Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Welcome Nelsa Roberto!

Today, I'm happy to welcome Nelsa Roberto whose first book Illegally Blonde was released this week! Nelsa's been a friend of the Toronto contingent of drunk writer talk writers for years, has even come out with us for drinks a few times, and we're thrilled to have her here to talk about her new book.

Welcome, Nelsa!

Hi everybody! This is my very first guest blog post anywhere and I'm a little weirded out by it. Not that DWT - home of the awesomely supportive and amazing writers Molly, Maureen, Sinead, Eileen and Stephanie - are anything but warm and welcoming. It's just been a year of many firsts for me not the least of which has been the debut release of my YA book Illegally Blonde
just yesterday. This past year I also started my blog, Out of the Woodwork, joined Twitter (@nelsaroberto), and attended my first writers panel last week (as an author! For reals!). So, when I think about all these firsts and try and figure out how the heck I ended up doing all this 'being out there' kind of stuff which does not come naturally to me, I keep coming back to one main thing:

I wrote a book I loved.

Everything that has happened to me this past year happened because finally, after five years of writing a few 'not quite there' books, I finally wrote about something I loved. Illegally Blonde is about seventeen-year-old Portuguese-Canadian Lucy discovering she and her family are illegal immigrants, getting deported to Portugal and her attempt to get back home. It's inspired by actual events that occurred in Toronto in 2006.

That's the basic plot, but the story is so much more to me. I wrote a story about a Portuguese-Canadian girl (ya, that's my heritage too :) ) - a heroine I'd never seen in a YA book and had certainly never read about growing up. I set the story in Toronto and the rural countryside of Portugal - places I adore but don't see much of in books. I wrote a story that I hope had drama and humour with a dash of mystery and romance thrown in too - all things I love seeing in books. Discovering your cultural heritage, love and resentment of family, searching for independence and self-realization are themes threaded throughout the book - themes I care about and will probably explore in one way or another for the rest of my writing life. All these things made the writing of Illegally Blonde an absolute pleasure for me. I tell you all this because I really do believe that loving what you write - even if it may not be the most commercially viable or recognizable - makes it possible to stand the agonizing process of getting a book published today.

I've heard many writers compare getting a book published to being on a roller coaster ride. Well, I absolutely freaking hate roller coasters so why would I even attempt this? Because I love writing more than fear the plunging nausea of the book publishing world. I took that plunge with this book.

I sent out Illegally Blonde to agents in December 2006. I signed with The Carolyn Swayze Agency in February 2007. Over 2007 and 2008 I received rejections from publishers, some lovely, some not and went to acquisition meetings at 2 different publishing houses and missed it 2 times by 'that much'. I mentally gave up on selling the book I loved until in January 2009 when my agent said, "Let's try a few independent publishers here in Canada". Great Plains Teen Fiction loved the book as much as I did and without hesitation made an offer in February 2009 and Illegally Blonde was released on March 30, 2010.

It has not been the easiest path. There were twists and turns I had not expected. But, throughout it all, I never stopped loving my story. With the number of times I've had to read and edit it and with the length of time and effort it took to get here I had to love it. I couldn't have managed this roller coaster ride if I didn't. Loving that book has been my safety belt. So, to my fellow drunk writers I say I hope your own safety belt is nice and secure - because it may be the only thing that prevents you from falling off this crazy ride.

Thanks again, DWT, for inviting me! Whew. My first guest blog post has been written. I think a drink is in order…

Nelsa, a drink is definitely in order! Thanks for stopping by!


Anonymous said...

Hi Nelsa!

Thanks for giving me a good reason to go to Chapter's. I've been waiting to read your book. (I love the cover.)

Years ago we met at a writers thingie and you had me laughing at a description of one of your openings -- it was so funny -- and I was struck by your passion for writing. I knew then that I'd be reading something you wrote.

So, best wishes for continued success. Enjoy this special time.


Anonymous said...

Nelsa, so great to have you blogging here.

The book sounds amazing, cannot wait to read it. And you deserve this so much.

Huge congrats!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your book release! I've added it to my to read pile-if it's not a my Indigo, I'll order it in!

Molly O'Keefe said...

Nelsa! Congrats and what a great cover - I love it! I read the first part of this book at some point and I can totally attest to it having lots of drama and plenty of laughs. Glad to have you here and thanks for sharing your story! Molly

Eileen said...

Mazel tov! Let's definitely raise a glass. The books sounds WONDERFUL.

Try to remember to celebrate all those firsts, especially the ones that are hard for you. Those take the most courage.

Oh, and welcome to the roller coaster. I hate 'em, too, and yet I can't seem to get off either. :-)

Bex said...

I love reading success stories of writers who stuck with it, even when at times there seemed to be way more downs than ups. Congratulations on the book release -- may it be the first of many to come!

Bev Katz Rosenbaum said...

Yay, Nelsa! Huge congrats on your release! Are you having a launch?

Nelsa said...

Thanks, everyone! I really appreciate your kind words!

Can I just say how enormously helpful and supportive the Toronto Romance Writers have been in this long, long journey? Honestly, I've met so many fabulous writers and terrific people in general there. I tell everyone I know that if they want to learn and grow in their writing TRW is the place to go.

And as for DWT, I think you ladies should go through all your blogs and put together a resource book for writers. The collective words of wisdom I've gained here have been invaluable to me.

Y'all are the best!

Nelsa said...

Hi Bev! Yes, indeedy, I am having a launch. It's going to be at the Bloor-Gladstone Library on Sunday April 25, from 2:30-4 pm with Another Story Bookshop selling IB there. I hope lots of my writer friends can attend and say hi!

I love the Bloor-Gladstone - beautifully renovated place but, more significantly, it is a library that serves the newly arrived immigrants to Toronto and has been the hub for many newcomers including the Portuguese community. It's my way of paying homage to the public library system and Toronto's library system in general - one of the best in the world.

Eileen said...

What a great idea! I'm always having book events at book stores or restaurants. I like the library idea.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Nelsa - congrats. I'm going to go home and have some wine in your honor!

Okay let's face it... I was having wine anyway. But tonight it will be in your honor!

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