Never Give Up Hope. How I Got Published Even When I Did Everything Wrong

I was trying to think of something cool and pithy to write here today, but I can’t think of anything.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by a reporter who is writing an article about me for our paper and she reminded me of how I did absolutely everything wrong when I was submitting my first book. So, I thought that maybe if I shared that story with you all, it would ease up some of the pressure you put on yourselves and your writing to be perfect. 

how did carrie get published?

It begins as all good things do with an email announcing the creation of Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn. Flux was accepting YA novels. Hhm? I thought to myself. I just wrote a YA novel. Sure, I hadn’t shown it to my advisor at Vermont College’s MFA in Writing Program. Sure, I hadn’t let ANYONE read it. Sure, I only just wrote it in the last month and it was rough, rough, rough. But I sent it in. I chugged out a cover letter. I found some stamps. I mailed it.

Here is what followed, taken from my Livejournal entries.

Sweet Editor Man called me within a week of me mailing the manuscript. Seriously. It was wild.

the 30th, 2006

Okay. Here’s the big question of the day: Why am I so stupid?

I will work on the self esteem exercises tomorrow… but today! Today! Today I am allowed to realize the full extent of my idiotness.

Here’s why.

I sent out some manuscript queries on Thursday.

I get a phone call this morning, from a real live editor who says, “Um, is this C.C. Jones?”

“Yes,” I say while pouring out cat food on the table.

He then proceeds to tell me he got my query, wants to see more of my manuscript, but his email requesting it bounced back.

“Really?” I say. “That’s weird.”

“Let me tell you the address,” he says. “cjonese at…”

“Oh,” I say. “Oh. Oh. Oh.”

“What?” he says.

“There’s no e on the end of Jones.”

“I didn’t think so,” he says.

I then apologize and berate myself for not even being able to spell my own last name! What an idiot. He gives me an email address. I send him the rest of the manuscript.

Yeah, that baby’s going somewhere. Not.

Although, he was kind and he did say, “It’s the manuscript I care about, not your inability to spell your own name.”

What a nice man. Even when he rejects the manuscript. He’s still a darn nice guy.

This means now that MY BOOK has been requested. The JOHN WAYNE LETTERS has been requested (by agent and house). And another book, which was crucified at workshop, has been requested. Will anyone actually buy anything? No…. And if they did, will they be able to contact me? Not unless I can remember to get my email address right. Geesh.

the 31st, 2006

So, despite the fact that I can’t spell, the nice editor man called me back yesterday and talked to me for 40 minutes and told me all the good stuff about my book and what he thinks could get better. It was like talking to a Vermont College mentor. It was really cool. He was brilliant and really, really nice.

And he’s starting the book through the acquisitions process at his imprint, which is really cool… But, I’m not getting my hopes up about it, until papers are signed.

Still, he had the best insight on the piece and I am so excited about working on it. So, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to go work on it. He only wants another 10,000 words. Geesh. Piece of cake. Ha.

the 4th, 2006

Well, here’s a quick update on the sweet editor man. He sent me an email, which I can not quote verbatim, because it’s somehow infringing on copyright. HOWEVER, he said that he wanted to let me know what’s going on, that the piece is heading to the acquisitions committee on Thursday and he’ll call me when they’re done.

That is so sweet of him.

But now I’m going to be a nervous wreck until Friday and I’m already hyper and neurotic enough as it is. I think everyone in my family will soon disown me.

On a positive note, I wrote 15,000 more words on it this week and I’m really happy with it. It’s done the Sarah A. rubbing thing, where the characters work off each other. I’ve put more setting in, which is good because I’m weak with setting. I’ve also changed the ending and added a couple of conflict scenes. Oh, and sweet editor man said he hopes I’d have a great weekend. Is he crazy? As I told Emily Wing Smith, no matter what happens I’ve made the piece better already, so I can’t complain when he dumps my butt. So, yeah… Now, back to revising my critical thesis.

the 9th, 2006

Um, okay… Sweet Editor man called and he continues to be Sweet Editor Man.

He talked to the acquisitions committee today and wanted to call me about it before he battled the snowstorm and drove home. He said they were all “very enthusiastic about it.” They liked the writing, especially the details and he said even the people who don’t like YA were hooked.

YIPPPEEEE!!!!

So, he’s calling me in the morning to give me contract details, etc… which is great except I know absolutely nothing about contracts because I never thought I’d get offered one. Oh, the stupidity of me continues….

the 3rd, 2006

Well, today was a happy fine day because today the JOHN WAYNE LETTERS (title soon to be changed I am sure) passed an acquisitions committee and is now officially wanted with an offer on the table.

Yippee!!!

What karma gods did I appease? Was it when I helped the little old lady at the grocery store heft her 20-lb bag of kitty litter on to the checkout thing? Was it when I agreed to help run the middle school civil rights team or the drama club?

Was it simply when I refused to succumb to road rage when the guy in the Subaru refused to yield and almost t-boned me? Instead of succumbing to road rage, I thought, ‘Oh, perhaps I’ll get a new car out of this. I hope there’s no major injuries involved.’

I don’t know why. I’m just happy. That’s two YA books now. Now I need to find someone who’ll like my middle grade.

AND my birthday was good despite the fact that I am now old, old, old because I am the same age my mother was when she had me. That is just horrifying. Sigh.

No, wait. I am happy, happy, happy. So happy, in fact, that I’ll even spell check this.

I am not an officially published author yet, because no contracts have been signed but I AM SO CLOSE!

Now in 2019

That book was published here and in Canada (French and English). Some bookstores did not carry it because it had the word ‘gay’ in the title. It won a Maine Literary award. It won an Independent Book Publishers award, but it also made me a writer and started me off on the weird journey that I’m on. 

All that happened despite the absolute lack of perfection.

So have hope. No matter what your dreams. You can do this even if you can’t spell your own last name.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

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Writing Is Sometimes Not So Glam, Even When You Win an Award.

Welcome Back to the Glam World of Children’s Book Writing! Not! 

Many of you have heard about the time my skirt fell down to the ground in New  York City during a major book event.

Many of you have heard about the time a reader bit someone else in line trying to grab After Obsession, my  book I wrote with Steve Wedel.

Many of you have heard about the 5 million times I said the wrong thing.

But that’s not all of it.

My Post-6


So I won a few awards for Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend, my debut novel. Sometimes these awards ceremonies were hard to survive.

Yes, I did just write survive.

One of these times was when I won a Maine Literary Award.

The people at the awards ceremony were incredibly nice and kind. Grape-eating abounded. Brie-eating abounded. There was wine. But more importantly there was sparkling cider. The awards were held in a dark room on the seventh floor of a library. Yes, there are buildings with over three floors in Maine, thank you very much.

But I expected to be like this:
(Image from solar navigator)

Instead, I was like this:
(image from the Times)
Why?

Well, a woman who is very nice read pieces of the award winners and then presented them with the award. There were awards for poetry, published fiction, published non-fiction, published children’s book (THIS IS WHAT I WON!) and then there were awards for teen writers, which is super ultra-cool, because let me tell you that winning an award looks SOOOOOOOO good on college applications.
(Dakota Fanning right here knows that she is going to get into every college she wants.)

Anyway, I went up. I received my award. I smiled. I hugged. I went back to my seat while people applauded. I did not fall down. My skirt did not fall down. I did not say any swear words or call anyone by the wrong name.

I thought I had made it through.

I thought I was safe.

I thought wrong.

Then an ultra-cute teen went up and received her award. She went back to her seat, then the host called the teen’s name into the darkness and asked what high school the ultra-cute, ultra-good-writer teen went to.

“Scarborough,” the teen replied. Her voice flitted through the darkness.

Then the host said INTO THE MICROPHONE (!), “Carrie. What high school do you go to?”

Me:

Everyone in the audience turned their heads to stare at me.

Me:

Super cool administrator of the program started saying, “No! Carrie — Carrie — wrote –“

Me (finally capable of speech): No! I’m —  I’m old.

People began laughing.

People began laughing somewhat hysterically, snorting wine out their noses.

People could not stop laughing.

Emily, my super lovable kid, pet my back, and said, “It’s okay, Mommy. They won’t remember.”

Sigh.

I remember.

And this is why I remind myself that I’m not a writer for the potential glory. I’m a writer because I love story, I love writing, and I write for kids because kids and teens are awesome.

Kate DiCamillo said, “Stories are light. And light is precious in a world so dark.”

That light makes the embarrassment worth it.

My Post-5 copy

Random Marketing and Book Things

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, had a new episode Tuesday. It’s about dialogue. It’s pretty funny. Actually, it’s super funny. Check it out.

My Post-2 copy

I’ll be in Exeter, New Hampshire, on a panel for the release of THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID.

Thursday, March 15, 2018 – 7:00pm
 
Water Street Bookstore
125 Water Street
Exeter, NH 03833
Things We Haven't Said: Sexual Violence Survivors Speak Out Cover Image