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.
SP: Hey MJ! So excited to have you on the Spinning Pen! Before we get started, we want to hear about YOU and your writing journey! What made you want to write and what’s a fun fact you don’t mind sharing?
I loved writing ever since I was a kid. It was a way for me to escape and be creative. I loved reading stories, writing my own version of them when I was done reading (I guess that’s early fanfic?) I also liked to write little serial stories starring my friends and then pass them out every week for them to read. By middle school I was writing fantasy novels by hand but when I got to high school I had to focus on getting a “real job”. Two degrees, a soul-sucking job, and a two kids later I returned to my love of writing, deciding to make a career out of it.
Fun fact: My first published novel was in the 3rd grade. Our teacher had us write and illustrate our own stories. Then she bound them and put them in the school library for the everyone to check out. I still have that book to this day!
SP: Hey Kristy! So glad to have you here on the Spinning Pen. 😊 Before we get started, we want to hear about YOU and your writing journey! What made you want to write and what’s a fun fact you don’t mind sharing?
Ciao— (to say Hello from working on my current novel, set in WW2 Rome. . .) Thanks for inviting me to stop by!
Is it okay to say that becoming an author wasn’t on my radar? While that was a dream job I’d never considered chasing at the time, I DID love visual storytelling in childhood and still do.
When we were young, our mom took my sister and me to the library every week in the summers. I have vivid memories of sitting on the floor in the book aisles, thumbing through thick volumes of Disney animation and art history books. That was when I truly fell in love with stories. But not being gifted in art enough to paint or sculpt or draw as a profession. . . I thought that meant I couldn’t create. It wasn’t until I went to school for art history that I realized a storyteller can (and does!) paint, but we do it with words.
In literature, the Reclusive Hero is someone who tends to work in the shadows. They know what needs to be done and have a clear idea in their mind of what they need to do, but they prefer to keep their abilities hidden or—at bare minimum—avoid the spotlight. Once their work is completed, they’ll often slip back into the shadows until forced to emerge once again.
Two of my favorite Reclusive Heroes are Sherlock Holmes (who became a legend only because of the masterful storytelling of Watson) and James Scott Bell’s Mike Romeo. Both characters are well-read in matters that interest them, adept at problem solving, and quite comfortable spending the bulk of their time lost in their own thoughts. Unfortunately both have a low tolerance for spending any amount of time around groups of people, as they often find social activities to be rather draining on the nerves.
In literature, the Romantic Hero is an eternal optimist. They somehow know how to turn even the most desperate of situations into an opportunity and—to the outsider at least—may appear to rebound quickly from setbacks. In truth they keenly feel every bump and bruise. They just stubbornly choose to believe that the heartache is worthwhile, that each obstacle and roadblock is temporary, and that their eventual victory will be all the sweeter for all the tears.
Cress and Winter from The Lunar Chronicles are two of my favorite examples of romantic heroes. I love the way that Marissa Meyers took two fairy tales about damsels in distress and transformed them into examples of women of substance. Despite the cruel abuses they suffered at the hands of a wicked Queen, they still held onto their hope of seeing a better world for their people. They didn’t just work within the system they lived, they found ways around it—not to benefit themselves in the short-term, but to benefit others in the long-run.
“[The queen’s] words carried too much weight, but Winter didn’t try to decipher them. She was busy nudging at the girl with her toe, gesturing for her to get into the crate.“
SP: Hey John! So glad to have you here on the Spinning Pen! Not only are you Medium famous but your slogans for a certain unnamed major tech company, are literally everywhere. Can you get me an autographed version of one of those airport billboards, because that would be great! Ok, putting on my semi serious hat…let’s talk about YOU and WRITING!
SP:You crank out a plethora of witty articles on Medium, have 52K followers, and an incredibly active fan base who regularly engage with your writing. How did you build this mighty empire??
JG: So, I kinda built it on accident. I wrote most of my pieces between 2014 and 2017 for an audience of no one. I jotted them down on Medium just to get them out of my own head, and if people read them (narrator: they didn’t), then all the better. Late in 2017, I had a story go viral and so I started 2018 by re-releasing my entire back-catalog of essays in the first 100 days. That put me over the “top”—to the extent that Medium semi-fame is “top”—and now here we are.
SP: People talk a lot about the importance of voice and finding it. It’s like the newest click-bait for authors. You, however, have a truly raw and authentic voice that’s refreshing. What has your journey been on the path to finding your voice? Or was it ever lost to begin with?