Monday, June 9, 2014

Contest Winner!

Ok! Finally getting to this today (weekends are never as uneventful as I'd like them to be), and I'd like to announce that Laurie is the winner of a signed copy of MY FAIRE LADY and a special gift!  

Here was her comment on her perfect summer date:


"My husband and I don't get to spend a lot of time together because we have a little one. So, my perfect summer date would be to go down to the Beach, ride the ferry to Balboa Island and wander the island eating Balboa Bars. On the way home we'd hit up our favorite dim sum place. I've learned to cherish all of the small moments we have together. A simple, but fun, day out is the best day." 

I chose this because it went straight to my heart. I have a little one too (see Changes post), and I totally understand how rare it is to have some time alone with your husband. I also really liked that she said she's learned to cherish the small moments. When you're a new parent, this is a good thing to remember, to make all the little moments count.
So congrats, Laurie! I will try to get in touch soon!

Monday, June 2, 2014

MY FAIRE LADY has arrived! (Release day contest!)

Today is the day I've been waiting for since September of 2012. MY FAIRE LADY finally hits the shelves, and my friends, family, and people I don't even know are going to be reading it!

To celebrate, I'm going to give away a signed copy of MY FAIRE LADY and a bonus little surprise (I'm not telling what it is, but you'll love it!) to one lucky contest winner.

How do you win this contest, Laura? you ask. I decided that we should all channel our inner Rowena and get a little romantic...

To win the contest, all you need to do is comment below and tell me what your Perfect Summer Date would be. I'll pick the answer I like best on Saturday, June 7th at midnight!

Once again, here's the gorgeous cover and the blurb. I hope you all love Ro and King Geoffrey's Faire as much as I do!




Rowena Duncan is a thoroughly modern girl with big plans for her summer—until she catches her boyfriend making out with another girl. Heartbroken, she applies to an out-of-town job posting and finds herself somewhere she never expected: the Renaissance Faire.

As a face-painter doubling as a serving wench, Ro is thrown headfirst into a vibrant community of artists and performers. She feels like a fish out of water until Will, a quick-witted whip cracker, takes her under his wing. Then there’s Christian, a blue-eyed stunt jouster who makes Ro weak in the knees. Soon, it’s not just her gown that’s tripping her up.

Trading in the internet and electricity for stars and campfires was supposed to make life simpler, but Ro is finding that love is the ultimate complication. Can she let the past make way for her future?


Goodreads!

Amazon!

Barnes & Noble!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

MY FAIRE LADY playlist!

The official MY FAIRE LADY playlist, put together by the wonderful Amy Rosenbaum! It's just as
fun as the book is, and it's the perfect summer mix.
   

Friday, May 30, 2014

Changes

I've had some very big changes in my life recently. VERY big.

Like, six pounds of baby big.

Last October I gave birth to an adorable baby boy and of course my husband and I fell in love with him. The past seven months have been quite an adventure, as I'm sure all you parents out there can relate to. Sleepless nights, spit ups, trying to figure out why he's crying and how to make it stop... But then there's the good stuff, like the first smile or laugh, learning to sit up, roll over (he's working really hard on crawling now), the cuddles and all the hugs. The list goes on and on, and I find I can't  take my eyes off him. He's fascinating, and I know it's kind of cliche, but I really am seeing the world through his eyes as he explores and learns.

On top of that, I started a new job. A GREAT job. I am now a youth services librarian at my local public library.

Those of you who know me know that the past few years as a teacher have been some of the roughest, most stressful years of my life. There were quite a few changes in administration at the school, and the mood in the building changed entirely. Instead of it being a welcoming, happy place to work, it became the source of a lot of anxiety, and morale amongst the teachers was really low. I dreaded going into work and felt ill most mornings, and all I could do was keep my head down and hope that I wouldn't be reprimanded for whatever petty reason they could pull out of their hats. It became genuinely unbearable, culminating in almost losing my job and the entire musical program I built. Then, when I was able to stay because of some wonderful parents there, unfathomably, things got worse. It got to the point where my job was actually being threatened because of a poster that ONLY I COULD SEE that I used to block a small window in my door when I was using a breast pump. That's right. They threatened not to renew my contract because of a poster. That only I could see. In my dark, locked classroom. While I was using a breast pump so that I could feed my child.

Although I loved that school, the kids, and the parents, obviously, I needed a new job.

When the library position opened up, it seemed like it was meant to be.  And it was. This job doesn't even feel like a job. I get to go to work every day and read stories to kids and drool over books. It doesn't get any better.

So why blog about it? Well, because even though I've been really busy personally, on the writing front I haven't done ANYTHING. I've been feeling guilty and frustrated because I've been working on a novel since last summer, and I've made almost no progress on it. I still have at least 40K to go.

It's a bummer because I wanted to have something finished to send out to agents before MY FAIRE LADY came out. I wanted to have something done so I could devote all my time to getting the word out about MFL. I wanted to have a new book to talk about while MFL buzz was all, well, abuzz.

It's not going to happen. But you know what? After having a baby, being completely stressed out at my teaching job, and then switching jobs and being trained for a new career... I think I'm okay with that. Is it ideal? No. But sometimes you just have to cut yourself some slack. I can't beat myself up for it. After all, it's not like I've just been lazy. I had a baby and I'm a mommy, for goodness sake! I found a new job that I love! These are BIG changes.

I know all writers go through big life changes, or even slumps where they don't feel the writing vibe, and we feel guilty about it. But we need to KNOCK IT OFF. Writing shouldn't be a source of guilt and anxiety. Unless there's a deadline, cut yourself some slack, write when you can and don't make it a chore. The story will get done, even if you only add a few words every day.

So lets all take a deep breath, relax, and roll with the punches. Besides, some of those big changes can be awfully fun. Especially when those adorable big changes are learning to crawl.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

MY FAIRE LADY Countdown

Um, so... seeing as how I have a book coming out in less than a week, I should probably get my act together and actually BLOG. 

I've been a bit terrified nervous about reviews, but so far, so good! Here are a few highlights:

"Wettersten offers a whimsical setting, engaging characters, and plenty of summer romance, making this an easy sell for teens." --School Library Journal

"Wettersten provides a playful, fresh setting for her YA debut, and summer fun abounds amid the jousting, mead-drinking, and evidence that chivalry is indeed not dead...[a] light touch and solid characterizations make it a satisfying read." --Publishers Weekly

"Sharp, funny dialogue is mixed with thoughtful resolutions of relevant teenage topics--love and lust, admitting fault, the mettle it takes to pursue a passion. The rich backdrop of the fair, with its vivid description and appealing characters, is icing on the cake. Verily, fine fare." -- Kirkus Reviews

Not shabby at all, huh? 

As fun as it's been to have big publications say nice things about MY FAIRE LADY, the cherry on the top of it all was my local paper doing a story about me and my book. The public library and local bookstore are both getting calls and taking orders for it, which is just amazing. A few friends of mine got notifications from Amazon that their book is scheduled to ship.

Which means that ALL OF THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. 

I'm still pinching myself. At the same time I'm panicking because I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING. But does anyone at this stage? I bet Stephen King and John Green look back at their debuts and laugh, thinking, "Boy, I had no clue."

At least I'm choosing to believe that. 

Six days and it's on the shelves. Hold me.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goodbye 2013!

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before? Went through the whole process of editing a novel for a publishing house, from rough draft to copy editing to ARC.
2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't remember, honestly, so I guess I did a great job keeping them if I did! This year I want to get back in shape in a lot of ways. I need to exercise and lose weight, I need to get my voice back into performance shape, and I need to get back in the habit of writing every day.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My friend Becky, to her adorable son Reed. And, um, me. :)
4. Did anyone close to you die? No, thank goodness.
5. What countries did you visit? None. I had to miss LeakyCon London because I was as big as a shed.
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? Um... an agent, I think.
7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory? October 22, the day my son was born. July 29, my wedding anniversary, which was really special this year, LeakyCon Portland and the trip to NYC in March. Also, the day I found out I was pregnant.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Becoming a mother.  (Just getting the nursery ready was a huge feat!)
9. What was your biggest failure? Not writing more of my latest novel before the baby was born. I used to have so much time and I squandered it. 
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nope. 
11. What was the best thing you bought? TWO BOYS KISSING by David Levithan. ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell. The Raven Cycle books by Maggie Stiefvater. Also, a bottle warmer.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My husband, who has become the best father in the world and has been so patient and wonderful with me, the Hormone Queen. The parents at my school, whose support humbled me and made my heart grow like the Grinch's.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Let's just... not go into this. 
14. Where did most of your money go? Babies R Us. Definitely.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Obviously, having a baby is exciting stuff. But beside that, I was really excited about getting the cover for MY FAIRE LADY (which I love), LeakyCon in Portland, and the awesome trip to NYC I took with Hubby to see Sleep No More with friends.
16. What song/album will always remind you of 2013? In My Arms by Plumb. Not Over You by Gavin DeGraw. Clarity by Zedd. Beautiful by Mariah Carey and Miguel. The entirety of Justin Timberlake's album. Roar by Katy Perry, and pretty much everything by Demi Lovato.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? -Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? - Fatter. I blame a certain baby.
iii. richer or poorer? - Same.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Spent time doing things I won't be able to do for a while now that I'm a parent. Long nights out, lots of movies in the theater, dinners at great restaurants. More French 75s. ;)
19. What do you wish you'd done less of? worrying (I'll stick with last year's answer on this one)
20. How did you spend Christmas? With my family and my husband's, eating great food and giving gifts and letting the little ones entertain us.
22. Did you fall in love in 2013? Nah. 
23. How many one night stands in this last year? Why does this question exist? And who answers it?
24. What was your favorite TV program? I discovered Downton Abbey and I'm getting into Doctor Who, slowly but surely.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? Nah. Hating is a waste of time. I basically try not to let people get under my skin anymore.
26. What was the best book you read? It's really close but I have to say, TWO BOYS KISSING by David Levithan. Just a gorgeous book with beautiful writing.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Hmnn... I don't know that I really discovered any great new artists this year, so I'll gladly take suggestions! I do think that I rediscovered a lot of old favorites. I'd been going without my iPod for a while and didn't have much music on my phone, but now I'm getting back into the music I used to love. 
28. What did you want and get? A's in my MLIS classes, a good part-time job, a cool summer while being pregnant, and a great time traveling.
29. What did you want and not get? Not a thing. It was a pretty good year, really.
30. What was your favorite film of this year? I really loved Gatsby.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 33 and I went to dinner with my family and Hubby spoiled me rotten.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I'm already wishing I'd relaxed more and just enjoyed the first weeks of my son's life, but I was so tired and stressed and worrying about everything. He's growing up so fast and changing every day, and I need to remember to slow down and savor it.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? Honestly, anything that didn't make me look like Two Ton Lizzie while I was pregnant was a win.
34. What kept you sane? Writing. My husband. Mel, Becky, and Laura. Kate. Janet. The OneFour Kid Lit authors. The students at my school.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you like the most? I'm loving Pope Francis. He's really a living example of Christ.
36. What political issue stirred you the most?  Healthcare.
37. Who did you miss? LeakyCon people. I swear, a few days a year is not enough. I start missing them before the conference even ends.
38. Who was the best new person you met? My editor at Simon & Schuster, the fantastic Navah Wolfe. I've met a ton of 2014 debut authors too, who have given me great advice and helped me in so many ways.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013. Do good work and people will recognize it. And sometimes people you never imagined would notice you actually really love and respect you.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?

Your baby blues
So full of wonder
Your curly cues
Your contagious smile
And as i watch
You start to grow up
All I can do
is hold you tight

Knowing clouds will rage in
Storms will race in
But you will be safe in my arms
Rains will pour down
Waves will crash around
But you will be safe in my arms
--Plumb, In My Arms

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How I Found–And Lost–An Agent. Or, Alternatively, Agent Limbo

It's been a long time since I've blogged, and what made me return is, as usual, the need to tell a story.

While emailing with a friend the other day, it occurred to me that maybe writing about my experience with my agent could be therapeutic. At the very least, it may help some other writers out there who might be going through something similar, or might face a situation like mine in the future. Here it is, in all its tl;dr glory:

A couple of years ago I started writing a YA novel. It wasn't the first time I'd written YA, but it was the first time that I really felt like I'd found my voice, and the story and characters were strong. I felt like this was The One. I had total confidence in it. So I started to query agents.

If you want stats, I'm sure I can find them for you, but this is what I remember: I worked really hard on my query and sharpened those first pages. So much so that I won a few contests for queries and first pages. Because of that preparation, I honestly didn't have a lot of query rejections. I first sent my query to about 10 agents and all but 2 wanted to see more. One of those agents requested a revision of the novel and gave me WONDERFUL suggestions.

(If I ever meet her, I'm seriously going to hug her. She may not remember me or my novel but her help made that story the fantastic story it had the potential to be.)

She ultimately decided that it just wasn't for her, though she enjoyed the revision. I took some more time with it, made a few more changes, and then went for another round of querying.

One of the agents I queried was Ken Wright at Writers House. See, you can only query one Writers House agent at a time, and I wanted to make sure the one I chose was really the best one for my book. I had a great feeling about Ken, though I couldn't put my finger on why. He had excellent credentials, not the least of which was that he represented the Printz winner that year. But if I'm completely honest, more than anything, it was the picture of him on the agency's website that convinced me. There was something very serious in his face, but something very warm too. Silly as it is, I felt it was the face of someone who would be supportive when I needed him, but also fight for me. (Agents, take note of that. It's totally not HOW we writers should judge you, but it can't hurt, either.)

Ken was home that day, not in the office, and just happened to check his email on a brief break from reading manuscripts and doing important things. He emailed me back right away and asked for the full. Our emails were filled already with jokes and witty barbs, and that good feeling about him increased ten fold. The weekend passed; Ken read my book twice. On Monday he emailed me and asked if he could call, THE CALL. We scheduled a time to chat later in the week. He emailed the day of the call just to make sure I knew he was going to offer representation, so that I could be ready with any questions for him.

Our call lasted a little under an hour. We talked a lot about the book. He was very curious about how I'd managed to get inside the head of a gay teenage boy and wanted to know a lot more about the characters, and it became very clear to me that he really understood the book, and had felt every word. I asked him questions as well (I'd found a few lists online and I made sure to ask a lot of things, but there is one question I really wish I had asked: What happens if you can no longer be my agent? Write that down, fellow writers).

His confidence in the story blew me away. His confidence in ME blew me away. But more importantly, the confidence in himself was phenomenal. He was certain that he could sell the book and that he was the right person for it. There were other agents who had my manuscript, so I had to tell Ken that I needed a few days to alert them, but I was sold: Ken was IT.

We went out on submission almost immediately. (That's a nerve-wracking process that deserves its own blog). Rejections happened, of course. I wish I could say that I learned a lot from them, but most were editors saying that they didn't think there was a market for the book, or a place for it at the moment in YA lit. I wish I could tell you that there wasn't hesitation to publish a book about a gay character in which his sexuality wasn't an issue. But that's for another blog as well.

My point is, the whole way through, Ken was supportive, really helped to cushion the blow, did his best to explain the rejections and glean something from them, and remained confident in the book.

But around July there was a shift. He wasn't as responsive to his emails, and I got the feeling something was wrong. Then I got an explanation.

Ken had been offered the VP/Publisher job at Viking Press. You can't really get much better than that, so I couldn't blame him for walking away from agenting. What really sucked, quite frankly, was that since my book hadn't sold, he didn't pass me off to anyone else at Writers House. He did recommend other agents to me, but didn't recommend me to other agents, if you follow that.

I do wish things had ended differently...that sounds like a romantic relationship, doesn't it? But the author-agent relationship is kind of like that. I thought I had found Mr. Right. We were so happy for a while. The book was on submission, we were confident it would sell, and rainbows and sunshine were all over the sky. Then suddenly a breakup, and me and my book were on our own. There was a bereft, hopeless feeling when I'd just had all the hope in the world.

Practically speaking, the end result was that I had a book that had enough rejections from publishers to be concerning, but not enough that it would make it impossible to still get it published, and I had no agent.

I was in agent limbo. I queried a bit more, explaining my situation, but got really disheartened when that seemed to go nowhere. People were cautious about taking something on that had already been on submission or wanted to change the book in ways I wasn't sure about. So... honestly, I thought maybe this was the end for my novel. I stopped querying.

But, limbo or not, some really AWESOME opportunities arose. I made a connection at Simon & Schuster that led to a new novel (MY FAIRE LADY) and a book deal, which puts me in a better position to query agents this time around.

That's right. I'm going through this whole process again. I'm working on a new novel and hope to get to querying in the winter.

It's frustrating, feeling like I'm starting over. But I'm really not. This time I have a lot going for me. I have a book set to come out next summer with Simon & Schuster, I was represented by an agent in a top agency, I have a great relationship with my editor, and there's already interest in my WIP.

So instead of looking at agent limbo like a major setback, I'm going to look at it like a stepping stone to the next big thing. Just like last time, I have a strong story idea and strong skills, but unlike last time, I'll be able to say I'm a published author.

Limbo's not a bad place, it's just in between, and there's nowhere to go but forward.