Three Months and Counting!

Hello! 

With just over three months until The Wolf’s Curse publishes, life is busy! I recently turned in book two to my editor (I can’t wait until I can tell you all about it) and next week I’ll be reviewing final pass pages on book one––this will be my last chance to make corrections before it goes to print (no pressure!). 

In addition, my publisher is hosting a giveaway for advanced reader copies of The Wolf’s Curse and I’m in the process of forming a street team––an enthusiastic group of readers to help spread the word about my debut. For more details about all of that and more, read on! 

 





GIVEAWAY!

HarperCollins is giving away not one, not two, but ten copies of The Wolf’s Curse on Goodreads! The giveaway ends June 30th, so enter now

Although writing can be a solitary effort, publishing a book is definitely not; I’m looking for bloggers, teachers, librarians, influencers, and bookworms to help get the word out. Learn more here.

Reviews are in and readers are loving The Wolf’s Curse! 

“A lyrical tale of loss and survival, tradition and belief, in which tension and secrets build like a towering wave. The Wolf’s Curse is a story of many layers. Young readers will treasure this beautiful debut and hold it close to their hearts.” -Diane Magras, author of The Mad Wolf’s Daughter

“A fable as polished and timeless as a fine wooden toy. Readers will root for spunky heroes Gauge and Roux while keeping watch for a certain mysterious wolf who’s not what she seems . . .” -Catherine Gilbert Murdock, author of the Newbery Honor book The Book of Boy

“The Wolf’s Curse boldly tells readers to take a closer look at the stories they’re told—not to mention at the wolves that might be lurking in the shadows. A clear-eyed, big hearted fable of compassion, friendship, and love.” -Anne Ursu, author of The Real Boy

Pre-purchases are available at all your favorite book retailers (including your local indy) or you can find it on Amazon

***Keep an eye on my Twitter account in July; I’ll be giving away books from each of these authors!***
Before I sign off I want to share a link for my June Magic in the Middle book talk featuring The Nightmare Thief for those of you who might not have caught it earlier in the month. (The story is full of magic and wonder and I think you’ll love it!)

 

The Wolf’s Curse Cover Reveal!

Hi friends!

I know the new year continues to bring challenges for many of us, so it’s more important than ever to celebrate when we have the chance––yesterday, I did just that!

Celebrating (Covid-Style)

You’re probably wondering what I was celebrating. For years, I’ve been a fan of Mr. Schu’s blog. Those of you not obsessed with children’s literature may not know that he’s the Ambassador of Children’s Literature for Scholastic Books––and a Pretty Big Deal. I’ve always dreamed of having him host a cover reveal for my debut novel, and yesterday my dream came true!

You can read the full interview (including my tour of the cover design) here, but in the meantime, this is the cover: (Isn’t it incredible?)

That’s not all!

I also found out that The Wolf’s Curse has a release date! It will be available in stores on September 21, 2021! But good news — you can preorder now to make sure you get a copy as soon as they are available––and before they sell out.*

*Preorder links*

*Preorders really help out authors, too–they send an important signal to publishers about what kind of interest any given book has, which helps them determine which books to spend their marketing dollars on.

Besides my own celebrations (which included launching Magic in the Middle), I’ve also been busy celebrating book releases for a whole ton of other fantastic debut authors––you can explore their books here and here.

I’ll check back again when I have more news to share. In the meantime, I’d love to know what you like best about The Wolf’s Curse cover! Drop me a note in the comments below!

Magic in the Middle

I’m writing to introduce an exciting new program I’m launching called Magic in the Middle!

I often hear teachers and librarians ask authors for content they can use in their classrooms, and I know we all want to foster a love of reading in our middle grade kids. That’s where Magic in the Middle comes in! It’s a series of free monthly recorded book talks featuring upper middle grade fantasy books to help teachers, librarians, and parents introduce new books to their 10-14 year old readers. If this sounds like your cup of tea, you can sign up here and the talks will land in your inbox on the first Tuesday of each month. Please share this program with anyone you think might be interested–the more readers we reach, the better!

Sending you all my best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season!

P.S. Stay tuned for The Wolf’s Curse cover reveal, coming in early 2021!

How I Got My Agent and a Two-Book Deal (After 13 Years)

I’ll never forget the day that one of the members of my very first critique group announced she was sure I’d be a published author within five years. FIVE YEARS? I was nearly ready to query my first manuscript! It was unlike anything else on the market. Agents were going to snap me up! Editors were going to fight for my story!

Imagine my surprise when I queried and … nothing. (To be fair, I did receive requests for partials and fulls but no offers of representation. In fact, one agent wrote to tell me how excited he’d been about the premise and how disappointed he was by the pages. I no longer have the email, but the gist of it was that I had no idea how to write scenes, much less a story.)

Undaunted, I wrote book two. And started reading every children’s book I could get my hands on (I was in my early thirties; I’d been an avid reader as a child, but read only occasionally in my twenties). This time, being a few years older and ever-so-slightly wiser, I realized book two probably wasn’t ready for prime time and I only sent out a few queries (to test the water).

By the time book three was written (seven years after my critique partner’s prediction), I’d read hundreds of recently-released children’s books and could see a real difference in the quality of my writing. Instead of rushing to query, I let the book rest and revised, revised, revised. Finally, I felt ready to share my manuscript. I attended an online writing conference called WriteOnCon and uploaded a query and sample pages. The first agent who requested to see more offered representation, and I was sure my time had come. Nonetheless, I continued working on craft, read voraciously, built a network of critique partners and beta readers, and began volunteering with We Need Diverse Books and PitchWars.

It was a good thing I threw myself into the literary community, because that’s what kept me going when my third book didn’t sell (despite a revision for a big five publisher). I shelved my fourth book before sending it out. When it started to look like my fifth book wasn’t going to sell, my ever-supportive agent and I had a heart-to-heart and made the decision to amicably part ways (after five years together), allowing me to use my (newly written) sixth manuscript to seek new representation.

Around the time I began sending out query letters, Erin Entrada Kelly (of Newbery Medal fame) put out a call to the PitchWars mentor group for manuscripts to workshop at her UCLA writing class. She promised to provide feedback from the class as well as her own thoughts. The chance to receive a critique from a writer of her caliber was a dream come true; I sent off my first five pages so fast my computer practically started on fire. A few weeks later, I received the following message from Erin: We are workshopping your piece tomorrow but JSYK: I am obsessed with this story! I love it so much.

Needless to say, I could have probably stopped writing right then and there and died a happy death. But things got even better! The next day, she said she’d used my work as an example of writing well-done and invited me to send her the full manuscript with an eye toward possibly sending it on to her agent (the brilliant Sara Crowe, who was closed to queries at the time). I sent it off, but didn’t dare hope that Erin would love it enough to share with Sara. Imagine my surprise when I got another message the very next morning telling me that she’d shared it with Sara, who loved the story and wanted to set up a call! (Crying, happy dancing, and anointing Erin my literary godmother ensued!)

After signing with Sara, we did a few quick rounds of revisions and a month later, went out on submission. Being a veteran of the process, I knew better than to hold my breath. Yet again, I was in for a surprise. Two weeks after going on submission, Sara informed me that we had interest from an editor who wanted to know what else I was working on. I sent off a couple of paragraphs about two of my WIPs and settled back in, prepared for the sound of crickets. One week later, I received another email from Sara: I’d received a two-book offer from Martha Mihalick of Greenwillow/HarperCollins! Although my story was in the hands of several other editors, we both believed that Greenwillow would be the perfect home for my work. I was beyond thrilled when Sara negotiated a pre-empt, finally bringing my thirteen-year-journey toward publication to an end. (And a happy new beginning!)

Below: Pure joy! (Plus a little shock!). My 15yo daughter was in the hallway outside my office with her phone when I got Sara’s email containing Martha’s initial offer. She heard me scream, ran inside, and snapped this photo.

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P.S. If you enjoyed this post and would like to receive occasional updates as my publication journey continues, you can sign up for email notifications. And if you want to add THE WOLF’S CURSE to your “want to read” shelf, you can now find it on Goodreads.

Blast from the Past!

Hello, friends!

Several years ago, you subscribed to my Blog: Stop Pinching Your Sister! (Parenting Quips and Tips Based on My Columbia MBA).

Although the blog has been discontinued, I’m thrilled to share that I have continued writing and recently sold two middle grade novels to Greenwillow/Harper Collins.

I’m writing because I plan to repurpose the original blog to update my readers on exciting book-related news (cover reveals, giveaways, etc.) and would like to invite you to stick around to share in my journey (and also to explain why you are suddenly getting occasional emails from me that you likely don’t remember signing up for)! If this new content doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, I totally understand, though I’ll be sorry to see you go.

I know we are all constantly fighting the spam battle and I promise not to inundate you with information; my aim is to post no more than once a month (probably more like quarterly unless there is something particularly exciting to share).  Look for my first post on how I got my new agent/book deal, coming soon!

Thanks a bunch for your support; I appreciate each and every one of you. Signing off with a picture of my cat (because in this day and age, we all need all the cuteness we can get.)

XO,

Jessica (& Apollo the cat)

Author, The Wolf’s Curse, now on Goodreads