Friday, December 16, 2016

Surviving Messy First Drafts and a giveaway with Jenny Lundquist

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a love of all things literary. When she isn’t writing, she spends her days with her husband, Matt, imagining things unseen and chasing their two children around their home in Northern California. To connect with Shan, check out her website, FB, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Today, I'm interviewing one of my favorite writers! She's also a very good friend of mine and I'm so grateful she agreed to sit down with us and chat.

Jenny visited us back in 2014 and shared some of her thoughts on brainstorming. It's a fabulous piece and definitely worth another read.

And now! Please welcome author, Jenny Lundquist, to the blog!

Jenny Lundquist grew up in Huntington Beach, California, wearing glasses and wishing they had magic powers. They didn't, but they did help her earn a degree in intercultural studies at Biola University. Jenny has painted an orphanage in Mexico, taught English at a university in Russia, and hopes one day to write a book at a cafĂ© in Paris. Jenny and her husband live in northern California with their two sons and Rambo, the world's whiniest cat.  

Shan: You know, I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed you before! Which is weird, because you’re the author I sit across from most often. So, I’m looking forward to this. I’ll keep it short and sweet and then we’ll give away your newest release, The Charming Life of Izzy Malone.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Would you mind telling all our writers here what led you to fiction writing?

Jenny: I knew I liked to write ever since the fifth grade, although I figured that if I ever became an actual writer (and by “writer” I simply mean someone who’s serious enough to weekly put pen to paper) I would write either nonfiction or adult fiction. The first short story I ever wrote was about a woman attending her ten-year high school reunion. The story featured a couple of flashbacks to when she and her friends were in middle school. I realized those flashbacks were my favorite part of the whole story. I started exploring those characters more and eventually wrote a whole book about their middle grade selves. I’ve been writing kidlit fiction ever since.

S: And the world is so much better for it! Now, you’ve written books for both middle gradeand young adult audiences. What advice would you give authors who’d like to write for more than one audience?

J: My advice would be to write what you’re passionate about. There will always be pressure after you’re published to write in one genre. To “build a brand and stick to it.” I’m not saying that’s not valid, but especially before you’re published and under pressure from editors to constantly produce a certain type of content, my advice would be to write in as many different genres and age groups as you want. Try them all out until you find your writing “sweet spot,” that age group/genre that feels like the most natural fit. For me that’s middle grade.

S: I completely agree! Every writer needs to try their hand at difference things and what better time than when you're young? Tell us, what’s your absolute favorite part of writing a book?

J: My favorite part of writing a book is the beginning. All of the daydreaming and brainstorming that I do in my Moleskine journal. It’s sort of like going on a first date: It’s filled with butterflies and anticipation, but there are no expectations and no long-term commitments. Once I pass that point with a story idea I guess you could say I have a DTR (define the relationship) sit down with my manuscript wherein I decide if I want this story to be “The One” that I pursue wholeheartedly.

S: Love that analogy! Is there any aspect of the craft that you struggle with? How do you overcome such things?

J: First drafts are REALLY hard for me. Half the time I don’t really know exactly what I’m trying to say and my first attempts would probably not pass the fourth grade. (You may think I’m exaggerating when I say that, but I can assure you, I’m not!) I’ve learned that for me, the key to surviving a first draft is to give myself permission to write extremely terrible first drafts. It makes for messy writing, and multiple drafts, but it’s the only way I can do it.

S: I hope our writers take that to heart. So much of writing is rewriting! Tell me, friend, if you could go back in time and give teenage Jenny some advice, what would you say?

J: I would tell her to start writing immediately! Like I said above, I knew I liked to write from the time I was in fifth grade. But it wasn’t until I turned 30 that I got serious about it and really sat down and began writing every day. Unfortunately for me, I believed a lot of lies like, “You’re not creative enough to be a writer,” “No one will ever want to read anything you write.” Negative thoughts can keep us from pursuing our passions, and I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to realize that everyone is creative. In my humble opinion, creativity is an innate part of what it means to be human, and the only way to get better at the creative passions you have is to practice, practice, practice!

S: LOVE THAT! Practice, practice, practice! I know you’re busy promoting Izzy Malone, but can you tell us anything about what you’re working on now?

J: Right now I’m in the process of editing the sequel to Izzy, which is titled The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby. It’s been a blast revisiting the characters and the town they all live in!

S: My kids are going to be so excited to hear that! They adore Izzy Malone. I'm going to let you go--I promise--but before you do . . . lightning round! Quick, quick!

Favorite movie: Sleepless in Seattle
Favorite TV show: This Is Us
Favorite pizza: Combination (S: ME TOO!)
Desired superpower: The ability to speak, read, and understand every language.
Book you’re currently reading: The Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
Pancakes or waffles?: Pancakes!
Sherlock or Dr. Who? Don’t hate me, but I don’t watch either! Can I get a Gilmore Girls pass on this one? (S: Um, sure. But we need to talk about Sherlock. There's still time to catch up.)
Coffee or tea? Coffee. Always. (S: See, besties!)
Plotter or pantser? A combination of both. 

Isn't she awesome, you guys! She totally is. THANK YOU, Jenny, for hanging out with us. I love hearing your thoughts and we wish you the best of luck with your writing and The Charming Life of Izzy Malone.

On that note, Go Teen Writers is giving away a hardback copy of Jenny's newest release and it's easy peasy to enter. Use the Rafflecopter below and I'll contact the winner via email on December 28th. International entries are okay! Thank you all for hanging out with Jenny and me today.


Izzy Malone isn’t your typical sixth grader. She wears camouflage combat boots and tie dye skirts; the Big Dipper and Orion are her two best friends; and she’d rather climb trees or shoot hoops than talk about boys and makeup. And after only a month of middle school she’s already set the record for the most trips to the Principal’s office.

The only time Izzy feels at peace is when she’s on the open water, and more than anything else, she wants to become a member of the Dandelion Paddlers, her school’s competitive rowing club. But thanks to those multiple trips to the Principal’s office, Izzy’s parents force her to enroll in Mrs. Whippie’s Charm School, a home-study course in manners and etiquette, or they won’t let her race in the Dandelion Falls annual pumpkin regatta—where Izzy hopes to prove to the Dandelion Paddlers she is more than qualified to be on their team.

When Mrs. Whippie’s first letter arrives it’s way different from what Izzy was expecting. Tucked inside the letter is a shiny gold bracelet and an envelope charm. Izzy must earn her first charm by writing someone a nice note, and once she does more tasks will be assigned.

Izzy manages to complete some of the tasks—and to her surprise, she actually finds herself enjoying the course. But when one of her attempts at doing something good is misinterpreted, she fears her chances at passing the course—and becoming a Paddler—are slipping away. With some unexpected friends there to support her, can Izzy manage to earn her charms and stay true to herself?
 
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

35 comments:

  1. Hi Shannon and Jenny! Great thoughts, especially the try out whatever inspires you. I really struggle with that because I always think "nah, that just isn't your thing, it won't be good enough" but I know I should just try it out if I feel like it...
    I have a question: Can I enter the giveaway if I'm not from the U.S?

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    1. You can do it, Fraise! For a long time I thought "you just won't be good enough." I think a lot of us struggle with that, and sometimes I wonder how many great works of literature haven't been written because the author talked themselves out of writing it. I think you should go for it!

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  2. Thank you for this post! It was so encouraging and uplifting! And I'm going to ask my library to get your book because it sounds absolutely amazing! :L

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    1. Thank you so much! Seriously...Asking a library to carry a book is one of the best ways you can support a writer :)

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  3. This post was great! I'm so glad that I found such a great writing website! :)

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  4. Thank you for sharing with us, Jenny! Your story of how you found your writing niche is inspiring, and your book looks very interesting! I think it's neat how well your title hints at the contents of the story.

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    1. Agreed! I'm starting to think how good these books would be for my younger cousins... especially if they would let me borrow them! ;) Thank you for sharing your interview with us, Mrs. Dittemore! It was wonderful.

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    2. Thank you so much for that, Olivia. I went back and forth for a while on the title, so I really appreciate hearing that :)

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  5. Gilmore Girls - YES! Thanks for being on Go Teen Writers!

    Do you think 9 would be an okay age for reading your book, Jenny?

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    1. Yes! Jazlyn loves Jenny's books and she's 8. She's already finished Izzy.

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  7. Wow! The books looks like its worth reading. My little sister will probably love it. Jenny's interview was very interesting. :D

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    1. Both my kids love Jenny's stuff--my 8yo girl and my 12yo boy. Honestly, she's got such a great storytelling voice, her books are entertaining for all ages.

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    2. Great! I'll read it too then. :D And your daughter is adooorable!! <3 <3

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  8. Jenny's thoughts on writing sooner on her life really inspired me to keep pursuing my own writing passion. Thanks for the interview and giveaway! I think my younger sister might really enjoy that book.

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    1. I'm so glad, Rachelle! I don't have many regrets in my life, but not getting serious about writing when I was a teen is probably my biggest.

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  9. Cool, but just wondering, is that giveaway international?

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  10. What a great interview! I loved Jenny's book Plastic Polly, so I can def agree that she's a great writer!

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  11. Thanks for your encouragement, because I always have trouble getting through the first draft, because there is so many things to fix and it can get kinda overwhelming! :) :)

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    1. First drafts completely overwhelm me, that's why I give myself permission to suck. Otherwise, I couldn't handle the pressure.

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  12. Thank you for the post! This is a very helpful topic for me -- messy first drafts are the worst...not to mention the epic re-writes! So thanks for the encouragement! :)

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    1. They are the worst! Glad the post encouraged you :)

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  13. I definitely get the whole 'first draft wouldn't pass fourth grade'... mine are the same way. I'm hoping that, maybe, as I write more, I'll get better at it. The hardest part for me is cleaning up a super lousy first draft, so I can get anywhere near a manuscript that says what I want it to. :)

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    1. I totally get that, Rachel. Because my drafts are so terrible, I actually re-type my first few drafts. It feels like a lot of double work some days---but since the drafts are really that bad it seems easier than trying to do an epic clean-up job.

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  14. This is such a fun interview! My first drafts are the same, lol. But it's fun making them look beautiful! And your book looks so cute ;)

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  15. Ooh, I've seen this book around and I was really interested in reading it! *gleefully enters giveaway*

    That's a cool superpower! That's going on my long list of desired ones, lol

    First drafts are my favorite part, even though they are messy. Because at that point, there are no expectations and I can just see how the story turns out. It's like I'm reading a new book for the first time. :)

    Thanks for coming and sharing your wisdom with us!


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbosityreviews.com
    editsbyalexandria.blogspot.com

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