Making the dream come true

Current word count: 33,200

New words written: 1,317

Words til goal: 6,800 / 252 words a day til the end of September

On Tuesday, I overslept and didn’t write, but the other days have been slow but I’ve kept up my goals. My day-job has been busy and frying my brain, though — hence no blog posts all week. Sorry!

Dreaming Anastasia book coverBut today, we have a treat on DayByDayWriter. I am thrilled to have a guest post from Joy Preble, debut author whose Dreaming Anastasia launched in stores Sept. 1. I haven’t read it, but it sounds awesome, and I just love the cover.

Like many of us, when Joy wrote Dreaming Anastasia, she was balancing a dream of writing with a day-job, family and all the other things life throws at us. But, like us, she pursued her dream and now it has come true. Joy didn’t have any special contacts or anything to give her a leg-up in her publishing career. Like us, she had an idea for a story and a desire that wouldn’t quit.

Here’s Joy discussing her inspirational journey to publication. One day I’ll be posting yours!



So here’s the dirty little secret about writing as a career. It doesn’t initially pay the bills. Okay, there’s Stephenie Meyer. But then there’s the rest of us. And the truth is, I know some people who just take the leap, quite their day job and go for it. Well, I’m not one of them. So what I’m doing instead, is what most writers I know are doing – attempting a precarious balance of writing, other job, family, and personal life. Some days, I think I’m crazy. Mostly, I just don’t think about it too hard. Because the truth is, I’m besotted with happiness that I’m getting to do this thing that I’ve wanted to do forever. Someone is paying me money to write, and I get to have a real book on a shelf in stores all around the world. Can you think of anything better?

Five years ago, I was in my class room after school one day, getting ready to leave. It was a mediocre day in a less than mediocre teaching year, and I was in an equally mediocre mood. Okay, scratch that. I was scraping emotional bottom. I’d been toying with picture book writing and getting the occasional article published here and there, and I was the mom of senior in high school and I was angsty about the whole impending college thing. I’d been writing my whole life, but I’d never really pushed myself. I’d start and stop and start again.

Which was probably exactly what I would have done with this story idea that came into my head that afternoon when it suddenly started raining so hard that I decided to stick around until it let up a bit. The muse didn’t leave me much that day, but she gave me what would eventually become Anne Michaelson, my main character. Anne was smart and funny and snarky and not particularly happy. She knew more than her teachers, and she seemed to want something bigger than what she had. And somehow from there, a story emerged. What if, I wondered, she bumped into someone who could change her life? What if he was handsome and mysterious and had his own problems? What if he told her that she had powers beyond what she imagined? That she could change history? Would she believe him? Would she do what he was telling her she needed to?

And okay, here’s the funny thing: Lots of things changed in that moment. Not the least of which was me.

Let me interject here that it wasn’t quite that easy. I really was having the mother of all horrible school years. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. And I didn’t just sit down and start writing, the story pouring out of my head all inspired and gooey and oozing with brilliance. In truth, I actually decided to look for another job. Yes, I was just that stubborn about the whole thing. But eventually, for whatever reason, I discovered that this time, the story just wouldn’t let go.

And so I wrote and wrote and wrote. In the fall of 2005, I had a first draft. By the summer of 2006,  I’d signed with an agent at Andrea Brown Literary. And in 2007, Dreaming Anastasia – then titled Spark – sold to Sourcebooks. In between, there were many, many rounds of revision. There was a miraculous moment when two of the agents I’d e-queried during half time on Super Bowl Sunday requested partials. And an equally life-changing moment when my then-agent Michelle Andelman chose to pull me from the slushiest of piles and represent this story that ultimately went on to become a genre-bending combination of fairy tale, fantasy, history, and romance. It was, I suppose, an act of faith for everyone involved.

In between then and now, Michelle left for other work in publishing. I’m now repped by the intrepid and wonderful Jen Rofe. The editor who’d acquired my novel also went on to work elsewhere, and I was placed in the very capable hands of Dan Ehrenhaft. Things could have turned out differently. But they didn’t. Dreaming Anastasia got a totally kick ass cover, and an amazing team of copy editors, and I learned the rest of what goes into making a manuscript into an actual book. (Hint: a lot!)

Dreaming Anastasia has been capturing people’s attention, and as I type this, it’s just a week until release day on September 1st. And mostly what I have learned is that sometimes even dreams you push aside for a very long time, can come true.

2 Responses

  1. Casey says:

    What an inspiring story, Joy! I remember the day things changed for me, when I shifted from play writer to aspiring author. Hopefully one of these days I’ll finally get past the aspiring part.

    The cover of Dreaming Anastasia really is gorgeous. I’ve been eying it on the Blue Boards, and it’s definitely on my TBR list!

  2. Jessica Capelle says:

    Great story Joy! I can’t wait to have my own 🙂

    I’ve been hearing fantastic stuff about the book and can’t wait to read it. Congrats!

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