As promised on Friday, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Marie Landry, whose debut novel Blue Sky Days is officially launched tomorrow. Blue Sky Days is a contemporary YA romance and coming-of-age story. Marie is also a book blogger and you can find her over on Ramblings of a Daydreamer .
A year after graduating from high school, nineteen-year-old Emma Ward feels lost. She has spent most of her life trying to please her frigid, miserable mother - studying hard, getting good grades, avoiding the whole teenage rebellion thing - and now she feels she has no identity beyond that. Because she spent so many years working hard and planning every moment of her life, she doesn't have any friends, has never had a boyfriend, and basically doesn't know who she is or what she really wants from life. Working two part-time jobs to save money for college hasn't helped her make decisions about her future, so she decides it's time for a change. She leaves home to live with her free-spirited, slightly eccentric Aunt Daisy in a small town that makes Emma feel like she's stepped back in time.
When Emma meets Nicholas Shaw, everything changes - he's unlike anyone she's ever met before, the kind of man she didn't even know existed in the 21st century. Carefree and spirited like Daisy, Nicholas teaches Emma to appreciate life, the beauty around her, and to just let go and live. Between Daisy and Nicholas, Emma feels like she belongs somewhere for the first time in her life, and realizes that you don't always need a plan - sometimes life steers you where you're meant to be.
Life is wonderful, an endless string of blue sky days, until Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer, and life changes once again for Emma in ways she never thought possible. Now it's time for her to help Nicholas the way he's helped her. Emma will have to use her new-found strength, and discover along the way if love really is enough to get you through.
It was infatuation at first sight. An infatuation that quickly turned into love, but at that moment I didn’t know what love was.
I was sitting on a hilltop in the park when our eyes met, making my stomach flip like it had never done before. He was the most beautiful boy I’d seen in my entire life and he was looking at me. When he stood up from the bench at the bottom of the hill and walked in a slow, almost lazy gait toward me, my heart raced. I told myself to stay calm; he probably just wanted to know the time, or ask for a quarter to make a phone call. He wasn’t interested in me—he couldn’t be, things like that just didn’t happen to me. In fact, I was so sure it wasn’t about to happen to me that I ducked my head and cast a look around to see if there was anyone else nearby that he might be heading for.
It sounds great, but before I start reading, I'm definitely going to need a box of tissues at my side!
So Marie, what made you decide to write a book?
First, I’d like to say thank you so much Mandy for having me on your blog! I’m honoured.
I’ve always been a writer. I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember, and before I could write, I would tell stories to anyone who would listen. It wasn’t something I decided to do one day, it was something I always knew I would do.
I was in my teens when I wrote my first novel, and I was about 20 when I wrote the first draft of Blue Sky Days. I’ve written several other novels over the years, but there were times I worried I would never be able to write a full-length novel. Most of my novels, including the original draft of Blue Sky Days were novella length, but after setting BSD aside for seven years, I was able to triple the word count and finally have a completed novel.
When do you fit writing into your day?
I’m lucky enough to work from home, so I can fit writing in any time. I try to treat it like any other job, and work at it 8-12 hours a day, sometimes more. Although, with finishing Blue Sky Days and getting it ready for publication, I haven’t done any proper writing in quite a while!
Self-published or traditional?
I always figured I would be traditionally published, but once I started researching self-publishing, I knew it was the right path for me. I like the idea of taking my future into my hands and running with it. I like having complete control over my own work and what I do with it. When I originally researched self-publishing several years ago, there were only bad things said about it. It used to be the only option for hacks, wannabes, and generally people who could never cut it in traditional publishing. Now, there are many extremely talented people who could be traditionally published, but choose to do it on their own for a variety of reasons.
How was your experience?
The publishing process has been a whirlwind. I’ve done pretty much everything on my own: designed my own cover, did the formatting, created the book trailer, found people who were willing to beta read and proofread, and even made an exchange with an editor - she edited my book for free so she could put on her resumé that she helped a debut author. I knew it would be a lot of work, but I had no idea just how much work it would be. With the exception of a 3-day weekend in late November, I’ve been working seven days a week for the last few months. I can’t really complain though, because I’m living my dream - how many people can honestly say that?
Tips for would-be authors
If you really want to be an author, don’t let anything or anyone stop you. If you want to write a book, but don’t know if you can do it, do it anyway - you might surprise yourself. The first draft might be garbage - in fact, it will almost certainly be garbage - but that’s what second and third and fourth drafts are for. That’s what beta readers and editors are for. Don’t let fear and self-doubt stop you. There are times when you might be terrified and wonder what you’re doing, or why you’re doing it, but that’s normal. Keep at it, dream big, and let your imagination run wild.
That's great advice. Thank you, Marie, and best of luck with the book launch!