I’m a hustler, baby. I just want you to know.
This month, Brenda’s blog is doing something special. The Pitch Wars mentors are sharing specials moments of the past year and what our hopes are for the new year.
Mine are about books and family. And more importantly, how books are helping me live the kind of life I want with my little family.
I’m in awe of those overnight-success authors. I’m also in awe of the authors who have to claw their way to their publishing goals.
*Waves* I’m clawing.
The Cliff Notes version: I have some manuscripts that’ll probably never see the light of day. After participating in Pitch Wars in late 2013, I signed with my first agent in 2014. We shopped the novel for nearly a year, but only about a third of the editors even responded to my former agent. I did some soul searching. With a new manuscript, I signed with my agent, Stacey Glick, in early 2015.
Then this happened, in 2015, when I was nine months pregnant with my second kiddo.
I signed my very first book deal for BECOMING BONNIE, a Bonnie and Clyde origin story, with Tor Forge/Macmillan. And a few days later, my agent sold my TV/film rights!
These were big moments for me. Not simply because I dreamed endlessly of becoming a published author, but also because, at the moment, I had been a stay-at-home-mama, full-time advertising copywriter, author, and domestic diva (with my husband splitting half the duties) for nearly three years. And soon, I’d be a stay-at-home-mama of two, full-time advertising copywriter, author, and domestic diva.
If that sounds exhausting, it’s because it is. Some days, the only answer to my stress was tears. And wine (when I wasn’t pregnant).
But those two moments meant that maybe – sometime down the road – my writing would be financially enough (we’re very much a two-income family) for me to focus on my two dreams: my babes and my book babes.
At the end of 2015/start of 2016, I dove into my first-round edits for BECOMING BONNIE with my editor, Bess Cozby. I had three months to do them. The crazy thing about life, though, is that life loves complicated. My son was born in the middle of those edits. I kid you not. So, while I was on maternity leave from my day job, I took a week off to “newborn” before doing this, a lot:
To make life more wonderfully complicated, my agent said she had lunch with an editor from Scholastic. The editor had a big idea for a new narrative nonfiction series for middle graders. She asked my agent if she had any authors in mind. Yep. Me.
While my agent knew I had a lot on my plate, it was as if she also knew, although we never explicitly spoke about it, that I was willing to forgo sleep, food, and sanity in order to make my dreams come true. Hell, I was aching for the opportunity, even though, at the time, I knew very little about narrative nonfiction. Didn’t matter, I so badly wanted to be a stay-at-home mama who wrote books in her “free” time.
I repeated that, often, as an affirmation.
I got my edits for BECOMING BONNIE finished. I completed the proposal for Scholastic, after months of reading, researching, writing sample chapters, revising various versions of those chapters, and back and forth proposal tweaks with the editor. The end result was more than worth it:
Since then, my agent has continued to hustle right beside me, like the ninja agent she is. We’re on sub for a new middle grade novel, I have some more exciting news to announce soon, and, in the very near future, I’ll get to snuggle my first book baby. Chances are, I’ll cry, just like I did when holding my daughter and my son for the first time.
2016 was ca-ray-zy, in the best ways possible. But also in some difficult ways, manifesting itself as postpartum depression, some really scary family health concerns, an emotional breakdown, resulting in me impulsively quitting my day job (sorry, husband), and now, a depleting savings account (sorry, husband, again).
But 2017 – I’m looking forward to it! My three-year-old is insanely fun (if not insanely sassy), my son, who will be one in a couple days, is growing leaps and bounds, BECOMING BONNIE comes out on May 9th, I’m blogging as part of The Debutante Ball, and I’ve got three books to write and edit (all of ‘em coming out in 2018). It’s going to be busy, but also special, just like 2016 was, because I’m a hustler, baby, who will hopefully be one step closer to becoming a profitable stay-at-home-author mama.
I’d love for you to get a chance to read BECOMING BONNIE early. And look, there happens to be a giveaway for an ARC below.
Jenni L. Walsh spent her early years chasing around cats, dogs, and chickens in Philadelphia’s countryside, before dividing time between a soccer field and a classroom at Villanova University. She put her marketing degree to good use as an advertising copywriter, zip-code hopping with her husband to DC, NYC, NJ, and not surprisingly, back to Philly. There, Jenni’s passion for words continued, adding author to her resume. She now balances her laptop with a kid on each hip, and a four-legged child at her feet.
For the mamas, BECOMING BONNIE is her debut novel that tells the untold story of how church-going Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the 1920s.
For the kiddos, the BRAVE LIKE ME series is her middle grade debut that features true stories from heroic women who, at a young age, accomplished daring feats of perseverance and bravery.
GIVEAWAY: ARC of BECOMING BONNIE by Jenni L. Walsh
The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family’s poverty, provide for herself, and maybe someday marry her boyfriend, Roy Thornton. But when Roy springs a proposal on her and financial woes jeopardize her ambitions, Bonnelyn finds salvation in an unlikely place: Dallas’s newest speakeasy, Doc’s.
Living the life of a moll at night, Bonnie remains a wholesome girl by day, engaged to Roy, attending school and working toward a steady future. When Roy discovers her secret life, and embraces it—perhaps too much, especially when it comes to booze and gambling—Bonnie tries to make the pieces fit. Maybe she can have it all: the American Dream, the husband, and the intoxicating allure of jazz music. What she doesn’t know is that her life—like her country—is headed for a crash.
She’s about to meet Clyde Barrow.
Few details are known about Bonnie’s life prior to meeting her infamous partner. In Becoming Bonnie, Jenni L. Walsh shows a young woman promised the American dream and given the Great Depression, and offers a compelling account of why she fell so hard for a convicted felon—and turned to crime herself.