My Year in Writing

At what point can you call yourself an author??

This is something I have ALWAYS wondered about. I used to think once I got agented it would legitimize the deal in my head. But nope! I still feel like a fraud for scribbling my ideas on scraps of paper at one a.m., or waking up at four a.m. because I just dreamt up some great dialogue, and calling myself any kind of real writer.

I always hear people saying “As long as you have a story to tell, you’re a writer.”

This might be an unpopular opinion but: I have always completely disagreed with that. To me, the thing is, mostly everyone has a story to tell. Most people also have the ability to tie a pair of skates on and stumble onto the ice, and attempt a long program, but that doesn’t make us all ice skaters. I took dance and art classes and to this day I love to play my X Box Just Dance game, or doodle on a napkin. But I am by no means a dancer or an artist.

I do believe if you can commit to something you can be or do anything. So maybe that’s what it takes? Commitment and practice plus confidence? I don’t know.

Ooh. Speaking of skating, I just finished LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, by Stephanie Perkins and I LOVED it. There was a whole ice skating element that got me really hyper for the winter olympics.

Anyway. For me, I know that I LOVE to write books. Plain and simple. It’s ALL I know how to do and ALL I want to do.

Thinking back over this year–my year in writing–it was pretty crazy. Last year at this time I was tweaking my MS for querying after the new year. My plan this time was to go SUPER slowly. I also had my eyes peeled for contests. It seemed a lot of writers were having luck with contests, since agents could approach a blogger with a specific type of MS they were looking for, and the pitches could be narrowed down.

I’d been reading so many things about how chick lit and girly fiction were dying out…well, that’s basically all I write. So you can imagine how happy I was when I discovered a Girly YA contest!

In the end I queried about twenty-five agents total before getting my R&R with Carrie in February via the contest. I stopped querying at that point. I LOVED her ideas and we shared the same vision…plus we totally just cliqued which I’d always heard is of the utmost importance. (More on all that here …ignore the stuff about the MS since it’s changed quite a bit since I wrote that!)

Another thing I learned this year: you sometimes have to just force yourself to get into the head to write. You can’t wait around for the mood to strike. I’ve always known this, but it proved tough around March. My dad was undergoing intense treatments all last winter for the rare blood disorder he was diagnosed with in Sept 2012…he did NOT handle these treatments well at all. Like, everything that could go wrong went terribly wrong. So I found myself revising some scenes in the waiting room of Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital.

Let me tell you this: Sloan is an amazing place. They save lives. That being said, IT IS NOT A PLACE FOR CREATIVE JUICES TO FLOW. I managed to get some things worked on, but it was extremely difficult in such a depressing environment.

*side note* Dad’s perfectly fine now, but me, my mom, and brother are full blown hypochondriacs. Like, “Is this a freckle? Or a mole with irregular borders?? I think the borders are changing before my very eyes! Let me just check Web M.D. real quick–no harm can come from checking Web M.D.–OH MY GOD I HAVE A WEEK TO LIVE AND I TOTALLY HAVE ALL THE SYMPTOMS OF WEST NILES VIRUS TOO.”

We know it’s hypochondria, because we Web M.D.ed that too.

It’s now been a full year from the time I was going over my query list, obsessively referring to Query Tracker, keeping painstaking track of my requests and praying the third manuscript would be the charm. Now I’ve got an amazing agent, been on sub and come out the other side with some ridiculously nice rejections and a WAY better MS, AND I’m working on book number two with characters and a story I adore!

I cannot WAIT to see what the new year will bring! I have a good feeling that 2014 is going to kick 2013’s ass.

So in answer to my original question…at what point will I feel comfortable calling myself an author? I honestly don’t know if I ever will, but my parents and brother bought me this mug after I signed with Carrie, so I guess they’re trying to tell me something?

Also, I don’t normally do new years resolutions, but I think I have one this year: no more Web M.D.!

#TBT: Concert Love

When I began rewriting my book in October one of the main, huge changes was the love interest. I scrapped the last one and created a new, rock-starry one. I always really love having a music element in my writing, since I LOVE going to concerts.

I went to my first concert when I was 13 and have been going to shows pretty steadily since. I haven’t accumulated that many under my belt (probably been to 25ish concerts in total) but I simply love everything about the experience. Well, everything except the next day, when PCD (Post Concert Disorder) sets in. And let me tell you, I SUFFER from PCD horribly. Mine usually lasts about two-ish weeks and it is not pretty. (oh, PCD is a very real thing, people. Don’t believe me? Check This Out)

One scene in my MS has my MC and her love interest attending a concert together. I LOVE this scene since it reminds me of all the shows I’ve been to at Jones Beach. I’ve learned never to get too attached to any one scene in a MS, as it could be changed along the road to pub, BUT I really do love this scene and hope it hangs in there!

For Throwback Thursday, here are some pics of me over the years, in various stages of waiting to see a concert.

Waiting in 2007

 

oh hey…the night’s over…my makeup is melting off, and I’m falling asleep in the car.

Oh…three hours early to the venue? Let’s go to the Disney Store! Oct 2011

Oct 2011…still too early despite the Disney Store and pizza…

 

The always appreciated (but often pointless) number system. April 2013

 

Sept 2013…an optimistic pre-concert selfie. My thought process: “the wait is never THAT bad…my makeup will stay fresh all night! Even my perfectly straightened hair will remain sleek and straight!”

 

Never mind.

 

What’s the BEST concert you have ever been to??

 

My NEW BOOK!

As I mentioned here I’ve been revising my YA MS this past month.

Well, I fought through all that procrastination and I am now finished, so I thought I’d talk a little bit about what I’ve been up to the last few months, writing-wise.

I went on submission with the MS in August. This is the best way I can describe being on sub: it’s this really cool sounding, elusive thing when you’re querying. It sounds all sparkly and exciting, and then suddenly you’re close enough to touch it!

Then the weeks go by and it’s like

and you’re like “I’m going to be an unpublished author forever!”

But you know that’s not true. Because hey, Beast turned back into a human, and the odds were seriously way more stacked against the poor guy.

As many things as I’ve read on the subject of sub, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I knew sub wasn’t too unlike querying in that an editor needs to fall in love with the project, but that was all I knew.

Sure I got antsy at times, but it wasn’t as terrible as I’d imagined (I’m here to talk about it, right?) Then again, I don’t have an addictive personality. I hate (and am allergic to) alcohol, I hate (and am allergic to) cigarettes, and I come from the DARE perspective that drugs are bad (it’s probably safe to assume I’d be allergic to any and all drugs as well.)

If any of the above is a vice for you, then maybe you’d beg to differ about being on sub not being the worst thing ever. (Also, you should stop doing those things!)

while I was on sub I read a LOT of YA.

And I noticed something kind of huge. The chemistry between characters like Anna and St. Clair in ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, or Cath and Levi in FANGIRL, or Remy and Dexter in THIS LULLABY was amazing. And I was pretty sure Lacey and Devon didn’t have that.

Fast forward to the end of October, and my Super Agent and I reviewed the editors’ notes. The editors were all amazingly helpful and kind, and frankly (and I cannot stress this enough) SPOT freaking ON.

I didn’t expect to be complimented so much in rejections, which was pretty exciting. I kind of squealed and fan girled a bit even though they were telling me no, which sort of made me question my mental health. But seriously. I’ve been reading books published by these houses since I was about 7 years old. Books that made me want to be a writer. It was surreal seeing so many incredible comments on my writing from editors that work at these houses.

^^^ basically, my childhood. Me reading The Babysitters Club. On a fountain. Surrounded by sheep.

To sum up, Carrie and I devised a new plan: break up THE INTERN DIARIES into two books. There were simply way too many things going on in one book.

Which made me extremely happy, since I LOVE WRITING LACEY.

The major change? In THE INTERN DIARIES, Lacey is a famous YouTube beauty guru tired of the fame, who’s contemplating leaving her job at a fashion magazine to intern with her best friend at a late night talk show.

The book is now called THE MAKEUP DIARIES (for now) and it’s about Lacey, a YouTube beauty guru on the rise. She is psyched to work for On Trend magazine. Her first real task? A photo shoot with an arrogant pop/rock star named Tyler Lance. A guy she tries desperately to pretend she hates. She can’t pretend for long though. Her best friend works at the late night talk show, so I allude to that place, and hint that there will be more to come there (and there will be. In book 2.)

The truth is I actually really love revising. It’s fun seeing how things change, and get way better.

I finished the revision last week and it’s agent-approved and a-go for after the new year. I’m not at all worried about sub this time for three major reasons: 1) I know what to expect, 2) all the little worries I had about the last version are smoothed over with this new version, and 3) I get to fill the time with working on book 2, with characters I already know and adore!

and now, since I seem to be on a Beauty and the Beast kick today, what blog about writing would be complete without a gif of THE library?

#TBT: Dinner Runs

One thing most Conan interns HATED with a passion was the dinner runs, Monday-Thursday. I actually really enjoyed them. Basically, one intern would head up the mission (translation: be in charge of the company credit card) and a group of about four of us would traipse to the restaurant and pick up the MASSIVE order of food.

I liked it because it was basically just taking a walk with friends. A lot of funny stuff would happen, and it was a good time to bond with each other while we waited for the orders.

Also, the restaurants got really hyper about their food being eaten by Conan and team. So they’d be extra nice to us. One restaurant offered us some crazy expensive wine while we waited (which we knew better than to accept!)

The one down side was carrying the stuff back, if the restaurant was within walking distance. If we had to do a pick-up at Bluesmoke or somewhere far, we were allowed to cab it.

Here’s an idea of how much food we were picking up. This is from the last ever staff dinner. It was a Bluesmoke dinner (a staff favorite) and the restaurant surprised us with a chocolate cake that said “Conan Goes Hollywood.”

dinner

conanfoodTBT

 

conanfoodTBT1

 

Naked 3 Palette!

Untitled

 

clockwise from top: Naked 1, Naked 2, Naked Basics, Naked 3

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know I ALWAYS preface these posts by saying the following: I am NOT a makeup guru. I don’t film YouTube tutorials, and I am so far from any kind of expert. That being said, I love watching them, and writing about them! My MC, Lacey, is a YouTube makeup guru. In fact, I kind of wish she were real, because I’d totally be subscribed to her channel!

Anyway.

I am now the proud owner of the latest Urban Decay creation, the Naked 3 palette!

I am obsessed with the Naked palettes. The “hook” is that the colors are all pretty neutral but, save for the Naked Basics, they all have tons of shimmer (which I love).

The main reason I love these palettes so much is because I only very recently learned how to apply makeup (YouTube is really what taught me) and the first time I used Naked 1 I was extremely happy with the results. It’s FOOLPROOF. You cannot mess it up, and there are hundreds of combinations to create. Up until a few years ago the only shadows I managed to use on myself with minimal disasters were the Benefit cream shadows (which I still love but they dry out kind of fast.)

My favorite of the three UD Nakeds is the first one. It’s warm toned and the shadows all go best with my coloring. But there are some great shadows in the second one too. I JUST got the third since it was literally released like a week ago, but I have a feeling it may rival #1 , since it’s all rosey pink tones which happen to be my favorite.

look how shiny and sparkly 3 is!!!

Naked 3

 

UPDATE: I started this blog post a few days ago and now that I’ve tried the colors, I’m having some trouble. It seems with my pale complexion the pinks aren’t quite working yet. Oh well. I love a good challenge! Bring on the tutorials, pale gurus!

#TBT: The Office

a fun fact: there was some kind of weird spell that was cast when you interned for Conan, resulting in a LOT of interns going on to do oustanding things. Mindy Kaling, John Krasinski, Angela Kinsey, and Ellie Kempfer (all stars of The Office) all interned there, as well as a TON of others.

My first day there, one of the interns showed me this magazine that Angela Kinsey signed for the staff. It always sat on the reception desk and I ALWAYS coveted it. One of the last days, our intern advisor said it was up for grabs. I was prepared to fight for it, but no one seemed to want it but me. It seemed weird to me that no one wanted it, but I wasn’t going to question it. I took it and ran! (well, I still had a full work day to complete, so I didn’t really run, but, you know.)

AngelaKinsey