Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Adventures in NY (with no pictures)

Last week, I had a whirlwind 24 hours meeting lots of awesome publishing folk. And of course, I took zero pictures commemorating my experience :( Even after I told readers that they should start taking pictures! Still, I had a great day and will try to fill in with some type of pictures.

It all started last Wednesday night, when writer/blogger/publishing guru Dahlia Adler and I met for Crumbs cupcakes. If you've never had the pleasure of eating a Crumbs cupcake, just think of a regular cupcake on steroids. As it always happens whenever I hang out with Dahlia, there's lots of great chitchat but never enough time. Seriously, we talked for an hour but it felt like 10 minutes. It's like that movie Contact.

Yes, we had the largest one. Are you even surprised? (via the Suntimes blog)
The next morning, I traveled down to the Harlequin Teen offices and met my editor Annie. Her office is located in a gorgeous, old building. The lobby is breathtaking. I openly gawked upon entering. The picture below doesn't even do it justice. It's so nice that they have a sign out forbidding sightseers and picture takers. (so I have an excuse this time!)

They don't make em like they used to (via reuters)

I met Annie and the other two Harlequin Teen editors, and they were all such great people, and so excited about THE BREAK-UP ARTIST! It's a good team over there, and I am even more psyched about getting published with this imprint. We chatted about covers and Chicago and--tip for writers--don't forget to number your pages. Throughout my whole trip, I was pleasantly surprised with how nice everyone in YA publishing is. Oh, and I also went home with some H-Teen books :)

Bam! I'm going to start from the bottom up
 Later, I went to lunch with Annie and my agent Becky. I loved listening to them talk about publishing news. We talked about some marketing stuff, and I learned a few secrets about the NYT Bestseller list. Being in my writing corner in Chicago, I sometimes forget that there's a whole publishing business going on. After lunch, Becky and I got some coffee/tea and talked writing and future goals before I zipped uptown to my next meeting.

With YA author extraordinare Kody Keplinger.

I'm not going to sugarcoat this: she is THE COOLEST. I don't know where the time went, but we talked and talked for like two hours about important issues like Awkward, The View, No Strings Attached vs Friends With Benefits, and a smidgeon about publishing. I was nervous about meeting her, in case she was like that obnoxious old author in The Fault in Our Stars. But she wasn't. She was so friendly and down-to-Earth.

These are her books. Read them. Now. (p.s. Doesn't the Shut Out girl look like Liv Tyler?)
Finally, I rushed up to meet some OneFour authors -- Michelle Shusterman, Lauren Magaziner, and Rebecca Behrens. Yes, I was the token YAer in the group of MGers. And I was terribly late! But it was all good, and we chatted over nachos and waffle cheese fries. Being able to talk about publishing jitters with other debuts was refreshing, knowing that you're in the same boat. And we also discussed quitting Facebook one day. Maybe. Possibly. Probably Not.

When I got on the bus back to NJ, I was beyond worn out, but also couldn't sit still. I had a wonderful day, and like I said before, YA publishing is filled with the nicest, friendliest, my-kind-of people.

And next time, I'll promise I'll take lots of annoying selfies.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Trunked Novels

It was recently announced that actor Jason Segel is going to be the latest celebrity to write a YA novel. What's interesting is that he's basing it on an unproduced screenplay he wrote when he was 21. I wonder how many authors, once they get published, return to trunked novels and ideas and try to make them shine.

From one Siegel/Segel to another, good luck! (photo via

I'm sure authors have been tempted. Your publisher is asking for a second novel in half the time you wrote the first one. And oh, look. Here's this completed novel that was subpar when I first wrote it, but that was before someone considered my work publishable. A little read-through and some spackle, and tada -- shiny new manuscript. Right?

Should trunked novels stay trunked?

There's a reason why a novel was trunked, and it wasn't because you had to get published first. Nobody wins by you trying to prove that everything you've ever written is worthy of getting published. I have two trunked novels. The first one is near and dear to my heart, and I gave up on it after four drafts. I always loved the writing in it, but something wasn't clicking storywise. I'll admit, though, once THE BREAK-UP ARTIST sold, I seriously considered polishing it up and sending it off to my agent. I even had a writer friend read it and give me notes -- notes that were nearly identical to the feedback I'd received years ago.

That's when I realized that this novel wasn't a failure. It was a moment in time, a point on my journey as a writer. The problems I saw in this novel I've since overcome on my next books. When I look back on my two trunked novels, I don't see failure. I see progress. I pinpointed where those books floundered and applied that moving forward. Trying to fix them up and make them publishable would diminish their value. You don't need to validate your trunked novels, your aborted attempts, your former SNI's. If you can learn and grow from those experiences, then they are all successes.

Don't go backward. Keep moving forward. If you want to have a career as a writer, you'll need to develop new ideas. If you are *seriously* attached to an old story, don't salvage the old manuscript. Use the idea and redraft from scratch. Make it your own, for the improved, wiser you.

Do you try to rework trunked novels? Have you recycled old ideas?