Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Try it Tuesday & Review {Porcelain Keys by Sarah Beard + Guest Post on Creativity}

Today on
"Try it Tuesday & Review,"
 
I have a book I am honored to share with all of you.
The book is called,
Porcelain Keys
by Sarah Beard.
 
 
Before I get into the "about" and "in my opinion" sections, I wanted to share Beard's story of publishing this treasured book. Sometimes we don't realize how much work goes into publishing a book. But, now I understand and hope that Sarah writes a second novel for me and the world to read. I absolutely loved her writing and feel that she is a brilliant author.
 
Here is her story...titled...

"I'm getting published!"

                                      
After many years (I won't say how many, because it's embarrassing) of writing and revising, my YA novel Porcelain Keys has been picked up by the generous folks at Cedar Fort Publishing.
Since I'm supposed to start blogging now for marketing purposes, I thought it fitting that my first blog be about how I got published. But before I tell you that, I have to tell you how I wrote a book that could be considered publishable.

I started writing Porcelain Keys (okay, I admit it) six years ago. I'd just put my baby and toddler down for a nap. It was a warm summer day with the sunlight streaming through my tall kitchen window, and I had this overwhelming desire to sit down at my computer and write something. I'd tried writing stories before, but other than the short stories I'd written in high school, I'd never found a story compelling enough to actually finish. But this day was different. I had this feeling inside I can't even describe, other than it made my skin tingle. So even though the dishes needed to be done, I sat down and wrote a scene. It was a scene that didn't even end up in my book, but from it was born the story of Aria Kinsley and Thomas Ashby.

I spent the next couple months staying up late every night to write, and scribbling notes on the nearest piece of paper during the day as I took care of my little boys. After I reached about 40,000 words, I realized how bad my writing was. But giving up was not an option. Not because I'm stubborn, but because Aria and Thomas wouldn't let me. They had a story, and they wouldn't leave me alone until I told it right.

So I started learning how to write. I took a community education fiction writing class. I read about eight million books on writing. I read novels like textbooks, dissecting them to see what made them tick. I attended writing conferences. And I wrote, rewrote, and rewrote again.
And then I got cancer.

Through chemotherapy and surgeries and radiation, I thought about Aria and Thomas, and the thought of not being able to finish their story was almost as heartbreaking to me as the possibility that I'd have to leave my children without a mother (okay, not half as heartbreaking as that, but still heartbreaking). Through the grace of God, I kicked cancer's butt. And after recovering from treatments, a girl at church invited me to join her writer's group.

The feedback and education I received from my writer's group over the next couple years was invaluable. They pushed me to do my best, and weren't afraid to tell me when I could do better. And finally, last November, I had a completed, polished manuscript to send out.

And that brings us to getting published. I spent a few months sending out query letters to literary agents. Talk about a roller-coaster ride, one that can be discussed in an entirely separate blog post. In the midst of it all, one of my friends loaned me a copy of Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett, which was published by Cedar Fort. I loved the book, so I decided to send my manuscript to Cedar Fort. I printed out 328 pages, took them to the post office, and mailed them with my query letter.

Two months later, I was driving my kids home from swimming lessons when an email popped up on my phone from Angie Workman, Cedar Fort's acquisitions editor.
"I'm getting published!" I exclaimed to my kids.
"I want a hamburger," my youngest replied.

About:
Aria's life is full of secrets--secrets about her mother's death, her father's volatility, and her dream to go to Juilliard. When Aria meets Thomas, he draws out her secrets, captures her heart, and gives her the courage to defy her father. But when tragedy strikes and Thomas disappears, Aria is left alone to transform her broken heart's melody into something beautiful. It is not until Thomas reappears, unearthing secrets from both of their pasts, that she must choose to either surrender to the melody, or drown it out forever.

Guest Post (on Creativity):

As human beings, we are intrinsically creative. Or at least we start out that way. Look at any child for proof. I have three of them, and I often watch them, in awe of their creativity. They make up stories on the fly, inventive tales about warrior chimps or how the “accidental kicking” of their brother occurred. They pick up a paintbrush with gusto and smear colors on a canvas without apology. They build towers out of canned food and robot costumes out of empty cereal boxes. No matter where they are or what materials are available, they are busy creating.

            Some say that as we grow into teenagers and then adults, we lose a great portion of our creativity. But do we really? Or do we just learn to apply our creativity in more practical ways?
            Most people are more creative than they realize. Isn’t a mathematician creative when he finds a new way of solving a mathematical problem? Isn’t a business woman creative when she builds a thriving, viable business from scratch? We are being creative anytime we create something that didn’t exist before. A garden. A new hairstyle. A photograph. Even a chart that motivates children to do chores.
            My novel, Porcelain Keys, is full of characters who like to create things. My main character, Aria, is a pianist who creates beautiful music. Her father is a taxidermist who transforms dead animals into mantel displays. Thomas, Aria’s love interest, uses a process called encaustics (painting with wax) to create beautiful art pieces. And the neighbor, Vivian, is constantly baking sweet creations in her kitchen.
            There are countless ways to be creative, and we all have the capability to do so. But sometimes fear of failure or lack of skills hold us back. When I began writing Porcelain Keys, I knew that if I was going to tell the story well, I needed to sharpen my writing skills. So I took writing classes, attended writing conferences, read books on writing, and studied novels like textbooks. I also joined a good writing group to get helpful feedback on my writing. In other words, I took my desire to create something and turned it into a skill. That doesn’t mean I don’t have room for improvement—any skill requires consistent practice and continued learning to keep up.  
            Even with a simple creative process, like baking a cake, we have to learn something before succeeding at it. If I’ve never baked a cake before, I wouldn’t know to grease the pan or add eggs to the batter unless I read the instructions first. So it is with any skill or craft—the greater our knowledge and the more we practice, the better we get.      Being creative really can be that simple. So the next time you’re tempted to think, “I’m not the creative type,” stop yourself and look around. You’ll see proof everywhere that you are!   
Endorsements for Porcelain Keys:
A lyrical love story that will leave your heart singing. Porcelain Keys is a masterpiece with emotional depth, young love, and family angst. Beard takes us on a journey of self-discovery, second chances, and ultimately, sweet resolution.” --Heather Ostler, author of The Shapeshifter’s Secret Series
“Emotionally rich, elegant description, beloved characters--Sarah Beard delivers a fresh, new novel that will go on my list of classics.” --Stephanie Fowers, author of With a Kiss.  
“Aria is a heroine worth rooting for, and the plot is an emotional melody that weaves a spell so potent, it can only be broken by reaching the end. And even then, I couldn’t stop thinking about Aria and her story." --Heather Frost, author of The Seers Trilogy 
"Emotionally gripping, this beautifully crafted young adult romance will pull at readers’ heartstrings from tragic beginning to happy ending. A must-read for fans of contemporary romance, both young and seasoned.” --Julie Ford, author of Replacing Gentry
“Porcelain Keys is a fresh, heart-wrenching take on boy-meets-girl. Using fantastic and musical imagery to tell the poignant love story of Aria and Thomas, the author leads the reader to a swelling crescendo as if we're part of the song—and what a beautiful song it is.” --Cindy C. Bennett, author or Geek Girl and Rapunzel Untangled
 In my opinion:
I was devastated to finish Porcelain Keys because I knew there was no more.  I'm not saying it didn't end well because it did according to me but I wanted to read more from Sarah Beard. I felt that she was a brilliant author. I only hope she will continue writing beautiful stories. Hint...Hint...
I also fell in love with the characters. I felt drawn to Aria and only wanted the best for her. I felt like a cheerleader because I was always on Aria's side to pull her from the darkness. I also think we all need a Thomas in our lives-one who encourages us to move forward.
There were twists and turns in Porcelain Keys which always kept me guessing so it was always a surprise.
I understood the importance of practicing and strengthening talents. Aria was a professional pianist and "only one person can help aria find the right notes." How can we sharpen our own talents? What ways are we creative? It is super important of being creative and finding ourselves even if it is challenging.
I will definitely treasure Porcelain Keys throughout my life and know you will too. I learned a lot as I compared myself to Aria.

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Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products or services for free in the hope that I would mention them on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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1 comment:

  1. I totally understand when you say you were devastated to end the story of Aria. Sometimes I read books where I have my heart so fully invested in the story that once it ends I feel like it's been broken. Not in a bad way, but it still feels terrible. That's when I know I've fallen deeply for a book. Thanks for writing such great words about this book! I look forward to reading it as well :)

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