Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pay It Forward: Daisy Whitney

Sometimes this writing business--especially the writing for publication part--is rough and bumpy. We all go through the ditches, and feel we're alone. It's easy to look at other writers and think it was easy for them, or that they have some kind of luck or talent we don't have.

This week, a whole big bunch of us are turning the spotlight on those who are almost there, writers who are agented but haven't quite got the deal yet, or writers who have sold but their books aren't quite out. Join us this week for 70 (yes 70!) success stories!

Each day this week I'm going to post an interview with one of these writers, to hopefully inspire you, provide hope along your way, and prove that you CAN succeed in this crazy business. You guys--you're going to LOVE these interviews. They were so inspirational to me!! They're doing it. You can too.

Click here for more inspiration: Lisa and Laura RoeckerBeth RevisLeah CliffordVictoria SchwabKirsten HubbardElana Johnson, Dawn MetcalfKim HarringtonCarrie HarrisAmy HolderKathy McCulloughSuzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins, and Tiffany Schmidt.

Daisy Whitney is a superstar.
Oh, you think I'm kidding, or exaggerating. I'm not. On her own website, she describes herself as: "a producer, on-air correspondent, podcaster and raconteur in the new media business." She hosts the popular New Media Minute. AND she happens to write fiction, and has a book coming out with Little, Brown in Fall 2010. I was thrilled when Daisy agreed to be interviewed for the Pay It Forward series. Enjoy!

1. Tell us about The Mockingbirds!

The Mockingbirds is about an underground, student-run justice system at a prestigious boarding school that operates as the judge, jury and prosecution -- of the students, by the students. They take their name from "To Kill a Mockingbird" and their mission is to be the honor code the school doesn't have. The main character decides to turn to the Mockingbirds for help after she is dated raped her junior year. Ultimately it's a story about justice, honor and speaking up and fans
of romance will be happy to know there is some good forbidden romance in the story too!

[Don't you guys want to read this RIGHT NOW?]

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent and editor)?

Ah, it was a long and winding road with many many twists and turns. In fact, there are so very many that Courtney Summers has assured me she will travel in a small backpack on any book tour I might do and pop out from time to time to remark on my journey! She's been with me for
many steps along the way. I suppose I can best sum it up in numbers: four novels, three agents, more than two years on submission, more than 45 editor rejections for various projects, many more agent rejections, two rewrites while on submission. AND THEN I GOT A TWO-BOOK DEAL FROM AN AMAZING PUBLISHING HOUSE!! The point being, it's not easy. It's not supposed to be easy. If it were easy everyone would do it.

3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?

I never felt like giving up because that is not in my nature. I once did a bike ride called The Death Ride. It's a one-day, 129-mile ride over 5 mountain passes with 16,000 feet of climbing involved. I am not athletic, I am not fast, and I am actually a complete dork. I did not even train well for the ride. But I was determined to finish and I did -- I was one of the last riders to cross the finish line and now I can say "I finished the Death Ride!" But more so, I just made a decision when it came to writing to keep at it, to keep writing, to keep learning, to keep growing, to keep going. Plus, I held onto my favorite quote from Randy Pausch when I was being rejected six ways to Sunday: "Brick walls are there for a reason. To let us prove how badly we want something."

4. How have your writing goals/dreams changed since you started the process?

At first you focus on each step of the process - finishing a chapter, then a book, then landing an agent, then an editor, etc. Now, I'm eagerly awaiting my novel's release in November and my goals are more specific. I want the book to matter. I want it to matter to teens. I want it to matter to readers. And I want to hear from them  if it does matter!

5. These interviews will hopefully inspire those who are just beginning the writing process. What's the one piece of advice you wished you knew when you started?

This might be a downer, but getting an agent doesn't mean you'll get a book deal. So keep writing! If the first one doesn't sell, maybe the second one will. If the second one doesn't, maybe the third one will. If the third one doesn't maybe the fourth one will. Yes, I was agented
for FOUR projects and it was the fourth one that sold. Which really means my advice is "Hold onto that dream and fight for it. Fight for it by putting your butt in the chair every day and writing."

Thanks so much, Daisy! I loved this.


Linda G. said...

Oh, I do love a success story, especially one than entails perseverence. :) Congrats on your 2-book deal, Daisy!

Daisy Whitney said...

Thanks Linda! And thanks Susan for running this. I'm enjoying all these various stories!

Elana Johnson said...

Holy crap, woman! I can't even imagine a journey like this one. I'd be a puddle of goo, whimpering in the corner. You are my hero for the month. Okay, for next month too.

Great, great advice and inspiration here. My favorite story so far.

Can't wait for your book this fall!

Kathy McCullough said...

I think Daisy should make up t-shirts: "I Survived Death Ride." It can be new code for I survived the path to publication. Daisy will have to come up with a great writer-related logo too. Put me on the mailing list. ;)

Angel-Star said...

thanks for the inspiring breath!

Lisa and Laura said...

Such fabulous advice as always Daisy! Can't wait to read this book...