Urban Exploring is the exploration of abandoned manmade structures, or basically just going where you're not supposed to go. Erin and the "Excaps" go to three locations in Positively Beautiful: the John B. Gordon School, the Atlanta Prison Farm, and the Braircliff (or Candler) Mansion. I've put together a few of the websites that I used to research the book. Enjoy!
Working on candy jars for bookstores, and getting postcards ready to send out to bookstores and libraries. Realized I put text where the stamp goes on post card. Ugh!
Another sighting of Positively Beautiful at Naples B&N. Yay!
It’s exactly one week away from the release day of Positively Beautiful. Woo-hoo! It’s been two years since I sold Positively Beautiful, and it’s hard to believe that it’s all about to happen. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I started this journey, about how I jumped on this train that is barreling toward a station that is now exactly ONE WEEK AWAY.
My youngest kid was getting ready to start kindergarten, and while I cherish and appreciate the years I spent at home with my kids when they were little, there was this widening hole in my heart where sticky, little boy hugs and afternoons at the park used to reside. My baby was going to school and what on earth was I going to do with the rest of my life?
Cue: lifelong dream.
I always knew I wanted to be a writer. In fact, I was a writer, because regardless of whether you are published, or not, you are a writer if you WRITE. So now what? I’d been thinking a lot about an article I’d read about a woman with the BRCA gene mutation, and her teenage daughters who would soon learn that they had a good chance (50% to be exact) of having a gene mutation that would give them up to an 80% lifetime risk of breast cancer. At the time I was thinking about writing an adult book, because up until then, that was all I had ever written. But, in the long, still nights when my thoughts wound dreamily around story ideas, all I could think about were the teenage daughters. And, truly, I’d been thinking more and more about my teenage years as I’d gotten older, so maybe…maybe I could…Maybe. I didn’t know if I could do it. I really didn’t.
But time was passing, and I needed to do something, so I took a deep breath and took a header of that cliff. The story began taking shape in my head. Sixteen-year-old girl. Flying. An island. A best friend who was all heart. A pen pal who was also facing the same struggle. A mother with breast cancer. Ah, yes, here we go.
The writing of the book took a little longer than a month. It was only 50,000 words, because at the time, I knew very little about modern young adult books. That was being remedied quickly as I dove into young adult books with voracious energy. These books were good. These book were real. How did I ever think that they were somehow second best to adult books? I was adoring the genre and feeling better about my decision.
But still, I struggled. Because while I could remember with frightening detail what it felt like to be a teenager, things have changed. A LOT. Kids are more mature in some ways than I remember being. Or maybe kids come across as mature, while in their hearts they are embarrassed, and unsure, and just plain scared? That’s how I still feel, on a regular basis. Technology, hobbies, the lingo, the world, had changed so much. Maybe this wasn’t my cup of tea after all. Maybe I should go back to writing about adults and their well-ordered, reasonable emotions. Why did I ever think I could write a book for teens?
My new agent, Sarah Davies (who is just plain awesome. Every day.) talked me down from my tree. Just write a good story, Wendy. And I realized that the basic emotions remain the same. Teens might be in a different world, but deep down, the uncertainty, the feeling that they are in a game where everybody knows the rules but forgot to mention, that will never change.
So I wrote Positively Beautiful from the gut. Perhaps that will change as I get more seasoned and become more accustomed to writing in my genre, but, honestly? I hope it doesn’t.
So, it’s official! This week I am working on posts for my blog tour for Positively Beautiful. Thankfully, it was set up by my wonderful publicist Courtney, who has made a daunting process very easy. (Just answer the questions, Wendy!) For those of you who do not know what a blog tour is (because, you know, that was me, not too long ago), in the two weeks following the release of Positively Beautiful on March 3rd, I will be visiting some awesome blogs and talking about some fun things. I hope you will join me!
Without further ado, here’s the SCHEDULE.
March 2nd à Jenuine Cupcakes: Excerpt of Positively Beautiful
So, this was an easy one, because, um, I already wrote it like two years ago. Score!
March 3rd à YA Bibliophile: Guest Post: A Day in the Life of a Student Pilot
This one was surprisingly fun to write. No, it’s not super-technical, and I got to share my love of something that is not writing-related.
March 4th à Book Revels: Questions and Answer
Ellie sent some great questions, and I get to share my thoughts on writing advice and books that I have loved recently.
March 5th à The Hardcover Lover: Character Interview
I loved, loved, loved this one! I didn’t realize I’d been missing Erin and her world until I got to go back and play in her mind a little bit.
March 6th à Bookiemoji: Movie Poster & Character Cast
Okay, this one is just FUN. So Jenna is going to make a movie poster of Positively Beautiful and cast it with real-live movie stars. Sign me up!
March 9th à Dana Square: Questions and Answers
I enjoy answering questions about my writing and Dana sent some good ones! I talk about my inspiration for Positively Beautiful and why at my decrepit age I choose to write young adult fiction.
March 10th à Lovin Los Libros: Guest Post: Tour of Real-Life Island in Book
This one involves a boat trip. Need I say more? There is a real-life island that resembles the island in the book to a remarkable degree. ‘Cause, well, I’ve been there and love it.
March 11th à The Book Belles: Questions and Answers
Montana sent some great questions! I talk about why I chose to become a writer and the writing process that culminated in Positively Beautiful.
March 12th à Adventures in Reading: Playlist
Alexia is going to come up with a playlist for Positively Beautiful, and I CAN NOT WAIT.
March 13th à Who Ru Blog: Guest Post: Books That Make Us Cry--Why Do We Love Them?
It’s not that I LIKE making people cry, no, my momma raised me better than that. But sometimes we all just need a good cry. But why?
Angelina Jolie has it. So does Christina Applegate. And Sharon Osbourne. And so do thousands of other, less-famous women, who are walking around with a walking time bomb in their genes.
The BRCA genes, when acting the way they are supposed to do, suppress tumors in the breasts and ovaries. When they don’t act the way they are supposed to… well that’s equivalent to a bunch of genes running around wringing their hands saying I duuno, what do I do? as malignant tumors grow.
While only five to ten percent of breast cancers diagnosed in the US are linked to an inherited mutation, in the women who do have a gene mutation, the chance of dying of cancer climbs in a very ominous way. My interest in telling Erin’s story was sparked when I read an article about a mother who tested positive the BRCA gene, and was facing the heartbreaking prospect of how to share the news with her teenage daughters. I’ve cried more than I can even remember as I wrote Positively Beautiful, because the choices these women face are horrendous: living with the knowledge of carrying an upwards of 80% chance of getting breast cancer in their lifetime (and ovarian cancer as well, though the chances are a bit lower), or undergoing a double mastectomy and oophorectomy (removal of ovaries) to risk the chance of cancer.
I wanted to know how a girl, just an ordinary girl, would deal with the news that she could be carrying this gene. How would it affect her life, her choices, her dreams for the future? Because though the news of a genetic mutation would be devastating, there are still parties to go to, school to survive, boys to fall for. How distorted would your life seem if you were seeing it through a lens colored by sickness and death? How would that cancerous knowledge affect the way you live?
This is just one girl’s story; thousands of women are looking into this crystal ball every day and making their own hard choices. They are brave, they are scared, and they are being forced into making hard, life-changing decisions. I admire each and every one of them for waking up every day and saying: This is my life, and I’m going to live it the best way I know how. Because, in the end, what choice do they have? We can’t control the genetic hand that life has dealt us, but we can choose how we live that life.
Would you want to know, if you had the choice?