My featured writer in the W.O.W. today is Jennifer Echols. Her latest release, “SUCH A RUSH,” is in my opinion, one of the best Young Adult reads of 2012.
When I read Jennifer’s books I’m struck by how well she understands the YA audience. Her characters are strong yet vulnerable and always completely relatable. Anyone who writes YA knows what a hard concept this is to master – and Jennifer is a complete pro. Her prose is intense and masterful. I’m always grabbed from the first page, and savor each and every plot twist, until the final word. Yes, her work is really THAT GOOD!
Jennifer’s writing journey is filled with ups and downs, yet through it all, she’s become an incredibly accomplished writer. I’m thrilled to share her story today…
Amy: You alternate between writing YA Fiction and Adult Romance. Is there one you are drawn to more?
Jennifer: No, I honestly love reading and writing both. In 2004 when I was gearing up for another stab at publication and doing lots of research online, I read that even unpublished authors should have career goals. Mine was to be published in both YA and adult romantic comedy so that I could write more books and have more career stability in case one genre lost favor with readers. My agent actually had both my YA and my adult romance out on submission when the YA, Major Crush, sold in 2005. It simply took me another six years to sell an adult book.
Amy: While reading your blog, I stumbled across your post titled, “Lucky Number Nine.” I loved how it detailed how far you’ve come from releasing your first book, MAJOR CRUSH, six years ago. How long did it take you to complete that manuscript?
Jennifer: Only a month! I was working as a freelance copyeditor and taking care of my toddler while my husband worked the night shift and slept during the day. So I wrote big chunks of that book while on the elliptical machine at the YMCA.
Amy: Had you written any other manuscripts prior to MAJOR CRUSH?
Jennifer: Yes, nine.
Amy: Did you have beta readers or critique partners for that first manuscript? How did that affect your writing process? Do you still use beta readers now?
Jennifer: I had three critique partners for Major Crush, and I still have one of them (Victoria Dahl) to this day. One of the best decisions I made in 2004 was to reach out to other romance writers and ask to trade manuscripts. You really can’t predict how your writing is coming off to other people unless you ask.
Amy: When you first started writing did you struggle with rejection, and if so how did you keep on writing?
Jennifer: I completed my first manuscript in 1990, got my first agent in 1992, finally sold a book in 2005, and stopped writing and submitting manuscripts for only a couple of years during that time, when my son was born. You can imagine how many rejections I amassed during that 15 years. But my grandmother was a writer who submitted one short story to The New Yorker, got rejected, and never sent anything out again. I learned by her example. Your work will never be published if you don’t offer it for publication.
Amy: What was your first query like? Did you struggle with it or did it come easily?
Jennifer: I did the best I could with the reference books I had. But there was no internet back in 1990, and it was much harder to research agents and tailor a query to a specific person.
Amy: What was your “call” like with your agent, Laura Bradford?
Jennifer: I think of the “call” as the first time you sell a book, and Laura wasn’t my agent then. But it was a very happy moment for me after a lovely day at the water park at the beach in Florida with my family. In fact, I had such great memories about it that I set a whole book there (Forget You).
As for Laura, I can’t say enough glowing things about her. She has been my agent for two and half years and has sold nine books for me during that time. When she called me to offer representation, we chatted for a long time before she finally popped the question. Then she admitted she likes to feel clients out first just to make sure they’re not “whackadoodle.”
Amy: You just released your ninth book, SUCH A RUSH. After being in the industry for six years now, if you could go back in time and tell yourself one important thing about the publishing business, what would it be?
Jennifer: Not to worry so much, because my love of writing would pull me through.
Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. Her nine romantic novels for young adults have been published in seven languages and have won the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Aspen Gold Readers’ Choice Award, the Write Touch Readers’ Award, the Beacon, and the Booksellers’ Best Award. Her novel Going Too Far was a finalist in the RITA and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more of her teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son. Her adult, romantic comedy, STAR CROSSED will be released, February 26, 2013. For more on Jennifer, check out her website – http://www.jennifer-echols.com.