I announced Wednesday night on Twitter that my awesome ninja agent, Joanna, sold my middle grade novel, BOT WARS. So I thought I’d share a little more about how it came to be. 

After ALTERED sold and before the editorial letter arrived, I wanted to work on something new. I wrote some pages of a YA fantasy. Then I wrote thirty pages that were loosely based on the life of one of the ALTERED villains.

But then, one night, in the mood for something totally different, I dug up an old Word document named Robot Wars.
I had written a paragraph of this story over a year ago. Long before ALTERED was ever an idea. But that’s as far as I got. One paragraph was all I had. I didn’t even know what was supposed to happen in the story, or who the characters really were, or what caused the Robot Wars in the first place.

I had always loved the voice of the main character, Trout, and I knew someday I wanted to tell his story. So I started playing around with it, and before I knew it, I had close to 40 pages.

I sent an email to one of my good writer friends, Deena, saying, “Can you read some of this MG I’m working on and tell me whether or not it sucks?” Thankfully, Deena not only read the pages, she was also extremely encouraging and kind with her words. So I emailed Joanna and asked if she’d take a look. I think I might have said something like, “I have this MG I’m working on and I don’t know if it’s any good or not, so would you be willing to read to tell me if I’m crazy?”

We already had a scheduled phone call the next night for something ALTERED related, and during that phone call, Jo told me she wanted to shop BOT WARS. I worked on the submission package and we officially went out with it in June. Eight days later, I had a phone chat with Kate Harrison at Dial where I rambled about my ideas for Book #2.

That Friday, we had an offer. In that same phone conversation, I also found out about the German offer for ALTERED. It was a crazy amazing day. I will never, ever forget it. My boss told me to go home early, and while her reason was simply that she was happy for me, I think she worried I could not be trusted to accurately count money.

Jo and I talked deal points that night and we agreed that Dial was a fantastic place to be and that Kate was an amazing editor to work with. So I think I squeeed and said, “YAAAYYYY! I accept! I accept!”

The following Tuesday, it was official. BOT WARS was going to be a Dial/Penguin book!

And just a few weeks later, I put in my notice at the day job. My last day at the bank was July 18th.

If you had told me a year ago that I’d be writing full-time, that I’d have five books under contract, I would have laughed and said, “That’s crazy. You’re crazy. Those are pipe dreams, my friend.”

But I am here and I am doing those things. So if you’re still writing, if you’re unagented, unpublished, whatever stage you’re at, remember so much can change in such a short amount of time. Don’t dwell on what you don’t have, consider what may come in the next week, the next month, the next year. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating---If you quit today, you’ll never find out if tomorrow is the day everything will change.



Since the official announcements are up in PM, I can finally share the news.

ALTERED sold in Germany, at auction, in a three-book deal!!


French rights sold last week. WOOT!

When I got the news that ALTERED was going to auction in Germany, I couldn't believe it. I really didn't put much thought into subrights. I didn't want to be disappointed if it didn't sell. The very idea that people in foreign countries were looking at my book was amazing enough.

But now it will be translated in at least two other languages! To say that I'm shocked would be an understatement. I'm just thankful it's being published in the US, let along anywhere else. So much has changed this year. It's hard to wrap my head around everything that has happened. If you're still querying agents, hoping for a book deal, trying to get a contract with Special Treats bakery for your Pink Sprinkle Cupcakes, KEEP PUSHING. A year ago, I hadn't even written ALTERED yet (or at least hadn't come close to finishing it), and now...

All I can say is, it will happen if you keep trying.

And, random side note--- If you have the opportunity to watch Lifetime's docudrama based on JK Rowling's life, watch it. It will inspire you. And possibly make you cry.


The question I often thought about when I fantasized about selling my book was: What will I buy with my advance?

The responsible side of me said, "Pay off some bills, get new tires for the car."

But responsible me is a small me, and besides, you're supposed to treat yourself to something totally ridiculous, right? It takes a LONG TIME to break into the publishing industry. It takes even longer to sell your book, for the contracts to come in, for the advance to finally reach your doorstep. So why not splurge? Why not buy something totally impractical?

So I did. You see, I have a thing for sunglasses. I currently own twelve pair. And I really like aviators. I owned a pair of $5 aviators long before aviators were cool. I still have them, as a matter of fact. They're missing both nose pads, are scratched to hell, and sit crooked on my face. 

And you know what a sunglasses enthusiast wants more than anything? A pair of Ray-Bans. 

Yes, peoples, I bought a pair. And I LOVE THEM. They are so comfortable, and solid. And they fit perfectly. And they came with a hard carrying case!

This is the pair I picked out--- 

I've already decided to make this a tradition. Whenever I hit a writing milestone---sell another book, meet a deadline (and therefore receive next payment)---I'm going to buy a pair of Ray-Bans. And I won't even feel guilty. Maybe ten years from now, I'll pull out this pair and I'll remember that I bought them when I sold ALTERED. And they will remind me of this year, how awesome it was.

So what did you buy or plan to buy with your advance? Make it totally ridiculous! 


Whoa, have I been a slacker lately on the blogging front. There are good reasons, but I can't tell you what they are. Not yet anyway! :D

So what have I been doing? I've been working on the What Would Sam Do? diet. This year, I wanted to work toward being healthier, not just to lose weight, but, ya know, to be healthier. And, an added bonus---by channeling Sam (from ALTERED), it's helped the writerly me get to know him better. He's always been a quiet sort of character, and for good reason. He's been through a great deal and there's a lot resting on his shoulders. But it also means he's the most distant character in the Altered world. Not many people know Sam's history, and he likes it that way.

What I hope comes across through his actions on the page, is that he's strong and fierce and that being healthy allows him to out run, both figuratively and literally, his enemies. Being healthy is a necessity to him, so who better than Sam to channel during a workout? It's done wonders so far!

And speaking of ALTERED, I'm told we'll start revisions soon. Eek! As any writer knows, revisions are scary. But I have been craving Anna's world for a while, so I think I'll enjoy diving back in.

Beach Storm

There was a huge storm that came in off the lake tonight. With a whiny two-year-old and a bored twelve-year-old, we decided to head down there and take some pics.

It definitely hit harder to the north. We only got a little bit of rain here. And rain is my favorite part! A success nonetheless. It kept the kids occupied for at least fifteen minutes.

Anyone else have nights like this? The my-kids-are-driving-me-crazy-and-I-need-to-get-out-of-the-house kind of night?
Dark Side

Post Book Deal

I never gave much thought to what my life would be like after a book deal. There's still a lot of angst and worry and doubt. After reading posts by writers in similar situations, I was kind of prepared for it.

What I wasn't prepared for was what it would feel like working on a totally new project.

Pre Book Deal, if I started something I loved, there was all this excitement and hope, because it could be The One that the world got to read.

But now, with three books under contract, I feel myself stalling every now and then on this new project because I'm not really sure what will happen with it. I love it. All sorts of love it. But will it ever be published? Should I write it just for the fun of it? There is this loud nagging voice in my head that says I WANT THE WORLD TO READ THIS! I know that feeling won't last. As soon as I hit the middle, I'll probably hate the project. But right this very second I'm sad because I don't know what to do with it.

In some respects, I think you could consider it a dystopian, and we all know what the industry is saying about that trend. I didn't set out to write a dystopian. As a matter of fact, I've done everything I can NOT to write a dystopian.

Though, there are a lot of elements that could be considered fantasy too. I'm trying to focus on that aspect as I write it. Because I'm the type of person who hates writing to trends, despite the fact that I gobble up trend articles as fast as the industry puts them out.

So what is this new project anyway? I'm calling it The Fog. Go ahead and tell me how clever and witty that title is! If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen me mention it. I just can't stop myself from talking about it! It's only at 8000 words, but I like the direction it's going. And despite the fact that I'm not sure what'll happen to it, I'm going to keep writing it for as long as I stay interested.

(no subject)

I am the Jekyll and Hyde of confidence. Some days I am so confident in who I am and what I’m doing, I want to shout it from every available rooftop. But other days (and they happen more often than I’d like), I avoid the Internet and computer at all costs. I’d much rather lie on the couch in a puddle of ugh and watch movies all day long.

And why is that? Is it normal? Or is this a characteristic of writers only?

I think it's hard being an artist of any form. You have this need to create. You can’t ignore it. You can’t avoid it. It is a part of who you are. And with that need comes the need to share it. And sharing it means sharing you. Everything an artist puts out there reveals a piece of who that person is.

Inevitably, you worry about how people will view you. Will they like me? Am I annoying? Do I seem unoriginal?

I want people to like me, obviously. But at what cost? Should I not say A, B and C because Group D might think I’m lame? And should I care if Group D thinks I’m lame?

It’s all very high school, isn’t it?

When these thoughts creep in, I try to tap into that part of me That Does Not Care. It’s a small part. It has a tiny corner in the Library of Jenn. But it’s there. And when I tell myself, Self, you can only be you and if someone doesn’t like you, you don’t need them anyway, I feel a million times better.

In the grand scheme of things, I must live my life the way I want to live my life. Because if I try to please everyone, and be what everyone else wants me to be, then who am I? I wouldn’t be Jenn anymore. I’d be Them.

Dark Side

The Evolution of a Writer

So, I know I said I'd post here whatever I posted over on blogger, but this particular entry is graphic heavy and I'm just too lazy to upload them all to Photobucket. And speaking of which, does anyone know of a way to automatically post my blogger entries over here without copying and pasting? I am so lame when it comes to that stuff.

Anyway, I had so much fun creating this post, I wanted to share the link here. :D
Dark Side

Favorite Movie Character

There are so many reasons to love Jack. The ones I listed above are only a sample of what and who he truly is. I love how he stands back and analyzes and calculates and then twists people to do exactly what he wants without working too hard.

I love that he surprises people ALL THE TIME. Like getting off that island? The rumored escape on the backs of turtles, only to find out it was something far, far simpler? Brilliant. People underestimate Jack, and he lets them. And that's what I love about him.

Who is your favorite character?

Twelfth Night

Last night, The Hubs and I went to a theater performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night out at the community college. At risk of revealing my lameness, I must admit I've never been to a theater performance. And I wasn't sure what to expect of this tiny production set at a college surrounded by Michigan backwoods. Oh, and did I mention it was done in the style of Japanese anime?

We took our seats at 7:30 and before I knew it, it was near 10:30. Somehow, the night escaped me as I escaped into the performance.

The show was so well done, the costumes spot-on and brilliant, the small set well-used. I can't believe how much I laughed. My favorite characters were Sir Toby Belch, a drunken uncle to one of the other characters, and his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Toby (left) and Andrew (right)

Andrew was this tall, chicken-legged man who seemed easily swayed by Toby's antics. The man who played Toby played a hilarious drunk.

Seeing this play made me want to write the book. I suppose in my writerly heart, that's the highest form of compliment I can give. It inspired me so much, it made me want to relive the story again. I don't know if I ever will, but the thing I take away from this performance is how important characters are. The big, bright, bold characters lit the stage and I looked forward to their scenes. That's just as important in writing. Your characters have to be loud (metaphorically), and they have to be vivid, and they have to have presence. Everything they do should be so engaging that readers can't look away.

So my advice? Watch a theater performance. Doesn't matter if you're in NY or in the middle of the Michigan woods. Buy your ticket and study the characters. I promise you, you'll be inspired.