Monday, February 25, 2013
GUEST BLOG: The Story Behind 33 Valentines
The Story Behind 33 VALENTINES By Guest Blogger Stephanie Monahan
I think for most people, there comes a point in our lives where we stop and take stock of where we are, our expectations for ourselves and how we have (or haven’t) lived up to them. All my life, I’ve written—poems, short stories, and, eventually, novels—with the dream of someday becoming published. In the fall of 2011, I’d completed a novel that I thought was pretty good. I’d shopped it around to several agents. I’d gotten a couple of requests for partial reads and won a couple of contests. But mostly, I’d collected a bunch of rejections, and I was left feeling stuck, and not sure what to do next.
Then, on Entangled Publishing’s website, I saw a call for novella submissions for their Valentine’s Day-themed anthology. I’d done some research on Entangled and thought that my writing might be a fit for the types of stories they were looking for. Plus, they took submissions from non-agented authors. I thought about the concept for a couple of days, waiting to see if I had anything to offer. I was scared that I’d lost my inspiration. But then I heard her voice.
The voice that began talking to me wanted me to know she wasn’t happy. It was February, the time of year she hated. She’d just landed herself in the ER. And, worst of all, she was in love with her best friend—and he was possibly on the verge of falling in love with someone else.
Her name was Sophie and she lived in Massachusetts, like me. She was thirty-three, like me. And she was feeling stuck in her life, just like I was, though we were stuck in different ways. She was snarky, sarcastic, and afraid of showing too much emotion or being vulnerable. She was funny and a little bit sad. She was smart but had no idea how to turn her life into what she wanted it to be. She didn’t always make the best decisions (she made pretty some pretty bad ones, actually), but she had a huge heart (even if she didn’t want to admit it). I was immediately drawn into her life, and wanted to know more.
Sophie was going through a lot of internal struggles that I think many people can relate to. She’s not as close to her family as she once was, and she was no longer connected to the things that used to make her happy. And then there was Sam, the best friend, the guy that had always been there for her, who she could always count on. Just as she decided to admit her feelings for him, he told her he was going out with someone else. He was ditching her on Valentine’s Day, the holiday that’s haunted her for years.
Once I started writing this story, I was filled with a brand new energy and appreciation for writing. I came home from my day job every night and couldn’t wait to dive back into the story. I got myself out of my rut by writing Sophie out of hers.
The original novella was completed in about two weeks. I’d never written anything that I was more excited about. I submitted it knowing that even if I got another rejection, that it would be okay, because I was excited about writing again, and I proved to myself that this is what I wanted to do.
Then—surprise! The editor emailed me about a month later. He didn’t want 33 VALENTINES for the novella anthology. He wanted me to expand it into a full-length book. I was contracted based on my novella (no synopsis required! That may have been the best part of all). I was contracted in January 2012, and 33 VALENTINES was published in January 2013.
The story behind my story is in keeping with one of the themes of 33 VALENTINES—that sometimes even though life doesn’t turn out exactly the way we expect, the trick is to keep going. There will be missteps and mistakes along the path, that’s for sure. But sometimes the detours take us places we never expect—and sometimes they take us right where we want to be.
BLURB: All Sophie wants for her thirty-third year is a calendar without a February—and without a Valentine’s Day. The unlucky month haunts her with regrets, loss, and missteps she can never take back. But this year, she’s determined to make a change— and she’s going to start with telling her best friend, Sam, how she feels about him.
But February isn’t making it easy for her. Sam’s got a date with his dream girl, and Sophie finds herself in the hospital. Then there’s her father, who has a surprise that’s about to turn her world upside-down, and her little brother, who doesn’t seem to have any room for her in his life. While everyone else seems to be living life, Sophie is stuck in neutral.
Now, Sophie must come to terms with everything that’s holding her back in order to fight for what she wants before she loses the chance to turn her luck around.
Stephanie Monahan received her degree in English Literature and Rhetoric from Binghamton University. It was there, in her first Creative Writing workshop, that she fell in love not only with storytelling but also with the man she would go on to marry. In addition to reading and writing, she is passionate about the New York Giants, finding the perfect cup of chai tea, and her dog. She is a firm believer in the healing powers of a good night’s sleep and British pop music. Born and raised in upstate New York, Stephanie now lives in central Massachusetts with her husband.
Where you can find the book!
Barnes & Noble