July Theme: Seeing Stars (My Greatest “Yes!” Moment) by Holly Schindler

In all honesty, this post would not be possible were it not for a fellow author at Smack Dab, Brian Farrey, the acquisitions editor at Flux. Brian is, after all, the editor who picked my debut YA novel, A Blue So Dark, out of the slush pile.

My journey to publication was a long and winding road…Those of you who follow the blog Tracy Barrett (another fabulous author here at Smack Dab) created about taking the full-time author plunge (Goodbye, day job!), surely saw my recent guest post about the incredible financial support I received from my family as I sought publication…Basically, after obtaining my master’s in the spring of ’01, I jumped at the opportunity to devote full-time efforts into getting a writing career off the ground (my lifelong dream). I’d been fortunate enough to place poetry, short fiction, and literary critique in a few journals during college, and I was under the grand delusion that placing longer work would be a snap, too.

Yup, I figured it’d take a year or so to write the Great American Novel, then I’d sell it right off the bat, and in a couple of years, I’d have money in the bank and—

See what I mean? Grand delusions…

It took seven years. Seven and a half, to be exact. Seven and a half years of writing a floor-to-ceiling stack of manuscripts. Seven and a half years of submissions and rejections and close calls…until I spoke to Brian at Flux. He emailed the contract—my first contract!—and I’d just barely started to jump for joy when the reality of the situation hit me. Anybody with a book on the shelf knows what I’m talking about: that moment when it all truly becomes real, and you say to yourself, “So, when this book comes out, anybody who wants to can pick this thing up, sort through the contents of my brain, and then pass judgment on it???”

It’s a scary thought, when your first book is in development.

And then, a couple of weeks before A Blue So Dark’s official release, an email from my publicist at Flux: the book had received a starred review from Booklist!

That’s not to say that I suddenly figured anybody who ever picked up A Blue So Dark would think it was the best book they’d ever read (I like to think I left the whole grand delusion business behind long ago). But for the very first professional review I ever received to be so positive? I just had such an overwhelming feeling of relief and elation and surprise and—well—triumph, in that moment.

I still have the review up on my fridge, and every single time I catch a glimpse of it, I still find myself cracking a smile and celebrating a little inside…


  1. Much deserved. Keep celebrating. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm, Holly. The visual of the manuscripts stacked to the ceiling made me smile.

  2. No one can create grand delusions like a writer! Congrats on your starred review. :)


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