YA Guy: Welcome to the blog, L. L.! Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
L. L. Reynolds: My journey to publication began with the traditional publishing dream. I tested the waters by querying twelve agents, three at a time. (I’m not a mass query type of girl.) I took my time stalking the agents … er ... did I say stalk? I meant … studying the agents, following them on twitter, and generally trying to gauge if our personalities might mesh.
To my delight, most of them requested at least a partial of my manuscript, and, to my dismay, they took three to six months before letting me know “Rafe Ryder wasn’t right for their lists” in a variety of polite ways.
Two years later, after only my sixth rejection, it dawned on me … it was time to explore my options. As fate would dictate, it was then that I met the fabulous indie author, Katie Cross. She generously shared everything she had learned on her publishing journey with me. She didn’t fill my head with wild notions, she simply gave me questions to consider.
Did I want to solely own my rights to the books I wrote? Did I want to exercise complete artistic and creative control of my books, or did I want to face the possibility of rewriting my work based on publishers’ opinions about what was currently selling? Did I want to control my cover designs? Did I want to choose my own editors? Did I want to make a 12.5% royalty for approximately six months while my publisher helped me market my book in that very limited time span, or would I rather have a 70% royalty forever? Did I want to risk my books someday going out of print? (Good questions, huh?)
As I pondered (and researched the dickens) out of these questions, I wrestled with another dilemma. I wanted to be taken seriously as a writer, but I wasn’t sure that would be possible if I struck out on my own. Yet, at the same time, I felt aggravated that my book might have to conform to somebody else’s ideas and expectations in order for it to have a chance in the world. *Breaks into a tap dance as Sammy Davis, Jr belts out, I've gotta be me* on my iPod.*
Continuing to question, bristle and research, I noticed more and more traditional authors writing articles saying they were switching from traditional publishing to independent publishing. (Hmmmmm. Interesting.) But starting an independent publishing company is a lot of work. Could I do it? More than that, did I even want to do it?
Ultimately, my decision came down to one thing … I’m a fiercely independent soul, and I wanted to decide with whom I worked. Thus, Ananiah Press was born. Now, I am in control of my own destiny. My success rests solely in my own hands, no one else’s, and that really works for me.
YAG: I think those are important questions for anyone who considers publishing to ask. Now tell us a bit about the end result: RAFE RYDER AND THE WELL OF WISDOM!
LLR: RAFE RYDER AND THE WELL OF WISDOM is a secular middle grade fantasy. The following is a blurby bit to explain the overall story:
Twelve-year-old Rafe Ryder’s year couldn’t get worse. His parents have shipped him off to live with his grandmother and he doesn’t know if he’ll ever see his sick father again. Arriving in Maine, Rafe plots his return to England, but the possibility of a homecoming slips further from his grasp when an adventure in a corn maze at his new school goes wrong, and he and twelve of his schoolmates are mysteriously transported to Mystfira—a realm of angels, leprechauns, gargoyles and fairies—and home to an elite angelic training school.
Forced to co-exist with student angels and surrounded by more danger than he ever could have imagined, Rafe searches for a way home. But when he discovers unlikely friendships with angels, fairies, and leprechauns, Rafe realizes Mystfira has it charms—even if it rains fire and hosts the universe’s deadliest creatures. Where else could he attend school in a palace, catch a fairy xant, and watch angels prove themselves in Adomis trials?
If only he and his friends hadn’t blundered upon a sinister underworld plot to gain control of the heavens and Earth. Now, like it or not, if Rafe wants to go home, he’ll have to find a way to save it first.
Blurby bit aside, the idea for Rafe Ryder came to me in 2008 when my own son came home for a quick weekend visit and I realized he was extremely ill. I refused to let him return to his home in NYC until we got him checked out at the ER. (Advice for momma bears everywhere: Always follow your maternal intuition!) Long story, short. My son needed two artificial heart valves and a permanent pacemaker inserted at age 24 ... but he was alive! It’s hard not to think about angels when you’re sitting by your sick child’s bed running IV antibiotics round the clock.
Inspired by a gift my son had given me for my birthday a few months earlier—a wooden angel with the words “Believe in Miracles” splashed across its front—and in an effort to remain calm, strong and somewhat sane for him, I began to tell myself a story as I sat next to his bedside… the story of Rafe Ryder.
YAG: That’s an amazing story, and I’m glad it had a happy ending! Now give us some insight into your writing process—walk us through a day in your writing life. Do you write every day? Do you have any particular rituals?
LLR: There has been no such thing as a typical day of writing since last February when we started a kitchen renovation in our house. (HGTV makes these things look so simple and easy! I assure you, they are not!) When the carpenter is here I can’t even think, let alone string words together on the page. After dinner, things begin to quiet down, and I’m able to write.
Yes, I do write every day. I keep notebooks everywhere, even in the car, so I can jot ideas down. (Yes, people! Sometimes how YOU ACT and what YOU SAY incites an author ...er...did I say incite? I meant inspires an author. Use caution when you befriend us. Muhaahaahaaa!)
Over the last few months, I have taken to writing into the wee hours of the morning. It’s quiet and peaceful before the world wakes up, a perfect time to get some writing accomplished with no interruptions. The closest thing I have to a writing ritual is my habit of listening to classical music for ten minutes before I begin writing. It clears the cobwebs and inspires ideas. (At least, for me. I know it puts some people to sleep. Ha!)
YAG: What’s been the most memorable/amazing/awesome thing that’s happened to you in your writing career? (And if you feel like telling us, what’s been the worst thing?)
LLR: The most amazing thing that has happened in my writing career is having dinner with the author of Charlotte’s Web, the spectacular E. B. White! As a young nurse, he told me not to give up on my writing even though, at that point in my life, I hadn’t made it my career. I won’t bore you with details now, but I did write about it on my blog.
The second best thing is developing friendships with other writers. We’re all in this together. I love the camaraderie and general shenanigans of the writing community! (The YA guy is one of my favorites!)
Other than the rejections I experienced from the six agents in the traditional publishing world (I’m still waiting for the other six to get back to me, but I’m not holding my breath), I can’t think of a “worst experience,” and for that, I’m grateful!
YAG: Well, that’s a good thing—I was just reading a horror story recently about someone whose publisher lost her manuscript! Anyway, do you have any tips for writers just starting out?
LLR: My advice for writers just starting out is twofold. Read, read, read, read (and read some more!), and when you are done reading, apply the seat of your pants to the seat of a chair and write every day. Write “rough.” It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just get your ideas on the paper. You can go back and tweak to your heart’s content when you find yourself in an editing mood.
YAG: Thanks so much for taking the time to visit YA Guy! (And for your very nice comments about YA Guy himself!) Readers, here’s more information about L. L. Reynolds and where to find RAFE RYDER AND THE WELL OF WISDOM!
About the author: L. L. Reynolds is a registered nurse turned middle grade/young adult fantasy writer from Vermont with a husband, three children, two dogs and anything but a dull life!
A labor and delivery nurse for nearly twenty years, L. L. once had dinner with E. B. White, the author of Charlotte's Web, and it remains one of the highlights of her life thus far.
She loves tea, children, books, music, art, animals, and lemon meringue pie.
Find out more:
And to buy RAFE RYDER AND THE WELL OF WISDOM: http://www.amazon.com/Rafe-Ryder-Well-Wisdom-Book/dp/0996931910/