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Bestselling Author J. Courtney Sullivan Talks About Writing

chapters2Earlier this week we attended the WiCi Awards presented to rising stars in communications by New York Women in Communications (NYWICI). New York Times bestselling author J. Courtney Sullivan was among the honorees.

We sat down with the Brooklyn resident to hear how she juggled a day job with writing as well as rejections (yes, even bestselling authors get rejected).

MediaJobsDaily: So many of our readers have a day job and a novel inside them trying to bust loose. How did you originally pursue your path?

J. Courtney Sullivan: When I was writing my first novel, Commencement, I worked at the New York Times, I was a researcher for Bob Herbert, one of the op-ed columnists there. I wrote for the paper and I also had previously worked at a women’s magazine, Allure. So, I still wrote for Allure and a lot of other women’s magazines, freelancing. My fiction writing was something I really only had time to do on the weekends, sometimes at night after work and it was really just kind of like a labor of love, it was something I had to do on my free time.

It wasn’t until that Commencement was published and that I had sold Maine to my publisher that I then left and since then it’s been my full-time job. I wrote all of Commencement and the first half of Maine while I had a full-time job.

MJD: How did you deal with rejections?

JCS: I’ve had no rejection ever, just kidding. Rejection is just part of the game and it never ends. I think all of the earlier rejections you get are toughening you up for later on.  I think they’re really important. I submitted countless short stories to literary magazines, never did I have one published. I received so many rejection letters I can wallpaper this room with them. I still have a lot of them and the difference between a form rejection letter and one that was written by hand, “We like this but it wasn’t for us, keep sending us things” — that would just make your week.

There’s good rejections and there’s bad rejections. I would have those good rejections – I still have them in a box under my bed. But even now I’ve published three novels but I pitch things all the time – a magazine story or a newspaper story that just doesn’t work for some reason. Or I write a whole section of a novel before I realize these 100 pages just aren’t going anywhere.

You can add to that bad reviews or any level of rejection. There’s never going to be an artistic experience that’s totally positive, that everyone loves and adores. You just have to kind of accept it.

MJD: Let’s talk about your book, The Engagements, being made into a movie. Any involvement with it?

JCS: I’m really not involved. Occasionally they’ll ask me a question but for the most part, I have nothing to do with it which I’m actually pretty happy with. I’m primarily interested in writing fiction and I’m excited to be onto the next novel. I’m excited to see what they do with the book. I don’t know when it’s coming out yet but I think it’s the kind of thing where — being a lover of books and movies and seeing so many movie adaptations of books, some great and some not so great — I think you kind of have to give it over and just know it’s a totally different thing.

MJD: What’s your next book about?

JCS: An Irish Catholic family in which the matriarch has passed away and her six kids and her long-lost sister all come back together and drama ensues.

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Derek Jeter Launches Simon & Schuster Imprint; Lessons Learned From the All-Star

baseballHere in New York City it’s been a major love fest for beloved Yankee, our captain Derek Jeter.

While all eyes are focused on accolades and wrapping up his baseball career, he’s already launched his very own children’s imprint at Simon & Schuster. The first book, The Contract, was released yesterday.

We were avoiding writing a trite “lessons learned from Derek Jeter’s career” blog post featuring tenacity, respect, dignity and class (yes, we’re die-hard fans but wanted to avoid that type of potentially cringeworthy post) but after hearing about the imprint, Jeter Publishing, in New York magazine we simply have to highlight ways we can learn from his career management. Read more

Jenny McCarthy Reveals ‘Stirring the Pot’ Advice & Reacts to Barbara Walters’ Retirement: ‘I Am So Sad’

Photo credit: Rob Loud

Photo credit: Rob Loud

On Friday during lunchtime we were among the attendees at The Bryant Park Hotel as The View co-host Jenny McCarthy introduced Vemma Renew, a ready-to-drink beverage by the Vemma Nutrition Company.

We sat down with the actress, best-selling author and activist to find out more about her new book, Stirring the Pot, which drops on May 6 and her reaction to the recent news of Barbara Walters’ May 16 retirement date. Read more

‘Ciao Italia’ Host Dishes Career Success at Sun WineFest: ‘All Those Things Were Like Minestrone Soup’

Sun Winefest 14In the spirit of getting inspired, we checked in with Mary Ann Esposito, the host of Ciao Italia, before her appearance at Mohegan Sun’s annual Sun WineFest this past weekend in Uncasville, Conn.

Considering her show has been on the air for 25 years making it the longest running cooking show in television history, there’s a lot we can learn from the multi-tasking Esposito.

And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the festivities surrounding the interview and the other notable chefs who are also the definition of personal branding and talent. Whether it was the mozzarella demonstration by Todd English or the animated discussion surrounding halibut by Food Network star Robert Irvine, there’s so much to learn from chefs in the top of their field in the classy ballroom, a beautiful respite from a wintry weekend. Yes, it’s about food but ultimately it’s about their stories. Personalities, persistence, drive. Read more

What Bad Work Habit are You Willing to Break?

desk_lunch440When we read Gretchen Rubin’s latest blog post, we paid attention. Okay, it’s not like we haven’t paid attention other times but this one really caught our eyes for two main reasons.

The bestselling author of The Happiness Project revealed the topic of her next book: Habits!

First, there’s something downright infectious about Rubin’s enthusiasm for her new book, Before and After. We should all be this passionate about our next book, next video, next whatever that our name is proudly stamped upon!

She writes, “I really do believe this may be the most fascinating subject everIt’s the subject of habits. How do we make and break habits–really?” Read more

Three Career Mistakes to Stop Making From the Author of ‘Promote Yourself’

After concluding our exclusive interview with Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, it was clear the strategies to brand yourself and self-promote are up to you. They’re within your grasp and more importantly, within your power.

He explained, “Your career is in your hands. It’s all about career accountability, taking charge of your life and making things happen. If you can’t promote yourself, no one will want to support you. If you can’t make yourself successful first, who’s going to back you?”

While his book uncovers specifics such as becoming more than your job description, turning your passion into your position and getting ahead by asking for more work and doing your manager’s job, further into our interview Schawbel dished about common mistakes people make (Millennials in particular) and how to overcome them. Read more

‘What Color Is Your Parachute?’ Author Shares Job Search Advice

In the June issue of Forbes, the author of the 1970 best-seller, What Color Is Your Parachute?, doles out job search advice. Lucky for us, we got a sneak peek of the Dick Bolles interview on their site.

He tells the publication, “I never dreamed the job hunting problem was so widely faced. The book would have sold 10 copies if you got the help you needed at school.”

He truly tapped into something in the ’70s and beyond. Bolles’ book has gone through 42 annual editions and sold 10 million copies in 20 languages. In 1994, the Library of Congress named his tome one of the 25 books that “have shaped readers lives.”

And he hasn’t given up his mission. The 86 year-old spends approximately four hours every day responding to the 6,000 e-mails and letters he receives each year.  Read more

How to Get a Job in Book Publishing

For the countless number of books published each year, there are only a few that become true breakout successes, selling millions upon millions of copies, hijacking the bestsellers lists and becoming permanently etched in American pop culture.

While great storytelling is at least partly responsible for their success, there is also an expansive team behind the scenes, working diligently to ensure that every plot twist is meticulously crafted, that the cover is so well-designed that readers drop $25 for the hardcover without blinking, and that those same characters will hopefully transcend the pages and end up on the big screen.

Think you’ve got what it takes to make it at one of the Big Six publishers? Learn how to break into the industry in How To Get a Job in Book Publishing.

Sherry Yuan

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Judy Blume Talks Screenwriting and Adapting ‘Tiger Eyes’ to the Silver Screen

In Tiger Eyes, Judy Blume’s new movie based on her 1981 novel – check that, her first movie - the best-selling author collaborated with her son and filmmaker, Lawrence Blume, to bring it to the silver screen.

After a recent screening concluded in Manhattan, she explained to the audience, “We always said if we were going to work together on a project, it would be Tiger Eyes. It was Larry’s favorite.”

There were some concerns, however, about translating one of her books onto the screen. She revealed, “It just needs to be emotionally true to the story and the characters and we didn’t want to make a schmaltzy movie.” Read more

Bestselling Author Jennifer Weiner Talks Shop in NYC: ‘If You’re Going to be a Writer, Nothing is Going to Stop You’

Last night at the New York Public Library’s Yorkville branch, authors Jennifer Weiner, Sarah Pekkanen and Elizabeth LaBan spoke candidly about their new books (The Next Best Thing, The Best of Us and The Tragedy Paper, respectively), their writing and revision process and advice regarding whether or not people should write for free.

For starters, they talked about the writing process. “I like to write in coffee shops,” said Weiner who’s active on Twitter, especially during The Bachelor. “I like to be around noise and have people around me. That’s my process: Coffee shops.”

As for LaBan, who has a background in journalism like Weiner and Pekkanen, she prefers commotion as well. “I can write with a lot of distractions.”

Pekkanen agreed. When she pens a novel, there are “notebooks everywhere.” In fact, she’s been known to bring her laptop to Chuck E. Cheese!

Fitting it in when you can is particularly critical if you’re juggling a day job. As for their take on how to balance writing a book while working another gig that consumes a lot of time and energy? “Do it when you can,” Pekkanen advised.

“If you’re going to be a writer, nothing is going to stop you,” added Weiner. “There is a story inside you and only you can tell it. You’re going to have to, you’ll explode!”

Rage also helps, joked Weiner when she recalled writing in the late 1990′s. “I had just been dumped so I had rage to fuel me. Rage is great!” Plus, there weren’t very good TV shows around 1998-ish so she wrote a lot on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights – not on Thursdays because Friends, Seinfeld and ER were on, she confessed.

Switching gears to revisions, one audience member asked about the aftermath of writing your first draft. Weiner suggested finding people you trust who’ll be honest with you but getting distance from it helps as well. In fact, the bestselling author recalled putting a manuscript she wrote in a box for six weeks, taking it out and then perusing it as a reader asking herself, “Will I like this? If I bought this would I want to read it?”

“Get some distance,” she advised. “Put it physically out of sight and put it away….Anything can be made better.”

And then ask people you trust for their honest input. LaBan incorporated the same advice and asked for other sets of eyeballs to read her work — including Weiner’s! LaBan turned to her quipped, “Well, I asked you to read it.”

And what if you’re not quite at that stage yet? As in, still typing away. “For fiction, you gotta finish,” mentioned Weiner. “Agents are busy and they’re not going to take you on unless they know you can bring it.”

You may already have a full plate if you’re active on social media and blogging away, too. That said, what were there thoughts about people considering writing for free?

It depends on the individual but Weiner indicated people should size up their own situation and ask themselves, ”What is this going to cost me and then ask, ‘What are the benefits?’ You have to do what’s right for you, not only where you are now but always with an eye of where to go next.”