Today's guest is Jennifer Echols, one time GRW member and brave person. The girl is funny! She has a book out today and she's with us. How cool is that?

The bug stops here

I live in Birmingham now, but the story I am going to tell you takes place in Atlanta. In 2004 I was a member of GRW, and a fellow writer you may know named Mary Marvella explained to me how to get to the one and only meeting I ever attended, at a steak house way up on the northern edge of town. I lived way down on the southern edge of town and it took me fourteen hours to get to the meeting and fourteen hours to drive home, by which time my husband was hysterical that he had been left alone so long with the toddler. I moved back to Birmingham soon after that. I actually got my agent the same week we sold our house in February 2005, and I sold my first novel in June.

But in November 2004, I wish I’d known what was just around the corner for me, because I had an experience that threatened to derail my writing career. I had spent a long hard year making a big push to get a novel published. I worked at home as a freelance copyeditor, I had to get that work done while the baby was at Montessori school, and my husband worked the night shift at the Yamaha plant in Newnan. The only time I had to write was before bed—my least creative time of day, believe me—and during my daily workout at the YMCA. Yes, I wrote huge tracts of books WHILE EXERCISING ON THE ELLIPTICAL MACHINE. Looking back I find this a little hard to believe too.

By November my completed manuscript was ready to go. It was a hilarious and sexy romantic comedy (if I do say so myself) set in the Birmingham neighborhood I was homesick for, and I just knew it would be snapped up for representation by an agent. I had particularly high hopes of being represented by the agent of an up-and-coming Atlanta novelist whose first book had just come out. You may have heard of Emily Giffin.

By November my daily routine had become more difficult because my husband had taken a job back in Birmingham and had moved ahead of the baby and me. I stayed in Atlanta with the house. So it was basically the same routine as before, minus husband, plus realtors showing the house three or four times a day. We thought the house sale and the move would be easier if we got rid of some of our baggage, so one Saturday when my husband was home, we held a yard sale. These things start at six in the morning in the South, you know, and I had endured an entire work day’s worth of strangers talking me down on my twenty-five-cent prices and maligning my baby clothes when the mail came.

2004, remember? We had e-mail, but a lot of us still didn’t know how to use it, and few were the agents who insisted on e-queries. Emily Giffin’s agent was one of the many who did everything by snail-mail. I had a feeling about the mail that day. I watched the truck come down the street and stop at my mailbox. I watched it go. I walked down the driveway as quickly as possible without frightening the garage sale shoppers. O joy, here was my letter from the agent!

I held it in my hands and pictured success. You know how the self-help books are always telling you to picture yourself successful but it never seems to work? That’s what I did for a moment, hoping for the best, and then I opened it.

Revise and resubmit.

Revisions that I didn’t agree with.

And then, just to add insult to injury, a yellow jacket flew out of the mailbox, zoomed down the back of my pants, and stung me on the butt.

Did I face this crisis alone? Did I whine to my unsympathetic husband who never really understood why I wanted to be a published author? I didn’t have to do either, because I had RWA. I went inside and typed a whiny message and posted it to the RWA PRO list. I got all the sympathy I wanted, plus advice on how to deal with the revise-and-resubmit letter, plus advice on treating a yellow jacket sting.

I could very easily have taken the sting as a sign that I should stop pursuing the goal I’d worked toward so long, an easy way out. But I did not, and today is the release day for FORGET YOU, my seventh published novel.

Let this be a lesson to you, my friends. You can’t let a sting on the butt get you down. This is the South and the South is full of bugs.

ENDLESS SUMMER - Simon Pulse - In stores now!
FORGET YOU - MTV Books - Coming July 20!
www.jennifer-echols.com

Can you beat that story? Ask the woman questions! She loves them!


If you would like a chance to win FORGET YOU, comment!

12 comments

  1. Mary Marvella // July 20, 2010 at 12:04 AM  

    !4 hours? I know my directions weren't that bad.

  2. 吳家瑩 // July 20, 2010 at 1:24 AM  
  3. Jennifer Echols // July 20, 2010 at 6:25 AM  

    Mary, I guess it just seemed that way! Talk about driving from one end of Atlanta to the other! I lived very near where Debby Giusti and Dianna Love live now.

  4. Autumn Jordon // July 20, 2010 at 9:24 AM  

    I was thinking 14 hours to drive around town. Mary, must've sent you the out of state way. LOL.

    Congrats on your new release. I love your YA covers. Very nice!

    Can you tell us about your book and also a little about your publisher?

  5. Mary Marvella // July 20, 2010 at 11:18 AM  

    Well, you can kill an hour going around I-285 if you miss a turn.

    Many years ago it took me more than 2 hours to go home from my first day of teaching. It was in a suburb of Boston and I didn't understand the traffic circles. No cell phones, then.

  6. Judy // July 20, 2010 at 12:14 PM  

    Jennifer, darling story. So glad to know that sting kept you moving forward. I love the cover of your new book. Many congratulations! Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Mona Risk // July 20, 2010 at 2:45 PM  

    Hi Jennifer, I hope the butt is doing better by now. If your books are as funny as your blog I am sure you had it made.

    Congratulations on the new release.

  8. Mary Marvella // July 20, 2010 at 3:34 PM  

    Did I forget to mention she's giving away a free book?

  9. Joanne // July 20, 2010 at 4:14 PM  

    Jennifer,
    Such a funny and poignant post. I love your writer's voice and wish you continued success.

  10. Mary Ricksen // July 20, 2010 at 5:23 PM  

    I would think we were related with that run of luck. But, you persisted and won your goal.
    I have been privileged to get to know many wonderful authors, if even only by email. They are supportive and unique as can be.
    They write stories that take us to places where we can forget out troubles. And if you know them they are always there for you. And the same for the. Wonderful ain't it!!

  11. Beth Trissel // July 21, 2010 at 10:11 AM  

    Jennifer, such fun having you here. I'm late to the party, but enjoyed your sense of humor. The cover is super too and your new book sounds fabulous. I have zero sense of direction so getting anywhere is a victory for me. :)

  12. Scarlet Pumpernickel // July 21, 2010 at 1:22 PM  

    Jennifer, welcome to the Pink Fuzzies! I loved your post. It's so funny and tragic and inspiring. Imagine a sting on the butt and you kept going, you are a strong woman. Congrats on your success.