, just the next leg of the race.

So right now I'm working on about six WIPs at the same time. Here's hoping some of those bottles floating out to sea find a home out there in the wider world.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Mid October, You Know What That Means

Just a couple of weeks to decide if you're jumping into NaNo this year!
I've participated before and both succeeded and failed. This year I'd really like to give it a try again, and I'm in the unique position of having no idea what I'd like to work on.
I have a few WIPs that are past drafting stage, and a few ideas that will take more research and planning than the thousand-words-a-day writing blitz that makes NaNo fun.
But I do love drafting, and I really love working on something fresh and new, so I think I might give it a real try this year.
Which means I have to finish another project first... with only about 2 weeks to go!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Summer Update

So, THE STAR THIEF has been out in the world for a little over 4 months now.

It was an Indies Introduce pick, and also an Indie Next selection, a Junior Library Guild selection, was featured in B&N's spring preview and has been on two B&N fixtures since it's debut. It's gotten just about as much support as a little book can get, especially with a brand new author like me.

All of this has been overwhelming, exciting, unexpected and greatly appreciated.

One of the coolest surprises has been photos from libraries and bookshops, sent to me from all across the country. It's always delightful to stop in and visit my little book in person, and just as fun to see it out there in the world, being a good little book all on its own!

In the Sauk City WI Library! 
Park City, UT top shelf! 

On the big wall at B&N 

Portland OR, face out!

B&N again, before moving to the big wall

Anderson's in Naperville IL, day of my signing! 
That's just a sampling. It's all still so new and fresh, even though these moments were 15 years in the making. Even though it took 2 years from contract to finished book, which was 1&1/2 years after submitting to my eventual editor, which was 3&1/2 years after starting to look for an agent, which was 1 year after writing the first draft of what would become THE STAR THIEF, which was 6 years after I decided I wanted to write something for publication, years in which I scraped two other manuscripts before even querying them.
Even after all that time, I couldn't really prepare for the last 5 months. There was a launch party, book signings at local indie and B&N stores, dinners with bookseller and librarians, school visits, and in June, an appearance at ALA,  including the absolute honor of being invited to the Newbery and Caldecott awards banquet in Chicago.

It's been unreal, and of course, during all the work of getting THE STAR THIEF launched into the world, I've been spending my time working on the next thing. Well, lots of "next things" because hopefully, all fingers and toes crossed, this is just the beginning. I have so many more stories I'd like to tell, books I have to write, whether they make it to publication or not. There are characters wandering around in half built worlds getting very impatient with me for not getting their stories out onto the page yet.

Because that's what writing is. This whole process just never ends, which is really the best part. As long as you want to keep going, as long as you have pages to write, you are a writer. The best part of getting my first book published and out into the world has been the reviews and responses from young readers. The next best has been the added momentum to keep writing, to keep going, to make the next thing. Writing brings me joy.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Star Thief & OwlCrateJr!

Wow, it's been a wild couple of weeks!
THE STAR THIEF is officially out in the world, finding readers and making appearances (with me)at bookstores!
And in other amazing news, THE STAR THIEF is the April OwlCrateJr. box book! This was such an honor and a surprise! Owl Crate has been doing a YA book subscription box for a while now, with really amazing books and surprises. They just added the OwlCrateJr for middle grade starting in March. My book was the second ever Jr box!

Of course I love knowing my book is getting to readers, but the bonus is getting to see pictures and videos of THE STAR THIEF out in the world, in the hands of kids and adults alike, and getting to see their reactions! It is a total heart melter. And there are some really talented photographers out there, making some amazing images with the book and all the cool themed treats!

Check them out at the #owlcratejr page :)

✨APRIL OWLCRATE JR UNBOXINGπŸŒ™ • This month's @owlcratejr theme was Written in the Stars, and guys. I LOVED this box. 😭 I'm currently reading the book and.. asdghjk. Such a lovely middle grade read so far. Let's take a look at what was inside: ✨Pocket Star Finder from @toysmithtoys πŸŒ™ Lenticular Constellation notebook by @mudpuppykids ⭐️ Exclusive star pen by OwlCrate Jr 🌌 Planet zipper pull by @foxville_art πŸ’« THE STAR THIEF by Lindsey Becker ✨ This book sounds so amazing, and it came with a signed bookplate, a letter from the author (that doubles as the gorgeous poster you see in the picture) and a gorgeous bookmark. You guys should definitely check out the book on GoodReads! (And how gorgeous is the cover 😍) • The May theme is ON THE CASE, and is for all the little detectives out there! πŸ” #owlcratejr • Thank you so much @owlcratejr for sending me this awesome box!
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Three Weeks to STAR THIEF! More Star Crafts, and a Peek at My Debut Novel!

Today is exactly three weeks from the debut of THE STAR THIEF!! 
First, here's a sneak peek at the real, finished, official book! 


I couldn't love this more. The colors, the layout, the characters - the gold lettering is embossed, too!
Seriously, this is a dream cover. 

And it just keeps going! This is the back, with an excerpt, AND planets and Scorpio floating in the background! 

One more peek! The chapters each begin with a gorgeous drawing! Eeek!
The whole thing is really amazing. So much work went into this after it left my hands. I'm incredibly proud of the finished product, and I can't wait for the world to see it! 

In the meantime, let's make a few fun, really easy crafts! 
First up, the star garland! 

This one is a snap to make, and the stars are double sided, so you can hang it against a wall, as I did here, or string them in the open so the stars can spin freely! 

Here are the basic supplies - gold string, and die cut adhesive stars*. This was all at Micheal's craft store, for $2-$5. I used two packages of silver stars, and one of gold. 

*The stars seemed like a good shortcut, but that did not turn out exactly as planned. You can also cut out stars from glitter cardstock, or paper and apply glitter as needed. (It's always needed)

To begin, unspool a few feet of the string.  
I left approximately 2 feet of string at the end, then started tying my string off every 6 inches. I made loops alternating in 12" lengths and 6" lengths, measuring with a ruler. To make the knots, I tied the loop off the main string like tying a bunny ear shoelace. 
The 12" loops will hold 3 stars and the 6" loops hold 2. 
For the number of stars I had, I made 5  12" loops, and 4  6" loops, starting and ending with the 12" length. 

Since these were adhesive, I planned to just stick them together over the string. 
Turns out they weren't especially sticky, and they were made of a pretty sturdy cardboard. 
So I added some glue to the back of each star, and held them together with mini clothespins until they dried. 
The little clothespins were actually also at Michael's for about $2. I picked them up for something else, but they worked out well for  me in a pinch. 

For the longer strings, I hung the stars silver-gold-sliver. 
For the shorter strings, I hung a gold on top, and a silver below.
My finished garland is about 5 feet long.  
And that's it! Garland complete! 
Make these as long or short as you want, and hang anywhere you'd like a little more sparkle! 

And because that was so easy, let's do one more. 

Star pins! 
These are made with the same felt, glue, and glitter from the bookmarks in my last post. 
For these, you'll also need some pin backs. 
You could also use a magnet or a hair clip, to make stars that will stick to the fridge, or to wear in your hair!

To start, cut two stars from a piece of felt. Make sure the body of the star is wider than the pin back. 

Measure the pin back against one of the felt stars. 

Snip a little hole in the star for each end of the pin back, open the pin, and slip it through the felt. 

It should look something like this on the other side at this point. 

Now glue the star with the pin to the other star from the first step. 
If you are making magnets, skip the pin steps, and put the magnet in between the stars before gluing them together. 

Here's the finished pin back. 

Then flip the star over, and apply glue to the front side. 
(If you have a magnet in the middle of your star, make sure the grippy side is down. Test the star on the fridge to be sure :)

I suggest placing the pin on wax paper or a piece of scrap paper for this step. 


And done. Let this dry at least overnight, and then, make a bunch more! 

Use more than one color of glitter, add some rhinestones, make them as fancy as you want! 

And now that we've made bookmarks, garlands, and pins, here's a sneak peek at something for the next project... this one will be delicious! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Getting Ready For THE STAR THIEF with Bookmarks!

It's just under one month until the debut of THE STAR THIEF!
To get ready, I'm sharing some kid friendly craft tutorials to make some fun, star themed goodies. Up first, a ribbon bookmark with sparkly stars!



To make a bookmark, you will need:
Ribbon, felt, glitter, rhinestones, felt glue, scissors, measuring tape or ruler, star stencil, wax paper or scrap paper to catch glitter :) 
To make my stars, I used star cookie cutters to trace the shape on paper, then pinned the paper pattern to the felt to cut out the stars. You can use any star shaped item or stencil, or draw a star freehand :) You can also use a fabric pen or a fine tipped marker to trace the shape directly onto your felt. 

Cut a 14" length of ribbon, four larger stars, and four smaller stars. I stacked my felt and cut two stars at a time, so they matched up nicely in the next step. I also rounded the corners so they are less pointy. You can leave them pointy if you prefer.
- for the ribbon, I suggest one without wire in the edges. 

Time to assemble! Spread glue on one large star, around the edge. I recommend a felt glue, to make sure it will hold well. 

Put an extra spot of glue to secure the ribbon. 

Tiny bit more glue on top of the ribbon. (Put another dot of glue on top of the ribbon as well.)

Place the other large star on top of the glue, press together firmly. Repeat with smaller star, spreading glue around the edge. 

Then place the smaller star inside the big one.

Repeat on the other end of the ribbon :) 

Decorate! Add gems as needed, with a dot of glue. 
If a little glue seeps out around the gems, don't worry. It will dry clear. 

Let them dry overnight, then start reading! 

For glittery stars, assemble as in the previous steps, until you have one star on each end of the ribbon. 

Put wax paper or a spare sheet of plain paper under your star for the next steps.
One at a time, spread glue over each side of each star. It may be helpful to use a toothpick for this step. 

Sprinkle glitter over wet glue, covering completely. 
(This is the funnest step)

I chose purple and gold - use any colors you like!

Let glitter stars dry at least overnight. 

Ta-da! Finished bookmarks! Try some different colors, or glitter decorations.
Maybe use some fabric pens, beads, sequins, get creative! 

You're all ready to read THE STAR THIEF!
(This handy bookmark will work on any book you choose :)

Have fun making some dazzling star bookmarks, and stay tuned for more fun ideas as we get ready for a star themed adventure!