Author Interview: Lauren Karcz

Gallery of Unfinished GirlsHi friends! Sorry I haven’t been blogging as much. This is pretty much how well I’m balancing teaching, plus writing, plus trying to exercise, and have some kind of life. But I’m completely thrilled to have an interview with Lauren Karcz for you today. Her debut YA The Gallery of Unfinished Girls comes out tomorrow, and I can’t wait to read it.

When developing the story, did you begin with plot, character, or setting?

Characters, for sure. Three of the main characters in Gallery — protagonist Mercedes, her sister Angela, and her best friend Victoria — go way, way back with me. I started writing about them when I was in middle school, and they featured in all kinds of stories, from contemporary romances to mysteries to adventure stories. I carried those girls with me as I grew up, as I became their ages and then surpassed them. I think Mercedes and Victoria were aspirational characters for me at the beginning, but they’ve necessarily evolved over the years. I could always identify with parts of them, and aspire to parts of their personalities, while also acknowledging their flaws. And so I returned to them again and again. Continue reading

Query Letter Construction

I’ve written a little bit about querying and how I got my agent (still in a state of disbelief). When I was developing my query (both times) I really appreciated how many writers provided their own query letters and how many agents did public query critiques. When I was still in college, I devoured Query Shark. Later, the successful queries on Writer’s Digest became one of my must-read features. And Jackie Lea Sommers’s (author of Truest) blog post about writing her query is something I’ve returned to time and time again. I also was lucky enough to read hundreds of queries while interning at a literary agency and had many teachers advise me through my MFA program.

There are lots of Internet resources to learn more about writing a query and many different opinions on how to structure the letter. But in case anyone is curious, here’s what worked for me!  Continue reading

The really really really long story of how I got my agent

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Yay for friends giving me congratulations pie and macarons and cards and getting to celebrate getting an agent with my family!!!

Last week, I made the exciting announcement (with an incredibly cheesy Jane Eyre pun!) that I signed with a literary agent. In case anyone is curious, here is a longer version of what happened and what this means.

Most publishers won’t look at un-agented work these days. Authors need an agent to represent them, kind of like a trusted middle-man to vouch for your book. This doesn’t mean I have a book deal or that my book is going to be published, but I am one step closer now that I have the wonderful Samantha Wekstein at Writers House representing me.

People say all the time that you don’t need to live in New York City or have friends who work in publishing to get an agent. This is true! But both played a pivotal role in how I got my agent. Continue reading

Sensitivity, Writing, & Grief

I have always, always been a sensitive person. Sometimes this serves me well, like in my writing. Sometimes it doesn’t, like in the fifth grade. Despite (or perhaps because of) this sensitivity, I tend to spend a lot of time in my head. It’s less overwhelming than living in the world of my feelings. This means that when things aren’t going well, like in the last month or so, I spend a lot of time trying to understand why. This is a completely futile exercise, but one I have a hard time stopping. Especially late at night. Continue reading

Book Riot News

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Pretty much since I started blogging here, I’ve been reading Book Riot. They were woke to the need for diverse books way before me (even before the hashtag). And they always, always lived up to their tagline: always books, never boring. For a few years, I’ve considered applying to write for them, but I’ve never felt brave enough.

This year, I summoned my courage and applied.

I wrote two try-out posts for them. One piece started as a post I almost put on this blog about boys often go through school without reading much or anything about the female experience. In particular, I wrote about how in middle school we read the play version of Anne Frank instead of the original source because the boys were uncomfortable with how personal the diary is.

In the second piece, I wrote about fat girls in romance novels. Both posts are personal, but this one was much harder to write. I stressed about whether to use the word fat. I stressed about admitting so publicly that I read romance novels. I stressed about how much to reveal about my experiences with body image and weight. But I was also really, really proud of what I wrote.

And I guess personal and scary and stressful works well on the Internet, because they offered me a contributor spot. I’m really excited to have another platform to talk about books on and to get paid for my writing for the first time ever (even though it’s probably not that much).

So that’s my news. Hope everyone else is having a fun and productive Wednesday!

I Did It!

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I just hit send on my last turn in of my thesis to my advisor. There will still be a little bit of work and polishing to do before I’m officially done, but this was the big deadline. The one I’ve been working towards all semester. Craziness. I don’t have much time to write or reflect on my emotions, because I have an hour to turn around and go to a mixer with editors and agents at my school tonight (also craziness). But I’m feeling so happy and proud of myself (I did finish a draft of the novel) and supported. Friends sent an amazing care package and flowers and got me pumpkin cheese cake to get me through this week. Even more sent nice comments through this blog or text messages or other social media.

I have no idea how I’ll feel tomorrow … or once I get the notes back on the draft from my advisor. But right now I feel filled with joy and very blessed.