Today I'm thrilled to have Jenny Lundquist back on the blog. She was first here as a debut author in 2012 when her first MG SEEING CINDERELLA was released. I loved that book and the voice of her main character. It has been fun watching Jenny's career as a writer grow. I think we all that it doesn't happen for everyone, even with a book publishing contract with a big publisher. So I'm thrilled to have her here today to share about how she has grown her career and the release of her fifth book THE CHARMING LIFE OF IZZY MALONE.
Here's a blurb from Goodreads:
Izzy Malone isn’t your typical middle schooler. She wears camouflage combat boots, the stars are her only friends, and after a month she’s set a new record for the most trips to her principal’s office.
But Izzy’s life isn’t so charming these days. The kids at school think she’s a mouthy misfit, her musical prodigy sister gets all the attention at home, and no one takes Izzy’s determination to compete in her small town’s Great Pumpkin Race seriously.
When Izzy’s antics land her in hot water, her parents enroll her in Mrs. Whippie’s Earn Your Charm School. At first Izzy thinks it sounds stupid—her manners are just fine, thanks—but Mrs. Whippie’s first assignment proves intriguing. Tucked inside a letter is a shiny charm bracelet and instructions telling her she will “Earn Her Charm” by performing a series of tasks. For each task Izzy completes, she’ll receive a charm to place on her bracelet. “Complete them all,” the letter says, “and you will have earned a prize unlike any other.”
Soon Izzy’s adding charms to her bracelet. But when a task goes seriously awry and threatens to derail her mother’s budding political career, Izzy has her hands full proving she’s not an emerging juvenile delinquent. Add in some middle school mean girls, a giant pumpkin that could be the answer to all her problems, and discovering she might have a crush on the boy she accidentally punched in the face, and Izzy may just pull it all together and Earn Her Charm. And she’s about to find out the best kind of friends are just like stars: Bright and beautiful, appearing just when you need them, to shine a little bit of light on a dark night.
Doesn't this sound fantastic? Now here's Jenny!
Building A Writing Career
I think one of the biggest fears after landing your first book contract and surviving your first round of
1. Publishing Doesn’t Get Easier After You’ve Sold Your First Book. I know, I know…I’m bursting a lot of dream bubbles with this one, but it’s true. If anything, the reverse can be true. As a debut author you’re a shiny unknown. Who knows? You could be the next Stephenie Meyer or JK Rowling! But after one book, editors might think they know what “box” you belong in and that can be frustrating. Your book didn’t sell well? That could mean editors are less likely to take a second chance on you. Your book did amazing? That’s awesome—but now editors might have pretty high expectations for your second book, and while that’s a nice problem to have, the pressure can be intense.
2. Content Matters. Even if you’ve published one book, that doesn’t mean your editor is going to accept your second book idea without scrutinizing it thoroughly. Editors are looking for specific types of titles. After I finished revising Seeing Cinderella, I dove into writing a companion novel and promptly delivered to my editor the synopsis and sample chapters required by the “option” clause in my contract. I loved that book so much I kept feverishly working on it the whole six weeks it took my publisher’s editorial board to come back with an answer. And that answer was a big fat NO. I remember taking a walk in the rain that afternoon and wondering if that was it for me; if my publishing career was over before it even really started. I allowed myself a good cry…but then the next morning I got to work and eventually sent my editor another book idea. It was rejected. So I got to work again, and sent them a third book idea. It was rejected. The fourth idea ended up becoming Plastic Polly, my second published novel. The key to getting a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) contract from your editor is figuring out what your imprint wants to publish as well as asking yourself what you want to write at the moment. Where those two circles intersect is the book you work on. (And if there is no intersection, it could be a good time to ask yourself if you’re willing to take a chance on getting picked up with a new publisher.)
3. Grow a Thick Skin. Not everyone is going to like your book. It’s not if you get a bad review, but when. And if you can’t learn how to graciously accept tough criticism—whether it’s from a reviewer, blogger, agent, or editor—the hard truth is that you’re not going to last long in this business.
4. Stay Healthy. This will look a little different for each of us, but it’s so important. I’ve found that while writing is a wonderful, inspiring art; publishing is a business—sometimes heartbreakingly so. If I hadn’t learned how to stay healthy (mentally, emotionally and physically) I doubt I’d still be writing for publication. For me, this has meant limiting my time on social media (too much time on Twitter can reduce me to a sniveling pile of anxiety). Spending time with my writer friends is helpful—making friends within the kidlit community is a must, imho. Getting outdoors and getting exercise is important to me as well—too much time alone at my computer and I start feeling depressed. If I’m not in a good place, I can’t write well, so I do whatever it is I need to do to stay healthy. Even if that means I sometimes feel like I “miss out” by not being as active on social media as other authors.
5. There Are A Million Things Outside Your Control. The faster you accept that, the earlier you can keep yourself from sinking into a deep pit of what I like to call Writer’s Despair. You get a bad review from a respected publication. Your book doesn’t receive very much (or any) marketing support from your publisher. Your book doesn’t sell well. You and your agent part ways. You and your editor part ways. These are all common things that can happen in this business; and you have very little control over any of them. Remember Plastic Polly, that book that took me four tries to finally receive a contract for? The month that it released, Barnes & Noble and Simon & Schuster got into a huge hissy fit over e-book sales. Because of this, Barnes & Noble decided not to stock a lot of Simon & Schuster’s titles. The result for me was that Plastic Polly landed on far fewer B&N shelves than I’d hoped, and once those sold, B&N refused to restock them. It was so far from the book launch I’d hoped for, and it definitely affected my sales. But it was out of my control, so I did the best I could to market the book in other ways…and then I just had to move on, and keep writing the next book.
Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to, I think. Keep writing the next book. No matter how many things haven’t gone quite the way you would have liked, keep writing the next book. If you really want to build a career as an author, always, always, keep writing the next book.
The Charming Life of Izzy Malone is my fifth published novel, and I know I’m lucky. The process of landing an agent and editor is a strange alchemy of both talent and luck and I never ever, ever, take the blessings and opportunities that have come my way for granted. With that in mind, and given that the holidays are the season of gratitude, I’d like to pay the favor I’ve received forward!
Lit Rambles was probably the single most helpful source for me as I was pursuing publication so many years ago. So for one lucky Lit Rambles reader, I’d like to offer a free 10-page critique! There is no expiration date on this offer, so if you/your manuscript is chosen, you can send it to me at any time and I will do my best to get it back to you in a timely manner. Good luck! (Note: due to my holiday and work schedule, I won’t be able to read your submission before early January.)
Thanks so much for having me, Natalie!
You can find Jenny at:
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/writerjenny
Pinterest board: www.pinterest.com/jenlundquist
Jenny has generously offered a 10-page critique and THE CHARMING LIFE OF IZZY MALONE for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through December 12th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. If you do not want a critique, please let me know in the comments.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find the participating blogs on her blog.
Here's what's coming up:
On Tuesday, December 20th, I'll be participating in the Midwinter Eve's Hop. For the rest of the month, I am on holiday break from posting, but will be visiting blogs some of the time.
I'll resume my regular schedule in January with lots of great interviews and posts.
On Wednesday, January 4th, I have a guest post by Shutta Crum and a giveaway of her MG fantasy WILLIAM AND THE WITCH'S RIDDLE FALL.
The following Monday I have an agent spotlight interview with Mark Gottlieb and a query critique giveaway.
The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Jennifer Torres and a giveaway of her MG multicultural STEF SOTO, TACO QUEEN.
For those of you I don't see this month, have a Happy Holiday Season and Happy New Year! I hope to see you all back here with the start of the New Year. Be sure to stop by at the Midwinter Eve's Hop if you get a chance.