Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We're really excited to feature Abigail Johnson, author of IF I FIX YOU, this week as she shares what made the difference in becoming a published author.

"I decided to talk about critique partner's and how they were the one thing that made the most difference in getting me from aspiring author to published author".


I like to think I’ve always been an aspiring author. I wrote little stories as a kid and never really stopped. It wasn’t until college, however, that the idea of becoming a published author took root. That’s when I started writing my very first novel.


You guys, it was such a turd of a book.


It was an adult action-adventure novel with an archaeological bent a la Clive Cussler. I had no idea how to write a novel, much less one that required the obscene amount of research needed for the story I came up with. I spent months and months researching locations and time periods and historical figures who were quasi-connected to my plot. By the time I actually got into writing the story, I had so much info crammed in my head that it strangled the enjoyment for me. I don’t think I made it halfway before I gave up on it.


I didn’t mind though, because while I’ll always get a kick out of reading Dirk Pitt’s latest adventures, my heart will forever belong to YA. There is something endlessly exciting about being a teenager and straddling that line between childhood and adulthood. One I realized that I wanted to write the kind of books I loved reading most—YA—I got an idea for a new story and I could not write it fast enough. There were no tomb robbers or car chases, but there was heartache and first kisses and broken characters. That book would eventually become If I Fix You, my first published—and completed—novel.


Becoming a published author wasn’t as easy as simply finishing a book. I had to rewrite and revise and cut and tear my book apart over and over again before that happened. And I didn’t do it by myself, I couldn’t have done it by myself.

"That all started with Maggie Stiefvater."


Oh, how I love Maggie Stiefvater. Not just because her writing owns my heart. Every. Single. Time she releases a new book (The Scorpio Races remain my favorite), but because if it weren’t for her, I would never have met the two people most responsible for helping me transition from aspiring author published author.


I’m talking about Maggie Stiefvater’s Critique Partner Love Connection and the two best CP’s on the planet: Sarah Guillory and Kate Goodwin. We were all fans of Maggie’s books and follower’s of her blog when she inaugurated the annual matchup years ago. Maggie invited aspiring authors to share some info about a current WIP in the post comments and then see if anyone seemed interested in swapping pages. We were all writing Contemporary YA and ended up trading a few chapters, and we’ve never looked back.


I was drifting as a writer before I connected with my critique partners. Yes, I had a story and characters I liked, but I didn’t have a book, much less something publishable. I had a draft and a messy one at that. Once we started critiquing for each other, I gained a new focus. For the first time since college, I had people expecting me to write. I had an audience beyond family and friends. I had other writers helping me to identify the strengths and weaknesses in my writing, helping my set--and keep--deadlines, and encouraging me every step of the way. When it came time to start querying agents, they must have read dozens of versions before I sent the first one out. When the inevitable rejections started rolling in, they were the ones who kept me motivated until I landed the perfect agent for me. And you better believe they cheered as loud as anyone when I sold my first book.


We’ve all grown a lot as writers and critique partners since Maggie first “introduced” us, and if anything, I feel like I rely on them more. Beyond reading and critiquing each other’s books, every month we write short stories based on the same prompt and get to try out genres and styles we might never explore as full-length novels. We still brainstorm new ideas, titles and work through plot holes together. We share tips and book recommendations. We help each other with promotion, software, all the other non-book related stuff too. They are, without a doubt, the most invaluable resource I have as a writer and I can’t imagine writing a single word without them. And I love getting to help them too. It’s an incredible feeling to know we’re in this industry together, both as friends and authors.

"[Critique partners] are, without a doubt, the most invaluable resource I have as a writer and I can’t imagine writing a single word without them."


If you are looking for critique partners to help get you to the next level, a quick search will offer you are a lot of options. If you want to try Maggie Stiefvater's Critique Partner Love Connection, she's evolved and streamlined the program into an ongoing Google group here.

ABOUT THE BOOK


If I Fix You
by Abigail Johnson
Hardcover
Harlequin Teen
Released 10/25/2016

Readers of Sarah Dessen, Cammie McGovern and Morgan Matson will adore this thought-provoking, complex and romantic contemporary novel from debut author Abigail Johnson, about finding the strength to put yourself back together when everything you know has fallen apart.

When sixteen-year-old Jill Whitaker’s mom walks out—with a sticky note as a goodbye—only Jill knows the real reason she’s gone. But how can she tell her father? Jill can hardly believe the truth herself.

Suddenly, the girl who likes to fix things—cars, relationships, romances, people—is all broken up. Used to be, her best friend, tall, blond and hot flirt Sean Addison, could make her smile in seconds. But not anymore. They don’t even talk.

With nothing making sense, Jill tries to pick up the pieces of her life. But when a new guy moves in next door, intense, seriously cute, but with scars—on the inside and out—that he thinks don’t show, Jill finds herself trying to make things better for Daniel. But over one long, hot Arizona summer, she realizes she can’t fix anyone’s life until she fixes her own. And she knows just where to start . . .


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Abigail was born in Pennsylvania. When she was twelve, her family traded in snow storms for year round summers, and moved to Arizona. Abigail chronicled the entire cross-country road trip (in a purple spiral bound notebook that she still has) and has been writing ever since. 

She became a tetraplegic after breaking her neck in a car accident when she was seventeen, but hasn’t let that stop her from bodysurfing in Mexico, writing and directing a high school production of Cinderella, and publishing her first novel.


 



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