I want to tell you a little bit about this novel I wrote back in the summer and fall of 2010.
Originally it was titled CHERISH.
As is usual when I begin writing a book, I had a few seeds of ideas that I started with.
First, I wanted to do something in and around a flower shop. I'd written two previous novels where a flower shop played a role and neither of them were ever published. I hoped that maybe the third time would be a charm. I loved the idea of the flower shop being my main character's safe place. And so, where Rae's job is sunny and bright, her home life is dark and sad.
In fact, there are strong themes of dark and light throughout the novel.
Check out this flower shop in Vienna. So adorable, yes?
I love it when there are mysterious notes or clues or something like that in a story, so I decided to add mysterious, anonymous flower deliveries to the story. Who is sending flowers to people throughout town and why do the instructions always have Rae's name on them?
Finally, I wanted to try and challenge myself, and wanted to write this book in a bit of a different format. Rae's story is primarily told through flashbacks. This is a tricky thing to do, in case you're wondering. The reader learns on the first page, something bad has happened to Rae, but it's not revealed until the end of the book what has happened.
My first draft had Rae doing a project in Language Arts called The Cherish Project (thus the previous title CHERISH). My editor had the brilliant idea that instead of the book reports she was doing, which were kind of boring to read, I could somehow have poetry play a part in the story.
And so, Rae is a poet. Through her poetry, she can express her feelings about her abusive step-father and her distant mother. And then something happens at school, and poetry begins to play an even bigger role in Rae's life. So although it is my first YA novel not written in verse, poetry still plays a part in the story.
There are also two boys in the story. A good looking boy who is new to school and takes an interest in Rae right away. They start going out. There are things she really likes about him and other things... not so much. There is also a boy who works next door to the flower shop, someone who is Rae's friend. And as time goes on, she begins to lean on her friend more and more, as Rae's affection for her boyfriend begins to turn to fear.
If you were to think of my book like a cake, the recipe for making that cake was not a simple one. There were a lot of ingredients and the preparation required a great deal of complicated steps. It's a unique kind of cake. Different. I can't even describe the cake very well, and so, I have to just tell you that I hope you'll try it, and see what you think.
It's the publisher's job to decorate the cake and make it something that will hopefully appeal to a wide audience. There were so many choices here, as you can imagine, with a book that has a lot going on. In the end, they decided to focus on the romantic aspect of the story for the cover, and I can now share that cover with you:
In December, 2010, right before my sweet friend, Lisa Madigan, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she read an early draft of CHERISH. Her e-mail back to me, with a critiqued manuscript, had one word in the subject line.
Coincidentally, today is Lisa's birthday. She would have been 49 years old. (I love and miss you, Lisa).
Soon reviewers will be sent galleys. Some bloggers, teachers and librarians may read the book through Simon and Schuster's galleygrab program. And next January, thanks to my publisher Simon Pulse, the book will be available to the public to purchase.
I think one of the hardest parts of being an author is letting a book go. But it's time. The book doesn't belong to me anymore, and so, I have to let it go. To let it be what it will become out there in the big, scary, exciting world. My work, with the help of my friends, my agent, and my editor is (mostly) done.
And so, I will end this post by simply saying ~
Best wishes, dear book. My greatest hope is that you touch the lives and hearts of those who read your story.