So, I could tell you about where I live (New York City area) or my family (we have a son who lives in Northern California) or where I went to school (Bucknell and Harvard) or that since 2011 I’ve written an award-winning blog, www.golowcholesterol.com. But my guess is you’d rather know how I became an author.
Many writers say they made up stories as a kid…and that their characters ‘speak’ to them.
Yeah, I have no idea who those people are.
- I did NOT want to be a writer all my life
- I did NOT write stories as a child
- I did NOT take one single writing—or even English—class in college.
(Perhaps I’d use em dashes, ellipticals, and parentheses more judiciously if I had…)
Instead, I went to business school after college, then spent many years in marketing. I started writing because of my then-first-grader. While creating an art project for his class, I was appalled at how boring the books were about the fascinating artist, Alexander Calder.
So I decided to write one. I took a class in New York City and ‘workshopped’ my chapters. I went to conferences and met my amazing critique group (fifteen+ years later we are still together). One manuscript and a few years later, I queried several agents I’d met at SCBWI conferences.
That manuscript generated some agent interest and useful feedback but in the end it didn’t sell.
So I wrote another ‘middle grade’ book. And yup, you guessed it, that manuscript didn’t sell.
With my business background, you’d think that at this point I’d quit writing and go back to business…
But actually, I learned a lot. Mostly that it takes a LONG time to learn to craft and sell books. And that in the publishing world sometimes manuscripts that are ‘good enough’ don’t sell.
So I wrote a third book. This time I changed things up and wrote a YA (young adult) book.
That didn’t sell.
That manuscript got me an agent!
Several editors loved it…but for a lot of different/ business reasons it didn’t sell. Disappointing, but it happens. Recall my earlier point about how LONG it takes to write and sell books. And that ‘good enough’ books sometimes don’t sell.
So then I wrote a fourth book. This time, I was inspired to write a picture book biography about the indomitable Toni Stone—the first woman to play professional baseball.
Within weeks, Jen had sold that manuscript! It’ll be out in 2024 (picture book biographies take years to go to press…)
Maybe the authors whose characters ‘speak to them’ and/or have been writing all their life get there faster. Or maybe not—in talking to lots of writers, mine seems a fairly typical path.
So, that’s my journey. I wish you well on yours.