It's not you. It's me.

Y'all. I'm moving. I hope you'll come say hi! I'm keeping this blog open, but I don't plan on posting anything new. I hope you'll check me out on my tumblr so we can stay BFF's 4EVA!


August 24th

The problem with not blogging on the regular (read: I'm lazy.) is that when you do blog, there's just way too much to say. So I'm going to jump around but stick with me, y'all.

The most amazing Jenny Martin sold her book! If you don't know Jenny, then you should! Check out her PM announcement for TRACKED!

One of my critique partners and dearest friends, Jessica Taylor, came to see me for a whole week! We had never met in person, so while we were excited, we were a little anxious too. But. It. Was. Awesome. We watched the entire first season of Alias, cuddled like maniacs, ate tons of great food, bought The Hunger Games DVD at midnight, fueled our sleep deprived selves with cupcakes, and talked about that big thing in the sky called WRITING. Jessica also received an offer of rep (!!!!!!!) while she was here. I won't tell the story, because that's all Jessica, so keep an eye on her blog for that! Oh and we shopped like socialites. It was pretty awesome. Here's a few pictures from our escapades: 

Today is August 24th. (DUH!) August 24th is important for lots of reasons. Today is my sweet friend Kristin's birthday. And Valerie Cole's too! It's also the birthdays of Yasser Arafat, John Green, and Rupert Grint. On this day in 2006, Pluto was announced as a dwarf planet. (SAD VIOLIN MUSIC.) In 1995, Windows95 made its debut. Tons of shit has happened on August 24th. Seriously, check out this listBut the thing you won't find on that list is this: August 24, 2011- Julie Murphy finished her first manuscript.

It wasn't very good and it was kind of boring. It was really quiet and the voice wasn't quite right. But on this day last year, I finished my first manuscript. It's been a super effing crazy year. Everything has happened really fast. But something I've learned is that there's no set path to publication. Sometimes it's a ten year journey. Sometimes it's a one year journey. You are not lacking because it's taken you so long or because it hasn't taken you long enough. There's no right way to do it.

I signed my contract with HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray a little over a week ago. And, WOW. This time last year, all of this felt so far off and out of reach. Still, nothing feels quite real. I want to document as much of this experience as I can, so here I am signing my contract!

I don't think anything will ever happen with that first book, but it totally had to be written. The whole experience taught me so much. I'm working on a third manuscript now. I'm not sure what will happen with it and if it will ever be something. But with every word I write, I grow. So here's to a year of words and many more to come!



How do I even begin to a follow up my last post? I'm still in that constant state of WOW. And I sort of hope that never goes away...but then I do. The WOW feeling has made writing a little difficult. Because all of that self doubt begins to set in. Those feelings that say YOU WROTE ONE GOOD BOOK, WHAT MAKES YOU THINK YOU CAN WRITE A SECOND? It's a fear that every writer faces... I think. When I wrote SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY, I was at this huge point of frustration. I had really put my life on hold to write and I felt like I was going nowhere because my writing felt like it was going nowhere. So when I sat down to write SEMV, it was, like, this desperate frenzy. Which sounds really healthy, right? I don't know if it did anything for creating good writing habits, but it was really fucking therapeutic. Do you ever have that project that you dump everything into? The project that is all you. Every bit of you. That's what SEMV was for me. It was such a raw experience. So I had this all or nothing feel and now returning to that damn blinking cursor on my word doc is a little daunting, because a small part of me thinks, WHAT IF YOU REALLY DID GIVE EVERYTHING TO SEMV and WHAT IF YOU HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE?

Anyway, right now I'm trying to train myself to create good creative habits, while not being too reliant on any particular habits. Does that make sense?

So that's where I'm at right now. I know that revising SEMV is going to be just as intense as writing that first draft and I am so excited and scared and ready.

So how are you guys feeling? Any good writing habits to share? Any bad ones? Let me know in the box. We can share some popsicles and get over our self doubt, because it's really just some big time bullshit.


No, really. You do.

Because I had a really ugly weekend. And that's stupid. So, if you haven't showered for three days because you're writing, or if you have a huge fat stress pimple on your chin, or if you ate way too many pieces of pie on 4th of July, YOU LOOK FINE.



Four Words


Y'all, I'm freaking out. Excuse my lack of wit/ability to blog semi-intelligently, BUT  I AM FUH-REAKING OUT.

There will be fun. There will be giveaways. There will be celebrations. But, for now, here's my announcement from Publishers Weekly:

I wish I had something cool or smart to say, but all I have to say is: THIS IS BANANA PANTS.

I am so excited to be working with everyone at Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. For the record, I fell out of my chair when I found out Alessandra was interested. It was really elegant.

And, of course, thank you, Molly. I need bigger words than "thank you," but, for today, that's all I've got.

Writing a book can be a lonely endeavor, and I haven't quite figured out how to process these moments just yet--when your writing becomes something bigger than a word doc on your desktop. But I know this: I am so ready for all that's ahead.
I'm going to go ugly cry now, but for the time being, enjoy one of my favorite "ugly cry" moments in the history of ever. Thank you, James Van Der Beek.

Also, feel free to leave any comments or questions in the box! I'll answer what I can! And thank you all so much. This is such an incredible community and I am so honored to be a part of it.


An Open Love Letter to My Querying Friends

Robert Indiana Love SculptureThe last couple of weeks have been so exciting for so many of my sweet friends. Lots of folks out there are getting agented, and to you I say HUZZAH! But this post is not for you, this post is written for my friends in the trenches. This isn't advice. This isn't the Top Ten Things You Must Do To Get The Agent Of Your Dreams. This is me telling you how much I love you.

Allow me to preface this with one more thing: I am the critique partner of your nightmares. I'm not cuddly and undeservingly gushy. I am a hardass. Seriously, ask my critique partners. I am a realist. So I write this letter because my heart is soft for those of you who have done the research, done the work, and put yourself out there and still hear the word no. This letter is not for the querying writer who addresses their letter with "Dear Agent" or calls themselves the next J.K. Rowling.

To My Querying Friends:

I fucking love you. I love you so hard. I love you so hard because you're still going. And going is not easy. Going is really freaking heartbreaking. Going is an emotional roller coaster. Going is even harder when things are happening for everyone around you. It's hard because you want so badly to be happy for all you're uber talented friends, but that little voice inside still asks, "When will it be my turn?" Every agent success story is a happy dance on the outside, but a little more salt on the open wound that lives on the inside.

I'm talking to those of you who live for the betterment of your story, ask all the right questions during #askagent, don't write for trends, workshop the shit out of your query before even letting it get within ten feet of an agents inbox, and all those other good things that will someday make you an exemplary client. Because you are doing this right. And because you are doing this right, IT (the big elusive IT) will happen for you. It may not be this book, and it may not be the next, but someday THE agent will find THE book and that book will be YOUR book.

I once wrote a blog about how rejection is personal, so I felt like "don't take it personal" was total bullshit.  And I still do. But when an agent tells you this is a subjective business and that their rejection may be another persons offer, they are telling you the truth. It really is all subjective, and you. my querying friends, may not be getting rejected for personal reasons, but you still take it personal. Because all of this IS personal. Your writing is personal. It's not a phase and it's not a fair weather days thing. It's personal. It's something that lives inside of you that you're brave enough to not only put on paper, but also show people who have the power to say no to you. You write because you have to. If this was just for fun, then you wouldn't be where you are right now. Because where you are right now, in the slushpile, isn't really all that fun. And because of all that you are my hero. If I could add up all your rejections and shower them across the writing world so that we all carried one another's rejections, I would. 

So that's my big cheesy love letter to you. That's my silly bit of sentiment that in no way changes anything, but I hope it makes you smile.



Camp NaNoWriMo, Laundry, Popsicles, & Gourmet Olives or A royal cat and his merry band of cherubs.

Does anyone else feel like there's a lot of pressure associated with blogging? Sometimes I'll really be in the mood to blog, but won't because I feel like I have nothing valuable to say. So today, I'm here to officially say, THAT IS SILLY. And also, this is going to be a really long blog. Well at least it is right now--in my head.

First order of business: Camp NaNoWriMo or WTF is wrong with me?
So I found out about Camp NaNoWriMo all of ten hours before it started. Now I don't go all out and prepare things before I sit down to write, but I do like to mull things over for a few weeks before I dedicate my time to something. Or at least I think I do, I dunno I'm rediscovering my "process" everyday, so nothing is set in stone over at Camp Murphy. Anyway, going into NaNo I had two solid premises that I had already been taking long walks on the beach with for a while. But, I decided, NAY I SHALL START FROM SCRATCH. Mainly because I didn't want to rush either concepts I had been working with.

So like twenty minutes before I'm about to leave for work the day before NaNo, I say, HUSBAND, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS IDEA.
Note: Husband is kind and encouraging and cuddly and fluffy, but husband is never too gaga over anything I write. It's just not his style. So this was encouraging, and I knew that at the very least I might not bore myself. (Plus this is the only thing I've ever written that husband has asked to read as I write. Happy-making indeed.)

Husband proceeds to text and email me about said premise all day. So with no plot, and only a premise in my backpocket, I decided to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Again. Which actually, isn't so bad, but currently I'm transitioning between jobs  and am working both jobs. So, timing = bad. Julie = bananas.


It takes me a good 30 pages to decide how I feel about a manuscript, anyone else with me? So thirty pages in and I'm all voice, and no plot. But then last week it (the plot) came, in the night of course. And I wrote 10k in like a 30 hour window of time. I'm not one for trying it out the latest writing techniques/trends and I don't favorite ALL the writing advice in the world on Twitter, but when I read this 10k in one day article that's been circulating the web, I had to give it a go. I didn't technically do 10k in one day, but I upped my productivity by a bunch. A good day for me is 4k. I doubled it on that first day easily. Not only did I up my word count, but it was also some of my most polished and well thought out first draft material in...well...ever. The author who sent the internet into a frenzy with her 10k writing days is Rachel Aaron and you can read all about it on her blog. It's simple in theory, but not anything I ever took the time to do on my own. Not until the internet told me so. So as of yesterday, day 9 of NaNo, I am at 30k. And I am mighty happy.

Second order of business: I never learned how to be an adult or FEED ME COTTON CANDY.

You will gain nothing as a human being from reading this half of my post.

I was doing laundry today. ::gasp:: And I started to think about how I have no idea how the hell to do laundry. I sort of just dump everything in one load except reds because I've seen like 90 rom coms where the girl turns the guys whites pink.

I'm sure there was a time when my mom said, JULIE LET ME TEACH YOU HOW TO DO LAUNDRY. But teenage chubby girl Julie was too busy obsessing over the latest auditions at her high school or community theatre and day dreaming about all the roles she wanted so desperately to play. Unfortunately though, my wide birthing hips always had me cast as THE MOTHER... or Mrs. Beaver in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It could also be said that my Ally Sheedy from the Breakfast Club wardrobe didn't help much. Anyway. So I never really paid attention to how to do laundry and I think everything I learned about doing laundry came from watching Tide commercials. Also, grocery shopping. I can go grocery shopping and spend $45 on popsicles and gourmet olives, and think, I'M SET FOR TWO WEEKS. So what about you guys? Do any of you have memories of learning how to do laundry... or learning to be an adult? Or am I just a giant six year old?

Also I never posted about TLA, but it was great and I picked up more books than I could carry. Really, I did. And I got to see the lovely Siobhan Vivian!

If you're still trying to figure out the purpose of that cat picture... me too.


Make new friends, but keep the old! One is silver & the other gold! A circle is round, it has no end. That's how long I want to be your friend!

Longest blog title ever, right? Old Girl Scout campfire songs FTW!

Y'all, I need your help. I'm working on two projects right now. Both of which I'm very excited about! One of which I've run into a little problem with! So this project is super new to me, and unlike anything I've ever written. The characters are THERE and I love them, and they're talking to me! But they're not talking to each other. Womp, womp. That's right you heard me. I'm having some chemistry issues. And I've actually narrowed down the problem. (Pardon me while I toot my own horn for a sec.) I am really, really good at creating chemistry between characters who have history together. Characters who grew up together, are related, used to date, ex-bestfriends, etc. But I'm starting to notice that  creating chemistry between two characters who are meeting for the first time doesn't come as easily to me. Previously this hasn't been an issue because I really love stories about people with deep-seated pasts together. But that's not the case with this WIP.

So, this is my question: How do you, personally, create natural chemistry (romantic and platonic) that feels organic and easy between two characters who have just met? And furthermore, do you have any reading recommendations that you think shows a good example of this? I'm not talking insta-love... and I'm not too interested in anything paranormal/fantasy--at least not in this case--unless it's just a must-read.

Please, please leave your two cents in the comment box. I could really use some feedback and I know y'all won't fail me! Whether you're an NYT bestselling author, or just dabbling in writing, I would love to hear your input. And because you're such a pal, I'd appreciate it if you passed this on to others. RT the hell out of it. The more input the better.


The blog I wasn't cool enough to write. Kiley & Veronica Roth!

So you are probably wondering where Julie is, and you have reason to, she’s pretty awesome.  But don’t worry, she’ll be back soon.  In the meantime, Hi, I’m Kiley Roache, a high school sophomore and columnist for “The Doings” a suburban outlet of Sun Times Media.
 In my most recent column, I wrote about Veronica Roth and her amazing books Divergent and Insurgent, which Julie had originally told me to read. When I interviewed Ms. Roth, she shared some great writing advice.
 Sadly, I didn’t get to include most of it in my article.  In my opinion, what she said was infinitely helpful, and Julie was kind enough to let me guest blog, so I get to share it with you.
[Warning:  If you haven’t read Divergent by Veronica Roth, the following post may contain some spoilers.  Also, what are you doing, go read it now!]
 So if you’ve read Divergent and Insurgent, you are probably in love with Tobias.  This, I know, is a little scary since he is a fictional character and all.   The reason you felt this way is because Ms. Roth has created characters that truly seem like real people, including Tobias.  Roth said that with Tobias, “I always have a sense of what he’s doing when he’s not on the page…that helps a lot to make him feel like a real person in my mind.”  I think we could all use this advice since it’s so easy to focus on the main character, but when the reader becomes invested in the lives of many of the characters, that’s what makes a great novel. 
As for main characters, Roth stressed the importance of having them make mistakes.  She said “I think as an author it’s hard to do that because we kind of want to protect characters that we come to love, but it’s so important in making them seem like real people, because real people make mistakes all the time.”
 Ms. Roth also gave two key insights into creating the relationship between Tris and Tobias.  She said that she loves that Tobias believes in her strength, because, “So often, we see love stories about boys who want to protect girls, and he certainly wants to do that with her, but he also kind of trusts her to take care of herself and their mutual respect for each other really helps with the love story.”  She also remarked about the closeness between Tris and Tobias that comes from them exposing themselves to each other like they don’t to anybody else.  She said, “If you can develop closeness in the relationships between your characters that people can see on the page and not just hear about from one characters prospective, important.”
Finally, Ms. Roth taught me a very important lesson with the answer to a question about height.  I had noticed that while Ms. Roth is six feet tall, her protagonist, Tris, is quite short, so I asked her if making her short was a conscience decision.  She replied that it was, and she wanted Tris to be underestimated not only because of where she came from but also physically.  She said, “She doesn’t start off very strong, but she grows to be a stronger person both physically and mentally.  And I wanted that physical part of that journey to be really clear.  So I made her small.” 
I thought this was about the coolest answer ever.  I realized how remarkable it was that Ms. Roth had written a page-turner while still developing many layers to her work, and Tris’s simultaneous journeys was only one of many examples of this.  The complexity that Roth developed shows how possible it is for books to crossover from the required reading list to the best seller list.
 Thank you so much for taking time to read this, and if you didn’t like it, don’t worry, Julie will be back very soon.  I will leave you with Ms. Roth’s words on writing in general.
“Keep writing as much as you can and do not be so afraid to show your writing to other people, people that you trust.”

Quick note from Julie: Hey y'all! Just wanted to give a shout to Kiley and say a big fat THANK YOU! Isn't she awesome?? And pssst picture shows Veronica and Kiley at the signing! Kiley, can you come blog for me all the time? ;) No, but seriously.


So Wild.

Very few authors have had the same effect on me in my adulthood as they had in my childhood. But Maurice Sendak has.  Sometimes society loses people, and it feels so personal. And I'm not talking about your Grandpa Ed or a Kardashian. I'm talking about the people who have chosen to share themselves with us. Their words, their voice, their pictures. There are paintings and songs and books that are so dear to me that they no longer belong to the artist (or anyone else for that matter), but to me. These things become a part of my timeline, and my experience. These things become landmarks to me. I look at the art of these people and am able to relate it back to a feeling or a time that changed my life in both big ways and small.

Myself, like many of my friends (bookish and not), have a distinct connection to Maurice Sendak and Where The Wild Things Are. I love all of Sendak's work, especially his most recent Bumble-Ardy. But WTWTA will always be different for me. Growing up, not a whole lot of people read to me. And not because they didn't want to--I don't think--but, because I wanted that experience. And so, because I preferred to read on my own, I was a little older than most when I stumbled upon WTWTA, which I think allowed me to remember my initial feelings about it more specifically. (I've always had trouble with early childhood memories, they're all so foggy to me. I can only remember screenshots of events, and not always the events themselves. I digress.) I recall reading Wild Things and, at first, not liking it. Not being at all pleased by it. I thought Max was foolish, and he made me embarrassed about being a kid. At that age (maybe 7 or 8? maybe even 9?), I wanted nothing more than to be an adult. In my family I was the only girl my age. So all the boys played sports and I was this chubby little girl who just wanted to be a grownup. I'd watch movies like Sleeping with the Enemy, Dances with Wolves, and Pet Sematary with my sister. But then I read WTWTA again.  And again. And I started to like Max. Because I understood Max. Because when I saw Max I didn't see a boy, or a girl, or a kid. I saw a person. And I could relate to that person.

As an adult, upon revisiting WTWTA, I found that I felt the same. And probably even stronger.

So, this morning, I woke up to the news that Maurice Sendak had passed. And I cried. Burst out into tears crying. Which, although I loved that grouchy old man, is silly. Because Maurice was 83 years old, and he had lived a long full life--much fuller than many others. I cried while I got ready this morning. I cried on my way to work. And I cried at my desk. I don't cry too often, so this was not at all happy-making. Then I said, "Self, why are you crying?" (I'm very self-aware like that, you see.) I don't know Maurice Sendak. Not personally, anyway. When he died, his books didn't dissipate off my shelves. They're still there. I checked.

I guess, yeah, it's true what they say. An artist's work will live on long past the artist. So let's be happy that we had Maurice Sendak. And let's be happy that he chose to share his work. And let's treasure the artists we still have. But most importantly let's share our work. Even if it's just with one other person, that's one more person who your work will live inside. Because what if? What if Maurice hadn't ever shown us how to be wild?


Blogger, Baby, I Just Couldn't Stay Away

So I set up my super pretty website, which you can totally stalk. But I really, really missed my blogger account, so here I am. You guys'll take me back, right? There were a few  blog posts lost to the transition, but that's okay because I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaack! And in celebration of that, I leave you with this:


Movie Trailers: My Secret Weapon

So everyone's got their thing that gets them going, like pumped up. Inspires them. Am I the only person who can't say inspiration without feeling like a total cheeseball?
 My friend Kristin has a thing for fonts. Like, I'm not kidding, she takes joy in discussing the merit of a font. Seriously, we were on the phone last night and talked for almost an hour about business card fonts. I've got this other friend Nathan who breaths music. Without Nathan I'd probably be listening to the same music I listened to in high school. Ian, the hubs, gets his kicks from analog photography and vinyl records.

Me? I like all those things, sure. But what really gets me going is... MOVIE TRAILERS. I always hear everyone talking about their huge, ridiculous playlists. And those are awesome. I have playlists too, but they're usually in the neighborhood of 5-10 songs. I like creating one tone and sticking to it. I digress.

I love movies, of course, but trailers give me this fluttery feeling, like I'm watching someones life flash before my eyes. And I sorta kinda am. Maybe it's the voyeur in me? <--- CREEPY. Movie trailers are this quick two minute compilation of the most compelling moments of a film. Basically like movie Cliff Notes and accompanied by the best parts of the best songs. THAT. IS. AWESOME.

You guys have any trailers that just give you goosebumps? Here's a list of some of my favorite trailers as of late. A few of them are older, because sometimes oldies are goodies. I tried to keep the list to 2012 releases. I'll hope you'll click on a few and maybe find a movie that piques your interest.

Drive  (Easily one of my favorite 2011 releases! This movie was character study on crack!)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Jesus Henry Christ
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Blue Valentine
You Instead
Like Crazy
Warriors (One of my all time favorites!)
The Art of Getting By
Another Earth
The Giant Mechanical Man
Never Let Me Go (Another favorite!)
Safety Not Guaranteed
Once (Several of my handful of playlist songs come from this film. Oh my god, yall. So good.)

Trailers, I love them obviously. And often times, the film doesn't live up to the greatness that is the trailer. But films... droooool... I still love 'em. Even in high school, I can remember taking trains to the indie theaters in Dallas just so I could see that one obscure movie that was only playing at 4:42 on a Thursday or something. There was even a time when I thought I wanted to be the lucky person who created movie trailers. Shit, I still want to be that person. As writers, we're always told to "read, read, read", and yeah that's totally true. None of us are ever reading as much as we could or should, but I think there's something to be said for film. I think films give us that third dimension that's hard to peg down in a book (while both writing and reading). As I was writing my last manuscript, I think I watched Blue Valentine at least 27 times. Seriously, there's this series of scenes in my book that I wrote in one night, on my couch, with Blue Valentine on repeat. If I'm being honest, I owe a lot to that film. (And also, RYAN GOSLING.)

So you guys, put down the book. Only for a bit. And watch some trailers. Watch a movie. And get swallowed up in it. And if it's amazing, tell me about it.

Writing Update: Finished my first round of revisions about a week ago and now I'm fine-tuning a few things! Chuggin' along yall!

Be a friendly-- leave a comment!



My Agent Story. The Directors Cut. Part Deux of Deux

Alrighty y'all. Welcome to Part II of my agent story. If you're just now joining us (WELCOME!), you can check out Part I here! And you must read Part I before you read Part II. You wouldn't read Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire before Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, would you?
If you're here for the inspirational MOJO, skip to the last paragraph. So, Without further ado--

WARNING: As with all my blog posts, poor grammar ahead... and foul language, too. For one of those things, I am sorry.

Part II: Spinning Teacups. It's all fun and games 'til someone pukes their guts out.

Chapter Four: Mondays will never be the same.

Okay, so before I got off the phone with Molly, she offered to get me in touch with one of her clients as a reference (another thing I didn't have to ask for, but was given).(Reminder: We left off on Monday, February 27th.)

Within twenty minutes, I received an email from Molly's client who had amazing things to say about both Molly and Folio. I was pleased as punch. But I couldn't say yes just yet.

I had work to do. At the time of my phone call with Molly I had fourteen full requests out, along with a handful of recently sent out queries. I sent out all those emails I never thought I would send, nudging these agents because I had an offer! I let them know I would like to make a decision in about a weeks time. Most agents responded within hours, but there were a few agents who I didn't hear back from for a couple days.

Sidenote: Some agents will ask you who has offered. It is completely up to you if you want to share that information. There are a few reasons (I'm assuming) they ask. 1. There are a lot of crazy queriers out there and it wouldn't surprise me to hear that someone pulled a trick like that to get to the top of the slush, and 2. Agents are competitive by nature-- as they should be! Sometimes if it's a close friend they might back down or if it's someone they're in competition with they might be a little more aggressive. The point is: This information is yours to share. In my case, any agents who requested that information were very polite, so I did not mind sharing. However, I did ask for their confidentiality, which I thought was fair.

Chapter Six: When it hit me like an effing cruise ship.

So fast forward a few hours, and I'm in my cubicle on Monday afternoon at the library. None of this had really hit me yet. I had SQUEEEE'ed and gotten excited, but it hadn't sunk in just yet.

Until I got an email. FROM ONE OF MY FAVORITE AUTHORS. This author is also repped by Folio and in my phone call with Molly I had mentioned how big of a fan I was. Because I'm such a big fan of this author I had sent this person an email a few months ago letting them know how much I enjoyed their work. Anyway, I'm not gonna go too much into the details except to say that this author sent me the sweetest, most encouraging email, including their full endorsement of Folio. They also offered to speak with me about absolutely any questions I had concerning Folio, or any other agency I was considering. These were my reactions, in this exact order:

2. Bawling my eyes out at my desk, and when that got too embarrassing I took that circus to the bathroom.

I cried. Really hard. Because it finally hit me that maybe this uphill battle had plateaued for just a moment. And regardless of who I chose, I would have someone to walk the distance with me from here on out. That might sound cheesy or silly, but knowing that someone is willing to take a chance on you-- to bet on you (because that's what it is, really)-- is something I was not at all prepared to feel. I don't think any blog or forum can ever prepare you for that feeling.

Molly had officially wooed me. And that was only Monday.

Chapter Seven: The Week of No Sleep.

You all already know the ending to this story and you're reading this because you're either my mom or just really nice. Since you know, that in the end, I picked Molly I won't go into too much detail concerning other offers (also, that'd be super unprofessional), but I will give you an overview of my week.

This is what my week looked like in offers:

Monday 2/27: Molly offered. At this point I truly felt that, regardless of other offers, I would go with Molly. However, I did not anticipate how awesome everyone in the agenting world would be.
Tuesday 2/28: No offers.
Wednesday 2/29: Agent 2 offered. Julie = Shocked
Thursday 3/1: Agent 3 offered. Julie = SWOON.
Friday 3/2: Agent 4 offered. So, maybe this wasn't all a fluke?

Saturday 3/3 & Sunday 3/4: Wow. The weekend. Over the weekend I received one unsolicited request from an agent with an agency who does not take unsolicited requests. Crazypants. I did, however, decline, because as it was my decision was difficult enough and I did not feel I would be swayed from my top prospects. I also received a couple responses from agents who I had always respected. They requested my fulls but only if their offers would sway my decision. I felt very strongly that I would make my decision between agents who currently had my fulls, so I declined sending my manuscript.

Monday 3/5: Agent 5 & Agent 6 offered. Back-to-back phone calls. Insane.
Tuesday 3/7: Agent 7 offered. At this point, I was sure that unicorns existed as well.

Chapter Eight: The Julie Complex.

So when an agent offers there's THE call. THE MYTHICAL CALL. So I did THE call seven times, and here's the thing: These agents were all awesome, every single one of them. Not only are they awesome, but they're telling you that you're awesome. When you're a writer, or any type of artist at all, you get used to rejection. You expect it. And without even knowing it, rejection starts to become like a security blanket, something you can always expect. So, I never thought it might be like this. That hearing so many people liked my manuscript would be so overwhelming. But it was. The best way I can explain is this: I felt like the ugly girl who got hot over the summer and now everyone wanted to hook up with her, and just for good measure throw in  daddy issues too! Already, I was thinking, "What if I never write a book like this again?", "What if I suck at revising?", "What if one of these agents sign me and just figures out I'm only a really obnoxious girl from Texas?"

I don't have an answer to these things just yet and I don't know that I ever will. I'm still figuring it out as I go, so To Be Continued...

 Chapter Nine: Natural Selection.

Decision Time. So, they all love you, but they all want different things too. Most of the agents all agreed on specific things. Also, unless your name's Judy Blume, you will be asked to make revisions before going on submission. Each agent had a different idea of what my revision process would be like and when they would like to go on submission. Not kidding. I heard as soon as next week all the way up to ten months. But, then some of them started asking for things I knew I wasn't really down with. And little by little, I whittled my list down to three agents, including Molly. Because I'm a total baby, hearing seven very differing opinions on my manuscript was another thing I was not at all prepared for. 

When I first started compiling my query letter and my list of agents, my critique partners and beta's asked me who my dream agents were. When I queried my first MS, I had a set idea of who would be perfect for my MS. But this time, it was different. This time I didn't have any one person in mind.

Sidenote: I did, however, have specifics I looked for. I looked for mostly newer agents (less than 3-5 years experience) who worked with very reputable agencies. I wanted someone with a selectively growing list, but with the benefits of a well recognized agency. I wanted an editorial agent, too. And, lastly I looked for people who I would want to have a conversation with.

So, dream agent. For me, it was whoever loved the story I had created just as much as I did. An agent whose passion rivaled my own. Someone who got my characters. A partner and friend who wanted to stick with me for the long haul.

My decision was difficult. But, at the end of the day, no matter which way I framed it, I couldn't picture myself not saying yes to Molly.

So I typed up this huge, long, verbose email that sounded nothing like me. I adressed it to Molly and I read it like eleven times before saying "Eff it, I'm calling her." So I did, and when I said yes to Molly she was just as excited as I was. And if there had been a doubt in my mind it was completely vanquished. And, and, and if there had been any other doubts (which there weren't) those fizzled out when I received my first editorial letter and fully saw just how much Molly got me and my characters.

So I signed my contract. And I took a picture because I'm a first-day-of-school-picture kind of gal.
Well, you guys, that's the story. That's how it happened. I am the luckiest girl in the world and I am so ready for this wild ride. I'm currently working my way through revisions... and guess what? I might not suck at them. But we'll see.  That's more of a day by day thing.

Chapter Ten: The Geekenomics. Boring.
One last thing before I close this sucker out. My stats. These are the gory, tacky details that I would want to know. PS- I just did this math tonight, so if you asked this question recently the answer may have been wrong, but these are the right numbers!
Queries Sent: 22
Query Rejections: 10
Request After Signing: 1
No Response: 1
Full Requests via Queries:12
Unsolicited Request: 1
*1 full request I did not send because I had nearly made my decision and the agent was a little late in requesting.
Contests Entered: 3
Full Requests via Contest: 7
*1 request I did not send because the agent required a synopsis and I did not have one prepared. The agent later contacted me saying they would have made an exception. This was only a day or two before making my decision, so I declined sending my full. But, lesson to you: always ask!
Total Requests: 20
Full Rejections: 10
*3 requests I did not send. Some rejections were agents stepping back due to lack of time. Some had genuine problems with my manuscript. And some said they would have asked for an R&R if I didn't have other offers on the table.

The Bloody Epilogue:

Finally, the end. You made it. Let's eat cupcakes.

This is the part where I get cheesy and inspirational. So if this isn't your cup of tea, then skedaddle! I'm sitting here all teary eyed typing this up at half past midnight. And if you're here, if you're still reading this (full on tears now) and if you're a writer or a painter or a plumber or a dreamer or whatever the fuck it is you are-- keep going. I know it's easier said than done, but I can say it because I'm doing it. I'm going. And as much as I love my agent and as pleased as I am to be working with her, she does not make me a writer. The words on the page make me a writer. My being a writer is no different now than it was in December with my stack of 50+ rejections. So whether you're writing on your lunch break and working that shit 8 hour a day job or if you're living in England and writing a book about a beautiful boy wizard who will save the world-- you're a writer. You are a writer.

My name is Julie Murphy and I am a writer.

PS- Have a question? Feel free to ask!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for THE LIST by Siobhan Vivian! It's my first giveaway, so if you don't enter I'll be heart broken and I'll probably never get on the internet again.


My Agent Story. The Directors Cut. Part un of deux.

Part I: Inclining Roller Coaster-- The Creaking, Wooden Variety. 

The Hated Prologue
If you're reading this you're here for the long version of the story. I went back and forth on posting this because it all felt so me-me-me-me-self-centered. And I'm really bad at talking about myself. But, as my lovely critique partner, Valerie, pointed out, this is my blog. Plus, I loved reading these stories when I was querying, so I hope you'll feel the same. Yeah, if you follow this blog or follow me on Twitter then you already know how lucky I am to call the fantastic Miss Molly Jaffa (Folio Literary Management) my agent. And if you didn't know that, then-- SURPRISE! Anyway, if you're really curious or really creepy (yay, creepy!!!) here's a breakdown of how it all went down.

*I plan on doing a blog post about what I did differently from MS1 to MS2, so this post will just focus on the querying process for my second manuscript. That being said, I received 50+ rejections on my first manuscript-- many of those from agents whom I received offers from (including Molly! If you're reading, Hi Mojo Molly 1 of 2!). So, I get rejection you guys. I really do.

WARNING: As with all my blog posts, poor grammar ahead... and foul language, too. For one of those things, I am sorry.

Chapter One: The Query Shuffle

I started dipping my toes in the query pool sometime around the first week of February. I wasn't 100% sure of my manuscript, but at the same time I was at this point where I didn't feel I could take my MS any further on my own. And, too, I was scared of over-editing and losing my voice. So, know when to query. But, above all, don't query too soon. Because I've done that before, and it's bad news bears.

So, I received a handful of requests and a couple rejections, too. Things started to feel like they might be getting serious, so I decided to examine my list of agents to see who I had yet to query. I didn't want to leave any stone unturned. On that list of un-queried agents was Molly. And, full disclosure, I almost didn't query her. Mainly, because, even after putting one manuscript to bed, I was still terrified of rejection. And, well, from what I'd seen on Query Tracker and on different forums Molly seemed to be really selective and I had always admired her and I didn't want to have to highlight her name in red on my nifty query spreadsheet. In fact, I couldn't ever really remember seeing any recent requests from her. And if I got rejection from Molly with this MS, well then that was it. So, I figured why bother? I didn't see the point in adding another rejection to my stats (which is really freaking stupid). But, then I started chatting up my critique partner and another good friend, and we came to this conclusion: WHY THE HELL NOT? I had already done all the leg work, all the internet stalking, (ya know, the dissecting of every word of every interview you can find), and had already trolled her bio page on the Folio website. (Read: hit F5 68,000 times to see if her bio had updated for whatever reason. Creepy, I know.)

Okay, anyway, on Monday (2/20) at like 1 in the morning, I grew a pair and queried Molly.

Chapter Two: Wear Your Best, Because You Got a Fucking Request

That chapter title made no sense. Roll with it you guys.

I woke up a few hours later, after sending my query, and pretended like it didn't happen so I could just function like a normal human being at work. Then, later that afternoon I pulled out my phone and that goddamn light was blinking. EMAIL. EMAIL. EMAIL. I took a deep breath and told myself it would just be a stupid email from Sephora or something. But then I opened my email and it wasn't from Sephora or Petsmart or Amazon or any of those things you should really unsubscribe to before querying because every time that light blinks you go into cardiac arrest. It was most definitely a reply from Molly, and in less than 24 hours. Molly replied using my first name and to my querying friends you know what this means. It usually means good news or at least a semi-personalized rejection. But it wasn't a rejection, it was a full request, saying she was "captivated". Well Holy Pangea, y'all.

So I got home from work that night and sent that bad boy off. All the while, I was participating in Cupid's Blind Speed Dating contest, Miss Snark's First Victim's Secret Agent Contest, and Operation Awesome's Secret Agent Contest, which was B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Molly sent me a lovely confirmation email upon receipt of my manuscript. She said it would be a couple weeks. So, I prepared myself for a long wait.

Footnote: Let me go slightly off topic for just a minute and say, Molly was so lovely in her emails. A lot of times when I've received requests, in the past, I've had this feeling like the agent was doing me a huge favor just by thinking about maybe looking at my manuscript. Now, agents are obscenely busy people, OBSCENELY, and I don't expect for them to fawn over me-- not in the least, but Molly genuinely made me feel like reading my manuscript was a priority for her and she expressed real interest.

Chapter Three: You've Got Mail

Okay so back to the waiting. Alright, sent off my full on Monday (2/20).
Thursday. By Thursday 2/23, I had received a few more requests since Monday (and if I recall, some contest results had begun to trickle in which I received requests on as well). And around 5pm, I was headed to an author event in North Dallas with some friends. (Breathless Reads Tour!!!) We were stuck in this horrible bumper-to-bumper traffic and thankfully I wasn't driving because my phone effing beeped. It was Molly. She couldn't put down my manuscript and she would "love, love, love" to talk to me about it.

OMG. You guys, I tried to get out of the car because I was so freaked out. Bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway.

I screamed. I couldn't even talk. I had to show my friends the email because I could barely breathe. Then I called my Ian. Then I called my mom nineteen times before` she picked up, and when I told her she SQEEEEE'ed big time too. I went to the author event and proceeded to live on Cloud 9 for a couple hours, but then I started to think "Okay, what if she just wants to talk R&R?" (*non-writer friends R&R=Revise & Resubmit) Which, by the way, would not have been bad news. Just a different kind of news.

So, we arranged a phone call for Monday morning-- exactly a week from the day I had sent my initial query.

That weekend was hell. I was so nervous I thought I might swallow my tongue at any moment. Then Monday came, and I woke up at some hideous hour because I was too excited to sleep. I kept telling myself not to make any inappropriate jokes... because 9 out of 10 things I say are usually inappropriate... or not to ask any intrusive questions... because if I ever want to know something I just ask, whether or not I should.

Chapter Three:  People Still Talk on the Phone?

If you're still reading this, you're a freaking champ. Seriously, go get yourself a wine cooler.

It should be said, that I am horrible at talking on the phone. HORRIBLE. So, for this phone call, I was especially petrified.

Monday morning came and Molly called right on time. I had done my homework and made a list of questions I would ask, should she offer. I had also stood in front of a mirror for hours trying to talk about myself and my work, for practice. Unfortunately, I am not kidding.

We talked. We normal talked. We book talked. We food talked. We Texas talked. And we career talked. Molly answered all my questions, without me ever really having to ask anything at all. We talked about my book and about me as a writer.

Molly talked about me and my work in words I never knew I always wanted to hear. I had never put much thought into what I wanted people to say about my writing, but when she talked, I had to stop myself from screaming, "YES THAT!!!" She used words that I had only ever used to describe my favorite authors and their books. And this is important you guys, because when it comes down to it, whichever agent you end up with is your advocate. And how they talk about you and your books matter.

Then she said, the magic Candy Land words, "You can consider this my formal offer of representation." Or something like that, I really don't know. I was in shock and my heart kinda like fell into my butt.
That's it for Part I! I'll have Part II up in the coming days! I'll be talking about the fourteen requests, along with some unanswered queries, I still had out when Molly offered, and what I though my "dream agent" was!

Feel free to leave a comment in the good old box! (Don't make me beg!) Questions, non-questions, links to cat videos-- whatever! *Cat videos preferred, obviously.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for THE LIST by Siobhan Vivian! It's my first giveaway, so if you don't enter I'll be heart broken and I'll probably never get on the internet again. 


The List: a must-read for the writing reader. + Giveaway!!!

I was lucky enough to pick up The List by Siobhan Vivian at ALA Midwinter. Not only that, but, I was able to meet Siobhan! And she was such a gem. 
The List takes on beauty. Beauty in all shapes and forms. How we perceive beauty. How we measure beauty. How we internalize our feelings about our own beauty.
Okay, so the premise. Every year, there is a List. On this List are eight names. Two girls from each grade. The ugliest and the prettiest. The List takes the reader through a week in the shoes of these eight girls. 
 These girls, y'all. I felt for these girls. This is the type of book that makes you feel naked. It slips through your pores and lives inside of you for days after turning that last page. Each character was an authentic individual. No stereotypical ugly/pretty girls. (Sell me on your characters and you've got me by the heart.) And the ending you guys, left me with chills. I won't give away any more about the ending, except for that this ending is my favorite type of ending and Siobhan delivers it with finesse. So that is why, as a reader, you need to read The List.

Now, I'm going to break it down for my writer friends. There are some writers whose voice I could recognize anywhere. It's not a bad thing. It's why they have such loyal fans. But, in The List Siobhan takes on the identity of eight completely different characters living extreme versions of the same week. When I opened The List I read the title page, with the authors name, and then, you guys, Siobhan disappeared and in her place I found eight beautifully tragic high school girls who I connected with on largely significant levels. And here's the moral you guys. This is what I learned: Some of the most gifted writers know how to take a step back and allow their characters to speak for them. 

So, if you're a reader, I hope you read The List and let it take you through a week in the shoes of these eight girls. And if you're a writer, I hope you do that too. But take some damn notes, y'all. Because, Siobhan is on fire! (And her other books are pretty great aswell!!!)

Since I loved The List so much, I pre-ordered not just one-- but two copies! One for me! Duh! And one for you! Well, for one of you. 

To enter to win all you have to do is leave a comment, telling me about a book (not a how-to book) that taught you about writing or (if you don't write) one of your recent favorites! And please, please leave a way for me to contact you! Twitter or email! This contest is limited to the Continental US only, sorry! And you don't need to follow my blog, but I would truly appreciate it! And I would doubly appreciate it if you followed me on Twitter (@andimjulie)! Retweet this giveaway for an extra entry!!! I'll be using www.random.org to pick the winner! Contest open until March 30th! That's like two-ish weeks! And who knows? Maybe I'll give away some random ARC's too!

The List comes out April 1, 2012. Pick up a copy or twelve!

 Thanks y'all! Happy reading! And may the odds be ever in your favor.


the LO to my VE.

So I try to keep the blog books/writing related, but then I posted for my sisters birthday and now it's my anniversary! And I promise to mention writing if you keep reading!
On March 12th, 2011. I married my BFF. My partner. My loverbug, Ian.
By the time we got married we had already been living together for quite some time and had already purchased our first home. So this first year of marriage was AWESOME. No weird habits to grow accustom to or little annoyances to overcome. I mean, we still have weird habits and we can be totally annoying, but we're old pro's at this thing.

So without further ado, PICTURES: 

And this is where I talk about writing. Because, you see, Ian's not just married to me. He's married to my dream. And I to his. When you love someone you're married to every bit of them. Even when you're not really married because before we were ever married we were dedicated to every bit of each other and marriage didn't change a thing. Ian dreams my dreams just as big as I do, if not bigger. So when I was querying, Ian was querying. When I received rejection after rejection, so did Ian. And when things finally started happening. When the requests started piling up, when the offers started rolling in, Ian was happier for me than I was. Mainly because I was really overwhelmed and in utter shock. But also because he wants this for me, too.

So, Ian-buttface-boogerhead thank you for loving every bit of me. Including all the mean and nasty parts. And thank you for dreaming my dream just as much as I do. Olive Juice.


Is this real life?

Alright you guys, I've got really INCREDIBLE news and I have an awesome 58 page-long blog planned out to tell you all the gritty details, but for now here's the short version:
I have a literary agent!!!
Her name is Molly Jaffa and she's with Folio Lit  in NYC y'all. No joke.
In all I had seven offers, and Molly's was the first I received and we clicked-- like old friends. We had some fantastic conversation about my manuscript, writing, reading, and food.
So, since I'm doing a huge long post about this whole process sometime in the near future, I'll keep it short! But, before I go--
FIVE FACTS ABOUT MOLLY! (picture yanked from the Folio website)
1. She likes fried chicken... because, who doesn't?
2. She's originally from Texas. BONUS POINTS!
3. She owns red lipstick. ps- How adorable is she?
4. She's on Twitter and you MUST follow her!
5. She's my dream agent.

Y'all I am beyond excited for this next chapter in my life. Beyond, Beyond! Stay tuned because, there is so much more to come!


my seeeester

First let me say, my sister is going to kill me for posting this picture. JILL BETTER PICTURES TO COME LATER IN THIS POST, I swear. Okay, so this picture: my mom (back), my sister Jill, and that cute as shit little tyke with the mullet-- that's me. The three musketeers. (Well, there's my dad too, but that's another post for another day.)
So March 1st is my dear old sisters birthday and I figured what better way to wish her a happy birthday than to do so publicly on the old blog.
Growing up, Jill was like a second mommy to me. Whenever I was sick in the middle of the night, it was Jill I woke up. And it was Jill who put me back to bed. But me and my sister, we're as opposite as they come. I'm a little rough around the edges at time and she is quite honestly so very lovely. We were always different, but one thing we always had in common was our crazy family. At the end of the day, no one understands your home life like your sibling(s). It was always a meeting point for us. Sometimes Jill had a hard time accepting why I had to do absolutely everything wrong before I could do it right and I could never understand why the hell Jill would ever dedicate all the time in the world to helping everyone but herself (seriously, she was a missionary for a long period of time, and in a way she still is).

When Jill was doing things like this (loving people w her giant heart) <----

I was doing things like this (getting cheesy tattoos)  ---->

But despite our differences we could always talk about why mom did this and why dad didn't do that and how much we love The Wonder Years. My sister is sweet and kind and selfless and all the things I've never been good at being. And I wish her the most happiest birthday yet!
My sister quotes Bible verses, and I quote books. So, Jill this one's for you:

But the wild things cried, “Oh please don't go- We'll eat you up- we love you so!”
  -Maurice Sendak,  

Where the Wild Things Are 

Love you Jill!
- Julie 


You are here.

First off, saw this image online ages ago and I can't find the artist, so I'd love to give said artist credit. Hello? Artist?

Well it's been a bit since I've done a legit writing post. So this is me officially updating.
So November I cranked out my second novel. And here's the thing about writing a second novel, it's full of self-doubt. Things like, what if I can't do this again? Was that whole book thing a one-trick pony? And, what if my second attempt is even worse than my first attempt?
But here's the thing about writing, and basically every other fucking thing, THE MORE YOU DO IT, THE BETTER YOU GET. So yeah, this second go at writing and editing a full manuscript went pretty stinking good. I don't outline, there's no use fibbing about that. But this time, I had a sort of road map of how the experience itself ought to feel. An idea of what I should expect of myself. And not only that, but I had a more a solid understanding of what works and what doesn't. But really, what really changed is this: I swallowed my fears and wrote, even when I thought it would never work, I wrote it anyways. So yeah, back to November. I wrote my first draft in a little over three weeks.
 I took most of December off, because truthfully I was still licking my wounds. I had received two rejections on requested material and I had one last full request I was waiting to hear back on, and that rejection... that rejection came on Christmas Eve night. Literally you guys, I was pulling cupcakes out of the oven, my cell chirped, I fished it out of my apron pocket, and found a form rejection on my full manuscript in my inbox. (Sidenote: I understand the necessity of form rejections, but it doesn't make it any easier to handle.) So yeah I slammed the oven shut, and said eff it. And that was when I decided I to put away HOMESICK FOR GOODBYE. Maybe not forever, but for now. I had considered the possibility that this time would come, but now it had. And it sucked even more than I expected it to. In the end, I closed out my first manuscript at fifty-three rejections.
You wanna know what I did? I enjoyed my holidays and read some good books.  And I most definitely did not edit.
So, fast forward to January 1st. I cracked my laptop open and began to scour the internet for critique partners. Because there was one thing I knew. If I was going to make a second go at this whole writing thing, I would need some serious critique partners. Thanks to the incredible online writing community I was able to meet some really nice people I connected with. And one or two who I could not have done this with out. (SHOUTOUT: Valerie Cole!!!!) I spent the entire month of January editing the shit out of my second manuscript (which is currently titled THE SYMPTOMS OF OUR SHADOWS).
Come the first week of February, I started querying. I expected to just test out the waters, get a couple rejections, see if I could get any reactions. But then, I wasn't really getting a whole lot of rejections and I started getting a whole lot of reactions. So I'm still in the midst of it all, and I think I'm going to keep my stats privy for right now. But let me just say, things are going really well.
Really, really well.
Maybe I'll have good news for you all soon, and maybe I won't. But even if I don't this has been a ride I will never forget. That's all for me today you guys.
And don't forget to leave me some creepy comments.
But in the meantime, I AM HERE. And here is pretty freaking awesome.




So I usually try to blog like once or twice a month. Which isn't all that ambitious, I know. I figure the lower my goal, the higher chance I have of being impressive when I surpass my goal. My flawed logic. So I'm going to try to do a couple consecutive posts to make up for my sheer laziness.

In case you live under a rock, ALA (American Library Association) midwinter was in Dallas this year. And me and Ashly did ALAMW HARD. It was ridiculous, lots of publishers and vendors. And LOTS of peoples, some nice, some not so nice. But overall the weekend was amazing and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I got a huge haul of ARC's (not all for me, promise!) and lots of awesome information. And did I mention I got to spend the whole weekend with Ashly?? Because I did and we had so much fun! Seriously, it would not have been the same had I gone by myself. (Pictures L to R: Me & Siobhan Vivian- highlight of my weekend!ALA ARC haul. Me & Ashley being famous, duh.)

Also sidenote: Ian got me a second edition Animal Farm for Christmas and I lost my shit. One of my favorite books of all time!

Yep. That's all I've got.


ps- for my review of any and all books I read check me out on Goodreads!


Nugget #1: READ

Because I am a wildly successful published author, I decided the universe would spin out of control unless I doled out my writing advice on a not-so-consistent-serial basis. All that to say, I'm announcing my newest blog feature (okay, really my blog doesn't have any features, so this is really the first and only feature). Without further ado, I give you...
nug·get [nuhg-it]
1. a lump of something.
2. unsolicited in nature, in reference to advice.
3. at times misguided but well-meaning, in reference to advice from Julie.
4. a bite-size piece of chicken, fish, etc., usually batter-fried.
2012; unofficial writing advice, in the form of a blog entry. At times suspicious.  

Nugget #1:
READ. Read, read, read, read.
When I first started dabbling with writing (years and years ago when my first manuscript was just a molecule of a thought) I googled (yes, googled) writing advice and you want to know what I found out? If you are not a reader, you cannot be an effective writer. The best writers (and this even applies to stupid term paper writing) are veracious readers. This is true because when you are reading, not only are you digesting the plot and the characters, but you are also (without even realizing it) studying the mechanics of writing- pacing, character development, style, etc. It's all there, all the secrets are right there at your local library. 
And don't just go out and read about how to write and what the market looks like (that stuff is great and good, but secondarily important). Read authors who write the way you want to write, because ultimately those guys are doing something right. Read authors whose stories you get lost in. When I finished my first manuscript it was really hard for me to get into the rhythm of reading for pleasure again, because I got it. I had been on the inside and I finally got how a story worked. And for just a little while (a very little while) this took away the magic of reading for me, but then I read something new that took my breath away and I was so kindly reminded that I do not have all the answers and thankfully I never will.
So there's my nugget, my very first nugget: READ.