Gennifer Albin's Blog, page 4
March 21, 2012
If you follow me on twitter, you already saw these lovelies. But yesterday after patiently waiting (yeah, right), the UPS man arrived and I tackled helped him carry a large box of these inside:
Aren't they beautiful? My name is on that. One of you can even win one over on The Crewel World and I will sign it with my brand new, authorly signature.
And then my editor received this picture from Bologna. It's the UK cover for Crewel (published by Faber & Faber)!
And then, because the day was made of awesome, the talented Petra made me this:
Be sure to check out all the awesome author widgets on her blog, Safari Poet.
Tomorrow the blog will be back to normal with some Bookanista time. I'll be discussing trends out of Bologna!
March 19, 2012
So after a long day of grinning too widely and tweeting many thanks on Friday, I was pretty sure that the day couldn't get better. And then I saw this:
Yes, that is the cover for the Fall 2012 Macmillan Children's catalogue. And doesn't it look familiar? Anyway, one of my lovely critique partners asked if I had cried after the cover reveal. I had not. If you read my agent to book deal story that might come as a shock, because I pretty much cried over every small moment: a full request, a call, going on sub. I was a sopping mess. I'm not sure why I didn't cry over the cover reveal. Maybe because I was waiting for it and then I couldn't get the page to refresh and my sister got to post about it before I did and I was frazzled. Or maybe because it was like going to the most awesome birthday party ever. EVER. A party that was full of fun and excitement and love. Nobody parties like book lovers, people.
But the cover of the catalogue? That was something else. It was sort of like your parent standing up at your graduation party to give a toast to tell you how proud they are of you. The party has you swollen with joy. You can't stop smiling and saying hello and thank you to everyone and then dear old dad gives his speech and it all sort of hits you – this happened. To you. And not only did it happen, people believe in you. They're excited for you and what's to come. That's how it felt to see this cover.
Sadly, Macmillan switched to all electronic catalogues this spring, so I might have to go and print a copy. But seriously, wow! (And if you click on the picture you can see all the awesome books coming from Macmillan this fall!) I'm so excited that I'm dreaming up ways to sweeten the giveaway over on The Crewel World site. Stay tuned.
March 16, 2012
It finally happened. Crewel has a cover, and I hope you love it as much as I do. Right now you can see it exclusively at Vh1′s theFabLife.com.
Yeah, I know. VH1! As in VH1. There's an interview as well. And if you're wondering I totally spoke with a VH1 reporter between doing a load of laundry and cleaning the cat box. Clearly I am giving all those fab celebs a run for their money.
And be sure to check out the official website of The Crewel World series here. It's got playlists, photos, and more Crewel news. AND A GIVEAWAY FOR A SIGNED ARC!
March 15, 2012
I'm no expert at this twitter thing, but a few people have asked me how to build a twitter following, so I'll give it a shot. The thing about twitter is that there are multiple-ways to build a following and very different ways to host an active account.
The auto-follow/business account
You can choose to follow people like crazy and hope they follow back. Lots and lots of businesses go this route with other businesses following them back. Often these accounts focus on products or services. They might rely on auto-posting, often posting the same thing every few hours via a web service. To engage with followers, they will hold giveaways, but most of the content is impersonal. Not all businesses are like that on twitter, but quite a few are, and more power to them. If you love a certain brand, it might be worth it to follow them to find out about deals and giveaways.
The super famous account
This is an account for someone or something so famous that everyone will follow them even if they are autoposting, their assistant is posting, or they only follow 3 other people. In the book world this means well-established authors and agents. Agents on twitter don't have to do anything to get followers. Everyone with a book idea will follow them, so don't be offended if they don't follow you back.
The floundering account
These are the accounts for people who think they should be on twitter, but either don't like, don't get it, or don't get active. Twitter is confusing for everyone when they first start, but everyone starts with 0 followers. If you're lucky you have a few friends who tweet. But if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the ADDness of twitter, don't fear. Keep reading.
The growing account
The growing account on twitter consists of an account that actively engages with others on twitter, steadily building an engaged audience of followers. They do this by participating in online twitter chats, #ff (follow fridays), and building relationships with other tweeps. Sounds easy, right? But how do you do it?
1. Focus on people and topics that interest you. My twitter following started with other natural parenting tweeps back when it was theconnectedmom. I kept that account because I'm genuinely interested in those tweeps' lives. I've lost some along the way due to a shift in my tweeting focus, and I've unfollowed some myself, but a good core of my followers are from those days. When I switched it to being my author account I sought out other writers and agents. I tried to respond to their tweets. You would probably be shocked by the number of people I have had dinner/lunch/breakfast/drinks with that I met initially on twitter. I've made some genuine, real life friends online, which leads to tip #2.
2. Be engaged with your audience. Do not, do not, do not spam twitter with auto-posts asking people to buy your book or like your FB page. In fact, don't autopost ever. The only cross-posting I have set up is from my author FB page to twitter and that's only since I rarely post on the FB page and when I do, I know it's something I would also tweet. Don't think of twitter as your advertising channel, think of it as a networking tool and a place where you can actually make friends and have discussions with your peers.
3. It is okay to post about your book news and such. Ok, so, no, you shouldn't use twitter as your advertiser, but you know what? I have NEVER been annoyed with a tweep with whom I've genuinely engaged on twitter that has posted about a book deal or a cover reveal or that you can preorder the book. If 99% of your content is engaging and personal, you can totally share all the good news and links you want!
4. There is strength in numbers. Take advantage of twitter chats, online communities, and writing groups to help you find people to follow. There are several writing chats that take place weekly or monthly. Look for hash tages like #yalitchat, #kidlitchat, and #askanagent. It's a great way to strike up a conversation with people who share your interests, especially if jumping into your twitter streams feels like walking up to a stranger at the store and commenting on their conversation.
5. Don't expect it to happen overnight. Every once in a while someone with a great, established blog gets on to twitter and instantly has a following. But that's rare. Most of us aren't as wildly funny, thought-provoking, or instantly lovable as though folks – and that's fine! Build your twitter following slowly. It's more likely to stick that way, and it will give you a chance to get comfortable in your new handle.
To follow back or not?
I used to follow back everyone who followed me with the exception of strange businesses or those with xxx in their names. I don't anymore. I couldn't keep up with my stream, so now I try to pay attention to who I am tweeting with a lot or people who engage with me and then follow back (although I'm woefully behind on my follow-backs).
Taking breaks from twitter
Sometimes you have deadlines or sick kids or it's too pretty to spend all day following your stream. Sometimes you need to actually get some work done! Will you lose some followers if you go on an extended twitter hiatus? Probably. Some people use services that clean their account of tweeps who haven't posted in a while. This isn't the end of the world. And a twitter break can be really good for the soul.
I love twitter. I am much better at it than I am at commenting on blogs. I enjoy it more (although I read tons of blog posts – just don't comment). You could say it's my social media of choice, but if you get on there and can't get into it, that's okay. If everyone loved twitter as much as I do, the site would be down all the time anyway. But give it the old college try and I'll see you in 140 characters or less.
March 12, 2012
Ok, here it is…the final check-in for the challenge.
Remember, you can only count words written up until midnight (your time zone) last night and since the start of the challenge. In the comments, please post your running total for the week!
And I know you are all dying to know what I got. And you are so going to hate me, but my mother-in-law took the kids and in a coffee-fueled flurry I wrote 48 pages yesterday. A record for me. Now you see why I wanted to compete. It makes me go all crazy with my work.
So my total running word count for the week is:
So who beat me?
March 11, 2012
In this post, horse is a metaphor for writing. I'm too lazy to write a long-winded, symbolic paragraph on how getting back on a horse is like continuing to write, so let's move on to the good stuff.
There comes a point in almost all manuscripts where you hit an obstacle. Usually it looks something like this:
And you find yourself saying, "Where do I got from here? None of the options seem very appealing."
That inevitably leads you to wonder if it's time to do this:
But I'm here to tell you, dear readers, that this is normal. What matters is what you choose to do. I'm fairly open that Crewel is my first novel, but I've always said that with the caveat attached that it is my first finished novel. There were a whole lot of almost-novels that I crapped out on at about the 50 page mark. One got up to 80 pages, but then my computer blew up (or just died) and I lost the whole damn thing and that's when I learned about backing things up.
I can't say I'm sorry I abandoned those novels. Some of them are decent. Some sit printed in drawers, waiting to be revisited someday. One I started and restarted and restarted hoping to gain headway. It was the book I was working on in the months before I began Crewel. I didn't lose it to the great Mac catastrophe of 2010. It was a casualty of this:
The signpost of doom, the omg-no-way-is-getting-me-anywhere. And a few head desks. I tried. I didn't want to give up, but then I started hearing about soon to be released novels with similar premises. And eventually I let my frustrated brain think about other ideas and one day it gave me Crewel. I'm thrilled that it, and not the manuscript of infinite frustration, will be my debut novel. However, did I make the right choice in giving up on the other? Should you drawer a manuscript because of confusion or writer's block or rejections? The fact is that it wasn't a good book. It had its moments, but it never knew where it was going.
Crewel was somehow different. I wasn't giving up on that novel even when things got rough. At one point one of CPs suggested I work on another idea I'd had. She really liked Other Idea, as did I, but I was stubborn. I was going to finish. There were many days where I wanted to quit, but I kept on shoveling shit, as Stephen King would say, and then I would get to write a kissing scene or I'd come up with a perfect, snarky one-liner, and I'd feel that moment of heart-swelling pride that only parents and writers really understand.
But for the last month I've been wandering on writing on the lost path. Not sure where book 2 was going. All I knew was that I wanted it to be DONE.
If you were following my word count challenge last week, you may have seen that one of the days I wrote 1 word. ONE. I hit a snag. You see I'd been traveling farther and farther down the lost path for a while, but I just kept going. I had great faith that one of my characters would spot a clearer path along the way, but I was beginning to wonder if I'd come to the end of the second draft and have to toss it all out. It felt wrong. It felt lost. I kept going anyway. I strongly considered just throwing in an explosion ala The Stand, but I resisted. An explosion was not going to fix this problem. Although explosions do happen in the novel. Go figure.
One-word-challenge-day was the day I realized where I was lost and how to get back on the path to a decent manuscript. It meant about 20k of the then 70k manuscript was unusable. It meant Frankensteining chapters together. It meant excising whole characters who would no longer have a place. It meant that rather than being 3 chapters from the end, I was back to being 10-15 chapters from having a full draft.
So I did what any rational author does. I cried to a CP on the phone, buried my face in the table at Starbucks, and tried to convince myself I was totally wrong. I could keep going. I could make this work. It just wouldn't be as good as it could be.
And aye, there's the rub.
Genn three years ago would have put that manuscript in the drawer. It was too hard. I was too lost. Clearly, I didn't have what it takes. She might have kept going on the wrong path and finished up a draft that was bad. But things have changed, and not just because of Crewel.
One of the amazing things that has happened since I started writing Crewel in late 2010 is that I have some incredible critique partners. Each of them brings something unique to the table. One is the mom I never had – supportive, inspiring, always there for me no matter how petty or stupid I'm being. Another just gets it – he just gets me in a way that's rare to find in any aspect of your life. And the last is someone I latched on to out of pure necessity because I needed a real friend to do real grown-up things with and have play dates with, but mostly because omg-she-was-also-writing-a-book. I'm so fortunate that she didn't just hide from my needy needfulness, but for some reason thought I might be a good bet. All of them have made me a better, stronger, vastly more sane writer.
This week after three years and many incarnations of her book, CP #3 got a book deal. She signed with Mollie after working on an arduous revise and resubmit and then a week – no joke- later she sold her book in a 3 book deal to a dream house in a dream pre-empt.
Now I didn't just learn from her to not give up and to work doggedly on a hard manuscript – even if I did. I actually learned that sometimes the hard is what makes something great (which is also a lesson in A League of Their Own, but let's keep our eyes on the ball, shall we?). Her novel is worlds different from the first version I read a year ago and no doubt totally different from the book she set out to write in the beginning. But she did what she had to do to make it the best possible book, even when that meant lots and lots of rewriting and reimagining. She never shied away from the work.
Watching her commit to that book was…is inspiring. And it totally paid off.
Now I have the luxury of having sold the book I'm currently writing already. I could have turned in that book after forcing out the last few chapters. It wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't a great book either. Reworking it is going to be hard, but now that I'm on the right path, the work feels less perfunctory. Less tedious. As much as I needed to wander the lost path until I found my way, I'm remembering how wonderful it is to feel the drive of purposeful storytelling. And something I've learned from my own experience and from my CPs is that you never get to that point of really knowing you're on the right path, the one that will eventually lead you where you need to be, if you give up. An abandoned manuscript will never be a book, and an easy manuscript probably won't be good. But that's okay, because it's the hard that makes it great.
Sorry, I rarely post on the weekend, but I thought it unfair to not check in with my current running total.
Running wordcount for the week: 15,183
I'll be writing until midnight though…
March 9, 2012
March 8, 2012
Whew! I spent the morning on Seuss-inspired birthday invites, so I'm late! I'm late for a very important date (clearly, I am mixing my kidlit references today).
But never fear, I have three hours to kick your butts (you're all laughing at my weak threats, aren't you).
Yesterday's count: 5,212
Running total: 12,634
Respectable, I think. How about you?
March 7, 2012
How's it going? I finally hit my stride yesterday, but, good news for you, I have to take a break this morning and work on something for my UK publisher, so use your time wisely.
Tuesday word count: 5,237
Running word count: 7,422
I had to start working in separate docs to keep things straight, so I'll just be posting my daily and running now, because everything is all messy. How are you all doing?