Robin Mellom’s debut teen novel DITCHED—in which a girl finds herself lying in a ditch the morning after her prom with no memory of the last twelve hours, which includes a disappearing prom date, a Tinkerbell tattoo, and a dog-swapping escapade—will be published by Disney-Hyperion in March 2012.
I’m so excited to be over here today guest blogging! Except since I left my blog all alone I’m a little worried that it probably threw a raging party and there will be a big ol’ mess to clean up when I get back. Half-filled blog posts spilled everywhere…semi-dressed fonts running around…loopy comments that need a ride home. Naughty blog.
So I don’t consider myself an expert by any means on the topic of getting published, but I can speak about my experience. And the one piece of publishing advice I can offer is the same advice I learned about hair color…listen to the professionals.
Right after my son was born, I decided two things:
1. I want to be a middle grade writer.
2. I want to be blonde.
So I started writing during naptime and I paid a lot of money to get my hair dyed blonde. (Because Meg Ryan is so adorable, right?) But after a few years of that, I was suddenly confronted with a difficult situation: the opinion of a very passionate hair stylist.
“I can’t dye your hair blonde. I won’t do it.”
“Um…but I have money.”
“It’s not working. The color washes out your skin tone. And your eyes practically disappear! You are not a blonde.”
He literally refused to dye my hair. Didn’t he know about my dream to be blonde? My dream of having Meg Ryan hair!? I left the salon sad, wondering who I was if I wasn’t a blonde. I finally gave in and did it…I went dark. Like, Angelina Jolie dark. And remarkably my skin tone perked up and my eyes reappeared. And I started adopting babies! (Kidding.) But what I realized was: I am really a brunette! But a professional had to tell me that. Because I was too interested in being Meg Ryan, not me.
The same thing happened with my writing. I wrote middle grade novels for many years (I’ve written four of them, actually), and fortunately one of them landed me my agent, Jill Corcoran. We shopped a couple of my middle grades around, but no sale. There were some similar responses: love the voice, but it sounds older.
My agent then said to me, “I think you’re a teen writer. You need to write funny teen. That’s who you are.”
I was resistant at first. I had dreamed of being a middle grade author. I used to be a middle school teacher, and I love middle school kids. Love ‘em! But I had decided I want to write for them, not teach them. (Because teaching middle schoolers all day is like running a marathon on a Daily Basis. Exhausting!)
But once I gave in to the professional (yet again!) I found that I absolutely loved writing for teens. The words flowed out easily. It was an absolute joy! I am so thankful I listened to my agent. Now, certainly I hope we sell my middle grade novels, too. But if I had remained stuck on my dream, I may have never taken a chance on this teen novel. And trying something new made all the difference.
Sometimes we have to put aside our pre-conceived notions of who we are (or who we think we are) and work with the skill we’ve been given. Find the right outlet. The right age level. The right story.
And then nothing can stop us.
So now I think I’m going to listen to the advice of another professional in my life, my chiropractor (who also sometimes serves as my therapist)…
Relax your shoulders. Breathe deeply. Enjoy the moment.
Okay, now I’m headed back over to my blog. I don’t even wanna know what it’s been up to…