Tag Archive: griffin teen

2016: The Debut Year

I think I filled my quota of Firsts puns long ago, but… this really was a year of many firsts! So I keep saying it anyway, because the firsts kept coming as the months went on. My first book came out. I got to travel to other cities to promote it. I spoke on panels and attended conferences. I met my critique partner, fellow authors, one of my lovely publicists, and my amazing editor. I had a launch party. I signed more books than I can count. I cheered for my fellow debut authors and read as many of their books as I could. I got to see my book on shelves, was able to call myself a published author. Family and friends bought my book. I heard from so many readers who told me Firsts had an impact on them.

But now that the year is almost over, I’m realizing 2016 was also a year of lasts. It’s the last time I’ll ever get to call myself a debut author, which is bittersweet, because I have had such an unforgettable time being a Sweet Sixteen and Sixteen to Read, and part of the debut community. At the same time, I’m so excited to move forward into what 2017 has in store… I happen to know some very exciting and wonderful things are on the horizon!

I don’t know what word I would use to describe 2016, if I had to sum it up in one word. (I’m an author… there are too many perfect words!) Thrilling. Intense. Full. Busy. Fun. Looking back, the year feels both extra long and super short– like it wasn’t that long ago I was celebrating my book birthday with flowers and champagne, but at the same time, that I have come so far and learned so much since that day. I feel like I’m able to put things in perspective more now than I ever was in the past. I learned from my mistakes, figured out what was working, and was able to achieve balance. I had my moments of stress and anxiety, but took away important lessons from the tough times.

Most importantly of all, I realized what keeps me happy and sustained, after the debut hype started to fade. And that was writing”The End” on three new books.(I amend my earlier statement. “The End” are the most beautiful words in an author’s vocabulary!) That’s what I’m taking into 2017, more than anything else. The knowledge that working on the new thing, the next thing, anything, is what keeps me happy and inspired. Because my heart and soul is being a writer, and that means writing.

I’m so very excited to ring in the new year and so ready for everything that comes with it. Happy New Year, everyone!

Six months later

Today is July 5. Which means Firsts has officially been out in the world for six months. I can’t even begin to thank everyone who has bought the book, requested it at their local library, wrote a review, or reached out to me to let me know what the story meant to them. My experience as a debut author has been beyond anything I could have hoped for, and I’m extremely grateful.

English and Spanish editions meet!

I recently started thinking about where I was two, three, four years ago. Two years ago, Firsts was on submission, and I was probably checking my email for the two hundredth time of the day, hoping for good news but steeling myself for bad. Three years ago, Firsts didn’t yet exist, and I thought maybe I sucked at this whole writing thing. Four years ago, I was finishing my first “real” book, a New Adult contemporary. I was too afraid to tell anyone outside of my boyfriend (now husband) and immediate family members that I was even writing a book. I knew there was a very good chance I’d never have a book published and I didn’t want people thinking I was a failure.

So, for two-three-four years ago me, the one who had no idea what to expect, and for anyone else in the same boat, I thought I’d write about some of the things I’ve learned in my first six months as a published author.

You still have worries and insecurities. They’re just different ones now. Before getting published, all I wanted was to get an agent. Then, all I wanted was a book deal. Now that I’m a published author, I want to keep building on that dream and putting books out in the world. There’s always something else you’re striving for, something bigger and brighter, even when your dream comes true. Try not to obsess about whatever that something else may be, and enjoy the stage you’re at.

You still check your email a lot. At least, I do. I remember thinking that if I ever got an agent and got out of the query trenches, I wouldn’t be such an email addict. Then submission happened. Then a book deal happened. I consistently check my email, respond to emails, and send new ones– in fact, far more so than ever before. But the familiar ding of a new email coming in hasn’t become any less exciting!

Social media is important, but it’s not everything. I stressed out about social media– was I active enough? Was I tweeting about the right things? Was having a blog worth my time? Should I get Tumblr? And honestly, the answers are different for each writer. My thought is, be active on social media when you can and when it feels authentic for you, and use it to engage with readers, librarians, bloggers, authors, and other people in the bookish community. If you hate the idea of one particular platform, don’t make yourself be on it, because you’ll just resent the time spent there. If you don’t want to blog, don’t force yourself to think up post ideas. I love being on Twitter and Instagram, and I really enjoy blogging, so I focus on those areas. I’m finally in a place where I feel comfortable with social media– where it’s fun again instead of being stressful, and where I can not check my feeds for a few days and be okay with it. Know that if you’re absent from the social media world for days, weeks, even months– people will understand. Hell, they might not even notice, because they’re stressed out about the same things.

Promotion doesn’t have to break the bank. Promotion is another thing that varies wildly from author to author. Some writers go on book tours and seem to be in a different city every other day. Some do lots of school visits. Some have snazzy book trailers. Some send bookmarks and postcards to libraries. Some have really cool swag. Some do amazing giveaways. Some do all of the above, and others do none. Do what you can to promote your book, but don’t make yourself miserable over it. For Firsts, some of the most fun I had was writing a series of short stories from the perspectives of the guys Mercedes hooks up with. (You can read the series here!) I shared the stories on Wattpad, where they have now surpassed 190,000 views. I also did giveaways– some of which were successful, others not so much. Get creative: if you want to try something outside the box, go for it!

Read your reviews at your own risk. I quickly learned that Goodreads wasn’t going to be a good place for me to hang out. I love going on there to review books, but I only had to read a couple of negative reviews for Firsts to feel pretty discouraged. That’s different for everyone– some authors love to read all their reviews. After all, we do have to have a thick skin in this industry. But we’re also sensitive and full of neuroses– that’s how we create something out of nothing. I respect all reviews and certainly understand that not everyone will like my writing. At the same time, I don’t need to actively seek out something that might make me feel a little bit less like writing that day.

You can’t control anything but your own words. And once you accept that, it’s a huge relief. There are so many aspects of this business that are beyond our scope of control, but if you focus on your words, your head (and heart) will always be in the right place.

Comparison really is the thief of joy. Being a debut author is an incredibly exciting time, but it’s full of ebbs and flows. One week, you might get lots of great news, then face down a few interminable weeks of radio silence. My advice is to not live in a perpetual state of expectation, and don’t compare yourself to someone else’s news. You’re not competing with your fellow authors. There’s room on the shelf for everyone, so go shout all the happy news and spread the love!

Fellow debut authors are the best people ever. I’m so incredibly grateful to have gotten to know so many other debut authors– online, in person, and in some lucky cases, both. It’s such a positive, encouraging support network of people who understand exactly what you’re going through.Getting to read their debuts has inspired me endlessly, and I look forward to remaining friends and cheering for each other as our careers go forward.

Seeing your book on a shelf is the coolest thing ever. It really is, and it never gets old.

Hearing that your family/friends/coworkers/strangers have read it is surreal/awesome/terrifying. But mostly just awesome.

Hearing from readers who loved your book will mean the world. Seriously, there’s no feeling like this. When a reader reaches out to me and lets me know Firsts made an impact, my day is made. This is why I write what I write.

Writing doesn’t get any easier. If there’s a magic formula for writing a book, I sure haven’t stumbled upon it. If anything, the writing got tougher after my book deal, perhaps because I felt a sense of expectation that wasn’t there before. Worries like, is this right for my brand? Will my agent like it? Will my readers like it? chiseled themselves into my brain and stuck there like banners. Everything I have written since Firsts has challenged me in new ways… and made me question whether or not I have any clue what I’m doing. (My critique partner can attest to this… I’m pretty sure I’ve sent her some panicky emails along the lines of, “I forget how to write a book!”)

Writing the next thing trumps all. This is what it all comes back to. That’s how you grow, and learn from mistakes, and keep getting better as an artist.

So, those are some of the things I’ve learned over the past six months as a published author. Looking forward to the next six months, and the six months after that, because I really am living my dream, and I know how lucky I am to be able to say that!

Spotlight on Sixteens: The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You

The book with perhaps the longest (and coolest!) Sweet Sixteen title is coming out May 17, and you can read my review here for Spotlight on Sixteens!

My love of snark is well-documented. There are few things I adore more in a book than a main character with a whip-smart sense of humor who knows her way around sarcasm. I knew within the first page of The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You that I had found my spirit animal in Trixie Watson, the book’s protagonist and beating heart. She’s no stranger to lobbing quick-witted insults and always has a well-timed jab at the ready, especially for her nemesis, Ben West. But what I love most about Trixie is her huge heart. She’s fiercely loyal and devoted to her two best friends, Harper and Meg.

Trixie’s senior year at the Mess, a school for geniuses, is ever-so-slightly derailed when one of said best friends, Harper, starts dating Ben’s best friend. See, Trixie has hated Ben since he broke her arm on the monkey bars—and even though that was ten years ago, Trixie hasn’t forgotten. Trixie and Ben’s rivalry is pretty legendary, and her sole aim in as a senior is to beat out Ben for the third spot in the school ranking. But when she finds out Ben might harbor feelings for her that go beyond mutual loathing, something she never thought was possible begins to happen—she starts to realize she might actually like him, too. When Harper gets expelled for cheating—something Trixie knows she would never do—Trixie and Ben team up to find out the truth, and get to know each other in the process.

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You is based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and there’s no shortage of plot twists and humor and romance, sweet romance! I absolutely adore Lily Anderson’s writing style. It’s incredibly fresh, unique, and laugh-out-loud funny.

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You is a book that more than lives up to its name—and that’s no small feat, because that’s one hell of an awesome title. I’ll be wildly raving about and recommending this book to everyone, and consider me an official Lily Anderson fangirl for life!

Add The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You to Goodreads and preorder a copy!

Check out Lily Anderson’s website for more information!

 

On (not) giving up, or why writing won’t quit you

I’ve done lots of interviews over the past several months surrounding the release of Firsts. It has been such an honor to answer so many thoughtful, amazing questions from readers and bloggers and book lovers everywhere. I have been asked how I got the idea for Firsts (I still wish I had a better answer for that!), about my writing process, best parts of debuting, and lessons learned along the way.

There’s one question I have been asked several times, and it’s a great one.

Did you ever think about giving up?

To which I answered yes. There have been several times along the path to publication where I considered giving up on my dream of seeing a book of mine in print. I was querying, but getting more rejections than requests. I was learning, but not fast enough. I felt like there was an excellent chance I would never sell a book and nobody would ever read my work.

But ever since giving those interviews, I’ve thought a lot about that question. Generally, people think it only pertains to the trying times along that elusive path to publication. Once you reach that goal and see your book in print, there’s the expectation that you are confident and calm and the words flow every time you sit down at your computer. You have things figured out.

Well, that’s not exactly true. I don’t have less doubts than I do before. I just have different doubts. The brain is a scary place, especially when you’re in a creative field. The same brain that houses your dreams also takes your happy thoughts and puts shackles on them and turns good things inside out, analyzing them for flaws. The same mind that conjures up ideas can just as easily crush them.

I don’t think about giving up on writing these days, but I do have days where I think writing has given up on me. That my words are on strike, my characters holding up little signs that say “WE WANT A BETTER AUTHOR!” and chanting for me to get my act together. I have days where I have no clue how to write a chapter and moments when I read what I’ve just written and shake my head because it’s such steaming crap. Each book after Firsts has been a struggle for me. I’ve said in interviews that at times while writing Firsts, the book practically wrote itself. Well, that hasn’t happened since. Not a single word wrote itself.

But does that mean I forgot how to write?

I’ve realized that the answer is no. Because it’s impossible to forget how to care fiercely about something you love. Some days, you read over the words you put down and realize they aren’t as bad as you thought. Some days, they’re worse. But always, they are there, on the page, no matter how hard it was for them to arrive.

Fellow authors, no matter what stage of the process you’re at– don’t quit. Because I promise, writing won’t quit you.

‘Twas The Night Before Pub Day…

‘Twas the night before pub day, and all through the house
I wouldn’t know what’s stirring, because I’m sprawled on the couch

The work has been done, the words strung in lines
The effort put in, so I’m drinking some wine

We’ve come a long way, me and this book
A lot of my time and patience it took

A rapid first draft, rounds of edits that followed
Crushing self-doubt within which I wallowed

An agent, an editor, a dream team of stars
Giving me faith that I could go far

A cover design that I loved at first sight
First pass pages that tried to put up a fight

Writing acknowledgments gave me the feels
And made me realize that all of this was real

That I’m no longer a fourth-grader penning big schemes
That my real life is as grand as any of my dreams

That I did what I always most wanted to do
I took an idea that came to me out of the blue

And made it a story people want to read
A story I’m incredibly proud of indeed

Tomorrow morning might look the same
I’ll likely be tired, and my hair won’t be tame

But I’ll get to do something I haven’t before
Go and find the book I wrote in a store

So on my book birthday eve, I’m reminding myself
That tomorrow, happiness will be on a shelf

That it really happens– dreams really come true
That you really can accomplish what you set out to do

No matter what you want, how big or how small
I’m living proof that you can do it all.

‘Twas the night before pub day, and I’m going to bed
With old and new stories swirling through my head

When I wake up tomorrow, I’ll be able to say
“Hey world, my debut novel came out today!”

(But I’ll start the day with a coffee—some things never change.)

xoxo, A Very Grateful Almost-Author

On 2015: The Year Of Firsts

I was just planning on writing my regular monthly recap post, but that somehow didn’t feel right. I wanted to put down more words to commemorate the amazing year 2015 has been. It has been a year of many firsts for me and when I look back at it, I’m in awe of how quickly the time passed. It seems like just yesterday I was jumping up and down in the halls at work after getting the call from my agent that we had an offer on FIRSTS. But less than a week from today, I’ll be able to walk into a bookstore and pick up a copy of the book I wrote. I’ll be able to pose beside it and strategically place it on the front of the shelf. I’ll be able to call myself a published author.

When I was a kid, I used to roll my eyes when I heard an adult complain about time going by too quickly. But now I get it. Now I understand why it’s important to savor a moment and not be in a rush to move on to the next. I have done my best to enjoy each milestone, each first that happened over the past year. First edits. First pass pages. First ARCs. First time meeting fellow authors. First giveaways. First trade reviews. First book trailer. And two weeks ago, first finished copies. 2016 will be a year of more firsts. First book birthday. First bookstore panel (coming up soon)! First conference. First time seeing my book in the wild. First launch party. First book signing.

The thing is, you only get one first time of everything. If you’re lucky, you get seconds and thirds later. But nothing compares to that first time, the thrill of the unknown, the fear and excitement and sheer joy. So if you need me, I’ll be over here with a glass bottle of champagne, taking it all in.

And since I’m almost out of words, here’s a photo version of my year in Firsts! (Clumsy happy dancing, excessive pajama wearing, and tears not included.)

Teaser Tuesday #7

Welcome to the last edition of Teaser Tuesday! I hope you have enjoyed this feature. I really loved the chance to share some of my favorite lines from FIRSTS with you all. To end the series with a bang (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), I wanted to share this quote, which is particularly special to me. I think it can apply to anyone in any situation– the unknown is terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be a bad kind of fear. It’s also exciting and carries endless possibility. Going into next week and the release day for FIRSTS (!!!), these words definitely apply to me… my journey to publication has been full of unknowns, but that’s part of what makes it so much fun.

Thank you so much for tuning in to Teaser Tuesday!

Teaser Tuesday #6

It’s Teaser Tuesday again! Today, I’m happy to share what might be my very favorite line from FIRSTS, spoken by one of my favorite characters in one of my favorite scenes in the book.

Want to know who said it? And what it means? Find out when FIRSTS hits bookshelves in two weeks!

Teaser Tuesday #5

Hi everyone! It’s Tuesday again, which means another FIRSTS teaser!

This is a quote near and dear to my heart because it shows Mercedes’ realization that all the time she has spent trying to be a version of someone else’s dream girl has resulted in her uncertainty about her own identity outside of the bedroom. She’s not sure what personality even fits her anymore. But by the time she discovers the person she wants to be, will it be too late?

Stay tuned next week for another one of my favorite lines from FIRSTS!

Teaser Tuesday #4

Welcome to another edition of Teaser Tuesday! This week’s quote is one of my very favorites because it shows how much Mercedes values and clings to control– and how vulnerable she feels when it starts to go careening away from her. She has built her “system” with the virgins and makes sure they don’t break the rules she created, but she’s not prepared for what happens when she breaks them herself.

Stay tuned next week for another teaser!

FIRSTSTeaserTuesday4

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