I ran across Jolene Perry's blog while wandering around For the Love of Contemporary, the just-launched YA blog aimed at (you guessed it, smartie!) contemporary fiction. And squee if she doesn't live in Wasilla, or about 20 minutes from my house. Give or take. Anyway, I jumped at the chance to
In addition to sharing the secret of Jolene's multi-tasking wizardry, we're hosting a pitch practice in these here comments. The rules of the giveaway are below.
And now, heerre's Jolene!
1. Talk briefly about your decision to switch careers from teaching to writing full-time. Was it all the timing (ie, first book sale?) or did you just jump w/o a financial net?
I stopped teaching to stay home with my daughter who was born with Moebius (google it, not even her doctors know what it is). My husband was in law school at the time, and one of us needed to be with her constantly to make sure she could eat. We plowed through law school (incurring more than your average debt with me being at home and all) and now he works for the state - which is definitely not the best paying, but we can JUST cover everything if we budget carefully. So, really, I write while chasing little people, and, occasionally, myself. Up until about a year ago I thought I'd go back to teaching, but I don't have time for that now!!
The Moebius Syndrome site has a lot of info. Click on 'about us' and then 'meet people with Moebius' for a snapshot of living with this condition.
2. You are obviously a networking queen. Tell us how you met your writing partner, Kelley Vitollo, and the most valuable social networking tool you use.
Wow - Networking Queen - you make me sound so supercool ;O
Kelley and I met through blogging. I've met SO many incredible people through blogging. SO many. Kelley kept putting up these books that she'd read, that she LOVED, and I started reading them. So we got to know one another that way. We now text, and email back and forth a ton. We have a joint YA project that our agents are working on a sub list for right now. So, we're VERY excited about that - it should go on sub later this week or next.
3. Why do you write YA?
I taught high school, and still work with the youth, so that's the easy answer. I do have a few women's fiction projects, but I'm just in the groove with the YA thing right now. I LOVE how much good lit there is for teens now, and I love that the genre has expanded into the adult market as well. It's just fun to write.
Me, too! Am very excited about New Adult, which is rumored to cover the 18-22 age group. Fingers crossed it takes off soon.
4. How many MS did you write before The Next Door Boys (NDB)? How did you know this one would take you places?
The Next Door Boys is my second novel. I thought my first might go somewhere, but it's shelved until I'm ready to just use the outline and rewrite the whole thing (love the story, but the writing is a disaster). The Boys started out as something completely different, and I wasn't sure if it would ever go anywhere. So, I guess I didn't know it would take me places until CFI picked it up. I love, love, love the story (still one of my favorite guys I've ever written), but my writing has much improved in the time since I wrote it. I wrote it in past tense, and I've learned through MANY more projects that my voice comes out better in present.
5 . How long did it take you to write NDB before you landed a deal? (Include any revisions with your agent.)
My agent had nothing to do with NDB. I finished my first draft in the spring of 2010 (my first drafts go pretty quick - I think a month). It was VERY rough, but I had no idea that it was rough. I sent it to ONE publisher who responded in the NO. The project was shelved for several months while I worked on other stuff. I read more, and started to find critique partners. I won a first chapter critique by submitting a line from a WIP (If you care the line was - "Today, love walks out the door with me, keeps my hand in his and I don’t even notice when we pass my safe place - I’m already there.") So, from that one line I got a critique that CHANGED how I wrote. She offered to help me finish the book (LisaAnn Turner) and I went painstakingly through each and every chapter, adding and subtracting, and I swear the only thing that stayed the same was the dialogue, and a very few other lines. I submitted it to CFI and they came back THREE weeks later telling me that they wanted to publish The Next Door Boys. That was Jan of 2011. Hubs and I celebrated by going to dinner.
6. What was your 2-sentence pitch for The Boys? (Or twitter pitch if you had one.)
After spending what should have been her freshman year at home fighting cancer, Leigh is finally out on her own. She's determined to be independent despite her over-protective brother and ever-expanding line of young men ready to be in love with her.
You'll notice that some of this pitch, ended up on the back cover.
Now it's your turn, readers! Boil down, cut, slash and shrink that pitch, then polish and post. Include your two sentences, or Twitter pitch (140 characters) for others to critique/marvel at. Any genre is welcome, although Jo's area of expertise is obviously YA. Please include the info below AND critique at least three other entries (assuming there are that many). Would love it if you followed and/or Tweeted this giveaway but honestly, I'm just happy if this helps you. On Monday, a random winner will confab with Jo on the type of critique desired.
Stop by tomorrow for Part II with Jolene.