Essay

2018 Best Reads

I read 80 books in 2018. Since my Goodreads goal was 75, that makes me pretty happy. By read, I mean all the way to “the end.” If I give up on a book it doesn’t count toward my goal. Sometimes, if I’m slogging through a book, guilting myself to get to the last page, I’ll ask one of my writer friends for permission to stop reading. For some reason that helps. I make a point to read outside my …

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I’m Going to Pavlov Dog the Crap Out of this Meditation Stuff

When I saw MEDITATION on the daily schedule at my writers’ retreat my first thought was: that hippy crap will never work for me. My brain runs one-million miles per hour with no exit ramps or stop signs. There is no way in hell I’d be able to sit and chant “ohm” for an hour a day without obsessing about how stupid ohm-ing was.  Luckily my judgy-brain continued down the one-billion mile per hour trail and flew by a reminder …

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100 Rejections. Let’s Celebrate.

I wrote this in 2016, when I was deep in the querying trenches trying to find the perfect agent. My work with YA4YA has me thinking a lot about that period of my life, because I’m trying to figure out the best way to mentor the authors I’ve decided to work with. I can’t say I’m nostalgic for querying.  I never want to have to go back to it, but there is something to be learned from all that rejection. …

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Life on Deadline

For me, the key to quality work on deadline is remove all decisions except the one’s that pertain to my scenes and characters. No real life decisions. No phone calls. No appointments outside the house. All of these things improve the likelihood of a successful day. My ground rules: 1) Recognize and appreciate the time away from the keyboard is just as important as the time in front of it. Took me a long time to learn this one, and …

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LitUP

It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’m volunteering at a teen literary conference. I’m sitting at the book sales table talking to my new BFF, who’s name I can’t remember. The night before, she had asked about my shoes, “Were they comfortable when you got them?” In the midst of the very classy mixer, surrounded by very important people of all types, I delivered one of the most emphatic, “No”s of my life. “Oh good. I just got a pair and…” …

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The List

•    Narrate an audio book. •    Travel to a foreign country on book tour. •    Receive unsolicited fan art. In 5th grade Owen has already accomplished something I aspire to do in my career. He created something that positively impacted another human. He helped me achieve one of my life-long goals by sending me my first, completely unsolicited, piece of fan art.  Owen created something based on his personal experience of an author coming to talk to his class, he …

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Every Other Tuesday

Every other Tuesday I share a story via my newsletter. My newsletter is where I figure things out. It’s where I share secrets with my friends and give them sneak peeks into my life. I’m honored when someone signs up. It’s like I’ve found another friend to join me in my writing world. My newsletter is where I figured out that we are Alone Together. *** I write for the people who don’t belong—for the ones on the outskirts filled …

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2017 Reads I love so Hard!

Jessica’s Notable Reads of 2017 It’s the beginning of 2018, so that means I had to log all of the books I read last year into my Goodreads account to see if I met my reading goal for the year. (If you’re on Goodreads find me and lets be friends, please!) My goal was to read seventy-five books—didn’t matter the genre. Graphic novels count, and so does listening to books on tape, but 95% of the books I read were …

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2017

This year was big. I signed with a major literary agency, did my first solo reading, went to my first writers’ retreat, sat on an editorial panel at a writers’ conference with a major acquisitions editor from Penguin (looks like I haven’t told you guys about that yet, but I’ll get that story out to you pretty soon), and finished a massive re-write of The Color Eater. Do you like how I snuck that last part in there? The part …

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Mary Poppins and my right to VOTE

I’ve decided to take November off from blogging, social media, and newsletters.  I’ll be challenging myself and participating in National Novel Writing Month.  The general idea is 50,000 new words on a novel by the end of the month.  I am an uber slow writer, so this seems insanely difficult and unattainable to me—but I will try it and let you know how things pan out in December. A few things over the last couple of months made me realize …

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