Sunday morning was rough and involved coffee and help from strangers. Oh, the life of an overly talkative, sleep derived conference goer…
After checking out, scavenging a breakfast sandwich, stowing luggage and coat and hauling around my books like a pack mule, there were lots and lots of well deserved Sunday morning awards. The illustrators were honored for their gorgeous work and the Tomie dePaolo award given out by Tomie!!!! It’s been a few years since he’s been at the conference and everyone was so excited to see him and hear him talk.
There was also the Emerging Voices Awards given out by Jane Yolen. These awards celebrate the mid-list authors who are the work horses of publishing. (Unlike the dancing Arabians.)
Then, with coffee finally charging through my system, it was on to KEYNOTE #1: Tell Me a Story by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Margaret is a wonderfully animated speaker, which was very exciting, but also resulted in some bloopers for your entertainment…
Luckily, we aren’t defined by our bloopers. LOL! Here’s all the good stuff…
*You don’t get to be a historic artifact or an author without a certain amount of persistence.
*Books are alive and relevant for kids in the digital age.
*Don’t you think they thought it was a dooms-day scenario when we shifted from storytelling to the written word? Or from hand-written books to the use of the print press? We’ll sort out the digital stuff.
*I have absolute faith that what we do is essential to kids and society.
*There is a high correlation between childhood reading and vocabulary.
*More children reading wouldn’t fix EVERY problem in society, but it would certainly help a lot.
KEYNOTE #2: IT TAKES TWO: The Pleasure and Pitfalls of Writing a Series by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton
I sat there in awe as I listened to Julie Andrewsand her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. Sure, part of it was because Julie Andrews is an icon. But that wasn’t the only reason, they were both lovely, hard working, funny, sweet and knowledgable. I was blown away by their dedication to children’s literature. Here’s some of what they had to say, but I have to be honest and let you know that some of their best stuff was in subtle gestures and humor–their interactions with each other. It was in the things that weren’t quotable. You could see it–fell it.
*The more we serve young readers, the more they will flourish & the better the world will be for everyone.
*We are so lucky to do what we do and love what we do, which is the secret to life, really.
*When writing, never underestimate the value of the bathroom break. (Or a spritz of perfume LOL!)
*The more you know your characters, the better your characters will react to the situation.
*Which of us here doesn’t remember the book that made the difference …that showed us we weren’t alone?
*Books were my anchor. My escape. My safe haven… They became the most trustworthy of friends.
*It’s hard to write books and it’s an enormous responsibility to write for children.
*Nobody’s perfect except for Mary Poppins … and she’s only practically perfect. *grin*
And when I met Julie and Emma, I got to tell them about my nickname (Kimmiepoppins) and the picture of me attending my book launch event.
It was a long story, told quickly, but I was at least able to share the truth by saying…you made a difference in my life. I got to say thank you. And then my arms and legs turned to jelly and I had the shakes for twenty minutes LOL! It sounds so stupid. I know that Julie Andrews puts her pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else, but I have a soft spot for the people who change the world in a way that involves some of my favorite things–musicals, books and children.
But I would also be remiss if I didn’t tell you how utterly and completely Emma won me over. She’s a gem in the writing community and we are so lucky to have her. On Sunday I became a huge fan.
I personally wouldn’t want to follow Julie Andrews and be the final speaker of the day, but I know one guy who can pull it off…
*Everyone was so inspirational–as the closer I feel obligated to be OUT-SPIRATIONAL!
*The glass is 1/2 full of poison.
*When I write a manuscript, if it makes sense I’ve done it wrong. (On leaving room for the illustrative part of the story)
*It’s my job to write incomprehensible books for illiterates. ROTFL!
*Craftsman vs Artist–An artist makes it beautiful, a craftsman is trying to understand the audience. Ex-A coffee mug can be gorgeous, but it also has to be able to hold coffee.
*Write about what you are passionate about.
*ALWAYS THINK ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE, NOT FOR YOUR AUDIENCE. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.
*Get better dreams. If you are making your dreams come true–you’re not shooting high enough. You’re setting the bar too low and that’s as far as you’ll go. You might not reach all of your dreams but you’ll go higher than you might have expected.
*You need to be invisible. How? Read THE BEST and find their mistakes. Every book has holes–there’s your space–your entry.
*The hook isn’t the story.
*Be a philosopher. Write what you don’t know. It’s only interesting to you if you’re trying to figure it out.
*Ideas are not to be trapped, they are gardens you plant everyday. You have to be patient.
*Write a lot and whatever’s not funny (or good) take it away and see what’s left. If nothings left at the end–start over. That’s what it means to be a professional.
*You are going to have to do public speaking–get used to it. Take a class.
*Your job is to be some child’s best friend.
Then it was time for the autograph party. Boo! No pics allowed of Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton. But here are a few others…
Shaun Tan and Me (plus a little bit of Arthur Levine’s arm LOL!)
If it had been up to my parents, you’d soon be reading a novel called TOUCHING THE SURFACE by an author named Kelly Sabatini. Now–all you girls named Kelly out there–it’s a great name. Wear it with pride. I love the name for YOU–it’s just not the right name for me. Now granted, if the neighbors who lived in our apartment building when I was born, had had a dog named Bruno, instead of a German Shepard named Kelly then I’d likely be a Kelly and be none the wiser. Odds are, that I would have led a well adjusted life, completely oblivious to the fact that I’d be short a Wednesday blog post forty something years later. *grin*
But… even when I was a little kid and my parents told me the whole dog/name story, I always breathed a little sigh of relief. I couldn’t help but think that I’d been a little too close to spending my whole life with the wrong name. I’m sensitive that way and Kellypoppins just doesn’t have the same effect as Kimmiepoppins. *Phew*
My name had other benefits too. Growing up, I always classified other people by the name that they called me by. If someone walked up and addressed me Kimmie–I just figured that we were related. My family called me Kimmie–they still do. And the rest of the world just called me Kim. I’ve always liked both names so, it’s never been an issue. The only problem was that I also secretly liked my other name–Kimberly–but no one ever used it. I guess I’m just surrounded by nick-namey people. But I like that. It makes me feel loved. Even so, it never stopped me from also wanting to use my “full title”, so to speak. At one point in elementary school, I thought about making a public announcement that everyone should call me by Kimberly, but honestly I wasn’t that gutsy. Or convinced that I could handle a more “sophisticated” name. So, I came up with a plan. I decided that I would sign all my writing with the name Kimberly. It would be my author name and someday I would use it on the cover of the book I would write. I started to address myself as Kimberly in my diary and I began to sign all my writing the same way…
You can really see where my tendency to write dark, dramatic material started. *snicker*
It wasn’t too long ago when my agent, Michelle Wolfson and my editor Anica Rissi asked me if I would be using Kim or Kimberly on the cover of my book. For just the briefest minute, I thought about using Kim, because I’ll be honest, I’m still not used to people calling me Kimberly out loud. Sometimes I even look over my shoulder to see if they’re talking to me LOL! But then I remembered my dreams and I figure they were big enough to carry me along during those years when I forgot what I was wishing for…
What name would you put on the cover of your book?
It’s official, for the time being, Simon Pulse is stuck with me!!!! I’ve signed my contract. Wanna see?
Because a watched pot never boils, I actually got my contract while I was on vacation. In addition to a little bit of difficulty printing it out at the hotel, I just figured it would be mean to take a picture of me signing the contract here…
The only thing worse than that (for you) would be if I was sipping on a chocolate shake while signing. I’m just not that mean. So I waited until I was back in NY. In fact, I’ll even make you feel better by showing you this…
*sigh* Of course, it’s only the tip of my post-vacation iceberg. But I don’t care because I can check this off my bucket list.
And if that wasn’t enough awesome for one vacation–I got the proofs from my author photo shoot. My friend, the very talented Dawn Sela, has made me blush with her kind words and beautiful photography. Dawn Sela Photography This is just a smattering of the amazing photographs she took. I don’t know how I’m going to pick a favorite.
Vacation is over but I’m still in a very happy place. *grin* It’s the perfect week to send the boys to camp–off to finish my revisions!!!!
As you know, I turned in my first round of revisions on TOUCHING THE SURFACE and I’m not expecting to hear back from my made-of-awesome editor, Anica Rissi until mid-June. While I’ve been waiting biting my nails, I’ve done some yard work and laundry, caught up on some assignments for my debut authors groups and peered into the woods. Not the actual woods–the proverbial one. I’ve been peeking down the path of the unknown and dancing around my work in progress THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY.
Back in the good old days, before WICKED became my favorite Broadway play (rivaled by RENT, LE MIS, CHORUS LINE and MISS SAIGON) there was another favorite. You can ask my college roommate because she’s probably still sick of hearing the soundtrack. I was obsessed with INTO THE WOODS.
How are the two connected? The play is about a fairy tale, which is exactly what getting your first book published feels like. But it’s also about what happens after you get the fairy tail when you forget, in the glow of your debut novel, that you have to write a second book.
I’m just kidding, I love my second book. Even though I haven’t been “actively” working on it while I’ve been doing revisions, it’s ALWAYS in my thoughts. I do a lot of my early writing in my head–that’s my process. So, on Monday I transferred what I’ve written into Scrivener. Yesterday I read what had been in my “drawer” for so long. Then I started adding new material. Of course, I lost some time searching for the perfect song to drum into my head for this new chapter. Without a doubt I erased what I’d written a dozen times and in the end, I had a whopping 350 new words.
I know that my methods for drafting are way different from revision. I’m also aware that I love things about both of these phases of the process. I just need to remember to switch hats. At the end of the day what matters is that I feel very deeply about this story, the way I always have about SURFACE. This doesn’t stop me from wondering if it’s a piece of crap. Yeah, that’s what I think about, if I allow myself into the dark corners of my mind. But I also know, without a doubt, that it’s the right story for me to explore. I’ve simply forgotten how much raw me went into my first book. How scary it is to go to those unknown places. I’ve traveled so far with SURFACE that like giving birth to a real child, I’ve forgotten how hard the labor is. All I seem to remember is the pure, unadulterated joy of holding that baby.
But now it’s time to be brave again. Because if I could give you one tip, it would be to write your truth. To be afraid, but to do it anyway. I’m never going to stop being frightened of my potential to fail. NEVER. But I also know that I’m more afraid of having no potential. What’s the worst thing that can happen to me? I could be a hypocrite. SURFACE could hit the shelves and readers could take that journey with me–only to discover that I didn’t learn anything from my own writing. I don’t want that. Instead I’m packing up my heart and my cheese grater (so I have something to rub it against) and I’m heading off into the woods…
“Into the woods to find the thing that makes it worth the journeying…
…because children will look to you, for which way to turn–to learn what to be. Careful before you say listen to me. Children will listen…”
In case you’re wondering, all this hair hoopla was kept very hush, hush by Michelle Wolfson and my agency sistahs. This is how I found out…
I had a hair appointment scheduled with my uber talented sister-in-law who WILL NOT LET ME TOUCH MY OWN HAIR AFTER THAT ONE JET BLACK HAIR DYE EPISODE. So, I’ve been waiting for my turn. *taps fingers on desk impatiently*
While I was waiting…this happened! Linda Grimes sold her book and decided that she wasn’t going to mess with a good thing. LOL!
So, today was the big day-I couldn’t let my agency sistahs down. The hair gods have been appeased. I closed my eyes and let the professional do the work. She bleached and foiled and and now I hope I have a streak of red-hot luck to match my hair!
Now my only question is…is this just for first-time sales???
Thursday night, fellow Wolf Pack member Tawna Fenske was contemplating what to do with her hair during her yoga class. Because great minds think alike, uber agent Michelle Wolfson and I suggested a french braid would be the cure all to her yoga woes. I nodded off to sleep that night, content in the knowledge that I had done my grooming duty for the pack. Little did I know what I would wake up to on Friday morning…
From tawnafenske…@WolfsonLiterary hair too slippery to stay in braid. Speaking of hair @kimmiepoppins =Wolf Pack post-sale ritual: http://bit.ly/9wXSIR
And it won’t be a little piece of fake colored hair on a little comb–because honestly, I don’t want some fake little piece of success, hanging on by a hair’s breath. Too risky! Plus, I may have always wanted to do this and never had a good excuse. *grin* And honestly, if I do it…Linda Grimes, Monica Bustamante Wagner and Kasie West (all much more fair haired than I) will have to do it too. *wicked wolf pack grin*
I have a hair appointment with my FABULOUS Sister-in-Law, Christina Sabatini-Pierantozzi, at Soul Therapy on March 11th. So now I need to take a Kim "Pole" and see what you think. What color should I get?
Just like my Freaky Friday Interviews of aspiring authors, I’ve discovered that there’s a whole world of YA bloggers just starting out. I thought it would be fun to highlight some of these newbie bloggers because-lets face it-bloggers are freaky book lovers too and we should all work together in our quest to take over the world one YA book at a time.
Here is the story of how Lucy got started as a Book Blogger…
I have always had a passion for reading, and I write some of my own material, mainly poetry and short stories. Over the past year, I have considered creating my very own book blog which would incorporate reviewing novels and sharing my passion with others who have common interests. I have gained wonderful friendships through the blogging community, and with their support and encouragement, I decided to finally put my desire to create my very own blog into action. My blog: Moonlight Gleam’s Bookshelf was created on November 28, 2010 which makes it nearly three months old. I currently review all genres as well as debut author novels. I try to give my readers quality through my reviews. I believe I still have a lot of work cut out for me to bring my ideas and plans for my blog to life.
Can you tell me a little bit about what it is like to start from scratch as a book reviewer?
Honestly, it was a little difficult at first to get the hang of having a book blog. I often found myself asking friends how I should present reviews, what the outline should look like and how often should I post reviews. I found out that it really depends on each person, everyone is different and reviews are meant to display your own take on a book you’ve read so there isn’t really a specific outline or length of a review that is mandatory. One blog that really helped answer all the beginner questions of blogging is Parajunkee’s View: Blogging 101. Rachel is a fantastic blogger who is very helpful so I highly encourage new bloggers to refer to her blog for commonly asked questions.
What a wonderful resource! (Thanks for sharing, Rachel.) Have you received books from authors/publicists or have you been reviewing books that you’ve wanted to read yourself?
I have received books directly from debut authors for review; others have been won on other blog contests, bought or given to me by friends and family. I have only had the opportunity to post reviews for the books I have received by debut authors for review given that I am a full-time student outside of blogging. I will be posting reviews on books I have read for my own pleasure really soon!
How do you get the word out that you’re a serious blogger?
Ideally, it would be best not to spam any message boards or other blogs with advertisements of your blog. It would be better if you meet others who have common interests as you, get to know them and if you follow their blog they will be more than happy to return the favor. Also, you must put a lot of hard work to show quality in your posts. Remember to be patient, followers will come with time.
I’m so glad I asked that question-great information. OK, I have to ask. Is it hard to write an unfavorable review? Have you had to do it yet? Do you think that it helps or hurts you as a reviewer if you are critical in your evaluation?
Personally, I have never encountered a time where I had to write an unfavorable review. If I do, which I know eventually I will encounter one, I would encourage the author to focus on their strong points presented in their novels and suggest ways to improve the others. I do not believe it will hurt me as a reviewer if I write an unfavorable review; however, it is the way that the review is presented that is important. Focus on the good and help the author improve rather than discredit them all together. Authors put a tremendous amount of hard work in writing their novels and it would be unfair to them if you only speak of the negative. Also keep in mind that if you write a negative review based on the genre not being one that is favorable to you, it would be wise to include that in your review so that others will know that you may not have enjoyed the novel based on the genre.
That’s a great answer, thank you. I know that when I attend writer’s conferences, I’m always a little bit star struck. Do you have any authors that you are dying to interview/review?
There are several authors who I would absolutely love to interview. Some of my favorite authors include Kelley Armstrong, Maria V. Snyder, Cassandra Clare, Sophie Kinsella and Cecelia Ahern. It would be such a pleasure to have the opportunity to interview any one of these authors. They are truly talented and inspiring authors, who have created such brilliant novels with original plots that pull you right in from the very first page.
Reading your blog post this morning and noticed that you do In My Mailbox. Can you tell us a little bit more about these blogger memes?
Of course! I participate in a variety of weekly memes hosted by other bloggers, which have been created to share common interests and they are also a way to network your blog. In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren inspired by Alea. For those of you who are not familiar with In My Mailbox, it is a showcase of the books you have received for review, have purchased, or have picked up at the library during the week. Other weekly memes which I participate in are: Waiting on Wednesday which is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine and Follow Friday which is hosted by Parajunkie at Parajunkie’s View. Waiting on Wednesday is where we highlight an upcoming book release we are eagerly awaiting and Follow Friday is a great opportunity to meet new bloggers mainly, bloggers following each other to help gain more followers.
Do you have a system for rating books?
I have come up with a rating system which mainly consists of ratings on 5. Here is my breakdown for the rating system:
1 out of 5 – Would not recommend
2 out of 5 – Was not my kind of book
2.5 out of 5 – It was an okay read
3 out of 5 – I enjoyed this book
3.5 out of 5 – Worth reading
4 out of 5 – An enjoyable read, well written
4.5 out of 5 – Fabulous read, highly recommended
5 out of 5 – MUST READ!!! LOVED IT!!!
Personally, I have not yet rated a book less than 4/5 on my blog as I have been reading novels that I have been really enjoying. Novels that receive a rating between 1/5 and 2.5/5 are generally novels which are not the kind of genre I enjoy reading. I do not wish to discredit any authors for their hard work; however, I must someway convey what I thought about their novels within my reviews. As I have already mentioned, if I do encounter a novel which I did not enjoy, I would not simply express negativity about the novel. I would also mention the positive points, explain that it was perhaps my type of read and suggest ways of improving.
I’ll leave off asking if there is anything you want to add that might bring a reader over to check out your blog?
I am always delighted to meet others who have a passion for reading as I do. Through my posts, I aim to express all the enthusiasm I have for reading and direct it to my readers. Quality is very important to me as my readers are my number one priority, so I make sure that my posts are filled with beneficial information for them. I will always respond to comments on my posts as I believe in developing great relationships with my readers. Finally, I am always willing to help others with blogging problems as I am still fairly new at this myself, so I can definitely help others where to start.
Thank you so much for having me Kimberly, it has been a pleasure!
I would like to preface this blog by saying–I’m the Nit-Wit! This title should in no way lead anyone to believe that they are being called a Nit-Wit–unless–well–you know who you are and that’s a whole other issue. I’ve got my stink-eye pointed at you.
So, as resident Nit-Wit, I’ve been trying to figure out how to be a better blogger. I’d be lying if I said it had nothing to do with the fact that I’ve joined Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary’s "Wolf Pack" ( A secret society of cut-throat, ninja bloggers.) You don’t believe me? Check this out…
*Tawna Fenske-author of MAKING WAVES (hitting shelves August 2, 2011)
*Linda Grimes-ex-actress, former teacher and current writer of pure escapism.
Before I met these lovely ladies and their kick-butt blogs, I had a visual in my head. In my mind, my blog looked like this…
My blog had rhythm and was light on it’s feet. My blog was cool and fluffy with just a touch of glitter. It was a skinny blog too. *bubble bursting* Then I realized my blog was actually more like this…
Now, don’t get me wrong–there is something to be said for this kind of blog, but I’m not allowed to repeat it in public. *grin* While this is my FAVORITE scene in White Christmas, it doesn’t necessarily bode well for my blog. So what am I doing about it?
First off, I’m listening to the people who know more about blogging than me. Luckily for me, there are lots of people with successful blogs and they’re COOL enough to share that information with the Nit-Wits like me.
If you haven’t met Jackson Pearce, she is a kidlit blog/vlog queen. She is funny AND informative. Here is a sample of what she’s bringing to the table…
This is one of my favorites–I love it! Also be sure to catch the rest of her videos at the JacksonAPearce Channel of YouTube.
While her vlogs are eye candy, her blog is just as funny and informative. In this blog post Jackson takes her experiences and writes about The Fine Art of Blogging. I think #7 and #8 are really important to remember. Oh–and as an after thought– Jackson writes books too *grin* Don’t forget to check those out.
Another resource for successful blogging is Nathan Bransford.
Nathan was a Literary Agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. from 2002 until 2010 and he now works in the tech industry and has his first book coming out May 12, 2011!!!!!
Nathan’s blog is a wealth of information for writers. If you want to improve your writing and your odds of getting published, you may want to spend some serious time going through his archives. I found this post about How to Write a Good Blog Comment. Feel free to practice these tips by leaving a comment below. *wink*
Kristen has a wonderfully informative blog with loads of helpful information about successfully navigating social media. What brought her to my attention was her 9 Part Blogging Series. (Thanks Amy) The link brings you to Part 6 and within that section there are links to Parts 1-5. You can easily find the rest among her recent posts. It is well worth checking out. Kristen also has an entry called Let’s Talk Platform-Why We Need One. There’s a lot to be learned on her site and I have her insights shipped (through Feedburner) to my inbox as soon as she writes them.
I bet you’re wondering what I’m doing to be a better blogger now that I’ve acquired so much good information. It’s a start, but here is my first major goal…
Blog with regularity. This is a priority and everyone stresses it. I’ve always thought that putting my writing first, excused the need to keep a schedule, but that’s not true. It demands that I have a better schedule. I’ve thought about when the best time is to write my blogs and I’m going to attempt to write all or most on the weekend leaving my weekdays for my regular writing. I’m now dedicating myself to three blog posts per week (M-W-F). I think I can manage this and not intrude on my writing life. I’ve also made a mental note that I do not always have to be such a blabber mouth and if I’m truly pressed for time, short and sweet may be refreshing change for everyone LOL!
Let me know if you found any of these resources helpful and if you have any suggestions or amazing links you can share with me it would be greatly appreciated.
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…
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…
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.
Just like my Freaky Friday Interviews of aspiring authors, I’ve discovered that there’s a whole world of YA bloggers just starting out. I thought it would be fun to highlight some of these newbie bloggers because-lets face it-bloggers are freaky book lovers too and we should all work together in our quest to take over the world one YA book at a time.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica Kassees on Book Blogs. Jessica and I hit it off right away and that’s how the idea of a Baby Book Blogger interview was born. Baby? Born? You’re feeling the humor, right?
First can you tell us a little bit about your blog? What do you like to review and who is your target readership?
Be prepared…Welcome to the Strange Mind of Jessica.
Go for it-we don’t scare easily. Remember who your talking to here. LOL!
On my blog, The Simple Pleasure of Reading, the main genre that I review is Young Adult (YA) Fiction. I am planning on jumping onto the SteamPunk wagon, but have not had a chance to yet. I really enjoy most fiction books, as long as they have an element of romance…I know…I am SO demanding! I really like "adult" books as well…I promise! When I was in 8th grade my mom could not keep me out of her stash of Jude Deveraux any more, so I started reading those. Then that grew into me reading any and everything I could get my hands on. But I digress…
My blog is entertaining–I think– and I try to be informative on different topics that everyone wants to know about, like how to find advanced reader copies. My target readership is anyone that enjoys reading what I say…I am a bit weird and crazy, so I know not everyone can handle that.
Then of course my second question would have to be…how did you get started as a book blogger and how long have you been doing it?
I am still considered a "baby blogger" since I JUST past my one month blogoversary. I started my blog so that I would have a place to ramble, because you see, I like to do that. Really my older sister encouraged me to start blogging because I really enjoy reading and talking non-stop. Then she showed me her blog and how fun it was and I kind of went on a rampage….as you can tell. I can’t believe that I have made so many friends in just over a month. This has truly been a great month doing two things that I totally love (reading and babbling).
I’m laughing because I can remember all those Jude Deveraux books too! I loved them. I think it is adorable that you’re a baby blogger. I remember what it feels like to be a "baby writer" and lets face it…I still have a lot of growing to do LOL! Hopefully this interview helps more people find you on line. I should also mention that Jessica’s sister, Holly Dodson, my guest for my last Freaky Friday Interview.
Of course I need to ask what you’re all time top 5 favorite books are. We must know that.
PARANORMALCY is my favorite because of Kiersten White’s writing style. I love how the entire book has a funny overtone with a deep and dark undercurrent. It is so hard to find a book with so many layers that still makes sense.
I’ve got to interject-I love PARANORMALCY too! *jumps up and down clapping hands*
Ok, so my other 4 faves are definitely a trip down memory lane…
2) THE MORE I SEE YOU by Lynn Kurland
3) The TWILIGHT Saga by Stephenie Meyer
4) THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold
5) ANGEL OF MERCY by Lurlene McDaniel
I’m a big fan of THE LOVELY BONES also. It really helped me to learn to think out of the box with my own writing. My next question would have to be–how do you handle reviewing a book that you really didn’t like and have you had that challenge yet?
I have already had to handle the not enjoying a book, I really am hard to please when it comes to my reading selection. Handling reviewing a book that I wasn’t so fond of is challenging to say the least. It puts a lot of pressure on me when I receive an advanced copy or a copy from the author. I always try to find the good and couple that with what I did not like, so that people still see that there were still good parts to the book. I also try to never give to much away in my reviews, I think spoilers are cheating the author out of their plot twist surprise. So even if I don’t like their twist, I won’t call them out on it explicitly…it just isn’t fair.
I think it has to be really hard to give an unfavorable review, but I also think in order for reviews to have meaning, you do have to have that kind of honesty with the people who are looking to you for advice. As an writer on Goodreads-I do not rate books. Everybody I read gets 5 stars and I think if something really turned me off, I just wouldn’t list it. But I’m coming from a very different place than you. So we each have our jobs to do. Speaking of jobs, is it hard to get advanced copies of books and author interviews as a "Baby Blogger"?
As a baby blogger is has not been too terribly difficult to get interviews and ARC’s. I just decided to read people’s books no matter what, self published, not published yet or whatever form they have them in, which has made it a lot easier to get advanced or free copies of books.
Sounds like you are well on your way.
Yes, the first month reader response has been fantastic! I have a great following and have been very happy with what I have accomplished so far.
Thank you so much. It has been really fun to welcome a Baby Book Blogger into the world. If you get a chance, stop by Jessica’s blog THE SIMPLE PLEASURE OF READING.
Do you have any burning questions or suggestions for brand new YA Book Bloggers?