#JuniperIRL Scavenger Hunt

Juniper IRL Bingo Card - web

Here’s a thing I don’t get to say every day: My first book came out on Tuesday!!

To celebrate the release of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index, today I’m kicking off a Juniper-themed scavenger hunt that anyone can join online, or, if you happen to be in the Portland area, in person!

The hunt list (above – prints at 8.5 x 11 in) features a combination of spot-this-items and activity prompts. Here’s how the game will work:

Online (open internationally): June 3 – June 11

Play from anywhere in the world by sharing a photo of any item from the list online using the hashtag #JuniperIRL. Each social share may count as an entry for raffle prizes including copies of the book, $20 USD worth of books from the Book Depository, and a Juniper-themed prize pack featuring bath bombs, sweets, and beyond! Winners will be randomly selected on June 12 and contacted via email or direct message.

Note: If sharing a #JuniperIRL photo on Twitter, you are entered for prizes automatically. If sharing on another social platform, please copy the link to your post and paste it in the share widget (click below to go to it):

Share Widget (Rafflecopter)

PORTLAND ONLY: Sunday, June 4th

From 2:00 – 4:00pm on Sunday, June 4, Julie will be celebrating at the Brewery Blocks Starbucks downtown (1039 NW Couch; at the corner of 11th and Couch, across from Powell’s bookstore).

Show her photos of any five items from the Juniper hunt list for a small prize, which may or may not involve ice cream (there is a Ben & Jerry’s three blocks away. It may). Or just come say hi, color a postcard, and get a book signed!

I’ve had a blast putting this all together — I hope you all enjoy it!

JUNIPER: ARCs and links and a release date, oh my!

Every aspiring author dreams of one day holding her work in her hands. Well…

The ARCs of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index have arrived!!! MY BOOK IS A PHYSICAL, PRINTED THING. YOU CAN PICK IT UP AND TURN THE PAGES AND WRITE THINGS IN IT AND USE BOOKMARKS AND AND

Oh, what an ARC is? ARCs are advance reading copies (also called galleys and uncorrected proofs) that come out in the months before a book’s release to start generating buzz for it. I’ll be giving some away pretty soon, so stay tuned for details!!

“But when does it come out, Julie?”

I’m glad you asked. The original date, as you may catch on the spine, was in June, but has since moved up! The book will now be

p1090484-3-web

!!!!!!!!!!

And until then?

There are a few things you can do to save Juniper a place in your reading pile!

All three of these things help me as an author, so any would be greatly appreciated 🙂 Thanks for heralding this humbling first with me, and keep an eye out for those giveaway details!

 

What happens between selling your (first) book and publication?

Spoiler alert: a lot.

 

Hello, friends!

How long has it been? Looks like my last post was in August (and even that, I remember, felt like it took days to put together between other tasks).

I credit several reasons for that, but most tie back to: selling your (first) book is work. It’s all uphill to this point, right? It should get easier once you’ve got your foot in the proverbial Publishing door, right?

Quoth the raven, “Nopenopenope.”

Here’s a glimpse at some of the blur that’s been going on off-screen this last year or so. Note towards the end of the year I started to lose track of what round of edits we were on and exactly which other tasks fell between them—everything ran together!

JANUARY 2016. Near the end of the month, my first book sells. Also my second (unrelated and unwritten, but same contract).

FEBRUARY-MAY. Peaceful quiet period in which my editor is working with her other, earlier pub date authors. I have time to read 1-2 books a week, work out every other day, sleep well, eat three meals a day, think and dream and outline what I hope will be my next project with said editor. Heaven is a quiet inbox.

END OF MAY. Receive my first edit letter. 13 pages. I know my work is cut out for me, and my editor graciously grants me a couple weeks to digest feedback and form a game plan.

I spend all of it taking apart my book and stitching it back together.

JUNE 14. Phone call with editor to discuss revision plan. Goes well; we’re really on the same page.

I start revising as soon as we hang up.

JUNE – AUGUST tasks:

  • Revision. Must complete ~1.5 items each day to make deadline.
  • Author Questionnaire (a packet the publisher sends you to fill out to help them promo the book)
  • Cover discussion
  • Contracts (with Penguin Random House and my first foreign sales) coming in to read and review
  • Deal announcement

MID AUGUST. First revision due. After two months of massive cuts, rewrites, rearranging, and 100% new insertions (with 12 days left over to read the new product from start to finish and edit), I hit send and lie down forever.

SEPTEMBER? This is where things start getting hazy. I get another edit letter and only 20 days to do the entire revision – none of the plan-forming time I’d had for the first round and not even enough time to re-read through the changes before hitting send again.

Also going on:

  • Cover discussion
  • Book 2 discussion – including finding out that the idea I’d spent most of spring planning and researching would not make an ideal sophomore to Book 1, so back to the drawing board. Begin Stress of the Century.
  • Book 2 brainstorming in the 10-ish days Book 1 is not in my court

OCTOBER. Subsequent revisions? Cover things? Maybe we’re starting to move more into line edits now? I don’t even know. I look outside and there are leaves on the ground. When did THAT happen? Where did summer go???!

New foreign sales, new contracts.

Around this time I join the Swanky Seventeens (2017 group for debut kid lit authors).

Super secret good news that might not mean anything but could mean everything and is pretty freaking cool regardless

The Book 2 stress is real. I’ve got nothing, nothing, nothing.

I should really find a CPA soon.

NOVEMBER-ISH. Starting to home in on a couple Book 2 possibilities. Between rounds of whatever’s going on with Book 1 (line edits? copy edits? First pass?), I back and forth with my agent to discuss them. Agent feels one idea is stronger, asks questions to help me flesh it out so we can send not just a premise, but a few pages (including details as involved as protagonists’ internal arcs) to editor.

I send those off at some point.

By now I’ve asked my publisher how to deal with permissions for lines and lyrics quoted in the book and written to the appropriate rights holders regarding them.

Miraculously, Publishing seems to shut down for Thanksgiving. The holiday is an actual holiday.

I should really find a CPA soon.

LATE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER (not necessarily in order): 

  • THE YEAR IS ENDING MUST FIND CPA
  • first pass
  • I want to say this is when I see the book first typeset?—that is, evolved from a Word document to a PDF with real chapter headings and handwriting fonts, etc.?
  • Seeing the book in design is awesome, but there are TONS of formatting details that mistranslated or were lost in the move; I swipe through the whole PDF as fast as I can on a Kindle to find and mark them in time to be corrected for the ARCs, make a (24 page?) list, and hit send
  • FINALLY connect with a CPA, who directs me to an attorney to help set up an LLC
  • set up LLC
  • cover conversations with UK team
  • Acknowledgments
  • Find out JUNIPER will be an audiobook. Woohoo!
  • holidays: family visiting
  • learn that new Book 2 idea will also not work; back to the drawing board
  • holiday homework: 25 queries from copy editor (and a par-tridge in a pear treeeee)
  • holiday homework: write 1 page letter to accompany UK ARCs
  • actual holidays! I permit myself exactly 2 work-free days in a row to make the most of festivities and family time.

JANUARY 2017.

  • meet CPA in person
  • finish setting up LLC
  • UK cover talks resume
  • Book 2 conversation resumes; editor graciously grants an open timeframe to ease the pressure of brainstorming (yay and thank stars)
  • trying to get myself back into a reading groove of at least one book a week; my reading has really taken a dive since autumn, when a combination of Book 2 stress and edits led to longterm burnout
  • a few follow-up queries from copyeditor
  • chains of emails on final production details for Book 1: jacket copy, jacket design, handwriting fonts, formatting details, inline visual options
  • follow-up on permissions requests
  • ARCs arrive!!!

Which brings us to the present! I’ve started distributing my ARCs and am still making plans for others. I’ll be giving away at least one or two, so stay tuned for details!

Since I was given some flexibility for Book 2, I’ve also been making efforts to refill the creative well these last few weeks. That means reading, time to follow curiosity, making art or writing things that are allowed to be pointless, and getting out and going places weekends and wait—what’s that—a hint of SOCIAL life??

But to stay on header topic: it’s been a year since Book 1 sold and it’s still not finished yet. Things seem like they are starting to wind down, but there continues to be more to do every week. And now that we are entering the months prior to publication, I expect there to be increasingly more on the promo side even as the product becomes finished.

I’ll try to post more than once in a blue moon this year to share about the rest of the debut experience!

First Revision on Deadline – in pictures

Midway through June I posted some anticipated stats for a major revision (which, as you may have guessed, was for my debut novel). This has been my most ambitious revision to date, and was also my first on a deadline. I worked on it every day from the morning I talked through changes with my editor to the day I handed it in to her– not to mention the two and a half weeks beforehand it took to translate the edit letter and all margin notes into a game plan.

Here’s a glimpse of what that revision looked like.

 

(More) Big Book News!!!

Hahaha, you thought I was done shouting last week when I shared this?

JLHI PW Children's Bookshelf announcement

Well, check out what appeared in Publishers Marketplace this week:

Juniper in FRENCH!

Can you tell which part I’m most excited about? (Hint: not the sensible thing, which is that there were actually two books to this deal with a Big Five imprint, but that my debut also sold in France and Quebec– and is going to be translated into one of my favorite foreign languages!!)

JUNIPER is slated for release next year, summer 2017. If you’d like to be notified when the book is added to Goodreads, made available to pre-order, or will be celebrated/raffled off in a giveaway, you can let me know here or subscribe to my website RSS feed. Alternatively, follow me on Twitter or tumblr for antics peppered with book news!

For now, thanks for helping me celebrate. Virtual doughnuts on me!

doughnut bar 2

Projected Revision Stats

Three weeks ago tonight, I received an edit letter outlining all the major (and minor) changes I needed to be thinking about as I revise my YA novel. But what does a traditional track revision look like in terms of work? Well, I’ll give you a hint: it’s more than moving commas around.

AHEM *fetches reading glasses*

long scroll

Here are my projected stats for this revision:

CUTS: 12 scenes, 3-4 threads, ~4 characters (+1 with almost no page time)

COMPLETELY NEW MATERIAL: 10 scenes, 17 other significant* insertions

MAJOR REWRITES: 15 scenes, plus 12 with substantial adjustments

LINE EDITS: *delirious laughter* 80+ tweaks of substance, X more for fine details, & a large, uncounted number of cuts.

*significant = in terms of creative brain power, not necessarily length

 

There will be other changes that are harder to quantify, too. But the bottom line is: I know my book is going to be much stronger after this.

That makes me a happy writer.

 

The Ailing Writer’s Burnout Repair Kit

We all burn out sometimes. For creative types, it tends to come with the territory, so knowing how to deal when it happens is an essential part of our self-care. And just how does one deal? Well, there are no hard and fast rules for treatment, but there are many things that help. I suggest a few (okay, twenty) of them here, in:

The Ailing Writer’s BURNOUT REPAIR KIT

burnout repair kit-2

CONTENTS:

    1. Pillow for crash-nap and/or screaming into.
    2. Big boss pajama pants, because nothing punches stress in the face like comfort and good circulation. And why not look cool doing it?
    3. Chocolate because not only does it lift mood and obliterate magical trauma (source: Remus Lupin); there is actually a sampler box of health benefits to indulging. Not to mention its effects on the reading experience.
    4. Emergency cookies.
    5. Bubble bath & bath bombs for relaxation, scent-sations, and soaking the stress away. And when you’re done, you can smell like a galaxy! Or, you know. Vanilla. And hey does anyone else see this and think “Triwizard Tournament”? What I did not just buy a dozen bath bombs YOU BOUGHT A DOZEN BATH BOMBS
    6. Comfy slippers won’t transport you to Kansas, but they may just bring heaven to earth and your feet. Mm. Squishy.
    7. Notebook & pen for when you need to go dark and rest your weary eyes from the screen.
    8. Markers, or tools for any creative outlet, to prove to yourself that even if you’re feeling word-blocked, you can still have fun making things!
    9. Your favorite book, or any book you enjoy. It’s an inexpensive escape and an invaluable connection to why you love writing and storytelling in the first place!
    10. Something you can anger crush and not feel bad about. Pictured: junk mail. Suggested: soda cans, bubble wrap, the dreams of enemies
    11. A sad movie & ample tissues. Feeling blocked? Stressed? In over your head? Put on a tearjerker and let the emotions roll. Popcorn optional.
    12. Low-tech wireless blocker (i.e., tape). Step 1: Turn wireless off. Step 2: Place tape over switch. Step 3: Profit.
    13. A cold bottle of age-appropriate beverage. Wine, vanilla soda, beer, coffee—whatever fits the bill.
    14. Fan mail and/or author exchange. Admiration for anything you’ve written, book or blogpost (or even tweet!) can be fan mail. Keep a folder and refer to it any time for instant cheer. Also healing: exchange with writer friends. It’s nice to remember you’re not alone in this—that others go through the struggles, too. Plus, a friend will have your back if you need to vent a little!
    15. Jar of love. Squirrel away printed margin note compliments, edit letter praise, and positive reader feedback for a rainy day. Then when doubt creeps up on you, PAPER CUT THAT BASTARD WITH LOVE and remember you are not an utter failure.
    16. Written permission (to you, from you) to take the day off. As authors, we are largely responsible for monitoring our own work. This includes meeting deadlines, but it also means recognizing when we, the creative muscle, are running ourselves into the ground. If you reach a point where your work is becoming destructive to you, it is probably healthier to spend some time apart from it—and you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so.
    17. Sturdy shoes for walking it out, or a rejuvenating time on the town.
    18. Plush socks. Part of a balanced cozy.
    19. Blankets. One deluxe and fuzzy one to hide under, or many with which to build a fort and [read] [work] [Netbinge].
    20. __________??? (What’s in yours? Share in the comments below, or tell me on Twitter!)

3 Lessons I’d Take Back to the Query Game

Currently, I’m in the happy position of being agented, which means I haven’t had to deal with queries for some time. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a few things about the process, and since our March topic over at Kickbutt Kidlit is queries, I’ve been reflecting on those things and what I would do differently if I were to embark on the journey again.

Here is what I came up with.

If I could hop in a Dolorean, I would advise my younger, querying self:

  1. To read the positive in rejections (including between the lines). When we get a rejection, I think it’s almost instinct to skip the pleasantries and land straight on Not Good Enough—especially when we’d gotten our hopes up after a full or partial request. But an agent’s time is valuable; they are not likely to waste any on something they don’t see potential in. That means that if you receive anything beyond a form rejection, even just a line or two, the agent is probably 1) recognizing your skill and/or 2) offering feedback on why they passed—which again, is something they probably wouldn’t bother with unless they saw potential in your submission.
  2. That agents generally do not give detailed feedback in passes (even after requesting). I mention this for two reasons: one, to underscore the positive significance of any feedback an agent does provide in a pass, regardless of how broad or “negative” it might appear. What often looks like “vague reasons I didn’t love your book” is actually “underlying ways I think you can improve this worthy story.” Two, because it is a mistake to expect feedback that will significantly improve your book in the course of querying. You might think that trickling out queries means you’ll get critique you can use to your advantage, but far more likely you will end up waiting 2-3 months for a just few brief sentences (in a pass), if even that. One agent who requested my full MS never even got back to me.
  3. That the best thing you can do for yourself is to write the best book that you possibly can, and query that. Given that you can’t count on constructive criticism after you hit send, the strongest strategy is to query only when you’ve written a book you really love, and then only when you can’t humanly make it better (ideally after multiple readers have read and critiqued it).

Perhaps the most important lesson of all: to NOT be afraid to keep sending, even when you get rejections and passes. If you have written the absolute strongest book that you can and you’re proud of it (see #3), you have nothing to lose by knocking on more doors. Reasons for passing, whether objective or subjective, are always specific to the passing agent. What holds true for one might not hold true for a dozen others, and you’ll never know if you don’t at least try.

Good luck! *blows past/alter self a kiss*

What do you wish you’d known about writing as a teen?

Have you ever found something you wrote in high school and nearly died of simultaneous laughter and mortification? Spoiler alert: I HAVE!

Revisiting an old story of mine, last week I came up with some simple tips that could have vastly improved my writing as a teen and posted them in this Letter to my Teenage Self.

What was your writing like as a teen? What would have made it better?

What starter tips would you give teen or novice writers today?

Why writing a crappy first draft is important.

It may seem paradoxical of me to be writing this post from the depths of revision #832-B in my current project, but the fact I would quote such a number, even in hyperbole, should convey something in and of itself about the mutability of a story and how frivolous it is to try to get anything right the first time.

There are two major reasons it is useful, even necessary to write the most horrible first draft you can:

  1. The one you hear all the time: Because it’s the only way you’ll FINISH the darn thing! Creating an entire story and funneling it from your head onto paper is difficult enough without wanting it to glow in your first draft. I think many writers dive into a project with high energy, but then they lose steam in the tough spots because they want the prose to be just right, the plot point to be just right, the transition to be just right, and when it eventually, inevitably isn’t they get stuck and frustrated and jump ship. With the first draft, you just have to let loose. Hokey pokey, being bad is what it’s all about! Write with reckless abandon, worry about the fine stuff later. Who cares if it’s full of holes when you finish? That’s what revision is for!
  1. The one you hear less often, because many manuscripts never make it that far: The story will fluctuate with every revision. Sometimes in colossal ways. You will add one scene and cut another. Write a character in or out. Work things up, work things down, slash whole chapters, change the ending, adjust a huge plot point that has repercussions all throughout the book. Writing a crappy first draft is important because you need to get all the pieces on the board before you can step back and see the story objectively, in its entirety, and figure out how to adjust the parts to make the whole better.

What’s your first draft process like? Any tips for first-time novelists? Share in the comments below!