Hey, hey, hey! Hazel here, y’all. My lovely co-bloggers have been posting more actively than I have been but I sure hope you guys haven’t forgotten me. It’s so nice to be blogging again and to be sharing some cool news on top of that. You may or may not know this but aside from reading YA, I’ve also been writing YA. I’ve worked on two manuscripts now, still revising the latest one, but for some reason, I can’t quite forget about my first. So today, I’m spilling all the beans about my YA novel.
The title of my first YA novel is What Happens Now
This isn’t a very unique or standout title I admit but I think if you read the story you’ll really understand why this title is the right one.
It’s about a blogger going on a road trip with a stranger
This is my book’s synopsis:
Megan Delaney needs an adventure. At least that’s what her best friend tells her. After a huge academic downfall, going on the road to attend her cousin’s wedding with the groom’s brother, a boy she’s never met, just might be what she needs.
Driving two thousand miles to Tennessee will make for amazing content on her blog, but making the trip with a stranger is Megan’s worst nightmare–even when he is terribly cute. It doesn’t help that Zac Mitchell, laid-back boy band member and spontaneous extrovert, is her total opposite. When Zac throws her travel plans out the window of his vintage van, Megan suddenly faces a summer of unexpected detours and exhilarating firsts.
But just as Megan steps out of her comfort zone and starts to realize her growing feelings for the boy who helped her break out of her shell, the safe haven that is her blog gets spammed and attacked by fangirls who don’t think she deserves Zac. If Megan wants to open her heart to the greatest adventure of all–love–she must first find courage and confidence in herself.
I designed the temporary book cover myself
I love designing and I often obsess about beautiful book covers. So while I wrote What Happens Now, I wanted to create a book cover that allowed me to hope for the best (that it would one day be a real book with a real cover) and inspired me to keep on writing.
Two years ago, I had a dream about Harry Styles so I wrote about it
2015 was one of the best years for this blog and for me personally. One of the best things that happened that year was finishing this manuscript hands down. And it all started with a silly dream featuring Harry Styles. While I’m as addicted to his newest song as everyone, I wasn’t exactly his biggest fan. So it was weird for me to dream about him. But somehow that made me think what if and it spurred me to write this book so I guess I should appreciate him more.
I finished writing my first draft in 23 days
I started writing this during Camp NaNoWriMo and surprisingly enough, I made it to the finish line two days earlier than expected and had time to let the draft go beyond the usual 50k words. Finishing my first draft in 23 days was quite the feat for me so I wrote about how I did it in a previous blog post.
There are blog posts and lyrics in the book
I knew the moment I started writing this story that I wanted to add a few things to the format to make it special and more realistic. So I worked on a whole different blogging voice for my blogger MC and wrote a few verses of songs for Passive Aggressive, the fictional boy band featured in my story.
My playlist for What Happens Now is my fave playlist ever
I think one reason I can’t let go of this book is that I still keep listening to my writing playlist for it. It’s just a mix of some of my fave music that represents the story so much and every time I listen, the whole story comes back to life for me. Listen to the playlist and get a vibe of the romance and growth in What Happens Now!
But the main theme song for this book is Bridgit Mendler’s Ready or Not
Just watch this super fun video and listen to the lyrics and you’ll get the vibe and plot of What Happens Now!
Also, I could totally see Bridgit Mendler as my protagonist, Megan. And yes, that’s her on the book cover! She and her now ex-boyfriend Shane Harper were actually my inspiration for my main character and her love interest, Zac!
The MC’s best friend’s name is Brooke Hamilton
This was not inspired by the musical, I swear. I just used a random name generator, which is an actual feature in Scrivener. Like I said, I wrote this in 2015 and I don’t think I knew about the Hamilton musical until 2016.
Working on this project taught me how to revise
I’ve never revised a book before this one, mostly because I’ve never had a book to revise until I finished writing What Happens Now. I discovered a lot of strategies while revising it but I also learned my own process for revision and what works for me.
I queried my manuscript in 2016
Querying was a hard process. Don’t get me wrong, I love it because I learned so much. But it wasn’t exactly easy for my heart. I still think a lot of good came out of my querying journey for What Happens Now though. Check out these fun stats!
How long it took to get a response when I sent my first batch of five queries: 43 mins
HOLY CRAP I JUST GOT MY FIRST PARTIAL REQUEST EXCUSE ME WHILE I HYPERVENTILATE #amquerying
— Hazel @ Stay Bookish (@staybookish) April 11, 2016
I SENT MY EMAIL EXACTLY 43 MINUTES AGO WHAT THE HECK I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS https://t.co/M3fQXClQ1E
— Hazel @ Stay Bookish (@staybookish) April 11, 2016
Total agents who requested my material: 31 (12 requested partials, 18 requested fulls, 1 requested an R&R)
Number of query requests from Twitter pitch parties (that I actually sent): 25
Total editors (different from agents obviously) who requested my MS: 3
Number of agents who represented some of my fave authors ever and actually requested my MS: 13
Becky Albertalli liked my pitch for this book
The last line 100% sells it. 😍 https://t.co/Ip9F2tLqS6
— Becky Albertalli (@beckyalbertalli) October 5, 2016
This is the pitch:
— Hazel (@hazelureta) October 5, 2016
With that exciting tidbit, I hope you’ll be interested in this light, romantic story I wrote because…
You can now read What Happens Now!
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been considering submitting my manuscript to Swoon Reads. In fact, I did a poll and since around 100 people (from a poll of 113) said they’d be interested in reading, I finally submitted my manuscript! So if you like road trip adventures, music, and romance, read What Happens Now on Swoon Reads and don’t forget to tell me what you think by giving it a rating and leaving a comment on the Swoon Reads website!
What do you think of What Happens Now? Will you be reading it on Swoon Reads? Do you write YA too? I want to know!
PS: I plan to start talking about my writing life more often, especially as I keep working on my second YA manuscript. Watch out for those updates on my personal website, HazelUreta.com!