Sunday, July 7, 2013

Interview with our own newly sold Colette Ballard!


Today I have the great privilege of being the first blogger to interview the amazing Colette Ballard about her recently sold book, Middle of Nowhere. Before I begin, let me tell you a little about Colette. First, she is amazing and tenacious. She tells her story below, so I won't go into that, but she made it through close calls, and almost-theres and came out on the other side. Second, she's really funny. Really really funny. Third, she's talented, and soon everyone is going to get to see proof of that!


IT’S OFFICIAL: June 27th, 2013 PUBLISHER’S MARKETPLACE ANNOUNCEMENT!!

Colette Ballard's debut MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, when a seventeen-year-old girl is brutally attacked by her controlling boyfriend, she accidentally kills him in self-defense and with the help of her closest friends eludes police until she can find evidence to clear her name and face the boy who has stood by her for years and who she has loved for as long as she can remember, to Marie Romero at Tulip, by Kevan Lyon at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (World English).


  1. Tell us about your journey to publishing, especially the close calls.

Four score and seven years ago…

Okay, maybe not that long, but it feels like it, I started researching and learning how to write picture books. I bought a couple of HOW TO books—Writer’s Digest Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market Guide is a must-have. After ruining lots of paper, and more research, I found contests to enter and focused on the ones where you’d get written critiques.

Somewhere along the road…

I had a dream; so intense and vivid I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I found myself creating a story around it and imagining it as a novel—even though I had zero knowledge of novel writing, but had secretly daydreamed of the idea for years.

Eventually…

I allowed myself to write down my ideas but didn’t take it any further. I was in the process of polishing one of my children’s book manuscripts for the 2008 PNWA contest when I noticed the young adult category. Six weeks later, I had the first thirty pages and a synopsis ready for entry.

A few months later…

To my utter shock and joy, I received a phone call that I was one of eight finalists. I didn’t win, but this achievement and the two rave critiques from established writers gave me the courage to finish the manuscript.

Sometime later…

After more contest critiques (not all favorable by any means) and a few honorable mentions in The Writer’s Digest short story contest, I gained enough confidence to venture out of my solitary writing cave and join the SCBWI. I’d read about the importance of joining a critique group and three and a half years ago, I worked up the nerve to answer a life-altering e-mail from Katie McGarry looking to start a YA critique group in the Louisville area. I responded along with Bill Wolfe, Bethany Griffin, Kurt Hampe, and eventually we added Kelly Creagh. I cannot stress the importance of this decision—I would NOT be where I am without these people!

After maybe a year and a half…

And a major overhaul of the manuscript, it was time to send out agent queries…I attended an SCBWI conference and signed up for an anonymous query critique session with agent Kelly Sonnack. She really liked my query letter so I contacted her after the conference and stayed in touch until I completed the manuscript. She ended up rejecting it because it simply wasn't her thing, but she referred me to the amazing Kevan Lyon who snapped it up. BTW, Kevan happened to be Katie’s agent as well—crazy, right?

In July of 2011…

Kevan sent MON out on submission and we had some very close calls—three times going to acquisitions—inevitably resulting in a “NO”. Heartbreaking to be so close!

But then…

Little did I know that Kevan had an intern named Marie Romero who read MIDDLE OF NOWHERE and requested to take it on as a project when she moved up as editor-in-chief at Spencer Hill Press’s newest line, TULIP ROMANCE.

Fast forward to June 2013 and TADA…

MIDDLE OF NOWHERE is scheduled for digital release November 25th, 2013!! Print release to follow at a later date…

  1. Tell us about the moment you got the phone call.  
This all happened within three days and the book wasn’t even out on submission—I was in complete shock and sat staring at the computer screen for a reaaallllyy long time. J
Oh, and super fun fact: I got the news of my book deal exactly five years to the weekend that I got the phone call about finaling in my first contest for Middle of Nowhere!

  1. Tell us how things feel now.
SURREAL!!! That is all.  

  1. Tell us what you can about the book inspiration, a short summary.
The inspiration for the book came from a crazy dream—described in the non-short summary in question one. J

             Thanks Bethany, for my very first interview!!

         
            https://twitter.com/Colette_Ballard
              http://coletteballard.blogspot.com
            http://yafusion.blogspot.com

6 comments:

Kristin Lenz said...

Woo-hoo, Collette! You already know I've been cheering for you since we met at the very start of YA Fusion. Thanks for sharing your story - it will encourage others to follow their dreams too.

Jen Daiker said...

The book sounds fantastic!!!! I loved this interview. It was great getting to know you!

Kurt Hampe said...

Congrats on the debut Colette. When the book comes out, I want to post a short reading here using my tractor-pull commercial voice.

Colette Ballard said...

Thanks, Kristen-I really appreciate your support through this. It's been great to share the journey with someone who's going through the same thing! I have faith it's going to happen soon for you too. :)

Thanks, Jen! I'm very excited about it-i worked very hard. :)

Kurt-please, yes! That's the one with the hillbilly accent and the neck tattoo, right? It's my favorite:)

Lisa Tapp said...

Thanks for the interview, Bethany. Colette, your a natural with interviews - informative and entertaining. Congratulations!

Ilse said...

This is awesome!