Our September guest is Jenn P. Nguyen, whose debut novel, THE WAY TO GAME THE WALK OF SHAME, came out in June 2016 from Macmillan’s Swoon Reads. Named a 2017 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, this YA rom-com is about a straight arrow who wakes up after a party next to a bad-boy surfer dude and decides that the best way to silence the inevitable gossip is for the two of them to pretend they’re actually dating. What could go wrong?
How many books have you written, and how many have seen the light of day?
I have written six novels. THE WAY TO GAME THE WALK OF SHAME is the fifth and only one to be published. I’ve queried all the others, but now as I look back on them, I can see why I didn’t have any bites. And why they’re now buried on my bookshelf. But I don’t regret any of it at all. With each book, I learned a bit more about the writing and querying process, which ultimately led me to publishing THE WAY TO GAME.
Well then, it was all totally worth it, because this book is adorbs. Through all that, what was your biggest query mistake?
Oh, boy. My biggest mistake in querying was just diving straight in and not doing my research. For my first novel, I queried a 150k YA time travel. Yes, you read it correctly. 150 thousand words. That started with a prologue AND a dream. Plus I queried every agent who accepted YA. I’m actually surprised that I even got a partial request on that novel. So my advice to everyone is research, research, research. Research your writing techniques. Research how to query. Research who to query. Almost to the point where it’s borderline obsession because you want to give your book the best possible chance out there and sometimes you only get one time to make an impression.
How do you manage to stay positive and keep at it when you’re dealing with rejection and/or critical reviews?
When you’re a writer, you basically have to deal with rejection and criticism all the time. From critique partners, to agents, to editors, to readers. I’ve been querying for years and I thought I had pretty thick skin. Ha, silly me. Then my book was published and those reviews were a whole different ballpark. And just as scary. When I was querying or editing, I took in all of the critiques and tried to figure out how to make my book better. But when it’s published, there’s basically nothing you can do and then reading the negative reviews does more harm then good. So now I try not to read them, and if I do happen to catch a bad review, I just try to remember that it’s a matter of opinion and taste and my book isn’t for everyone.
OK, onto the fun stuff. Kissing scenes: easy or tough?
Oh, gosh. You would think that since my favorite genre is YA contemporary romance (to read and to write) that I would love kissing scenes. Which I do. But I CANNOT write them. Well, obviously I do because there are several kissing scenes in THE WAY TO GAME THE WALK OF SHAME but it is so hard for me. Usually when I write, I imagine the scene unfolding like a movie in my head, but when it comes to kissing scenes, there are so many bloopers and takes. I have trouble figuring out the emotions and where all the arms and legs go. Thankfully YouTube is a great source of inspiration for that, but then sometimes I end up binge watching a Korean drama or Gossip Girl.
Tell us about your most memorable fangirl moment. Who did you meet?
This is really embarrassing so it’ll just stay between us. A few years ago, I went to the Romantic Times Convention and met Stephanie Perkins. The Stephanie Perkins. She had been my writing idol for ages and I met her after her panel. Of course she was amazing and sweet which just made her even more amazing and I was pretty sure I was the emoticon with the heart-shaped eyes the entire time we talked.
Now, tell us about the first time someone fangirled or fanboyed over you.
I was blessed enough to meet a bunch of readers at Romantic Times last year, but the first time someone fangirled over me was in an email a month or two after THE WAY TO GAME THE WALK OF SHAME. They just wanted to let me know how much the book meant to them and how happy it made them, which made my week. Writing takes so much energy and time that sometimes it becomes exhausting and disheartening. But to know that you’re somehow making someone’s day a little brighter makes it all worthwhile.
That’s so awesome. Stephanie Perkins, watch out! And with that … we’re on to the speed round!
- Alpha males vs. sensitive types: Definitely sweet sensitive cuties
- Morning glory vs. night owl: Used to be a night owl, but now that I have a baby, I’m just a wilted morning glory. 🙂
- Wizards vs. vampires: Wizards for the win!
- French fries vs. cookies: Fries
- High heels vs. flats: Flats all the way!
- Friday night vs. Sunday morning: Friday nights with the weekend ahead
Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Here’s where readers can find Jenn:
Jenn Nguyen fell in love with books in third grade and spent the rest of her school years reading through lunchtime and giving up recess to organize the school library. She has a degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans and still lives in the city with her husband. Jenn spends her days reading, dreaming up YA romances, and binge watching Korean dramas all in the name of “research.”