All of This, God Talks, Writing

What’s Your Cover Copy?

I’m writing theIMG_5369 back cover copy for my newest book. Basically, that’s the little description you find on a book when you flip it over. It’s like a mini synopsis of the story, but it doesn’t give away all of the details…it gives readers just enough information to make them want them to read the whole thing.

It’s tricky because you have a little bit of space to work with. You have to decide which plot points and characters need to be mentioned, and which ones need to stay hidden. You have to show the voice/personality of the story, while also keeping it polished.

Here’s the back cover copy of All of This

Sadie Franklin is all about independence, but when one of her popular parties gets too crazy, her usually uninvolved dad sends her across the country to spend the summer with relatives.

Living in small-town Pecan Creek, Georgia, is culture shock for a girl from Seattle, and it doesn’t help that Sadie’s aunt and uncle are total church people. Sunday school? No, thanks.

Add a houseful of little cousins, an accidental friendship with the preacher’s daughter of all people, and the attention of a guy who might actually understand her murky past, and it’s enough to cue an identity crisis.

When life-altering news rocks Sadie’s world and reveals messy family secrets, she’s forced to face the God she’s avoided since her mom’s death eight years ago. Sadie is surrounded by people who say God loves her and has great plans for her life, but if God is really good, why does He let Sadie’s life unravel? Could there really be a purpose in all of this?

See how Sadie is the only character who’s actually named? There are several other people in the book, but it’s her show. Also, see how some things are mentioned but not completely explained? Like, who is the “guy who might actually understand her murky past?” If you’ve read the book, you’ll know. But if you dive into it for the first time, that’s something you figure out as you go.

The back cover copy also shows the theme of the book. Look at that question at the end of the last paragraph: “Could there really be a purpose in all of this?”

And finally, the back cover copy lets you know the character’s journey isn’t going to be easy. There will be conflict in the pages – with uncontrollable circumstances, with other people, and within the main character herself.

So that’s what I’m working on with this next book. No, it’s not getting shopped around for publication yet, but making the back cover copy is part of the process. Sadie will be the focus again, but I have to decide what parts of the story to share with people. I have to ask myself: What other characters do I mention? Which plot points do I include? How do I incorporate the theme?

To sum it up, the back cover copy is a quick glance at a much deeper story.

Fun fact: This post isn’t actually about writing. As I was thinking through the back cover copy for my project, it made me wonder: how would I honestly sum up my own life? If I were to write a back cover copy for The Life of Anna Schaeffer (still working on a title for my pretend memoir), what would I include? Who would I include? Which details of my life story would I mention? What gets to the heart of who I really am?

Naturally, I’d put my faith on there. But if I were being honest about the conflict in my life, how would that look on the copy? Would it say I don’t always pray like I should? Would it say I love Jesus, but sometimes I struggle to step out of my comfort zone?

What about my relationships with others? Would it say I’m a loyal friend, a daughter who honors her parents, a good sister?

What would be the theme of my story? The thread woven throughout the pages of my journey?

It’s a lot to think through, I know. But I think it’s good for us to evaluate our life like that – to take an honest look at what others see when they interact with us.

I pray the back cover copy of my life story points to Jesus. I pray it reads that no, I don’t have it all together, but Jesus holds me together. My hope is that others see grace as that theme woven throughout my story. And I pray that snapshot of my life and His grace makes others want to learn more about the theme.

What about you? What would be in the back cover copy of your life?

All of This, Writing

Open Hands

Three years ago, I published All of This, a young adult novel. Before the book even came out – pretty much the day after I finished revising the story – I wrote a sequel. That was three years ago.

For three years, I’ve known what happens after that final sentence in All of This. For three years, I’ve had the answers to the biggest questions readers are left wondering about.

Three years ago, I began writing a story that challenged me more as a writer than any other manuscript I’d written. I delved deeper into the mind of my main character and wrote some storylines that freaked me out a little because I wondered if I’d be able to pull them off.

I’ve loved that new project for three years, and I had plans to have it in the hands of readers long before now.

But then I felt God nudging me to grad school, and I moved away from home for the first time.

I stepped onto campus as a full-time Masters student and quickly learned that’s a whole other level than earning a bachelor’s degree. I found a local church, began to serve there, and joined a small group. I picked up a couple part time jobs. I grew friendships. I wrote guests posts for my school’s women’s blog, I spoke about writing in a few classes, I traveled, and I did everyday life stuff like cooking and cleaning and learning to keep plants alive (still working on that last one).

But I never forgot about that writing project.

For a while, I tried to work on it here and there. After all, the story was told – it just needed some work to make it look like an actual book. But homework kept me up late into the night and classes got me up early each morning.

I was so frustrated. When I’m not writing, I don’t fully feel like myself. I really thought I was supposed to tell that story, and I prayed about it. But I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t make it happen.

Then a little while ago, I realized something: Maybe God was asking me to trust Him with my dreams. Maybe He wanted my full attention on studying ministry during my time in seminary. Maybe He wanted to grow me in other areas, allow me to live new experiences, teach me my identity isn’t found in my author title.

When I realized that, I did something difficult: I stepped away.

I still thought about the story I loved so much. Still jotted some notes down here and there. But I didn’t consistently spend time with the manuscript. And while that bothered me a lot, it also felt like relief.

See, I had to learn to live with open hands. I had to put the story – and my heart for writing – in my outstretched palms and hold it out to God. I had to say, “Even if I never get to share this story with readers. Even if my life takes me in a different direction. You know my heart and you designed me with this passion on purpose. So  I trust you.”

Even if…I trust You.

And that’s how I’m slowly learning to live. Not just with storytelling, but with all things.

I like to feel a sense of control. A lot. But there’s freedom in knowing it’s not up to you to hold it all together. And if your faith is in Christ, you have solid hope that He knows what He’s doing and He has His glory and your ultimate good in mind.

I had to learn to be okay with answering people’s questions with, “I honestly don’t know when the story will be finished. I’m focusing on school right now.”

Which felt weird to say because I wrote two manuscripts while I was a full-time college student – one of which became All of This. Letting go of the story also went against the writing advice we hear all the time: “Just keep writing. Write something every day. If if matters to you, you’ll make time for it.”

All of that can be really great advice. But when you’ve given your life to living God’s plan for you, the best advice is to trust. To give your dreams and plans and projects to Him and trust Him to use them however He wants.

Now that I’ve said all of that…I’ve graduated. I have my diploma in my apartment. I’m not spending my evenings with my nose in a commentary. I’m going to bed at a reasonable time (who even am I??).

And I’m writing again.

I’ve dusted off that sequel, and I’m diving into it as often as I can. I’ve learned some things over the past few years that I’m able to pour into the story to make it stronger. I have a renewed sense of purpose for it, more energy to rearrange scenes and fill in plot holes, and even more of a desire to get the story into the hands of readers.

I don’t know what’s next for this project. I don’t have any ideas about when it’ll be completely done or how it’ll be published or when you’ll read it.

But honestly? That doesn’t scare me as much now. Because I’ve recently been reminded of why I do what I do in the first place: To point to King Jesus in all things.

It’s all by His grace and for His glory.

Question: Have you ever set something aside for a season, even though you loved it? What did you learn from the experience?

IMG_5197The first printed copy of my latest manuscript – ready for some serious editing!

All of This

The Fake Kid and My Real Sister

booknew-pagesI love discussing my teen novel, All of This, with readers. It’s fun to chat about the characters like they’re real people…because in my mind, they kinda are. I also love hearing what readers imagines happens next after they reach “The End.”

While I’ve had all kinds of conversations about Sadie, Truitt, Becca, and the rest of Pecan Creek’s residents, some questions come up more than others. Here’s one of them:

“Is Trissy based off your little sister?”

In case it’s been a while since you’ve read the book, or in case you haven’t read it yet (click here to grab a copy), remember that Tristan “Trissy” Elliot is Sadie’s eight-year-old cousin. She’s got bright orange/red, curly hair and a firecracker personality.

My little sister is also eight, and if we’re friends on any kind of social media, you know she’s creative, sassy, and very animated. She’s also super similar to Trissy in a ton of ways. That’s a totally valid question.

But the weird thing? Trissy isn’t based on Ellen.

Ellen was two when I started writing All of This, and she was five when it was published. So I had no idea at the time what the eight-year-old version of my baby sister would look like.

Even though it’s impossible, it seems like I imagined Trissy to be like my sister. But really, eight-year-old Trissy came first. And Ellen ended up a lot like her.

Here are some spoiler-free similarities they share:

  • Currently, they’re both eight years old.
  • Larger-than-life imaginations and personalities.
  • Daddy’s girls.
  • A strong sense of justice.
  • They like to stick their noses in conversations they shouldn’t be a part of because they like to know all there is to know.
  • Curious about everything.
  • Sharing a bed with either of them is setting yourself up for a kick in the face.
  • Unique, bold, and creative fashion sense.
  • Because of the people they’re around, they see themselves more as sixteen than eight.
  • A big love of Barbies. Do you even know how many Barbie stilettos I’ve found with my foot?!
  • Maternal instincts. They both look out for their people and their love language is doing things for others.
  • They both blush if they hear you say the words “cute” and “boy” in the same sentence. Which sort of makes you want to say it more…
  • Big, tender hearts. They hurt when others hurt, and they want to make things better.
  • Pink-themed bedrooms.
  • Distinctly Southern accents (they don’t have moms; they have mamas).
  • Coffee drinkers.
  • Cheesy sense of humor.
  • They’re both into hugging it out when there’s a disagreement.
  • Big vocabularies for kids their age.
  • Fiercely loyal.

There are a few more things I could add to this list, but I’ll stop there. Mainly because I forgot the rest of the list (I really need to start writing this stuff down when it comes to me).

But still, there are some uncanny similarities between these kids, even though one came from my imagination when the real one was still a toddler.

I remind Ellen all the time that she’s my best buddy, and I included little Ellen in the acknowledgments section of the book, saying how she’s the inspiration behind every kid character I write. Who would’ve thought she’d end up so similar to one of the most fun kid characters I’ve written?

I have a feeling they’d be BFFs in real life. The world wouldn’t be ready.

Have you ever read about a character and been amazed at the similarities between them and someone you know in real life? Or maybe you’ve read a character’s journey that’s super similar to your own? Isn’t it weird?

Trissy bopped her way over to me and the strappy pair of sandals I was admiring. “What? Need some help? I’m pretty good with clothes and stuff.” 

I glanced down at the mismatched socks she wore with her plaid shorts. “Uh-huh. Listen, you’re also a kid, and you’re supposed to stick by me, okay?”

She smashed herself to my side, wrapping her arm around my waist. “How’s this?”

-All of This

All of This, Writing

Happy 1st Birthday All of This!

On July 25, 2015, All of This was released to the world. I had some things I needed to get booknew-pages.pngorganized before I announced the release, but it popped up on all of the retail sites on the 25th (surprise!). Then, on July 31, my littlest sister and I made a video announcing the release.

Leading up to the debut, I posted quotes and story snippets…but I first mentioned the story back on June 13, 2013Three years ago.

It’s been a journey, friends. Three years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. And today? I’ve learned so much about writing and publishing and marketing, but I still have pretty much no idea what I’m doing. It’s an adventure that is challenging, wonderful, and wonderfully challenging. There have been days when I just wanted to quit, and days where I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything other than writing stories my whole life.

Every time I sign a copy of All of This, I include Romans 8:28, which says:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV, emphasis added)

Purpose. That’s the theme of all of this…and the theme of All of This.

Nothing is wasted. A thread of grace runs through our lives. God ties all of our loose ends together. He weaves the beautiful and the sorrowful, the easy and the difficult, into something that shows the world who He is. He is the author of life and breath and faith and love. I write to tell His story – the true story of a God who loves us so much He died to reunite us with Himself.

So here’s a quick look back at the journey All of This has taken…from the blog post in which I first told you all I was writing a novel, to now as I glance over at my bookshelf and see a copy of All of This – tangible proof that God’s dreams for our lives are worth it all.

Click on the links below to follow the journey! 

Image Gallery:

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Happy 1st birthday, All of This. And thank you to you, dear readers, for following my life story and my Sadie’s journey. Let’s all stay tuned for whatever comes next :)

For His glory,
Anna

New to All of This and want to learn more about the story, as well as how to get a copy? Click here!

All of This, Uncategorized

DELETED SCENE: “Marigold”

Friends! In celebration of the first birthday of All of This, I want to share something with you.

Below, you’ll find a deleted scene from All of This. The scene takes place during Sadie’s first night in Georgia – it fits in at the end of chapter 2.

I love this scene because of how it lets you see a little more of Kurt’s and Melina’s personalities and the way they interact with each other. I also love the way it shows how grumpy  and spoiled Marigold – Melina’s cat – truly is…and how he basically decides Sadie is his arc-nemesis.

It’s a really fun scene, but I had to cut it from the book in order to keep the story flowing at a good pace. Only a few people have seen it before now.

Click the link below to read the scene:

Schaeffer_All of This_Deleted Scene_Marigold

P.S. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for more All of This birthday surprises this week!

-Anna

All of This

B-Fest 2016

If you hang around my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat (follow me @ aschaewrites), then you may have heard something about B-Fest!

bfest16

What is it? It’s Barnes & Noble’s nationwide teen reading event! Every Barnes & Noble across the country has a packed schedule this weekend: author signings, trivia, workshops, giveaways and freebies, sneak peaks from favorite authors’ newest releases, and more! ALL for teens!

Question: How awesome is that?!
Answer: So awesome.

The event runs this weekend (June 10-12), so it’s already happening as you read this post!

Here’s the deal: I’ll be at Barnes & Noble in Augusta, GA this Sunday (6/12), beginning at 1pm, and hanging around throughout the afternoon! I’m so thrilled to be a part of an event that’s happening all over the country, with some of the biggest names in YA participating.

So, come see me if you can! I’ll be selling and signing copies of All of This, and I’ll have a bucket of free candy! I’d love to talk with you, and you may or may not be able to get some info on when, exactly, the sequel to All of This will finally be released.

If you don’t live near enough to Augusta to come hang out, grab some plane tickets.

I’m kidding.

But this is a weekend you don’t want to miss, so stop by your nearest Barnes & Noble and check out their schedule of events!

Click here to go to the B&N store locator, where you can find out what’s happening at your local B&N!

I’m off to go organize everything I’ll need for Sunday. I hope to see you then!

– Anna

All of This

Christmas SALE!

IMG_82101
As my gift to you, All of This is only $15 with FREE SHIPPING in December! That’s the lowest price it’s ever been!

I’ll also sign/personalize it! When you order, let me know who the book is for and if you’d like a special message included.

So yeah! For $15 flat, you can get a personalized copy of All of This in time for Christmas! It’ll make a great gift for the teen girls in your life.

*BONUS FREEBIE!* Buy 4 or more books, and I’ll include a FREE E-BOOK!

Details:
– Offer is only valid if you order directly through me. Send orders to: info@annaschaefferwrites.com
Include:
– Number of books you’d like to order
– Personalization information
– Mailing address
– I’m always happy to personalize copies for you, but I can only guarantee a limited number of them can make it to you by Christmas. Order soon!
– Ebook quantities are very limited, so act fast to get your free one!
– If you’re having a book shipped to you, place your order by December 14 to guarantee you’ll have it in time for Christmas.

Merry Christmas!