Kristin Bartley Lenz
Kristin Bartley Lenz is a writer and social worker from metro-Detroit who fell in love with the mountains when she moved to Georgia and California. Now she’s back in Detroit where she plots wilderness escapes and manages the Michigan Chapter blog for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). The Art of Holding On and Letting Go is her first novel.
From Kristin . . .
When I titled my YA novel, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go, I had no idea it would also become the perfect metaphor for my journey to publication.
“It takes ten years to get published.” I don’t remember the speaker who said this at my first SCBWI-MI conference in 2003, but I heard those words repeatedly over the years at other conferences, online forums, and networking groups. Ten years sounded daunting, but it was also a relief. I could focus on improving my craft without the pressure of publishing right away. And of course it couldn’t really take ten years, could it?
Fast forward five years. I had a middle grade novel that was way too autobiographical – I knew it was my practice book and needed to be shelved. But I also had two completed YA novels. An agent loved the second one and offered representation. Yes! I was ahead of the curve!
She submitted The Art of Holding On and Letting Go to editors during the recession of 2007-2008. That’s when I learned that many of the first novels signed by agents don’t sell. That it’s often your second, third, or even your sixth novel that finally sells.
I resumed my focus on craft and revised my other YA novel, but TAOHOALG continued to tug at me. I completely rewrote it after working with Carolyn Coman at the Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Workshop. My agent didn’t want to resubmit it. And she still didn’t like my other novel. That’s when I learned that agent relationships don’t always last, that sometimes you have to make a change to find the best fit.
The Art of Holding On and Letting Go won first place or finaled in nearly every contest I entered. Other agents showed immediate interest, but ran away when they learned it had been previously subbed. Editors gave me drastically conflicting revision suggestions. I set the manuscript aside. A new agent offered representation based on my other novel. It didn’t sell. I wrote another novel. It didn’t sell.
I focused on my social work career, I hosted two foreign exchange students, I volunteered for the PTA – basically anything I could do to avoid dealing with my failed writing attempts! But The Art of Holding On and Letting Go kept tugging at me.
I revised again and entered the Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize competition. The judges unanimously chose my book. And I freaked out! Because accepting this prize meant that my book would be published by a small press. I had been New York bound for over ten years, and now I was facing a detour to Connecticut! But NY hadn’t been willing to give this book a chance. Elephant Rock Books believed in my novel, and they had a great track record of publishing award-winning books. My story found its home.
Elephant Rock Books nurtured TAOHOALG through every step of editing, design, marketing, publicity, and sales. I grew as a writer and felt supported every single week of the process. I’d do it all over again with my next book, but ERB will be looking for their next Sheehan Prize winner. They’ve launched my book out into the world and provided a vast safety net, but now it needs to stand on its own. The Art of Holding On and Letting Go, indeed.
TITLE: The Art of Holding On and Letting Go
AUTHOR: Kristin Bartley Lenz
PUBLISHER: Elephant Rock Productions, Inc.
PUBLICATION DATE: September 12, 2016
“When every piece falls into place, it’s like a dance, a delicate but powerful balancing act. The art of holding on and letting go at the same time.”
Competitive climber Cara Jenkins feels most at home high off the ground, clinging to a rock wall by her fingertips. She’s enjoyed a roaming life with her mountaineering parents, making the natural world her jungle gym, the writings of Annie Dillard and Henry David Thoreau her textbooks. But when tragedy strikes on an Ecuadorian mountaintop, Cara’s nomadic lifestyle comes to an abrupt halt.
Starting over at her grandparents’ home in suburban Detroit, Cara embarks on a year of discovery, uncovering unknown strengths, friendships, and first love. Cara’s journey illustrates the transformative power of nature, love and loss, and discovering that home can be far from where you started.
Full blog tour schedule:
• Mon., Aug. 22 – Guest post on Making Connections
• Fri., Aug. 26 – Interview on Fiction Over Reality
• Tues., Aug. 30 – Interview on A Leisure Moment
• Thurs., Sept. 1 – Interview on Crazy Book Obsessions!
• Tues., Sept. 6 – Guest post on Books Are Love
• Thurs., Sept. 8 – Interview on Alice Reeds
• Mon., Sept. 12 – Release day post on Making Connections
• Thurs., Sept. 15 – Interview on Books Are Love
• Tues., Sept. 20 – Guest post on The Reading Date
• Friday, Sept. 23 – Guest post on Twenty Three Pages
• Mon., Sept. 26 – Interview on Literary Rambles
• Wed., Aug. 28 – Interview on Wandering Educators