Pen Friends ~ Please welcome YA Author and Podcast Host Laura Juntunen talking about her new post-apocalyptic, sci-fi series, THE SHOCKWAVE; publishing journey; fabulous podcast, Read It With Whiskey; and so much more! I’m so excited to introduce you to Laura!
SP: Hi Laura! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey?
There are many ways that characters come to you. Sometimes the character’s voice might show up in your head. The character might come after your setting. Other times, they might show up as you are writing. There’s no wrong way to do it, but how do you create characters that seem real?
Do you have social media? What’s your favorite platform? Instagram? Twitter?Facebook? TikTok? Snapchat? Other? How do you balance your time between social media and writing time? Is it possible to do both well? I think the answer is yes.
For this article, I’m going to focus on Instagram or my Bookstagram, as I call my account. This means it’s an Instagram that focuses on books. It is one of the highlights of my day meeting other readers, writers, and authors. The people on Instagram remind me that I’m not the only one that struggles with mental health or is in the query trenches. It’s a great way to make connections. Instagram is a lot of fun, but it can take a lot of time.
As someone who was reading books entirely too old for me at an age when most of my peers were still thumbing through chapter books, I’ve always loved when I flipped a page to see a map, illustrated chapter head, or even a full illustration hidden in pages of text. As an artist and life-long book geek, imagery in stories has remained important to me as I grew up. I think that’s why, when I got to a point where most of the books I was reading no longer boasted any art past the cover, I found myself going back to world or city maps placed at the front of fantasy books over and over.
SP: Hi Brianna! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to hear a bit about you and your writing journey!
BT: Thank you for having me! My writing journey feels like a voyage I’ve been on my entire life. I’ve always loved stories, and I have several old notebooks filled with my early attempts at novel writing. While they’re highly entertaining, the partial novels I wrote in elementary and middle school aren’t likely to ever see the light of day. I started treating being an author as a career in 2015, after finishing my degree and getting a few years of work experience under my belt. Going to conferences, networking, learning from my peers, and steadily writing that entire time resulted in a lot of growth for me, and definitely led to all my successes so far!
SP: Word on the street is you just signed your first book deal! Wahoo and congrats! How does that feel? What was your response? Crying, sitting in shock, partying all night, or…?
BT: Yes, thank you! I’ve signed a book contract once before, for a children’s novel called The Knight in Battered Armor (released in 2019). This new contract is for my first ever full-length novel though, so it definitely feels like something big, new, and exciting! Because of an email I’d already been sent the week prior to the offer, I knew that a decision was coming soon, and I was on pins and needles, constantly refreshing my inbox. I was hoping for an offer, but didn’t know for sure what to expect.
It’s the evening after #PitMad and as usually goes, rejection haunts me.
You’d think I would be used to it by now. The trademark of being a writer is rejection. While there are always the lucky few who make their break early and fast, the majority of us writers slog through a plethora of rejections before finally getting that coveted book deal, agent, or movie deal.
And yet, it still hurts to refine your pitches, touch up your query letter and apply for yet another program or pitch your manuscript on Twitter—all for nothing. That empty inbox, that polite rejection email, the lack of likes on your PitMad tweets, staring back at you like an empty bag of chocolate.
SP: Hi Meg! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey! Sure! I started getting serious about writing back in 2014. By 2016, I was attending some writing conferences and had even finished a YA sci-fi book which I pitched to a few agents but didn’t get far with it. A few manuscripts/years later, I applied to Pitch Wars in a different genre, adult mystery, and got chosen by Kellye Garrett and Mia P. Manansala to be their mentee. Even though I worked really hard on that story, it didn’t go far in the query trenches. But while I was lamenting through query rejections, I started drafting a wild story about a girl and a wolf and a sled race! And that was the book that my agent’s grabbed out of their slush pile and is also about to become my debut at Wednesday Books.