Thursday, July 26, 2007


And no, I still haven't found an apartment, but I am NOT letting that get me down!

(talk to me the last week in August, when my lease is up and I am in official freak-out mode...)



If you'd like to see the cover of my newest book, THE YEAR MY SISTER GOT LUCKY --- my first ever hardcover -- which will be coming out in December, please check out my MySpace profile:\aimeefriedman, and click on the "Pictures" link.

I am so excited about this book, in a big way because it is probably my most personal since A NOVEL IDEA (I blogged about the book in this post). In some ways, it's like a longer, juicier (and maybe in parts a little more dramatic) RoCom, so I hope fans of the RoCom series will find their way to it this winter... (and please note that you can pre-order it on Amazon now!)

It's strange to write, or think, about winter now, in the sticky thick of summer. I am about to head off on my first "real" vacation all summer: spending a week on the beach in Montauk with my family (insert long luxurious sigh here...). Other summer activities I have done so far, and thoroughly enjoyed:

* Spending a magical afternoon at The Cloisters (my boyfriend's birthday surprise for me!) and having dinner at the New Leaf Cafe, which is perched high above the Hudson in Fort Tryon Park

*Strolling through HARRY POTTER PLACE behind Scholastic with my friends from work, making wands and taking pictures of the faux Whomping Willow and feeling the summer air crackle with anticipation (I am holding off on reading HARRY until my vacation, so no spoilers PLEEASSE!!!).

* The simple pleasure of a weekend morning spent lying on a soft blanket in Central Park with sunscreen, a giant iced coffee, and the Sunday Times, eavesdropping on conversations from other blankets and watching toddlers run through the grass.

Maybe I'm inspired by the title of my book, but summer in the city can really make a girl feel...lucky.

More soon!



Tuesday, July 24, 2007

If it's Tuesday, it's humid in Montpelier

I won't say that the summer residency at Vermont College flew by, but I still can't believe that I'm leaving here today. Summer rez is just like winter rez, except that this time, I'm not a newbie. Other factors that contributed to a very pleasant writerly experience:
-staying at Betsy's B&B with fellow Vermonsters Gwenda and Kate, rather than in the dorms. Air conditioning! TV! A kitchenette! Really, it was just like college. Except I think that back in college, I was probably more mature.
-enjoying a great workshop with Sharon Darrow. I rather think that if, god forbid, I didn't have parents, Sharon Darrow and David Gifaldi would do just fine.
-walking into town by the light of day--no seasonal affective disorder here!
-"Special Day," which I mocked mercilessly for its silly title, but enjoyed heartily for its powerhouse roster of YA presenters: David Levithan, MT Anderson, Anita Silvey, Martine Leavitt, and others.
-seeing my books on display at the Barre Book Fair, challenging Kate to Scrabble at the Saturday night party, hosting our fellow second semesters for wine and munchies in our common room, soaking in lectures and feeling like I'm starting to understand the faculty just that much more. Getting assigned to Uma Krishnaswami as an advisee.

Uma is very excited to be working on TRIBE and, after a quick recharge in Williamstown this weekend with Noah, I am super-psyched to dive in. Should be a great--if tiring--semester.

Oh, and if you have a moment, by all means, check out my newly-redesigned website: Made over to coincide with the EMILY paperback (coming this September!). Big props to Little Willow for her fabulous artistic savvy.


Okay, I know it's my civic duty. And I know every adult has to do it. But no matter how many cheerful videos they show me of happy jurors fulfilling their responsibility and how many reminders I get that I'm only within blocks of delicious food in Chinatown, and great shopping, I still don't like it. To me, it's still a lot of sitting around in uncomfortable chairs without my computer or cellphone, with only the occasional break to wait to see if your name is called.

On the positive side, yesterday I got to observe people from behind my dark sunglasses, seeing how they all behaved in a room full of strangers. Interesting actually. Some people made a conscious effort to talk with their fellow jurors. Others went into the "lunch room" (actually a table and chairs and two vending machines) and sat silently drinking coffee, while most read newspapers and magazines and tried to ignore the others in the room.

As a writer, observing behavior is a top priority. And, sneaky little spy that I am, I took notes. I figure I can use this info--like the guy who came all dressed up in a suit and spent the day loudly complaining about how much money he was losing every minute he was on jury duty. (As thought the rest of us were just waiting to live on that $40 a day). Or the older woman who remarked that she kind of liked jury duty because it was a change in her schedule. Or the two 18 year olds who were comparing notes on which colleges they were going to, and exchanging cell phone digits --if a marriage comes out of this one, they should get the judge in charge of jurors to marry them!)

There's a book in this jury duty thing I'm sure. I've just got to figure out where.

Ah, I'm off again to Law and Order ville in a few minutes. Wonder what kinds of people I'll see in that juror room today.,

Monday, July 23, 2007

Happily ever after

Major yay: I just found out Major Crush has finaled in the YA division of the Aspen Gold contest! I'm riding a streak of good luck with my books. Lately a lot of teens have been asking me for tips on how to get published--now! And because it looks like everything is going so great for me, I think they expect lots of encouragement from me. They have come to the wrong place. Yes, I'm a published novelist. Yes, I started early. A little perspective: I finished my first novel when I was 20. I got my first literary agent when I was 22. I finally sold a book when I was 35.

In all honesty, if you want to make a living as a novelist, my first piece of advice to you would be to run. Away. Screaming!!! It is easier to get into medical school than it is to get a novel published, and being an emergency room physician is probably a lot less stressful. (A little dig at my brother.) The best book I've read on the subject is Pat Walsh's 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might. My critique partner Cathy told me I ought not be recommending this book to people because it's depressing. I think it's realistic, and what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. Because the brutal truth is that, no matter what your age, once you start writing your novel, you probably won't finish it, and if you do, you probably won't be able to get it published.

Now if you read this and feel discouraged, good. Please go forth, major in architecture, be happy. If you read this and think, "That Jennifer Echols! She thinks she is all that! Who is she to tell me I don't have a chance? I'm going to finish my book and get it published no matter what anybody thinks, so there!" then YOU might actually be able to do it. The key here is that potential fame is not a reason to write, because it's probably not going to happen. Potential fortune is not a reason to write, either. Most writers don't make great money. Even if they're lucky enough to get one huge payment for a book, it doesn't amount to much if you look back at all the years they made diddly-squat from their writing. IMHO absolutely the only reason to write is that you LOVE TO WRITE (not love to have finished writing or love the idea of being a writer; there is a big difference), and if you never got published you would write anyway.

Still with me? Then here's my advice:

READ. Read everything you can. You need to write the book you want to read, so you need to have done a lot of reading to figure out what that is. All the published writers I know are book nerds.

WRITE. If you're not ready to start a novel, keep a journal. Write for your school newspaper. Enter short story contests. Be careful what you do online for obvious reasons of security and privacy, but theoretically I think fanfic would be a great way to flex your muscles. A reader mentioned The Boys Next Door fanfic to me and I am scared to go look because I don't really want to know what Lori and Adam have been doing while I have my back turned. But if stories you read or see on TV interest you and you want to continue them in fanfic, give it a shot. My best friend in high school and I used to stay up late rethinking Lois Duncan novels starring us and the boys we had crushes on, and I credit that experience with getting me started as a novelist. It forces you to think hard about what plots you find satisfying and why.

RESEARCH. Read all the books in your library about how hard it is to get a novel published. Be depressed. Be very depressed. Write anyway.

NETWORK. This key element was missing from the first thirteen years of my novel-writing life. I figured it was my book, I wrote it by myself, and I was going to get it published by myself. Well, two literary agents and eight unpublished novels later, I decided that wasn't working for me. So I joined writers' groups and talked to other people who were having the same problems I was having. Behold! I learned how to find and get the attention of a literary agent who could actually sell my work. Again, as always, you need to be careful joining online groups because you never know who's really on the other end of that modem. But if you're careful and tell your mom where you're going, you may gain a lot of benefit from making friends with other writers.

WAIT. Well, not necessarily. There's no reason you can't get published as a teenager. Some publishers may even see your youth as a marketing tool, because teens might want to read books by other teens. There are (as far as I know) positive examples of this like Christopher Paolini with Eragon and negative examples like Kaavya Viswanathan with How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life (I haven't read either book but you can Google them to catch up on the respective brouhahas). I would never tell you not to pursue publication as a teenager, because what do I know? I just want you to approach with caution and be realistic. Don't put all your eggs in this rickety basket. What's your hurry? Work hard on your reading and writing, and major in something really interesting in college that can support you if your writing career doesn't. Having your soul stripped bare and kicked around the streets of NYC like a soccer ball is a lot easier to take when you're 35 than when you're 20, I promise. I've been there.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The 2 Biggest States in the U.S.

Howdy, y'all! Like many of the authors here, I got to go to Dallas for the RWA National Conf. It was so much fun. There were so many highlights, I don't know where to begin. Agent and editor meetings, drinks with old friends, blogging live from the official press room, parties and receptions galore ... It was wonderful to see my CPs (Aryn, Jenny and Nadine, who I met for the first time 3 years ago in the Big-D, and Kristin, who I met in Reno 2 years ago).

My DH surprised me (wearing a suit, no less!) for the Golden Heart and RITA awards ceremony. It was a blast being a part of all the hoopla associated with being a nominee.

And one day after getting home, I was off to Alaska for a fishing adventure. Just got home yesterday and though I'm extremely tired, it's so good to finally be home with my boys and my sweet mom who came from Colorado to watch them while I was out catching enormous and fiesty fish. (It took so long for someone to get a camera and dang, this guy was slippery!)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Off to the Berkshires

I have no idea what the Berkshires are, but I have heard of them. I know my daughter, Sarah, is there, interning at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and it's somewhere in Massachusetts. We fly out tonight on the Red Eye and get into NYC at 8:00 am, driving straightaway to the Berkshires. We're seeing 3 plays in 2 nights, and my daughter designed the set for one of the workshop productions. They've been working those poor interns 14 hours a day, painting and building sets. But that's Sarah's forte. Her high school drama department voted her Best Techie every year she was there. This has been her first chance to hang out with real NYC theater folk and students, which has been something of an eye-opener for a Tucson girl.

Anyway, I'll have a report in a week, and maybe some photos too. We are spending a couple extra days in Manhattan, which is already booked solid. If we just don't bother to sleep, we'll be fine!


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Back from Dallas!

I'm back from the RWA National Convention in Dallas! Here's a view of downtown from the conference hotel. Actually this is the view from my friend's room. My room had a view of the freeway and the prison.

This pic shows about a third of the room full of 450 authors and lots of readers at the literacy booksigning. I can't tell you how many people stopped by my little corner to say they LOVE the entire Simon Pulse Ro-Com series! I always gave them my card and suggested they visit the blog. If you're reading us for the first time, please de-lurk and say hi!

Here I am with Catherine Chant, my critique partner--which means we read each other's books before we turn them in. Catherine writes YA paranormal. She hasn't been published yet, but I know she will be soon. Remember her name, yo.

Here's my other critique partner, Vicki D the Girl Emcee. We're so excited that her first book is coming out in a few weeks!!! But you shouldn't read it until you turn 18. *disapproving glare with one eyebrow raised*

Here's my fabulous literary agent, Caren Johnson. We hung out quite a bit with Sangeeta the Simon Pulse Ro-Com Queen. I didn't get a pic of Sangeeta but I did have a long talk with her and managed to spill raspberry vinaigrette on her.

And here's the large slab of granite I like to call the National Readers' Choice Award. When I got home to Birmingham I had a note in my cosmetic bag saying airport security had searched it. I think this was because the National Readers' Choice Award was inside the bag, and security was not expecting a cosmetic bag to weigh 70 pounds.

See you next year in San Francisco!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Girls' night out

Writing is a lonely business. So I can hardly wait to fly to Dallas this week for the Romance Writers of America national convention. Once a year it’s such a relief to spend four days with several thousand people who type just as fast and get a glazed look in public just as often as I do!

I’m looking forward to meeting Sangeeta, who’s in charge of the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies. I’ll spend quality time with my literary agent and my critique partners, one of whom I’ve never met in person even though we’ve been partners for three years! I’m giddy about the National Readers’ Choice Awards ceremony because MAJOR CRUSH is a double-finalist. It’s a huge thrill to be nominated alongside Rachel Hawthorne, Mari Mancusi, and Gena Showalter!

Another highlight of the conference is always the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing, a book signing open to the public with hundreds of authors. Publishers donate new books, you buy them at the cover price and have the authors sign them, and the proceeds go to literacy charities. The complete list of authors is posted here, but at a quick glance I see YA authors Niki Burnham, Rachel, Mari, Gena, and Lynda Sandoval, plus best sellers in the adult romance world like Connie Brockway, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Nora Roberts. It’s on Wednesday, July 11, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Dallas Hyatt Regency. I hope you’ll come out to see us, and bring your mom!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Endings are Difficult

One of the things I struggle with as a writer is the ending of my book. I tend to favor...shall we say... abrupt endings? None of my editors have shared my love of abruption. So, most often, when I revise, I work extra hard on the ending. In order to see where I can improve my endings, I've been studying some other endings of books. Some I love, and some I hate and some that left me...meh. My conclusion? Endings are hard because they matter so much.

Unlike real life, where an ending tends to lead to another beginning (leave high school, enter college/job), a book ending is a final farewell to the characters. Sure, you can imagine what happens next (isn't that half the fun?), but you're never going to know for sure. That's one reason I like it when I find a good series. I know that I'll get to be with the characters for a while. But even series end.

We just ordered two (!) copies of Harry Potter for our household this week. This excess came from a discussion about who would get to read the book first. I read the fastest, but I have a ton of work to do this summer and reading has been low on the list (for Harry, though, I'll probably ditch work for a day). My husband and No. 1 son don't want to wrestle with me (No. 2 son will wait for the movie, thankyouverymuch).

So. Two copies. As much as we love books (our house is full of book shelves -- there is at least one bookshelf in every room, and five in the living room...and please, don't talk to me about artful arrangements -- we cram everything from the Feynman Lectures to the Animorphs series in those shelves), we've never intentionally bought two copies of a book before.

We're avoiding spoiler sites. We're counting down the days (we got the special deal to get the copy delivered on release day -- both copies!) We're holding our breaths, hoping that J.K. pulled it off and we'll be babbling with awe and amazement to each other (after we've all finished the book, of course -- probably three days tops).

I want to go on record, before I've even begun to read the last Harry Potter: no matter whether I love the ending or would have written it differently -- J.K. has given me and my family a delightful, thoughtful series and we won't regret the ride, even if the ending is a little bumpy. Because endings are difficult for us all.

Got Harry?