Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I'm Coming Out! -- Eve

As we stood in the lunch line at the Writer’s Day Conference on Saturday, I complained about being hot and sweaty and sought out shade anywhere I could. Afraid of venturing too far for fear of losing my place in line, I positioned myself so Jay stood between me and the sun, so most of my body and face were shaded.

As I stood in Jay’s shadow, Jay noted out loud that I was, well, standing in his shadow. And as I slowly backed away from him, he said, “You’re finally coming out from my shadow!”

“Yeah,” I said. “Do you think they’ll have those little peanut butter cookie things they had last year...? Oooh, and that chocolate cream pie thing??”


Another pause.

“What?” I blinked.

Robin, Jay, and Cynthia blinked back.

“Oh! OH!! NOW I GET IT! Standing in your shadow? Coming out from your shadow?? HA! I totally get it now! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

As you all know, Jay is my mentor, my friend, my hero. (As is Robin, but we’ll deal with her shadow another day.) He’s done this writing thing 3 times as long as I have. Over the years he’s won countless contests, awards, and various accolades from everyone in the business. In the last couple years, I’ve started winning contests, awards, etc. Jay’s had praise from editors. I’ve started getting praise from editors.

And though we are THREE Disco Mermaids, everyone at the Annual Conference seems to know us as “JAY ASHER and those two wild blond chicks.” People often think Robin and I are the same person, unless we’re in the same place at the same time. Not that I’m complaining...she’s HOT!

We’ve been researching agents forever, and we all came up with very short lists of our top picks. Jay signed with a kick-ass agent in September. He sold his first book this month (if you missed it, the announcement in last week’s Publisher’s Weekly is pretty killer!).

And...wait for it...wait for it ...


She loves my book. I love her. I love Jay. Jay loves her. It’s SO COOL! Although still officially in Jay’s shadow, I’m hoping that when my book sells, I’ll emerge from the cold damp darkness and leap out into the warm sunshine shouting, “I am somebody! I am the wild blond chick who hangs out with Jay Asher...named EVE!”

(**And, NO, Jay’s kick-ass agent did NOT know that I was one of the aforementioned wild blond chicks, and I therefore officially got an agent on my own merits. No nepotism here...just in case you were wondering.)

- Eve

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Writer’s Day Love Fest—Robin

I’m so happy to be a part of our local writing community here on the Central Coast. And once again, this group of writers proved themselves to be the coolest people ever.

Yesterday, Jay, Eve and I went to the SCBWI Writer’s Day in Thousand Oaks. Jay was showered with hugs and kisses from everyone in our region who had heard the good news. And Eve and me? Well, we were showered, too! (Minus a few kisses from the gals.) They knew that Jay’s success was just as special to Eve and me, and that it was special to our whole group of writers. (And writers everywhere for that matter!)

Once we wiped all the lipstick from Jay’s forehead, we were actually able to sit down and concentrate on the speakers. (If you ignore the five minutes that Eve and I came down with an attack of the giggles and we hid our heads in our hands until we could act like the adults we are…or may become someday.)

The editors were great, the authors were great (go GREG TRINE!) and JODY FICKES SHAPIRO—oh my god, if you’ve never heard her speak, you’re life is not complete.

Our regional advisor, ALEXIS O'NEILL, predicted at the beginning that everyone in the room would go away with one new insight into their writing. For me, I realized that my writing cannot be done in a vacuum. I need all of these people to make it happen.

Just to make this lovely day even lovelier, we celebrated with sushi and dear friends. Except I must apologize to Jay for forcing him to take his first sip of sake. (I hope your esophagus is healing nicely!)

During dinner, our friend TINA NICHOLS COURY (who is working on her first picture book with a fabulous editor at Dutton!) reinforced my new insight by saying, “In what other profession could you find such a huge support from people who genuinely care that you succeed!?” I agree! Cheers, Tina! (And don’t I owe you some money?)

On the ride home, Jay, Eve and I decided we would NOT talk about writing. We would just focus on politics and religion and the poor state of health care in our country. I wish I could say that lasted 5 minutes, but it didn’t. We were talking about how much we love this group of writers within 60 seconds.

Cheers, everyone!


Thursday, October 26, 2006

What's New? -- Jay

I admit, I used to hate running into people I haven’t seen in awhile and hearing What's new? or Long time, no see! or What's going on in your neck of the woods? because it was usually followed up with How's that writing thing of yours going?

Writing thing? With that, I knew how seriously they took my particular pursuit of happiness. But now? Now, I love telling them what’s going on. And though it’s only been a week since my last post, my neck of the woods has been extremely exciting.

1. My book deal was reported in the Deals section of the latest Publisher’s Weekly. I was absolutely blown away, honored, and blown away again to find my name listed in a column I've drooled over every single week for years.

2. I joined a writer’s co-op called Class of 2k7. It’s a group of debut middle grade and YA authors with books coming out in 2007 pulling together to promote ourselves as one big mass o’ talent not to be ignored. Check out the website and I think you’ll agree, next year the bookshelves will be hoppin’! The image at the top of this post is my contribution to the 2k7 film project. They’re putting together what is basically a commercial that’ll be sent to book buyers across the country to encourage them to check out the website and buy our books. Each author contributed one image to represent his or her book, to be displayed briefly in the film. That’s my hand holding the audiotape while Eve took the photo. I think Eve took around 50 pictures to get the one shot she wanted. Relax your thumb! Don't tense your pinky, it's making the side of your hand wrinkle up. The dangling tape looks posed...mess it up a bit.

3. I’ve been asked to speak at my first writer’s conference next summer. Actually, that’s not totally accurate. Last summer, the Disco Mermaids spoke as special guests in Lisa Yee’s workshop at the SCBWI National Conference. But this time, I’ll be leading the workshops (though I'd be thrilled to have Lisa as my special guest!). It's two 90-minute workshops on children’s literature at a conference for writers working in all types of literature. Not to sound repetitive, Not to sound repetitive, but I was blown away, honored, and blown away again by this invitation.

So that's how this writing thing of mine is going...

- Jay

Monday, October 23, 2006

Extraordinary World --Eve

In First Grade we had an assignment where we had to paint the letters in our names and use each letter to start a word that described our personalities. I had:

E nchilada
V accinated
E ndomorph

I explained to my unimpressed teacher that I loved enchiladas, just had all my shots, and didn’t know what the hell ‘endomorph’ meant, but it sounded really interesting! She suggested:

E nthusiastic
V ery Intelligent
E xtraordinary

I didn’t know what “extraordinary” meant, but she assured me that I was.

I went to a party in Malibu the other day, and let me tell you…if ever a human was to feel inadequate, this was the crowd in which to feel that way. Some of my closest friends were there, and they happen to be some of the most accomplished people on the planet. Let’s see…there was the Mayor, the Pediatric AIDS expert, the Native American rights attorney, the doctor of Zoology/Biology and environmental research expert, the inventor of the cochlear implant, the famous Psychiatrist to the stars, a movie producer, and various other fascinating friends. I usually feel anything but extraordinary around these people.

And you know what I heard all day? “Oh my God, Eve! I heard you finished your book. Tell us about it! And you got an offer from an agent! OMG, details! Details! And three editors have requested it? You’re so cool. I wish I could write a book. Tell us all about it!”

There’s something about writing a whole book that makes people take you seriously…like you must be really smart, or driven, or creative, or some combo of the three. Not that my friends didn’t take me seriously before, but I’ve spent the last five years writing…which often looks like unemployed slacking to normal folk.

You know the drill…an acquaintance or dude you meet in a bar says, “Oh, you’re a writer! What have you written? Can I get it at Barnes and Noble?” Then you tell him you are “Pre-Published”…to which he responds, “So, what do you DO? I mean, like, for WORK?”

It’s bizarre to the outside world that we sit all day and brainstorm, write, re-write, then re-write some more…and don’t get paid. In fact, many days it’s hard for me to take myself seriously. A lot of times Robin and I go, “What are we doing with our lives? This is crazy!” (I’m omitting Jay here because, well, unless you’ve been under a rock lately, you know!)

Now that publishing professionals are taking notice and telling us we’re not complete nutcases and that we actually do have talent, we’re finally certain that we’re doing the right thing with our lives. It’s cool to finally feel like I’m doing something meaningful and interesting with my life…something that I’m extraordinarily passionate about.

Extraordinary: adj. “deserving attention and comment; having a special purpose”

I don’t know if I deserve any attention, but I feel like I’ve definitely found my “special purpose.” (I’m a walking cliché, I know.)


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hidden Messages -- Robin

Something eerie is going on in my house. Not quite Bruce Willis and “I see dead people” kinda stuff, but close.

The other day, I reached into my pantry closet to get something out. Of course, when I reached in I could no longer remember what I reached in there for, so I just stood and stared for a bit. (Nothing unusual about this part, believe me.)

But what I saw after I stared long enough, was pretty eerie. On the shelf, right at my eye level, there was an etched handwritten message. It said this: “Understand me as I grow.”

“Um, honey,” I called out to my husband. “You’d better come here and take a look at this.” He ran into the kitchen holding up his trusty hammer. (He’s so handy.) I proudly showed him my discovery.
“Nothing’s on fire?” he asked.
“No, honey! Don’t you know what this message means?”
“No fire?”
“Think about it! We’ve been living in this house for eight years and we’ve probably opened and closed this closet door fifteen times a day (or more when I keep forgetting why I went in there) and TODAY is the first time we’ve ever noticed this message? Something’s going on!”
“Gas leak?”
“Honey, our little boy is crying out to us. He has obviously contacted someone from the other side and is now hiring ghosts to etch parenting advice into our cabinetry!”

While my husband tried to locate the gas leak, I gallivanted around the house looking at shelves and doors and cabinets trying to find any messages that might illuminate this process of raising a child. When I opened my medicine cabinet, I fully expected to find etched into the little shelf, “Give the boy more cookies.” But…nothing.

Then I got to thinking about the message in the pantry. “Understand me as I grow.” Maybe, I thought, my boy is not a soccer player. Maybe there’s a reason he climbs trees while his teammates follow a little ball around on a pretty little field. He is who he is.
A panther.

And I also got to thinking about my character. Sometimes I think of her as my own daughter, or sister. She’s just one of the family. And I decided I needed to understand her as she grows too. That maybe she doesn’t want to write about the mist settling on the blades of grass while she walks through the meandering roads of her childhood. Maybe her feet just hurt like crap and she’s cold and her nose is running because of all of this stinkin’ mist!

It was actually Eve that reminded me of that. That we don’t have to write a poetic, lyrical description of all of her surroundings. Just write was SHE feels. What SHE would say.

To understand her as she grows.


P.S. No gas leak. Whew!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Oh, This is Gonna be Fun -- Jay

All the itsy-bitsy contract details were worked out on a Friday. First my agent called to say it was a done deal. A few minutes later I got another call. “Jay? This is Kristen Pettit.” “No, it’s not,” I said. “It’s my editor!” We had a very fun/hyper/squealy phone call...and I hardly ever squeal.

That was followed by a wonderful weekend.

Then, on Monday, my editor sent me an e-mail which included the words “down to business.” And she meant it. The book is scheduled to come out next fall and I had three assignments to complete throughout the week. One was a brief paragraph describing my novel for their use when talking about my book. The next was a one-page summary of the novel for all of us to use so we don’t lose focus of what we’re trying to accomplish during the editing process. Then I needed to write an outline describing everything that happens in my 261-page manuscript so we can juggle the events for maximum suspense.

What? Juggle the events? You mean, like, change things?

Just kidding. I knew that was coming. But this is going to be a very difficult book to juggle scenes with. It has two first-person narratives running simultaneously. On each page, both narratives weave in and out several times. To move one scene in one narrative requires the other narrative to change in several places throughout the novel.

At lunch today I’m supposed to speak with my editor regarding which scenes to move where. So I’m trying to figure out if it’s better to eat my food before or after that phone call…

- Jay

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Take A Walk On The Juvenile Side! -Eve

I recently crashed my sister’s 20-year high school reunion with her. I, of course, won’t be headed to my reunion for 8 more years, but I wanted to reminisce about the glory days and get some good high school dirt for, you know, “research” purposes for my new YA book.

Turns out, it was fabulous! In terms of “research” I mean. You know how you always hear that people change and grow a lot after high school? Well, I’m here to tell you…it ain’t so! Nope. People pretty much don’t change a bit. I mean, yeah, some girls had plastic surgery and some guys were bald, but no one seemed to have done much growing over the years. Beyond physically, I mean.

The partiers were still partiers. The uncool kids were still trying mightily to be cool. The potheads were still potheads. The good-looking, charming drug dealer was still….well, you get the picture. My sister and her girlfriends were still the smart, hot, athletic chicks who are completely untouchable because they’re so perfect. I was still the immature little sister tagging along with the “older” crowd trying desperately to be, um, “older.” Although, now I’m so happy to be younger ‘cause, well, they’re in their late 30’s and I’m, well, YOUNGER!

It was the perfect little “research” experience. As we told story after story about the good old days, I realized that nothing’s changed much with the world in 20 years. I mean, aside from a few hair plugs and some of the girls resembling contestants on “THE SWAN”, our stories were the same as those of teens today. Every teen book and movie still explores the requisite teen angst milestones of first romance, first car, first car crash, alcohol and drug experimentation, maybe sex, maybe not, etc.

To me, there is something so special about the teen experience. It’s the best of times. It’s the worst of times. (Best first line of a book, ever! Thanks, Charles Dickens!) And I find that the older I get, the more nostalgic I get for those times. Jay and I recently laughed about the fact that we’re well equipped to write YA books because we have the perfect combination of wisdom and experience of 30-year-olds and the emotional maturity of 16-year-olds. Well, Jay and Robin are about 16. I’m still hovering around 13. If you don’t believe me, just hang out with the three of us for about 5 minutes!!

My friend KT and I (Hi KT!!) recently laughed about the fact that we both suffer from “Peter Pan Syndrome” (Look it up! It’s a real affliction in the DSM-III). I’m immature. There, I said it. But, luckily I’ve found the one job in the world that not only allows me to be immature, but actually CELEBRATES my emotional maturity level. I know you’re looking for a career change, KT…so I suggest you come on over and take a walk on the JUVENILE SIDE!


Monday, October 16, 2006

Go Listen to Alice -- Robin

I love hearing authors speak. Last week, Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones, came to our town. We live in a small town so any news is big news. This was BIG news.

Eve and I went together and exercised our brains very hard to keep up with her speech. She’s very smart (a characteristic I admire in other people) and she tied her writing to many social issues (the war, trauma, government, more war). In her speech, she often quoted the works of Tennessee Williams and Voltaire. Eve and I sat glossy-eyed.

Finally she quoted David Lynch. “Blue Velvet!” we said to each other. Then Alice made an analogy to Axl Rose. Eve and I flashed each other that universal heavy metal hand signal with our tongues sticking out. It felt nice to participate in her speech! I was about to play air guitar when I turned around and noticed the publisher of the local newspaper sitting behind us. “Um, hi, Robin,” he said and looked away. It’s probably a good thing I quit that job.

My favorite part of Alice’s presentation was when she answered questions from audience members. One man asked her what she thinks makes great storytelling. “Be willing to disappear in your own work,” she said.

In The Lovely Bones, Alice was able to touch on so many themes (death, trauma, revenge, sex, love, heaven, God, or a lack of God). And she, as the author, disappeared from the story seamlessly. Alice said she actually stopped in the middle of writing Bones to write Lucky, the memoir of her childhood rape, so she could get all of that out of the way and not cloud the story.

It made me think of my own novel I’m working on. My main character, a 16-year old girl, discovers her own spiritual nature and finds a love for life…but not in a “the Baptist church saved me” kind of way. Sometimes I wonder what in the world possessed me to write a contemporary novel about a girl finding her spirit. But I think many teens nowadays are ready for a novel on spirituality.

And like Alice, I find I have to take myself out of the story I’m writing and draw on my own experiences, but not make it my own experience.

At the end of her speech, Alice said something that definitely resonated not only with me personally, but also with the character in my book. She said, “We are all going to die. But before we die…we live.”

- Robin

Friday, October 13, 2006

When I Told Robin -- Jay


Then came the tears...

...followed by a loving headlock.

My phone started vibrating the moment I left the gym. “Robin! You’re home? I thought you were still camping.” “Nope. We’re back.” I needed to tell Robin that night about the book news, but that meant finding a way to get from Point A (the gym) to Point B (Robin’s house) to Point C (my house)...yet my wife needed the car.

The solution, as well as my favorite three-letter palindrome: Eve!

We parked a couple of houses away and snuck around tall bushes so Robin wouldn’t notice us till the last minute. We wanted to capture her surprise on film and knew she’d figure it out the moment she saw us. Why else would two Disco Mermaids surprise the third Disco Mermaid at her house with a bouquet of flowers?

“Hey, guys,” Robin said. “Good to see you. Come in.”

Eve and I looked at each other, shrugged, then followed her inside. Her husband was there, along with her father-in-law, and her four-year-old sun who yelled, “Garter snake!” (I don’t know if that’s important, but it sure was cute.)

I handed Robin the bouquet and Eve lifted the camera up to her eye. Robin said, “You guys are acting weird.” I told her to read the card. Her son yelled, “Velociraptor!” (Isn’t he adorable?)

Robin read the card and…how come it took Robin and Eve so freaking long to figure it out?!?! I wrote the same thing on everyone’s card: Thank you for helping my dreams come true.

Hello! My dreams?

She must have read the card at least a dozen times before it finally…well…check out Photo #1. Then she jumped three feet into the air, which would have looked great on film but the flash wasn’t ready and I thought she might hurt herself if I asked her to do it over again. I explained the details, which had developed even further since I told my wife, Eve, and my parents the night before. While listening, Robin cradled her chin in her hand and slowly shook her head, adding another few tears to this When I Told… series.

Followed by, “Garter snake!” (So cute.)

Then the three Disco Mermaids went downtown to top-off the night with hot coffee and cushy chairs. Robin and Eve worked so hard to get my manuscript into a ready-to-submit form, from brainstorming scenes to moral support to full critiques, that it truly feels like a group project. And I think the same can be said for their manuscripts which I can’t wait for you all to read!

The best quote of the night, though, we didn’t find out about till later. After we left her house, Robin’s father-in-law told her husband, “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen people that happy for each other.”

Okay, ladies…who’s next?

- Jay

Thursday, October 12, 2006

When I Told My Parents -- Jay

My mom works nights at a nursing center. She often doesn’t wake up till the sun’s gone down and my dad is very protective of her sleep. But…I was gonna wake this mutha up!

My dad tried to stop us. “Don’t go in there,” he said. “Trust me, Dad. It’s okay.” “Your mother is sleeping. She works tonight.” “She’ll want to be woken up for this.” My dad looked down at the bouquet of flowers in my hand and slowly arched an eyebrow. I nodded for him to follow and he didn’t say another word.

(FLOWER FUN FACT: I originally wanted my wife to hold the bouquet so they wouldn’t immediately think of my book. But my wife is much smarter than I am. “What do you think will pop into their heads if I’m the one holding the flowers?” Yep, that’s right…baby! So I kept the flowers with me.)

I cracked open the door and whispered, “Mom?” She asked, “Urugunatimeizit?” “I’m gonna turn on the lights,” I told her. The lights came on and my mom propped a pillow behind her back. “What is it?”

I handed her the flowers, plucked the tiny card from its holder, and asked my dad to read it. He read it to himself, gazed over his glasses, and asked, “Did you sell your book?” My mom looked up at me with eyes begging me not to continue any further if this was all a joke. Lines of tears were already forming below each eye, waiting for the only answer that would let them fall.

I took a deep breath, nodded, and my wife started taking pictures.

My dad shook my hand, which turned into a hug. My mom rocketed out of bed and called her sister. “Sher, guess what!”

The rest of that night was spent calling grandparents and friends and…

What? Oh, you thought I forgot about telling Robin? What kind of a friend do you think I am? It was one of the biggest nights of my life and Robin happened to be camping three hours away with her family (now who’s the best friend!). Sure, I could’ve tried calling her to tell her over the phone. But as you now know, these things are much more fun in person.

Plus, the pictures turn out better!

- Jay

Tomorrow…When I Told Robin

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

When I Told Eve -- Jay

"Holy ----!"

Then came the details...

...followed by another listen to my agent's two messages.

After my wife and I spent some reflective time in the park, we went to a flower shop and bought three beautiful bouquets for some very beautiful people. The first person on our list…Eve.

Earlier that day, after I’d already learned about the first two offers on my manuscript, Eve and I spoke on the phone. It was extremely difficult to pretend I was interested in what she had to say. I mean, yes, I cared…but I was so afraid of blabbing my secret if we kept talking. Then the plan for the entire evening hit me. I told her about a great documentary I’d borrowed from the library that I knew she would love. I asked if she would be home around five so I could drop it off. “If I’m not here,” she said, “just leave it on the porch. I might be out running.” “If you’re not there,” I said, “I’ll wait on your porch till you get back…not that I don’t have a life or anything.”

But when we arrived, Eve was still there. She opened the door in her running clothes and I handed her the bouquet. “Oh…okay…Thank you,” she said. Then she noticed the card poking up from the flowers:

Thank you…
for helping my
dreams come true.
Love, Jay

“Um…I’m not sure what…You’re welcome?”

There was a long, long, looooooong and awkward pause. She apparently didn't feel like guessing why I was bringing her flowers, unannounced, with my wife right there!


And that’s when Eve, expertly photographed by my wife, fired off several rounds of “Holy ----!” Then she sat down, put her hand over her heart, and listened while I told her everything that happened. The most heartwarming thing she said that night (after her vocabulary expanded a bit) was, “It’s weird, but it feels like I just sold my own book.”

And that’s why I love being a Disco Mermaid.

- Jay

Coming tomorrow…When I Told My Parents.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

When I Told My Wife -- Jay

First came the tears...

...then came the huggin'!

Years ago, I promised my wife that when I sold my first children's book she'd be the first to know. So when I spoke with my agent on my lunch break and found out about the first two offers, I had to keep my mouth shut for four entire hours…and I work with a bunch of librarians. Aaargh!

Later that day, when my wife and I got off work, she wanted to go running. I asked if she'd be willing to run at a certain park with a lake. She said okay. Just by random chance, that park was also where we got married. I asked if we could walk over to our wedding spot before she started running. She said okay. We stepped into the kissin’ spot and I told her, “Four years ago…right here…I told you I do. Today, I want to say Thank you.” She said, “Thank me? For what?” I took a deep breath. “For helping me get my book published.”

What!?” Her hands pounded my chest and she took a step back, tears already forming. I coughed a few times and nodded that it was true. Then she spent a few minutes hunched over, crying into her hands…which was great because it gave me enough time to pull the camera out of my pocket, move around to get the best lighting, and shoot.

Then we spent some time chasing each other around the gazebo, leaping benches like gazelle, and telling anyone passing by that I sold my first book. Hey, it’s never too soon to start marketing!

Days later, when everything calmed down (relatively speaking), my wife told me it was the happiest day of her life so far. The fact that she could say something like that is only one of the reasons my book will be dedicated to her.

- Jay

Coming tomorrow...When I Told Eve!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Break On Through -- Jay

For a quick link to the photos and stories in my "When I Told..." series, just click My Wife, Eve, My Parents, or Robin.

Happiness is...

Razorbill? Isn’t that the name of a scary looking bird? Yes, it is. But it’s also the name of Penguin’s kick-ass teen imprint. And their logo, the one seen above, is going to be printed on the spine of my very first published book. Say it with me now…Woo-Hoo!!!

So how did I get The Call? Was it, “Hi, is Jay Asher there? Jay, this is Kristen calling from Razorbill. Are you sitting down?” No, it was a bit more…unusual. I checked my phone on my lunch break and saw that I had two new messages. The first was from my agent asking me nicely to call her back because we’d just received an offer. The second was also from my agent, this time telling me to call her back because we’d just received a second offer.

Last week, Razorbill and two other publishing houses squared off in what I have come to call The Battle of the Book. The rules of engagement, as set up by Referee Rennert (a.k.a. my agent), went as follows:
1. Slap your bids on the table.
2. Show us your marketing.
3. Place a call to the author.

Here’s how Rule #1 went down:
(today, the role of Variable X will be played by Variable $)
1. Contestant A offers an advance valued at $.
2. Contestant B counters with $ + ($ x ½).
3. Contestant A roars back into the lead with a staggering $ x 5.
4. Not to be outdone, Contestant B whips out the ol’ $ x 7½.
5. Wait…who’s that?…it looks like…it is!…here comes Contestant C with $ x 10.
6. Having none of that, Contestant A digs down deep to match the $ x 10.
7. But it’s not over yet, folks. Contestant B gets a second wind and we’re neck and neck with a three-way $ x 10. This one’s gonna be a photo finish.
8. And would you look at that…all three contestants are waving 2-book contracts!

Phew! Just typing that not-so-instant replay made me sweaty all over again. When I told Gregory K. about the auction, and after we were done celebrating, he asked, “Do you remember how it felt when the offer was still at $?” “It felt amazing,” I replied. “That’s what you need to remember,” he said. What a profound guy! (Of course, he then hit me up for some cash cuz he’s a smart guy, too.) But the great thing about having the editors come in with matching advances meant I was able to concentrate on the other details without being swayed by my well-fed credit card bill.

Speaking to each editor on the phone was wonderful. I came away with the impression that children’s book editors are some of the coolest people in the world. In the future, I would love the opportunity to hang out with each of them without having to worry about pitching myself to them…or having them pitch themselves to me. How weird is that? With past submissions, editors told me I was the one who wasn’t right for them. But last week they were telling me why they were right for me. Just when I thought I had this business figured out…

So my first book will be a Razorbill book. And my next YA will also be a Razorbill book. (If you have any ideas for a YA…any ideas at all!…please shoot me an e-mail.) They’re hoping to have my book out in Fall ’07, but you don’t need to write that down. Based on their marketing strategy, anyone within 20 miles of a bookshelf is gonna know it’s on its way. The title will likely change between now and then, but it’s currently titled Baker’s Dozen: The AudioBiography of Hannah Baker. As a demonstration of Razorbill’s marketing creativity, they submitted a 13-point Marketing Plan.

13-point…Baker’s Dozen…get it? Ha!

But enough about Razorbill. Let’s talk about me! More specifically, my wife, my parents, and my friends. They’re the real stars of this miraculous turn of events. They’ve been encouraging me for almost…oh…a baker’s dozen or so years since I first enrolled in a children’s lit. appreciation class. It was there that I wrote two picture books as part of an assignment. Soon thereafter, I made the announcement, “I want to be a children’s book writer.” From way back then till now, none of them ever said “Why?” or “You?” or “It’s never going to happen.” All they ever said was, to quote Rob Schneider, “You can do it!”

I wish you all could have been there to witness firsthand their beautiful rush of emotions when I told my wife, my parents, and my fellow Disco Mermaids that they were right.

Instead, I’ll have to show you. Over the next four days, I’d like to share with you some photographs capturing the above mentioned people when first told that their years of encouragement had finally paid off. If you’re a fan of joy, surprise, or tears, you won’t want to miss it.

- Jay


The book will be released in Fall 2007 with the title 13 Reasons Why.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Finding DiscoLand #3

“Seek and ye shall find…something TOTALLY different than what you were looking for.”

Such is the case for those who typed the following words into search engines and discovered us. The Disco Mermaids!

- booty in spandex disco jeans -
(For crying out loud! We're serious children's book authors. Why would anyone get sent here for a picture of a booty in span...Huh? Oh, really? We do?)

- why did smokey night win the caldecott -
(Better question: What are you, stupid? Cuz David Diaz rocks!)

- things that happen at discos -
(Say it with me now..."Stay at discos.")

- star jones replacement on the view -
(If a Survivor castaway can make it, why not a Disco Mermaid?)

- information on sheepherding -
(Tip #23: Don't count sheep when you're tired. You'll never finish.)

- queen eve -
(Fine, we'll admit it. One of us Googled this phrase. Betcha can't guess which one!)

- the mermaid locker sandwich -
(Okay, people...minds outta the gutter.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It’s Just Me—Robin

Did I just hear a collective ‘sigh’? I know we’re all waiting to hear some “big” news from Jay, but we’re going to have to wait just a little bit longer. This stuff takes time and it might just be worth waiting for! A couple of things still need to be figured out (a couple…or six things! OH! Hush my mouth!)

Meanwhile…I found myself having a happy moment today in front of Denny’s.
No, I hadn’t just eaten my third helping of bacon (like I’d do that!) I was sitting in my car when the cell phone rang. It was from another area code. That could only mean one thing: they tracked me down for that parking ticket I got in Wichita.

But no, it wasn’t the parking police. It was an agent! She read the first three chapters of my middle grade novel, “DUDE, WHERE’S MY LOCKER?” (it’s a very serious literary piece of work!) She said she laughed out loud. She loved it. She wants to read it. Right now!

“Holy _______!” I said in honor of Lisa Yee.

Then I drove home, emailed this oh-so-smart agent, then called Jay. “DUDE, WHERE’S OUR ANNOUNCEMENT!!??”

But we’ll just have to wait….Okay, all together…SIGH!

Or for those potty mouths like myself…(________________!!)


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

DiscoMermaids Are Having The BEST WEEK EVER!!


It’s been a good week for the DiscoMermaids. No, a GREAT week. It all started seven days ago when Jay showed up at my house and brought _____. Then he sat me down and said, “______called and said_________.” I said, “No _____way!!” He said, “WAY! And then she said ___ ___.” Holy crap!

The next day Jay called and woke me up at ____a.m. and said, “Dude you’re not going to ________ believe this, but ______ and ____ and then ______.” Holy crap!

Later we drove to Robin’s house and brought ____. We told her about ____ and she said, “Holy ___! You’re ______ kidding _____ oh my _____ _____ I can’t ________ you’ve got ________________________________________!”
(Robin’s got a dirty mouth problem.)

Fast forward to a few days later and…
Robin got a ________ from ________ saying, “____________.”
Then I got an e-mail from _________ saying, “____________.”
Then Jay called and said, “______________________!”
Just as I was on the phone with him, we both got e-mails from Robin saying, “_________________.” And two seconds later an e-mail from _________ over at _________ popped up for me and said, “_________!!!”
Then I got another e-mail from my friend ______, who just got a book deal with ________, and her _______ wants to talk to me about my _________! So I e-mailed him immediately.

Oh, it doesn’t end there. Robin left a message this morning saying, “________ call Jay right ______ now!!!” So I did and he said, “___________________________, dude.”

So, Robin and Jay are headed to my house in a few hours so we can ___________ and discuss how ___________ and when ________ and who should __________ and then we’ll ________________. And, of course there will be lots of pizza and _________ and maybe some _________.

Disco Mermaids are having the BEST WEEK EVER!


Sunday, October 01, 2006

One Funny Lady—Robin

Today I went to a conference about finding your funny bone and writing humor for children. Our speaker was the amazing Mary Hershey, author of “My Big Sister is So Bossy She Says You Can’t Read This Book” and has a new book coming out in Spring of ’07 called “The One Where the Kid Nearly Jumps to His Death and Lands in California” (Razorbill). Just from the titles, you can tell this lady is funny.

And she was. Not only did I giggle (often) but I really learned something today! (Man, I sound like Kyle at the end of every South Park episode. Or is it Stan that always learns something?) Anyways, what I learned was this:
"Normal people have a bad childhood and get therapy. Humorists have a bad childhood, get therapy and write humor to pay the bills."
Wow! I’m NOT normal. I knew it!!!

But that’s not all I learned. Did you know that when you laugh, fifteen facial muscles contract!?
Really!? 15!?
Yep. I could eat donuts all day if I’d just laugh a few million times a day. Brilliant!

But here’s the thing. Mary had us do some writing exercises that totally and completely led me down a path to a story that I knew I wanted to write some day, but had no idea how to go about it. We wrote about our childhood, but not in a specific “tell me about the day your dog died” kind of way. It was very general to explore the overall themes of our own lives.

When we were finished writing, she had us circle the themes we found in our childhood story and then list the top three themes that resonated with us most. “That is your truth,” she said. Then she had us go back to a previous exercise where we wrote about an obsession we have. “Combine your obsession with your truth,” Mary said. “You have just found your funny bone.”

A chill went up my spine. Looking at the words on my page…she was right! I had a truthful storyline with humor…just waiting to be written. What a gift.
Thank you, Mary for a wonderful afternoon. You are one funny lady.

(And you have FABULOUS shoes!) :-)