Nicole: Thanks for coming and talking to me, Jen. After Gretchen survived, er, gave such great interview last week, I was beaten thoroughly by the rest of the League. And by “beaten,” I mean with congratulations. Anyway, I am going to do my best to stick you with this sword . . . um, ask you super probing questions that get to the heart of our modern condition. Can you start by telling the League something about yourself and your current project? And maybe stepping closer so I don’t have to swing this thing so far . . . or raise my voice? No? You prefer to stand over there? Fine, Rardin left a crossbow around here somewhere. I mean, I can hear you. Answer the damned question.
Jen: *backing further away from the short woman with the broadsword* I’m a YA urban fantasy writer, and my books are about ghosts and demons and fun stuff like that. My current project, MY SO-CALLED AFTERLIFE, is the first in a series about a 17-year-old girl named Cassidy who meets an unfortunate demise. She becomes a ghost and enters a strange afterlife world where she has to attend crossing over classes and live in a cemetery. Otherwise, she’ll turn into a roamer: a ghost who wanders the earth for eternity in pain. That doesn’t sound like much fun to her. So, she goes along for the ride until she discovers the ghosts running the crossing over classes aren’t quite what they seem…
Nicole: *Nicole has been mumbling to herself while rummaging around in a stack of medieval looking weaponry. She finally finds the crossbow* . . . now where are the freakin’ bolts? If Jaye’s been lending them to Sabina to use as hair sticks, I am so kicking both their asses . . . oh, Jen, you’re finished. Great. Now, once I find the crossbow bolts, I can finish you. I mean, ask you more questions. Why don’t you start by talking a little about where you are in the “process?” And do you have any last words . . . I mean, inspiring anecdotes?
Jen: *takes a few slow steps back* I’ve completed revisions for my agent, and we’re this close to going on submission to editors. I’m both very excited and very nervous about this! And I may have programmed a special ringtone in my cell for her…
She also happens to be the very first agent I approached about my novel back in July. Two and a half months later, I’d queried every agent I thought appropriate, and I was beginning to get a little discouraged. Okay, a lot discouraged. I’d received a lot of interest, but I’d also received a lot of rejections. It was one roller coaster of a ride. I wish I could go back and tell my July self I didn’t need to go through all that! But then you never really know who will love your work, and experiencing the stress made me appreciate getting an offer all that more.
Nicole: Ha! Bolts! Finally! Jen, why are you hiding behind the refrigerator, dammit? Come out! No? Crap. Fine. I can sneak up on you from the side. While I do that, what is the most important lesson you learned from your experience querying?
Jen: Patience. Okay, I’m not sure I’ve really learned how to be patient as much as I’ve learned I need to be patient. Everything takes time. Getting an agent. Getting ready to go on submission. Getting an editor. And then there’s even more waiting after that.
I’ve always been a very impatient person, but I think this experience is making me come to terms with the fact not everything can happen immediately, especially when dealing with the publishing industry. *turns and runs*
Nicole: *chasing Jen in a circle around the refrigerator* Okay, I’d rather be running after the publishing industry. For you are fast, I am chubby, and this crossbow is heavy. Why do I always have to murder our competition, anyway? *flops down in a recliner, panting* I give up. Tell me what your advice is for aspiring writers, and then get out.
Jen: *eyes Nicole warily* “Without the bitter, the sweet just ain’t as sweet.” Okay, I stole that line from Jason Lee in Vanilla Sky, but I’ve adopted it as my motto.
All writers get rejections. I’ve gotten a lot of rejections, and there’s still more to come. The biggest dreams are often the hardest, but they’re also the most rewarding. Because once you do get that acceptance, you know it came to you through hard work and dedication. And that makes it all the more awesome. “No one writes songs about the ones that come easy,” said Logan to Veronica Mars. Sure, he was talking about relationships, but I think it’s also true for goals and dreams.
Nicole: *still struggling to catch her breath* Okay, if you tell everyone I came this close to decapitating you, I’ll not only let you walk out of here but I’ll tell everyone your website. Deal? You can find Jen Hayley, still quick and still alive, dagnabbit, at http://jenhayley.com/.