After a two month hiatus from blabbermouthing, I am officially back on it! I’m still closed to queries, but I’m happy to go back to talking to you all every week. So, here we go!
A few years ago I got a query in my inbox that had me sit up and listen. It was from a new writer, someone who was going with hyphenated initials. Hunh? I found out she’d actually only been writing for two years. Hmmm. The manuscript definitely needed work but I heard something something something in this writing that had me say, “Stop everything! I actually must represent this author.” What was that? It was an amazing main character, Pen Olivera, and it was the powerful, smart authorial voice of M-E Girard. “Good god,” I thought.
Since I took M-E on as a client, that manuscript was revised and revised again; it was workshopped and rewritten, and basically turned inside out. Then HarperCollins editor Jill Davis snatched it up.
Today is the publication day of that young adult novel, Girl Mans Up. I absolutely could not be more proud of M-E, for her hard work and perseverance, for remaining true to herself and her characters, and for her contribution to young adult and GLBTQ+ literature.
Here’s what she has to say about it…
This is the eve of the release of my debut YA novel. In select stores, there are already copies on the shelves (someone tweeted me the evidence). Tomorrow I will go to my local Chapters (which to Americans who don’t know, is the Canadian equivalent of Barnes & Noble) and stare at my book on a shelf, and then I will take a copy to the cashier and buy it.
My story is now a real book, and somehow I still can’t freaking grasp that fact, like it’s way too unbelievable to be true. When I pick up one of my author copies, I feel like it’s a book that I had made to merely appear to be the real thing—some kind of sweet-looking prop I can display for myself. But it’s not that. It’s the real thing, and people out there—readers—will go out to deliberately pick up my book and exchange money for the opportunity to read it.
That is just…wow.
As much as it’s taken a fairly long-ish time to get here (I mean from landing an agent, to selling manuscript, to having it hit shelves), it feels like it literally just all happened at once. I went from being in awe of the first ARC mailed to me, to having my first book launch (because I’m having two of them!). There were people who came, not only to support me, but also interested readers who came just to see a reading and buy a book. People are already reading my story, and they have thoughts and opinions. They’ve taken the time to tweet about it, or write reviews—many incredibly detailed and insightful. I’ve been lucky enough to earn a couple of starred reviews from professional publications.
I mean…how did this happen?!
It happened with the idea for a story. A story that I got so excited about, then got super confused about, and then grew to hate—but then grew to love all over again. It was a story worth fighting for, even when it felt like homework, when it felt like everyone else but me would do a better job at writing it. I’m a newer writer, and it took time for me to bring my voice and writing skills to the point where I was able to figure out what I was trying to say, what the story was trying to be about. I had a vision for where I wanted my work to end up, and I came up with a plan to give myself the best shot to get there. Of course I couldn’t plan for timing and luck, but somehow it all aligned, and now here I am, on the eve of my official release date.
My book is coming out, and I keep feeling like I need an Oscars Thank You speech.
But I’ve done my acknowledgements (they’re at the back of the book!), so instead, I’ll thank the one person I haven’t thanked yet: Thank you to my main character Pen Oliveira for giving me someone compelling and badass to write about, whose story is what took me from First Draft, to “Oh-my-god-look-at-that-awesome-book-cover.” Oh and also: Sorry for making you sound super rude and whiny in the beginning, and sorry for giving you a kind of over-the-top emotional plot at first, which you’re probably still cringing about.
Enjoy the photos from the official launch for Girl Mans Up, which happened on September 1st, at Glad Day Bookshop, a long-surviving LGBTQ bookstore in downtown Toronto. Doesn’t it look like the best book launch ever?! It really was.