Tuesday, May 12, 2009

From Mushroom Farmer to Word Wrangler: Author Denise Jaden

Denise Jaden is one of those people who seems to have done everything, from farming mushrooms to dancing professionally. And now with her forthcoming novel from Simon Pulse she can add "Author" to her ecclectic resume. Go Denise!

Here's her deal report from Publisher's Marketplace:

Denise Jaden's LOSING FAITH, about a teenage girl whose quest to solve the mystery of her sister's death leads her to a strange religious cult, to Anica Rissi at Simon Pulse, for publication in 2010, by Michelle Humphrey at Sterling Lord Literistic (NA).

Welcome, Denise! Can you tell us how you met your agent?
I met my agent through the blind query process. I know a lot of aspiring writers think this never happens and that those who have agents "know" somebody, but for me this was not the case. I kept an eye on the Verla Kay "Blueboards" and sent out a few queries at a time to agents who were actively pursuing young adult fiction and sounded like a good fit for my book.

Can you tell us how your book deal happened?
In October, 2008 I attended the Surrey International Writers Conference. I still didn't have an agent at this point, but I did sit down with several at the conference to pitch my book to. I also pitched it to Anica Mrose Rissi, Senior Editor from Simon Pulse. Anica loved the idea for my book and invited me to send her the full manuscript. I chose to hold back from sending right away after the conference, and instead kicked up my efforts to find an agent first. Once I had found a wonderful agent (Michelle Humphrey from Sterling Lord), we made plans to submit my manuscript to Anica and several other editors. The whole process went fairly quickly for me. I attended the conference in October, found my agent in November, submitted to editors by the end of January, and had an offer from Simon Pulse by the beginning of March.

What was the inspiration for your 2010 debut book and how long did it take you to write?
LOSING FAITH was inspired by a couple of incidents I experienced as a teen. A close friend of mine was killed by a drunk driver when I was in tenth grade. This influenced the way I shaped LOSING FAITH around the loss of a sister. A few years after high school, I experienced a second tragedy, another car accident with another death (no alcohol involved), but this time I was at fault. Writing my character through her grief, guilt and eventual forgiveness was cathartic for me as an author as well as the basis for a great character journey.

I wrote LOSING FAITH during National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo) in November 2007. That's when over a hundred thousand writers around the world attempt to write a novel in one month. Well, I did it! But that's not saying I had a saleable book after thirty days (not at all!). In fact, I spent the month of September beforehand on a thorough outline of the book. Since LOSING FAITH is a mystery, I really needed to have clues and, more importantly, a satisfying solution in place before starting the actual writing. The first draft took me 21 days, and then between passing it back and forth to critique partners as well as revising, I spent about another eight months on it.

What's your publication date and where in the process are you now?
My release is scheduled for fall of 2010 (I'm still waiting on a more specific date). I am currently working on the first round of revisions.

Other than writing, tell us about some of your other jobs and/or hobbies.
Let's see...I've been a mushroom farmer, jewelry manager, fitness & strength competitor, and church secretary. At the moment, I split my time between writing and homeschooling my five year old son. I'm also a professional Polynesian dancer and have traveled worldwide as a feature dancer/dance captain of my dance troupe.

What are you working on now?
I have several novels in various stages of revision. BELLY UP is about a pregnant teen who fights to keep her baby despite the pleas of her emotional and infertile mother. APPETITE FOR BEAUTY is about an insecure teen who discovers her perfect sister's life-threatening secret and tries to intervene before it's too late.

Do you have any words of wisdom for writers trying to get published?
Writing for yourself first and foremost will make your writing more honest and believable. It may also give you peace of mind in the sometimes long process toward publication.

Where can we find out more about you on the web?
My website can be found at www.denisejaden.com, where I also have links to Facebook, Twitter and Live Journal.

Thanks Denise! Cults have always been one of my pet fascinations, so I can't wait to read this one...


Jennie Englund said...

Another super interview!

It's nice to read several of these, because you start seeing certain themes: how revision is a longer process than writing, how persistency pays off with getting an agent, how fast things can go when the ball starts rolling.

Mostly, it's inspiring, in a job/hobby where a little inspiration goes a really long way.

Tank you, Denise, and thank you, Christy!

Casey said...

I just love these interviews, Christy!

Another upcoming book to watch out for!

Anonymous said...

Terrific interview! Thanks Denise and Christy. :)

Anonymous said...

These writers are as amazing as their books. Can't wait to read all of hers. thenks to both of you.

Anne Spollen said...

You are such a great interviewer --I want to read an interview about YOUR book next. ; )

Shelli said...

Great interview - as always!

Angie Frazier said...

Denise's book sounds wonderful, and knowing the process of her writing it, her emotional ties to her characters, only promises to make the novel even more irresistible! Great interview!

Paul Äertker said...

Great interview, but I'd like to know more about those mushrooms! |:~)