Posts Tagged ‘K.L Going’
For awhile now, I’ve wanted to start doing teen interviews. I’ve had the urge to do this for a couple reasons. The first is that I’m fortunate enough to know some very amazing teens and they always astound me. The more I learn about them–the more I want to learn. In fact, I’m usually so impressed, I want to share them with the rest of the world.
There is a second reason I decided to do this kind of an interview–I write for teens and I’m friends with a whole bunch of folks who do the same thing. *grin* I know for a fact that they’re always looking for ways to get into the heads of young adults. As YA writers, we always want to know teenagers as readers, but we also want to dissect them and use their parts in our writing. I mean this in a completely non-bloody, kinda nice way.
I hope you love what can happen when a teen can be seen…
Today’s Teen Seen interview is kind of cool. In the past, I’ve had the good fortune of bringing you interviews from wonderful young adults who are in my day to day life. Rebecca Britt is a different story. One day I noticed that K.L. Going highlighted a piece of Rebecca’s writing on her FB page. I read the quote and loved what she had to say. I then friended her. Over the course of weeks, we’ve struck up a dialogue. We’ve connected over books and writing and our crazy love for Friday Night Lights. The more we talked, the more we learned about each other. Now, we’re friends–real friends. I feel like I’ve known her my whole life. But don’t take my word for it–you can get to know her yourself…
Alright Rebecca–tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Becky, a college freshman. I love writing on typewriters, but will settle for candy wrappers if need be. I write a perzine called Evil Flower and when I write fiction it’s mostly about this child named Dee who refuses to leave my brain.
Evil Flower #1 is a 24 page perzine with pieces about innocence, living with a chronic illness, hatred,
my one sided love affair with a cat and more.
I’m going to tell you a secret. When I was in college all I had was a typer writer. *gasp* If you wanted to use a computer you had to go all the way to the computer lab and wait for an empty slot to open up.
So, can you tell us a little bit about what a zine is and how you started writing one?
I have a really hard time pinning down what exactly a zine is, so I’m turning to the experts. According to the Barnard Zine Library, “short for magazine or fanzine, a zine is a self-publication, motivated by a desire for self-expression, not for profit.” Being the YA lit fanatic that I am, it is fitting that I came across zines in the book Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger. Marisol–one of the first girl characters I had a crush on–wrote these amazing things in her zine and I knew I wanted to make one. It wasn’t until a few years later that I actually sat down and made Evil Flower.
This is what happens to my living room when I lay out a zine.
My parents at this point accept that I monopolize the floor for a little while every few months.
I love that book and Ellen is a sweetie. That’s exactly where I learned about zines LOL! Too funny. So, what do you like to write about in Evil Flower? And how have your readers responded to it?
Evil Flower is what is a “personal zine” or a perzine. I often write about my struggles with depression and an autoimmune disease, but people often respond to the less grand pieces in the zine. The piece I got the most feedback on was a single page about about what I wish for when I make paper cranes. People really liked it but also told me that my handwriting was horrible! Zines allow a really open forum for feedback and constructive criticism and my zines have improved with each issue because of it.
Evil Flower #2 is a perzine with pieces about apathy, pain, my crane wishes and more.
I’m always surprised at what blog posts get the best response. Sometimes something I think isn’t going to garner much attention is a favorite. It’s hard to predict. Hmmm TOUCHING THE SURFACE has paper cranes in it. Even more secret things we have in common. I’m going to have to inbox you and find out more about this. (((hugs)))
I’m really glad you’re using your writing to help with your depression and an autoimmune disease. That has to be really tough. I’m sorry you’re going through such a hard time. In the not so recent past, there was a trending thread on twitter called YASaves. I know you’re an avid reader and I was wondering what YA books have influenced you.
Man Kimberly, I could write a book about this. I keep rewriting my answer because I ramble on an on about this. People are warned against asking me about books I love because I never shut up once I get the chance to gush about books.
One (out of about a billion) book that I think of is Empress of the World by Sara Ryan. In Empress of the World Nic goes to camp and becomes mesmerized by a girl named Battle. I wasn’t that young when I read it, but girls having feelings for other girls had always been a far off concept, something that barely even existed except on TV. That book opened my eyes to who I might be. It’s not like I read that book and stood on a table and decided I was bisexual–books can’t make you change your sexuality. It’s BS when people say that they can. Being bisexual was already part of me: I had wanted to marry girls, I had been obsessed with the girl with long black hair in my biology class, but I had never considered that it could mean anything until I read Empress of the World.
And I would be remiss not to mention Fat Kid Rules the World. (We never would have met if we hadn’t both been facebook friends with the author, KL Going!) Fat Kid Rules the World has left an impression on my life that has grown since I first read it at 13. It made me want to write books in the first place, it keeps me from letting my insecurities eat me alive, it opened my eyes to drug addiction and my little worn out paperback copy is like my security blanket.
Now I am cutting myself off from long explanations but some more books are: Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern, Upstate by Kalisha Buckanon and Chloe Doe by Suzanne Phillips. Now I am cutting myself off again because I could list hundreds!
I love that you’re a book junkie!!! I also think it’s very brave of you to share something so personal. Everyone should be allowed to be and explore who they are. I am so happy a book made you feel comfortable. I have to agree-Fat Kid Rules the World and K.L. Going are favorites of mine and I love them even more for connecting us and allowing us to become friends.
So what do you want to be when you grow up? I use the term “grow up” loosely because I’m still working on that in my forties. )
In a perfect world I would want to write YA novels as a career. I have gotten pretty far into writing a few novels, but the first two were horrible so I gave up. The third I have been going back to every once in a while, so I may finish it someday. I’m at a college with an excellent creative writing program and am so impatient to start the workshop classes.
I started this with “in a perfect world” because I know that it may never happen. So my realistic dream is to be a librarian. I love libraries and books. One of the librarians at my local library has been trying to dissuade me from that dream–he is half joking but he is too persistent to be kidding 100%. I’d be studying and he’d come up to me and outline the boring tasks he had to do that day and I’d say “I’ll do it for you!” which just irritated him more.
I want to be very clear about something with you. I also knew I wanted to be a writer and I KNEW it would never happen. Be a librarian because you love it AND be a writer too.
So tricky question because you are such a supporter of YA literature–What are we doing wrong? What do we need to do better?
I think there is this temptation to try to trick young readers into thinking the worlds is better, safer and more forgiving than it really is. Maybe not so much from the writers, more parents want their children to be reading something that makes them feel optimistic about the world.
But the world is messed up. I’m an optimist and everyone hates me for it. I also know that everything gets wrapped up all pretty for you in this world and I hate it when books tell me that they do. YA books are hardly the only culprits of the Everything is Fine ending–Tale of Two Cities is practically a template for it. But I feel like it’s worse to do in YA Lit because people are already trying to force this idea of a just world onto us.
And actually, for the most part YA books are doing a really fantastic job of doing this. A big book that comes to mind is Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe. It ended so perfectly because the ending was far from perfect for the characters. The books with the “Everything is Fine” endings stick out because the more YA books I read, the less I found.
So really I’m not answering your questions. I’m saying KEEP GOING. Keep telling us the truth.
Yay! Thanks for the pat on the back. I think that’s exactly the kind of motivation I need to write the story I need to tell.
Ummm last question…I promise. We have “bonded” over a mutual love of Friday Night Lights. *grin* Why should people watch this show???
I love Friday Night Lights so much that when you posted that you started watching it, despite never having spoken before, I practically jumped every status about it.
Friday Night Lights is the ultimate show. People think it’s a show about football, but it’s not. It’s a show about people. Football is just kind of what ties everyone together. It seems like most shows have heightened realities and neon characters, but Friday Night Lights isn’t like that. There is nothing artificial about this show. The acting is genuine, the characters are like real people.
And watching Friday Night Lights may bring you great new friends!
I can’t argue with that. Becky, thank you so much for being interviewed. I think you are an amazing person and I am so glad that we’ve become friends. You can click here to find out more about Becky’s perzine EVIL FLOWER. Or you can email Becky and find out how to get a copy of her perzine at email@example.com — I loved my first copy and I’m eagerly awaiting my next installment. Especially because it comes in that gorgeous homemade envelope.
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It’s Banned Books Week and you know how I feel about that. Judy Blume also has an opinion…
Like Judy, I agree that all reading is valuable. I believe this whole heartedly, but just to be sure, I stopped and did a quick re-evaluation as a parent. After a hearty gut check, I was happy to realize that I’m still a fan of giving access.
There’s a difference between providing age appropriate content and censoring content that is age appropriate.
And what about reading up? I’m all for it. I did it all the time as a kid and it was empowering, educational and exciting. I have yet to discover any negative side effects from the experience. In fact, I think it has made me a better person.
I hope there comes a day when Banned Books Week is a laughable relic. When generations of future readers look back and laugh at our idiocy. But in the mean time, I must confess that I have a secret desire…
I want to write the kind of book that people need to ban.
I strive to write things that are going to connect with people on a real and honest level. I’m not writing to stir the potWhen a book is banned because its readers find meaning in it
Two of my favorite mantras are…
“Be yourself. Have an opinion. Tell the world.” by K.L. Going
“Dare to disrupt the universe.” by Laurie Halse Anderson
For me, those are words to live by. But I’m not alone. There are many who dare. Here are the ALA’s top 100 banned/challenged books from 2000-2009. I bet you’re going to be shocked to find some of your favorites are on this list. It makes me crazy but I try to remember one other thing that Laurie Halse Anderson said…
“Revolutions of the soul are scary things.”
What is your favorite banned book? Is there a particular book you’re shocked to see on the list?
This is it! I’m ready to finish this up and move on. Fasten your seat belts and get ready for your final SCBWI LA Conference installment!
This is not John Green. Not a single one.
I wasnt the only Nova fan! Every crowd should have an enthusiastic Mike Jung
in the back LOL! (If you’re lucky)
Some highlights from their discussion…
*Nova-When something really scares you, its probably the right thing to explore. I picked Michael as an agent because he pushed me to grow as a writer.
*Michael-I know that I’ve lost out on clients because I’ve been honest about what my expectations were.
From my own experience, I can’t agree more. A great fit with your agent is the foundation you need and it will increase the chances that you’ll find an editor who is also an amazing match.
Time for the 2011 Golden Kite Awards Luncheon
We had a wonderful slide show, looking back over 40 years. It was amazing. Wish it was posted some place so that I could share it with you
This was dessert. Everything about this made me smile.
Listening to the speeches of the Golden Kite
recipients. They were fantastic–so proud of them.
A special keynote from the impeccable Richard Peck
. I adore this man.
This is when that big lunch and dessert became a problem. Navigating the halls in a chocolate coma, I didn’t get to Bruce Coville’s workshop in time to get a seat or a piece of rug. This picture was taken from the door with my hands up over my head. The good news was that I could hear him just fine.
-AT THE INTERSECTION OF PLOT AND CHARACTER: THE PLACE WHERE STORIES HAPPEN.
GAHHH!!!! Every word out of this man’s mouth is genius. I’ll try to pick the best ones to share with you…
*Stories happen when a character is forced to make a difficult choice. NEED DRIVES THE ACTION.
*Use yourself, steal from everyone around you. Cast the book as if you are writing a play.
*Characters should have…
-an agenda (theirs, not yours)
-some inconsistencies (do you know anyone who doesn’t?)
*Plot is what happens when desire meets obstacle.
*If there is no chance to crash if you have not jumped.
Because the universe is fair, and wanted to make up for my inability to even cross the threshold of Bruce’s workshop, I was able to snag front row seats for the final keynote of the conference. *squee* While we waited for…drum roll…Laurie Halse Anderson. We decided to take some pictures. Guess who joined us? Linda Sue Park
Jodi, Laura, Edna, Amy N., Linda Sue Park, Kim and Amy S.
Then Linda switched out with our buddy Jeff so he could get in the picture too!
Laurie, means so much to me. I can’t put into words the effect that she has had on my life, the impact she has made. The places I’ve dared to go because I knew I had a friend along for the journey. Yes, because of her I have become someone who dares to disturb the universe. I love that, I love her and I want a T-shirt that says it!
Here is what you just can’t miss…
DO YOU DARE DISTURB THE UNIVERSE?
*Art disturbs the universe. When we create it we make our neighbors nervous and our politicians fret.
*We gather here to collect our courage.
*Revolutions of the soul are a scary thing.
*If you don’t jump, the wings never come.
*To write is to terrorize yourself.
*When things get bad, just remember, BABY…YOU’RE GOING TO DIE. Puts it in perspective. Ha!
*It is your obligation to disturb the universe the best that you can.
*THIS IS OUR WORK.
*In 20 years, you will be more disappointed in the things you didn’t do than the ones you did.
*In children’s literature, we are not competitors, we are co-conspirators.
And here are the best co-conspirators that any of us could possibly have. *sniff*
Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser taking a bow after 40 years of love, dedication and brilliance. <3
Kim and Dan giving K.L. Going
the thumbs up. (Dan is illustrating her new picture book)
The amazing author/illustrator Marla Frazee
. I adore her picture books. *heart squish*
No one can blame me for sneaking Jon Scieszka
the bunny ears. He’s just mad because he didn’t think of it first. LOL!
No need to get teary about the end of the conference–yet. It’s off to KidLit Night at the Pink Taco
What you don’t know is that we’re hungry enough to eat the table! (Can you see me leaning in?)
!!!! Gretchen, Kim, Emily and Debra. I love these gals!!!!
We ate. We hung out. A few of us even did the Pitch Slam with Mary Kole.
It was so hard to say goodbye to everyone. The conference was amazing, but it was time to go home to the other people we love, to return to our writing, to once again sleep more than 4 consecutive hours and to begin to dream about going again next year. Ummm and to do laundry. *head thunk*
I know that these recaps have been endless. I hope I was able to capture a little bit of the magic of the experience and share it with you. Because honestly, I wish you’d been there too. If you have any recommendations for things you’d like to see in future conference blogs–let me know and I’ll see if I can make it happen. Hope to see you at a conference soon. :o)
I’m sure you’ve seen the article in the Wall Street Journal–Darkness too Visible. Everyone is commenting on it and I don’t want to be redundant. In short, the YA community is up in arms. We had a visceral response to what was written and for multiple reasons. Here are my favorite responses–Libba Bray, Laurie Halse Anderson and the voices of everyone on twitter who commented on #YAsaves.
What I want to talk about is heroes. YA is filled with them and I don’t mean the ones that are created in between the pages of books. (Although they can be pretty awesome too.) I’m talking about the real heroes. I have been a member, in some capacity, of the YA community for a long time. I’ve been a teenager, a reader, an aspiring author, a friend and I will be a debut novelist in the Fall of 2012. Never, in all my different interactions with those in YA, have I ever met an author, publisher, editor or agent who wasn’t ultimately driven by their love of writing and their desire to bring something good into the world.
Yes, yes, yes–I know, publishing is a business and ugly things happen just like in any slice of life. I’m not naive. But I believe, that at the end of the day, most of what we do is driven by that insecure, bruised, shamed, lonely teenager in all of us. We work as a team to bring these books into the world because we are trying to fill the void that was there when our book wasn’t. This means something to us. The person we are today and the one who never got past some really hard and ugly things.
In my opinion, the Wall Street Journal
article opinion piece, will end up having done way more good than damage. It has reminded everyone that we have real heroes that walk among us. I have K.L. Going’s slogan pinned right next to my desk where I can see it every day. ”Be yourself. Have an opinion. Tell the World.” Our heroes don’t just write the books, they step up and they stand out. And while their words are a powerful tool–they almost don’t need to use them–they’ve mastered the art of “show don’t tell.”
I once told Laurie Halse Anderson that she changed my life by her ability to be so real, human and honest to me during those fragile times when I was just beginning to write. She told me that she had once stood in the same place and others had done the same thing for her. She told me…”This is what we do, we support each other and one day you will do it for the ones coming behind you.” If I ever get lost, on my journey as an author–have no fear–I know where to turn. I’ll be looking towards my heroes…
While my list of heroes in YA is longer than my left arm, today I would like to tip my hat to Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson and Jay Asher for being brave and reminding us of the value of having a powerful and unique voice–on and off the page.
I didn’t mean to wait so long to write the final installment of my quest to get an agent. (Sorry about that.) The good news is that I’m revising my tactics and actively pursuing ways to become a new and improved, more competent blogger. More to come on that later, but for now it’s back to the world of agenting. If you’re coming late to the party, grab a snack and catch up…
*The Truth About Getting an Agent – Part 1
*The Truth About Getting an Agent – Part 2
*The Truth About Getting an Agent – Part 3
It’s time to enter the Land of Revision BWWWAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!
Revision is an epic journey, especially the very first time you tackle something that is novel length. I’ve broken my journey down into four steps. I hope it helps you walk that lonely road. The first step is…
SIMPLE: You can start your giggling now…I thought REVISION was going to be simple. The first reason I believed that was–well– because I wanted to. I’d just completed the unthinkable–I’d written a novel from first page to last. I wanted to celebrate. I knew it wasn’t "done"–but I wanted it to be. I’d expended every ounce of my brain power to get that far on my journey and I didn’t really have a next level to take it to.
This is that perfect time to put your work in the drawer and start something new, feed the muse, read some books or do that mountain of laundry. I sort of did that, but I did it with training wheels and a pull-up on. I hired the lovely and talented K.L. Going to critique my manuscript. She was amazing, the experience was fantastic. I had everything I needed to move forward but…
STUPID: I was stupid. I received a wonderful, multipage critique letter from Kelly and I had no earthly idea what to do with it. I was not "developmentally ready" to revise. I hadn’t learned enough. Now that bit of information should not mislead you into thinking that I didn’t try. I really did. But the truth was–I didn’t know I was stupid at the time. *grin* So I made some surface changes and fixes, called it a day and started to send it out to agents.
The good news is that stupid doesn’t have to last forever. Somehow, while submitting to agents and beginning work on book two, I made the decision to always be reading at least one book on the craft of writing. It was a darn good thing I did, because it was the best thing I could’ve done. I took the time to learn what I did not know.
Here are some books that you might find helpful in the daily fight against stupid…
*THE FIRST FIVE PAGES: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile-Noah Lukeman
-I also recommend his other books…(I’ve currently read two more)
*THE PLOT THICKENS: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life
*A DASH OF STYLE: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation
*HOOKED: Writing Fiction that Grabs Readers at Page One an Never Lets Them Go-Les Edgerton
-Just finished this last night, the quest to avoid stupid never stops.
*WRITING GREAT BOOKS FOR YOUNG ADULTS: Everything You Need to Know, From Crafting the Idea to Landing a Publishing Deal-Regina Brooks
*WRITING & SELLING THE YA NOVEL-K.L. Going
*NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS: Uncommon Ways to Revise-Darcy Pattison
*THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING CHILDREN’S BOOKS-Harold D. Underdown
*WRITING IT RIGHT! How Successful Children’s Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories-Sandy Asher
-This book includes advice on PB to YA.
*SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS: How to Edit Yourself Into Print-Renni Browne & Dave King
*78 REASONS WHY YOUR BOOK MAY NEVER BE PUBLISHED AND 14 REASONS WHY IT JUST MIGHT-Pat Walsh
*THE FOREST FOR THE TREES: An Editor’s Advice to Writers-Betsy Lerner
*ON WRITING: A Memoir of the Craft-Stephen King
*THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and Exercises-James Scott Bell
*BIRD BY BIRD: Some Instructions on Writing and Life-Anne Lamott
I learned valuable things and found inspiration in every one of these books. I urge you read and re-read these and other books on the craft of writing.
So, now that I did some reading, I was no longer quite as stupid as a I was before, but now I was…
SCARED: I was really scared. Now I knew the truth–revision is a whole lot of work. At about this time I had submitted a query and/or sample chapters to 33 different agents. That number is a grand total, not a mass emailing. I sent a handful of well thought out submissions that were personalized. Sometimes I would get a request for a partial, other times I would get a rejection. Whenever I got a rejection, I would research another agent I thought would be a match. Sometimes there were agents where a lack of reply by a certain date was also considered a no.
I had two agent requests that seemed promising… In August 2009, Michelle Wolfson requested 50 pages. Of course I accidentally sent the document in the wrong format. *head thunk* She was really cool about it and from our brief emails and banter, I felt that this could be promising. The second agent, after reading a partial, requested a full in January 2010. I heard from this agent in March. She was terrific and gave me praise for what I’d done right with my manuscript and then proceeded to give me some advice on what would make it better. She offered to look at it again if I decided to make the changes. I was first and foremost appreciative that an agent had taken the time to point me in the right direction. I was also scared. I pulled out the critique notes that I’d been given by K. L. Going and almost had a panic attack–they were very, very similar. I hadn’t been able to fix it before, so what made me think I could do it now?
SKILL: I had acquired new skills. I’d been reading, writing and thinking like a writer. I’d been learning and growing and as I looked over all the notes and suggestions, something amazing happened–I knew what to do. It wasn’t going to be SIMPLE, but that’s okay, I wasn’t as STUPID as I used to be. I was still a little SCARED, but I think you should always have a little fear in your life to keep you on your toes. Besides I knew I had two things going for me, I had gained new SKILLS and I’d learned that there were always new skills to gain. I began to revise and a funny thing happened–I learned to LOVE the Land of Revision.
It took me about a week of mulling-it-over time, to figure out what I was going to do, then I began to write. About halfway through the revision I heard from Michelle Wolfson. It had been awhile and she apologized for the delay, but she was interested in seeing the full manuscript of TOUCHING THE SURFACE. I explained to her that I was in the middle of a revision and didn’t want to send it out until it was complete. She asked me to keep her in mind. I did. She was on my radar daily because she was on Twitter LOL! As I was writing, I was following and the more I saw of her, the more I liked her.
In October 2010 I finished my revision and sent it out to both agents. A month later Michelle Wolfson loved the story and wanted to have a phone conversation. I honestly didn’t have any idea what to expect. All I knew for sure was that I was so darn excited I could barely sleep. I finally had to do the Jedi mind trick on myself. I convinced myself that she wasn’t really interested and then took it down a notch and waited for the day of the call. We had a fantastic phone conversation. I was nervous, but it went well and she *drum roll* gave me revision suggestions. The recommendations were framed in a very positive way, stressing that she was still very interested and I only felt the tiniest bit of disappointment that she hadn’t made an offer.
In retrospect, I will always be grateful that she never made the offer that day. I know it sounds strange, but sometimes life is like pot roast–if you cook it too fast–you may not enjoy it as much as if you’re patient. I think if she had signed me, and then asked for the revisions, I might have ended up with a stomach ulcer LOL! The people-pleasing component of my personality would have kicked into high-gear and likely undermined the success of the revision. Instead, I mulled-it-over and did what I’ve learned to do–my best–for me. A beautiful thing happened–I knew what to write and just how to do it. I quickly made the improvements and then sent it back to Michelle. She was leaving on vacation and was taking it with her, but she wasn’t sure if she would get to it over the holidays. That left me only one thing to do…stalk her on Twitter.
In the meantime the other agent contacted me and said she still had me on her radar and would be reading after the holidays. I sent her the updated manuscript and then settled into wait.
I learned a lot from my time on Twitter. In light of all the debate about the importance of cyber interactions, I recommend you join the conversation. Not only did I discover a million things about Michelle on twitter, (she has young kids like me and adores Pop-tarts) I also saw first hand, the type of relationships she has with her authors (AWESOME! Kiersten White, Tawna Fenske and Linda Grimes to name a few) It was also evident that she has amazing connections with her followers: other agents, editors, writers, readers and book lovers for starters. As time went on and we bantered back and forth, I came to realize that she was the agent that I wanted. The other agent was wonderful, but I had a relationship with this one. It was so hard to wait for her to read the revisions, but I knew that if this did work out, I was going to be right where I belonged.
Then this happened…she signed another YA client. *head thunk*
I heard the news directly from Michelle and she assured me she was reading and loving SURFACE. She wanted me to know that this had no impact on her interest. Oh, the stress…LOL! I did the only thing I could do…I cyber stalked the new girl! I was fully prepared to dislike Monica Bustamante Wagner, but you can’t. She seemed sweet, her story ideas sounded amazing, she’s the mom of three boys too. To top it all off, she lives in Chile and english is her second language. I started "writer crushing" on her immediately and twittered over to her page and wished her luck with her awesome new agent. Of course, she WAS sweet and she thanked me for the good wishes and we struck up a friendship on the spot. (You may want to read her saga of signing with Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary–it’s on her blog and involves a trampoline!)
On January 6th, I…ME…THE GIRL WHO IS WRITING THIS…signed with Michelle Wolfson!!!!!!! (The excessive punctuation is deliberate!!!!!!!) I did a lot of jumping that day and there wasn’t even a trampoline in sight LOL!
When I stopped jumping I realized, six years had passed since I’d lost my dad. His death at 57 was unexpected and I’d never imagined, at that point in my life, needing to rethink what I thought was written in the stars.
We can’t always win, sometimes we lose–everyone does. But we need to keep in mind, that if we’re lucky, we learn that we write our own story and if it isn’t going as planned–then we revise.
I’m back and gratefully a little smarter than I was in Part 1 and 2 of this adventure. When I left off, I’d just joined SCBWI and even more shocking–I’d signed up for the SCBWI 2007 Eastern NY Conference. I’m not sure what possessed me, I’m not super spontaneous on a normal day, but to make it even more of a head scratcher–the conference was on my 2-year-old’s birthday. OK-maybe a little break, even from this cutie, wasn’t a bad thing for a mom of three boys under the age of six. It felt important–I was compelled to go. Of course, my super, fabulous husband has supported me from the beginning and so the term "Daddy Party Weekend" was born. LOL!
Of course the birthday was fully celebrated later and on multiple other occasions, but I still wonder how I ended up at that conference… All I can say was something was pushing me. Was it my Dad? I’d like to think he was giving me a nudge in the right direction.
I went, but I almost didn’t make it through registration. I walked down the step into a room full of people who I didn’t know. I was sure they knew that I was a kid-lit impersonator. I came so close to leaving–then I saw one face that I knew…
Chris Shave and I taught together at a local Intermediate school and he was my life raft for the day. I had someone to hang out with and to sit with at the lunch table. Thank you, Chris. (((((hugs)))))
****I need to interrupt this blog for an important public service announcement…if you’re ever at a conference by yourself–with no one to hang out with. (Example: eating room service alone at your first NY SCBWI Conference) COME FIND ME!!!!! I know how bad that feels, so hang out with me instead. We will now return to our regular programming.****
Once I settled down and decided to stay, my life changed forever. I met the two most wonderful role models an aspiring children’s writer could ask for–Laurie Halse Anderson and K.L. Going.
I didn’t take pictures at that original conference, so I’ll borrow this one from Laurie’s book tour of Chains. If you’re interested, my very first blog post EVER was inspired by Laurie and written about her. (ORIGINAL BLOG POST) It took me two months of cyber stalking the Mad woman in the Forrest to get up enough courage to write that first post…but I did it.
Later, when I saw Laurie at the book signing in the picture above, I broke into tears as I proudly told her that I’d completed the first draft of my novel and it was because of her. I’ll never forget her sincere interest in me. It made me feel like a legitimate writer for the first time. I love this lady even more because she cried with me and told me more wonderful things that I’ll never forget…
She told me to remember that she once stood where I was standing and the reason she was here was because someone else had done for her, what she had done for me. She said that Children’s Writers are the finest people in the whole world and when I make it (and she knows I will) I will pay it forward and help other aspiring writers on their journey.
So in case you’re wondering–I’m planning on making it. I have something to pay forward and amazing people who believe in me.
I know–I could have died happy right after that experience, but by golly the writing gods have a purpose for me and they were hammering home their point that day. They say lightening can’t strike twice, but I also met K.L. Going and was equally as inspired by her. Then I discovered she was giving a very intimate local Writer’s Workshop in a couple of weeks and I could also get a 10 page one-on-one critique. I decided to go, but first I had to start writing my book…
I had an idea. It was a beginning. It’s morphed and changed and grown since the summer of 1997, but I had an idea and I wrote 27 pages down and I had my critique. It was perfect. Kelly gave me enough thumbs up to keep me going and lots of ideas on world building and a million other things I didn’t know. Then I began to work on it. Kelly has a motto and its by my desk where I can see it every day. Be yourself. Have an Opinion. Tell the World. My work was cut out for me.
The following year, with my first NY SCBWI conference (room service and all) under my belt, I returned to Kelly’s workshop again. It was one year later and I purchased a double critique and sent her my first 20 pages.
*K.L. Going’s Workshop
I was nervous. It had been a whole year and what if what I’d written stunk? I was feeling like this…
I could have flown to the moon and back when she commented about my persistence IN CLASS!!! She said that she’d seen a HUGE improvement in my writing since last year. Then we talked and once again she pushed me in the right direction and I learned another extremely important lesson–the whole story can be in your head–but no one can read it unless it is on the page. I needed to stop revising so much while writing my first draft. I gave myself permission to just write.
I also gave myself a couple goals. I’d just applied to the Rutgers On-on-One Conference in October. I didn’t know if I’d get in or not, but I was going to have a finished draft by the date of that conference. Then when I was done revising, I was going to hire Kelly to critique my full manuscript.
I finished the first draft AND got into Rutgers.
The day I put the last words on the paper–I laid my head down on my desk and bawled. I hadn’t known. It was shocking to figure out that I hadn’t been sure I could really do it–write a whole novel. I also realized that I had no idea how the story was going to end until I finished it. I finally understood that this story was my emotional journey, just as much as it was my characters, and no matter what happened to this book in the future–it existed. I existed. I now occupied the world in a brand new way. Everything was perfect–well until I had to learn all about that thing called revision. But for now, lets just enjoy this magic moment. Revision is a story for another day. But keep in mind, you don’t get an agent without being able to revise…stay tune and I can prove it to you. Of course I learned the hard way. *grin*