The Thing About Being a Debut Author
I’ve never had a baby, but friends who have tell me all the time, ‘You can read every damn book ever written about having a baby and watch all the gross videos and listen to a million birth stories, and still when you do it’s the first baby ever born on the planet and you hoo-ha is like, “WTH?” and none of any of that stuff prepares you. None of it.’ I’m kind of feeling that way about this first book—totally unprepared for the entire process of being a first time author.
I was not prepared for the endless parade of rejection when searching for an agent from within the depths of the slush pile, and then the horrible self-loathing brought on by having to turn down the three agents who subsequently offered to represent me once I said yes to one I fell in love with. (Not like that, Pervs!)
Then I was totally unprepared for the amount of revision I had to do before the book went on sub. And then – oh, then – the months and months of spec revision and radio silence and requests for edits that made me feel totally uncomfortable from editors who ultimately turned the book down with a one-sentence email.
I was not ready to hear from my agent that an editor was interested and could possibly offer soon, and when the offer was made and accepted I was not prepared for the joy that immediately turned right around and became the plummeting elevator of snapped cables know as Self Doubt because who was I to say I was some kind of ‘writer’? Was I really supposed to perfect this thing and were people actually supposed to pay money for it and possibly read it? Oh jeez.
I had no idea the revision and edits and more revisions and moments of alternately thinking I was brilliant and then the dumbest person alive then back to amazing then oh gosh, we’re back to Who Do I Think I Am, again are we?
I was totally unprepared for the amount of encouragement and tough love and help and hand holding and amazing ideas my agent provided. You could have pushed me over with your pinkie when my editor kept saying, over and over, that she loved this story, that she knew I could figure it out, that it would be a beautiful book.
I was driven crazy by my family’s seemingly cold indifference to my deadlines, then sobbed with gratitude when I realized they were really only sick of my mood swings and then they would leave the house all day so I could write.
I am a debut author. I was not prepared. Nothing ever could have prepared me. And now the book is real, it is for sale, it is in the library, it will end up on a table on a sidewalk outside a used bookstore for fifty cents, it will be dog-eared and treasured on a bedside table, and it will be tossed aside only partly read by some jerk who will then gleefully write a giff-filled, sarcastic, stupidity laden tirade about how much they hated it just so people like them will think they are clever when really they are just jealous un-published writers of bad Hunger-Games fan fiction and I need to stop looking at Good Reads. Right. Now.
Oh, the lessons I’ve learned.
This book will be in all those places. It will travel where it will, I am an author, I am an archer and this book is an arrow (well, really Random House and my agent and editor are the archers, and I’m more like a bow, but you get my drift, yes?) and maybe this arrow will land in the bushes or the pond but maybe it will pierce some hearts and when it does, when it hits it’s intended target, it will stay. Forever. I know this because there are books in my heart that will never, ever leave.
Okay, so here’s the thing about being a debut author in a super long-winded nutshell: The chance that this book I’ve written, which is now out in the world, could maybe be a ‘forever in some person’s heart’ book?
I forgot about that. I was not prepared for that.
About the Author
JENNIFER LONGO holds an M.F.A. in Writing for Theater from Humboldt State University. She credits her lifelong flair for drama to parents who did things like buy the town graveyard and put their kids to work in it-because how hilarious would that be? Turns out, pretty hilarious. Jennifer lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and daughter and writes about writing at taotejen.com.
Home is where the bodies are buried.
Darkly humorous and heart-wrenchingly beautiful, Jennifer Longo’s YA debut about a girl stuck living in a cemetery will change the way you look at life, death, and love.
Leigh sells graves for her family-owned cemetery because her father is too lazy to look farther than the dinner table when searching for employees. Working the literal graveyard shift, she meets two kinds of customers:
Pre-Need: They know what’s up. They bought their graves a long time ago, before they needed them.
At Need: They are in shock, mourning a loved one’s unexpected death. Leigh avoids sponging their agony by focusing on things like guessing the headstone choice (mostly granite).
Sarcastic and smart, Leigh should be able to stand up to her family and quit. But her world’s been turned upside down by the sudden loss of her best friend and the appearance of Dario, the slightly-too-old-for-her grave digger. Surrounded by death, can Leigh move on, if moving on means it’s time to get a life?
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | Aug. 26, 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-0449818718
“Leigh’s an eloquent spokesperson for the pitfalls of being the kid whom worried about in a family in crisis; her raw deal will elicit indignant sympathy, and readers will rejoice at her triumphant reentry into the world.” — The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review
“Readers will find themselves rooting for Leigh as she returns to the world around her.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Darkly funny […] this unique debut novel is one to look out for.” —Bustle
“A unique book for unique teens.” —Booklist
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