I was lucky enough to be introduced to Courtney Stevens Potter at the LA SCBWI conference. Courtney made me laugh, really laugh, and I had a blast with her, but she’s also so warm, so real, so honest, that at times, she made my heart beat in my ears. She gave me shivers three times over in the same conversation because she talked so passionately about her writing. So I want you to meet her, too, because I hope she inspires you and your writing in the same way she has affected me.
The gist of Courtney’s incredible year is that she attended the LA SCBWI conference last summer. At her manuscript critique, the editor challenged her to write the story only she can tell. Courtney left that meeting in a daze and stayed that way for the rest of the conference. She finally knew – really knew – what she had to write. It wasn’t about publication anymore; it was about being brave. She got square with her fear and accepted the challenge.
By September, only weeks later, she had the pitch for her new YA novel, Faking Normal, and went for it at her regional SCBWI conference: What if Melinda Sordino from Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak meets Peeta Mellark from Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games? What would it take for a girl who had been through that to fall in love?
A request was made for the first fifty pages. Then a request was made for the entire manuscript. The problem? Courtney hadn’t even written it yet! So she blasted through the writing and revising process between August 8th and October 18th. How? Because she was writing the book she was supposed to write. Three agents ended up fighting to represent her. (I promise that you can’t even be jealous because she’s so, so wonderful.) SHE got to interview THEM and choose.
So this year at the LA SCBWI conference, Courtney was celebrating. Big time, thanks to a BIG (and I mean HUGE) deal. Here’s the announcement from Publishers Weekly:
HC Children’s Throws Down for YA Debut
In a major two-book deal, Rosemary Brosnan at HarperCollins Children’s Books pre-empted world English rights to Courtney C. Stevens’s YA debut, Faking Normal. Kelly Sonnack at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency represented Stevens in the deal; the second book, which is currently untitled, will be a stand-alone novel. Faking Normal follows a 16-year-old girl and the relationship she develops with her awkward neighbor, a teenage boy, as she struggles to forget the traumatic events of the summer before. Sonnack said the book has “striking emotional staying power” and that its “final twist will keeps teens guessing, and get them talking.”
And here’s a link to Courtney’s blog (Take a peek; however, I warn you that you’ll probably end up staying awhile):
Congratulations, Court! And congratulations to all writers who dare to write the story that only they can write; the writers who wrestle that fear; the writers who make it happen. So here’s the question: Are you one of them?