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The Half-Orphan's Handbook by Joan F. Smith Book Blog Tour Young Adult Contemporary Coming of Age

Welcome to the The Half-Orphan's Handbook Blog Tour!

Author Joan F. Smith stops by to talk about writing life pre-Covid, current projects, and daily dance parties.

Check out her debut novel, plus enter to win the giveaway!

A Day in the Life of an Author

by Joan F. Smith

Thank you for the opportunity to guest post!

Rule number one for my writing life: every day is different. I can’t stand the advice that “real writers write every day,” because I’ve been a “real writer” for a long time who has never written every day. I like to think that most writers at least think of their projects most days—and thinking about a project counts as progress!—but that’s not even a requirement. Sometimes not thinking or writing is what leads us to the best places.

My writing life pre-covid was a lot different than it is now. Prior to the pandemic, I worked from home full time for seven years as a professor and then as an associate dean. I had meetings and my own work, but I was usually able to fit in an hour of writing in the early mornings or late afternoons before everyone came crashing back home. My husband picked up the slack for a long time at the start of this unsettling year, but eventually, I had to take a leave of absence due to the (nearly constant) presence of the two growing humans in my home. Along with millions of other people in the world, we are two full-time working parents, and adding hybrid kindergarten plus a loss of childcare for our toddler made navigating our days in ways fair to everyone in the house very difficult.

As a result, I’m careful with my time, and I find that having projects in different stages really works for my headspace. I give myself a lot of grace. If I sit down to write and wind up with a thousand less words than I started, then that means my story is tighter. (I also no longer really keep track of my word count during sessions, because twelve hundred forced words to get to a word count goal usually aren’t as well-drafted as eight hundred I write without thinking about that.) Currently, in addition to launching The Half-Orphan’s Handbook, I'm working on two YAs in different stages (revision/proposal), drafting an adult project that I've been slowly tackling for the last year and a half, and letting a picture book draft sit for a bit.

A major part of my writing day includes checking in with my critique partners. We have a daily DM thread that is three and a half years long. I work very closely them, kicking ideas around every single day. We ask each other everything from “does this dialogue sound natural” to “what if these two characters become one”

Now, I get one to three days a week where I have a few hours of uninterrupted computer writing time, which is enough for me to make progress when I add it to all the other stolen minutes I get. I meet with a group of writers most Saturday afternoons via Zoom, which is great to chat for twenty minutes or so and then get some words down. To my great relief, I no longer embark on a major project without an extremely detailed outline (which I absolutely do depart from if inspiration strikes), which means if I get interrupted for anything, I can get back on track with some regularity. In addition to my dedicated writing time, I dictate to my Notes app while driving, scrawl in my notebook if I’m a passenger in the car (thank you, childrens’ podcasts!), write plot ideas or lines of dialogue on napkins or paper bags I stuff back into my pockets, backpacks, beach bags. All together, these things help create novels—along with daily dance parties in the kitchen, screen-free mealtimes, exercise, and some kind of procrastination task or another.
The Half-Orphan's Handbook by Joan F. Smith, a young adult, coming-of-age, contemporary book
The Half-Orphan’s Handbook
Joan F. Smith
Published by: Imprint/Macmillan
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
Genres: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary

For fans of John Green and Emily X.R. Pan, The Half-Orphan’s Handbook by Joan F. Smith is a coming-of-age story and an empathetic, authentic exploration of grief with a sharp sense of humor and a big heart.

It’s been three months since Lila lost her father to suicide. Since then, she’s learned to protect herself from pain by following two unbreakable rules:

1. The only people who can truly hurt you are the ones you love. Therefore, love no one.

2. Stay away from liars. Liars are the worst.

But when Lila’s mother sends her to a summer-long grief camp, it’s suddenly harder for Lila to follow these rules. Potential new friends and an unexpected crush threaten to drag her back into life for the first time since her dad’s death.

On top of everything, there’s more about what happened that Lila doesn’t know, and facing the truth about her family will be the hardest part of learning how a broken heart can love again.
About the Author
Joan F. Smith, author of the young adult, coming-of-age, contemporary book, The Half-Orphan's Handbook

Joan F. Smith lives with her family in Massachusetts, where she works as an associate dean, a creative writing professor, and a dance instructor. She received her MFA in creative writing from Emerson College, and has written articles for The Washington Post and Thought Catalog on destigmatizing discussions around mental health and suicide prevention. The Half-Orphan’s Handbook is her debut novel.


Print copy of The Half-Orphan's Handbook by Joan F. Smith
Ends April 29, 2021

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The Tour


April 19th
Literary Gold >> Excerpt
Bookcheshirecat >> Review

April 20th
Living in a Bookworld >> Excerpt
breen.rb >> Review
Rockin’ Book Reviews >> Guest post
Books By Maeve >> Excerpt

April 21st
The Avid Reader >> Excerpt
Reading Tonic >> Guest post
Quiet Fury Books >> Excerpt

April 22nd
Sadie’s Spotlight >> Excerpt
The Eclectic Review >> Review
The Scribe Owl >> Review

April 23rd
Owl Book World >> Review
Kait Plus Books >> Interview

Ayanami Faerudo
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