Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Creating the Narrative of Your Life

(This is something I've been thinking about for a long, long time, and as such am bound to completely flub it up. Also, important to note, if I know you and you think, "She wrote that about me, didn't she, the little skunk!" the answer is no, no I did not. I wrote it about me because I am a huge, huge narcissist and I don't care in the slightest about you or your life.)

(Which is completely untrue. But it isn't about you in the specific sense, but more the general, ethereal, anyone who happens to read this blog you.)

I've had an eventful year or two. I've been faced with situations I never expected to happen--nearly dying, infertility, a wildest-dreams-book deal, a whole heap of rejections, and a slew of crazy, out of the blue, overwhelming issues from my personal life that I love you too much to talk about on the blog. This has, in turn, led me to a rather-more-than-healthy amount of introspection. And I've come to some conclusions about myself.

The biggest one is that I expect things to work out for me. Maybe not in the way that I plan, but I'm genuinely surprised when things don't go my way. Surprised, and more than a little pissed off. (You hear that, uterus? Yeah. You. YOU'RE FIRED.)

And I wondered where I got this idea that I should succeed at things I try. Because I've always had it. My life is a narrative of success. I don't always get exactly what I want when I want it, but in my mind if I really want something and work for it, it'll happen.

It's a lie.

It's a total, total lie.

So many things in life are completely out of my control. And if I look back over the years, I can think of endless examples of things I wanted that did not go my way. For example, Michael-of-the-bowl-haircut-in-fourth-grade? Yeah, total hottie. Hottie that I must have wasted at least two hundred holding-my-breath-and-touching-a-screw-over-railroad-tracks wishes on. Hottie that I made it very clear in a fourth-grade telling-my-friends-who-told-his-friends-who-allegedly-told-him, wearing-my-nicest-dresses-and-always-picking-him-in-heads-up-seven-up way that I liked him.

And he never, ever liked me back. NEVER.

Which is not the most dramatic or horrifying example of things going wrong in my life. Still. Lots and lots of things in my life haven't worked out. But that didn't change this internal narrative I had, this one that said I will succeed where I want to, and things will go well for me, and people will like me, and I deserve to be liked and successful and happy.

(I blame my parents. In the best possible way, of course.)

When you get down to it, we sort our memories and we categorize our experiences. And when we've decided what the story of our life is, we filter everything through that lens.

So guess what? If you've decided your life is a tragedy, it will be! Everything, good or bad, will fit into that framework.

If you've decided your life is an inspirational success against the odds story, it will be! Everything, good or bad, will fit into that framework.

If you've decided your life is a romantic comedy, well, don't ask me for Fourth-Grade-Michael's number.

And if you've decided that your life isn't worthy of any story at all, it won't be.

I'm not saying you can change things by deciding that your personal narrative is going to be one of success. Sometimes it even works against you--because when things don't work out, it's so jarring that it can catch you completely off guard and leave you without the emotional resources to deal with it. (Yes, uterus, YOU ARE STILL FIRED.)

But there are things it can do. I didn't get a book deal because that happy voice inside my head said, "You can be on bookstore shelves someday!" I got a book deal because I believed that was true, and I worked my freaking butt off to get there. (Not literally. I do, in fact, still have a butt.) I always knew I could do it. Even on the days when I didn't think I could, I still knew I could. You'll always have to make adjustments for that pesky real-life thing, but they don't have to derail you. Absorb them into your story, file them away, and move forward.

So I'm telling you right now: Figure out what your personal narrative is. Figure out how you view yourself as a character in the story of your life. Figure out if it's a story you like. And if it isn't, figure out what you need to do, how you need to change your thinking to turn yourself into a character that is going to take your setting, your backstory, your side-characters, and your plot and turn them from whatever course they were taking. Steer them into something you'd love to curl up in an armchair and read when you're ninety. Maybe your story doesn't go exactly how you planned, because no story ever does, but a story is all in the telling.

It's always in the telling.

So tell yourself a good one.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Look Who Came to Visit!

UPS is still failing me. My beautiful box of ARCs is still lost somewhere out there. But, since I have the Sweetest Editor Alive, she overnighted me something...

What could it be...

What is that strange woman snuggling while staring dreamily off into the distance (or rather, the bathroom, since that's the best lighting in her house)?

Could it be...
YES! YES IT COULD! A PARANORMALCY ARC! Complete with pretty, pretty, PRETTY COVER.

It has a back, too! A back with a description, and a bio, and my picture!! This is the point where I begin to wonder if maybe I haven't lapsed into some alternate dream reality. But if I had, surely I would have also lost those five pesky pounds...

So, ARC safely in my hands, I spent a long, long, LONG time staring dreamily at it. But then I realized I was being rude. Poor PARANORMALCY must have been exhausted, having flown all night just to get here. So I let her snuggle up in the quilt Natalie made for me.

"Snuggly. I love Natalie."

Me, too, PARANORMALCY. Me, too. When she was finally well-rested and refreshed, I decided to let her have a play-date with some friends I had around the house.

"Oh, hey Bertie! And Calla! And Laurel! Sheesh, Calla, stop baring your teeth at me. Of course I'm not going to bag and tag you. We're hanging out--I'm off duty."

Then I did something I've been waiting a long, long time to do. I was nervous, but PARANORMALCY kept telling me to just go for it, so...I inked her.

ACRONYM, guys, I signed my very first book!

This called for celebration. So we all loaded into the car and took off to get lunch.

Safety first, of course.

And, because I like to eat in high style when toting my two kids and my novel, we hit the gourmet In-N-Out.

"Come on, Kiersten, I wanted animal-style fries!"

(Incidentally, it was especially fun while taking these pictures when a nice man stopped and offered to take one of my kids and me, and I had to explain that I wasn't actually taking pictures of my kids...I was taking pictures of my book. At which point he got really, really confused. But no worries, PARANORMALCY, I'm happy to look crazy on your behalf.)

Finally, wiped out from a full, fun, emotional day together, PARANORMALCY and I curled up together to take a little nap, slipping into contented dreams of dreams fulfilled.

Also, PARANORMALCY snores.
"Do not!"
Do too.
"Do not!"
Fine. You don't.

(She really does.)

Coming next week in ARC Adventures, PARANORMALCY meets the computers. Bet you never imagined the life of a writer and her book was so filled with drama!

Friday, March 26, 2010

New Screenplay!

LOST IN TRANSIT

An Original Screenplay by Kiersten White

INT. SCENE: A musty, dusty, dim warehouse. Boxes are scattered throughout, sometimes stacked nearly to the ceiling, and sometimes sitting, lonely and forgotten, in the middle of the floor. After panning, the camera focuses in on two boxes in particular. One is older, the sides dented in, covered in dust. The other is smaller, still looking fresh and new.

PAST MIDDLE-AGED NOT VERY ATTRACTIVE BOX

Now what did a pretty little container like you do to end up here?

PRETTY BOX

I...I don't know. This isn't where I'm supposed to be. I don't know what I'm doing here.

PMANVA BOX

None of us do, kid. None of us do. Take me, for example. I was an actor--I mean, well, a whole bunch of movies--but good movies! And, shipped out in my prime, people would have loved me. But I've sat here for so long, nobody even remembers they were expecting me anymore, and I'm just as forgotten as my mid-nineties blockbusters. I can't even remember my own catch phrases.

PMANVA BOX stares moodily into the box of whiskey bottles next to him.

PRETTY BOX

I'm a writer. Well, I mean, I'm going to a writer. I'm her books. But here, I'm just...nothing. I mean, what good are books that no one can read? It's like I didn't even matter to begin with. I feel so, so lost.

PRETTY BOX stares blankly at a large box of window panes next to her.

We continue with these moody staring shots for several minutes, from different perspectives. If possible, PRETTY BOX should be in only a tee-shirt and underwear for no real definable reason.

PMANVA BOX

Look, kid. We're here, and sure, life may be pointless when you're Lost in Transit, but let's make the best of it! I think I saw a karaoke box over there, and here's a big box of wigs. We could throw a party and do a series of activities that make no sense and end up with us in bed together, but since Kiersten only watches R movies edited, she'll have no idea whether or not we were actually committing adultery.

PRETTY BOX

But I'm so young and pretty! And you're so...really, really not.

PMANVA BOX

It's a movie made by old men in Hollywood. Of course you'll sleep with me.

PRETTY BOX

I think you've forgotten that this is written by a woman, and you underestimate the value of my contents. I don't. And look! Who's that?

A UPS Worker, clad in brown and walking in such a way that we know he feels shame for his company's massive, massive failure, searches through the boxes for PRETTY BOX.

PMANVA BOX leans in and whispers something unintelligible to PRETTY BOX.

PRETTY BOX

What??

PMANVA BOX leans in and whispers it again.

PRETTY BOX

You need to talk louder, I can't hear you!

PMANVA BOX, shouting his annoyance

BUT IF EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT I SAY HERE, THERE IS NO MYSTERY AND NO OSCAR FOR BEING A POINTLESS MOVIE ABOUT POINTLESS PEOPLE DOING POINTLESS THINGS!

PRETTY BOX

JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU FREAKING SAID!!

UPS Man reaches down and, well aware of just how important PRETTY BOX is, cradles her gently and brings her out into the brilliant sunshine, leaving PMANVA BOX alone in the middle of the floor.

PMANVA BOX whispers something else unintelligible, but nobody cares, because they are so happy that PRETTY BOX is finally going to find her way home to Kiersten.

THE END

(What can I say, I like happy endings. Did you hear that, UPS? I'D LIKE MY HAPPY ENDING.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

ACRONYM ACRONYM IT IS MY COVER!!!

Oh. My. Gosh. You guys don't know how long I've been waiting to show you this!! Okay, a month. That's how long. A month of having it as my screen background, and staring googly eyed at it, and swooning over it.

Now, if you're still reading and haven't just scrolled down, a little background. I was always sure I was going to get a good cover, because HarperTeen rocks in the cover department. But since my book is funny and Evie is a very perky narrator, I had this nagging worry that my cover would come out...hot pink and sparkly. Which really just doesn't sum up what the book is very well at all, because while it *is* funny and it *is* cute, it's also dark and scary and intriguing, (I say, VERY HUMBLY).

So when I found out what direction they were taking it in, and what photographer they were using, and who my design team was...well, I didn't worry anymore.

And what they came up with? LOVE LOVE LOVE SWOON SWOON SWOON.

LOVE.

Are you ready?



Really?



REALLY?



Okay, I give you: PARANORMALCY!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!
This is me, incoherent with happiness!!

You guys, I love it so, so much. I love the dark and foreboding background. I love Evie--this is pretty close to how I pictured her! I love her hair, and I love her dress, and I love that SHE would love her hair and her dress. And I love the font. And I love MY NAME ON IT.

Oh my gosh. I need to go sit down...

Anyway. There it is! I hope you love it as much as I do. Keep in mind that this cover image is NOT final--there are always tweaks and adjustments--but I could not be more thrilled with it. I am a very, VERY happy author right now!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Further Evidence...

...that I have the Best and Cutest Editor Alive. From an email exchange this morning:

"I would cry, too. We could cry together. And then send each other cupcakes for comfort. And then cry into the cupcakes. And hence have to buy MORE cupcakes because we ruined the first batch. It would be a vicious, vicious cycle."

(Lest you worry for the sanctity of cupcake frosting, we have no reasons to cry. This is the same woman who, when asked if I should include Snow Patrol in my acknowledgements, said, "ABSOLUTELY YOU SHOULD." All cupcakes the world over are safe from my tears when Editor Erica is in charge.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A St Patrick's Day Surprise!

I promised you inspiration. With the help of the infinitely talented Natalie Whipple, I'm here to deliver. If this doesn't speak to your soul, I'm pretty sure you don't have one.

Presenting, A Yeti Leprechaun Romance Epic Conclusion for the Ages
by Kiersten White
Artistic Genius by Natalie Whipple

Chapter Twenty-three: Grrrrrl, Interrupted

My wee heart broke in that moment as I watched the brutish Sasquatch King take my precious Yeti’s hand in his. Her broad, powerful shoulders, those shoulders I’d ridden on as we frolicked through the frozen Himalayas, slumped forward in defeat. She’d rather marry that monster and suffer a flea-bitten eternity than risk me death at his hands.

Didn’t she know I was already dying a thousand icy deaths seeing her in the arms of another?

But maybe she’d be better off. Maybe this was what she really wanted, what she needed. Someone who could wrap her up, safe in his arms. He’d do that for her; so what if he gave her lice in the meantime? Me own wee arms barely fit around her knee. I could never be enough of a man for her—it wasn’t physically possible.

No! No, I’d never believe in a reality where we weren’t destined to be together. Our love was fated, written in the stars. She was the Juliet to my Romeo, but with less suicide and murder. Hopefully. Nothing, not interspecies-prohibitions, nor ancient tribal laws, nor the wrath of me own Banshee Queen could keep us apart.

I burst out of me hiding spot in the undergrowth. “No! Dunna do it, me heart! Come away with me!”

“Yrnoooooaaaarrrrlllll!” she said, tears streaking her matted white fur.

“I dunna care! Let him try to kill me! We’ll see who the bigger man really is!”

The Sasquatch King bellowed his rage, eyes blazing like coals as he crossed the marriage meadow toward me. At the last second I tucked into a ball, rolling right between his tree-trunk legs. Unable to stop his momentum, he ran straight into a branch. Drawing the last of me enchanted gold, I flung it at the broad space between his eyes, knocking him out cold.

“Quick, me heart! While he’s stunned!” I grabbed her great paw in mine and, using the last of me powers, flung a rainbow out in front of us. I’d never make another. “Hurry now! Dunna look back or all will be lost!”

We were halfway across the rainbow when she tripped and stumbled. I pulled from deep within, a pool of strength I’d never known I had, and managed to lift up her paw. Fortunately she did the rest, throwing me over her shoulder and racing us across the rainbow and back to her home—our home—safe among the Ice Caverns of Yorwwwnrrrrrlll.

As she cradled me to her great, fuzzy face, she asked, "Gnorrrraaaawl?"

"Me heart, ye're all the luck I'll ever need. I won't miss it a bit." But I wondered if I had made the right choice. “Are ye sure, me heart? Am I really enough for ye?”

She didn’t answer. She just threw me onto her shoulders and we raced across the ice fields, our joy trailing in white laughter clouds behind us. I knew then that I’d be enough. I’d always been enough. If a heart as big as hers—and really, we’re talking massive to be able to pump blood throughout her magnificent, gargantuan body—could love me, I was the biggest man on earth.

THE END

It's Not the Size of the Man in Love, It's the Size of the Love in the Man
...or, umm, something like that...

(All credit to Natalie for the fanfreakingtastic illustration. If that doesn't inspire mountains of fanfic, I don't know what will.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dear USPS

Please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please tell me you did not lose the 150 + pages of edited proofs I mailed to my editor last week.

Please.

Pretty please?

UPDATE: It would appear the Mail Fairies decided I'd learned my no-other-copy and no-delivery-confirmation lesson, and the manuscript has magically arrived on my adorable, wonderful editor's desk. I love happy endings, don't you?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

TEEN! DRAMA! Episode Two

TEEN! DRAMA!
An Original Television Series
by Kiersten White

EPISODE TWO

ANNOUNCER WITH DEEP, DRAMATIC VOICE: On the last TEEN! DRAMA!, CARA met HOT GUY, the new "kid" at school. But she's about to learn there's a lot more to him than perfectly sculpted hair and abs. And we're not talking about his sultry staring skills.

INT. CARA'S HOUSE. MOM comes in, closing the door and leaning back against it, staring dreamily at nothing as she smells a single rose.

CARA
Have a nice time?

MOM
Yes! I'm so thrilled I've finally met a nice guy and can actually get a decent storyline on this show. It's about time they started showcasing my unparalleled acting skills. I didn't get this boob job and facelift for nothing.

CARA
You do realize that this relationship with Mr. Nice Guy is only going to last two episodes, at which point it will be revealed that he is a) trying to kill you or b) trying to steal all of your money, and your heart will be broken and you'll return to bitter, jaded divorcee Mom, and disappear for a few episodes. Besides, no one wants to see old people making out when they can see hot young things like me and HOT GUY getting it on.

MOM
I AM ONLY THREE YEARS OLDER THAN YOU!

MOM takes a deep breath to calm down.

MOM
Please just let me relish my moment to have the camera actually focused on me.

CARA
Whatever.

INT. Ridiculously Clean and Nice School Hallway. PLAIN FRIEND and CARA are talking at their lockers, because classes are only shown if they directly relate to the plot, and no one ever, ever does homework. They are too busy having DRAMA.

PLAIN FRIEND
Wait, what do you mean you think you might have feelings for HOT GUY'S COUSIN?

CARA
I don't know! I mean, I love HOT GUY, but his cousin has those incredibly piercing blue eyes, and we've been doing a lot of intense, awkward staring shots lately. Even though I know he's a sociopath, he's really hot, too.

PLAIN FRIEND
Please explain to me how you can say you "love" HOT GUY but still think you might want to pursue HOT GUY'S COUSIN?

CARA
Look, you don't understand. Of course I love HOT GUY, because we are the couple that are meant to be together. But if I don't also have feelings for someone else to complicate things, it gets boring. Where's the tension? No one wants to see me and HOT GUY in a stable, happy relationship where we are honest and open with each other. That's not sexy.

PLAIN FRIEND
I don't know, it sounds sexy to me.

CARA
And this is why you have no interesting plot lines and never get to shoot steamy scenes.

PLAIN FRIEND
I almost get killed every-other-episode!

CARA
That's just so I can have a dramatic breakdown and be comforted by HOT GUY and HOT GUY'S COUSIN.

HOT GUY and HOT GUY'S COUSIN walk down the hall. CARA eyes both of them, obviously torn between the two. How do you choose between HOT and HOT? And which choice will be better for ratings? TOKEN BLONDE appears.

TOKEN BLONDE
No worries. Whichever one you choose, I'll take the other. And then we can trade! Also, I'll tell secrets I'm not supposed to, like what you were really doing last year.

Cue dramatic music.

INT. CARA'S HOUSE. CARA and HOT GUY walk straight past MOM up to her room.

MOM
Go ahead and do whatever you want, kids, as long as you don't get us in trouble with the FCC! Spend the night together! Spend every night together! All I'm concerned with is getting a decent storyline.

CARA
Whatever, Mom.

INT. CARA'S ROOM. Tastefully decorated in a way that no "poor" family like Cara's could ever afford, it's trendily feminine without being over-the-top. A few token accents like a popular band poster on the wall to remind us that twenty-five-year-old CARA is a TEENAGER. CARA and HOT GUY proceed to start kissing on her bed. HOT GUY removes his shirt, as his abs are contractually obligated to appear in every episode.

The kissing continues to the swelling strains of faux-indie-but-really-popular-romantic song. Just when we're sure something is about to happen and we're going to have to turn off the TV because really, awkward, CARA pulls back in alarm.

CARA
What is that?

CARA stares in horror at HOT GUY'S hand, which is suddenly covered in suckers like one would find on an Octopus.

HOT GUY turns away, ashamed.

HOT GUY
I'm so sorry. I should have told you earlier. My secret. I'm--I'm half Kraken, Cara.

CARA
You're on crack?! We only have underage drinking on this show, HOT GUY!

HOT GUY
No, no, I said KRAKEN. Giant squid/octopus? It's a curse. Two hundred years ago my cousin and I were poor sailors. One night our ship was wrecked against the reef. A beautiful Kraken woman gave us an impossible choice--die, or become like her, doomed to forever be drawn to the ocean. And have awkward suction cups pop up whenever things are getting serious. Also, I can squirt ink. It came in a lot more handy before ballpoint pens and word processors.

CARA
You mean--you're over two hundred years old?

HOT GUY
Is that creepy?

CARA
Oh, no, I'm cool with that part. It's not pedophilia if you're really hot.

HOT GUY
Whew. What about the suckers?

CARA
Those are a little ookie. I'm going to have to ask you to leave so that I can stare pensively out the window and wonder if I can live with dating a Cephalopod.

HOT GUY
How long am I going to have to wait in agony?

CARA
About an episode-and-a-half.

HOT GUY
Okay. I'll go sulk in my room and let my HOT COUSIN manipulate me into doing something rash. I'm just glad you don't know about our arch-nemeses, the SHARK MEN.

CARA
We'll save them for after we've made up.

HOT GUY
I love you. I know I'm two hundred years older than you, and we've only been dating for two episodes, and we've only actually had three conversations, and most of those have been lying and/or made up mostly of intense staring, but I love you.

CARA showcases her ability to produce tears on demand as she turns away while HOT GUY leaves.

Downstairs we see MOM kissing MR NICE GUY. MR NICE GUY watches HOT GUY leave in a huff, and his face breaks into a smile. A smile showcasing three rows of razor sharp teeth.

DUN DUN DUN! Ominous music and CREDITS.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Q & A with Erica Sussman, Editor Extraordinaire!

I asked my fabulous editor Erica to do a Q & A, and being terminally awesome, she agreed. A bit of background: Erica is an editor at HarperTeen, she has gorgeous, naturally curly hair, and she is the best editor ever. I think that's really all you need to know.

Q: What first drew you into editing, and why did you focus on YA?


I found this career in a slightly roundabout way. I had a bunch of friends in college who went into publishing right after school, but they had all been English majors and they had all had publishing summer internships. I wasn’t an English major AND I had always worked at summer camps. So, I didn’t think publishing of any sort was an option. Fast forward a few years. One of my best friends from high school had been working at Harper Children’s and had been telling me – literally since she started – that I would love her job. And I kept telling her that I couldn’t get into publishing because I didn’t have any experience and all that stuff but…I sent her my resume and got an interview.


And OH MY GOODNESS – the entire time I was at the interview – talking about books that I loved (which: who knew this was an actual job?!) – I couldn’t get over HOW MUCH I wanted to join the ranks. Luckily I got the job and…the rest is history. See? Slightly roundabout.


Q: You're flipping through the channels and the following three things are on: A singing reality competition, The Sound of Music, and Penelope. Which do you choose?


Sound of Music, of course! How is this even a question? I STILL have lofty ambitions that involve dancing and singing in a gazebo. Anyway, singing reality competitions always make me a little uncomfortable because I can’t deal with watching people screw up, and, um, what is Penelope? I’m resisting the urge to Google right now.


(Note from Kiersten: It is a SIN that you haven't seen Penelope.)


Q: Although you didn't enter her, Berkeley just won the Cutest Dog in the World by virtue of a massive write-in campaign. How do you celebrate?


How do you know I didn’t enter her? I can be very sneaky when I want to be! I will celebrate by giving her homemade treats, which was her birthday (“Berkday!”) gift last year.


"Oh boy, oh boy, I think those are for me! ME!"


Q: Which trend would you rather see die: Vampires, or the trend about asking editors about trends?


The second one, please! First of all, it’s easy to see what the trends are at the moment, so it always surprises me when people ask me what’s big now – just walk into a bookstore! And in terms of what trends are coming up – I can usually rattle off a few things that seem to be on the horizon, but it’s never a good idea to write to trends, because you end up with something that feels like it’s trying too hard. I also always want writers to remember that trends by their very nature are passing things – some may stay around for a while (Why yes, Vampires, I’m looking at you), but there are always others in the wings waiting for their moment to shine. And truly good books can burst through trends.


Q: When editing a manuscript, what makes you decide that certain scenes/storylines need to be cut? (Not that, uh, you'd EVER cut ANYTHING of mine, because my writing is perfect as is, right?) (Wrong. Erica is SO GOOD at pointing out flaws and how to make them better.) (And she's so freaking nice she could be telling you something sucked and you'd still feel better about yourself while reading it!)


Hee. It’s funny how subjective editing is. That’s why I always tell my authors that if I cut something that they feel strongly about keeping, they should keep it! Of course, I always have my reasons behind what I’m saying and doing, and I like to spell my reasons out in my editorial letters, in order to ensure that the author and I are on the same page. (This means my letters are long. And wordy. But hopefully helpful.)


That said, it’s hard to put my finger on exactly why I cut what I cut (or change what I change). I read manuscripts that I’m editing multiple times. Once through without taking any major notes, once through while I scrawl down notes to myself and notes in the margin, and then oftentimes I’ll read it one more time after that just to make sure I’ve got the flow down. It’s easier for me, coming at a manuscript with fresh eyes (as opposed to the eyes of the writer), to see what information may not need to be there, or what may be slowing things down. I’m a big stickler for dialogue feeling natural, and for characters feeling like they’re real and relatable (even when they’re not human). And I always read something with an eye to making it as pacey and compelling as possible.


(Erica's editorial letters are very, very helpful. I'm so proud of how PARANORMALCY bloomed under her direction!)


Q: What do you wish your authors knew (about writing, editing, publishing, life in general...)?


Hrm. I wish all of my authors knew how good the shows The Middle and Modern Family are! They’re so fun! Also, Make It or Break It is totally underrated. Also, everyone should re-watch Field of Dreams because MAN that movie is wonderful.


Oh, wait, I bet you were looking for me to shed some light on publishing. Well, for those people trying to sell their first novels: I guess I wish that everyone realized that those of us who work in publishing are real people. I love the people I work with – everyone is so smart, so kind, and so committed to what they’re doing. We love creating quality books! And I know that it’s hard to think of all of us in a good light when you send your manuscript out and…don’t hear a response for a little while. Or don’t hear the response that you were hoping for. I promise: the rejections aren’t done without thought. There’s always a reason behind it, and just because your manuscript isn’t right for the first people you send it to, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t right in general (though you should definitely pay attention to any comments you get back from editors).


(This is true. Real people who are very nice and very good at their jobs and want to love your manuscript just as much as you want them to.)


Q: What's the hardest part about working with writers?


Hm. I am going to flip this question into the positive version and say some of the reasons that I LOVE working with you! (Then you and all your wonderful readers can guess at aspects of working with authors that can sometimes be hard) (Look at me, editing your question. It may be your blog, but I’m still an editor!)


First and foremost, you are always professional. You ask great questions, you make great comments, you know what’s going on with the market, and you understand how to publicize your book in the most effective ways possible. Second, you are understanding – you realize that even if I can’t reply to a question right away, I will reply as soon as I can. You are never pushy. And third – you’re incredibly talented, but not at all full of yourself. You’re willing to put a lot of hard work into making sure that everything you write is the best piece of work it can be.


(Aw, I love her SO MUCH, you guys.)


Q: Many people wanted to know what drew you to Paranormalcy, and what made you decide to buy it, knowing how much time you'd have to spend working with it. (And me. But that's a plus, right?)


I know Right Away (as in, within the first 10-20 pages), whether or not I’m going to like a manuscript. As you can imagine, I get a lot of teen paranormal submissions, so I’m always on the lookout for one that doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard to stand out (with convoluted plots, or overly dramatic language, etc.). With Paranormalcy, I started reading it on my subway ride home, and didn’t stop. And I laughed. Out loud! Evie’s voice had me hooked from the first page and she effortlessly drew me into her story. A few days later, I sent Paranormalcy to the editorial director of my group, told her that I liked it, and asked her to give it a second read. A few days later she came in and told me she kept bursting out laughing while she was reading it on the Elliptical machine. And anything that makes exercise fun? Is special.


Paranormalcy combines this killer voice with a brand new kind of world. You’ve taken all of the paranormal tropes that are so popular with teens, and you’ve worked your own brand of magic on them. So it’s special, and different, and just so much fun to read. And! Finding out about your blog and was a HUGE HUGE plus because I was able to take the manuscript into meetings and say “Look! Not only has this debut author written this awesome manuscript, she’s also already doing everything we love our teen authors to do!”


(Blushing!)


Q: If I were to dogsit Berkeley, how many bounty hunters would you hire to track me down if I tried to dognap her for my very own?


Umm…I’m just going to assume that you weren’t actually hoping to ever dogsit for Berkeley, because I think you’re officially out of the running. But just for that veiled threat of dog-theft, I’m going to let Berkeley edit your next manuscript:


"I am the best editor in the world. But first: a nap."

(I would be okay with this as long as you send me pictures of the process.)

Q: As an editor, what is your absolute favorite part of the process of making a book?


Errr…everything? I love finding a manuscript that speaks to me; I love presenting books at our editorial and acquisitions meetings and getting people here on board; I love editing manuscripts; I LOVE talking to our amazing design department about covers (and then sending covers to authors!!); I love presenting books to our sales and marketing teams and seeing them get excited; and I LOVE LOVE LOVE getting finished books at the end.


Wow. I’m not sure that’s a very helpful answer. Of course, there are plenty of moments along the way that are hard and stressful, but they’re almost always punctuated by great moments that make the little things seem very insignificant.


(And I'm sure those authors LOVE it when you send them covers that are quite possibly the most beautiful covers in existence and that they spend hours staring at and squealing over. Not that I'm a horrible, horrible tease or anything.)


Q: And finally, when was the exact moment you realized you were the Best Editor Ever, and have you commissioned a plaque yet?


Isn’t it your job to get me a plaque? Why don’t you get on that already?


(I'm going to send you Penelope on DVD first!)



Thank you so much, Erica! And now my readers can all love you almost as much as I do.