I met Amber at the Andrea Brown BIG SUR WRITER'S RETREAT. I loved her hair!! And, now I sport some pink in mine as well ---
--- thanks Amber!
What else drew me to her was her fabulous personality. I was a newbie back then, and I talked her ear off, asking tons of questions about how to get an agent. She was very patient, helpful, and kind. I took her advice, and I'm closer than ever to landing that first contract.
Amber has a novel coming out in fall of 2014 titled THE FIRE WISH, about two girls, both from different sides in a war between humans and jinni, and how the choices they make affect everyone around them. I'm secretly hoping for an advanced reader's copy...hint...hint Amber. :-)
Below are the questions I asked her:
1. Give us a clean, funny joke:
Not my forte, for sure. :-)
How do you cut the sea in half?
With a sea saw.
2. Why do you write for teens?
I write for teens because the characters I most care about are in their teens. It's an intense age!
3. What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?
I wake up around 7, and I usually eat cereal, although I'd rather eat eggs and toast, and wake up at dawn without feeling sleepy at all.
4. You belong to SCBWI. How has that organization helped your writing career?
When I wrote my first novel, I submitted it to the WIP Grant contest. Later that year, I discovered I was the runner-up for the general WIP award (with Ruta Sepetys in first place). It meant more than anything to know that I wasn't delusional, you know? I could actually DO this writing thing!
5. What was it like working with a publisher at Random House?
It's wonderful. My editor really understands the story, the setting, and everything I want to do with the novel. She's also very quick to read and respond to my revisions. I can't wait until I get to see what they've come up with for the cover.
6. Who is your agent? And, how has she helped you?
My agent is Laura Rennert, from Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I really don't think I could have gotten a better agent. She's brilliant, supportive, knowledgeable, and thinks fast on her feet. What more could a writer want in an agent?
7. How many query letters did you send out before you landed a contract?
I sent out seven, and agents #6 and #7 offered representation. I wanted my #7 first, but I didn't think I was good enough for her. But then, after a few rejections came in, I thought, why not? I'm going to query my dream agent. And she said yes!
8. Why should young people read THE FIRE WISH?
There are so many people (of all ages) who discover they are the only one like them in certain crowds. The only person of their religion, the only person of their color, the only person who sees things they way they do---and this story really brings that to light, I think, and shows readers how their differences can be their strengths. And really, all of us have somewhere we belong. We just may have to go looking for it...or break some rules.
9. What are you working on now?
Right now, I'm working on the sequel. It's proving itself just as challenging to write as everyone said it would be. And yet, I love having the chance to dive deeper.
10. Where is the best place to find a great cup of Joe or Tea in your town?
My favorite place in Syracuse is just down the street from my office. It's half bike shop/half cafe, and it's called Mello Vello. They have the best vegan cookies around (and I'm not vegan) and really good tea. I am both a tea and coffee person. I am not a cold drinks person. I will order hot drinks in summer, if I can.
11. Is there anything on your writer's desk that is a must have, like a special pen? Or stuffed animal?
I used to have a candle lit whenever I wrote, but a few weeks ago I nearly set my whole desk aflame and burned my earbuds. So now I just have a small collection of crystals to look at when I'm drafting a scene. (I have lots of crystal references in my books.)
12. Give 3 words of advice to newbie writers:
Write. Read. Play.
13. Who are you reading right now?
I am reading a book by Christopher Healy called THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM. It's pretty funny.
14. Is there something that you wish you would have known when you first started out?
I was going to say yes, but if I changed some things, I might have ended up in a different place and I really like where I am right now.
It would have been nice to know I needed to be far more patient than I'd expected, however.
15. Do you write full time, or do you have a day job?
Writing is my day job, but I don't spend 8 hours actually writing prose. Much of it is spent reading, tweeting, brainstorming, and researching. And I really don't get 8 hours anyway.
16. Who is your biggest cheerleader?
My critique partner, Emma Kress. She is the kind of cheerleader that says, "Go Team! You messed up that last pass, but you knew better! Get back out there and play the way I know you can! You're the best!"
17. What do you think about critique groups? Good for the writer? Confusing for the writer?
Great for the writer. I've been in three "groups" now, and all of them have become good friends of mine.
Right now, I'm in one group and have one solitary "partner". Having to show up to a meeting with pages keeps you on track, and I trust all of my critique group partners to tell me where I'm falling short. We all have each others' best interests in mind, and together, we can accomplish more and greater things. Alone, I'd be like a fish with one fin.
18. What one workshop or conference should NO writer miss?
I've been to several SCBWI conferences, both in NY and LA, but I have to say the Big Sur writing retreat hosted by ABLA is the best. (And not just because that's my agency.)
It's just the right size. It's big enough for you to make new connections, but it's small enough for you to get personal attention from your breakout groups and leaders.
And for me, it was vital: I met my editor there, before she was my editor, and her interest in my book really boosted my confidence.
19. Do you use an outline when you start a new idea? Or do you just sit and write?
I have a notebook that I dip into before I write a new scene. I write out, in pencil, what I think will happen in the scene. I write these pages out in third-person, but the actual story is written in first-person.
20. How can my blog readers help you be become an even bigger success?
Become my friends! And when my book comes out, please read it and let me know what you think.
21. What one word best describes you?
22. Any big news?
Nope. But maybe check back in August?