Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blogtoberfest Day 22 - Jennifer Echols

The winner of Sydney Salter's My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters is...Sheila Deeth! If you've been paying attention, you might be thinking, heyyyyyy, Sheila already won another book. But I never stated in the rules that someone couldn't win twice. Random is random. One time at Atlantic City I saw a roulette wheel that had come up Number 5 four times in a row! This is much less weird than that.

Lesson learned, as they say in the military? You can (and should!) come back every day, especially since each time you comment, you're automatically entered into the humongo-jackpot-sweetness grand prize: a copy of every single YA book being given away this month. So come on back, now, y'hear?

Today's Blogtoberguest is Jennifer Echols, whose July 2009 release, Going Too Far, I just finished reading. It was phenomenal, one of the most emotionally honest books I've read in a long time. It made me think a lot about my own teenage years and why I did the things I did. (I don't have as good an excuse for my misbehavior as Jenn's protagonist, because real life just isn't as well justified as fiction. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. *whistles innocently*).

And I just read today that MTV Books and our brilliant mutual editor Jennifer Heddle has bought two more Echols romantic dramas, including July 2010's Forget You. Congrats, Jenn! (Both Jen(n)s, actually.)

Today Jennifer (Echols) is giving away a signed copy of her latest romantic comedy from Simon Pulse, The Ex-Games. But first, she wants to tell you about her not-so-little nekkid friend.

* * * *

Home Butt Heartsick

In 2000 I stopped writing. The rejections for manuscript #7 felt particularly harsh because I was pregnant and hormonal, and I just couldn’t do it for a while.

In 2001 my husband and I bought an older house in Birmingham, put our sweat and love into restoring every inch of it, and had the baby. We loved our neighborhood and our city, and we were thrilled to start our little family here. And then my husband got laid off.

In 2002 we moved to Atlanta, where he found another job. I was born in Atlanta and I’d spent some time there since. Certain parts of the city are great. Unfortunately, we were not living in the cool part. We were living in the burgeoning suburban hell part, where the houses are made of plastic and your neighbors move out every six months. My husband managed the night shift at a factory and slept during the day. So it was mostly me and the toddler and his temper tantrums, trying to be quiet so as not to wake the husband, alone, with no family or friends for support, in vinyl siding wasteland.

In 2003 I began writing again. The hormones had subsided and the self-doubt along with them. I wrote manuscript #8 and sent that out.

In 2004, I started manuscript #9. The Dixie Chicks’ CDs were being burned because they’d expressed a dissenting opinion against President Bush, and Tim McGraw had just gotten arrested for stealing a horse. Those events inspired Your Cheatin’ Heart, an adult romantic comedy about a wildly popular country band, The Cheatin’ Hearts, and the record company marketing expert sent down from New York to tame their public relations disaster of a lead singer--who turns out to be a lot smarter and savvier than he lets on. Briefly I thought about setting this book in a place I love, Key West. But I knew I’d hit on the right idea when I set it back in Birmingham.

At the climax of the book, the Cheatin’ Hearts play a Nationally Televised Holiday Concert Event on the Fourth of July at the base of the statue of Vulcan, an enormous iron statue that presides over downtown. Birmingham originated as a steel town, and Vulcan is the Roman god of the forge. That’s all fitting and proper...except that this version of Vulcan is wearing a smithy apron that does not wrap all the way around him. From downtown you see him in his smithy apron. From the back you see his naked booty mooning one of the most conservative states in the nation. Is it just me or is this hilarious? Somebody should write a romantic comedy about that! So I did. The whole book is a love letter to the quirky town I was homesick for.

In 2005, we moved back to Birmingham--thank goodness! Your Cheatin’ Heart never sold, but it did get me an agent, and that agent sold my first published novel, Major Crush, later that year. My road to publication was long and hard, and I never, ever take my success for granted. But it’s hard to let go of what might have been, and of all my unsold manuscripts, Your Cheatin’ Heart is the one I lament. I still think it’s my best work.

It’s on my mind today because I just took my son (now 8 years old and lovely with no temper tantrums in sight) to a concert at the base of the statue of Vulcan. I’m a huge Nickel Creek fan, and the chick from that band, Sara Watkins, has a new solo album out. I thoroughly enjoyed her performance and the beautiful fall afternoon, but it did begin to feel bittersweet when the band members exchanged comments all but ripped from my poor dead novel:

Bass player: You probably get asked this a lot by people who aren’t from Birmingham, but is that god wearing pants?

Crowd: Noooooooo!

Sara Watkins: If you were a god, would you wear pants?

* * * *

To enter to win a signed copy of The Ex-Games, leave a comment below. And remember, each comment automatically enters you in the drawing for the grand prize package: all 25 books!

For complete rules, read the introductory post.

Deadline for entry: Wednesday, November 4, 11:59pm Eastern. NOTE: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. The winner is van_pham!

Christine Marciniak and When Mike Kissed Emma
Tricia Mills and Heartbreak River
Simone Elkeles and Perfect Chemistry
Maggie Stiefvater and Ballad
Stephanie Kuehnert and Ballads of Suburbia
Carrie Jones and an ARC of Captivate

Thanks again to Jenn for sharing her personal story of coming home. I hope one day we all get to read Your Cheatin' Heart!

Labels: , ,


Reminded me so much (too much??) of my teenage years!!
I would love to win a book by Jennifer!


Posted by: Blogger Karen at 10/28/2009 8:56 AM

Hahah, yes, I'm afraid that I WOULD wear pants.

Posted by: Blogger Janicu at 10/28/2009 9:29 AM

This book sounds pretty good.

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Posted by: Blogger throuthehaze at 10/28/2009 9:47 AM

I'm afraid that I would wear pants too. I never knew that Tim McGraw stole a horse. I'll have to look into that!

Posted by: Blogger Melanie at 10/28/2009 10:27 AM

Enjoyed the post, sounds good!

Posted by: Blogger tetewa at 10/28/2009 11:05 AM

Melanie--Since you questioned it, I looked it up, and it seems I'm remembering it wrong. It was reported that Kenny Chesney stole a police horse, and Tim McGraw attacked the police for chasing Kenny Chesney. That sounds MUCH more likely, doesn't it? Both were eventually acquitted, but the horse-thief jokes continue to follow both of them.

Posted by: Blogger Jennifer Echols at 10/28/2009 11:43 AM

It's the bittersweet side of the arts. Some of the best performances are bottled up inside actors who are waiting tables; some of the best stories are hiding unpublished on a writer's computer. Hopefully Your Cheatin' Heart will see the light of day (or the binding of a book?) one day!

Posted by: Blogger Ken at 10/28/2009 1:16 PM

This book loves so funny and cute. I love they cover I can't wait to read it.

Posted by: Blogger cait045 at 10/28/2009 1:18 PM

Well, if I were a Roman god, I'd be more likely to wear a toga than actual pants, but a lot of them were depicted in the nude to display their heroic physiques. However, Vulcan was supposed to be that rarest of rare birds, a misshapen god, so maybe he'd be a little more shy.
Anyway, your books sound really cool! Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by: Blogger Kimberly B. at 10/28/2009 2:09 PM

If I were a god, I would wear pants, but I might just decree that Nathan Fillion had to go without.

I'm just sayin'....


Posted by: Blogger Cara King at 10/28/2009 3:19 PM

I guess if you are a god, you would believe that you are perfect and the world should feel entitled to see your bare skin. Hehe

Anyways your book sounds funny and cool. Thanks for stopping by. :]

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 10/28/2009 5:14 PM

Very true about the military. =] I'm in the Navy, just waiting to leave, and I hear that ALL the time. Hahaha.

Posted by: Blogger Tiffany Cunha at 10/28/2009 8:34 PM

Hi Jennifer~

I absolutely loved Going Too Far. It was so emotional and real. Did I mention that I loved it?

I would love to be entered!

Posted by: Blogger Lori T at 10/28/2009 10:21 PM

lol, what a story! I guess as a god, it would depend on whether I had modesty or not as to my wearing pants. lol

I bet getting that first book published was all the more sweeter for what you had to go to in order to get to that point.


Posted by: Blogger Asylumgirl at 10/28/2009 10:50 PM

Odd thing you mention lack of pants. Just this morning after my nap, I cursed Adam and Eve for making it not okay to pass on pants since I couldnt find any (clean) pair to put on! *side note-really it was 8pm after my 7 hour nap. whats the point of sleep if its less than 5 hours?*

Posted by: Blogger Casse AKA Catholic Kittie at 10/29/2009 4:36 AM

Haha, no I would not wear pants! This books sounds pretty sweet. Enter me in! :)

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 10/29/2009 11:33 AM

awe what an interesting chronicle of your life .. thanks for sharing and congrats on your successes! You've made me think that maybe I can give this 'writing thing' a go again (even though my stopped time is a wee bit longer) lol !
Thanks so much for sharing!!

best wishes
debbie in ny

Posted by: Blogger WriterWannaB_NY at 10/29/2009 4:40 PM

Loved her story, I too, hope we can read about Cheatin' Hearts someday. Thanks for the chance to win her book.

Posted by: Blogger holdenj at 10/29/2009 9:36 PM

I'm beginning to get the message that I'm missing out by not having read Going Too Far yet. I think I'm going to have to add it to my short list - it sounds really good! :0) And The Ex-Games sounds too cute. Would love the chance to read it.

librarygrinch at gmail dot com

Posted by: Blogger Dawn M. at 10/30/2009 2:59 AM

This sounds like a cute book!Mariahpenguinqueen(at)hotmail(dot)com

Posted by: Anonymous Mariah at 10/31/2009 12:00 PM

Glad you started writing again....Stacy

Posted by: Blogger Jamie at 10/31/2009 2:32 PM

Book sounds fun, please enter me into the conest!



Posted by: Blogger Van Pham at 10/31/2009 6:33 PM

sounds like a cute book
...and i think that even if i were a god, id still wear pants, lol

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 10/31/2009 9:03 PM

What a rough few years you've had! I'm glad to see that things have turned around for you! :)

Posted by: Blogger Jess (The Cozy Reader) at 10/31/2009 9:21 PM

This post definitely made me laugh... thanks for sharing!

Posted by: Blogger Kari Olson at 10/31/2009 10:10 PM

Hmmm to wear pants or not tp wear pants... Knowing me I would probably be wearing pants only when I had too...

Posted by: Blogger Brooke at 10/31/2009 10:11 PM

Pants on, please. :)

Posted by: Blogger Lale at 11/01/2009 1:40 AM

would love a copy.

Posted by: Blogger Tanya at 11/01/2009 9:52 AM

This book looks great.

Posted by: Blogger Rachel498 at 11/01/2009 9:57 AM

Hi Jennifer!

I would love a copy of your book thanks for the post and a chance to win a book.

Posted by: Blogger victoriasdreams at 11/01/2009 1:49 PM

Oh gosh - I loved "Going too Far" and am super excited to read this next one!! Thanks!

mmillet at gmail dot com

Posted by: Blogger Michelle at 11/01/2009 10:26 PM

That was a great story. I can't imagine how I could get through so many rejections myself. I feel bad enough when I don't get the job I want...

Please enter me!

Posted by: Blogger Kristen at 11/02/2009 4:19 PM

So glad you started writing again - it gives me hope.

And thanks for the win Jeri. Just finishing helping my son with his grad school apps then I can get back to reading, and writing.

Posted by: Blogger Sheila Deeth at 11/02/2009 4:27 PM

Thanks for the great post!! Sounds like a fun book!

Posted by: Blogger Katie at 11/02/2009 6:54 PM

Pants here too, lol! My author for me, can't wait to try the book!

Please enter me!


Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 11/02/2009 7:34 PM

Loved your post so I am sure I would love your books. Adding them to my TBR list!

Posted by: Blogger Lori at 11/04/2009 10:09 AM

Hi :)
Thanks for sharing Jennifer.
Thanks for the chance to win Jeri.
All the best,

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 11/04/2009 8:33 PM

Loved Going Too Far and loved your post!!

Posted by: Anonymous carrie at 11/04/2009 8:45 PM

I loved Going Too Far, and I am dying to read this book. Would love to win!


Posted by: Blogger Alicia at 11/04/2009 11:00 PM

The winner of THE EX-GAMES is...van_pham. Congrats!

Thanks to all the commenters, and thanks again to Jenn for her awesome post!

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 11/05/2009 12:04 AM


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