Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Curse Bright as a Real Live Author

Last night I had the opportunity to meet the award-winning young adult author Elizabeth C. Bunce. She is the creator of the incredible A Curse Dark as Gold for which she won the very prestigious William C. Morris Young Adult Debut Award (among other honors).

She is also a fellow Kansan, and last night spoke at a local library. The setting was more like an intimate discussion among literary colleagues rather than a forum, which I preferred because I got to get into Elizabeth's brain. And afterwards I stayed and spoke to her and her husband. We even walked out to the parking lot together. (Remember shaking slightly from nerves when talking to the boy you loved? Yes, I was shaking.)

First of all...A Curse Dark as Gold. Beautiful. Romantic. Mystical. It is a historical fantasy, a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin - a very thorough, emotional, and believable retelling of the fairy-tale. And Elizabeth is such an incredible writer. When you read her words, you don't see words, you see pictures. You feel. It's amazing. My words are a little sad they aren't as good as her words.

She spoke about her journey to publication, which is unique. She didn't acquire an agent by traditional querying, but through a conference. And she actually obtained her editor (he-hem, an editor for Harry Potter!) all by herself at another conference, who only read a few chapters and then asked her for her whole manuscript...which Elizabeth had not even finished yet. So the editor contacted her several months later asking her for the manuscript again. Her writing is THAT good. So agent and editor eventually teamed up to help Elizabeth create perfect.

She spent three years writing her book! She spent time doing a lot of research and now is an expert on woolen mills in the Industrial Revolution. (And do you know what?! She recommends books for research over the Internet. I thought the Internet had no limits...)

She said she had fourteen starts on her book. In fact, she said that false starts teach you what you need to know to finish your book. (And I just felt like I was moving backwards.)

I have been writing my book for a couple of months and I'm on my second start. Suddenly I don't feel so far behind.

We spoke about the editing process, and she warned against self over-editing. She said it comes to a point you are not making your manuscript better, you are just making it different.

What else?? Oh yes, she asked me what my book was about. And I told her. And she liked it. (Still shaking.)

It was a great experience. I recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to meet a published author if the opportunity presents itself. And maybe seeking the opportunity if it doesn't present itself.


  1. Oh, WOW, I LOVE that advice about editing. That is priceless and so good to remember, especially for me at this point in my WIP. Thanks for sharing and so glad you had a great experience!

  2. What a great experience for you. Thanks for sharing it so we can glean a little motivation from it too!

    The book I'm on now I've re-started four times. I thought that meant it was a lost cause. I love love love that advice!!

  3. Awesome. It's great how each publishing story is different. What a fun opportunity to hear from someone who's been through it all:)

  4. OH my gosh! How fun! I've felt that way too, the few times I've met authors. So cool for you! Thank you for sharing all that with us.

  5. What an awesome experience! That's so cool that you got to talk with her one on one. Wow.

    I went to a Brandon Mull book signing and there were 500 people in line. Needless to say, I didn't wait, and even if I had,I doubt we would have had much time to talk.

    You hit the jackpot! Very interesting advice. I'm going to have to check out her book now. :)

  6. That's inspiring. I've started my first book over and over again. At least I know I'm not the only one. What a great experience! Oh, and I hope you have a great time with your sisters! I'm missing mine right now!

  7. Oooh, I love that advice on over self-editing too. I think that's true. I need to stop editing now. I'm just making it different. LOL

  8. Loved the editing advice as I'm at that point where I think my over editing is making it worse. Great advice. Local libraries are great.

  9. Ooh! another awesome book to look up! I can't wait to read it! That's some wonderful advice too! I love it! Jenni

  10. Patti-I love, love, love libraries, especially when they host events like this.

    Jenni-I'm glad Blogger let you visit me. And definitely read it!