03 December 2012

A Very Merry Unbirthday to You! Giveaway



This week I'm celebrating my birthday. On Wednesday, December 5th, I'll be 28 years old, officially (read: depressingly) into my "late twenties." Regardless of that, I am really excited for my birthday this year and I want to celebrate!

As a kid my birthdays tended to be disgusting examples of what happens when a large family has only one child to spoil for nearly a decade. My second birthday was particularly offensive. According to family legend I got so tired of opening presents after an hour that I burst into tears and refused to open anymore.

So, taking the history of an overabundance of generosity in my direction, this year I've decided to adopt the Hobbit tradition of giving presents, rather than receiving and thus,a giveaway!

I'll be giving away TEN $10 giftcards to Amazon, Barnes and Noble or the Book Depository. The winners get to choose where they'd like their prizes from!


02 December 2012

Sports Sunday #6: I'm Baaaa-aaackkk

So there hasn't been a Sports Sunday in a little while, but there's a really, really good excuse as to why. I've been revising. For those of you who don't know, revising isn't editing. Editing is making sure your periods and commas are in the right places and changing, "angry" to "furious" and things like that.

Revision is something totally different. It's the result of copious notes from your editor about plot and characterization and conflict and all the things about your book that don't work quite right.

Revision (unlike golf, which I covered in a previous Sports Sunday) is TOTALLY a sport. Hell, it's a contact sport, even if the only collision is between your forehead and the laptop keyboard.

That being said, today I sent the first round of revisions for Game. Set. Match. back to my editor.

So for those of you who are revising or will be revising at some point in the future, I bring you some Sports Sunday inspiration, even if it is fictional!


16 November 2012

The 2013 Debut Author Challenge Goal Post

In case you guys hadn't heard (though I doubt very much you'd be reading this if you hadn't), I have a book coming out next year (well three actually, but that's neither here nor there). It's not just any book however, it's my debut novel. My excitement is beyond words. As an author you only get one debut novel and I plan to enjoy the process as much as possible.

I've been stuck in my revision cave the last couple of weeks, working hard to make Game. Set. Match. the best book it can possibly be before it hits your Nooks, Kindles, iPads or Android Devices. While I've been revising, I've also been thinking about all the other debut authors out there going through exactly what I'm going through.The online writing community is a lot smaller than you'd think and many of us keep in contact on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads, so I know that my experience isn't unique to me. There are lots of nervous and excited 2013 Debut Authors. So keeping that in mind, I've decided to participate in the 2013 Debut Author Challenge, hosted by the wonderful Tara at The Hobbitsies book review blog.

My 2013 Debut Novels "To Be Read":

A Point So Delicate by Brandy Colbert

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

Dualed by Elsie Chapman

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey
 
Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

The Reece Malcolm List by Amie Spaulding

Praefatio by Georgia McBride

The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Liddell

2013 Debuts I've already read through Advanced Reading Copies
Splintered by A.G. Howard (5 Stars)
Pivot Point by Kasie West (5 MINDBLOWING Stars)

06 November 2012

That one time when the hurricane hit...

*peaks her head out of the layers of blankets*

Hi everyone,

In case some of you were still unaware, Hurricane Sandy blasted the Northeastern United States early last week. I'm happy to report that me and mine are all safe and sound. I am, however, still without any electricity. So, no heat, no internet and no TV for going on 8 days now. My favorite books growing up were the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and over the last week and a half, I've been given just a small taste of what life was like before we could plug anything in. I've become accustomed to carrying around an LED lantern powered by 8 D batteries from room to room so I don't trip over anything. I still hit the light switch whenever I walk in to a room. Force of habit, I suppose.

It's...an interesting experience. Schools were closed in my area for a full week and many still are and thus I didn't have to go to work. In that time I found myself rising with the sun and heading to bed just an hour or two after it set. I'm not a coffee drinker, so I've stuck with tea and I've made my way through a box of Apple Cinnamon Spice teabags after having it in my cabinet for several months. Obviously, the storm interfered with Halloween and while there were some brave Trick-OR-Treaters, I found myself with a glut of candy and have thus been eating more than my fair share of Kit Kats over the last few days. I've made a significant dent in my To-Be-Read pile, reverting  back to my youth when I'd fool my parents into believing I was asleep by burrowing under the covers and reading by flashlight. 

I'm also in the middle of a major revision of Game. Set. Match. I was about five chapters into it when the hurricane hit. I now have more than ten legal pad pages (yes, back and front) of handwritten revisions to be typed up once power is restored. Let's hope I can decipher my own handwriting when the time comes.

The men working in my neighborhood said that power would be restored last night. This morning they said this afternoon. We'll see, but until then, I'm leaving links of places you can go to help people who've been hit a lot harder by Sandy that I was. People have lost everything, so if you can give anything at all, even just a dollar or two, it would be very much appreciated.





And last, but never least, those of you in the United States and over 18, no matter your political affiliation, make sure you get out and vote today! Make your voice heard in the most important way you can

24 October 2012

The "Happy Blogoversary To Me" Giveaway!


On November 1st, it will be exactly one year since I started this blog!

At that time only parts of Game. Set. Match. existed. I'd written a prologue and a few prequel chapters that helped me establish the back stories for my characters. Now I have an agent who truly one of the best in the business, a three book contract with a fantastic publisher and most recently, an editor who kicks my ass in the best way possible.

But before I had all of those things, I had you guys! Your support and unbridled enthusiasm for my writing are what got me to this fantastic place. So really, this blogoversary is a celebration of YOU!

To properly commemorate the occasion, I've decided to do a giveaway.

One lucky winner will receive a $50 Giftcard to Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or the Book Depository! 

There are lots of ways to gain entry and many ways to improve your chances of winning!

Also, if there are more than 500 entries, I'll give away TWO gift cards!

Use this Rafflecopter to enter up to 21 times before the contest ends Friday, November 3rd.
(Remember, if you've already done these tasks, it still counts!)


  CONGRATS TO LACEY AND LYNNE!




a Rafflecopter giveaway

21 October 2012

GAME SET MATCH: Release Date!

When I signed with my publisher, Coliloquy we set a tentative release date for the first book in the Outerbanks Tennis Academy series to be released next spring. One of the major advantages to working in digital-only publishing is the shorter turn-around from finished manuscript to published book. Basically, you don't have to wait around for a printer to print the books, so you can get it out pretty much as soon as its ready!

And Game. Set. Match. will be released on...

**drum roll**

May 1, 2013

Add it on Goodreads today! 
If you do, you'll be one step closer to some awesome GSM swag as we get close to the release date. 
*nudge nudge wink wink*


15 October 2012

Sports Sunday #5: Derek Jeter Down

There was no Sports Sunday this week and here's why:


I'm way too depressed with how the Yankees' postseason is going to write about anything sports related...


08 October 2012

Alex Russell's Doppelgänger FOUND!



And we have a winner! Coming in with a whopping 81% of the vote is...


*DRUM ROLL*

Chris Hemsworth!

So for your viewing pleasure, I bring you a photo spam!



A casual look and probably the closest to how Alex actually appears in my head...

Appearing clean shaven which is rare for both Chris and Alex.
And seriously, check out those eyes. No wonder a certain character of mine goes head over heels!
Plus a video, because while Chris is Australian and not British, it's close enough...


07 October 2012

06 October 2012

Doppelgänger Search: Alex Russell

If you couldn't tell over the last couple of weeks, I've been hit with a barrage of real life actors from some of my favorite TV shows who seem to fit the physical descriptions of the characters in GAME. SET. MATCH. perfectly.

The one character who that hasn't happened for is the one I think I'm most in love with - at least in this first book: Alex Russell, British tennis sensation and a total player - on and off the court - he's blonde, incredibly athletic with a magnetism unmatched by anyone a certain female OBX athlete has ever met before.

There have been a few people who come to mind in the effort to "cast" him, but I thought I'd leave it to you, dear readers, to choose his doppelgänger.

1. Chris Hemsworth
2. Alex Pettyfer
3. Zach Roerig

29 September 2012

Sports Sunday #3: Golf is NOT a sport...

An early (and quick) Sports Sunday post, because what I'm writing about actually takes place tomorrow. If I pique your interest, I don't want you to miss out!

Golf is not a sport. It's a position I've taken a firm stance on since I was old enough to understand what I was looking at. Golf is an activity, one that requires a tremendous amount of skill and patience, but it is distinctly not a sport. Baseball, soccer, football, hell - CURLING requires more physical activity than golf does. Plus it's the most bloody boring thing to watch in the history of all the things to watch.

There is one notable exception to this rule. Ryder Cup. 

Every two years, the United States and Europe send their best to a golf course to compete against one another in an epic showdown. The highlight of these competitions is the four-some format. Two teams of two men play a round of golf, taking alternating shots and competing head to head, trying to gain a point for their country/continent. 

The best thing about the Ryder Cup isn't the golf - it's the atmosphere and what it means to the players.

A quick overview:



So tomorrow morning, if you're so inclined, turn on NBC at Noon EST and watch the Americans and Europeans go at it just outside of Chicago. Golf is STILL not a sport, but the Ryder Cup is a lot of fun to watch!


27 September 2012

THE BIGGEST ANNOUNCEMENT OF ALL THE ANNOUNCEMENTS EVER

GAME. SET. MATCH. 
IS GOING TO BE PUBLISHED!!!!!

I was thinking about starting this post of all poetically, leading with an analogy of some kind, but then the excitement totally overwhelmed me because GAME. SET. MATCH. IS GOING TO BE PUBLISHED!!!!

Okay, I think I've finally got that out of my system. 

On to the second half of the really big announcement: It's a THREE BOOK DEAL. Yes, you read that right. Three books. That's just over 200,000 words of GSM goodness that you will be able to download to your Kindle, Nook, Android device or really any computer or mobile device if you download a free Kindle app. That's right, the deal is for digital rights. I'm signing with a publisher called Coliloquy. They are doing some super-cool techy things with storytelling (that you can read about here) and if you couldn't already tell, I'm beyond excited to be working with them!

So the major players here:

My amazing Super Agent, Michelle Wolfson (right). She kept me sane through this entire process. I'm so blessed to have Michelle in my corner - and not just on days like today when I have super exciting news to share! I know I'm a writer and I should be able to come up with words to describe just how amazing my agent is, but I really can't. Just trust me, she rocks. She beyond rocks. She rocks my multi-colored toe socks. There, does that help you all understand? 

Lisa Rutherford (left) over at Coliloquy. Have you ever met a person and you're instantly struck with the idea that this is a person you just NEED to work with because they are beyond brilliant? That's Lisa. Her enthusiasm for what she does and for the little world I created in GSM blows me away. Plus, she has a real life Alex at home that she calls "husband." Seriously, folks, she wins at life.




Georgia McBride and the entire crew at YALitChat. It was through their Submissions Mailbox group that my manuscript caught the attention of both Michelle and Lisa, so obviously I will forever be in their debt.


My amazing critique partners: Jess, Kaelyn, Trish, Rachel and Megan. You guys were my ROCKS through this process. GSM would not be what it is today - or what it will be - without each of you. Thank you so much!

And last, but certainly not least, YOU. Yes, you reading this. I can't tell you how much the support of you all has meant to me. Most of you popped up on this blog long before there was even a completed manuscript. You all are amazing and I hope you stick with me because the journey doesn't end here! It's just the beginning!







So just to whet your appetite a bit, here's a short teaser trailer I put together for you all because GAME. SET. MATCH. IS GOING TO BE PUBLISHED! (Yeah, that's never going to get old...)





*Credit for the lovely photo of Michelle goes to Erin Summerill

25 September 2012

Doppelgängers, Ahoy! Part Deuce: A Gleek and a GSMer

So I know I've been doing this a lot lately, but unlike what happened with the girls of The Vampire Diaries, this one slapped me across the face IMMEDIATELY.

I wasn't all that excited for the season premiere of Glee this year. The show hit a wall in the last few seasons, but as someone who was a singer in high school, it held a special place in my heart, so I decided to stick with it.

I'm glad I did, if only because apparently one of the main characters from Game. Set. Match. is actually IN IT. Okay, not really, but check this out:


I mean, they're even playing his song! Teddy is SUCH a ladies' man - a total womanizer - although one with a heart of gold buried deep. Plus, the actor. Hello, Jacob Artist aka Teddy's Harrison's doppelgänger.


I'm actually a little afraid to turn on the TV again...who's doppelgänger will turn up next?! 

Also, that news I promised you guys...it's coming...I swear! *cough*endofthisweek*cough*


23 September 2012

Sports Sunday #2: A Truly Wild 'Wild Card'

Ask any baseball fan about the last day of last season. No matter which team they root for they'll use words like, "EPIC" or "FANTASTIC" or "BEST DAY OF BASEBALL EVER!!!11!one!elventy!" Those descriptions are not hyperbole (Side Note: you don't not want to know how long I pronounced that, hi-per-bowl, but I digress). Four teams, FOUR TEAMS entered the night still fighting for two playoff spots.

Entering the final day of the season the Red Sox needed to beat the Orioles. The Red Sox - after what could only be described as a pathetic month of September - also needed some help from their historical rivals the Yankees, who were playing the Rays.

The Atlanta Braves - who formerly held an 8.5 game lead for the NL wildcard spot, needed to beat the Phillies. The St. Louis Cardinals needed to beat the Astros and hope for a loss from the Braves.


Here's how it all went down:





Major League Baseball loved it. They loved how hyped the fans were. They loved the momentum the league gained headed into the post season and most of all, they loved the advertising dollars that rolled in while people were tuning in to the games. They sought a way to reproduce those results every year. The result? Creating a second wildcard spot in each league and a one game playoff to determine which of those Wildcard teams gets the honor of facing down the team with the best record in the Divisional Round (aka the First Round) of the Playoffs.

So now it's September again, nearly a year removed from The Best Day of Baseball Ever and we are headed towards the same sort of craziness. Here's where all the "wild" will factor in:

American League East
1. New York Yankees 88-63
1. Baltimore Orioles 87-64 (1 game back)

American League Central
1. Chicago White Sox 81-70
2. Detroit Tigers 80 - 70 (.5 games back)

American League Wild Card
1. Baltimore Orioles 87-64 (tie)
1. Oakland Athletics 85-66 (tie)
3. Los Angeles Angels 83 - 69 (2.5 games back)

National League Wild Card
1. Atlanta Braves 87-65
2. St. Louis Cardinals 81-71
3. Milwalkee Brewers 78-73 (2.5 games back)
4. Los Angeles Dodgers 78-74 (2 games back)
5. Philadelphia Phillies 77-75 (4 games back)

Right now, not even counting the teams who've clinched - or nearly clinched - their playoff spots (Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and the San Fransisco Giants) there are ELEVEN other teams that have a reasonable expectation to make the playoffs. ELEVEN. You guys, there are only THIRTY total teams in the Major Leagues. The season only has two weeks left to go and more than one entire third of the league might make the playoffs. Eleven teams fighting for the last seven spots.

If you're not a baseball fan, but you've always been curious about what draws people to the sport, now is the time to start paying attention. Pick a team - maybe one of the teams that wasn't supposed to be here like the Oakland A's or the Baltimore Orioles - or a team with a storied history and easy to follow like my fav, the New York Yankees or the Washington Nationals who haven't had a team make the playoffs since before World War II or the Atlanta Braves as their third baseman, Chipper Jones, looks to finish up his Hall of Fame career with one last World Series or  even last year's defending World Series Champion, St. Louis Cardinals who are scraping and clawing to get back to the Promise Land. Pick a team and start cheering, it's going to be a WILD ride.


16 September 2012

Sports Sunday #1: What to Expect



I’m a bit of a walking contradiction. I’m a sports-obsessed librarian. On every job interview I’ve ever been on, the interviewer is generally more fascinated by my coaching experience than my plan to incorporate 21st century learning into the school’s curriculum. So I thought if my love of sports bleeds so well into my professional life, it might be something that translates well onto this blog, especially since my first novel is sports themed…

So here we go, the first of my “Sports Sunday” posts…

I can’t imagine you’d be reading my blog unless you love a good story. I’ve met most of you because of our shared love of stories. That’s exactly what I love about sports. There is inherent narrative to all sports that pulls me in every time. I could be watching a game in which I have no rooting interest – say the Kansas City Royals are facing down the Minnesota Twins – and I would choose a team I want to win based on the score or a particular player or even if the starting pitcher’s wife just had a baby. There’s a story in every game and those stories create the overarching plot of a season.

Sports stories – the great ones – resonate with all audiences not just sports fans. Look at the success of A League of their Own, a movie telling the story of female baseball players during World War II:






Or one of the finest television shows to ever grace our airwaves, the story of the Dillon Panther’s football team in Friday Night Lights:







And so, I plan to bring you the best sports stories I can find, the real life kind, every week. 

Sometimes we’ll talk about the the favorites, like my team, 

the New York Yankees:


 And sometimes we’ll talk about the underdogs, like my other team, 
the New York Giants:

 


And sometimes we’ll talk about the quieter moments, like a love affair between a city and a player… In the 2001 World Series – made famous for far more than just this moment – the Yankees were losing 2-0 in the 9th inning. Their right fielder, Paul O’Neill, a passionate fan favorite was likely going to retire at the end of the season. Regardless of the score Yankee fans wanted to show appreciation for a man who’d earned their respect for nearly a decade.  For an entire half-inning the entire crowd stood on their feet and chanted his name over and over again.




So that’s my first Sports Sunday. What do you guys think? 

15 September 2012

Doppelgängers, Ahoy! Game. Set. Match. and The Vampire Diaries

The C.W. show, The Vampire Diaries has been airing for three seasons, coming up on its fourth and up until two weeks ago, I'd never watched an episode.

I resisted for a REALLY long time. Everyone told me it was something I would enjoy, but I didn't believe them. I wasn't a huge fan of Twilight or True Blood. Never really got into Anne Rice at all. Vampires weren't my thing. I watched the first episode and I was totally unimpressed. Even more so because EVERYONE had said I would like it and I really am in the market for a new show to obsess over since Make It or Break It was cancelled and I can't stand most of what's on television now as it's just a constant reality TV loop and I'm not sure there's anything I hate more than reality TV. So with that thought in mind I gave The Vampire Diaries a second chance. 




I watched the second episode, then the third, then the fourth. It improves DRASTICALLY after the first few episodes. I love the intrigue, I love the relationships between family, friends and *cough* more than friends. The guys are just ridiculously hot - especially Ian Somerhalder who makes being bad look so damn good, but I digress. My sister, who rec'd it in the first place has been I Told You So-ing for days and since she so rarely has the opportunity to do so, I'm allowing it. Now that I'm through all of Season 1 and blasting through Season 2 at what I'm sure is a record pace, I'm no longer in any way unimpressed. I'm totally hooked. Mostly, I was having a lot of fun watching it because it's so completely different from what I've been working on with my writing. It's very much an escape if you will. 

Then I thought about it and I thought about it some more and I started REALLY paying attention and yeah, it was staring me right in the face the entire time:


Um, you see it now, right? Hello Penny, Jasmine and Indy...pretty much straight out of central casting. I mean I know it's not unusual these days to have a multicultural cast, but it's just so damn spot on. So yeah, a little less of an escape than I originally thought, but still. It's especially weird since there's a whole plot line in TVD about doppelgängers. I mean for frack's sake, Kat Graham, who plays Bonnie is a biracial actress with green eyes. Too perfect.

So, if you haven't watched Vampire Diaries, I highly recommend it - even if you're not a Vampire Freak - all three seasons are up on Netflix Instant right now. 

And if you're still with me at the end of this post, stay tuned in the next couple of days... 

*nudge nudge wink wink* 

...I may have some news to share.



17 August 2012

An Anniversary...

Just a very short blog note to commemorate what up until a year ago was simply a random date on the calendar. August 17, 2011, I started to outline Game. Set. Match. It was in the shower that morning when Penny Harrison popped into my head fully formed an ready to go.

If you told me in that moment that a year later, I would have a completed manuscript, a fantastic agent and on the road towards publication, I would have laughed in your face.

In case the Olympics didn't hammer this point home enough during the last month, if you work hard and set you mind to it, you can do ANYTHING and dreams do in fact, come true.

To honor that, I bring you this lovely video, if any of you are looking for a little inspiration:






xoxo,


Jen

12 July 2012

My New Work-In-Progress: Meet Nadia, Rob and Leo

So there is a group of new characters who've taken over my brain in the last month or so. Their story isn't ready for public consumption yet, but I can say this much: Anastasia, Robin Hood and Outer Space. Cool, right? I thought so. So without any further ado, its time for you to meet these guys:



08 July 2012

Appreciating Roger Federer

This afternoon, Roger Federer won his 7th (yeah, that's a lot) Wimbledon and his 17th major overall. He also overtook the #1 ranking in the World for the first time in a long time. He is, without a doubt, the best player to ever step on a tennis court. He's a class act - on and off the court - and I've always been a huge fan.

I do however, have to also acknowledge what he managed to do today, for me. He beat Andy Murray, who was trying to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry did it in 1936. It's a big effin' deal, a big enough deal that I made one of my main characters in Game. Set. Match. Alex Russell accomplish it. (Yeah that's him to the right. Cute, no?)


So thanks, Fed, for keeping my novel accurate, at least for another year.

Photo Courtesy of Associated Press

05 July 2012

Never Give In: Part the Last or On "How I Wrote a Novel and Snagged an Agent"

For the conclusion of this short series about my foray into the world of publishing, I bring you what happened once I wrote the amazing words, "the end." (Metaphorically speaking of course, I didn't actually write the words, "the end" at the bottom of the page or anything).

Thanks to my ever so diligent procrastination, when I was finished (and my critique partners gave it a thorough check-through and I gave it another once - or twice - over) I was ready to start querying. I mentioned this in my earlier post, but seriously, querying is an art form, not a science, but there are certain guidelines you should adhere to. First and foremost, the vast majority of agents have their submission guidelines posted on the agency's website. FOLLOW THOSE GUIDELINES. Do not deviate from those guidelines. If you have a question or if you're not sure what they are asking for, ask around. Check twitter, check the agent's blog, ask other authors who have queried them in the past. Don't assume you'll be the exception. You won't be. You'll get deleted or sent to spam and that'll be the end of that potential relationship. 

So, query letter (the 6th version of it, mind you. Again, revise that thing with same diligence you would revise your manuscript) and manuscript ready to go, I began to query.

I sent my first query to an amazing agent who was near the top of my list. Basically, I broke every single rule ever imaginable when it comes to that process. The usual advice is to send your first queries to agents that you would like to work with, but won't be heartbroken if they reject you. (NEVER and I repeat, NEVER send a query to an agent you don't want to work with, that's just stupid)

I was lucky though, that agent got back to me with a request for the full manuscript almost immediately. The next day, feeling buoyed by that success, I sent my first batch of queries, ten in all. And then ten more the next week. There was a lot of rejection, but there were a lot of requests as well. You have to be ready for the rejection while you're querying. I know it's easy to say and harder to accept, but this industry is the most subjective in the world. Just know that the rejection isn't a reflection of you or your hard work, simply the agent and/or editor's taste. For whatever reason your manuscript doesn't float their boat and you don't want to work with someone who isn't 130% enthusiastic about your work.

This is where I want to talk about patience. Patience is necessary when querying. Manuscripts take months to write and edit and querying can take months (or years) as well. You just have to keep reminding yourself that you aren't the priority for most agents. An agent's priority is his or her clients and that's how it should be. Once you sign with an agent, do you want her working on selling your manuscripts or diligently combing through her slush pile instead? See my point?


In fact, my agent was so dedicated to her clients, she was actually closed to submissions while I was querying. So how did I sign with her if she was closed to queries? No, I didn't send her a query DESPITE the fact that she was not open to submissions (that's another really fast way to alienate people in the very small world of literary agents). What I did was simple: in addition to querying the "traditional" way, I also kept my eyes open for contests and other ways to get my query and pages in front of an agent. 


And this is where Georgia McBride and the incredible community at YALitChat come into play. Every month, YALitChat's group, the "Submissions Mailbox" takes submissions to a panel of members. The members vote and a selection of those submissions is sent to a group of agents who like the idea of having "vetted" queries and samples sent to them from a community they trust. My submission went out in April and the amazing Michelle Wolfson (who was at the top of my list, but sadly closed to queries) was one of the agents who received that submission. 

She requested my manuscript on April 17th and nearly two months to the day later, we spoke on the phone. I can't express in words just how much she blew me away with her enthusiasm and professionalism. I know it's totally cliche, but it's true. I somehow managed to keep my cool and not scream into the phone that I wanted to sign with her RIGHT NOW. Then I had to notify all the other agents who were reading the full still. Remember all that talk about patience earlier? Patience kind of goes out the window after you get an offer of rep. I set a deadline for the end of the week. There were a few that, for whatever reason, didn't respond when I notified them of my offer, but the rest either stepped aside at that point or promised to read and get back to me as soon as possible.


After talking to the other agents who were interested in representing me, both of whom were perfectly lovely, but just not quite the right fit, I called Michelle, but got her voicemail. I was now slightly terrified that she'd changed her mind about me, but thankfully that was not the case. A couple of days later we met up at Bryant Park (hooray for living in the same area!) and signed in person.



So there it is, my journey through the writing war and the querying trenches. Hopefully I'll have some more good news for you all soon, but until then I know lots of people are interested in stats, so here are mine:

Queries Sent: 100
Query Rejections: 45
No Response: 33
Requests for Full and/or Partial: 22
Rejections of Full and/or Partial: 14
No Response After Offer: 5
Offers of Representation: 3

24 June 2012

Look-A-Like Alert: Lolo Jones & Penny Harrison

For those of you who aren't big sports fans, you may not know that Olympic Trials are being held this week. The gymnastics trials begin on Thursday and I'll be in attendance, but I digress. This afternoon, I was watching the Track and Field trials and they aired highlights of yesterday's competition where a 2008 Olympian named Lolo Jones qualified in the Women's 100 Meter Hurdles. Yay for her, but really what this post is about is who she look like: Penny Harrison. She really looks like her...A LOT. In fact, she and Penny share a similar cultural background as well.

Many of you will remember that I've used a couple of different stock photos of Penny since I started this blog, because it's just been really hard to find a picture of someone who actually looks like the girl in my head.

Now granted, Lolo has about 10 years on Penny as she appears in Game. Set. Match. but if you want to see someone who is nearly identical to Penny as I imagine her, here she is:




22 June 2012

Never Give In: Part 2 or On "How I Wrote a Novel and Snagged an Agent"

So, where did I leave off? Oh, right, I started writing.

As I said in my previous post, I'm a plotter. I outline, usually in detail and so when I start to write, it generally flows pretty well. I know exactly what goes in each chapter and since I try to do as much character sketching before I even outline, my characters don't tend to freak out and take me on plot detours.

That doesn't mean the writing process is easy for me. In fact, thanks to my point of view and perspective choices, this novel was one of the most challenging projects I've ever taken on. Developing and maintaining distinctive voices for each of the three "point of view" characters was incredibly difficult.

A great thing about writing a novel in the 21st century is that there are thousands of resources to help you write that novel. I'm not going to lie, when I was hovering around 15,000 words, my progress came to a screeching halt. That's when I saw one of my friends tweet the hashtag #YALitChat. I stumbled into one of their weekly chats and a quick google search led me to Georgia McBride's website. After a little research (i.e. asking around) I hired Georgia to edit the first chapter of my floundering work-in-progress.

To say her comments jump started my muse again would be an understatement. She nailed the problem on the head and I was off and running again. Now, hiring an outside editor isn't for everyone (for whatever reason), but all I can say is that it worked for me and that if you're looking for one, Georgia is incredible (for more than just her mad editing skills, but I'll talk about that later).



I also convinced some of my smart, literate, amazing friends to critique my work. I cannot stress enough the importance of having someone who is NOT YOU (or your mom) reading your work. They'll spot something you thought was clever and call it ridiculous (and 99 times out of 100, they're right). They can see a plot hole coming from a mile away and most importantly, they can tell you if your book is actually readable or not. If you're writing with the intension of publication, get yourself some awesome critique buddies and FAST.

So there I was, plugging along, with comments and suggestions from Georgia and my Critique Partners (that could be the name of a very dorky band, no?) when I realized that eventually I would be finished. I know right? Obvious, but it wasn't something I'd thought about much. A few pokes and prods from my friends had me researching literary agents and the process most aspiring authors have to go through in order to snag one: querying.

Some people will say that you shouldn't even start to think about query letters and the querying process until after you're finished with your manuscript. To that I say, BAH! Of course you should be thinking about what comes next, especially since it takes some time to accumulate the knowledge necessary to query correctly. And yes, there is a correct way to query. We'll get to that in the next post. Researching the querying process and the publishing industry in general was what I did when I didn't feel like writing. It was a procrastination tool and really, the perfect one. Usually while I was researching, I'd get myself all worked up about wanting to query a particular agent or wanting a book deal like the one a blogging author got and it would inspire me to get back to my manuscript. As much failure and rejection as there is in this industry, there are a lot of success stories and reading about those is important too.

Then I wrote a query letter and despite all of that research it was terrible. So I tried again and it still wasn't quite right. I ran it by the amazing Query Kick-Around group at YALitChat and they really helped make it shine. If you're not a YA author or a member of YALitChat, you can try the forums at AgentQueryConnect and the AbsoluteWrite forums.

(BTW, if you want to check out my query letter, head over to my friend Ashlyn Macnamara's blog, where I'm featured in her  "First Query, Last Query" series on the art of query writing.)

Now, this is where things get complicated. Agents. Finding an agent is basically Step 2 on the traditional "Getting Published" check-list. Are there ways to be published without one? Sure. You could self-pub or submit directly to an indie-press or even join the slush pile at a major publishing company. Those are all perfectly acceptable options, but for me, I knew I wanted an agent. I wanted a publishing deal and I wanted someone along for the ride with me who knew what she was doing and who could open doors that were closed to me simply because I'm not a literary agent.



So, I started making a list. I went to AgentQuery.com, Publisher's Marketplace and QueryTracker. If you're serious about this whole "getting published" thing, those are three websites you should familiarize yourself with ASAP. Seriously. I don't care where you are in the process, just start poking around and figuring things out. It'll save you a lot of time and effort later on. It's also helpful at this point to try and figure out what's important to you in an agent. Are you looking for someone with an incredible sales record? An agent whose client's love her? Do you want someone with an editorial background or someone who expects you to submit a totally 100% ready to go finished product? Trust me, you think some of that stuff isn't important to you, until you've got multiple offers of representation and you have to decide which agent to go with. If you've thought about all of these things beforehand, it'll make your decision that much easier.

For nine months, I wrote and edited and procrastinated by figuring out the whole "querying" thing and then one day, I looked down at the MSWord file I'd been slaving over and I realized, I was done.



Still with me? Great! More soon!

xoxo

Jen

16 June 2012

Never Give In: Part 1 or On "How I Wrote a Novel and Snagged an Agent"

"Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions or honor or good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to to the overwhelming might of the enemy."


- Winston Churchill

I love Winton Churchill.

I can see you, sitting there reading this thinking, "WTF!? I came here to read a post about writing and querying agents and you're going to talk about Winston Churchill?

Damn straight I am.

For years I've used Winston Churchill's quotes as sources of inspiration. In one of the darkest times in his nation's history, his words brought comfort and instilled confidence in his people. However, one of this more famous quotes, which has been bastardized through the years from its original form down to, "Never give up, never, never, never give up,"always gave my pause. Maybe if I'd known the actual quote as written at the top of this post, it wouldn't have, but I didn't. I only knew the, "Never give up, never, never, never give up," version and it always provoked the logical part of my brain. It whined, "Maybe some people should give up. Maybe some people aren't good enough and are banging their heads against a solid oak door that's never going to open."

Today, I tell that logical, snooty, whiny voice. "You're wrong."

If you follow this blog or follow me on twitter, you know that yesterday I signed with a literary agent, the utterly fabulous Michelle Wolfson. We're having lunch on Monday and it'll become official when I hand her my signed agency agreement and she adds her signature next to mine. It's real. And if anyone had told me in August 2011, when I started to write Game. Set. Match. that less than a year later I would have an agent, I would have laughed hard enough to cry. That was the furthest thing from my mind (though it was there, just buried really deep.)

So, all of that is to introduce this post as the first in a series about how I did it and hopefully some of you out there reading will find it helpful or at the very least interesting.

Step 1: Write a Manuscript

Three easy words to type out, but not nearly as simple in execution. Some people carry stories around with them for years before they ever put pen to paper, others wait only a day or two before they start writing. I can't tell you which produces a better product. All I know is that last year, in early August I was listening to the song, Penny and Me by Hanson (NO JUDGING! YES, I CAN FEEL YOU JUDGING. STOP IT.) and Penny Harrison popped up, fully formed, in my head. A biracial, eighteen-year-old, tennis star who trains at an elite academy and is destined to be the greatest tennis player of her generation.



I spent a few weeks fleshing out her "world" and the characters who lived in it and I can't stress the importance of this enough. Even if you're writing contemporary fiction, even if the setting is as familiar to you and your readers as your own backyard, you still need to build a world for your characters to live in. Every setting has its own quirks and its important to a well-developed story for those details to come out on the page. I am not exaggerating. In our first conversation it's something Michelle and I discussed at length and it's a problem with a lot of contemporary fiction floating around. I read sci-fi, fantasy and a ton of classic lit. World building was instinctual for me because of that. So I say it again: even if you're writing a contemporary story, with no paranormal or fantastical elements at all, you still need to world-build.

After I had my setting and maybe a dozen characters (main and secondary) I spent a few days stressing over character point of view and 1st or 3rd person perspective. My only advice with those issues is the mostly unhelpful: write what feels right. If it feels right, you'll execute it well. If you try to force it, you'll just write crap. Now, it's not that easy because I KNOW I was rejected by several agents because of my point of view choices (and I know because they flat-out said so), but that's okay. The cliche is true, you don't just want an agent. You want the RIGHT agent and the right agent will love your vision for your manuscript (even if she has a few or more than a few suggestions for improvement, as I'm sure Michelle does for me!)


Where was I? Right, I'd made my third person limited, three separate point of views decision. Then I outlined. A LOT. There are different schools of thought on writing a novel. Generally writers fall into two categories, "pantsers" (as in, writing from the seat of their pants) and "plotters" (those who outline, either generally or down to the tiniest detail). I fall in the latter category and I can't imagine writing without at least a simple outline. I filled legal pads, index cards, highlighted POV sections, color coded, arranged and rearranged plot points, noted down some dialogue that popped into my head and made sure there were no plot holes.

This....gradually                                                          became this....



And then - FINALLY - I started to write.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in a few days!

xoxo

Jen

15 June 2012

The Big Announcement!

So the big news I teased you all about the other day? I can announce it now!



As of this afternoon, I am officially represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency.

I'll be posting about how it all came to be in a few days, but for right now all you need to know is that Michelle is amazing and she loves Game. Set. Match. as much as you guys do! 

Also, this means that I'm one step closer to publication. One HUGE step. 

Thanks to each and every one of you for reading and commenting and supporting me from the very beginning! 

More soon!




14 June 2012

Shiny and New: a couple of updates

A new layout and a new web address!

Make sure to update your bookmarks, this blog is now:

http://jenniferiacopelli.blogspot.com


Also, stay tuned, exciting announcement coming very, very soon!

05 April 2012

Game Set Match: The Music

When I write I'm almost always listening to music. Sometimes I'll  listen to music that will get me in the mood for a particular scene and some are just favorite songs of mine. Check them out if you have a chance, especially if you haven't heard of them. They all rock! I wonder if any of you can guess which characters I associate some of these songs with!

So here are are some of the songs I listened to while writing, Game. Set. Match. 


~*~



01 April 2012

Ending radio silence...

So you haven't heard from me in a while and I apologize for that, but I swear I have a good excuse. I decided to focus all of my energy on finishing the novel and this morning, right around 4:00 am, I did!

Yes, you read that right. I finished Game. Set. Match. I'm not sure I can describe how it feels so I bring you a tennis themed victory dance:



I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and encouragement over the last couple of months and I promise there will be some new bits and pieces flying your way on this site before long!

xoxo

Jennifer


14 February 2012

Sneak Peek: A Kiss

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd post a short sneak peek from the actual novel. This is a "holiday" when we celebrate love, so what better way to honor that than with a kiss...right?

Indiana Gaffney is about to kiss a boy...any guesses who it is?



06 February 2012

Character Recast: Penny Harrison

It's funny. Penny Harrison was the first character to pop into my head in this little universe, but she's the one who has changed the most while writing the novel, not just as a character, but her physical appearance as well.

When I began posting on this blog, I posted stock photos of people who resembled the characters, but one always felt off, Penny. The girl I chose was a little too "cute" and wasn't quite right as far as Penny's biracial background is concerned. So today, I present to you, Penny Harrison as she currently lives in my head:

27 January 2012

Prequel Poll: A TIE!


Thanks everyone who voted in the latest Prequel Poll.

Unfortunately, it ended in a tie! You guys just have too much love for both Jack Harrison and Dom Kingston.




So we're going to have a tie-breaker vote. Comment below with your vote!

Who'll it be?



This charming young Harvard man? 




Or everyone's favorite coach?

23 January 2012

Q and A #6

There have been so many great questions and comments since the New Year! Love it.


You all will be happy to know that I've officially hit the half-way point of the book, at least plot wise. Also, thanks to all of you, your comments, questions and even your poll votes, I've got such a great handle on these characters now, that writing the second half should be much smoother and thus, much faster!


So here we go!




17 January 2012

Character Interview Contest

This morning, this site went over the 10,000 hit mark! That's right, TEN THOUSAND HITS in about two and a half months for a book that isn't even finished yet.

I am utterly in awe of your interest and support.

So with that milestone in hand, it's time to announce the winner of the Character Interview Contest!

And the winner is.....

*drum roll*


10 January 2012

A Revision

Hi everyone!

Hope you enjoyed the last prequel, Mixed Doubles and you're getting ready to vote on the Character Interview Contest!

Just a note to say that I've revised the Prologue and I'm interested to see what you all think!

Check it out!

06 January 2012

Character Interview Contest...

Since I thought the Prequel Contest was a lot of fun, I thought about running another one, but doing the same thing twice in about a month is a little boring, so I decided instead to hold a Character Interview Contest.

The rules are very simple (and even simpler now!)

1. If you haven't already, sign up for email alerts in the box to the right (I promise they're not intrusive, it will only email you when I update)

2. Comment below with the character you'd like to interview

3. Get the questions you'd like to ask them ready. (If you win I'll contact you to set up the interview!)

Note: If someone chooses the character you'd like to interview still feel free to submit yours. It only increases your chances of seeing the character you want!

Note 2: If there is more than one character you'd like to interview, feel free to enter twice. Two separate comments please, as I'm going to use a Random Integer Generator to decide the winner.

Simple right?

And...go!