Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Sometimes I wonder if it's the storyteller, rather than the stories themselves, that create meaning within the world around us. How many times have you heard about your odd old Uncle Theodore? And how different does he seem, based on who is telling the story this time?

Those are my initial thoughts as I begin a review of THE ACTUAL & TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER, by the talented debut author, Jessica Lawson.

BECKY THATCHER takes an interesting middle road. It pays tribute to Twain’s work while greatly altering the characters in surprising ways and remaining definitively its own. Tom Sawyer might have told a story about two girls fighting over his love, but Becky Thatcher makes it clear Amy Lawrence was her partner in mischief. And Becky might have gotten along with Tom Sawyer if he’d stop being such a taddle tale and grow a backbone one of these days.

Those are just a few of the creative choices Lawson plays with. Without spoiling too much, I can say that most likely every character you remember has a place in BECKY THATCHER’s version of the story. Sometimes it’s the role you expect. Other times… well, let’s just say those are the moments that I enjoyed the most. It’s hard to break a famous character apart and reassemble them in a way that makes perfect sense.

That’s why BECKY THATCHER works. Because stories change based on who is telling the tale.

Jessica Lawson’s THE ACTUAL & TRUTHFUL TALES OF BECKY THATCHER hits shelves on July 1st.

Preorder it at Indiebound, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.
Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JS_Lawson

Visit her website:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's Really Hard to Push SEND

Talking to other debut authors gives one the sense that your first almighty "edit letter" is something of a written panic attack. It can be, but not in the sense I was expecting.

Granted, I had a pretty good idea what to expect, and this certainly wasn't the first time I'd received revision requests. I've genuinely enjoyed going back into I AM DRUMS and making it a stronger story. The edit letter, however, is a different ballgame. Everything wrong with the story is broken into tiny little pieces, dissected, and rearranged so that you can see it from a fresh angle. That's the editor's job, and I like hearing what they have to say. If you don't like your baby being put under a microscope, there are plenty of writing groups that love back slapping and don't require rhino skin to participate.

I'm really proud of the revisions I've made, so it seems weird that I started panicking the first time I considered hitting the SEND button to send my revisions to my editor. There's an odd fear of disappointment -- the same I felt when my agent asked me to make revisions before officially "signing on." What you send says a lot about your ability to be the writer the recipient is counting on you to be. Maybe that's obsessive thinking, but I know I'm not the only one who's thought this.

I solved my dilemma by setting myself a deadline. Tomorrow afternoon, I hit SEND. No matter what. It's different than the one my editor set, but I'm setting it anyway. It's not the deadline that helps me put myself in the writer's chair so much as the challenge of beating a deadline. I'm going to beat this one tomorrow.