Thursday, April 1, 2010

Author Success Story: Heather Petty

This week I'm bringing in the big guns: People who've traveled down this long and winding road toward publication. Some of them already have book deals. Some have agents. Some have both. They've "made" it. Join us this week for 75 (yes 75!) success stories! Then dream big. Go forth and query. Conquer.

Click here for more inspiration: Lisa and Laura Roecker, Beth Revis, Leah Clifford, Victoria Schwab, Kirsten Hubbard, Susan Adrian, Dawn Metcalf, Kim Harrington, Carrie Harris, Amy Holder, Kathy McCullough, Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins, Gretchen McNeil and Tiffany Schmidt.

I will be featured on Lisa and Laura Roecker's blog this Friday (and just so you know, Lisa and Laura are still beauty-queen geniuses). Please go check out all the posts this week, because you never know who's going to say exactly what you need to hear to keep moving forward.


Today I've got the girl-with-the-mojo Heather Petty.

CAMP WYLDE in a tweet: Drew Donovan always wanted Faeries to be real, until they started waking up in the forest surrounding the summer camp where she works.

OR

Kelpies are creepy, Pixies are cute, Prophecies are inexplicable & Dark Elves are hot. LET ME SHOW YOU HOW! #CampWylde #noturmamazsummercamp

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

I’m not really the “giving up” type. I’m more the “I’ll do it until you SUBMIT TO MY WILL!!!” type. (With or without maniacal laughter, depending on my mood.)

So, really it was never a matter of giving up for me. I had only attempted to query one other project, and once I realized I had no idea what I was doing, I pulled back and did what writers do best… I researched the hell out of the industry.

By the time I was querying CAMP WYLDE, I knew enough about the process and the industry to know that it was going to take time and drive. And I inherited the Drive Gene from my dad, who is a musician and artist. And growing up in an artist’s house, I was told every day that I could do anything I wanted to do, as long as I was willing to put in the work. And I was willing. So I was going to keep going until I died or the Zombipocalypse overtook us all.

I may nor may not be overly stubborn. [Elana interrupts to say that Heather received multiple offers of representation and went with Eleanor Jackson at Markson Thoma Literary. Stubborn? Whatev. More like talented.]

What has been the hardest part of your road to publication so far? And why?

Did I mention I have waiting issues? Because I totally have waiting issues.

I think, though, that the hardest part is hanging onto that spark inside you that really believes in your own talent, no matter what happens or how many stories you read or rejections you receive.

Because really, the number of people who will instantly tell you “No” in this business far outnumber those who will even take a moment’s pause to consider your work. [Elana interrupts to say "Amen!"] You will hear over and over about people who come to the precipice of success only to plunge over the side. You will read of people whose agented books never sold, whose numbers weren’t high enough to sell their next big thing, who eked out a publishing presence over decades before finding any modicum of success. And those stories resonate in any writer’s mind as the agent rejections and editor pass letters pour in.

But you have to believe in your own work to survive it. You have to be able to read your own words and say, “Dear GOD that sucks,” and have that push you to work like you never have before to make it better. But at the same time, you also have to be able to read your own words and think, “My GOD that’s brilliant,” know deep down that others will feel that way too, and then work like you never have before to connect with those people.

Maybe there is a bit of narcissism in every artist. Or maybe the truly successful artist craves the act of their art over the praise of their admirers.

Either way, the hardest part is believing in your work when there’s silence or when the only sound you hear is the echo of a NO. And the best solution I’ve found is to seek out those who can relate and those who will cheerlead you no matter what. Keep equal parts around you at all times and lean on each other. Because as much as writing a book is a solitary act, becoming an author shouldn’t be.

Um… and here’s where the joke goes to lighten the mood. Cuz that was all kinds of serious.

What's your best advice to aspiring authors?

My *cough* 27 words of advice: Read voraciously. Write something every day. Be who you are in every word you put on the page, because kids sniff out fakers like it’s their job.

Super Secret: If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?

This is one of those questions like, ‘Who is your favorite musician?’ where I whine dramatically about “SOPHIE’S CHOICE!!” and beg off. I can never pick just one, and I’m sure it changes day to day. But if I’m selecting purely literary types, today my choices would be:

Agatha Christie, Terry Pratchett, and George MacDonald

In fact, I think a dinner party with those three will be part of my heaven.

Find Heather online:
Heather's LiveJournal
Heather tweets! And she's doing #yafrezy in the month of April. Click here to find out more and join this writing party on twitter with Heather (and me)!
Read Heather's journey--and her query letter--on QT.

54 comments:

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Thanks yet again for another great post! And congrats for your success Heather!

Bish Denham said...

Great interview! All these stories are very inspirational. Thanks Heather and Elana.

Aubrie said...

You made a good point about musicians having a lot of drive as well and so totally right! A lot of what I learned as a musician has helped me with writing.

Your preparing for the zombie apolocalype, too! At least someone else will be there with me :)

Jen said...

The girl with the mojo!!! I love it!!!

What an awesome interview! Elana you rock my socks off!!! I am loving these!!

Cheree said...

Love the interview. Congrats to Heather. These set of posts are great.

Liza said...

Talented and stubborn - probably the most successful of combinations. Wonderful interview Heather. Thank you Elana!

Christina Lee said...

VERY inspirational Heather--thanks for the boost this morning!

Piedmont Writer said...

Thank you thank you thank you for this interview TODAY! It really helps.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I'm loving all the inspiration this week. Great interview both of you

Kristi Faith said...

Great interview! Heather-I can't wait to see your book come out! Sounds fascinating. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

Candyland said...

I hate the waiting too!!! Great interview, again!

foldingfields said...

Really like what she had to say about the process of waiting and perservering in regards to publishing...believing in what you write, being authentic because it can't be faked. so cool!

Theresa Milstein said...

Her voice shines through in this interview, so I imagine her book must be awesome.

I also like the writing authentically. If we're not being ourselves, we know it too and the writing sounds forced.

Alissa said...

Heather's writing story is great, and her tweets are always entertaining. Thanks for this interview!

Ann Marie Wraight said...

I would say that in order to SUCCEED as an artist, there has to be more than just a splash of 'narcissm' ...combined with the patience of a Buddhist monk of course...
Loved the interview!
Thanks Heather and Elana!

Lisa said...

Waiting is by far the worst thing! Thanks for a great interview :)

Matthew Rush said...

As usual Elana, thanks for posting, but the real credit goes to Heather on this one.

"I think, though, that the hardest part is hanging onto that spark inside you that really believes in your own talent, no matter what happens or how many stories you read or rejections you receive."

That's brilliant. It has a certain Zen to it. Words to live by.

Susan R. Mills said...

I'm really enjoying these interviews. This one hit home with the part about believing in your work. Thanks to both of you.

Mary McDonald said...

I love that 'submit to my will' thing. I'll have to keep that in mind as I continue my query process. lol. These success stories are inspirational. Thanks for posting them, Elana.

LynnRush said...

Awesome. Thanks for sharing this. Love reading these!!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Great advice!

~Jamie said...

Heather keeps me sane. Every author needs a sanity partner--trust me.

catwoods said...

"...because kids sniff out fakers like it's their jobs."

How true.

Thanks for the inspiring interview.

kathymccullough said...

Wow, I love Heather's attitude! She seems really awesome -- a great role model. There was never any way she would NOT have succeeded with her drive and confidence. Great interview!

KM said...

I so love George MacDonald! And the maniacal laughter was a nice touch. ;)

angfla said...

I love this series of success storiesA It gives me something to shoot for.

angfla said...

Umm, not sure how that capital A got in there. Sorry.

Linda G. said...

Yet another great interview--this week has been fantastic! The best part is finding out about all these wonderful books due to come out. :)

Crystal Cook said...

Have I told you yet how much I love this series? Everyday I leave your blog feeling so inspired!

Heather's words particularly moved me today. So glad she found success.

Thanks :)

Carolyn V. said...

Another great interview! I'm way excited for Heather! =) Plus Elana I love how you guys are asking each author if they felt like giving up. I've always wondered. =)

Lydia Kang said...

I so appreciate the positive voice we need to keep going. Thank for the great interview!

Crimey said...

Heather congrats and great advice!

Crimey said...

Heather congrats and great advice!

lisanowak said...

I've loved reading all of these, but this one particularly resonates with me. Especially this line, "...you also have to be able to read your own words and think, “My GOD that’s brilliant,” know deep down that others will feel that way too, and then work like you never have before to connect with those people."

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the great advice. You are so right that you have to keep believing in yourself while constantly hearing no and worrying about all the times your little steps might not lead to a big success. Can't wait to read your book.

Elana Johnson said...

Isn't Heather made of WIN?? Yes, yes she is. I'm so glad you guys are finding the interviews inspiring and useful, and I hope you can be on my blog one day!! Wouldn't that be awesomesauce??

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

That would be awesomesauce indeedee!

Alyssa said...

I love the point she makes about keeping that spark of belief alive. So important! These type of posts, this blog and all the other wonderful writers blogs really help me do that. Thanks everyone!


PS My first order of business when I get my deal is to email you, Elana, with a request to be interviewed!

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Fantastic interview! You know what I've noticed in all these interviews? Everyone's answer to "What's the hardest part..." is "waiting." This is sinking in and truly helping me understand the timeline between typing The End and learning your book's going to sell in stores.

As always, I'm more inspired than ever by Heather's words, and those of her peers who were interviewed this week. GREAT series!

Heather, I can't wait to read your book!

Elana, thanks again, sista!

Talli Roland said...

Another great one, Elana! Thanks so much to you and Heather. Totally loving this series.

(I think you should do one on authors with great haircuts. Think of all the hair joy we could get!)

Michelle McLean said...

wonderful interview! Congrats Heather - can't wait to read your book :)

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

And...another awesome interview. I feel like I sound like a broken record this week, but these interviews are all so inspiring. I love how each person is different and has different challenges, but they all find their way and make it. Very inspiring. Thanks for organizing such a great week!

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Musil said...

Heather's answers had me saying my own "Amens" and cracking up. Great interview!

Amy Holder said...

Great interview and fabulous advice to writers!!!

Travis Gors said...

The entirety of this post is made of 100% pure awesomesauce from WINderland.

Rebecca Knight said...

Just, wow :). This is exactly what I needed to hear this week. I bookmarked this, because it's very motivational for me.

Thank you for this, ladies!

beth said...

Oh, this sounds brilliant. Cool!

Jemi Fraser said...

Okay - off to practice --- Dear God, this sucks!!! --- Dear God, this is Brilliant!!! --- Dear...

Gread advice :)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Waiting seems to be what people hate most. Love these interviews :)
Best Bedtime Story Ever!

Slamdunk said...

Nicely done Elana. Being genuine despite the pressure to appear as more than we are--super advice.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

This is a very informative series, Elana!

And you have an award at my blog today.

Lisa and Laura said...

Oh my gosh, Heather, I love your serious advice. Good. Stuff. Great interview Elana! What a fabulous week this was!

Liz H. Allen said...

Fantastic. Heather's advice is practical and something I can relate to. It also sets my stomach in knots to think I might, one day, be submitting my work.

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