Thursday, June 23, 2011

The BIG ANNOUNCEMENT I've been hinting at!

I’m SO EXCITED and THRILLED to finally tell you why I have been missing-in-action on my blog! Complete with a photo-filled re-enactment of the last six months!

But first, here's the fantastic news! From this morning's Publishers Marketplace:

Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam's ELUSION, pitched as an "Inception"-type futuristic thriller series about three teenagers attempting to solve a mystery with serious personal stakes, that leads them inside an alternate reality game which transports users to dangerously seductive Utopian world, and ETHERWORLD, to Katherine Tegen and Sarah Shumway at Katherine Tegen Books, in a significant deal, by Christy Fletcher at Fletcher & Company (for Gabel) and Esther Newberg at ICM (for Klam) (NA). Foreign/UK: Fletcher & Co. Film: Josie Friedman and Nick Harris at ICM.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe it? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Isn't that FABULOUS? !!!!!!!!!!!!

I just might faint. Seriously.

While I try to make the room stop spinning, why don't you read the behind-the-scenes story, okay? Great! 

At Christmas, my dear friend and fellow teen novelist Cheryl Klam called me up to wish me a happy holiday. We talked about the usual stuff—what her kids were up to; what books we were reading; our favorite bits from Kathy Griffin: Life on the D List; the molecular structure of tannic acid; etc.

Then the conversation turned to writing, which it almost always does. Cheryl and I have worked on a number of projects together—a treatment for a movie, a script for a sitcom pilot, and a one-woman comedy show about aging gracefully, called HEY, YOU--GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY ACTIVIA! (Just kidding about the last one.)

Even though our projects didn’t get picked up, we had such a great time collaborating on them. So Cheryl said, “What's our next move? What do we do now?” And then I replied, “Here’s an idea. What if we work on a BOOK….for TEENS? You know, like we’ve already done on our own?”

There was a contemplative silence. Or maybe it was just the biggest “Duh!” ever experienced on planet Earth. Why hadn’t we thought about that before?!
Then Cheryl said, “It has to be an idea that’s really different than what we’ve already done.” Then I said, “You’re right, but it should also be something that both bucks the current trends and yet embraces the current trends.” (That came from the editor side of my brain, of course. Cheryl is subjected to this voice more often than she’d like, I’m sure!)

So for a few weeks after that, we thought long and hard. We brainstormed on the phone and emailed back and forth with our ideas. We pitched each other until we couldn’t stand it any longer.

And then it happened, a true EUREKA moment! We immediately knew that we had something special, so we spazzed out. HARD. Like so:

Then it was time to get to work. Cheryl and I decided the best thing to do was write an in-depth outline that detailed the story for the book and its sequel. It would cover everything—the concept pitch; how to position the book; character descriptions; backstory; world-building; plot; competitive titles, author bios; you name it. We also needed to compile sample chapters to go along with the outline, preferably 75-100 pages.

The outline was actually the easiest part of the process, even though it took us months to complete. Cheryl and I would set up conference calls, and basically spend hours plotting each act of the story arc on our computers. Then we’d shift the document back and forth, editing it less and less with each pass. Writing the sample chapters was a lot harder, though. After we picked which scenes to write, Cheryl went off and did a rough draft of the pages. Then she’d send them to me and I’d write over her. Getting the voice right was so tough. We couldn’t figure out how the main character should sound, we didn’t like how she was reading on the page. We actually got into our first real spat over it. Not good!

But then we thought we might be having a hard time because the POV we were using wasn’t gelling for us. Perhaps we should switch to 3rd person from 1st person? We gave it a shot and it totally worked! Of course we ran into some other problems along the way, but thankfully they were minor and didn’t slow us down very much.

After getting our materials together, we sent the package off to our agents (Christy Fletcher for moi; Esther Newberg for Cheryl), and waited to hear back from them. This was so nerve-wracking! What if they weren’t into our idea? What if they didn’t think it was awesome like we did? I may be an editor at my day job, but that didn’t help calm me down any. So Cheryl and I did A LOT of stress eating. (DON’T JUDGE!)

Luckily, that didn’t last for long! Christy and Esther loved our idea and were so excited about our proposal. They told us they wanted to represent it! Which meant were on our way!

But there was more work to be done. We had to do another round of edits on the proposal and the sample chaptesr. We had to fine tune some characters and weed out some plot points that weren’t sticking. We also had to revisit the rules of our world because they weren’t lining up right. And we had to do it ASAP, which was difficult considering that Cheryl has two daughters and I have a full-time job.

We pulled it off, though, and once the book was sent on exclusive to an editor we LOVED, we pretty much collapsed. Once we recovered, our nerves were in full swing again. We were confident that we had done a great job with our submission materials, but you just never know whom it’s going to connect with.

As an editor with a lot of books to juggle and an intimidating To Read list, I warned Cheryl we might be in for a wait. But I was wrong! We actually got a swift response from a spectactular publisher (I should know!) and received an amazing offer from the wonderful people at Katherine Tegen Books!

EEEEEEK!!!!! I’m soooooo unbelievably psyched to be working with my colleagues at HarperCollins Children's Books, an awesome editor like Sarah Shumway, and with my dear friend Cheryl, on this wicked cool project! I can’t wait to share more details as our journey together progresses, and I promise to keep up with everyone on my blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

I wish I could hug all my friends online and in real life at once, but since I can’t, let’s just celebrate in the comments section, shall we? (If you aren't a follower of my blog, please sign up now--you are in for a fun ride that will include regular contests, giveaways, and other sweet stuff!)



  1. Congratulations!!! That's very exciting news!

  2. LOL! Loved the post!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  3. Many congratulations to you both - sounds like something I want to read :-)

    By the way, are you working with Debra Driza on MILA 2.0? If so, then you are even more awesome! ;-)

    Fingers crossed they all sell UK/Australian rights...

  4. Hey there -- many many congratulations!! Also, I found all your hard work inspiring (for anyone who thinks being a writer is easy or all fun and games)!

  5. A belated thank you to everyone for their kind words! Cheryl and I are working away on the first draft and having a fantastic time.

  6. Hah, this is amazing. Can't wait to read this book!