Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How Sara Zarr Changed (saved) My Life. Revisited. And How to Save a Life Giveaway.

     This is a re-post. Because this is why I'm giving away  How to Save a Life.

 This is a true story.
     I don't think Sara knows it, though.
     So I'm working on a novel, and my crit partner said that I needed to read this book, Once Was Lost, by Sara Zarr. At the time I didn't know anything about Sara Zarr. But my crit partner is really smart and gifted, so I usually take her advice. So I bought the book.
And I read it in one sitting, in one night, and a school night to boot.
     And I thought about it, and kept thinking about it, because it isn't just what Sara writes its something about her How. How she writes. And I couldn't put words to the How, but I knew I liked it a lot.
     And when I read this book I was in Hard Times. You know. We've all been there.
     And then I signed up for a Children's Writing Conference. I admit, I wasn't really sure if I belonged there. I was nervous and full of self-doubt and glad I was Doing Something With My Writing.
     Being new to the conference scene, I didn't check out the faculty. I just showed up. And I get my schedule of crit groups. And I also get a fifteen minute session with a faculty member to go over my query.
     And my eyes just about fell out of my head. Because my query time is with Sara Zarr.
     I don't know anyone at the conference. My heart is pounding. I run outside and call my husband, and I say, "I'm going to meet Sara Zarr." And my husband, who is an architect who reads architect-y stuff, says, "Who?" And so I tell him--remember when I stayed up and read that book? And he kind of does. But he does get that I am thrilled and excited. And nervous.
     So I do my crit groups, which were great, and I stay up really late revising, and periodically the thought "I'm going to meet Sara Zarr" pops into my head and I just know I blanked out and stared at stuff for a minute or two each time.
     So as my time nears I have a folder with my query letter, and I'm pacing, and my stomach is all kerfuffled.
     And then it's time and I Meet Sara Zarr.
     I almost cried.
     And we talked about my book and her books and she was this real, amazing human being and when I left the meeting my head was spinning.
     I called my dad. "I met Sara Zarr."
     I called my mom. "I met Sara Zarr."
     At this point, if you are still reading, you might be thinking I'm a little crazy.
     I don't think I'm crazy. I think I'm grateful.
     Because Meeting Sara Zarr meant a lot to me. Here is this writer whose books are like Vermeer paintings. Quiet, intense, full of light and jewel tones and real life.   And I don't cry a lot, but Story of a Girl had me crying because of the story and the joy of reading the story.
     And I periodically look at my husband and say, "I met Sara Zarr." Full of wonder, still.
     So yeah, Meeting Sara Zarr changed my life because when I get bogged down I remember her and Vermeer and my spirit feels renewed.
     And Sara's new book, How to Save a Life, is coming out October 18. And somehow that title seems apropos to me, because sometimes changing a life means saving it.
     Thanks, Sara.


  1. I didn't know you were working on a book. That's wonderful. May I ask what it's about? In general terms.

    Also, now I most certainly need to read Sara Zarr.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Non, thank you as always for your comment.
    I write about broken things. Mnemosyne and Persephone and lullabies.

  3. Sounds fascinating. Looking forward to reading it some day!

  4. That's great that you were able to meet her. I think meeting the author sometimes makes the book even better, because you get a sense of the author who wrote it and where they were coming from. Did you get good feedback?

  5. Hi Jess. I agree; meeting her was a real Event for me. She gave me some amazing feedback. I will always be indebted to her.

  6. I have all of Sara Zarr's books and your critique partners are so right - Sara's books are books you should have in your home library to study voice. Sara is very awesome - she came to my book club and talked about Once Was Lost with us - that's how awesome she is.

  7. I love it when meeting an author turns out awesome. I try not to expect too much because I worry that I might be disappointed. I mean this "author," whom I love and have had many imaginary conversations with, may not actually remember the oh so many hilarious/witty remarks I have made because, well, those were also imaginary.

  8. great story! it sounds like i really need to read some sara zarr. there have been a few authors in my life who i feel that way about (telling my hubs, friends, etc., and they're like "who?")

  9. Serendipity at work again? I think so.