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Congratulations and General Praise for Awesome Friends

9 Jul

Doing a quick scan and reconnecting with some of my friends, I feel so proud that great things are happening. It’s been sort of an isolating year and a half being a new Mom and trying to get in a groove with various writing projects all the while running a business. It’s just been, well, a lot. I just want to give some love to people. And for anyone that reads this blog, I urge you to check out their work.

Sonya Feher: Not only is she my best sister mama, she’s pulled together an amazing memoir detailing the highs and lows of her pregnancy while dealing with generalized anxiety disorder. She’s pulled together an incredible piece of work– something I desperately wish I had had when I was pregnant. But, of course, I got something even better… the author! Cavanaugh (her son) and Ben are only a month and a day apart. Her book is just like nothing else out there, and it’s really a matter of time before agents start scrambling to rep her.

Scott Von Doviak: Just one of the funniest, smartest all around brilliant guys I know (who now lives in Austin). He wrote Hick Flicks: The Rise and Fall of Redneck Cinema and does regular film reviews, well, all over the place. He is now (brace yourself) reviewing the 100 worst films ever made. Keep strong, brother.

Jana Christy: Amazing, amazing illustrator. Her work is so beautiful, sensitive, true, inspired and smart. The woman should be in the New York Times– every day. Someday I hope to collaborate with Jana on a children’s book. That would be a dream come true. She’s a class act.

John Mitchell: True renaissance man and one of the most savvy, prolific and thoroughly engaging writers I have ever had the pleasure to call my friend. I am forever indebted to John for starting Shuffleboil.com where I was allowed to write silly essays on TV and even write a fiction serial. His tastes in art, music, lit, and every facet of creative life is one for the books. He often serves (whether he knows it or not) as my personal creative guide.

Andrew Osborne: OMG– he just won an Emmy… for CASH CAB! Isn’t it funny how things work out? Andrew has directed movies, written screenplays and fiction, blogs– the man does it all. I’s so happy for him and especially glad that he got to meet Oscar the Grouch at the ceremony!

Ernie Cline: Even though Fanboys is on the back burner for now, our friend Ernie sold his next screenplay recently. It’s called Thundercade. Yeah!! Ernie got to quit his job and just focus on what he does best– being a screenwriter and a new Daddy!

Genevieve Van Cleve: Gen’s been MIA because she is kicking so much ass working on the Diane Maldanado campaign. It’s heavy lifting for the Dems, but Gen’s as strong as they come.

There are so many others that I have to break this up into two or more posts. More later!!

Agents and Editors… oh my

23 Jun

I feel like a whore… but in a good way. Let’s just say that my weekend at the Texas Writers’ League’s Agents and Editors Conference was both disconcerting and exhilarating. I’ll be honest, I can not believe that I had the cajones to pitch my own work after a 20 year career of pitching other people. It was helpful to remember that agents pitch editors and publishers all the time. They are rejected about as much as I am as a PR person. It’s just math. I pitch 100 journalists and I’m lucky to get a few “hits” out of that. So I hope that I approached agents as steadily and effectively as I approach reporters on behalf of my clients. I get the sense that most of the agents on hand had a genuine affection for writers, which was enormously helpful. But I’ll be honest… the internal dialogue was raging and it went something like this:

“What the hell am I doing here? I hate spitting out pitches and hoping something ‘resonates’ with someone. I sound like a desperate idiot posing as an ‘author.’ Who are these people? I hate that word ‘author.’ It’s so pretentious and weird sounding. I’m a writer. I mean, I know how to write and I’m funny and clever, and I’ve got a kick-ass premise and unique characters. At least that’s what people tell me. Wait, how do they know? They’re not that clever. Well, some are. Now I know how some of my clients have felt being rejected over and over by this reporter, or that one. It sucks. OK, get it together. You’re brilliant. You wrote your first book when you were nine, for crying out loud. When other kids said ‘I want to be a ballerina (or a fireman)’ I said ‘ want to be a writer.’ But that’s not special. There are thousands of book geeks just like me. Hell, the publishing industry is MADE out of girls like. So who am I to… OK shut up. Believe in yourself, stupid. Dreams come true. Did I just say ‘dreams come true?’ Where is my copy of ‘The Secret’, anyway? I need to go through that again. I am a writer. I am successful. My stories enterain and enlighten many people. Yeah, there you go. My blood pressure is normalizing. Good job. I wonder what Ben is doing? I wonder if my perfect little 18 month old knows how neurotic (and clever and brilliant) his Mom is. I wonder if he’ll always have an awareness that his Mom writes books he likes to read. That would be cool. I like this shirt. I’m glad I found it. It’s cheerful. I need to lose weight. I can’t believe I used to be an easy size 6. Maybe if I get an agent, I’ll be too busy to eat! I want to look good at book signings. I’m calling Jenny Craig, like, today.  I think I’ll look over my pitch and see if it sounds OK. Why do I even bother? I never stick with the pitch anyway. I need to do that.”

.. and the brain chatter was absolutely on overdrive this weekend. Although I needed a mental break when I got home, I instead went online for three hours and studied the history of Magical Realism and read through dozens of examples. Then I went to Borders and bought The Penderwicks and Nancy Lamb’s book titled The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children. It’s amazing, and thanks to agent Caryn Wiseman for the heads up on an incredible addition to my writing arsenal. I also broke out some other books I’ve been working on (and one other completed one) and beginning to create a strategy to send out some general fiction manuscripts as well to several agents who requested pages for them. I managed to stay up late, late finishing The Giver by Lisa Lowry which I thought rocked the house. All of this and still I have to be bright-eyed to handle my PR clients this morning (which I most certainly am). I’m grateful for them and their faith in me.

After Ben goes to sleep tonight, it’s back to work on the manuscript.

Recent Reads: Recommended

20 Jun

So, here’s a short list of middle grade and YA fiction that recently caught my eye. They have been crowding my nightstand for months, and I can now say that they are worth checking out. The only reason I am not giving synopses at the moment is because I am dead tired and attempting to rest up before this weekend. Happy exploring!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, Illustrations by Carson Ellis

The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, Book 1) by Michael Buckley

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

And I also want to give a big shout out to my McCallum High School buddy Greg Foley who has done such an amazing job with his two picture books which he wrote and illustrated:

Thank You Bear and Don’t Worry Bear

Go, Greg.

The Conversation: JK Rowling

2 Dec

jk-rowling.jpg 

(Ringring… ringring…ringring)

JK Rowling: Hello?

Me: Hey JK– its JH

JK: Why hello, Jennifer! How’ve you been?

Me: Actually, I’ve had a bad throat infection the last few days and I’ve been coughing up the grossest stuff.

JK: Sounds awful.

Me: Yep… sorry my voice is so hoarse. It’s sexy, though, don’t you think?

JK: Definitely. You’re getting enough tea, then? Just hot herbal tea and lemon and a splash of honey. Does wonders.

Me: Oh yeah. I’ve been doing that since last week.

JK: Good girl. Right, so I got Benjamin’s birthday party invitation in the post just yesterday. It was adorable! Little animals with party hats. Brilliant.

Me: Yep– I printed them out myself. But, of course, you have people to do that sort of thing for you right?

JK: You’re mad.

Me: OK, OK, Sorry. I won’t start. (pause) So how’s the castle?

JK: It’s NOT a castle!

Me: I’m just KIDDING, geez. So, anyway, can you come? I have an opening for a storyteller for the kids and you’d be the obvious choice.

JK: No, I can’t make it. I’ll be in Japan and…

Me: Oh, sure, that’s OK.

JK: No, really, I want to be there it’s just that…

Me: You don’t have to explain.

JK: OK… sorry.

Me: Look. I’ve been meaning to tell you something for the longest time and now is as good a time as any.

JK: What is it?

Me: I just don’t even know how to say it.

JK: C’mon, then. Just spit it out.

Me: Promise you won’t get mad.

JK: Promise.

Me: Well… OK… here goes. I’ve never actually read any of your books. There I said it.

JK: Pardon?

Me: I mean, I have them all. Well, most of them. And I saw the first two movies, but I never actually got around to reading the books.

JK: I am absolutely gobsmacked. May I ask why?

Me: Um… the thing is is that there was just SO much hype, it really rubbed me the wrong way.

JK: Uh huh.

Me: Then I started noticing that all my friends on Livejournal and at the office were huge fans, and I was impressed. These are smart people.

JK: Well, they have compared me to Lewis and Tolkien, Jennifer. That might not mean anything to you, but…

Me: See. Now you’re mad.

JK: No, I’m not mad. I’m just a little confused. I mean, you’ve read all the classics, and those were wildly popular. How do you explain that?

Me: I don’t know. I just started to seeing all the marketing and the hoopla and it just made me angry. I rebelled.

JK: That’s so juvenile.

Me: I know. I know. I’ll just say it outright. I’m jealous.

JK: Of course you’re jealous. You wouldn’t be a human being if you weren’t a little jealous of my success.

Me: OK, now you’re just being arrogant.

JK: No I’m not. Let me ask you this. How is your young adult trilogy coming along? Are you EVER going to send me pages?

Me: Yeah, right.

JK: Well, have you written anything?

Me: Yes… I mean when I can make the time I…

JK: You’re pathetic.

Me: I know. Listen, you know what I’m going to do?

JK: What?

Me: I’m going to give Benjamin a Harry Potter birthday party. And I’ll even read, like, the first two books if I have time and then I’ll send you my pages next month. Oh, and you do NOT have to feel guilty about Japan. We’ll just call it even, OK?

JK: Well…

Me: C’mon…

JK: Deal. That all sounds lovely.

Me: Yes, quite. Well, have fun storming the castle…

JK: Very funny.

Me: Cheers!

JK: Ta-ta!

Jana’s Ultimate Young Adult/Reader List

26 Nov

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My friend Jana Christy, an awesome and accomplished illustrator, is one the coolest, smartest ladies I know. She loves books and recently shared with me her ultimate Young Adult/Young Reader reading list. Either she or her wonderful twins, Harry and Hugo, have put their seal of approval on these reads. I’ve read some of the classics, but now I’m interested in plunging into some new worlds!

The Letter, The Witch and the Ring by John Bellairs

The Boggart by Susan Cooper 

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle

Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett

I Was  A Rat by Philip Pullman 

Nicobobinus by Terry Jones

The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs

The 13th Floor by Sid Fleischman 

The Black Pearl by Scott O’Dell 

Count Karlstein by Philip Pullman

Crispin, The Cross Of Lead by Avi

The Pool Of Fire by John Christopher

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Knight and The Squire by Terry Jones

The Firework Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman 

Strange Happenings by Avi

Skellig by David Almond

The Anybodies by N.E. Bode

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald 

Woods Walk by Henry W. Art and Michael Robbins 

Crispin at the Edge of the World by Avi 

Robots Rising by Carol Sonenklar and John Kaufmann

Devil’s Storybook by Natalie Babbitt 

Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

Science Behind Superheroes by Bode 

The Sand Walk Adventures by Jay Hosler

The Scarecrow’s Servant by Phillip Pullman 

Clan Apis by Jay Hosler 

Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards: A Tale of Edward Drinker Cope, Othniel Charles Marsh, and the Gilded Age of Paleontology by Jim Ottaviani, Zander Cannon, Shad Petosky, and Kevin Cannon

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Jack Plank by Natalie Babbitty.com

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