I Got a Book Deal!

It’s true!

I have been bursting at the seams to announce this on my blog, but I didn’t think I should say anything until I signed the actual contract.  But I emailed my agent and my editor tonight and asked if I should wait, and Jill Davis, my [already beloved] editor responded, “No need.”

First, the short story.  Then, the long one.

Short story:

Two-book deal with Harper Collins.  Yes, two books.  That means they will publish Truest AND the next book I write!  Jill Davis is my amazing editor, and she loves my novel, loves my characters.  And I love her!

Long story:

Last week, Steven Chudney (my amazing, amazing literary agent) told me that Jill Davis with Harper Collins loved my story and would be presenting it to her boss.  My friends and family and I were all praying that her boss (Katherine Tegen) and everyone else involved would also want to jump aboard the Truest ship.  My friends who pray prayed, my friends who don’t pray aimed their positive energy toward NYC, and everyone kept their fingers crossed.  All weekend, I kept thinking, I hope that they can’t stop thinking about my story.

Monday, no news.

Tuesday, no news.

Tuesday night, I journalled about it a little bit, first that they must have decided against it, since we hadn’t heard anything in the first couple of days.  Then I thought, Well, actually, it’s only the middle of the week.  Maybe we’ll hear something tomorrow.

Wednesday, Steven emailed me and asked me to call him.

Since I work in a cubicle (goodbye, privacy!), I bundled up in my winter coat and went out on the veranda and made the call.

I was shocked and amazed and thrilled and overjoyed when Steven told me that they made a TWO-book offer!  I asked Steven what the next steps were, and he said, “I don’t know about you, but I’m buying myself a good dinner tonight!  I suggest you get some champagne and celebrate!”  LOL!  He’s so great!


Jill and I talked on the phone today.  She. is. AWESOME.  She loves my story and my characters and told me, “You’re a DREAM.”  I love her to pieces after just one 40-minute phone call.

So, when will Truest be published?  Probably not until 2015.  Sit tight and save your pennies!!!


Writing Resources

writing resources2I’m no expert, but I do get questions of this sort enough to warrant a post.  I hope this will be helpful!

How do I become a better writer?
If you want to write well, the very best thing that you can do is read great books.  A lot of them.  In lots of genres, but especially in your own.  I highly, highly recommend also incorporating a strong dose of poetry into your life.

What books should I read about the writing life?
I suggest these.

How can I learn about professional writing?
I love thewritelife.com.

Check out these posts:
25 Editing Tips for Tightening Your Copy
How to Create Your First Invoice as a Freelancer
9 Online Gold Mines for Finding Paid Freelance Writing Jobs

Do I need a degree in English?
Depends on the person.  It sure does help!!  I learned so much about writing from my undergraduate experience.

How do I find a literary agent?
I recommend tracking down a copy of Writer’s Digest’s Guide to Literary Agents.  I scoured this book to find agencies that represented young adult authors.  After that, I went to each agency’s website to find which agent seemed like the best fit with me and my book.  I made a list of 100 agents to query– thankfully, Steven Chudney was one of my top choices!

I also check the author acknowledgements in the backs of my favorite books.  Usually the author will give a shout-out to his or her agent, and then I’d go dig deeper online for more information.

Querytracker.net may also help you, especially the “backward” search that allows to look up an author and find out who reps him or her.

How do I write a query letter?
First, carve out a couple hours to spend on Rachelle Gardner’s blog.  Start with her post “How to Write a Query Letter” and then spend the rest of the time in her “Queries, Proposals, and Pitches” category.

Next, read some good query letters in Writer’s Digest’s Guide to Query Letters.  There are some great examples in there of successful queries!

Then, head over to Query Shark to read a literary agent’s take on various queries.  (It’s quite fascinating, and you might end up spending a lot of time here.)

A few hours of perusing and you’re going to have a good launching pad.

How important is a writing group?
It’s critical to have some form of constructive feedback in your writing life, whether that’s one critique partner or an entire writing group.  Be choosy: not all feedback is created equal, and you don’t want to be bombarded with advice from someone who has no talent in writing or criticism.

I wrote about the value of my writing group here and here.

There’s much more to be said– about platforms and proposals and revisions and more.  As I said, I’m definitely not an expert, but I often have good resources I can point you to.  What else are you wondering about?

What is the Greatest Human Quality?

Hank Green, one-half of the famous VlogBrothers duo, recently proposed that he believes that curiosity is the greatest human quality.  You can hear his argument here:

His brother John, the incredible author of The Fault in Our Stars, responded by saying that he thought cooperation might be a better response.

I’d like to submit my own idea, for your consideration and dissection.  Could the greatest human quality possibly be creativity?

We can live without it, yes.  But would anyone want to?  *shudders*

I think of the quote where C.S. Lewis says that friendship, philosophy, and art have no survival value– but that they give value to survival.

Without creativity, life would be dull, boring, dreary, monotonous.  What would we look forward to?

I’d like to hear your thoughts.


Related posts:
Childhood Creativity
Teenage Creativity
Date a Girl Who Writes

5 Books for the Reluctant [YA Fiction] Reader

I promise you, young adult fiction is not only vampires and gossip and dystopian landscapes.

For the uninititate, I propose you begin here:






Related Posts:
How to Offend a Book Lover (by forgetting characters in The Book Thief)
My Review of The Scorpio Races
Five Reasons to Read Jellicoe Road
How TFiOS Inspired Me to Write YA Lit
Jandy Nelson is an Auto-Buy Author
Spotlight on Melina Marchetta

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Resisting Treatment for a Mental Illness

Consistently, I …
* talk to people with mental illness who resist beginning treatment.
* hear from those who’ve gone through treatment who wish they’d sought help sooner.

I get frustrated with the first group, but then I remind myself that I used to be a long-time, card-carrying member.  My college mentor encouraged me time and time again to just meet with a therapist at my school’s free counseling services center, and I balked and balked and balked.

I wish I hadn’t.

Today, I want to address four of the excuses I hear most often for avoiding treatment along with my best argument against them.

Too much money.
First of all, if you had a life-threatening disease, I can almost guarantee you that you’d find the means to get treatment.  Mental illness are often life-threatening– not always in the sense of imminent death, but they reduce the quality of your life and deserve your reaction to their severity.  There are prescription assistance programs, such as Partnership for Prescription Assistance or Walmart’s $4 prescriptions.  More and more, I am seeing churches starting free or pay-what-you-can counseling sessions with highly-trained lay therapists.  Obsessive-compulsives are able to do self-guided exposure and response prevention therapy from their own homes with helpful and inexpensive books like Stop Obsessing! or Freedom from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Too much fear.
I can absolutely relate to this.  Some fear vocalizing their anxieties; some fear they will do so and be told there is no hope (in which case, it feels less scary to stay silent and hold onto the tiny thread that there may be a rescue coming).  Some fear the treatment itself (I can very much understand this, as ERP, the preferred treatment for OCD, is a particularly challenging therapy that exposes obsessive-compulsives to their greatest fears).

Therapy for OCD was one of the scariest things I have ever had to do in my life.  It was awful– but not as awful as daily life with OCD with no end in sight.  Short of a miracle, your mental illness will probably not just go away on its own.  Now is the time to declare war.

Too much pride.
A blog reader told me the other day that he was disconnected from reality, could hardly talk to his wife, and felt like the loneliest person on the planet– though too proud to see a therapist and admit there is something wrong.

This is so hard for me to understand– even though this used to be me!  To me, it’s the equivalent of breaking your arm and then being too proud to get it set in a cast.  What are you too proud of?  That you are invincible?  No one is, and you are fooling yourself if you think you are.  Ignoring a real problem is nothing to be proud of.  It’s like when you realize you took a wrong turn and are headed the wrong way.  It makes far more sense to turn around than to continue on in the same wrong direction.

Too much doubt.
I have a friend whose life is crumbling right now, yet he refuses to get help because he doesn’t think therapy works.  I want to shake him a little and say, “Look around you– what you are doing right now doesn’t work!”  I know how easy it is to get trapped by indecision and by the feeling that no direction is a good one (that’s why I took one year off from my medication search), but in the end, you’re probably going to have to take some sort of step toward healing.  Even if you take teensy-tiny baby-steps, that’s okay.  Find a trusted friend and work out the best baby-step possible.

I know it is an expensive, scary, humbling, and doubtful enterprise– but please, please keep reaching out for help.


Story & Place: How Audiobooks and Locations are Tied Together in My Mind

stereoIt’s usually smell, isn’t it?  That mighty, mighty memory trigger.  But, interestingly, for me, the biggest connectors I have are audiobooks and locations; that is, a story that I listened to will forever be tied to the location where I heard it.

* If I drive out to my friend Caitlin’s home, there is a place on the road that I can’t help but think of Going Bovine— and not only the book, but even a specific part.

* In the parking lot of the Super8 on 41st in Sioux Falls, I think of Perry and Aria from Under the Never Sky.

* Out by the DMV– not my usual one, but the special one where I have to get an updated MVR for work every year– I think of The Mortal Instruments.

* I think of Saving Francesca any time I drive out to Plymouth to meet my friend Elyse.

* If I even think of Watertown, South Dakota, I think not only of Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, but also a specific part (highlight for spoiler: when Ron comes back and Hermione is so irate that Harry has to cast a shield charm between the two!).

It’s quite fascinating to me, honestly– I won’t even be thinking of a certain story at all, and then, like the flip of a switch, something about the location will trigger the memory of that story.  It’s a little like unwittingly driving right into a story.  And I quite love it.

Of course I do.

Which two things are tied together tightly in your mind?

Related posts:
Sometimes the audiobooks are better.
Things That Make Life Easier for Readers

Stigma, Part Two: I Don’t CHOOSE to be Unhappy.

Recently, the following was posted on the Twin Cities OCD Facebook page:

Happiness is a state of mind –

It is important that you understand and appreciate that your happiness lies within. Consider this – no one can make you unhappy if you have decided for sure that you will be happy in every situation. If you have made up your mind to be happy, you can always seek out the positive aspects of a situation and remain happy. Life may throw challenges at you but solutions will come faster and to you if you face them with a smile on your face.
Sounds easy? Its only a challenge at first-then momentum happens. 

And while I don’t think the poster meant to be offensive, I deleted it immediately.

People with mental illnesses are not choosing to be unhappy.  That is such an upsetting suggestion!  It’s like someone has accused me of poisoning myself.  Or being too weak or stupid to choose the right option.  It’s like saying, “Look, you have to understand that if you just choose every day to not have diabetes, it will get easier and easier.”

I don’t choose to have a body that absorbs serontonin too quickly.

do choose to take pills to slow that process down.  And to seek out therapy that gives me tools to manage my mental illness.  I can choose to treat it, but I can’t just choose to not have OCD or depression.

Please stop insisting that I am responsible for my mental illness.  

This, my friends, this is stigma.


Related posts:
More Stigma
Things That Offend Me
5 Easy (ha!) Steps for Finding the Right Medication
“Happy Pills”