I’m Back!

Greetings, Internet! Long time no blog!

It’s been over a year since my last post, but I’ve decided to resurrect this blog from the depths of WordPress archives for general writing social media purposes. I almost feel like it’s a rite of passage for aspiring authors to start a blog, have it inactive for awhile, and then start it back up again awhile later. The reason for my inactivity is pretty simple— blogging is hard! I mean, seriously! Coming up with post topics, networking and spreading your content… Hats off to the people who somehow manage to do this all the time.

But yes— starting now (and here’s hoping I keep this up), I’m going to try to at least get a post up every now and then. I’ll keep this blog updated with all things writing.

So, Madison, it’s been over a year, what have you been up to? Great question! I’m still a high school student, although I am a senior, so with any luck I’ll be in college at this time in less than a year. (Which is both super exciting and a little intimidating!) I’ve written another novel in my blog hiatus— a YA contemporary about mental illness, hockey, and high school social hell, all set in a tiny town in the dead of a Vermont winter. I just entered that story into Author Mentor Match, so stay tuned to see if I’m lucky enough to get a mentor through that program! And speaking of AMM, I’m going to try to post an #AMMConnect profile to this site within the next week or so, so that mentors and others in the contest will have a chance to get to know me better should I get in. I’m also now an intern for Inklings Literary Agency, which is super fun and a really great experience! I hope to do more internships in the future.

The general plan for this blog from now on is to do updates about my writing and publishing process. I also want to do some subject-based stuff in relation to my writing! As an autistic writer, I’d love to start sharing my perspective on neurodiversity in literature. One of my newer book ideas is about an autistic teenage girl, and I hope to share some of my own experiences through that story. You also might see some book blogging (as in, reading stuff) from me every now and then. And #novelaesthetics. I’m really invested in my Pinterest.

I think that just about does it for this post. Until my next one! Feel free to connect with me on Twitter— you can find me at @madisonlessard, hanging out on writer hashtags and live-stress-Tweeting my favorite NHL team’s games.

Advertisements

Pitch Wars Pimp My Bio 2016!

giphy (1).gif

Hello, wonderful person! Welcome to my first-ever Pitch Wars Pimp My Bio blog bio!

I am super excited to be entering the contest this year. This post is your go-to place to find out more about yours truly!

Who I Am

My name is Madison Lessard. I live in a little town about forty miles outside of Boston with my family, as well as a dog who (like me) is very appreciative of food and a cat who pets himself by rubbing against inanimate objects.

giphy (1).gif

I write mostly contemporary young adult. I’ve been an avid writer and reader for as long as I can remember, and this is my first time doing Pitch Wars.

What I’m Writing

The novel I’m submitting for Pitch Wars is a contemporary YA entitled While I’m Here. It follows the summer adventures (and misadventures) of heart patient Casey, who is racing against the clock to make a few months the best of his life.

He wakes up in the hospital on his graduation morning to an unwelcome surprise. His doctor diagnoses him with an irreversible condition that leaves him just a couple more months to live. His immediate reaction? Not so great. Content to spend the rest of his brief life in bed, he confines himself to his bedroom and shuts everyone out.

But a week after his diagnosis, his two best friends present to him a plan for their summer: a very lengthy bucket list, a trip with no destination, and one summer to do as much as they can.

giphy (1)

Casey is sold, and so his last summer begins. There’s just one problem: his parents, who are still coming to terms with losing their son, aren’t so crazy about his ideas. 

And for fun… this is the #novelaesthetics post I made for WHILE I’M HERE.

image

Here are some fun facts about Casey…

  • He is a huge geek about cars, but the one he drives is a disaster. The car itself is almost like a character in the book because Casey is always complaining about it not running right.  

giphy (2).gif

  • He has a form of congenital heart disease called truncus arteriosus in which his heart doesn’t function correctly, and he’s spent weeks of his life at a time in the hospital because of it.
  • He’s extremely headstrong, and once he sets his mind on a goal, he’ll stop at absolutely nothing to get there.
  • His bucket list has 100 things on it, and he started writing it in the fifth grade after a major medical episode that left him near dead.
  • He appreciates blueberry pancakes with syrup and bacon very, very much. 

giphy (3).gif

In addition to While I’m Here, I have several other contemporary YA novels in the early stages, and I have two other complete manuscripts on the backburner right now.  

giphy (1).gif

More About Me

  • I’m a music person. I love to sing and I play three instruments– the clarinet, the piano, and the saxophone. 

giphy (2)

  • I’m a little bit of a geography buff. I have a bunch of (probably unnecessary, but still fun to do) groups of geographical things memorized– including the countries of the world. Try me!

zuarokcao5am6eju4u9v.gif

  • I’ve been a dancer in various types since I was three.
  • I’m a little bit of a musical theatre nerd. 

giphy (3).gif

  • I am a firm believer that almost any problem can be solved by eating a slice of purple velvet cake.
  • I take pictures of everything. I’m serious.

giphy (4).gif

Why do I want to do Pitch Wars?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of my writing life so far, it’s that you never stop improving. My seventh-grade English teacher always used to tell us that a piece of writing is ‘alive’– it can always be changed and get better.

I was introduced to Pitch Wars earlier this year by a previous mentee, and when I learned what it was, I knew I wanted to enter. I’m entering Pitch Wars because I want to improve. I want to learn about deadlines and writing on a tight schedule. I want to edit and revise. I want to connect with someone over my manuscript and make it so that someday, other people will connect with it, too.

But honestly, the biggest thing that has drawn me to Pitch Wars has been the people in the community. Over the course of this summer so far alone, I’ve met so many fantastic people in the writing world. The long road towards publication so far has been downright scary at times, and the amount of support I’ve gotten from other people in the Pitch Wars community (and the writing community in general) has been absolutely inspirational.

I am ready to work hard and meet some more fantastic people! No matter what happens in Pitch Wars, I will look back at this experience when it’s over as one of my greatest lessons in the writing world yet.

giphy (5).gif

I am ready to rock!

giphy (6).gif

Where You Can Find Me

If you want to check out the rest of my blog, you’re in luck! You’re already here– here’s the homepage. My Twitter handle is @oldpbfan21.

Thanks for reading my bio! You can check out the other mentee hopefuls’ bios here.

tumblr_nm83haZGZe1un3pe3o1_400

 

My First Rejection

I’m going to be starting a series of posts on my blog surrounding rejection.

There’s so much to say about it. Rejection is such a huge and inevitable part of the life of anyone who has a goal, and I believe that in most cases, you can’t succeed unless you experience at least a little rejection along the way. Most writers walk into the querying world and beyond knowing that they are in for a world of rejection and, as a result, disappointment. I wasn’t so wise to know this at first, but rejection has taught me so many valuable lessons– and not bad lessons.

My first rejection made me happy. That’s almost an understatement– I was beyond excited. I started querying when I was fourteen years old, and I was so confident in the letters I sent out that I was positive I would be a published author within a few months.

Ha, ha.

I think this mentality stemmed from the fact that I knew nothing about how unpredictable the publishing industry is. In fact, I knew nothing about the publishing industry at all, other than there were people called literary agents who I could send letters to and they got people’s books published for them. So I did just that– sent the first few queries and hoped for the best.

Then there was silence.

Lots of silence.

I sent my first query letters in early February, and the silence lasted from then until April. Now that I’m used to querying, I know that that kind of silence is inevitable, but it was pretty unnerving to my fourteen-year-old confidence.

The first response I got to any of those letters was from a fantastic agent who sent me a really encouraging rejection letter. It came while I was doing homework during a free period at school.

I freaked out.

I remember calling my mom and yelling, “I GOT A REJECTION!” like it was the most fantastic thing in the world. My mom was confused. She didn’t know why getting a rejection could be a good thing, but to me, after the two months of waiting when I was convinced that responses would be immediate, it was music to my ears. Someone had considered me, even if that person wasn’t going to be my agent. I had been noticed by someone. She didn’t just trash my email.

This story might sound kind of pathetic, but the way I reacted when I got that first rejection reminds me of what a rejection means. Okay, yes, a rejection means your work wasn’t right for the agent and that you’ll have to keep sending queries, but it also means that you were considered. It means someone gave you a chance.

Sometimes a chance can be pretty uplifting.

 

A Student Writer’s Summer

Summer is my prime writing time. This is, firstly, for the obvious reason: that being a student means I have the summer off, and therefore loads more free time than I do during September through June. Somehow I manage to fit more writing into the three months (if that) of summer than I usually do during the school year at all. Last summer, I started from scratch and completely rewrote a draft of my WIP, and I finished it within six weeks. There’s more time to write, more time to refine, more time to plan.

I’ll be honest. I’m one of those students who jam-packs their schedule and does as much stuff as is physically and mentally possible in the school year. It’s not that I would change that about my school life, but the three-month break from having so much to do that summer provides gives me more time to spend on my passion.

In addition, for a student, summer provides the opportunity to go places besides school or other locations in the general area of where you live. My family is going on vacation next week, and we’re visiting a town where one of my WIPs is set. Being surrounded by all the additional experiences and feelings that summer brings is like fuel for my creative process. The other thing I find so unique about summer is that I feel like there is inspiration everywhere I look. When it’s summer, I can take a deep breath and stop to look at the world around me, which doesn’t happen as often when I’m so busy.

All the extra free time lets me write more, and when I write more, I’m inspired more.

I saw this quote on Twitter this morning:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Write every day. Regaining momentum takes three times as much energy as sustaining momentum.<br>DANIEL H. PINK<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/amwriting?src=hash”>#amwriting</a&gt; <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/writing?src=hash”>#writing</a></p>&mdash; Jon Winokur (@AdviceToWriters) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AdviceToWriters/status/742325732131512320″>June 13, 2016</a></blockquote>

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

It’s no secret that when I have more things to do, I write less. Which, as a result, brings my momentum down. The reason I liked the quote so much when I saw it is because I’ve realized that summer keeps my momentum going. When you write more, you have that momentum; you’re able to keep writing more easily.

There’s my spiel on summer. I have a lot planned for this one. Stay tuned to my blog and my Twitter for much more frequent updates than I’ve been giving recently– and I’ll be excited to announce some news for The Voiceprint Project in the next few weeks.

 

Why do I write?

Today I took my last exam of my sophomore year of high school. I guess I can officially be classified as a junior now, but that’s a pretty terrifying thing to think about. The exam was in English. We had to write a reflection on ourselves, the year, and how the general themes in our class affected us. I started writing and then I couldn’t stop. It was natural– I was just writing about writing.

This is a condensed version of what I wrote in my final.

 

I don’t like talking about identity.

This is because it has never been very easy for me to identify myself. As my world changes around me, so my identity changes. There have been times in my life where I feel a very strong disconnection between who I am and who I’m expected to be, and so I feel that way today. I’ve felt that way for most of my sophomore year. I walked through the front doors on my first day at my high school in the fall of 2014 a completely different person than I am today, and I know that in two years, when I’ve graduated, I will likely have changed all the more.  However, the one thing I can say about myself that stays constant is this: I am a writer. I always have been, and I always will be. That is one label that I don’t mind putting on myself. This year allowed me to explore my identity through literature and writing in a way I never have before.

Author Sherman Alexie came to my school do an assembly talk in the fall. I was so excited. I think there’s a part of me that just freaks out at any chance to get to meet a real, published author (because quite frankly, sometimes I forget that those people actually exist and they’re not just names on a book cover, mocking my own current lack of publication). The thing that stuck with me most from his talk was this: he was asked why he writes, and he responded with something along the lines of, “I write to matter.”

That made me start to think about myself. Why do I write? And I eventually came to this conclusion. The reason I write is twofold, but simple. First, I write for self-gratification. There is a part of me that can never abandon the characters and worlds I have made up in my head, and I will always cling to that as a part of my very disheveled identity. Second, I write so other people will read my writing, hear my ideas, get to know my characters and the stories I’ve worked so hard to develop. Like Sherman Alexie, I write to matter. I write to leave my mark on the world, even if that’s in the most miniscule way I can.

This year in my English class, I rediscovered something very valuable– that I have this in common with most writers, published and unpublished alike.

Writing and reading are two of the few things which have stayed constant for me this year. Relating to words on the page and finding myself in characters when I am unable to define myself outside of these walls has been what has kept me grounded. Reading into the themes of depression in Hamlet and lost identity in Tom Stoppard’s drama Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead hit very close to home for me, because I could see parts of myself reflected in those characters. I learned to define myself via characters and literature.

Without question, the thing I read that spoke the most to me this year was The Catcher in the Rye. I had been meaning to read the book for a very long time and never got around to it, so I jumped at the chance when we had an independent reading assignment. To make an understatement, I absolutely loved the book. J.D. Salinger’s writing was stunning in that everything Holden Caulfield was narrating seemed so very real to me, despite the fact that he is a fictional character. He was so vivid. I know now why the book is considered a classic. The themes are universal– depression, lost purpose, judgement of others, disconnection, internal struggle. I felt like I was living the book.

In a way, even though I will admit that existential dread is not my favorite feeling in the world, connecting myself to characters written by other writers and knowing that I am not alone has helped me persevere. I think something that is often overlooked about writing is that it is largely about connection. It’s about letting others know that you feel what they feel. Writing makes me feel connected; reading reassures me. It’s a circle.

This August will mark two years since I started writing my first novel. It’s also been over a year now since I started sending query letters to literary agents. I’ve learned– in a quite pessimistic way at times– that the publishing industry is unpredictable, subjective, and full of inevitable rejection. One day there are ten rejection letters in your inbox, and the next, someone wants to read your whole manuscript. I’m planning a lot for this summer in the writing world– revisions, more queries, blogging, starting new work. Last night, I was reading over my latest manuscript, While I’m Here. I wasn’t doing a close read, so it wasn’t exactly very hardcore; I was just skimming and taking out things that I thought were unnecessary. While I was reading, my subconscious was bombarding me with questions: what if I’m not good enough? What if I’m too young? What if the reason I keep getting rejected is because I can’t be good enough?

The questions were fleeting, and they terrified me.

But here’s the bottom line. Those questions and that fear– they’re the existential dread. It’s almost a little beautiful in a way. If I went through life without ever questioning anything, there would be nothing to think about. I’m convinced that writers are some of the most existentially conflicted people on the planet. It’s part of what makes those underlying themes so powerful, even if they’re not necessarily existential. Those intense feelings within a writer’s world are what shape the stories that get written on the page.

I can do this. I have confidence. And just as long as being a writer is part of my identity, I know I will overcome those struggles and come out triumphant on the other side. One day– even if it’s not tomorrow or next week or even a year from now– I will be a published author. One day, people will know my message. One day, I am going to matter.

The Voiceprint Project: weekly Twitter chat!

Happy Sunday! I’ve been talking on my Twitter all this weekend about an exciting announcement I would be making for The Voiceprint Project soon, and now I am officially stepping up to address those Tweets. If you’ve been following my blog and/or my Twitter, you know that last Friday, May 6th, was the launch of my online initiative, on Twitter and otherwise. I am so thrilled to say that I have gotten so much support in these past nine days alone, and now I am going to be kicking off another branch of the project.

Neurologist and author Anne Lipton has been hugely supportive of me already in this endeavor, and she recently gave me the idea to host a weekly lit-chat on Twitter under the hashtag. This basically means that once per week, I will be on the hashtag ready to answer any questions or talk with anyone who wants to discuss the project and its subject. This is going to take place every Friday, starting this week on May 20th. Regular gatherings on the hashtag will mimic the “kickoff” Twitter party I hosted on May 6th. Share your thoughts and get your voice heard!

I would be more than happy to chat with anyone who has questions about this new aspect of the project. Tweet @oldpbfan21 or use #TheVoiceprintProject.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me already– and special thanks to Anne for all your ideas and advice! I’m very excited.

And so it begins…

It’s official now! I am happy to say that The Voiceprint Project officially kicked off on Friday on Twitter, and now the initiative is in full swing. I’m super excited because I got some great support during the kickoff party, and the support has continued over the course of this weekend. To everybody who has helped in any way: thank you so much! None of this stuff would be possible without you guys to support me.

I want to take this opportunity to point out and clarify a few things for those who might have questions about the project. I’ve listed out my goals for the project here, and I also wrote about the general idea in the project’s introduction about a month ago. 

The Twitter hashtag has been in use by me for a few weeks, and some others have begun to post on it. I want to make something clear: even though the official “kickoff party” on Twitter was this past Friday, anyone is welcome to post anything related to the project on the hashtag at any time.

I’m also excited to announce that I have a new aspect of the project in the works– picking a certain day of the week where a sort of “lit chat” will happen on the hashtag, open to anyone who wants to talk about the project or any of its main ideas. Think something kind of like what happens in the literary community on Twitter every Wednesday, #1linewed, where people share a single line from their manuscript in a Tweet. Stay tuned here on my blog for my announcement of what day I’ve chosen and when this will officially start!

Also in the works are interviews with young authors and writers as well as other members of the literary community. I’m working on so many things and I am so excited that this is all getting started. You’ll see me updating on my Twitter regularly, and blog posts will be more regular now too.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me get this started– I couldn’t do it without all of you!

 

#TheVoiceprintProject

Today is the day!

Good morning, all! Today is the day– it’s the official launch of The Voiceprint Project. If you want to check it out, go to the Twitter hashtagand feel free to send me a shout. It’ll go all day, and we’re going to be basically talking anything. I invite anyone who has advice, personal stories, quotes, or thoughts involving young writers to go ahead and join me! My Twitter is here.

I’d like to also point out that if for any reason you’re not able to participate or join in right away, that’s okay– because it’s not just today. This project is going to expand and get bigger as the time goes on. I’ll regularly post here about it and am always going to be looking for opportunities to spread the word. Given the growing amount of young people writing and breaking the ice in the publishing industry, this project will serve as a resource for people like myself who want to connect with other young writers.

I’ll be updating on my Twitter regularly all day. I hope you can join in!

#TheVoiceprintProject

The Voiceprint Project: My Story

Hello, wonderful people! As we are two weeks out from The Voiceprint Project officially kicking off on Twitter and otherwise, I wanted to share a few more details about my story as a young writer. This project will be an opportunity for people such as myself to share stories similar to the one I am about to tell. For those reading this who might be new to my blog, check out my original post about The Voiceprint Project here.

I want to talk about one of the central points of this project in relation to myself: how I realized, even at my age, that I want to be a writer.

When I was about six years old, I created a list of things that I wanted to be when I grew up– simultaneously, as in I wanted to do all of these jobs at the same time. I cannot recall exactly everything that was on that list, but I know that there were a lot of different things and many of them were very hard to accomplish or impossible. Among them were the following: an astronaut, a famous singer, a fashion designer, a dancer, a composer, and of course, as I was a six-year-old girl immersed in Disney movies and fairytales, a princess. What I know for sure is that a writer was never on that list, and didn’t even cross my mind as a possible path for my life until about a year and a half ago.

I’ve always been a writer, but I never formally classified myself as one until then. When I was about the age at which I comprised the list of jobs, I also wrote short stories. They still aren’t finished, because I would handwrite two pages and then get tired of it, but they were short stories nonetheless. The most prominent one that comes to mind was an attempted novel called Wish about the fearless Charlotte, her younger (and irresistibly adorable) brother Austin, and the adventure they went on when they discovered that there was a mermaid named Pearl living in the town pool. I never actually got to write about Pearl or anything they did with her… I got to the part where Austin bangs on Charlotte’s door one summer morning declaring that “we’re going to the pool” and she “had better get dressed”. I had big plans for Pearl and the siblings; they were going to go on a magical adventure through the sea, counter the evil mermaid Storm, and go on a quest to save Pearl’s life. It was, obviously, geared towards kids around the age I was when I got the idea for it, and maybe I’ll pick it up again one day. But even at that point in my youth, I didn’t realize that I wanted to be a writer.

Fast-forward about five years or so. I started writing other things, short stories about characters from movies, TV shows, and video games I enjoyed. I realized that I liked to write, that this was something I enjoyed spending my free time doing.

Then came the magic moment– in January of 2014, inspiration struck me in a way it had never before. We had made multitudes of paper cranes in my eighth-grade English class for a community project. They were everywhere– in the classrooms, in desks, in cubbies, on the floor. One day, I went to open my locker and one flew out, and from that little piece of origami came the inspiration for my first novel. That summer, I started writing to be heard; I started writing for others, not just for myself. And now I know that it’s what I want to do.

So now, to other young writers: I’d love to know your stories. Let’s spread our ideas and voices together. Give me a shout on Twitter or leave me a comment below.

Two weeks! #TheVoiceprintProject

 

Announcing The Voiceprint Project

voice • print (noun)

an individually distinctive pattern of certain voice characteristics

 

“A voiceprint is a set of measurable characteristics of a human voice that uniquely identifies an individual.” (from WhatIs.com)

This past autumn, I went to my first writing conference. I had no idea what to expect. I’d never been to any formal, organized gathering of other writers before, and certainly hadn’t been exposed to real, live people in the publishing industry. It all seemed pretty scary to me, but I was determined to go, despite the fact that I knew I would likely be the only person there under the age of eighteen.

So on November 14th, I went into Boston and was dropped off at the hotel where it was being held. If you’ve been to a writing conference before, you probably know what I’m talking about when I say that I was both excited and terrified at the same time. Once the day began, however, it was not nearly as daunting as I expected it to be. I vigorously took notes (seriously– I wrote down almost everything from the talks, just so I would remember it) and practiced my pitch just about every free second I had. I had the privilege of pitching Jessica Sinsheimer of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency while I was there– and side note– she’s a super nice person and you should definitely check her out online. She’s been involved in creating some really fantastic tools for writers in the publishing process, too– you have no idea how much time I’ve spent scrolling the #MSWL hashtag and how much it’s helped me throughout my querying process.

During the pitch session, Ms. Sinsheimer mentioned to me (after I told her that I’m fifteen) that she had been seeing a lot more younger writers like myself seeking publication. She went on to say that she thought it would be cool if there were a way to connect those young writers via social media. And I loved this idea, which leads me to why I’m making this post about it now. After leaving the conference, I did some brainstorming, and continued to do so for several months, which led to the development of the idea and the writing of this post.

Now there’s a name for it. I’m starting The Voiceprint Project. This is an initiative I’m taking to try and connect young writers online, encourage the spread of our ideas and stories of our experiences, and of course, talk about writing. The reason I’m calling it ‘voiceprint’ is because I believe that all writers of all types have a unique voice, their own groundbreaking ideas, and a story to tell, and no one should be left out from that even if they’re young like I am. We all ultimately have the same goal in the writing community– for our work to be read and to spread our message through writing. Yes, I’m only fifteen, but I was just as serious about being at that writing conference in November as any other person in the room, and I believe that the writing world is one of the few places where it doesn’t matter how old you are. The thing that really matters is that you have a story you want to tell.

I invite any young or student writers, both published and unpublished, to join me in a Twitter party on May 6th to kick off the project. We’ll meet new people, talk about our experiences, and share our thoughts on just about anything to do with writing and the publishing process. If you know a young writer, spread the word!

I’ll be updating on this site and on my Twitter (@oldpbfan21) about the project as it takes shape and May 6th comes closer.

#TheVoiceprintProject