When I first joined Twitter, one of the people I met was author Jen Malone. Her author website drew me in. Then I read her bio and found there was a long version and a short version-- an official bio and a not-so-official bio.
Jen's entire bio is enchanting. Here's an example: "I met my husband on the
highway. Literally. He passed my car and I made a face at him (I was
with my BFF and we sometimes- fine, often- did
silly stuff like make faces at total strangers). Then HE made a face
back at me the next time we passed, which was both nerdy and cool. I
happen to like nerdy and cool. So I wrote my BFF's cell phone number
(because this was the Dark Ages and I didn't own a cell phone yet) on a
piece of paper and held it up to the window. He called. We married.
There was some dating in between."
This person was already Double-AA-OK in my book!
Then in the run-up to #PitchWars on Twitter, Jen graciously offered free critiques for query letters. I sent her the query letter for the book I am now writing. While free is always good, as starving artists will agree, what struck me about Jen's offer was not the price but the spirit in which it was offered.
The comments she offered on that query letter were fact-based, on the skill of writing, rather than personal-opinion based. She kept her suggestions upbeat and encouraging while still noting what could and should be fixed. She was professional, delivering much-needed advice and support at the same time.
I've paid much more for advice that was delivered in a snarky, personal-opinion-based manner and was much more critical than constructive. I say, bring on all the criticism you can to help me make the work better, as long as it is constructive.
Given Jen's style, it is no surprise I gravitated to her editing "un-blog," as she calls it. There, she posts excerpts from posts she has contributed to other writing blogs, and it is where she houses her editing services. I'm excited to say Jen will be taking her red pen to Boxed Set's first 50 pages and its query letter. I'm excited because I know her comments and constructive criticism can only serve to make the manuscript tighter and stronger and the query letter more compelling.
I'm thrilled to be meeting Jen this Friday at the 2014 Baltimore Book Festival, in her hometown. Jen will be speaking 12-1 Friday Sept. 26 at the Enoch-Pratt Library's children's stage and signing her book, At Your Service afterwards. This may be her first book, which recently launched at the end of August 2014, but the amazing Jen has at least, count 'em, four more books on contract and coming out in the next couple of years. As if her previous life as a publicist for Miramax Films and 20th Century Fox was not exciting enough!
Jen writes for 'tweens and teens--Middle Grade (MG) and Young Adult (YA) fiction. I just finished At Your Service, and although I exceed the target audience age range for MG by just a little bit, I was enthralled by this sweet story. The first three words of the book are: Oh. Holy. Yikes. I was a goner. The cover is just perfect also. No one is too old to enjoy this book. Judge for yourself. The blurb which follows is from Jen's site. The picture is of my copy, which I will be getting signed Friday for a special 'tween I know. I'm looking forward to getting to know Jen and working with her.
Turner has pretty much the BEST life. She gets to live in the super
fancy Hotel St. Michele, New York City is her home town and her dad
Mitchell Turner, concierge extraordinaire, is teaching her all the
secrets of the business so she can follow in his footsteps. After
helping him out with a particularly difficult kid client, Chloe is
appointed the official junior concierge tending to the hotel’s smallest,
though sometimes most demanding, guests.
Her new position comes with tons of perks like cupcake parties,
backstage passes to concerts, and even private fittings with the hippest
clothing designers. But Chloe hasn’t faced her toughest challenge yet.
When three young royals, (including a real-life PRINCE!) come to stay,
Chloe’s determined to prove once and for all just how good she is at her
job. But the trip is a disaster, especially when the youngest
disappears. Now it’s up to Chloe to save the day. Can she find the
missing princess before it becomes international news?"