Friday, December 28, 2012

Easy Bake Novel

by Saralee Rosenberg
Writing a novel is much like planning a wedding. The thought, preparation, creativity, time, frustration and patience can take years, while the pleasure and enjoyment last but a few hours.

So why do we subject ourselves to the torture of writing a novel knowing that a reader may finish in a day what took us years to perfect? Because as with planning a wedding it’s not about the day, it’s about the memories. 

With each novel we publish we hopefully leave our legacy.

Yes it's frustrating when a reader gobbles up our latest book and asks when the next one is coming out, as if we turn them out like pies. A few hours of prep time, another few hours in the oven and presto. Out comes an Easy Bake Novel.

But it’s also wonderfully rewarding to know that people are so in love with our work that they eagerly anticipate what we are serving up next.

The fact that the average reader has no clue what is involved in our process is not their fault. They don’t sit in the stands watching us like they do athletes in pursuit of a win. They don’t Skype with us while we wrangle with a difficult paragraph or page. They get handed a finished product and assume that we made a change here or there, but basically the book they read is the book we wrote.

Even my editor was astounded when I turned in my last manuscript and sent it along with a picture of me buried in draft pages. “Was all that for this one book?” she asked. To which I replied, “No. The other four garbage bags were already hauled to the curb.”

She had her doubts but every writer knows I spoke the truth. Every book project is responsible for the loss of trees in Oregon.

And at the moment, I am taking all of this to heart because I have been a slave to my latest project, HOTLINE TO HEAVEN. It is my first novel for a younger reader and when I started nearly three years ago, I was certain I could whip out a finished manuscript in a matter of months. After all, I was an experienced novelist and what could be easier than writing for children?


I thought that Harry Potter and Hunger Games aside, all young readers wanted from a novel was a few good laughs and a quick ending so they could resume texting and playing video games.

If I only knew then..

Writing HOTLINE has been the greatest challenge of my career. And in fact I have gone through so many different versions, I’m calling this latest attempt the anniversary edition.

What I have discovered through my "taste-testers" is that younger readers are perhaps even more demanding than adults. They expect the 4 E’s: entertainment, enlightenment, engagement and escapism. But to achieve that level of sophistication while telling an original and compelling story that resonates with a child's heart is no easy feat.

It only looks that way.

So once again I'm nearing the finish line and hoping for the magical outcome my new readers deserve. And how will I know when it’s time to throw a celebratory party? When they (and maybe even their moms) text me:  LOVEEEEE!!!! write another one!!!!

I'm on it... hopefully.

Saralee Rosenberg is the author of four novels from Avon (HarperCollins) including A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE, CLAIRE VOYANT, FATE AND MS. FORTUNE and DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD. Visit her website:


  1. I love the analogy to wedding planning :)

    So many things in life, if we knew the work involved, we'd never begin. Luckily we don't have a time machine to tell us.

  2. Love this post, Saralee!! And I agree, the wedding planning analogy is wonderful!

    Can't wait to read HOTLINE TO HEAVEN!!

  3. So well said, Saralee! I can remember how flattered and distraught I was when initial readers said to me, "I loved your book, when does the next one come out?" There was no easy answer! Again, great post!!

  4. I love the wedding analogy, too, Saralee. I suppose when we've started a ms and our agent nixes it midstream, that would be breaking off the engagement. And God-forbid, when the full ms is pitched to publishing houses and doesn't sell, that would be being jilted at the altar! Thanks for the great post and Happy New Year!

  5. Loved the wedding analogy! So looking forward to reading your first YA. I'll be thrilled to put it beside your other books that have a special spot on my shelves.

  6. I know it's going to be a great novel. Saralee. And I love the title.