Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm Getting Published in Germany! + What's a Literary Scout Anyway?

Yes, you read that right. Heyne Flieght in Germany is going to publish INSOMNIA. No, really! Not even kidding. Here, let me show you the upcoming Publisher's Weekly announcement so you will believe me:

"Germany rights to INSOMNIA by J.R. Johansson, a debut YA supernatural/psychological thriller, about a teen boy who thought spending every night trapped in other people's dreams was bad, but discovers that losing control of his own body and mind is so much worse, sold to Heyne Flieght in a TWO-BOOK deal at auction by Agence Hoffman, on behalf of Taryn Fagerness Agency and Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency."

See?! Isn't that crazy! I mean, awesome is that announcement? I think it's pretty much the most wonderful thing I've read anywhere, like better than HUNGER GAMES and HARRY POTTER. And my love for HG and HP pretty much borders on obsession.

So, the funny thing is that this isn't even the craziest part. The really crazy part is how all of this came about. Basically, my agent and I went on submission and within a week or so we got an e-mail from a literary scout that had gotten her "sticky scout fingers" on INSOMNIA, read it on vacation, and loved it. She said all these wonderful things about it and then said she would be sending her clients a "glowing e-mail" first thing in the morning.

Now, I don't know about you guys, but I had no idea whatsoever what a literary scout does. I've read pretty much everything on the internet about agents and editors, and literally nothing about scouts. So, when I got this e-mail, my first thought was, "Well, thank you very much for your kind words and also, where the heck did you get my book?" Second was, "Clients? What clients?"

As it turns out, VERY cool ones.

When I find something about publishing that I don't know, the first thing I do is Google it, and that's what I did. Unfortunately, and probably according to their own devious plans, there is very little out there about literary scouts. I did, however, find one very informative article that outlines what scouts do and why we should all love them very much. 

And I do, a lot, *smooches*

Basically, literary scouts get their "sticky fingers" on manuscripts that are on submission or have been recently bought by US publishers. They read them, and if they like them, they tell all their "clients" (mostly foreign publishers, but also some film industry bigwigs) about them and tell them to move quickly. <--This is a very good thing.

We got the scout e-mail and my own team of superheroes, Kathleen Rushall and Taryn Fagerness, got right to work--got in touch with the right people, sent my manuscript out to those that needed to see it, got stuff done. They, clearly, knew what it meant. I Googled...yep, that's it. Just Googled. THIS is why we need agents, people! I love my agents.

Within a matter of days of receiving this amazing, lovely, fantastic scout's e-mail, we were at auction in Germany. A foreign country. Where we had submitted literally nothing up until the scout got a hold of my manuscript. 

It was sheer, awesome, madness. Germany moved incredibly quick and there was much excitement throughout the land...or my house...but whatever. So, yeah, this is the very cool nature of the literary scout. May I suggest you read that article and educate yourself. They are like the Batman of publishing. 

And also, YAY I'M GETTING PUBLISHED AND I'M SO SO HAPPY!!! You should totally go and check out my new publisher's website, because while, yes, it is in German, it is also GORGEOUS. Go and see!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Infamous Car Crash Story - Part Deux

I'm in a cabin in the middle of the desert and I'm using the slowest internet connection known to mankind. If this posts at all it will be a miracle, so no... you don't get any crazy car crash picture. If you need counseling when I get back to civilization I can provide it in exchange for brownies.

So... as I was saying in my post on Friday (linking would literally take me an additional 20 minutes so if you want to check it out, you're going to have to do the legwork yourself...sheesh--you lazy bums! Where did you spend the weekend? Club Med? Ahem...), I'd been in a six car pile-up on the freeway. I was in shock, and surrounded by Norwegians + one screaming girl. After pondering the repercussions of re-taking Kindergarten as a 16-year-old for awhile, the police finally arrived and were quick to reassure me that I could, indeed, still understand English. 


I rushed to insist that I was going to be late for my first class and needed someone to drive me to school. (I attribute this astounding increase in responsibility to my state of shock. As much as I would like to claim that I was really that diligent in high school, I usually tried to stay home if I suspected I had to sneeze.) The policeman looked at my car/new accordion and informed that I was going nowhere until I'd filled out a police report and had a paramedic check me out. I tried to argue, but he just kept muttering "civic duty" and "juvenile detention" until I agreed.

He escorted me to his car where he handed me a police report and instructed me to "just fill out the information on the top and draw a picture on the bottom." I got right to work, as I said, remarkably responsible. I answered all the questions and then drew my picture in the space at the bottom of the page. When the officer came back, I handed him my report and asked if I could go to school now. He took the page and looked it over, then looked back at me, and back at my report again. 

My picture looked something like this:

Yes, for real.

In my defense, the policeman really should've been more specific about what he wanted me to draw. Clarity is crucial. Apparently, a smiley sun was not what he had in mind and he could've been more detailed about that. "Draw a picture without a smiling sun please."

Not that hard, Mr. Officer, not that hard.

Surprisingly, when he saw my picture the policeman didn't release me to go to school or even compliment my impressive skillz. Instead he looked at me funny, told me not to move...and called over the paramedic.

After assessing my situation, and my lovely police report, the paramedic decided I needed to be checked out at the hospital. So, they strapped me to a very flat, very hard board, and put me in an ambulance with the screaming girl. She had a stretcher, and a pillow.

That just didn't sit right with me.

The entire trip to the hospital I repeatedly informed the paramedic that not only did I have insurance, but it was good insurance. My insurance would surely pay for a pillow... I may have also used the words: lawyer, malpractice, and 'like SO rude' a few times. Now that I think about it, I'm not certain the paramedic responded to me at all.

That's like SO rude!

Anyway, I had pretty bad whiplash and a minor concussion and everyone else in the accident was fine--a minor miracle. And I ended up with an "infamous" car crash story.

Have a happy week everyone!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Infamous Car Crash Story

No, this is not my car, but it felt fitting.

So, keep in mind that this accident happened exactly two weeks after I turned 16 and got my license. I was driving up the on-ramp onto the freeway on my way to school one morning. It was rainy and foggy and I couldn't see very well. It looked like the car in front of me was slowing down, but the brake lights weren't on so I thought it was just because of the fog. I slowed down a bit anyway... but not enough. By the time I realized they were actually at a dead stop (it had been hit by a hit-and-run that bent the metal into it's tire), it was too late.

I plowed into the back of them and it bent my hood up like a tent so I couldn't see anything. I was wearing my seat belt so I was alright, but after a minute I heard these chilling screams coming from the car in front of me. My first thought was "Oh no. I killed someone."

I'd just unbuckled my seatbelt when we got hit from behind and I slammed my head into my steering wheel. My thought switched to, "Oh no. I'm going to die." Just after I'd clicked my seatbelt back in, we were hit again... and again... and again.

Finally, the carnage stopped for long enough that it felt safe to get out of the car. At this point, I'd hit my head more than once and I was in full-on shock. Keep this in mind, as it effected every decision I made from this point forward.

The girl in the car in front of me looked fine, but she just kept yelling. Totally incomprehensible. The people in the cars behind me were all coming off of the air force base and were part of some kind of Norwegian delegation. Not a single one of them was speaking English...none.

Thus I came to my next totally logical conclusion--I'd somehow damaged the part of my brain that understood English. I was absolutely and thoroughly convinced that I was going to have to go back to Kindergarten and learn my own freakin' language all over again.

And so the fun began... tune in Monday for the rest of this story. :-) And have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Winning Travel Stories

So, those were some seriously awesome travel stories on Monday. I loved them and found you all very entertaining. My son helped me pick one and although he found several of you laugh worthy, he especially enjoyed the idea of minivan off-roading. 
Congrats, Patti! Send me your address and I'll send you the random bizarre souvenir I picked up on my travels this weekend. Here is Patti's story...
"On vacation a couple of years ago, we decided to explore this logging road in search of a waterfall. While we were up in the mountains, a storm hit and on our way back down, we realized that lightening had hit a tree and that tree had fallen across the road.

We had to build up around the tree to try and jump over the log in our mini van.

Good times."
Speaking of fabulous stories, on Friday, I will post my infamous story of my first car accident... seriously, it is infamous. 
Not even kidding.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Today, I am posting from my iPad 2 in a hotel room. I'm in a tiny Wyoming town visiting family. This town has "Welcome to the mountin man Rondezvues!" on a sign and a horse coming out of the supply store... No rider, just a horse.

I love this town.

My nephew is turning 2 this week and we thought this would be a good time to come and see him. We had him for about 10 minutes before he got a fever and spots all over his back. Turns out, a child with chicken pox is not a good party companion.

I know, who knew, right?

So, I was thinking about traveling and how so many people come back from a vacation or road trip with great stories. And, I'd love to hear yours. On Wednesday, I'll post my favorite road trip story from the comments (assuming you leave some), along with one of my best road trip stories. The winner will also receive the strangest road trip souvenir I can get my hands on in this absurd little town.

Let the story-telling begin!

Friday, July 15, 2011

When Lightning Strikes

A lot of great things happened to me this week, but one of my favorites was when I was out to dinner on Monday and brainstorming some story ideas with my coolio friend L.T. Elliot. During our conversation, we both experienced a few of those beautiful, brilliant A-HA moments that every writer loves.

It started me thinking...what spark in the brain, what firing of synapses causes these wonderful moments to happen? Is it some kind of gift of writer-dom that our brains bend and twist in ways that others wouldn't even consider? Do we just work and streamline our individual creative muscles until they are svelte and primed for action? Or is it some great "Muse" leading us to these moments of genius?

What has been your favorite A-HA moment and why do you think they happen?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why It Hurts

There is so much pain involved with being a writer. Harsh critiques, rejections, more rejections, more critiques, more rejections and then you get published. You change critiques to critics and it starts all over again.

Why do we do it? I once heard it said that living with a writer is similar to living with a cutter. They put themselves out there only to be hurt over and over and over again.

But we don't stop. The mark of a good and dedicated writer is that we just keep coming back for more. Ask any published author and they will tell you that one of the most vital tools a writer can have is a thick skin.

In an industry that takes years and years of hard work and dedication for even the possibility of being successful, why would so many of us keep coming back for more?

I can't answer that. I know my own reasons and I hope you know yours because if you don't, you'll figure them out or quit before too long. What I want to discuss is the reason I believe it HAS to be this way.

In any artistic profession, there is a certain amount of talent and a bigger amount of hard work involved. The learning curve in writing is tremendous. There are so many different facets to be aware of all while you craft this entirely new world and people and breathe life into them. In order to learn, you must recognize your areas that need work. If you don't find those weaknesses and improve them, your writing will become stagnant. So, we need those critiques and critics and rejections.

We all need to spend some time in the land of Total Suckdom...a lot of time.

The other part of the equation is the writing itself. You have to love it and pour everything you have into it. You have to make it a part of your identity. Allow this world to take shape in your mind, the people to breathe, love, hate and live in your heart. To create a story that has any chance at being publishable, you must fill it with a piece of yourself and then send it out to be trampled.

This is why it hurts, and this is why it HAS to hurt. If it doesn't hurt to send out your work and have it thoroughly rejected...then you weren't in it enough to begin with. I learned during the querying process to thicken my skin and embrace the pain that comes from knowing I am invested enough to some day be successful.

What do you think? Are you afraid to feel a little pain?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Congratulations Natalie!

Most of you probably know my wonderful friend, Natalie Whipple. If you don't, then you are probably one of two people on the internet who don't follow her blog and you should remedy that immediately.

Like now...come back when you're done. Really, I can wait.

Natalie is awesome, funny, and not afraid to talk about the rough side of publishing. Her blog is refreshingly honest and open about both her pains and her triumphs, just like her. Plus, don't even get me started on her fashion sense...I mean do you see the shoes in that picture? 'Nuff said.

Today I want to talk about a triumph because Natalie finally got to announce last week that she signed a two-book deal with freakin' Harper Teen!  (<--I highly recommend that you click this link and go comment because she's giving away some very cool bookage.)

You also should go read this Natalie post about what happens when submission doesn't go the way you hope it will. She earned her success, and I'm so happy to see her finally getting it.

So, everyone stop by and congratulate her because she's willing to share her journey, and isn't afraid to teach a newbie the ropes--especially in D&D. Yay Natalie! I love you, girl. I couldn't be more happy for you!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Interview on Kristin Lynn Thetford's blog!

I'm honored to be the first interview on Kristin Lynn Thetford's "Newly Agented Writers Series". It was a great interview with a lot of good questions about me, my journey and my amazing agent.

Click here to stop by and say hi!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Concept Sentence WINNERS <--yes, I meant to put an S

So, you're all awesome and I had a very difficult time choosing the best concept sentence. I did the logical thing and pushed the responsibility on a completely unbiased third-party... and she couldn't pick a winner either... but she did narrow it down to two excellent entries.

Drumroll please....

Nichole Giles


Noble M. Standing

Congrats you two! Let me know whether you want a query critique, a 20-pg manuscript critique, or a copy of MATCHED by Ally Condie... obviously if you both pick the book then I might have to pick an alternate giveaway book. I wasn't planning on having two winners, but you guys are just too freakin' fantastic. Not my fault. ;-) Thanks to everyone who entered it really was very hard to pick.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!!

I'll be back with the winner of the concept sentence contest on Wednesday. Until then, everyone have a fantastic Independence Day!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Don't Forget!

I'm having a fun little get-together with the awesome Kasie West and the wonderful Natalie Whipple today, but I wanted to remind everyone to go and enter their concept in the GIVEAWAY from my Wednesday post. You have until Sunday night, July 3rd to enter and I decided the prize will be either:

1 - a query critique
2 - a critique of the first 20 pages of your manuscript
3 - a copy of MATCHED by Ally Condie

So yeah, pop by and enter! Have a great weekend everyone!