2009 Debutante Author Interview Series: Megan Crewe

Cass McKenna much prefers the company of ghosts to that of the living. Who needs lying, backstabbing, breathing friends when ghosts are uncomplicated and completely dependable? Plus, the dead know the dirt on just about everybody . . . and Cass loves dirt.

 

She’s on a mission to expose the dirty little secrets of all of the poseurs in her school (everyone, in her mind). But when the vice president of the student council finds out her secret, Cass’s whole scheme hangs in the balance. Tim wants her help contacting his recently deceased mother, and Cass is less than enthusiastic. But Tim’s pleas seem genuine, and Cass reluctantly agrees to try.

 

As Tim’s desperation to talk to his mother’s spirit grows, Cass, kicking and screaming, finds herself becoming more and more entwined in his life. And she’s more surprised than anyone when she realizes that maybe, just maybe, some living people aren’t so bad if she’d only give them a chance. . . .

 

 

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Today’s deb is an author whose blog I love, love, love and read almost daily. Her debut novel, Give Up The Ghost, is coming out from Henry Holt this Fall and I, personally, can’t wait!

 

Give Up The Ghost is your debut novel, so a big congrats on that. But can you give us a little statistical rundown on how long it took you to get to this point? How many books? How many rejections? How many days, months, or years?

 

It depends on where you want to measure from.  I was 14 when I finished my first novel (which was very, very bad–but hey, I finished it!), so I’ve been writing books for 14 years now.  But I didn’t feel I was writing at a publishable level, and start querying agents, until many years after that.  I was pretty critical of my own work, and I didn’t want to send something out there until I was confident.

 

I wrote the first draft of GIVE UP THE GHOST about four years and a half years ago.   I got a couple dozen rejections from agents before getting the offer of representation, and more than a dozen rejections from editors before selling it.  But as they say, it only takes one “Yes!”

 

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Which “Call” thrilled you more? The call in which you landed an agent or the call in which you landed your book deal? Can you describe to us what it felt like?

I’d have to say the call when my agent offered representation.  It was a complete surprise (I’d never gotten a call from an agent before; I had no forewarning that this agent would call) and I was so excited afterward that I was literally bouncing around my apartment.

Landing the book deal was incredibly exciting, of course, but it was more drawn out–knowing the book was going to acquisitions, knowing an editor intended to offer but hadn’t yet, knowing the offer was on the table but waiting for the details to be negotiated…  So there wasn’t one call that settled everything (and actually a lot of it was through e-mail).  It was a much more extended thrill, but less intense because of that.

 

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Well, I know that you are in the enviable position of being repped by Kristin Nelson, so I’m sure that was thrilling!

I believe your book took about a year to sell. What did you do during that time/How did you feel? What kind of talks did you have with your agent?

My book was on submission for exactly one year (to the day!) before we got the first offer.  Which I find kind of neat now, but at the time it was incredibly stressful.  We had a few close calls, which in many ways are more frustrating than an outright rejection–knowing an editor connected with the book but that someone further along in the process vetoed it.

 

I used the time to do a bunch more writing–I wrote drafts of two new projects.  Which has ended up being useful in many ways, particularly because I haven’t had to stress about what my next book will be.  It was ready and waiting!

 

My agent and I discussed revision ideas we got from a few editors, and submission possibilities–she was always terribly supportive, and sure that eventually we’d find the right editor, which helped me keep the hope.

 

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That’s great and really supports the “keep writing” no matter what credo. Still, did you feel your relationship with your agent changed after your sale?

Not that I’ve noticed.  She’s always been about the writer and their career rather than selling one particular book, so a sale doesn’t change that (though it certainly made both of us quite happy!).

 

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I think that’s a fantastic reminder to writers who are in the stage of talking to agents and discussing representation. Always want to check to see if the agent is looking to rep this one book or your career.

This is Fumbling with Fiction, so I have to ask, in your writing career have you ever had a big “Oops!” moment?

My biggest “Oops!” was posting in my blog about doing revisions while the book was on submission.  I was careful not to give names or details, but an editor who was considering the book saw that I was revising for another editor and, well, wasn’t happy about it.  So these days I keep any news related to submissions out of the public eye.

 

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Thank you for sharing that. I think that’s hugely important for writers to remember as we reach this new age of candid blogging!

You’re now at the beginning of your writing career. Can you believe it? Where would you like that sure-to-be illustrious career to take you?

It’s still a little hard to believe, actually…  I’m not sure it’ll seem quite real until the first time I walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelf.  And even then I’ll probably half-believe I’m in some sort of dream!

 

Mostly I’d just like to keep writing and selling books, and for those books to find lots of readers who enjoy them.  I’m looking forward to branching out into different genres–I’ve got a couple of fantasy books waiting in the wings, and I hope to tackle science fiction at some point.  And I’d love to be able to make this my full-time career.  But really, as long as I’m writing, I’ll be happy.

 

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Tell us a little about receiving your first editorial letter. What was yours like? How did you feel when you received it?

I got a letter–I think it was eight pages–and a marked-up copy of the manuscript.  I think for most writers the first read-through is a little intimidating.  But I found myself nodding at most of the comments even on that first read (there were a few that were no surprise at all, problems I’d suspected might be there but had hoped I was just imagining them), which was a relief.

 

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Finally, if you could have written one book previously published by another author, which book would it be?

That’s hard!  Do you have any idea how many books I love?  I guess if I have to pick one, I’d say THE CHANGELING by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.  That book meant so much to me as a kid, and it made me feel good about being shy, and quiet, and so often “lost in my own world.”  If I manage to write a book that does something like that for someone else, I’ve done my job as well as I could imagine.

 

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2009 Debutante Author Interview Series: C. Lee McKenzie

It’s not a heart-grabbing noise like when somebody jiggles the doorknob to see if it’s locked. It’s not a bitter smell like the electrical short we had last month, when all the breakers popped. No. It’s something in the air, something like a ghost making its way through the room. And it can’t be Monster, not after last night.

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C. Lee McKenzie’s here! She has her debut novel, Sliding on the Edge, coming out from WestSide Books in April and she was kind enough to answer all the questions I had about her road to publication. Thanks, C. Lee!

Sliding on the Edge is your debut novel, so a big congrats on that. But can you give us a little statistical rundown on how long it took you to get to this point? How many books? How many rejections? How many days, months, years?
I had to dig into my archives to answer this one. I’ve written two Middle Grade stories that are gathering moss on my C drive. Sliding is my first YA and I think I sent queries and sample chapters to about six publishers who either didn’t think it suited their mix or didn’t respond. As to how long this book has been in the pre-birthing phase: I started thinking about it in 2006. I wrote some of the ideas down in my notebook (something I consider an additional appendage) through the first part of 2007; then I started actually putting those ideas into scenes and chapters. I hauled what I now refer to as the first draft to a conference and was asked, “What made you write about something like this?” It wasn’t a nice question, BTW, and I was thoroughly discouraged for about half an hour. I finally sold the book in January of 2008. So . . . three books, seven rejections, two years to sale, three years and three months to publication.
Seven rejections! That’s it? Pretty amazing! Which “Call” thrilled you more? The call in which you landed an agent or the call in which you landed your book deal?
Wish I had a comparison to offer, but I don’t have an agent. I’m flying solo without any pre-flight instruction. But talking to my editor is an all-time high, so as life moments go, I’d rank our discussions right up there at the top. The first time we spoke the conversation was pretty one-sided with her doing most of the talking. I was working on breathing while I searched for the part of my brain that knew words. I guess you’d describe the moment as “exciting,” but that’s such an inadequate word.

I’m so impressed by authors who can go it alone. Congrats on making that sale. I know you also write Middle Grade fiction. How do you switch gears when writing between two different age groups? Are there certain things you need to keep in mind for each?
I guess my head just goes into another place when I’m writing and if I’m into MG, I sort of nestle into my pre-teen self. It’s still in there, waiting to be noticed and enjoyed again. My angsty YA is pretty demanding. It has a lot to say, so when I’m there things kind of pour out, like sweat after a run. I’m not really “in” my usual mind when I write. I can’t explain it very well, except to say that I kind of slip into my character(s) and they tell me stuff. So I guess my answer is I don’t have any problems about keeping the two genres separate.

This is Fumbling with Fiction, so I have to ask, in your writing career have you ever had a big “Oops!” moment?
Only one? I hope I’m allowed more than that because I’m way over my quota if I’m not. My biggest oops is probably sending a query addressed to one publisher to another. That was super embarrassing, but the publisher was kind and returned the letter to me with something like “oops!” (and not dodo bird) written across the top. She also included a short note saying she liked my idea, but it wouldn’t work for her house. Sigh.
Hey, we’ve all been there. Or at least I have! You’re now at the beginning of your writing career. Can you believe it? Where would you like that sure-to-be illustrious career to take you?
I’d be very happy to see another book of mine on the shelves and in the hands of readers. I’ve completed (loosely speaking) another YA novel and am working on a third, so I guess I’m thinking continued publication would please me greatly.

Tell us a little about receiving your first rejection. What was yours like? How did you feel when you received it?

My first one? Oh not that! It was horrible. They actually rejected my book (one of my Middle Grades). How could they? That book was positively brilliant. It was the next Harry Potter of the publishing world. Of course, after a few years I came to recognize that the brilliance was more in my head than on the page.

Well, hopefully your upcoming book will be the next Harry Potter, right? Finally, if you could have written one book previously published by another author, which book would it be?
This is not only the last, but also the most difficult question, Chandler. Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. Only one? I seem to be asking that question a lot in this interview. Well, I’ve been re-reading S.E. Hinton lately, and I really love the way she captures the young male adults in her books. So I guess I’d choose my favorite among her publications and say I wish I could have written Rumble Fish.

2009 Debutante Author Interview Series: L.K. Madigan

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Fifteen-year-old Blake has a girlfriend and a friend who’s a girl. One of them loves him, the other one needs him.
When he snapped a picture of a street person for his photography homework, Blake never dreamed that the woman in the photo was his friend Marissa’s long-lost meth addicted mom. Blake’s participation in the ensuing drama opens up a world of trouble, both for him and for Marissa. He spends the next few months trying to reconcile the conflicting roles of Boyfriend and Friend. His experiences range from the comic (surviving his dad’s birth control talk) to the tragic (a harrowing after-hours visit to the morgue).
In a tangle of life and death, love and loyalty, Blake will emerge with a more sharply defined snapshot of himself.

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New Week, New Deb. This week we’ve got the incredibly funny L.K. Madigan, author of the forthcoming Flash Burnout, which will be released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt this fall! L.K. is an author living in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at: http://www.lkmadigan.com.

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Flash Burnout is your debut novel, so a big congrats on that. But can you give us a little statistical rundown on how long it took you to get to this point? How many books? How many rejections? How many days, months, or years?

 

The short answer is that I got serious about writing for young adults in 2001. Eight years later, my book is coming out.

 

The longer answer is that I wrote some picture books and two novels during the first four years, submitted them to probably 25 agents, got discouraged, and shelved them. I started working on a third novel, completed it in December 2005, and spent the next two years querying about 20 agents/editors. I was thisclose to giving up the idea of writing for publication when I got the YES from my agent, Jennifer Laughran. I look at those two years of rejection now as fate. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was waiting for my Dream Agent to decide she wanted to be an agent.

 

 

 

That’s so sweet. It’s like y’all were meant to be! Which”Call” thrilled you more? The call in which you landed an agent or the call in which you landed your book deal? Can you describe to us what it felt like?

 

One was thrilling in an OMG-I’ve-Been-Going-on-Blind-Dates-for-Two-Years-Have-I-Finally-Met-Mr-Right?! kind of way.

The other was more of a You’ve-Just-Won-a-Million-Dollars-AND-Fulfilled-a-Lifelong-Dream kind of thrill. (Er, not that I got paid a million dollars … just that I felt like I did.)

So they were both massively thrilling in very distinct ways.

 

Million dollars or Mr. Right? Glad you didn’t have to choose. Tell me a little bit about writing from a teen boy’s perspective. Easier? Harder?

 

I don’t know what this says about me as a person with lady parts, but I do find it easier to write from the teen boy’s perspective. I’m a big fan of the male animal, and have spent my life in close study and ardent admiration of them.

 

 

 

Throughout your journey as a writer, what resources have you found most valuable to your success? Websites? Books? Conferences?

 

Voices in my head.

 

Coffee.

 

Critique groups.

 

A laptop.

 

And more recently, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. (The better to hear the imaginary voices with, my dear!)

 

I marvel at the intimacy of the Internet, too. I’ve made many friends over the four years that I’ve been blogging, some of whom I’ve even gotten to meet in person. My writing life would be much lonelier without them.

 

 

 

You mentioned voices in your head. Does that, um, worry you? Should you maybe see a doctor?

 

(What does she mean, asking us such an impertinent question?!) (Shh, let me handle this.) No, Chandler, haha. Awkward! I was being metaphorical. They’re not ACTUAL voices. (We’re not? We’re not real?) (Shh! I said be quiet!) (She’s pretty.) (Let’s name a character Chandler.) (I’m hungry.)

 

 

Yes! Listen to them. Name a character Chandler!

Did you feel your relationship with your agent changed after your sale?

 

No, she abuses me with undiminished enthusiasm.

 

 

 

This is Fumbling with Fiction, so I have to ask, in your writing career have you ever had a big “Oops!” moment?

 

Errgghh, I am never going to stop cringing over it: I confused an agent’s last name with a new client at work. (They both started with Sch, if you’re really curious.) She was completely kind about it, but like I said … still cringing here.

 

 

Hey, if that’s the worst thing that happens, I think you can consider yourself ahead. You’re now at the beginning of your writing career. Can you believe it? Where would you like that sure-to-be illustrious career to take you?

 

 

To Disneyland!

 

And then back to my comfy red chair, where I do a lot of my writing.

 

Truly: I want it all. I want the goofy hats and the teacups and the rollercoasters of publishing, then I want peace and quiet to focus on the craft.

 

That would be awesome.

 

 

I was unaware that publishing came with goofy hats and teacups. See! THIS is why I need to interview you guys. Tell us a little about receiving your first editorial letter. What was yours like? How did you feel when you received it?

 

Authors who have received 12-page editorial letters are going to curse me, but my first editorial letter was one page long. It accompanied a marked-up manuscript, too, of course, but it was a pleasant surprise to read it and feel like, “I can do this,” instead of curling up into a frightened ball. I did gasp audibly, however, at one line: “I’d like you to start thinking of other possible titles.” In the end, my editor decided to keep FLASH BURNOUT, much to my joy and relief.

 

 

One page! Wow. Finally, if you could have written one book previously published by another author, which book would it be?

FINGERSMITH, by Sarah Waters. I just read it this year, and I can’t stop raving about it.

It’s set in the Victorian era, and it’s brilliant. It’s fast-paced and tense, full of all the elements you want in a Victorian mystery: orphans and thieves, a creepy country estate and a handsome scoundrel, burning desires and cruel greed. Sigh. I would love to be able to write like that.

Thanks for the interview, Chandler!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009 Debutante Author Interview Series: Sarah MacLean

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Seventeen-year-old Lady Alexandra Stafford doesn’t fit into the world of Regency London — she’s strong-willed, sharp-tongued, and she absolutely loathes dress fittings. Unfortunately, her mother has been waiting for years for Alex to be old enough to take part in the social whirlwind of a London Season so she can be married off to someone safe, respectable, wealthy, and almost certainly boring. But Alex is much more interested in adventure than romance.

Between sumptuous balls, lavish dinner parties and country weekends, Alex, along with her two best friends, Ella and Vivi, manages to get entangled in her biggest scrape yet. When the Earl of Blackmoor is killed in a puzzling accident, Alex decides to help his son, the brooding and devilishly handsome Gavin, uncover the truth. It’s a mystery brimming with espionage, murder, and suspicion. As she and Gavin grow closer, will Alex’s heart be stolen in the process?

Romance and danger fill the air, as this year’s Season begins!

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Ok, so by now, most of you have probably seen the blurb and cover for The Season and can’t wait to get your greedy, little hands on it, right? I know I can’t. Lucky for us, Sarah MacLean has been gracious enough to stop by to answer a few questions. And, although, I doubt that will tide us over ’til March, it sure does help!

Thanks so much for your time, Sarah.

The Season is your debut novel, so a big congrats on that. But can you give us a little statistical rundown on how long it took you to get to this point? How many books? How many rejections? How many days, months, or years?

Well, I had a bit of an unconventional route to publication.  I’ve dabbled in writing for years, kicked around a few adult romance novels, but never finished anything…and then an editor at Scholastic who knew I was really into historical romance suggested I try my hand at a ya historical.  The Season was born…  So I guess technically it was one book.  But that seems off, considering how much paper there is in boxes at the back of my closet. 

Wow! That is unconventional. Which “Call” thrilled you more? The call in which you landed an agent or the call in which you landed your book deal? Can you describe to us what it felt like?

hmmm… that’s hard.  The call during which I sold The Season was pretty fantastic.  I got that one straight from the editor…and it was super exciting.  After I sold The Season, I got an agent–the fabulous Alyssa Eisner Henkin–who has been with me every step of the way since.  It was Alyssa who delivered the most recent call…announcing my three-book adult historical romance sale to Avon…and that was probably the best moment of my life.

There’s a huge difference between selling a book on your own and doing it with an agent…When you’re on your own, you’re acutely aware of everything that’s going on…so it takes some of the mystery out of the experience.  But when you have an agent, the call is such a surprise…such an out of the blue, oh my god, kind of experience…and she’s so excited with you and for you…it’s pretty awesome. 

I’ve heard great things about Alyssa! She went to my alma mater and was so sweet when I queried her. But a new three-book deal! Congrats again!

Throughout your journey as a writer, what resources have you found most valuable to your success? Websites? Books? Conferences?

Definitely other writers.  Some of my closest friends are writers who are old pros with the process, and they were kind enough to let me call them with hysterical questions and concerns.  I’m also a member of the 2009 Debutantes, and the experience of interacting with a group of such incredibly talented similarly green writers has completely changed the way I look at the art and craft of writing.  My first piece of advice to anyone looking to write a book is to find a group of writers to commune with.  It’s the best part of the job.

Great advice and fun to follow. Thanks!

I know you work in publishing. How has that helped you become and be an author?

For years I was a literary publicist (no longer, though)…so that has been both a good and bad thing during this whole process.

There have certainly been things that I had to learn, though.  PR doesn’t come into play until the end of the publishing process…so I knew nothing about the editorial process…the sales process…the design process…so, I was just as green as everyone else in that sense. 

It’s a nice feeling when your editor tells you something about sales or marketing and you don’t have to ask them to explain, I know how much concern and confusion that can bring for authors, and I haven’t had much of that. On the other hand, knowing all this stuff sometimes backfires. It’s hard not to think about the best and worst case scenarios for your book when you’ve seen successes and failures up close and personal.

Add to that the fact that it’s impossible to remain aloof and impartial when it’s YOUR book, and…well let’s just say there’s plenty of crazy in me despite my industry experience. Luckily, I have an editor, an agent and a publicist who are patient with me…and wield iron hands when need be.

This is Fumbling with Fiction, so I have to ask, in your writing career have you ever had a big “Oops!” moment?

Uhm…yeah.  I’ve had too many of those to count.  🙂  Writing historical adds a whole layer of accuracy to novels. 

If I were writing fantasy about, say, hobgoblins, I’d have a certain amount of freedom to make things up…you’ve never (I assume) met a hobgoblin, and so I can tell you exactly what they look like, what they wear, the words they use, etc.  As long as I stick to my own hobgoblin world rules, you can’t tell me they’re not accurate.

Not so with Regency England.  EVERYTHING has to be historically accurate, checked and double checked, there are dresses and foods and titles and words that didn’t come into the lexicon until a century later…and if it weren’t for my very dilligent editors, friends, and copyeditors, I would be exposed as a fraud.  And, I promise you, there have been some MAJOR oops! moments.

Stupid history.  Next book, hobgoblins.  Hot ones. You heard it here first. 

I’m sure your agent and editor will be so pleased to learn your next book idea. You’re now at the beginning of your writing career. Can you believe it? Where would you like that sure-to-be illustrious career to take you?

No.  I can’t believe it. And, for the most part I go back and forth between thinking that people are totally crazy for buying my books and that I am totally crazy for doing this for a living.  🙂  But it’s pretty awesome.  And I would be a big fat liar if I didn’t say I loved every minute of this wild ride and sometimes daydream about a life of champagne wishes and caviar dreams.  And, now, I’ve dated myself.

Your March release date is quickly approaching! Where in the process are you right now?

Where in the process am I?  I’m in the freaking out part of the process.  My book is, as I type, being shipped to kids via Scholastic Book Clubs…and pretty soon I’ll be able to walk into a bookstore and see it on the shelf.  I have absolutely no control over people buying and/or liking my little book…and that scares the bejeezus out of me! 

Understandable, but from the buzz you’ve been getting, I doubt you have anything to fear. Tell us a little about receiving your first editorial letter. What was yours like? How did you feel when you received it?

It’s a super exciting moment, receiving your first editorial letter.  If you’re lucky (as I was) your editor is kind and gentle and appreciates that you are a first-time author with all the complete and utter neuroses that come with that label.  My letter was 6 pages long, which scared me half to death, before I started reading it, and realized that my editor had included sweet little passages about the things she liked as well as the things she was curious about. 
It should be said that my editor is a full-on genius.  She has brilliant ideas that make me feel like my brain is small.  Truly.  She can ask a question delicately…or gently suggest an addition or a deletion…and it’s like the text sings.  I love editorial letters from her…because they make me see my book as way more than the sum of its parts.

That must be an awesome feeling to have someone so involved in your book with you. Finally, if you could have written one book previously published by another author, which book would it be?
Emma.  Because then I’d be Jane Austen.  And Mr. Knightley would live in my head.  🙂  

I should have guessed! Thank you again, Sarah, for answering all my questions. I can’t wait to pick up The Season in March and I’m sure we’ll be seeing great things from you in the future!

Y’all can reach Sarah at her blog: http://macleanspace.blogspot.com

2009 Debutante Author Interview Series: Jackson Pearce

Seven months ago, Viola’s boyfriend told her he was gay—moments before she was going to lose her virginity to him. Heartbroken, Viola has resigned herself to near invisibility, until she inadvertently summons a young jinn out of his world, Caliban, and into her own. Here he will remain until she makes three wishes.

Jinn is anxious to get back to Caliban, but Viola is terrified of wishing, afraid her wishes will be manipulated into curses. Jinn knows that should she wait too long, the Ifrit, guardians of earthbound jinn, will press her to wish by hurting those around her.As they spend time together, Jinn can’t deny that he’s slowly falling in love with Viola, blurring the lines between master and servant. It’s only after Viola makes her first wish—for a popular boy to love her—that she realizes the feelings are mutual.

With every wish Jinn’s time with her diminishes, but the longer she waits to wish the greater danger she’s in from the Ifrit. Together, Viola, Jinn, and Viola’s ex-boyfriend try to outwit the Ifrit while dealing with their own romantic complexities and the alcohol-laced high school social scene.

 

It’s that time. The first Deb of the New Year! Today I’m sharing my interview with Jackson Pearce, author of the forthcoming AS YOU WISH, which will be published by HarperCollins and hit shelves in the fall of this year. Her second  book, SISTERS RED will be released by Little, Brown in the Fall of 2010.

Before we get into the interview, I think you’ll appreciate Jackson better if you watch this youtube video she created titled, “The Imaginary Writing Process.” It’s hilarious, trust me.

 

Hi, Jackson! As You Wish is your debut novel, so a big congrats on that. But can you give us a little statistical rundown on how long it took you to get to this point? How many books? How many rejections? How many days, months, or years?

Let’s see…
Books: 2– AS YOU WISH is my second completed novel. The first one is eternally shelved, and there were several bits and pieces of novels that never became full-fledged books.
Rejections: A zillion. I sent my very first book, KEYBEARER, to EVERY agent in the business– I was so desperate that I actually sent it to a few agents who had terrible reputations! AS YOU WISH fared a little better, but I still had to do two major revisions while querying. By the time it got to my current agent, it was all revised up, and she offered to represent me.
Days/Months/Years: This is a tough one; being a writer is all I’ve ever really wanted to do, so in a way I’ve been working toward it for ages. I didn’t start seriously looking into the business side of writing until my junior year of college– mainly because I started to worry about having to get a “real job” when I graduated, an idea that I wasn’t a fan of (but, for the record, ended up having to do anyway). I sent my first query out in early 2005. I sold AS YOU WISH in mid-2007.
 
 

Which “Call” thrilled you more? The call in which you landed an agent or the call in which you landed your book deal? Can you describe to us what it felt like?

Believe it or not, I think the call when I landed my agent was a bigger deal to me. It was totally out of the blue– I was spying on my neighbors (they were talking about me right outside my front door, I swear) and suddenly a call from a 212 area code appeared. I answered and tried to speak coherently but mostly just babbled. When the call about the book deal came in, I was already anticipating it; we’d had enough interest that I’d already accepted and gotten excited about the fact that the book would likely sell, so it was a little more relaxed. I still had to pull off to the side of the interstate though.

 
Throughout your journey as a writer, what resources have you found most valuable to your success? Websites? Books? Conferences?

I didn’t go to any conferences and only read a handful of books– most of which I wasn’t a big fan of. There are, however, some REALLY helpful websites that I adore: The Blue Boards (http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php), Agentquery.com, and the livejournal community. I think that personal interaction with other writers is the key to success. On the more tangible side– a laser printer. Oh man, I would wither away to nothing without my laser printer. I bought my first one off Craigslist– met the guy in a parking lot and paid cash in a very shady deal– and it saved my life. Other tangible valuable writer resources include caffeine, candy, and a DVR so you stop missing Deadliest Catch because you’re revising.

 
A laser printer? Never heard that one before, but I have to say, I’ve had my eye on one for awhile. Craigslist is a great idea to start out.

You’re a young author! Did you write As You Wish in college? Do you think your age has affected your journey to publication at all?

I wrote AS YOU WISH my junior and senior years of college, and found my agent just after I graduated. I think my age has had a profound affect on my journey to publication. On the purely business side, I realized about midway through college that I didn’t really WANT to work (shocking, isn’t it?). I wanted to write, all the time. I began seriously looking at getting my work published because I wanted it to be my career. I think that if I were a little older and had a more established career path, I wouldn’t have been quite as eager to get published.
The downside to being a young author is a lot of older authors– even those still “young” by most standards– give you a bit of a brush off. There are times where I would be incredibly frustrated about queries or rejections and someone would say “oh, you’re so young! Don’t worry about it! You have time!” It always felt a bit like a cold shoulder; yes, I’m young, but I still know what I want and aim to succeed. That said, those people were the minority of the writing community, and the support I found in other venues was priceless.
Thanks for sharing. I’m always interested in the subject of young authors–I’d love to follow a similar path! (I signed with my agent a few months after graduating college, too.)  During the time that you’ve been a client, your agent started her own literary agency, I believe. Was that a difficult transition? Is it normal to stay with the agent or the agency?

Soon after AS YOU WISH sold, my agent formed Bliss Literary, her own agency. To be honest, it wasn’t a difficult transition at all– nothing much changed, and staying with her was an easy decision since I hadn’t had too much contact with the rest of her previous agency. Bliss has been very successful, and I have no regrets at all about moving with my agent.
Agents tend to move around, it seems; I think that’s why it’s so important to find an agent you really click with, one you’ll stick with wherever she goes.
 

Always nice to hear about solid agent-author relationships.

This is Fumbling with Fiction, so I have to ask, in your writing career have you ever had a big “Oops!” moment?

 I’ve done a few careless things– misspelling agents names, using the wrong form of “there” by mistake, but I’ve actually been lucky so far and had no major disasters.
 

Lucky you! You’re now at the beginning of your writing career. Can you believe it? Where would you like that sure-to-be illustrious career to take you?

No, I can’t believe it! I actually remember thinking while in college how great it would be to just write books and coach colorguard (something I’ve done for a while). Now that I’m actually doing it, I’m in a bit of shock. I’m not sure where I want to go from here though; I’ve spent so long focusing on getting to this point that thinking beyond it just seems crazy.

 
It’s nice that you are appreciating it as you go through it, though.

Now that you are a soon-to-be-published author, seeing the view from the other side, what has been your favorite moment in the publishing process so far? What part of the process has most surprised you?

My favorite part was finishing up the last round of revisions, actually. I think I was so interested in the industry from the start that I didn’t have any serious OMG surprise moments.
Tell us a little about receiving your first editorial letter. What was yours like? How did you feel when you received it?

I actually loved my first editorial letter because it was very, very clear. XYZ are the problem, here are some examples, go to it! I wasn’t left overwhelmed by vague advice, so it was easy to know exactly where to start. I also have grown to somewhat enjoy the revising process, because it’s fun seeing the book improve as you go along. I think the key is not allowing yourself to stress over it– to remember that it’s JUST WORDS, and it’s okay to move/rearrange/delete them. You aren’t murdering the story 🙂

 
Finally, if you could have written one book previously published by another author, which book would it be?

I would love to have written any of John Green’s books for the quality, J.K. Rowling’s for the way they revolutionized the industry, or Little Women because….well, it’s Little Women. It’s awesome.

New Interviews and a Must-Read link

 

Back to blog later, but wanted to let y’all know that I’ve added two more interviews to the January list:

 

Carrie Ryan, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Delacorte

C. Lee McKenzie, Sliding on the Edge, Westside Books

 

Carrie’s on deadline and C. Lee is traveling, so dates are TBA, but expect them posted toward the end of the month.

 

In other news, there is a fantastic roundtable interview with my agent, Dan Lazar, and three other up-and-comings: Julie Barer, Jeff Kleinman, and Renee Zuckerbrot. It’s lenghty, so leave some time to sift through, but I found it really interesting and applicable for folks in a variety of different stages in their writing careers.

It’s Their Year And They’re Coming Here

 

It’s almost 2009 and I’ve been busy setting up some awesome interviews to share with you this coming year! We’re continuing the 2009 Debutante series with soon-to-be-published YA/MG authors and can I just pat myself on the back for a second? Because I lined up a stellar list for January. I’ll be adding a couple for this month, too! So there *should* be two interviews per week now. Yay! Anyway, thank you so much to these authors for agreeing to share their experiences.  Here is the list of authors to look forward to next month:

 

Monday, 1/5               Jackson Pearce, As You Wish, HarperCollins Fall 2009

Monday, 1/12            Sarah MacLean, The Season, Scholastic, March 2009

Monday, 1/19            L.K. Madigan, Flash Burnout, Houghton Mifflin, Fall 2009

Wednesday, 1/21      Deva Fagan, Fortune’s Folly, Henry Holt, Spring 2009

Monday, 1/26            Megan Crewe, Give Up the Ghost, Henry Holt, Fall 2009

2009 Debuntante Author Interview Series: Cindy Pon

While this is the 2009 Debutante Interview Series, I’m pretty sure this week’s deb would get kicked out of the ball on account of her incessant bootay shakin’. Yes, it’s Cindy Pon (aka Xiaotien) and she’s here to chat with us about her journey from waging query warfare to her three book deal with Greenwillow. Her first book, SILVER PHOENIX, hit shelves in ’09.

silver_phoenix_hc_c

No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the
dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed, free, and
not some stranger’s subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.

But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she
cannot comprehend. And as the pieces of the puzzle start to fit
together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace
of Fragrant Dreams in search of her beloved father—missing these many
months—is so much more than that. Bravery, intelligence, the will to
fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as
she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She
will also need help.

It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at
the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying
to drag her under. On a quest of his own Chen Yong offers that
help…and perhaps more.

Congrats on your debut novel, Cindy. The cover art is beautiful and I can’t wait to see it on shelves! But can you give us a little statistical rundown on how long it took you to get to this point? How many books? How many rejections? How many days, months, or years?
It took me about three to four months to write the rough draft. Then I spent a year revising it with comments from my two critique groups to help me. SILVER PHOENIX was the first novel I’ve ever written.

I queried 121 agents and i’m sure was rejected by at least 90 of them. I started agent querying at the end of january 2008, and landed agent bill in early april. He sent an email on sunday afternoon saying he loved my novel and I literally jumped up and down in the kitchen.

My bubs thought mommy had gone nutso. =)

The book went to auction in my fifth week of submission to publishers.

 

That’s fantastic and couldn’t have happened to a nicer person! Which “Call” thrilled you more? The call in which you landed an agent or the call in which you landed your book deal? Can you describe to us what it felt like?
Oh, such different emotions there.

I approached querying for an agent like all out warfare. and i would “revenge query” each time i got a rejection. if i had nothing in my query email box for a few days, i’d zap out a few more. It’s a strange thing to say, but many times, seeing a rejection was better than seeing NOTHING at all. (that’s the worst!!)

As I said, I was truly ecstatic when Agent Bill sent me an email to arrange THE CALL for monday morning.
It had been such a roller coaster ride. and all along, I never really knew if what i had was good enough. I only knew that i loved it–and i had to try. try hard!

Going on submission to editors was entirely different. It was utterly and completely out of my
hands. There was no more revising a query, or fiddling with your first pages of prose. Your novel was OUT THERE. and the only thing you could do was try to stay sane and wait.

I think I was in a state of disbelief when my novel went to auction. it was a very high stress and emotional time for me. Here i was, scheduling talks with editors from major publishing houses (what?!) in between picking up the bubs from preschool and their nap times. It was all very surreal.

When I said yes to Virginia and Greenwillow books, I was spent. and still in utter disbelief. It’s very strange
to want something so long and call it a dream, then to actually get it. i was thrilled and terrified. The whole experience was incredible.

 

Ahhh! I love stories like that. So inspiring, but staying sane while waiting? I’m working on that one…  This is Fumbling with Fiction, so I have to ask, in your writing career have you ever had a big “Oops!” moment?
I sent out partial requests too soon. I think many writers make that mistake. We’ve been fiddling with the story for so long, we’re just itching to get it out there already. But you have to learn from your mistakes. That’s why you should send out in batches–so if you get a lot of rejections, you know it’s time to regroup and revise.

 

I think you are right. That’s a problem a lot of writers run into. I know that was one of my problems as well, so great advice!

Now that you are a soon-to-be-published author, seeing the view from the other side, what has been your favorite moment in the publishing process so far? What part of the process has most surprised you?
My favorite moment would be getting my first editorial letter from virginia, my editor! It was just such a sense of achievement for me. I had fumbled very long by myself over this story. Labor of love is exactly what it is. And i knew i was at a point where I had nothing more to offer to the prose or the story.

I had done as best as I could as a writer, with what little resources I had. To get that first editorial letter and see how my novel could be improved–and improved in such great ways–I just loved it!

Seeing my book jacket comes in as a close second. That was very emotional for me. They did such a fantastic job on it. I was floored.

 

You and Agent Bill seem to have such a collegial relationship. What do you think the secret to sucess has been of your extremely functional agent-author relationship?
I don’t think it’s a secret. Open communication is so key. I frequent the writing forums and I know the prevailing feeling of “not wanting to be a bother” walking on eggshells because it was so hard to find an agent. No one wants to lose an agent!

Communication is important. And so is trust. And respect. If you have a question or concern, ASK YOUR AGENT. That’s what s/he is there for!!

 

A valuable reminder for those, like me, who are newly agented. I hear you got an offer for a picture book thrown in your deal as a result of your editor reading your blog. What new challenges come with shifting to writing for much younger readers?
It’s a different mind set. And it’s going to be a great challenge. I’m very intimidated! I need to submit a dummy (which is a mock up of the picture book) and I’ve seen some fantastic dummies–that look like an
actual picture book.

So I’m trying not to panic. I don’t want to send Virginia a few pages stapled together and have her think, what the heck did I get myself into? =X

I have a lot to learn. But if anyone is going to guide me well, it would be Virginia.

 

Your brushwork is beautiful and I know you’ll do a wonderful job.

Finally, if you could have written one book previously published by another author, which book would it be?
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’dell.

 

HUGE Congrats again and I look forward to hearing all of your future success. Keep us updated!!

2009 Debutante Interview Series: Saundra Mitchell

After our one week hiatus, I can’t wait to resume our 2009 Debutante Interview Series. I mentioned Saundra last week following an article she sent to me about a new comic book imprint, but this is 10x better because she’s hear to talk about her own journey to publication! 

Saundra Mitchell has been a phone psychic, a car salesperson, a denture-deliverer and a layout waxer. She’s now an author and screenwriter, and happy that she’s finally found her calling. Her debut novel, Shadowed Summer, comes out February 10, 2009 from Delacorte.

 

Nothing ever happened in Ondine, Louisiana, not even the summer Elijah Landry disappeared.

His mother knew he ascended to heaven, the police believed he ran away, and his girlfriend thought he was murdered.

Decades later, certain she saw his ghost in the town cemetery, fourteen-year-old Iris Rhame is determined to find out the truth behind “The Incident With the Landry Boy”

Enlisting the help of her best friend Collette, and forced to endure the company of Collette’s latest crush, Ben, Iris spends a summer digging into the past and stirring old ghosts, in search of a boy she never knew.

What she doesn’t realize is that in a town as small as Ondine, every secret is a family secret.

 

Shadowed Summer is your debut novel, so a big congrats on that. But can you give us a little statistical rundown on how long it took you to get to this point? How many books? How many rejections? How many days, months, or years?

I’ve been writing professionally for fifteen years, and I stopped counting rejections at 1180- the last rejection before Wonder Agent Sara Crowe sold Shadowed Summer.

Which “Call” thrilled you more? The call in which you landed an agent or the call in which you landed your book deal? Can you describe to us what it felt like?

As ecstatic as I was getting the book deal call, I have to give the edge to landing the agent! I’d been previously represented, and things hadn’t worked out. I lost a lot of confidence- not only was I afraid I’d
never sell a novel, I wasn’t sure I’d ever write another! It was such a dark time, I gave myself permission to quit- after I sent out one more query letter.

I spent a lot of time researching, searching for exactly the agent I wanted. I read the books on several agents’ lists, scoured the Internet for stories about them, about their styles, anything, everything. Finally, I decided that I would send my last query to Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger, Inc. – who sold my debut four months after she offered to rep me!

And you know what it felt like? It felt like breathing again.

 

Wow. What a fantastic story. You must be meant to write. Throughout your journey as a writer, what resources have you found most valuable to your success? Websites? Books? Conferences?
What I find the most valuable is reading other writers’ work. I read, read, read- scripts, stories and books- non-fiction and fiction both. Not only does it help me understand the tone of the market, it teaches
me by excellent example. If I forget I’m reading and slip into a world someone else created- those are the words I read again and study, so I can find out how the author achieved it.

Great tip! We all know that writers go through hard times on their way to success. How have you handled rejection in the past?
When I get rejected, really, when I get any kind of bad news, I work harder. I don’t mean that in a philosophical way. For example- when a blurb recently fell through for me, I wrote notes to sixty local librarians introducing myself and my book, instead of my usual thirty. I really believe that success comes from the willingness to get kicked in the face and keep going.

 

I think that has to be the best way to handle rejection. No wonder you’ve succeeded. I understand you were/are a screenwriter? What lessons have you brought from screenwriting over to penning novels?
I was, and I still am- although now I’m moving into supervising other screenwriters instead of doing all the work myself! And I think one of the best things I brought from screenwriting to fiction is a good ear
for dialogue.

In a screenplay, I don’t get to discuss how the characters feel, or what they’re thinking- that’s for the director and actor to decide! So I’ve learned to pitch my dialogue so it’s natural (since real people have to speak it,) but also meaningful- as that’s the only way I can get my point across in a script.

Through writing groups and during revisions, I’ve gotten compliments on how real my characters sound. That’s a huge honor, and I have to give screenwriting the credit!

 

Awesome. I’ve always pushed the idea of writing scripts to help your novel writing. Hopefully, you’ve won a few converts. This is Fumbling with Fiction, so I have to ask, in your writing career have you ever had a big “Oops!” moment?
Early on, an established screenwriter took the time to work with me on my scripts. She challenged me to excel, and when I finally produced a solid episodic (a script for a one hour television drama,)
she recommended me to her agent. This was a Big Deal, but I had never done a business call where I had to sell *me*.

When this agent asked me how I would describe myself, I said, “Oh, I’m just a little midwestern housewife trying to make good!” The call chilled after that, and you’re probably not surprised to find out that
he didn’t offer to represent me.

So that was a big oops, but it was also a great lesson. Never minimize your own ability or ambition. There are enough people in the world who will do that for you!

 

So true. The best person to sell yourself is you. Your short story “Ready to Wear” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize! Do you feel that writing short stories was necessary to your progressing to novels? (*I don’t mean progression in a value sense, just in length!*)
I do for me, absolutely! One of my biggest challenges is weighting a fictional world effectively. Like, knowing what’s important to include, and what’s not. Screenplays are sparse, and many of the details don’t
belong to me. So short stories help me bridge the forms. They’re compact, like a script, but narrative, like novels. They help me slip between the two worlds. Plus? I just really enjoy writing them!

 

Now that you are a soon-to-be-published author, seeing the view from the other side, what has been your favorite moment in the publishing process so far? What part of the process has most surprised you?
Every time something new happens, that’s my favorite moment. For serious. Getting my contract was my favorite. Then, getting my revision was my favorite. Then my ISBN. Then cover art. Then FPPs, then ARCs, even the tiny little leaf they used to separate paragraphs! It’s all so amazing; I am having a grand time with every little thing.

The most surprising part is how little I know from day to day. I bug my editor occasionally to find out where I’m at in the process. But mostly, it’s all wonder and mystery- like, I found out that my book had been
chosen for the Junior Library Guild… I didn’t even know it had been submitted for consideration!

On the downside, it’s bewildering to realize how much is out of my hands now. on the upside, every day that brings news is a prize! 🙂

 

Tell us a little about receiving your first editorial letter. What was yours like? How did you feel when you received it?
I was excited! Now, in the future, I’ll probably have a little dread, because fiction revisions are *hard*! But Sara sold my novel in January, and between my schedule and my editor’s schedule, we couldn’t get started on revisions until JULY. So there was a six-month stretch where I knew I’d sold a book, but I had that unreasonable fear it might all just disappear. That revision letter was proof it was really, really, real!

 

Finally, if you could have written one book previously published by another author, which book would it be?
Man, that is so hard. I like going to other people’s places, and I like going into mine- they’re such different things to me. But I think I’d love to claim Anneli Rufus’ “The Loner’s Manifesto.” It’s non-fiction, exquisitely written, and so immediate and real. I wish my words would resonate like that.

 

You stuck to one! I can hardly believe it.

Thanks for coming and chatting with me, Saundra. You were so fun to talk to and I can’t wait to read Shadowed Summer. Keep in touch and let us know what is happening with your writing life.

2009 Debutante Interview Series: Mandy Hubbard

Today’s 2009 Debutante is Mandy Hubbard! She’s one of the nicest, most helpful Blue Boarders ever and she’s been incredibly open to answering questions. I can’t wait to get my hands on her forthcoming book from Razorbill, Prada and Prejudice. A gigantic thank you to her for providing such wonderful answers to the interview questions.

 

Callie falls head over heels—literally…

 and wakes up in Austen-Era England !

Fifteen-year-old Callie buys a pair of real Prada pumps to impress the cool crowd on a school trip to London .  Goodbye, Callie the clumsy geek-girl, hello popularity! But before she knows what’s hit her, Callie wobbles, trips, conks her head… and wakes up in the year 1815!

Thanks for joining us, Mandy. Prada and Prejudice is your debut novel, so a big congrats on that. But can you give us a little statistical rundown on how long it took you to get to this point? How many books? How many rejections? How many days, months, or years?
 
The log-line on my blog says “A published writer is an amateur who didn’t quit,” and sometimes that’s all that got me through the rejections. The first novel my agent sent out on submissions, In October 2006,  was THE JETSETTERS SOCIAL CLUB and we racked up about 12 rejections. They were so short and vague; it was obvious JETSETTERS wasn’t doing it. But a few editors asked if I had anything else, and PRADA AND PREJUDICE started to go out on subs in January 2007. Over that Summer, I came so heart-breakingly-close to selling that it was devastating when it didn’t happen. That editor even said she loved it and apologized for not being able to buy it.

By the end of the year I had revised it a few times for various editors and racked up 16 rejections.
 
2008 started up right where 2007 left off—three rejections within the first weeks. However, the third came in the form of a revision request. Even though I was already in my seventh draft, I decided to do it, and I opened up a shiny new (blank!) word document and started over. I never even opened up the old version. I spent a month writing 100 pages plus a new synopsis, and my agent sent it back.
 
And I was rejected in about three sentences.  But thanks to the shiny-new version of the book, my agent felt it deserved another round of submissions. (We were up to 22 rejections at that point). So she sent it to six new editors, and two weeks later, we had two offers. In total, I spent 20 months on submissions, racking up 40 rejections from almost every editor in New York for two different projects, and PRADA AND PREJUDICE went through nine drafts.

 
You and your agent deserve a medal or something. That is incredibly inspiring. Thank you. Which “Call” thrilled you more? The call in which you landed an agent or the call in which you landed your book deal? 

I never got a call out of the blue in either case—there were always emails to tip me off. So for me, the typical reaction to ‘the call’ was actually a reaction to an email, and it was definitely the sale that stands out. I was opening the email while a co-worker was talking to me, and he managed to tell a very long and animated story, and I heard exactly none of it. The e-mail was titled good news and the first line said, we are expecting multiple offers. I started shaking, and it got hard to breathe. I actually did a video blog and recreated THE CALL, and you can see it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ER9bv5ojBoM

 
Love your vlogs. Too fun! Throughout your journey as a writer, what resources have you found most valuable to your success? Websites? Books? Conferences?

Livejournal has been the biggest resource for me-I’ve met so many writers and authors, its been amazing. I met my critique partner, Cyn Balog (Fairy Lust, Delacorte 2009) and we’re like writing BFF’s now, and I can still find the post where we are commenting back and forth like, “do you need a critique partner?” Without her I’d go insane. I think we cried for each other’s book deals as much as our own, we were so excited.
 
I have to say, you and Cyn are the cutest writing duo ever. I love how supportive y’all are and how much you’ve grown. Y’all are a shining example to the rest of the writing community.

We all know that writers go through hard times on their way to success. How have you handled rejection in the past?

By ignoring them. HA. Sometimes a random rejection would hit me really hard, especially when it was an editor I had revised for, but for the most part, I read it, thought about it for a little bit, whined for a day, and moved on. My agent was really good at focusing my attention elsewhere. Every time she emailed a rejection, she’d end the email by saying something like, “But I just heard about this editor at X house, and I’m going to pitch it to her tomorrow…” so somehow she always refocused my attention to the next opportunity.

 
This is Fumbling with Fiction, so I have to ask, in your writing career have you ever had a big “Oops!” moment?

When I got the rejections, especially on PRADA, they never seemed to have the same reason. But somewhere around #15, I put them together in an excel spreadsheet, and BINGO, I started seeing a few patterns. Each editor expresses things differently, so it’s not like they would say the exact same thing—but if I read them all in a row, I could see tiny similarities that pointed to the same issue.  I wish I would have thought of doing that as they came in—I might have been able to revise and strengthen the manuscript.

 
 
Great tip for the rest of us. Thanks! You’re now at the beginning of your writing career. Can you believe it? Where would you like that sure-to-be illustrious career to take you?

 To the NYT list, of course. Hitting the New York Times Bestseller list would be so amazing, I’d probably have to quit right then just so I’d go out on top. Kidding. More realistically, though, I am hoping to get a rhythm going, to have at least one book coming out every year with another on the horizon, to develop a fan base, to be a professional. I don’t want to just “be” published, I want it to be my career.

 
And now that you are a soon-to-be-published author, seeing the view from the other side, what has been your favorite moment in the publishing process so far? What part of the process has most surprised you?

 Confetti didn’t rain down when I accepted my deal, so that was surprising. I think my favorite part of this process has been people telling me that I inspire them. When you first sign an agent, you think of all these overnight deals and pre-empts and auctions, because I swear that’s what it seems like happens for everyone else, so that’s what you expect. But I soon discovered that all too often, that’s not how it works. I think a lot of writers are afraid to be honest and blog openly about their trials, for fear of looking whiny, or something. But I decided to be honest from the get go, and yeah, sometimes I whined and reflected. But now I have all those journal entries, and I can read one and know exactly how it felt to get that 20th rejection. And somehow people have been finding my journal and reading those entries, and it’s been really great to know that other people are in that spot, and they’ve seen that sometimes, you just have to claw your way to the top.
 
I recently went through and tagged all the “publishing journey” entries, so that people can start at the beginning and see the key steps for me—and see the actual rejections. You can see them here: http://mandywriter.livejournal.com/tag/the+road+to+publication
There are about forty related entries, so if you want to read them, I recommend rewinding and starting at the beginning and reading forward, rather than backwards. It starts with me getting my agent, and goes through to the sale.

 
Wait, confetti didn’t rain down? Shoot.

Tell us a little about receiving your first editorial letter. What was yours like? How did you feel when you received it?

It was 11 pages. I nearly fainted. But my editor is quite possibly the most amazing person on the planet, and she explained right off on page 1 that I shouldn’t freak out, that she just liked to really explain things and offer solutions instead of just pointing out problems—and true to her word, as I read through everything, I saw that she not only pinpointed the problems, but she offered ideas and things that pushed me in the right direction. She’s really amazing. Did I mention she rejected Prada TWICE before buying it? Even then, in her rejection letters, her thoughts were well articulated and made me really think about what worked and what didn’t work. I’m so glad that the third try (with a completely rewritten manuscript)  resulted in her offering on it, because there’s no where else I’d rather be.
 
Everyone has a different relationship with his or her agent. How would you characterize yours and has it changed since your book deal?

This is an interesting question, because I’ve been thinking about this lately. I think even though it was never obvious, there was a little tension before the sale—not in a bad way, just in a we both want the sale so badly we can taste it way. We were both unbelievably frustrated that it hadn’t happened yet. Not with each other, just with the circumstances. So since the sale, I think that’s disappeared.

 
Finally, if you could have written one book previously published by another author, which book would it be?
 
 For recent books, I’d have a hard time choosing between THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher, about a girl who sends audio tapes to the thirteen people responsible for her suicide,  and THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH (Coming in 2009) by Carrie Ryan, about a zombie apocolypse. For all time favorites, it would be between Z FOR ZACHARIAH, about a girl who thinks she might be the only person left on earth after a nuclear fall-out, and THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE, a historical about a prim and proper girl who unwittingly ends up in the midst of a mutiny onboard a ship.
 
Strangely enough, though, I don’t think I could write any of those books even if I had the idea before they did—their execution of the ideas is what’s amazing. Instead I will happily read them over and over.

 

Thank you again for joining us and we look forward to reading Prada and Prejudice the minute it comes out!