Wednesday, September 8, 2010

14 WOW Wednesday: Rose Cooper on the Long Journey

This week's WOW Wednesday post is by debut author Rose Cooper, who claims she refuses to grow up. In fact, writing for tweens gives her that perfect excuse (shhh!). But every once in awhile, if you watch carefully and wait very patiently, you’ll see her tiptoeing into the grownup world. And when you do, you’ll see that she’s the author and illustrator of an upcoming humor middle-grade series, GOSSIP FROM THE GIRLS’ ROOM, A Blogtastic! Novel that's being given away today on her blog, and RUMORS FROM THE BOYS ROOM coming in 2012. Published by Random House and Represented by Rosemary Stimola, Rose still pinches herself every day to make sure she’s not dreaming—and she has the bruises to prove it. Read about her journey, then go enter the contest!

The Long Journey

by Rose Cooper


SIX YEARS.

That’s how long it took me- from the time I completed my first book to the time I signed with my agent.
Did I ever think my work was brilliant and the agents were wrong for rejecting me? Yes. Did I ever cry and pout and feel sorry for myself? Of course. Did I ever feel like giving up? Absolutely.

So what happened in those six years that kept me writing, revising, and querying so much that the keypad had been permanently etched into my fingertips?

Simple.

I refused to give up.

Someone told me my work wasn't strong enough? Fine. I'll make it stronger.

The voice isn't there? I'll write until I find it.
The plot isn't believable? I'll twist it around until it is.

I received more rejections than you'd probably care to know. But if I had to go back and do it all over again, would I? Absolutely. Because it made me stronger. I can take critiques. I have tough skin. In the beginning I would cry if someone didn't like my work. So imagine if I had an editor back then take me on and they suggested revisions and even sent copyedits my way. I would've been a mess trying to handle such a thing! I just wasn’t ready.

In those six years, I’ve found a terrific critique group and seriously, I don’t know what I would’ve done without them. I've also had time to research agents, publishers, and make wonderful online friends. But best of all? I became a better writer. How great is it to say that my debut novel will be that much better than it would've been six years ago? And now when I look at my writing from back then, I can honestly say, “I DO understand what those agents were telling me."

Last year I signed with my agent, Rosemary Stimola. And really, it was very unexpected.
I was sitting in Starbucks with my thick textbook studying for my Business Law exam because I wanted to try for a promotion at work. Okay, I didn’t WANT to, but I felt like I had to if I wanted my career to go anywhere. Next to me I had my notebook and pen in case any writing inspiration struck, which it likely did at unlikely times.

Of course this was one of those unlikely times.

And even more unlikely is where my inspiration came from.

Wait for it….

The bathroom!

I put two and two together (my notebook + the bathroom) and came up with a story idea of a girl who listens to gossip in the girls room, then jots it down with funny doodles in her notebook. Hmmmm. Story sounds kind of familiar though, right? A diary/notebook and doodles. Kind of like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Well, so much for that idea. Back to reading Business Law.

But…

Writers don’t give up. They take an idea and twist it into something new, right? Because there are no “new” ideas. So I pushed my Business Law book aside once more and thought a little harder. I love the concept of a notebook with doodle type drawings. But no diary. Just a notebook. And gossip. Lots of gossip. Girls always go to the girls room in groups. And they talk. Plenty of opportunities for gossip there. So….why would this girl carry around a notebook if it wasn’t her diary?

Got it! Let’s take the diary concept one step further and make it a blog. Kids are big into computers, so why not blogging? But then I had to ask myself, why would she carry the notebook? Simple. Because she can’t necessarily blog whenever she wants at school. And what 12yr old girl is going to remember all that fabulous juicy gossip by the end of a school day. Of course, by writing it down! And no kid can resist writing in their notebook without doodling and mentioning other total dramatic and life changing things.

So there you go. I had my concept. I titled it BATHROOM BLOG. I was so amped up about this story I want to share it with anyone who would listen. In all the stories I had ever written, I had never felt this excited. CONFESSION: I never laughed so much writing a story either. I wasn’t sure if I was just acting crazy, or if my story was really funny.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. It was like I couldn’t write quickly enough. This was actually the first time I ever handwrote a story. Or had drawings to go with it. The drawings were more of a punch line to the actual story itself. As soon as I was done, I typed it up, scanned half the pictures in (because I really didn’t think anyone would care to see the images. They were only there to give them an idea of where I was going with this).

TWO WEEKS.

That’s how long it took me to write and draw this out. I lived and breathed this story. I sent a query Rosemary and before I knew it, she signed me. About eight weeks later, Random House acquired the book, illustrations and all. I even did the cover. Now, a little over a year later and with a title change, Gossip from the Girls Room, A Blogtastic! Novel will be released in January and the second title in the series will be released in spring 2012. I never expected to be a writer AND illustrator. And never in a billion years, when I walked into Starbucks that night, did I think my dream would come true.

Getting published is not easy. But usually, the most rewarding things in life aren’t.

14 comments:

  1. I'm hitting my fifth year since writing my first novel come Nano, so I feel better now. LOL ;)

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  2. Great post. Amazing how quickly you wrote your manuscript once you got your idea. I met Rosemary Stimola at a Michigan SCBWI conference. She gave one of the most creative talks. I still remember it. Good luck.

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  3. Wow, great post, Rose. Very inspirational. I needed it this morning.

    Jenny Rose Creatively Loving Kids

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  4. Congrats, Rose! Great story--your journey AND the BATHROOM BLOG! :D

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  5. Loved this story! I can relate to looking back and being glad earlier writings weren't published (though yeah, ya think your writing was ready at the time). And your blog and illustrations on your site are SO cute! Congratulations on sticking with writing, and not giving up.

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  6. Yay! I love Rose and her story! Fantastic! BTW, ladies, I have ABC's of blogging you might want to check out for Friday links:)

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  7. Great post, so inspiring! Thanks! :)

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  8. I love stories like these. I'm mean Rose's success story, tho the book sounds great, too. It give us hope . . . not to mention a taste of reality. :)

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  9. It took me a bit to get over here but I loved reading this inspiring story! Six years, that seems like a long time, but seeing as I'm almost done with year one and still finding myself I can see how true the process is. Very time consuming but with each step I accomplish things and learn more about myself.

    And for your information, it's very funny. I laughed out loud several times and when I really liked a part I'd make sure my husband stopped everything and I'd re-tell the part I really enjoyed!!! Anyone who uses the word Sunturday is A-OK in my book. It was an amazing read and anyone would be crazy to not pick it up in January!!!

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  10. Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to post here today! and thanks for the comments! I know 6yrs is probably not the norm for most writers. But even a year or two can be so frustrating after working so hard. It's different for everyone, but the main thing is to believe in yourself and your writing.

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  11. i love this story, rose! if you weren't my friend i'd be so jealous. but you're mega talented and deserve every good thing that's come your way!

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  12. Rose ~ Oh how I can relate to your story. Oh yes. I love how you refused to give up AND focused on becoming a better writer. That is the "magical" combination. I am certain.

    Congrats on selling your books as well! Exciting times.

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  13. Thanks for sharing Rose - gives hope that if we keep at it there's always a chance. Must say, though, I'm awfully intrigued by your book... going on my buy list for sure! Congratulations on your sale! :)

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  14. What an awesome story! I love reading things like this, as it's such a great reminder to keeping going and going and going and going, and learning along the way.

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