A Novel by the Numbers: Yvonne Ventresca Adds Up Her Work on Black Flowers, White Lies

To celebrate the release of her second novel, Black Flowers, White Lies (in stores now!), Yvonne Ventresca added up all the work—and fun!—that went into bringing the book into the world. Read on to find out what goes into publishing a novel. And if you’re in the New York/New Jersey area, be sure to scroll down for info about celebrating with us this weekend!

I majored in both computer science and English in college and before I was an author, I worked as a computer programmer. Writing novels is definitely my preferred career. I was an avid reader growing up and loved getting lost in a good book. I’m thrilled that now I’m creating stories that other teens can lose themselves in!

Once in a while, though, my analytical background does assert itself, and I crave concrete data and statistics. Writers often discuss their creative process, but I thought it would be interesting to share a bit of my writer’s journey in numbers.

Books written: 6 – two nonfiction books (Publishing: Careers for the 21st Century and Avril Lavigne: People in the News), two unpublished novels, and two published novels, Pandemic (Sky Pony Press, 2014), and Black Flowers, White Lies (Sky Pony Press, 2016).

Hours it took to write Black Flowers, White Lies: After many failed attempts at telling this story, I stopped revising and started completely over. At this point, I also decided to track how I spent my work-related time. The version of the novel that was acquired by Sky Pony took 383 hours to draft.

Number of conferences where I workshopped the manuscript (over several years): 14

Words in Black Flowers, White Lies: Approximately 54,000

Hours spent revising Black Flowers, White Lies since acquisition: My best guess is 168 hours. I didn’t do a great job of separating revising and proofreading time from other post-acquisition tasks (like reviewing the cover or researching publicity leads).

Number of shelter cats mentioned by name in the story: 10

Time spent on social media (including asking friends for names of their cats to be used for shelter cats in the story):  I have no idea! This is one area I stopped tracking because the “social” time tends to get merged with book promotion and research tasks.

Readers who enjoy the book: A large number, I hope!

Want to learn more about Black Flowers, White Lies and meet Yvonne in person?


Yvonne is celebrating the release of Black Flowers, White Lies with a book launch party at [words] Bookstore in Maplewood, NJ on Sunday, October 16th, at 2:00 pm. It’s open to the public and there’s a link to the e-vite here.

Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. When an eerie hand print appears on her mirror, she wonders if Dad’s warning her of danger as he did once before. Could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible? Or the grieving building superintendent? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her. Soon the evidence points to Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

Yvonne Ventresca Author PhotoYvonne Ventresca’s latest young adult novel, Black Flowers, White Lies, was recently published by Sky Pony Press. BuzzFeed included it at the top of their new “must read” books: 23 YA Books That, Without a Doubt, You’ll Want to Read This Fall. Her debut YA novel, Pandemic, won a 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for the Atlantic region. You can learn more about Yvonne and her books at YvonneVentresca.com.

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