Stephanie Perkins Blog About Stephanie Books On Writing News Extras



2.01.2009

I (Heart) My Writer-Friends

Sumner (wearing AWESOME boots and striped socks, wish you could see), Random Blue-Haired Chick, and Paula (sans diamond-encrusted gourmet chef's hat)


Aren't we cute??? This picture was taken last weekend during a very special celebration dinner. Paula and Sumner are two of my sharpest, smartest Writing Weapons. In other words, they are my readers.

My Early Readers.

A good Early Reader should never be taken for granted. Not only will she tell you all the wonderful things about your novel, comments that make you feel tingly and sparkly inside (and praise is truly necessary to keep going, I don't say that lightly), but she ALSO has to be unflinchingly honest. Someone willing to say things like:

"I'm just not loving your main character right now."
"That's cheesy. Cut it."
"Huh? I don't get it."
"I don't believe this part."
"Why? No, seriously, WHY?"

Paula and Sumner say these things. Often. Frequently. And THANK GOODNESS they do! I am a much, much better writer thanks to their questions, thanks to our lunchtime meet-ups to brainstorm what the HECK is going on with my plot, and thanks to their encouraging emails which move me forward, which give me the energy to FINISH.

If you are a writer, I sincerely hope you have such wonderful writer-friends as I do.

So, the celebration!

After my happy happy agent news, I was lucky to have many celebrations last month. January was an endless stream of phone calls, emails, cards, flowers, plants, a gorgeous and meaningful necklace (Thanks, Lauren!), carrot cake cupcakes, and a really really really awesome pizza party (YUM! Thank you, Tai & Staci!).

My friends and family are incredible. It was overwhelming to be surrounded by such support and happiness, and I am grateful. (And I can't wait to celebrate all of THEIR future accomplishments.)

But last weekend's celebration was something extra special. Because without Paula and Sumner's help, I wouldn't even have a completed novel. So I certainly wouldn't have an agent. It was as much their celebration as it was mine!

They surprised me with a stunning French gourmet dinner, made all the more impressive because my friends are vegetarian, and French food is soooo meat-intensive. For them to go out of their way to find the right recipes and cook such an amazing meal, so we could celebrate in the true French fashion (if you recall, my novel is set in Paris), was . . . well. I'm teary thinking about it.

Thank you. You ladies are the BEST.

My only wish is that some day Laini Taylor, my other Early Reader, will be able to join us! Laini is an AMAZING feedbacker, a relentless plot-fixer and plot-tightener and plot-thinker, wielder of pretty pink pens and smart questions and lots and lots and lots of very welcome smiley faces and hearts.


Ha! Swiped from her blog. (She's the one on the right.)


Laini also writes killer-funny emails, and has the supernatural power of always knowing exactly the perfect thing to say at all times. But she is also LAME because she lives in PORTLAND which is on the OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTRY.

Which makes coffee dates very difficult.

She also just shared with me the first installment of her work-in-progress, and -- holyfriggingcrap, you guys -- it's AMAAAAZING! And I can't say anything about it, other than the world will wet their collective pants when they discover how supremely perfect and exciting and romantic and wondrous it is.

I love it. LOVE. IT!

And speaking of writer-friends, I have a *new* acquaintance who also just shared her latest. Kiersten White! I had the honor of reading Paranormalcy, and let's just say I'm kinda freaking out. She wrote it in three weeks, you guys. Three. WEEKS! And it's funny and exciting, and it's got a great hook and a Very Cute Boy. Teens and adults will snarf this thing up. Big big big congratulations, Kiersten.

(This, I should mention, is the other fantastic thing about writer-friends. Getting to read THEIR work before everyone else! Ha!)

Of course, there is one more person who needs mentioning here. One more Early Reader. My First Reader.

Every author has a First Reader, the one whose opinion means everything to them. The one who without that encouraging smile, without those words of excitement, it's not worth going on. Mine?

Jarrod. Of course!


I love this picture of him wrocking out. (And yes! That IS a Jayne hat!)


Last weekend, Jarrod sat on the floor of my writing room and went through the last third of my novel -- scene by scene, sentence by sentence. This took HOURS. He talked me through each action, helped me figure out what-should-go-where, and together we restructured it until it clicked. Had I attempted this alone, I would still be sorting through the pages of notes and outlines and brainstorms.

And my end result wouldn't be nearly so clean or smart.

Thanks for being my First Reader, love. For always being my First Reader.

10 comments:

  1. Ooh, that IS a cute picture! Hooray for your hubby!

    And yay for writer friends! I wrote my first book without them and, well, no one is ever, ever going to see it, and that's a good thing.

    But most of all hooray for STEPHANIE! Seriously, still SO pleased with your editorial notes and excited over the edits, and I haven't even seen all of them yet!

    I can't wait until you are a world famous author and I can totally tell people I knew you when AND you were instrumental in making Paranormalcy awesome...

    Also, you and your friends are babes. And you and Laini are really making me wish I had cool hair...

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  2. Writer friends do rock. And it looks like you have some seriously awesome ones! My goodness, I want colored hair so bad right now.

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  3. I love your top and your necklace! You have the cutest clothes!!! And it's good to see a pic of Sumner and Paula and put faces to the names. You ARE really lucky to have good local writer friends! I'm very glad to be [finally] making friends in the Portland writing community. Of course, it goes without saying that it is YOU who are lame for living in North Caroline and not in Portland, but what we REALLY need is access to a certain doorway so we can meet in certain other cities for things like mint tea and poisoned goulash!

    :-)

    (Can't wait to read the next draft! And Jarrod DOES totally wrock for doing that!)

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  4. It's imperative to have good, kind, supportive, honest critters. I'm glad you have some rockin' ones.

    Love Jarrod in that hat!

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  5. Kiersten -- It's easy to make editorial notes when a book is THAT GOOD! I'm relieved they'll be helpful. And we're totally achieving superstar status together, remember? Sometime around next Wednesday?

    Natalie -- I see you with a bright orange bob :)

    Laini -- Hello, YOU have the cutest clothes! I can only aspire to your great taste. Either that, or I can aspire to find the magic doorway and take it to your closet. Don't be surprised if you find that gorgeous turqouise blue coat missing.

    lotus -- Critters! Cute!!

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  6. I've got my own writer friend, here--Katie my blog partner. Whew! I couldn't function without her. She gives the encouragement and criticism that keeps me going.

    She's especially great for those times I'm standing on a ledge about to fling my WIP into the abyss in a fit of frustration and self doubt.

    Yay writer friends!!

    Sarah Frances
    plotthis.blogspot.com

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  7. I'm totally counting down to Wednesday. It's been taking way too long.

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  8. Hooray for lovely friends! There's nothing nicer than a friend who cooks for you.

    And also you have happy-making hair. I asked my mom if I could dye mine and this is what she said: "Sure!" And I was reallly happy until she said:
    "If you want to make yourself ugly, I'm not stopping you."

    grrr

    (ps Gred and Forge wrocks!)

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  9. Landed here via Kiersten and

    "A good Early Reader should never be taken for granted. Not only will she tell you all the wonderful things about your novel, comments that make you feel tingly and sparkly inside (and praise is truly necessary to keep going, I don't say that lightly), but she ALSO has to be unflinchingly honest."

    I was recently trying to explain/describe what I want in a proof reader and why the first person reading it HAS to generally love my work for them to be effective in critiquing. You put it so clearly.

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  10. Lexi -- Ohhh, I feel your pain! I didn't dye my hair for YEARS because of what I thought my family would say. (And your other comment made my husband happy! Thank you!)

    Sylvia -- Welcome to my blog, and thanks for the nice comment!!

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