Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Funniest Nonfiction I Ever Read::A Book Review (Plus an Interview With the Author)

I think the title of this post sums it up pretty well. My dear friend Michelle McLean, the below pictured beauty, has written some awesome nonfiction--Homework Helpers Essays and Term Papers. I'm not kidding, guys. I read her book and was seriously ROFLOL! It's all about the do's and don't's of writing stuff like essays and term papers, but the way she writes, any teenager can pick up her book and totally understand it. Not just understand it, but ENJOY reading it. No joke. So if you have a teen, a college student, or want an awesome book, go check it out! And now, for the interview.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
It’s always been in the back of my head, even when I was little. I never really considered it a viable career option though :) But about 6 years ago, I sort of had a “why not” moment. It had always been more of a dream than an actual goal, but I had just reached the point where I was in the mood to make my dream come true. And I started working toward doing that.

Can you describe your journey to publication?
I’d queried an unsuccessful novel before (lots of requests but even more rejections), so I was prepared for a long, bumpy ride. But the journey for this book was surprisingly fast. I had to tackle the non-fiction proposal and getting a good query together, and then I picked my 15 top agents and queried. I received several requests and then I received an email from Krista Goering, my soon-to-be agent, letting me know she’d gotten my proposal and it would take about 6 weeks for her to get back to me. 45 minutes later, she emailed asking for a phone call. I knew she was the right agent for me, so I withdrew my proposals from the other agents who had it and signed with Krista (she’s been absolutely amazing!). We started subbing my proposal to publishers, a few months later I had an offer for the book from Career Press, and a year later, here we are :)

How does writing fiction differ from writing nonfiction?
I’m much more organized when it comes to NF. I always have a very detailed outline (though this is part of the non-fiction proposal, so it’s sort of a necessary step). NF tends to be a bit easier for me to write. It’s mostly a restatement of facts…taking the knowledge I already have, combining it with a ton of research, and presenting it in book form. I’m good at doing this and I’ve been doing it for a very long time so it comes pretty easily.

Fiction is much harder. It takes a lot more thought process throughout the whole project, a lot
more editing. There are more potential problems (plot holes, character problems, story arc issues) that just aren’t a part of NF. So for me at least, fiction takes a lot more work. But, it’s more fun. I enjoy writing NF, but it can feel more like “work”.

How did you come up with your Homework Helpers idea?
It started as a series of How To posts on poetry on my blog. They got a great response so I expanded into essays and other writing assignments. It just amazed me how many guidebooks
and websites out there present information in such a confusing, overly complicated and technical
manner. Why make it so hard? I kept complaining to my friends about it and they encouraged me to expand my blog posts into a book. It took a while, but I finally decided to go for it :)

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Work hard and never give up. For most writers, it’s going to be a very long, hard road, filled with lots of harsh critiques, disappointing rejections, and eons of waiting. But if this is something you truly want to do, then never give up. One of my favorite quotes is from Samuel Beckett who said, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” :) You can’t succeed if you don’t try, and you’ll certainly never succeed if you give up.

Thank you Michelle! You are an inspiration. If you want to know more about Michelle, check out:

Annnnnnd... Check out the other Bookanistas' reviews. And remember, the Bookanistas are fellow writers (congrats to Bookanista Beth Revis, New York Times Bestselling author of Across the Universe) who only review books that they adore. So click on the links below to see what writers read.

And have a freaking awesome Thursday!

Scott Tracey acclaims DIVERGENT
Shana Silver cheers for HERE LIES BRIDGET
Megan Miranda gives some love to ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
Carolina Valdez Miller salutes XVI with Signed Book Giveaway
Shannon Messenger commends THE LIAR SOCIETY with an ARC Giveaway
Lisa and Laura Roecker happy dance for Beth Revis
Myra McEntire gives some cover love for THE LIAR SOCIETY
Jessi Kirby admires MATCHED
Elana Johnson recommends Michelle McLean's HOMEWORK HELPERS: TERM PAPERS AND ESSAYS with Giveaway
Shelli Johannes-Wells gives a shoutout to IN LOVE WITH HARLEQUIN
Jen Hayley lauds DELIRIUM
Carrie Harris celebrates THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE
Christine Fonseca applauds Michelle McLean's HOMEWORK HELPERS: TERM PAPERS AND ESSAYS with Signed Book Giveaway
Katie Anderson raves about THE LIAR SOCIETY


Liza said...

Now that I have read the Bookanistas's reviews on this, I am definitely purchasing it for my daughter.

Matthew MacNish said...

CRAP! The pics aren't working in my browser. I'll go try another program.

Matthew MacNish said...

Damn. Not working in IE either. Oh well, you don't really need pics to enjoy this post.

Michelle rules! She is so nice, and one of my very first blog buds. Thanks so much for focusing on her release.

Christine Fonseca said...

The pics aren't comng up...but no matter! THis is a FABULOUS book. I reviewed it too.

Eric said...

Great interview. I completely agree with you too, about the conversational style of Michelle's book. It's so down-to-earth, which is why it will do so well.

Lisa Potts said...

Wonderful interview, ladies! This book is definitely one I could use.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Great inspiration for writers, Michelle. Thank you! And thanks to Bethany and Suzette for running the interview!

p.s. Having the same trouble seeing pictures.

Carrie Harris said...

Thanks for the interview, ladies! And congrats on that book birthday, Michelle!

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Funny nonfiction? And it's useful? Perfect! Sounds like the perfect book for parents with teens. I'll be sure to pick up a copy. Great interview, great review! I can't believe how fast Krista got back to her after telling her 6 weeks! That's awesome!!

Kelly H-Y said...

What a great interview ... and, I'll definitely have to keep this book in mind!!

Katie Anderson said...

I'm really excited about this book!

Michelle McLean said...

thanks everyone! and thanks for hosting me Bethany and Suzy! :D

Jemi Fraser said...

Michelle's book is going to help so many people!!! :) Great interview!

Stina said...

I've read the book (my review is due up next week). I definitely recommend it!

Elana Johnson said...

So happy for Michelle!

Corinne O said...

hmmm. no pix here either :( Congrats Michelle!