Monday, January 8, 2018

My first novel is 10 years old today!

10 years.
10. years.
10 YEARS.
10 YEARS!!!!

I remember it all. The rejections from agents that said, among other things:

"It's too short to be a novel."
"It's too sad."
"Poetry isn't my thing."
"I wouldn't know a good verse novel from a bad verse novel."

And then, an email from the wonderful woman who is now my agent of almost twelve years.

"I enjoyed it immensely."
“The verse works here – never getting in the way...”
“I would be the most enthusiastic of advocates.”

After many, many rejections, we found the perfect editor, who really got the book. He, along with many other fabulous people at Simon Pulse, helped turn my manuscript into this book.




More than any other book I've written, this one has brought me many, many heartfelt letters from readers. 

Letters from reluctant readers who said, "I usually hate to read but I love this book."
Letters from kids who never finished an entire novel until this one.
Letters from parents of children with dyslexia who were so happy their kids found a book they could read and enjoy.
Letters from people who had lost someone and found comfort in the pages.

It went into a second printing only a month after it had been released.
It's now in its 11th printing with over 100,000 copies in print. 
I call it "The little book that could."

If you have a few minutes to spare, you can watch the video I made to celebrate the book's release. I originally put it up on my blog at the time at livejournal, and then took it down at some point, maybe because I was embarrassed by it?? Well, I'm older now and have less you-know-whats to give. Anyway, while my book hasn't aged much at all, I can't say the same about myself. Ha!

Happy birthday, little book. I'm so happy you are here and that so many people have found hope and comfort and love in your pages. 




Sunday, December 31, 2017

Things I learned in 2017

It's been a tough few weeks. I had the flu and my husband is dealing with sciatica. When I'm not working, I'm trying to rest up and get my energy back or running him to doctor and PT appointments. Here's hoping for a healthy new year!

It's pretty easy to focus on the negative stuff, so I decided to make a list of the things I learned in 2017.  I still hope to do a more detailed post of the highlights from 2017, because I love looking back at those. But for now, here's my list.

1) Paris in the spring is more lovely than I ever imagined.
2) Auvers-sur-Oise is my new favorite place in the world.
3) Calling elected officials is important and not nearly as difficult as my brain might have wanted me to believe.
4) Sometimes parenting means doing hard things, but amazing and wonderful things often come from those hard things.
5) Time and energy spent on a child is always time and energy well spent.
6) My body appreciates it when I take good care of it.
7) Riding the bus is actually a pretty relaxing way to get to work and I don't mind it much (except for the germs).
8) My new job has shown me I am capable of focusing and being productive for hours at a time and I love that feeling. (Note to self: remove social media apps from writing computer for the new year).
9) I mustn't take health and mobility for granted. It's too important and must be a top priority, always.
10) Rereading CHARLOTTE'S WEB via audio with E.B. White reading it to me was an excellent decision.
11) Waiting for "the next shoe to drop" and checking for news on and off all day is a terrible way to live.
12) I'm happiest when I see friends regularly.
13) Maybe I can't make a huge difference and change the world, but I can do small things every day that make a difference in my small part of the world.
14) Music and stories via books, movies, TV, plays, etc. still give me life and money spent on those things is always money well spent.
15) My dog is still the best snuggle muffin in town, even with only one eye.
16) I love fashion from the fifties (thanks to The Crown for this new revelation).


HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Pamela Zagarenski

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Excerpt from SEALED WITH A SECRET

Don't forget, SEALED WITH A SECRET is out in paperback this Tuesday!

Chapter 9

"I love England in the spring, with its pink camellias and yellow daffodils. And as I looked around while we strolled back toward the Tube station, I remembered one spring a number of years back when our family went to Green Park for a picnic on a pretty, sunny day. Green Park is one of the most famous parks for daffodils, and we managed to go on a day when everything was in full bloom. It was gorgeous. Alice had said, 'Let's pretend we're fairies and we live here surrounded by daffodils.'
     'What do fairies eat?' I asked.
     'I think they must eat anything that's sweet,' Alice replied. 'Maybe they make little tiny cakes made out of dandelions and daisies.'
     'Oooh, I want a dandelion cake!' I exclaimed. 'With lemon frosting.'
     And so, after we ate the lunch Mum had packed in a picnic basket, we made pretend dandelion cakes and played silly fairy games. Except at the time, they weren't silly at all, they were wonderful.
     Sometimes I wonder if Alice ever remembers those times when we played and laughed and enjoyed each other's company. Maybe I should leave one of the family photo albums on her pillow, so she might flip through and be reminded that she didn't always find me as wonderful as a nest of wasps."



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday if you're celebrating tomorrow.

A few things I'm thankful for:
my health
my family and friends
books
book stores
libraries
story tellers
artists
people who love art
people who love books
a ten-year career that has allowed me to publish over twenty books
pie



Enjoy your day!
Lisa

Friday, October 27, 2017

Happy Autumn!

Three to four days a week, I take the dog for her 30 minute walk and then I go out on my own. I'm doing the couch to 5K program, so it's part running, part walking. Money's tight these days so I got rid of the gym membership and am trying to do different things on my own. But this morning, it was hard to run. Every corner I turned, Mother Nature whispered, "Slow down. I have some gifts for you to enjoy." The bright blue sky. The way the breeze made the yellow, red and orange leaves flutter to the ground. The way the sunlight made the leaves almost glow. I definitely had to stop and watch what I'm 99% sure was an Eagle glide through the gorgeous sky, sunlight sparkling on the tips of its wings. I didn't want any of it to end. The way your soul sighs and says, "This is what happiness feels like." Maybe the moment can't last forever. But I can carry it with me for a day or two. Maybe longer. And maybe tell myself to slow down when the gifts aren't quite so obvious. Because you know they're always there, if we just look for them.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

SEE YOU ON A STARRY NIGHT cover!!

Coming June, 2018!


It's a book about friendship.
About the ups and downs of family, and what it means to open your heart and your home to give someone a place that feels like home when they really need it.
About finding beauty in everyday things and being thankful for them.
About Vincent van Gogh and art, and how art can bring people together.

I'm really proud of this book and am excited for you to read it next year!

***

Here's the official publisher's description:

Juliet has just moved to a beachside town with her newly separated mother and her moody older sister. When she meets their new neighbor, Emma, the girls form an instant bond. Emma's big family takes Juliet in, and the girls have fun together -- starting with the night they throw bottles with secret messages into the sea.

Then someone writes back to Juliet's message. An email arrives, inviting her to join the Starry Beach Club. All she has to do is make someone else's wish come true.

So Juliet and Emma set off to help as many other people as they can. It's fun! But as Juliet spends more and more time away from home, enjoying her new town and Emma's family more than her own mom and sister, she starts feeling lost. It's been easy to find others to help. But maybe her star would shine a little brighter if she brought it closer to home.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Finished!

I just now turned in the final edits for my 2017 MG novel SEE YOU ON A STARRY NIGHT. This book took a long time in the beginning to get the premise just right. I tried one thing and my editor said, "That's not going to work and here's why." Tried another thing and this time it still wasn't quite right. I rewrote the first fifty pages or so three or four times over the course of like six months. (I was hoping to sell on the synopsis plus some pages).
Were there times I wanted to give up? Yes. Were there times I wondered if I didn't have it in me to figure it out? Yes. But now, on the other side of all of that, I'm so glad I didn't give up. So glad I didn't believe the negative voices that told me I couldn't do it instead of believing in what I've learned during all of these years doing this - that sometimes things simply take time. It's okay to be frustrated. To walk around for days with a notebook jotting every little possible idea down and to trust that the right one will eventually come. In today's world where everything feels instantaneous, creativity doesn't work that way. It needs room to breathe. To expand. I am reminded today of how important it is to do that. Because with time and space, the right thing did eventually find its way into the story. And I couldn't be prouder of how it turned out. Yay - a new book in 2018!!!! I'll have more to share with you in the coming months about this book. 
In the meantime, if you haven't checked out KEY TO THE CITY, please do. It could use all of the help it can get.

As for the new book, hopefully I'll have a cover to share soon!