Confessions of an ex-debutante by Founder Jennifer

This is my last regularly-scheduled Saturday founder post, and I thought I’d use it to take a look at my life after being a Debutante. I have two more books coming out in spring of 2008: MY TIKI GIRL, for young adults, and ISLAND OF LOST GIRLS, my next novel for adults. My wonder-agent is working on another sale. I’m working on two new books. So Debutante-hood is definitely behind me, and yet….

I am just as insecure as ever. Having a book out in the world – even a successful, well-reviewed book – has not turned me into the super confident, well-adjusted person I once imagined it would. Thrilling as it is, publication did not turn out to be the missing piece that made my life whole.

Time is still in desperately short supply. I have more time to write now (my daughter started preschool, buying me three precious hours every morning) but I spend less time doing it. I’m amazed by how much time all the other aspects of the life of the published writer would take: answering emails from fans, other writers, my agent, my editors; doing the never-ending promotional stuff for both PROMISE and my upcoming books; the meticulous, eye-crossing work of proofreading copyedits; attempting to keep up with my web site and MySpace pages; getting out there and connecting with readers and book sellers. And for some reason, being published has not gotten me out of doing dishes, grocery shopping, paying bills, cooking, vacuuming, or participating in civil society.

When PROMISE first came out into the world, I was thrilled and terrified. I was so excited to finally have arrived, to have a book with my name on it, my words inside, out across the country. And terrified that no one would buy it. That my career would be over shortly after beginning. I had a number in my head of how many copies I needed to sell to make a respectable showing – and it was a number considerably larger than my total number of friends and relations.

Fortunately, it broke into that coveted “people-I-don’t-know-personally” market. In fact, strangers from all over the country write to me to tell me how much they love my book. Incredibly thoughtful, generous emails from a grandmother in Nebraska, from a lab technician in Alabama, from an elementary school teacher in Massachusetts. High school kids doing (get ready…) a paper on my book. I continue to be awed and humbled. It’s definitely the most rewarding part of all this.

Now, with ISLAND OF LOST GIRLS gearing up for release next May, I have new fears. Will it live up to my first book? Will the readers who loved the first book be happy with the second? Is it too different? Too similar? And what about MY TIKI GIRL, coming out in April? The young adult market is a whole new world to me, one that I’m doing my best to learn about and find my way in.

I just got galleys for both books and, I must say, they are beautiful. Opening those boxes was not quite as incredible as opening that first box of galleys for PROMISE (there’s only one “first time,” right?), but it was sweet just the same.

The big thing that’s the same before, during and after the debut novel: the writing. Each day, I go to my desk (or my kitchen table or my couch or my favorite coffee shop) and I type up some words, some bits of story. I lock all those worrying voices of self-doubt away in a safe little sound-proof den in the back of my brain and write. Some days, the words come easy, some not so easy. But each day I sit and do the best I can. Because ultimately, that’s what counts. Not the success of my last book or fate of my future books. It’s right now. This moment. Putting the words on paper. This is what it’s all about.

Thanks once more for all the support. And best wishes to all the Debs, past, present and future.

8 Replies to “Confessions of an ex-debutante by Founder Jennifer”

  1. Jennifer- I adore your writing and have been so pleased to get to know you. I look forward to your new books and keeping in touch as you move forward (and upwards) in your career.

  2. You said it all. The glamorous life of a writer, right?! But you’re on your way and that’s a good thing, and maybe some day at least some help with the cleaning?! We can always hope! Good luck to you, although you certainly don’t need it, and come back to visit any time!

  3. I loved your book also, Jennifer and passed it along to my daughters! Can’t wait to read your next books and in my book you’re a star…

  4. Jennifer, though a reluctant Debutante, you were a star from the very first post. I love your writing, always have and always will. And I — for one — thank you for trusting us with your heart.

    Looking forward to May!

  5. Thank you all for the kind words and good wishes! The Debutante Ball has always been, and will continue to be, a wonderful source of support and inspiration. I wish all of you the best for the coming year! Keep up the great work, ladies!

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