Category Archives: publishing

Jackie’s 17 Steps for Drafting Your Young Adult Novel

I’M BAAAAACK! MISS ME, BITCHES?

It’s been a nutty couple of months. I’ve been doing job searching while also finishing a draft of a Young Adult novel (aka YA for the uninitiated). It may or may not ever see the light of day (aka the shelves of a bookstore), but I’m pretty proud of having finished it. So proud, in fact, that I thought I’d share the wisdom I gained throughout the writing process for all my 17 blog readers. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Step 1: Come up with an original, never-before-imagined idea for your book. HAHAHAHAHA LOL J/K THERE’S NOTHING NEW UNDER THE DYSTOPIAN CHILD-KILLING-GAMES-MY BOYFRIEND-IS-A-VAMPIRE SUN; pick your poison, put your twist on it, and move on.

Step 2: Draft a detailed outline of your book, including key plot developments, character introductions, and emotional arcs. This one is easy: open a word doc and begin with Chapter 1. Then, halfway through outlining Chapter 1, give up and just begin to wing it because who has time for this shit?

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Step 3: Write about 5,000 words of your book and feel pretty good about it. You know what? This isn’t half-bad! Teens would like this, right? RIGHT?

Step 4: Re-read your first 5,000 words and realize they are TERRIBLE. Oh my God, my dog could have written this. Why am I even trying? WHY AM I EVEN ALIVE?

Step 5: Cry

Step 6: Remember the E.L. James is a published author of poorly-written plagiarized fan-fiction and get your shit together. YOU CAN DO THIS, YOU WILL DO THIS!

Step 7: Get to 25,000 words and feel pretty good about it. You like your protagonist, and you hate your villain. There’s real conflict here, and some humor. You’re a good writer, you really are!

Step 8: Re-read the 25,000 words and remember that you are the worst writer to ever walk the Earth and also a terrible human being. OH GOD WHY DID I DO THIS? I’m a worthless hack. I’m going to go eat everything now.

Step 9: Cry while curled up into a ball on your bed and devouring a bag of pretzel twists dipped in an ENTIRE TUB of cream cheese while re-watching Star Trek: Voyager on Netflix. To be fair, this is my coping mechanism for all my setbacks in life, not just writing-related fails.

Step 10: Remember that if she could see you now, Captain Janeway* would tell you buck the fuck up, guzzle some black coffee, and get back to work, Ensign! I’m sorry, Kathryn, I was weak. I WILL KEEP WRITING RIGHT AFTER I STOP THAT WARP CORE BREACH AND PREVENT THE BORG FROM ASSIMILATING THE SHIP, CAPTAIN!

janeway-borg-meme

Step 11: Read a really good book by an excellent author and come to peace with the fact that you will never be that good but at least you can write grammar real good; and know how to do punctuation and stuff and things.

Step 12: Damn it.

Step 13: Finish your draft! Wow, what an accomplishment! Even if no one reads this, you’ve written a fucking book–how many people can say that?

Step 14: Go on Twitter and realize everyone and their mother has written a YA book just like yours. Fuck.

Step 15: Edit your manuscript which primarily deals with the lives of teens and realize that you have no idea about the lives of teens. I think I made a reference to desktop computers in there…do kids even use computers these days? Or do they operate their smartphones via chips embedded in their brains that allow them to send Snapchats with the firing of a single neuron? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FIND OUT ABOUT THIS? I guess I could ask an actual teen, but…ew, amirite?

Step 16: Shake your fist at the sky and curse the day that the first members of Generation C were born. Little bastards expecting their lives to be accurately depicted in literature–don’t they know that you are OLD AF RN?

Step 17: Remember that Generation C will soon supplant your Millennial Generation as the most hated of all time. Steeple your fingers while laughing maniacally at their forthcoming generational pain. NOW GO BUY MY BOOK, KIDDOS!

THE END

*I apologize for the obligatory Star Trek reference as I know certain people (ahem, L**) think all I do is talk about “Star Trek, Star Trek, Star Trek,” but I’ve basically just embraced being a ridiculous obsessed nerd so…yeah, get over it. 

**J/K, L, you know I love you.

 

The Thirty-First Year of the Jackie

So, it turns out that–despite the existence of alcohol and chocolate–I have made it to my thirty-first birthday. A year ago today, I was in a sort-of-impressive-sounding corporate job with a four-hour round-trip daily commute and an email addiction. I was really depressed, and so, shortly after turning thirty, I took a leave of absence which ultimately led to me quitting my job. It was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life, with the possible exception of going into that super gross hot tub at Myrtle Beach during our senior trip in college (those flesh-eating viruses are NO JOKE).

Now, one year into this journey off the beaten high-achiever path that I’ve dutifully followed for most of my life, I’ve achieved a new milestone: being proud of myself on my birthday.

This may not sound like a big deal, but for me, it really is. Once I was legally able to drink, I stopped enjoying my birthday. Every January 5th brought on a contemplative funk during which I lamented my lack of achievement and progress during the previous year: “Some people my age are olympic medalists! Half my friends have graduate degrees! Look at that guy; he’s only twenty-three and he makes so much more money than I do! Look at that girl; she’s only twenty-five and she’s married with a baby!  What have I done? Look at how worthless I am!”

I once expressed this attitude to one of my coworkers at Google a few years back. She was a pretty cool chick and refreshingly honest, and she was baffled by my view of aging. She’d lost a close family member at a young age and birthdays inspired gratitude in her–she was always happy and relieved to make it another year. I remember nodding and chastising myself internally for not being grateful enough for my birthdays and for not having cancer or losing an arm to that Myrtle beach hot tub, and then going right back to dreading early January and berating myself.

This year, however, is different. When it comes to traditional measures of success, this year certainly hasn’t touched most of those that preceded it. I can’t say that I work at a fancy company. I can’t say my salary is XYZ bucks per week. I can’t talk about awards or kudos or performance scores at work, or drop the name of any executives I work with.

What I can say, however, and what I’m proud of, is that I’ve had the most new experiences in the past year of my life than in the previous eight put together. These experiences ranged from good to bad to everything in between, but they made me think (and blog) about myself and the world deeply, and in different ways than I have before.

I experienced the joy of realizing that I could write, and write well(ish), and write enough words and sentences and paragraphs to make a whole book-type document that people might want to read. I experienced the excitement of getting an agent, and the subsequent anxiety and boredom of submitting to publishers.

I experienced the love of my family, and the grief of saying goodbye to a family member, albeit a furry one. I also experienced the excitement of welcoming a new love into my life, though this created drama with my old love, which was iced coffee (sorry bae).

I experienced the stress and exhilaration of travel, from people-watching the crazy costume-clad nerds of San Diego Comic Con to getting knocked up by food in Florence and trudging through the rain in Paris in super ugly shoes and seeing Britney dance way worse than when I saw her on tour when I was sixteen.

I witnessed two amazing couples get married on opposite-ish sides of the country and cried my eyes out both times because I AM A SAP, OK?

I experienced breakdowns and bad nights, and discovered new coping mechanisms to pick myself up when I fall or when the world seems too much to handle.

In short, I experienced life, and I had the time to really take it in, as opposed to watching it all pass me by. And, for the first time since I was a little kid, I’m proud of myself for that fact alone. I’m proud of myself for trying to live well, and I’m grateful to all those people (both IRL and on this blog) who have come along on the journey with me this year.

So, here’s to the thirty-first year of the Jackie! May the thirty-second be just as interesting, and may you still be interested enough to tune in and read about it once in a while 🙂

Love,

The Birthday Girl

 

 

Writing Update – I Am This Dog

So anyone who has been reading my blog is aware that earlier this year I wrote a book.  It’s a memoir about my time as a chicken farmer in Kansas.  Ok, so that’s a lie, but it is an actual novel, with words and sentences and characters and stuff, and after writing it I was like, “Huh, I think this is ok.  I will try to get it published!”

Then I went online to learn about publishing, and cried because all the articles said, “Oh, you want to get published?  Never going to happen – HAHAHA #BYEFELICIA!”  And then I was like, well, screw this, I’m gonna try to get a literary agent anyways because I HAVE DREAMS.

I started querying (if you don’t know what that is, thank your lucky stars and move on with your life) and I was this dog:

I was this dog but less adorable.
I was this dog but less adorable.  And I didn’t wear a tie.

Publishing is a crazy business, and the more I queried and the more I read about queries online, the more I needed wine and a nap.  Then, something miraculous happened – I was referred to a couple of wonderful agencies, and they read my book and wanted to represent me!  When I was given this information, I was this guy:

canttellifserious

It turns out they were serious, and I said, “Are you aware that I’m a dog who has no idea what she’s doing?”  I actually only said that in my brain; outwardly, I pretended like I was confident and also that I am a professional human non-canine who knows things.  It was only 20% totally awkward.

Then I had to decide, and I was like, THIS IS AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES (FYI: it took me four tries typing “embarrassment” before I got it right; thanks, spellcheck.  Yep, I’m a writer.).  And then I decided, and now I have an agent, and she is wonderful!  I’ve signed with Sharon Pelletier of DGLM, and she’s fantastic and funny and gets my book, but now I’m worried she’s going to see this blog and ask, why did I sign on to represent a dog who has no idea what she’s doing and also lacks opposable thumbs?

I don’t know, Sharon, but you’re stuck with me now.  Sorry!

So that’s my writing update.  As you might be able to tell, I’m pretty psyched.  I’m also scared, because I’m a dog who has no idea what she’s doing.  But honestly, aren’t we all that dog at some point in our lives?  I think that’s the moral of this blog post, and maybe the Bible, too.  Peace!

P.S. A completely unrelated shoutout – Happy 30th Birthday to my girl T of Tears. Sweat. Sea.  WE ARE GOING OUT TONIGHT!  I know I’m a dog, but I can still drink wine, I promise.