Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Musing: UP

Less than eight months from now, UP will be available in bookstores nationwide.

People often ask why I wrote UP. Starting with our first (and unsuccessful) 4K attempt, I've kept a notebook of things I remember, a diary of sorts, of each hike with each one of my girls. Five months before Alex and I finished the New Hampshire 4000-Footers, Alex asked if I would write about our time together on the trails. She knew I liked to write, and she knew I'd kept a personal, bare-bones blog of our progress. She thought it would be fun to have a bound collection of our adventures.

I thought this was a good idea and happily began to oblige her. In April 2009, I took the notes I had and structured them into a formal narrative. By the time Alex and I finished all 48 4Ks, I had the first draft of half the book. Hugh suggested I send the material to an agent friend of his for feedback. I did so and received encouraging words and helpful advice for overall direction.

By early March 2010, what was then Alex and the 4000 Foot Classroom was finished, edited, polished, and ready for submission. My intention was to publish and sell the book locally. The New York publishing industry is competitive and inundated with submissions from unknown authors. I felt too old to suffer forty rejections before getting a yes, and since the goal was to simply have a bound book before me, I decided to forgo an agent and try my luck with a small press. I submitted to a handful of independent publishers and was accepted by my first choice.

Though Hugh was happy about my success, he strongly suggested I submit to a New York agent; he felt the writing and mother-daughter theme deserved national recognition. A colleague of his suggested Laurie Bernstein, a wonderful literary agent and former VP/Senior Editor of Simon & Schuster. I sent the material to Ms. Bernstein and was offered representation within a week.

After respectfully declining the offer of publication from the independent press, I began working with my newly-acquired agent. Last November, she landed me a deal with Broadway Books, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group.

The folks at Broadway Books/Crown are lovely people and they're very enthusiastic about my book; I'm enjoying every minute of this process and I'm thrilled that UP is in such good hands. I'll soon begin having conversations with my publicists; there's been a lot of early media interest in UP and the girls, and it will be interesting to see where all this leads.

In the meantime, we've mountains to hike -- we'd hike them book deal or no book deal, blog or no blog. Hiking has become a part of who we are; it's just what we do. Sage will probably finish the 4Ks this November and bump Alex out of the second-youngest-girl-to-finish spot. Alex may finish the winter list this season. We've highpoints to explore. Then there's life in general: homeschooling, playdates, city time, extracurricular classes, time spent hanging about at home. It's all good.

There is one thing of which I'm especially pleased regarding our hiking and UP. Though I started both the blog and my hiking notes as a means to record our adventures for myself and my immediate family, I'm glad everything has gone public in a not-so-little way. Not because I crave attention (I'm a very private person and our family places great value in humility), and not because I care about the approval of others (I have a low opinion of gossip-mongers). I'm glad because I get weekly emails from women or girls who are happy to see a public example of an adventurous mother-daughter(s) team. The "girl power" theme strongly resonates with a lot of people. If we've been a positive influence or a source of inspiration to even one young woman or girl, then I feel like we've done something good, something worthwhile.

Our family looks forward to the months ahead. As UP's launch date draws nearer, our lives will get more and more hectic. It's all good, it's all fun, and I'm grateful to those who have been unwavering sources of happy support.

Here's to life, to love, to family...and, of course, to the mountains.

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