I was born in the 70s. I was a Wednesday baby and a spring baby. I grew up in one of the hottest cities on the planet, where David Hasselhoff came to make a movie about Jack the Ripper.
I was read to and I read to others. My dad read the entire Little House series to me and my brothers. I then went on to single-mindedly beat the record for most books read in second grade (500). Sticking to Beatrix Potter and Little Miss books really helped me get my numbers up. Today, I read Gerald and Piggie and Mr. Putter and Tabby books to my daughter. She even has a Little Miss backpack. The cycle continues
I liked to write when I was younger, as most present-day authors will admit to. First, I wrote a story about a girl who was stranded on a desert island who spent Christmas with dolphins (yeah, that Wimpy Kid author doesn’t even know how close I am to nipping at his heels with that one!). Then, I typed up poems, bound them in a book, and sold them to my fifth grade classmates. Here is one gem:
How majestic and noble
So tall and so grand
Like a knight in white armor
When a friend lends a hand.
Copyright Me–don’t even think of stealing this from my 10-year-old self
I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer. For twelve years, I convinced my mom to buy me VOGUE rather than Cheerios once a month. Both my brothers went to military academies, and I would only contemplate going to one if there was a fashion major. There was not. When my dad said maybe I could redesign the uniforms, a little part of me died.
I went to college, choosing one that offered a fashion major (which I minored in–I ended up getting a degree in advertising). I graduated and got a job arranging men’s socks on a sock wall (trust me, you cannot make this stuff up). Life was not going the way I had planned. I went back home for seven months and did the ultimate Gen X thing: lived in my childhood bedroom as I put in 18-hour days working at a coffee shop and a bookstore.
Went back to school to get a graduate degree and more guidance on how to write because, well, I had Plan B. Applied for internships, and got to choose between YM, Seventeen, David Letterman, and Marie Claire. Finally, Plan B was taking shape: I took the Marie Claire internship and worked sixteen hour days while sharing an apartment with a couple who broke up the day I moved in. Was given a job at Marie Claire my third day there as the assistant to the assistant to the editor-in-chief. Making $20-something-thousand a year in NYC was not making ends meet. Ended up realizing that fashion didn’t make my heart go pitter patter.
I actually liked the words in the magazine more. So I freelanced for newspapers and magazines like The Arizona Republic, where I wrote a weekly column titled “Twenty-Something and Broke.” Edited magazines for the self-medicating sector (aka, supplements) until I got so bored with the job I would hide go in a restroom stall and try to take five-minute catnaps.
I should’ve known earlier that I was going to be a writer, not a fashion designer. I paid for most of my college with essay contests I started winning in fifth grade. Also, I only got As in Honors English classes (minus the B I got one quarter in Freshman English, but then a video depicting the fascism and communism in Animal Farm with Tchaikovsky as my soundtrack got me an A for the semester).
I quit the job where I hid in toilet stalls, got married, and worked on my first book. TDOM is a complete manuscript. It is also a complete mess.
Book #1 was bought by Dutton fifteen months later. In August. Via e-mail. I don’t meet my editor until three years later.
Moved from Arizona to New England, bought our first new home, bought two new cars, had a new baby, and saw BLACK TUESDAY get published.
Book #2 was bought by Dutton in March 2008. Got an agent who likes my funny voice and told me to shelf the dystopian teen book for now. Or, as I like to call it, “The Friggin’ Hard Book That I Want to Butcher in Its Sleep.” Book #2, CASHING IN, came in 2009.
Since 2009, I have moved three times. The baby started preschool…and ballet and gymnastics and swimming and playacting. I kept on teaching college students how to use the English language. I wasted (no, I learned from!) a year and 100,00 words on The Friggin’ Hard Book That I Want to Butcher in Its Sleep.
I’m currently working on TPND–another awesome title that I’m not sharing with anybody except critique partners, who currently have pages.