Sunday, May 3, 2015

Review: Across the Distance

Across the Distance
Across the Distance by Marie Meyer

The fact that I haven't written a review yet for Across the Distance when it's been released in TWO DAYS should give you an idea of how crazy my life has been over the last year.

So, back in 2013, I agreed to be a mentor in a contest, called Pitch Wars, that the fabulous Brenda Drake hosts every year. The premise behind Pitch Wars is that authors submit unagented and unpublished works for a chance to work with a mentor who is usually an agented and/or published author or someone connected to the industry. Authors and mentors work together editing the manuscript and then after about two months, the pitch & first 250 words of the manuscript are posted on Brenda's blog for agents to peruse. If they like what they see, they comment and request a sample. I had very specific criteria for my mentees. I wanted something rife with potential and I wanted it to be marketable.

Marie was my top pick.

A lot of editing ensued over the next two months. A LOT. I don't mean like tweaking or rephrasing, I mean like entire chunks of the book were cut or completely rewritten. Did I mention this was November into January? Right over the holiday season? And Marie has two kids? It didn't matter what I threw at her, Marie rolled with it and made it work. She completely revamped and revised her manuscript over two months.

As a native New Yorker, 9/11 is an important part of my history and one of the things that initially appealed to me about Across the Distance was how 9/11 was part of the story without being the focus of the story. Yet I started to question whether it really needed to be 9/11. Wouldn't the book still have weight and purpose if her parents died some other way? Wouldn't Jillian still be dealing with the same issues? I hadn't broached the topic with Marie yet when I received the next set of edits. I read the new chapters and I just started bawling. Marie had written a scene that was so poignant, so heartbreaking, it put all my doubts to rest.

Marie knows her characters to the extent that they're not just words on a page, but people.

After Pitch Wars, Marie got an agent (yay!) who sold the book (obvs!) to Forever Romance (yay!) and a wonderful editor who said this is a great start, let's make it even better (and they did!).

At its core, Across the Distance is a true new adult, a story of what happens when you move from one stage of your life to another. You leave some people behind, you bring some with you, and you meet new ones. It's a story that shows the past, who we were, it will never truly leave us, but that we can control how much impact it has on our future. Going away to college changes Jillian's life, but it doesn't magically make all her problems go away. Only Jillian can do that and over the course of the book, she fights for her future, for a chance to be happy. This is an angst-y book, but underneath it all, there's hope.

So I recommend Across the Distance for many reasons, but the most important one is this: if Jillian can do it, so can you. Fresh starts are possible and help will be there if you ask for it. Don't give up.

Across the Distance, May 5th, at your preferred e-bookstore.

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