A Very Good Place to Start

For my Very First Post Ever, I thought I'd start with an announcement. This happened a few months ago, but the shine hasn't faded (at least, not for me). Check it out: Sara Sargent at Balzer + Bray has acquired world English rights to Underneath Everything, a YA debut by Marcy Beller Paul. It's a contemporary psychological thriller about two girls bound by an obsessive friendship. When Mattie decides to take back the boyfriend, friends, and life she thinks Jolene stole from her years ago, she's drawn into an intoxicating – and toxic – relationship that blurs the boundary between friendship and love. Publication is scheduled for fall 2015; Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management did the deal.

So, yeah. That little piece of info was published in PW on August 15th, 2013. That day lots of people found out something I had kept quiet for a long time. When I first started writing the book that became Underneath Everything in January 2011, my daughter was barely a year old, my son was very much two years old, and I was barely getting any sleep. I talked to people about sleep schedules and juggling two kids and movies and books and what it was like to stay home. But I didn't talk to anyone about my writing. It was an experiment. Something I would try. Maybe it wasn't the right time. Maybe I should wait until I was getting more sleep, and the kids were older, and we had a house, and I was--I don't know--better. But I didn't want to wait anymore. I'd always told myself (in a small voice, in my head--for as long as I've been talking to myself, anyway) that when I had kids I'd stay home and write books. I never said it out loud. I never told anyone else. But I never stopped telling myself, either. It was a refrain--a song I sang myself under my breath. A dream. But it didn't feel real, like it could ever actually happen. Because I'd worked in publishing. I'd seen how many talented writers got book deals, and how many didn't. Who was I to think I had something to add? That I was good enough? Even when I started writing every day--working during naptimes and nights--even when I started treating it like a job, I didn't tell many people. I didn't feel like I was allowed. But slowly, over the year it took me to finish the first draft, and the additional year it took me to rip it apart and revise it, I did start saying things. At parties. During playdates. I'm working on something. I'm writing. A book. For teens.

The first time I said it out loud, I went home and asked my husband if I sounded silly and stupid. He said no, not at all. But I felt like a fraud. I was afraid to tell people, because that meant I'd be accountable. If nothing came of it, I'd be a failure.

But every day I went back to the writing. I wanted to see it through. I wanted to know I could finish. Most of all, I kept going back because I love writing. I love books and words and turns of phrase, and the way they take my feelings and tie them up and toss them around and wring them out.

So I kept at it. I finished my revisions. I revised some more (and then some more). And then, eventually, I sent my words out into the world all by themselves. My finger shook when I hit send. I told my family and close friends. And we waited.

Then I got an agent (my DREAM agent). Then I got a book deal. Then everyone found out.

I'm not going to say it changed my life, because I still wipe noses and make lunches and try to figure out what we're having for dinner and write whenever I can in between. I still love writing and crush on cool word combinations. The big difference is that now you get to read my words. I get to give them to you. And I can only hope they tie you up and toss you around and wring you out too.