November 22, 2011

Young Love (for Writing)

I discovered this young author, Jenna Gustafson, on Book Dreaming and she agreed to guest post for me.  I hope you'll be encouraged by her journey!

My love for writing began with books.  I’m young enough to still remember going up to my mom, the same books as yesterday clutched in my pudgy arms, and demanding that she read to me.  Mom would give me a resigned smile and read me the stories that my brother, Jade, and I knew by heart.  I’m sure most parents out there can relate.
Books have always been my escape from the world, as they are for all book worms.  Oh the joy of diving into someone else’s life, someone else’s tale!
I loved spinning my own tales, too.  Jade and I went through a phase of putting on “plays and musicals” for mom and dad in our basement.  When I was nine, I began using journaling as my expressive outlet.  I’ve been writing ever since.
Another fun fact about me:  I have always loved creating challenges for myself, big or small. Could I ride a bike with no training wheels?  Could I be a ballerina?  Could I run over three miles?  And in seventh grade, could I publish a book successfully?
I suppose you could call my book, Saving Fort Smoky, Experiment A.   I began weaving my story in a small seventh grade English class, in a small school, in a small town.  I had a big imagination and a big, slightly crazy idea…

Of getting published.  Young.

  Thus, I hurriedly banged out a story in three weeks time and edited it for the “A” in English class.  I didn’t stop there.  Curious about the publishing world to which I was very ignorant, I spent most of my summer on the computer.   Day after day I researched publishers until my eyes fell out of my head.  Slowly, I learned the loop holes and labyrinths of getting accepted by a publisher.  I learned what publishers were scams.   I eventually found Tate Publishing.
Another key trait I developed throughout this time of research was persuasion.  Just imagine, one day your kid strolls in and declares that they are going to publish their homework into a book.  You smile and nod, knowing that this newfound determination and interest in being an author will probably fade.  Except, three months later, the passion still hasn’t died, and they present to you some publishers.  In a spreadsheet they present to you the pros and cons of each company, and more importantly, how much money each are wanting for the publishing.  Money is not to be taken lightly in this economical age, and let me tell you, it took a lot of hard work and presentations to persuade mom and dad to part with a good amount of money in honor of my dream.
At the time, that is all the published version of Saving Fort Smoky was; a dream.  Then I received a contract with Tate Publishing, a good Christian company.  We signed on with them.
The next couple of months were a blur of editing, layout, design, illustration, and web design.  I came out on the other side happy, with my new book in my hand.  It was wonderful.  I dove right into marketing with a determined and passionate mindset.
I sold, sold, sold, mainly around my community at craft shows.  Believe me, it isn’t glamorous  work, and readers didn’t beat a path to my table, but I was confident that writing, written by a kid, would be gobbled up by another kid.  The hard work is reaching your readers.
Eventually, I ran out of work in my area.  Now I’m relying on you guys to help me sell.  The Internet is a whole lot bigger than my small area in Montana, and I have no clue where to begin.  So thank you for helping me out. J
  My experiment has almost worked, and I have almost broken even.  I hope to write a real, well- written novel by the time I’m a freshman in college. 
Lastly, please remember this all came to be because I gave myself a challenge.  An experiment, to see if I could actually do what most adults only dream of.

Dear Adults,

QUIT DREAMING.  I did this “experiment” to not only prove something to myself, but to show people that accomplishments are not acquired by a magic potion,  gobs of money, or a major in persuasion.  All you have to do is try.  After all…

      “The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something could have materialized - and never knowing” - David Viscott

Good luck to fellow authors and writers!

You can buy Jenna's book from Tate Publishing or Amazon!

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  1. how cool is that!!!

    love and light

  2. Wow! I am amazed! Jenna's determination is definitely inspiring.

  3. Just shared on facebook. All the best of luck to Jenna. She sounds like she has the detemination to go far!

  4. Wow! I'd better get my butt in gear...been working on a book for almost three years now...


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