Saturday, September 29, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Yep, although it took a very long time and a lot of rejections to get to this place.
*Impressed face* Wow, so your books are like, in book stores and everything? And people actually buy them? What kind of books do you write?
Are you as rich as J K Rowling?
I wish!!! :P
Are you friends with J K Rowling?
Can I have your autograph so that when you become as big as J K Rowling I can sell it on ebay?
I wish I could sleep in all day and then just write when I feel like it.
That’s not all I do. Half my day is spent emailing people and then I have school visits to plan, bookstore events, blogging, twittering, updating my website...
Yeah, but come on, you write children’s books. It’s not exactly hard is it?
*bangs head against table and sighs...*
Monday, September 24, 2012
Stephanie J. Blake
There are five lies that I have told myself about publishing. I'm going to share them with you. Call it a public service announcement.
5. Once your book comes out, you'll start riding in limos, going on multi-city book tours, signing autographs, and stashing your cash in Switzerland.
My advance is long gone. I'm pretty sure I'll be drinking coffee in my pajamas on the day of my book release. Well, perhaps we'll go out to dinner--at Applebee's. Not everyone gets to be JK Rowling or even John Green. And that is OKAY! A book deal is like a winning lottery ticket. You might hit the Powerball or you might have a $6,000 scratch ticket. Either way, let's party.
4. You need an agent to get noticed. Hurry up and get that manuscript out the door.
Wrong. I am living proof that you can make connections and get published without an agent, over several years of trying. There are all kinds of ways to meet editors. I do not recommend stalking. If you act normal and have a good story, someone will notice. Take the time it takes to make connections--you can't rush excellence. Attend a conference, tweet, participate in contests, etc., but, above all: WRITE AN AWESOME BOOK. Then, be patient.
3. Once you sell the first book, writing the second book is easy.
There are days when I sit at my computer, play two hours worth of Bejeweled Blitz, and write one sentence. On other days, I'll force myself to open a Word doc. and . . .squirrel! I end up at the mall. It seems I would rather be trapped in a tiled locker room cleaning with a toothbrush than get that second book written. The story will come out when it comes out. Same goes with revision.
2. No one cares about my tweets, Facebook posts, or my opinion on Verla Kay's Blueboard.
I have virtual writing friends who mean the world to me. (You know who you are.) I love Twitter. In 140 characters I can connect with another writer, whether I am tweeting someone their good news or keeping in touch. That is powerful. You don't have to keep talking about your own book, there are tons of subjects to tweet about. Pass on a writing tip or contest, talk about books you are reading, etc. It's nice to be nice. On the Internet, ALWAYS BE NICE!
1. I should write everyday.
Nope. Wrong, again. If you don't get out in the world, interact with others, smell the roses, eat the chocolate, drink the Yoohoo, you'll have nothing to say on paper. See a movie, go to a museum, and listen to your kids. Inspiration is everywhere. Writing is a job for which you may never be paid. Don't trade living life for writing about it.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Dear Miss Conception,
Please stop plaguing me! You want what you want, you think you know everything. Well here’s some news for you—you are wrong all the time.
You think I will get this chapter written by the end of the week? Wrong!
You think if I plot out my novel in advance, the rest of the work will flow smoothly? Nope!
You think my characters will do what I expect them to? Think again!
You think all writers earn big advances and go on tour? Ha!
You think if I only get organized I can build Rome in a day? Good luck!
Where do you get these ideas, Miss Conception? No, I won’t calm down! What did you say—you get ideas . . . from ideas? What do you mean you have to at least get an idea before you can find out if it is right or wrong? You say Conception is the most important part of your name? And that at least you give me ideas to try out? A place to start? And people can’t know everything about everything?
Hmn. Maybe you have a point.
Um. Well. Er . . . my apologies, Miss Conception.
Now, I idea for a new novel about a witch who writes an advice column for reformed black cats that I’m sure will be a blockbuster…..
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Thursday, September 20, 2012
So what do I do when I'm not writing? That's a good question. I spend a fair amount of time doing school visits, or scheduling school visits (which can take almost as long!). I do Skype visits too. I outline. I read proofs of my books that are in the works. I read other people's books, for inspiration. I do research, online or at the library. I update my website (I am horrible at this, so it takes me forever). I fuss over promo materials. Occasionally I write blog posts or articles. I do interviews. I talk to my agent about ideas. I send LOTS of emails about everything from book jackets to meetings with my editor. I sit and stare at my computer screen and think. I talk over ideas with my fellow writers. I (yes, of course) goof off and take breaks. And sometimes, like for my upcoming middle-grade novel A TANGLE OF KNOTS (hitting a bookstore near you in February 2013!), I do things that might strike other people as bizzare, like bake over two-dozen cakes in a six month period. (The book has several cake recipes in it, so I had to do a lot of experimenting.) Here I am enjoying the fruits of my labor, an avocado chocolate cake. While the cake recipe, sadly, did not make it into the finished book, the cake itself was AMAZING.
And speaking of things that writers do besides write . . . I'm hosting a giveaway! To celebrate the release of the paperback edition of SOPHIE SIMON SOLVES THEM ALL, which just came out this Tuesday, I'd like to give away one copy each to two lucky readers. To enter, simply fill out the form below. Winners will be selected at random on October 5th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now, fellow writers, please tell me: What do you do with your work day besides write??
Monday, September 17, 2012
"So, when do you think you'll start writing for grown-ups?"
I've gotten this question a few times from well-meaning friends and fellow writers. The implication is that authoring middle grade novels is preparation for some other type of writing, just like I suppose reading picture books is meant to prepare you for chapter books, and chapter books prepare you for middle grade, and middle grade for young adult, until you've left the realm of kid lit entirely.
As a kid, I read up. I was the youngest of three girls, and I read what my sisters read, so the books I chose were often meant for older kids. Time and again, I had to pester my sisters for help: "What's that word?" and "What's that mean?" and "Will you read it to me?"
At some point, though, I became stuck -- and happily so. I lingered in the world of novels for people younger than myself. Not that I never read books meant for grown-ups. I did, and do. But early on, I realized that my heart belonged to kid lit.
It's a good thing, too. Had I turned my back on books for youth after reaching a certain age, I would still have met Shiloh -- after all, I was young enough then. But I would have missed out on meeting Winn-Dixie, who came along after I was grown. I'd have met Harry Cat, but not Crookshanks. I'd have gotten to know Dicey Tillerman but never met Katniss Everdeen.
This isn't to say there's anything wrong with fiction for grown-ups, or even that I'll never write a book for a different age group. It is only in answer to the misconception that writing for children is nothing more than a place to start. I am quite happy remaining here indefinitely. It's an exciting world, and the company is excellent.
"So, when do you think you'll start writing for grown-ups?"
Probably about the same time I start reading primarily for grown-ups: Not any time soon.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
This month's theme is "Misconceptions about the writing life", and having watched multiple movies lately about writers, I just have to ask...
...What is up with all the typewriters?????
I just watched the rom-com The Decoy Bride, where David Tennant plays a blocked novelist. He's incredibly artistic and literary about his own work, while the heroine (Kelly Macdonald), a former online copywriter who now writes tour guides, is incredibly pragmatic about her own books. They flirt, they spar, they engage in a lot of battle-of-the-sexes banter about whose books are best, and then they each sit down to work...and guess what? There's one thing about both of them that's exactly the same:
They're both working on typewriters!
OK, I thought maybe the filmmakers might be trying to make a point about Tennant's character's artiness, but what about the heroine? Didn't she buy herself a laptop back when she was writing online copy fulltime?
Well, never mind. I shrugged, moved on...and then watched the trailer for the upcoming movie Ruby Sparks, about another writer:
All you have to do is watch the first five seconds to see a scene of the hero writing...on a typewriter!
Do all Hollywood scriptwriters use typewriters instead of laptops? Or do Hollywood directors not actually realize that we've moved on?
I get that typewriters have a certain nostalgia value nowadays...but really. I grew up using a typewriter until I was in my mid-teens. I was in HEAVEN the day I switched to a computer word processor.
Suddenly I could save my work, whole novels' worth! I could make changes without having to use white-out or retype the whole page! If I lost my whole printed-out manuscript, I would still have my novel waiting for me on-screen, ready to be printed out again!
An awful lot of people in Hollywood apparently think that writers still use typewriters, though. Hmm. I wonder why?
What do you guys think?
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Writing is a special kind of work. You do not have to have a license or a special degree to do it. You don't have to have any special equipment. It is not expensive to get started. It doesn't matter where you live. You can do it anywhere. You can do it anytime day or night. It doesn't matter if your parents did it or not, you can still do it. You can do it alone or with other people. You don't have to tell anyone you are doing it unless you want to. You can do it for long periods of time or short. You can be any age. It is doesn't matter what race, sex, creed, or nationality you are, you can still do it. You do not need anyone's permission to do it. You can do it any way you want to. You can eat while doing it or listen to music. You can do it standing up or sitting down. You can take a nap and then get up and keep doing it. It doesn't matter what the weather is like, you can still do it. You can do it in a car, train, or plane. You can stop doing it whenever you want. You can be right-handed or left-handed. You can do it for money or for fun or both. You can learn a lot about the world from it. You can learn a lot about yourself from it. You do not have to comb your hair or take a shower before you do it. You can read a book, watch a movie, take a walk, or talk to a person, and all of those things might help you do it even better. You can do it just for yourself or share it with others. You can do it no matter what mood you are in. It doesn't matter what you wear when you do it. You could be rich or poor or middle class, you can still do it. Your ability to do it, doesn't fade as you get older. The more you do it the better you will probably get at it. You can do it happily ever after. Writing is a special kind of work.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
|My last day at the day job!|
When I remind them that I'm still working, and that by resigning from my day job I went from two and a half jobs to one and a half, they look mystified. Even after I explain that the “half” is being Regional Advisor Coordinator at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators—a hefty volunteer position—some of them still don’t figure out that writing is the “one” of the “one and a half,” that I’m still working, only now at a job without a guaranteed income and with no benefits.
I asked my brother-in-law, a composer who works from home, how he deals with people thinking he didn’t work. He said that it hasn’t been an issue for him. He thinks this is because people assume that men are working, even when they’re at home. But I know men who write who deal with this, so I’m not sure he’s right. I think it must be something else in his case—how he talks about his work, or how he manages his work day, or some other secret—that keeps at bay the assumption that he’s not working.
Ah well. I’ll continue to remind myself that people who say this don’t mean any harm, that it’s not their fault that our society doesn’t see creative activity as labor. And I’ll work to change this misconception, one person at a time!
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
If you’re a writer or illustrator or other creative type, I don’t need to tell you this. You understand exactly what I’ve been doing. Perfectly. So why did I document this? There will be days when I pretty much just play solitaire, and I will want to remember how productive that can be. Now, let’s put the black queen on the red king, shall we?
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Friday, September 7, 2012
But first, since Sadie's a list girl, and we're talking about misconceptions this month at Smack Dab, I'll give you the low down on the top five things I had all wrong when I pictured my publishing journey. (I think you'll be surprised).
1. I thought I had to have everything prepared ahead of time.
You know, the important stuff such as my website and my social media platform and my fine-tuned marketing plans. But it turns out that the timing, even when it felt stressful and too-late, and like an utter disaster, has been full of happy surprises.
2. I thought there was one right path to publication: the perfect first book, the perfect way to approach an agent, an editor, the market.
Yet, when the big yes came through for me, it was because an editor looked at a book I never meant to publish and asked me to propose a series. And after I had my offer, only then did I find my wonderful agent. Who'd have guessed that all the planning (and worrying) didn't matter one bit. Real life is a twisty-turny, unpredictable, uncontrollable adventure.
3. I didn't know how much it would mean when my writer friends took time out to tell me they'd read my book.
Hands down, this might have been the biggest surprise of all. I'm now totally committed to writing fan letters to my fellow authors. I thought this kind of feedback, coming from beyond the target audience, might seem strange. But no, it's some of the most meaningful feedback of all.
4. I thought being published would be the best part of being a writer.
Actually... (surprise, surprise) writing is the best part of being a writer. In fact, what I love most now is the freedom to curl up in my writing chair with no expectations and no deadline, just me and the characters whispering in my ear. A starred review or book-spotting on the B&N shelves pales in comparison.
5. I thought I'd give myself more room and space to be creative once I was published. After all, being published makes all that play and exploration legitimate, right?
The fact of the matter is: I am myself through and through. I fight the same battles to carve out creative time now that I fought before I had an Amazon author page. In some ways, now it might be even more difficult to allow myself unproductive, free time. And yet, that's what all artists need, no matter where they are on their professional journey.
I'm so grateful, after this incredible year of releasing four books out into the market, that I'm finally making such important discoveries. Publishing is wonderful, truly. Having a book out in the world, and hearing from readers is so affirming. Still, give me my writing chair, my computer, and my imagination any day. Give me freedom to explore and challenge myself and try something I've never tried before, something I'm not sure will even work. Playing with words, finding the thread of a plot, meeting a new character... these are all the grand adventure I crave. And what a joy, as this adventure requires no strategizing, no planning or worrying. All I have to do is let go, and follow the story where it leads.
To enter for the set of four Sadie books, email your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you already have the books, why not enter on behalf of your local library or school? To enter, you must live in the continental united states and be 18 or older (or have someone who is 18 or older enter for you). A winner will be drawn on September 25, 2012.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
In celebration of this week’s release of my new tween novel, Stealing Popular
And the winner is: Leane G.
Congratulations, Leane, and thanks to everyone who entered!