February 7, 2023
Note From Rochelle
I am so grateful to each of you who have taken the time to fill out my survey. By far the most voted for workshop topics were overcoming procrastination and distraction.
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I haven’t given up on social media yet, and for good reason: I meet the most interesting people. Today’s post features an interview with Rebecca Weber, who I met on Twitter. She’s the author of the brand new book, The Painter’s Butterfly and talks about her writing process and how she landed her book deal.
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
Publishing a Middle Grade Novel
An Interview with Rebecca Weber
Welcome Rebecca. Tell us about your new book, The Painter’s Butterfly.
The Painter’s Butterfly is an upper middle grade novel that follows a foster child named Nova as she arrives at her newest placement in a long line of foster homes. Nova has never had a real family, and off the bat she has difficulty trusting her new guardian, the painter, Mr. Russell. It doesn’t help that Mr. Russell keeps so many secrets within his dilapidated farmhouse. While exploring, Nova ventures into the attic and discovers a magic easel that brings paintings to life! As you can imagine, mayhem immediately ensues. Along the way, Nova learns the true meaning of home.
Your novel embraces fantasy. What tools do you use to dream up and draft fantastical elements that feel real to readers?
I’ve always leaned on fantasy stories that I love to inspire my ideas. Some of the most magical stories are firmly rooted in the real world because we long to find magic in our everyday lives. I adore the notion that something typically ordinary can have an element of fantasy to it, which was the foundation for The Painter’s Butterfly. My respect for artists led to the question: what if passion could animate art? Before I knew it, a story spilled out of my brain onto the page. I think the best fantasy should always leave the reader with a little irrational niggle…could magic be real?
Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
My journey to this moment has been paved with speed bumps. I always wanted everything to move faster than it did. I’ve had occasional requests from agents for my work, but most of the interest for The Painter’s Butterfly came from small, independent presses. I signed a deal with a press in early 2021, but inevitably bowed out of that contract due to unforeseen circumstances. Fortunately, once I started querying again, I was able to connect with another interested press in a short period of time. Artemesia Publishing has been such a blessing to me, an absolute dream-come-true of a partnership. I would recommend an author do some soul searching about what aspects of publishing are most important to them prior to querying. Your goals will very much inform which avenue you should take. And most of the time, you’ll encounter swerves you never predicted. Be gentle with yourself if you dare to jump into the query trenches. Also, find a good group of writers to hunker down with. I’m part of a wonderful middle grade group on Twitter called the #MGpies and having like-minded authors to bolster me through those difficult moments made all the difference for my stamina. Build a support group and believe in yourself! The rest will work itself out so long as you don’t give up.
I read in your bio that in addition to writing, you help your husband flip houses—and you’ve just become a parent. How do you juggle writing and everything else?
The promotion to parent happened very recently, so I’m still figuring out what works best for juggling writing with caring for a baby. I’m lucky in that my husband runs our flipping business, so the schedule is extremely flexible for the both of us. He’s carried a lot of the house renovation work over the last couple years while I’ve pursued my writing dream. Basically, I’ve been writing full time since the start of the pandemic. Usually, I try to carve out a couple hours a day where I can sit at the computer and do something writing-related (editing, beta reading, drafting, you name it). I find that having a specific time of day for writing on my to-do list makes a huge difference to my motivation. Also, now that I’ve written a book, I know that I’m capable, which makes me even more excited to sit down and write!
What are you reading now?
I beta read for commission, so at the moment I’m reading a few yet-to-be-published manuscripts. I love being involved with story formation as a reader just as much as I love writing! The published novel I read most recently was In Five Years, a romantic dramedy for adults by Rebecca Serle. It was a major departure from what I usually read (MG fantasy), but I enjoyed the way the story tugged on my heartstrings. My top three #fantasy reads…oh, that’s tough. The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud takes my top “favorite books” spot. I also adore anything Harry Potter. Oh, and Savvy by Ingrid Law, but everything by Cindy Baldwin is phenomenal too. ARGH. There’s too many to choose from.
About the author. Rebecca Weber is a Midwestern girl with a lifelong passion for books! She spends most of her time nurturing her baby girl and two Boston Terrier fur-babies, and flipping houses with her realtor husband. It took fifteen years to find the courage to craft her first novel, The Painter’s Butterfly, but now she’s never letting her feather pen go! While she misses teaching preschool-aged children their ABC’s, Rebecca is thrilled to have the chance to reach middle graders worldwide with her fantastical stories.