Tuesday, January 31, 2012

May B. Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Sarah Heacox, who won a copy of May B. Sarah's decided to share the love by giving this copy to the fourth-grade class where she's an assistant! Way to go, Sarah.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Interview with Shelli Johannes & Giveaway of ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

Today, we are delighted to have YA and MG author Shelli Johannes with us for an interview and giveaway of her new MG novel ON THE BRIGHT SIDE.

PM: Welcome Shelli! Would you tell us a little bit about ON THE BRIGHT SIDE?

Shelli: Gabby is a disgruntled tween angel who has just been assigned to protect her school nemesis and ex-beffie. Problem is her ex-beffie is dating Gabby's longtime crush. Instead of protecting Angela, Gabby pranks her (since when is sticking toilet paper to her shoe or spinach in hr teeth a sin?) Soon, Gabby gets out of control and is put on probation by her SKYAgent, who has anger management issues of his own. Determined to right her wrongs, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to Earth for just one day. Without knowing, she kicks off a series of events and learns what can happen when you hate someone to death.

PM: Gabby sounds like such a quirky and fun character! We'd love to know more about her.

Shelli: Gabby is a disgruntled Bright (aka guardian angel) who is not happy being dead. Not only is she cursed to wearing her white fat pants for eternity, but she has also been assigned to cover her frenemy and fencing rivalry, Angela. To make matters worse, Angela is now dating her was-supposed-to-be boyfriend.

Can you imagine? I would say Gabby is grumpy and brutally honest. She is not what you would expect an angel to be and struggles with her mischievous side
in a world with a billion angels. She has always watched her weight, so let me just say she is not happy to find out that Brights only eat Angel Food Cake and Angel Hair Pasta. The carbs alone would kill her (if she weren't already dead). ;) She loves to prank and when no one can see you - do you blame her?

PM: Cake and pasta for every meal sounds pretty heavenly to me - haha! In middle-grade novels, finding the right tween voice can be challenging. Did you call upon your own experience as a tween when you were writing ON THE BRIGHT SIDE?

Shelli: I was just like Gabby. Bad, right? I was kinda grumpy - partly wanting to be
on my own and for my parents to let me be, yet still kinda wanted them to take care of me. I have always been snarky, so Gabby is my inner tween. I even had a pair of white fat pants my mom would make me wear to special occasions (because all I had besides them were jeans.) So for Gabby, I pulled on myself. In addition, I think I had to learn the
lessons Gabby did. Only I wish I had learned them at fourteen instead of thirty. :)

PM: This makes me want to see a school photo of tween Shelli - ha! Pretty please? ;) The tween years can be equal parts wonderful and horrible. What drew you to writing for this audience?

I decided to do ON THE BRIGHT SIDE as a tween/middle-grade book because first - I wanted to have a funny book about death (I know, sick, right?), and I don't think funny death works in the dark YA realm today. Also, I don't there are enough fun books for tween readers. Thirteen and fourteen-year-olds don't necessarily want to be in the kids' section anymore, but their parents think they are too young for the books and issues discussed in YA material. So I wanted to write a fun, cute adventure for those readers.

PM: Well, here at Project Mayhem, we're also big fans of middle-grade readers, so we love hearing about authors trying to write stories for that sweet spot between children's and YA. We're thrilled that ON THE BRIGHT SIDE will be finding its way into the hands of eager readers in the next few weeks. To get your paws on a copy, pop on over to Amazon or Barnes & Noble for the Kindle E-book, and the paperback version will be available in February.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Shelli!

For an entry into the ON THE BRIGHT SIDE giveaway, please follow Project Mayhem and leave a comment below telling us your favorite MG comedy! The giveaway will run through midnight EST on 2/6. We'll choose a winner through random.org, and then the winners will be posted on 2/7. Good luck!


S.R. Johannes is the author of UNTRACEABLE (a teen wilderness thriller) and ON THE BRIGHT SIDE (a tween paranormal). She lives in Atlanta Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes - someday -w ill change the world. After earning an MBA and working in corporate America, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing.

You can visit Shelli online on her blog, twitter, facebook, and goodreads.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Workings of a Critique Group

I didn’t have a critique group for my first book, but now that I’ve been in one for a couple of years, I realize how important it can be. Our group has ebbed and flowed, and some members didn’t work out, though overall we have been lucky to get people who have similar expectations. Here’s what I’ve discovered makes our group work:

Everyone brings different strengths to the mix.
I am not good at line editing. In fact I hate line editing other’s work. Two of the people in my group are terrific at it, and line edit mine without expecting the same thing in return. I’m far better at seeing how plotting and pacing can be enhanced. We all discuss our impressions of each other’s characters, and this is incredibly valuable. Each of us knows our own characters so well, it’s easy to assume that everyone else will love them or hate them in just the way we intend, but this is often not the case

We don’t often reread.
This did not come about as a conscious decision, though it has worked out for the best. I know someone in a different critique group and they have trouble with one member who brings the same piece time after time, changing only a few sentences here and there. I sympathize with a perfectionist nature, but it can end up aggravating people who don’t want to have to validate each word. Another issue of rereading is the problem that people might be miffed you didn’t take their suggestions, yet you expect them to now look at the same piece again where they are likely to have the same issues.

We’re not just looking for validation.
We had one member who didn’t work out, and we actually kind of disbanded the group for a bit, unsure of how to ask her to leave. She wasn’t well-read in the genre she was writing in, and didn’t listen to the critiques. That put us in a bad spot, because we got to the point where we didn’t even want to read her work. I don’t agree with every single critique, but I think carefully about what to use and not use, and the rest of our current group does as well.

Just yesterday, another writer said about her own group, “It really helps me to find out what I have in my head and what I've actually conveyed to the reader.” That’s the toughest part of writing and where a critique group can be key to making a story work. 

Oh, and one last tip-Our group meets in a cafĂ©. That’s why there is a picture of a chocolate dessert with this post. A little chocolate helps any group, right? Anyone else have other tips?

~ Dee Garretson

Monday, January 23, 2012

Win a Copy of May B.!

I'm thrilled to share with one lucky Mayhemer a copy of my debut novel, May B.
May is part Hatchet, part Little House on the Prairie, part Out of the Dust. It's a story of courage and hope
and is a great fit for reluctant readers.

To enter, simply follow our blog and share a courageous character from children's literature in the comments below. This contest closes Sunday, 29 January.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Project Mayhem Team Member Catch UP!

Pure Soapy Goodness!!

It's hard for us to believe that Project Mayhem has become so big! Just recently, we've been listed in the 5th edition of the Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Published as a quality blog for children's writers, and hopefully, there is only more to come! On that note, we wanted to give you an update to all the things that our Team Members have going on! We encompass all stages of the publishing process, from just starting out to books on the shelves!

Hilary Wagner ~ I'm super proud of Team Mayhem's amazing accomplishments! I'm crazy thrilled to announce, my first novel, NIGHTSHADE CITY, just sold to the French publisher Albin Michel. Currently, I'm working on an undersea fantasy about the elusive goblin shark, which releases next year, and then I'll work on the third book in the Nightshade Chronicles series, KINGS OF TRILLIUM. I've also just joined the Bookanistas, which should be loads of fun!        

Dee Garretson ~ It's been a crazy year for me. I left my original agent in the spring and didn't sign with a new one until November, so the months in between were rather nerve-wracking. My new middle-grade science fiction story has been revised, and my new agent is contacting my editor of my other two books to see if she is interesting in reading it, so I'm waiting to hear on that. WOLF STORM, my second book came out in late August and I've been spending a bit of time trying to get the word out on that, but I've decided I want to concentrate more of my effort on writing new stories. I did find out WOLF STORM in paperback will be in the Scholastic book club flyers in the fall, and this bit of news excited me almost as much as seeing my books in our local library. All those years as a kid begging my mom to let me order some books from the flyers, I never thought one of my books would be in them.

WILDFIRE RUN has been nominated for two state librarian/readers awards, in Nebraska and Louisiana. I've heard it's on a third list, but haven't received confirmation yet, so I'm waiting before I announce that.  And because I wanted to try something new, I also self-published an adult historical mystery called THE GARGOYLE IN THE SEINE. That's been an interesting challenge and I'm having fun working on the sequel. All in all, I'm keeping busy!

Dawn Lairamore has spent the past several weeks poring over paint samples trying to decide whether to paint her hall bathroom "Picnic Green" or "Romaine"--and wondering how the heck she's supposed to paint that tiny corner between the bathroom door molding and the linen closet.  Because, seriously, she's going to need a paintbrush the size of a toothpick! She's done a couple of really enjoyable author interviews recently--and Princess Ivy's made some web appearances too--a couple of which you can read here:

Marissa Burt ~Writing-wise, I've been working toward STORYBOUND's release on 4/3/12.  This means exploring marketing ideas, trying to complete blog interviews in advance, and stalking people I know have ARCs to see if they liked it - ha!  In other exciting news, Italian rights to STORYBOUND have sold - hooray! - which makes me particularly excited, because my mother's family is from Italy.  I've also been finishingup revisions on STORY'S END (the sequel) due out in early 2013.  Now that those are nearly done, the files in my idea compartment are starting to tempt me, and I'm thinking about beginning a new project.  Besides that, I've been spending a good amount of time with the lovely characters of Downton Abbey and Once upon a Time and catching up on a lot of reading.  Hooray for 2012!

Yahong Chi ~ On the YA side of the Internet, a new e-zine called Sucker Literary Magazine is releasing its inaugural issue this month! Have a lookthrough; you'll find yours truly in the staff credits. ;) On a different topic, the movie The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn came out in December and bleeeeeew my mind. I loved it. Also: you know the hashtag #worstbookever? Let me tell you, the reason it was invented is spelled L-o-r-d o-f t-h-e F-l-i-e-s. But I'm reading The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens and that makes up for it. :)

Michael Winchell recently signed with his new agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media. He put the finishing touches on his latest middle-grade manuscript, which is now out on submission with publishers. On a personal note, Mike learned there will be a new addition to his family, as a baby girl is due in May.

Caroline Star Rose ~ is the co-president of the Class of 2k12, a promotional group of debut middle grade and young adult novelists. She's recently become the Schmooze coordinator for New Mexico's SCBWI (and has been christened by the group as the Schmoozista). Caroline's middle grade historical verse novel, May B., debuted January 10th.
Matt MacNish had his vignette Lake Argo published in the online literary magazine Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and is expecting to begin querying his novel WARRIOR-MONKS early this year.

Paul Greci signed with Amy Tipton of Signature Literary Agency this last November. His middle grade novel, Stranded took second prize in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association's Annual Contest. Other news: This winter he's been shoveling tons of snow, dressing in layers to combat temps dipping to 50 below, and having a ball teaching English as a second language at the high school level.

Michael Gettel-Gilmartin started this year with great news. He signed with Stephen Fraser at The Jennifer DeChiara agency. His MG time travel novel, Shakespeare on the Lam, is going on submission to editors soon. His only other news is that he finally needs to wear glasses all the time.

Shannon O'Donnel recently signed with Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary and hopes to go on sub this March, which she is very excited about!!

Thanks to everyone who has become a reader to Project Mayhem! We love you all and would not be able to spread the word about all things middle-grade without you, so thanks so very much!!! ~ TEAM MAYHEM

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How Do You Put The Fun In Funny?

Have you ever told a joke and no one laughed? Or have you ever laughed uproariously at something, and everyone else was sitting about in stony silence? Yup, humor's tricky. One man's yee-haw is another man's yawner.

Which makes "writing funny" really hard. However, for our middle grade audience, it's imperative. Kids love to laugh--and they do so far more than most grown-ups. So bring on what my friend Barbara Watson calls "the goof."

Barbara is doing this cool Middle Grade from A-Z on her blog, and last week she reached "G is for Goofy." She wrote, "middle grade magic happens when writers weave humor and silliness with very serious issues." That rang a huge bell for me. Incidentally, at the same time, I was also reading Funny Business, Conversations with Writers of Comedy compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus. In his introduction, Marcus writes "humor can also be a way of talking about things too hard to talk about any other way."

I have to admit that, although I loved this book as an insight into the childhoods and work habits of some of my favorite children's writers and humorists, (Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Carl Hiaasen), I have to agree with Harold Underdown's comment on his review of Funny Business.

Harold Underdown:

In all of this, I didn't find the answer to the rhetorical question asked by Marcus in a brief introduction: "What makes funny funny?" And perhaps that's the point; writing humor doesn't follow a certain formula or set number of steps. As we learn in the interviews, writing humor springs from who we are and from our own experiences.

So, the mystery of how to put the fun in funny continues. We know it's important, and we know what we like--but how to get there? Early middle graders love potty humor (Captain Underpants, anyone?). I have a penchant for grandiosity and skulduggery (Josh Lieb's I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President nearly caused me to blow my chocolate milk through my ears, which would have been a funny sight in its own right.)

The cause of the chocolate milk near-disaster

 Help me, Mayhemmers! Tell me what makes you laugh, or leave a list of your favorite funnies. We all could use a good laugh!

Monday, January 16, 2012

How Do You Stay On Top of it All?

Wow. What a busy weekend I had. My daughter's sixteenth birthday was yesterday (Happy Birthday, sweetheart). It was the Divisional Round in the NFL playoffs. I had to drive my other daughter to dance and back. I had to meet a blogger friend to exchange some books way down in the city. I had to whirlwind clean the house and vacuum up all the dog hair because the gateway inside our router had died, and AT&T had to send a technician to replace it.

There was other stuff too, and I'm not complaining, because I'm very fortunate to be able to do all these things, have a roof over our heads and so on, but it got me to thinking. Thinking about writing, being a father, having a day job, and still wanting to find time to do things I enjoy, like watching football. Luckily, I had recently finished another round of revisions on my novel, because I definitely would not have gotten any writing done this weekend, even if I'd wanted to. Also luckily, I no longer had teams I really care about involved in the playoffs (Vikings, Falcons), because if I had, I would have had to miss much of their games, with everything else that was going on.

So, to carry this comparison over to writing, I want to talk about how to find a balance. How to make the time to get it all done. We all have different strategies. Taking the laptop along to soccer practice is something I've done. Converting a friend's manuscript so that I can read and critique it on my Kindle is another. Skipping TV, or even writing or revising while the family is watching is another.

I'm also very fortunate that I have a job where I can get some writing and blogging done from work. My shift starts at 6 AM, though, so it means that I get very little sleep during the week. I suppose that's another way to find the time. Sleep less.

Lately I haven't even had the time to work out in the afternoons, which is not something I want to allow for long, but it just goes to show you that you can't always find the time for everything you want to do. Ideally it would be wonderful to be enough of a full-time author for it to pay all the bills, but I think we have to recognize that such a thing is very rare, and most of us will have to suffer through other jobs.

Those of you who have all these things on your plates, how do you manage it? Or even if you don't have a full-time job, but your time is short because our kid's lives are so full of commitments, and caring for a home can be a full-time job, how do you handle it and still find time to write?

This is a question we talk about a lot, and I know there really is no easy answer, but it's been on my mind lately, and it's always nice to hear about the strategies friends use.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Micro-level Revision

Here are a few things I read for on a micro-level  in my novel after the plot and character arcs are pretty solid, and after I’ve eliminated unnecessary scenes.

1.  Read the opening and closing of every scene and ask: Does the opening pull you in? Does the closing make you want to turn the page? If they don’t, then fix them so they do.

2.  Showing versus telling: Is there a balance? Am I showing things that I don’t need to show? Am I telling things that I need to show? There are a zillion and one ideas about showing and telling. Your decisions are going to depend on the type of story you are writing and your style.

3.  Setting: Do the setting details drive the story forward? Are they colored in a way that provides insight into the POV character and his or her current mood/emotional state?

4.  Voice: Is the voice consistent?

5.  Dialogue: I read it out loud—multiple times. If my characters are making faces or moving in other ways while they speak I act these things out to see how they look and how they feel. I’d recommend doing this in a semi-private writing space so you don’t freak anyone out. And, sometimes it’s helpful to be in front of mirror.

"Would he really tilt his head in this situation? I wonder"

I’d love to hear your thoughts on micro-level revision. Do you ever act out what your characters are doing? Or make the faces they make?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rushing towards that dream? Wait.

So for some writers, the ultimate dream is to get published. The path there may differ, of course: get an agent, get picked up by one of the Big Six; self-publish; go with a small press. Whatever it is, the years of long hard work and patience all seem to culminate in the golden prize of being a published author.

That's how it is for me, too. But it shouldn't be all about your name on the hardcover. So I asked a few middle-grade authors:

What do you miss most from when you were an unpublished, unagented writer?

From Kate Messner, author of Sugar and Ice and The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.:
The thing I miss about being an unpublished, unagented writer is that feeling of anticipation, I think...the knowing that that first phone call would come if I worked hard enough and persevered. It’s funny because I think that waiting can be the most frustrating thing about that stage in one’s writing life, too — but I also know that you only get one first book, and hearing the news of that first sale on the phone is something I’d love to go back and experience again. It’s the moment when a dream comes true.

From Jonathan Auxier (remember him, guys? we reviewed his book a while back), author of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes:
That is a wonderful (and complex!) question. I don't miss anything about being un-agented, save the complete ignorance of just how hard it is to get something you've written out into the world. However, there is one thing I miss about being unpublished: before I had a book in the world, I had no real sense of my audience. Audience was an abstract idea that couldn't be pinned down and had little say in my storytelling. With the publication of Peter Nimble, however, I've suddenly found myself writing stories with specific readers in mind. It's hard to type a sentence without thinking: I wonder what Librarian X or Critic Y will think of this? While such thoughts may be helpful during revisions, they can be crippling to the early stages of the creative process.

From Stephen Messer (remember him, too? we interviewed him), author of The Death of Yorik Mortwell and Windblowne:
This is a tough one. You work so hard to get to the point where you're a published author that your first instinct is to say you don't miss anything about the period where you were working on the seemingly hopeless task of writing this novel that may not be any good and that no one would ever want to read (you imagine). But that wouldn't be true. I do miss writing purely for the act of creation, without any thought to sales or business or placement in chain bookstores or any of the other things you can't control but still find yourself thinking about once you've got a contract. There's a freedom in knowing you can write whatever you like, taking all the time you like, and simply run wild without consideration of the bottom line. But as far as problems go, this is still one I'll gladly accept!

Anticipation, lack of an audience, and no creative boundaries... those all sound like excellent reasons to me for appreciating your time as an unpublished writer. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How John Hughes Ruined My Life

I entitle this the Woes of a Generation X'er or how John Hughes ruined my life and forced me to be a fantasy writer.

Growing up when I did, you wouldn't catch me getting ready to go out with my friends without a John Hughes movie playing in the background and as soon as I got to my friends house, the night usually ended up with us watching a John Hughes movie. My friends and I didn't have vampires or werewolves, but we sure as heck had Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, and Ally Sheedy, telling us how they world worked. I could literally recite Pretty In Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful word for word...and still could today, as it was stitched into the fabric of who I was.

Like many kids who grew up alongside me, in true Gen X'er form, I was disillusioned and cynical about life. To put it in a nutshell, I was bored. I didn't understand my parents--nor did I want to try--and they certainly didn't understand me. To me, all the political parties were idiots, despite Mtv's loud message to "Rock the Vote", and nothing in life, other than music, clothes...and John Hughes movies, interested me or seemed very important.

But thinking back on my childhood, these movies were very important to who I've become as a writer--important because they all gave a message of hope that the rest of the world wasn't giving me--and that's what I was looking for--a small slice of hope. Of course John Hughes was a director, but first and foremost, he was a writer...he made sure to always send that message of hope and let us know that no matter who we were, every single one of us matters. All of his characters were special and amazing in their own way. His writing allowed us to have teen angst and to rebel, and helped us realize, at least in the 90 minutes of the movie, that we could overcome anything and no matter who we were, there was something amazing about each of us. We were important. In fact, perhaps the greatest impact he had on our generation was letting us know it's okay to be different. It was preferred to be different. It was okay to be the nerd. It was okay to be the jock who inwardly struggled to keep his popular status--yet secretly didn't want it. And it was okay to be the pretty girl--who's far more than just pretty. 

So, when combining my Gen X'er pessimistic, indifferent, "everything bores me" perpetual slacker attitude, with my need for hope--a fantasy writer was born. When I did finally grow up, I realized there was a secret power in Hughes' teen movies messages. And my inner disenchantment with life, that boredom with anything and everything, made me want to give readers like me that same hope Hughes did, only in a more fantastical light. And what could be more fantastical than an underground world of super-intelligent rats who were fighting for their very lives?

Just as in Pretty and Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful, in Nightshade City, you have the "Have's" and "Have Nots," and my story is about that same hope to change your destiny, only with much higher stakes. I wanted young readers to really think deeper into life than teen love and rich verses poor, wherein instead of my audience asking, "Is Andrew McCarthy going to finally get over himself and officially date Molly Ringwald despite the fact that she's poor?" to "How are we rats going to escape the Catacombs without Commander Billycan coming after us and shackling us in the city square and watching us starve to death or cut out our tongues?" :)

With my writing, I want to take readers beyond their daily problems. My dilemma growing up, as is the case with many children, is I was too self-absorbed. It's hard to feel for others when you're only thinking about yourself, and it's hard to listen to others when you prefer the sound of your own voice--as most kids do. I want my readers to inspire themselves to do better and to be better than I was. I want them to know they have their own unique voice and it's okay to use it.

Growing up, I didn't think I had a voice. I would have these deep (Breakfast Club style) talks with my friends about life and the world, and what we were going to be when we grew up, but I didn't think grownups cared what I had to say, so I never said anything to them. And being silent just became a way of life. I want kids to stand up and talk about what they want in their world. I want them to talk about what they see as injustices and prejudices in the world around them. I want them to know it's okay to stand up for themselves and it's okay to say, "That's not right!"--and to even shout it sometimes.  

Just because children are young, it doesn't make them wrong and should never make them silent. Silence is what causes bad things to happen, whether it's on an epic scale such as Nightshade City, a terrible breakup in a John Hughes film, or something awful in one lone child's life. My friends and I all had the silence syndrome growing up and it wasn't until I had children of my own that it occurred to me that wasn't okay. Maybe that's why my kids are so noisy!  

"You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal." - John Hughes, The Breakfast Club

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Out On Submission

I recently tried to explain to someone what it was like to be out on submission. I found it hard to describe accurately, because the truth is, the process can eat you up from the inside out. It’s like being oh-so-close to the pinnacle of the mountain, only to have your feet swallowed by the earth, unable to take another step. You can only stare up at the top of the mountain and imagine what it looks like. “But I am so close,” you whisper, your feet planted in ground beneath you. Stuck.

Then I had an email conversation with another writer who was also out on submission. She was actually going through it, and her insides were being devoured—like many writers—by the hair-pulling, nail-biting, and ulcer-inducing waiting game. I didn’t need to explain anything to her. She understood completely.

But the thing is, there are ways to help get through it without destroying yourself. Here are a few things I’ve learned:


When your book is out with editors, keep reminding yourself how passionately your agent responded to the book when she first read it. This will keep your confidence high. And, if you happened to have multiple agents who had been vying to rep you, use their passion to help bolster your confidence, too. Because let’s face it: this business is S…L…O…W! Each day that goes by without any word can push you one way or the other, so you need to remember that your agent (who knows what she is doing) loved your book. This is one of the many reasons you need an agent who champions your work.


I mentioned it before. This business works at glacial speed. At best. Here’s the way many submissions go for debut authors: The editor needs to read and love your book, then share it with others who need to read and love it, after which they need to discuss the book, weigh and evaluate the book with a team, and then put a deal together to share with your agent. All that takes time, and remember that the first step—the editor actually reading the book—can take a while to begin with, especially given the fact that there are other projects on her plate. True, there are some authors who hear back quickly, but don’t assume that’ll be you. And don’t be discouraged if it isn’t. Just remind yourself that things usually happen slowly in this business.


Some writers have a quick and easy path to publication. Don’t hate on them, tough as it is not to be jealous. The key is to realize their quick road was most likely a combination of a few things: talent, a killer concept that's hot, great timing, and a bit of luck. Yes, luck. I’m not saying luck is the key factor, but it does play a role. Tim Green, an accomplished NYT bestselling author, once paid an author visit to my school district and talked about what it takes to be a success in any entertainment industry, like writing. He mentioned that you needed a good deal of talent, along with a “maniacal” work habit. “And finally,” he said, “let me tell you something people often leave out, but something that you NEED. And that’s luck.” Tim Green is right. Because his point was that you need those first two (talent and hard work) but you also need a bit of luck, whether it’s that your type of manuscript is selling like crazy at that time, or that the editor who just received your manuscript somehow found herself trapped in an elevator for hours with only your manuscript to keep her company. Point is that most authors have a potholed, bumpy ride before they find a smooth stretch of interstate. One author who I think best epitomizes how long and difficult the journey can be is James Dashner. I urge you to visit his website and scroll down to “HOW I GOT PUBLISHED” and read all 9 parts of his story. Seriously. Do. It. Now. And while you’re at it, agent Jill Corcoran (not my agent, but a darn good one) has a list of successful authors who had a tough road HERE.
* And please feel free to mention and link any other well-known author who has had a long journey as well.


Most importantly, once your book is out with editors, start something new. Even if your book is the first of a series, start something unrelated to the book that just went out. I’m not saying you NEVER write that second book, but I am saying you need to get something else going immediately because you need to let the other project play itself out. And guess what? That might mean it never sells. If that happens, you would have wasted a lot of time writing the second book of a series that never sells. It’s better to give yourself over to a new, exciting project. Why? Well, first off, it gets you in that writing mode again, and you’re a darn writer, not a waiter. Right? So stop waiting around and write. The second thing this does is it gives you new hope just in case, unfortunately, that first book doesn’t sell. And that’s important because you can’t give up. You can’t ever give up. I see too many writers who sink all hopes in one manuscript. I understand the bond you have with that project, with that baby, but you need to cut the cord and give birth to another. The third reason you need to start something new and unrelated to the project out on submission is because it takes your mind off the other project. And I’ve learned from experience that you can’t dwell on a project that’s out there. You really need to move on and let your energy focus on something fresh.

In the end, this is just my opinion, which is based on my experience. How about you? Let me know what you think about this crazy process.