Archives: Writers

Today, we took a moment to catch up with Bianca Turetsky, author of The Time-Traveling Fashionista series. We talked about fashion, writing for tweens, and of course the newest the fashionista novel, The Time-Traveling Fashionista and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile  (out today!).  Turetsky_FashionistaCle#196

The series follows Louise, a spunky 12-year old vintage fashion aficionado with an unusual (and entertaining) knack for time-traveling to the most stylish “fashion moments” in history. As one reviewer puts it, “no time machine or geekery here” and  Kirkus calls it “suspenseful and immersive history lesson.”

Here’s what Bianca had to say…

1) Louise is an ideal heroine– spunky, smart, and unafraid to stand out. Is her character modeled after yourself when you were her age in any way?  

I’m so happy you feel that way about Louise! I love books with smart female protagonists so I’m glad she came across that way. Like Louise, I was very into vintage clothing and shopping at thrift stores, which was not typical in the suburban CT town I grew up in. But it’s not easy to stand out in middle school and I felt very insecure at that time. Although it didn’t stop me from dressing differently from the crowd! I probably was braver in my head and journals than in real life.

2) Can you give us an idea of the kinds of ensembles we would have found a young Bianca outfitted in?

I went through a time when I wore men’s thrifted shirts and ties. I wore mismatched earrings and socks. And generally a lot of neon. I went through a Laura Ashley and Betsey Johnson phase. Let’s just say I was still figuring it out.

3) What role does fashion play in your life now? Do you have a fashion icon?  

I find fashion to be a fun and creative outlet. I love the Edith Head quote I use in the book: “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” I try and live by that.  I have so many fashion icons: Diana Vreeland, Lauren Hutton, old-Hollywood movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. Currently I love Alexa Chung’s style. She mixes vintage pieces with new younger designers and always makes it her own unique take.

4) Are there any especially important themes in the Fashionista series that you are trying to communicate to young readers? 

I think it’s important to embrace the thing that makes you different. Maybe your passion is not vintage fashion, but the hobby or outlet you have that your friends don’t is what makes you special- whether it’s math or crocheting or baking. Everyone else will catch up with you!

5) Did you encounter any inherent challenges associated with reaching and appealing to a younger audience? How did you go about learning the language of tweens? Read more »

Writers can slave away at their books, sometimes over the course of many years, before emerging to find an agent and publisher. As an inherently isolated task, writers fall prey to an almost inevitable mistake: they lose touch with the current market for literature and contemporary authors, many of whose books achieve the same goal, or worse, tell the same story.

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Suddenly, publishing seems like one big popularity contest. Who was it who said that everything I learned, I learned in high school?

The business of the arts suggests it’s true. When I worked briefly as a music manager, there was one thing that really got me: in a business that was increasingly about touring and media because that was where any money could be made, I started to wonder if being a musician actually meant being a model. Unlike musicians today, writers, fortunately, need not worry too much about superficial appearances, unless a selling point of your book proposal includes being “mediagenic.” Instead, writers benefit because:

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Online and offline, on Twitter and in conversations with publishers, it’s clear that Amazon is in the hot seat. Granted, where publishing institutions like Random House and brick-and-mortar bookshops are concerned, there’s been heat with Amazon for some time. Increasingly, the publishing industry is making bolder statements, as Scott Turow, head of the Authors Guild did in an op-ed for Bloomberg News last week, calling Amazon “the Darth Vader of the literary world.”

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Books are made on word-of-mouth.
At least those books that receive critical acclaim or top the bestseller charts. Think The Help or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and countless others.

This is more than publicity. This is the unquantifiable magic of human capital. No matter how much you spend, it can’t really be predicted.

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Being an agent is living with a sense of death-threatening urgency. All my life I was told: “simmer down, what’s the urgency?” “take a chill pill” (that traumatizing childhood experience), or, my father’s famous line, “Your urgency does not qualify my emergency.”

When I became an agent, my boss told me one of the reasons I was hired was on the basis of my urgency. It wasn’t the first time I was reminded of the famous Alanis Morrisette song.

Today, I wanted to share this eCard that speaks to the agent (and writer and dater) experience, particularly when on submission with a proposal. I know many of you relate.

Ah, publishing, an industry predicated on acceptance and rejection. (Here’s a provocative essay further to that point).

There’s a first rule in becoming an agent: “learn how to manage your client.” This is true of any entertainment agent: when you are invested in someone’s longterm career, you need to allow your client to dream big in the creation process but moderate expectations in the fulfillment of that dream with conservatism, and guide clients to detach themselves from their work as more parties are involved. And encourage that they detach themselves again when they become, as so many artists, the subject of criticism or enjoy the celebrity of fandom–the majority of well-recognized authors experience both, in equal part.

But what about managing your agent or your editor?  Read more »

A tweet can make a difference.

I see this happen all the time. But many writers I’ve advised to blog and tweet, will grieve: “no matter what I do, I don’t see anyone coming to my blog!”

But then, suddenly, one day, one hour, and within ten seconds, that changes, and one of the most influential Twitterers falls upon your blog, and tweets about it to his thousands of followers. And suddenly, you see 20 new follows and an unprecedented spike in your web traffic; if you’re published, maybe even a spike in your Amazon ranking.

In publishing today, there is no such thing as “build it and they will come.”

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 I’ve just started a series called Book Jacket of the Week. Every week, I’ll pick something that catches my eye, and you can comment if you agree or disagree. Here is the first: do you recognize it?

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I was speaking with a young friend of mine, an artist and aspiring children’s book writer, about his day job: the one that pays the bills, and a necessary evil for most creatives. I’ve encountered three types of people in my life. The first are those who grow up with a hardworking parent — by hardworking, I mean a hospital doctor, a successful banker or lawyer, a diplomat, or a parent who worked multiple, more menial jobs to make ends meet. These children tend to follow in those footsteps, often making great sacrifices, because hard work and often, the compensation for it, was the greatest value they were taught. As the great filmmaker Michael Apted said, quoting a Jesuit proverb, about his now famous 7 Up series, “the coal miner’s son becomes the coal miner.” To a large degree, don’t you find this true in yourself, in those you know?

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Categorized: Authors and Writers

This week, the series continues with Man of La Book on the almighty powers of Twitter. You can see the first post of the series here.

Hello again, Zohar. Here’s one question that I, at least, would love to know: What makes you follow someone? Do you give it more than a moment’s thought? Are you most likely choosing on the basis of that person’s popularity or on their content? Have you noticed that following others increases your following, or has no effect?

Here is one no-brainer way to approach it: if someone follows me, I’m pretty likely to follow back. It seems indecent not to — no skin off my back! Many people believe that following back is good “netiquette:” if someone takes the time to listen to what I have to say, I like to show my appreciation.

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