As a debut author, I have been encouraged to engage on Twitter. And so I’ve tried. Or rather, I’ve thought a great deal about trying.
An example: I recently learned that two advanced reader copies of my debut novel OUT OF PLACE had not reached their intended destinations. This represented almost one quarter of my personal supply of ARCs, books so precious to me that I cried when I first held them. The despair I felt when I imagined those books in a dumpster at some remote UPS facility brought to mind the time I lost months of frozen breast milk due to a freezer that died in the middle of the night. Ha! I thought. That’s rather witty. An appropriate comparison between the angst of a debut author and the angst of a new mother. I could tweet that.
But should I? Who wants to envision months of spoiled breast milk? And isn’t the comparison between birthing a book and birthing a baby rather tired? Then again, why shouldn’t mothers talk about breast milk and how hard we work to produce it? Staying quiet about these struggles just perpetuates a cycle that needs to be broken, right?
At the end of this mental torture, I did not do two things: I did not write the tweet and I did not write a word of my work-in-progress. Zero likes and zero new sentences.
I’ve been on Twitter long enough to know that other authors do not share my posting anxiety. I envy their number of followers and the opportunities for engagement that those numbers bring. I will never be one of those people. And here’s why I hope it’s okay: because my particular form of angst makes me a strong middle grade novelist. I am an almost forty-year old woman with three daughters who are the ages of most of my characters, and yet I am also the eleven-year old girl who was barked at in the hallways of a new school because the popular girls thought I looked like a dog. I look in the mirror and critique my reflection. I write a Tweet and I worry that it will be misinterpreted.
The main character in OUT OF PLACE, a twelve-year old girl named Cove, shares my bullying experience and my self-consciousness, but a lot of my characters do not. Many of them are spicier and braver than I could ever be. But they are all written by a woman who obsesses over every sentence she writes. And my characters, and the readers they are meant to reach, are better off because of that.
Bad reviews will come my way. Some of them will likely be Tweeted right at me, probably in the snarky tones of the mean girls that I love to write. My hope is that I’ll lick my wounds and keep on writing. For years, the bullying I endured detracted from my experiences. I never joined a school sports team. I rarely spoke up in class.
Now? Now I see it as a gift. I get to write about it. Just not on Twitter.
Jennifer Ende Blecher is the author of OUT OF PLACE, a middle grade novel to be published by Greenwillow/Harper Collins in 2019. She lives outside of Boston and on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, three daughters, and a dog named Winnie. You can find her online at jenniferblecher.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Out of Place by Jennifer Blecher
Jennifer Blecher’s debut novel is a voice-driven story about bullying, friendship, and self-reliance that hits the sweet spot for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Erin Entrada Kelly’s You Go First.
Twelve-year-old Cove Bernstein’s year has gone from bad to worse. First, her best friend, Nina, moved from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City. Then, without Nina around, Cove became the target of a bullying campaign at school. Escape seems impossible.
But opportunities can appear when you least expect them. Cove’s visit to a secondhand clothing store leads her to a surprising chance to visit Nina, but only if she can win a coveted place in a kids-only design competition. Cove doesn’t know how to sew, but her friend at the retirement home, Anna, has promised to teach her. And things start really looking up when a new kid at school, Jack, begins appearing everywhere Cove goes.
Then Cove makes a big mistake. One that could ruin every good thing that has happened to her this year. One that she doesn’t know how to undo.
Jennifer Blecher’s accessible and beautifully written debut novel explores actions and consequences, loneliness, bullying, and finding your voice. This voice-driven friendship story is for fans of Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger and Jodi Kendall’s The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City.
Praise for Out of Place
“A tender-hearted debut that navigates the emotional waters of wanting to stay young and grow up, all at the same time.” – Jodi Kendall, critically-acclaimed author of THE UNLIKELY STORY OF A PIG IN THE CITY and DOG DAYS IN THE CITY
“Cove may feel out of place, but she’ll quickly find her place in readers’ hearts. Her voice glows like a Menemsha sunset in Jennifer Blecher’s moving debut.”- Julie Berry, author of The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
“OUT OF PLACE is sensitively observed and deeply felt, yet also light on its feet. Some of its components seem, at first, peculiarly shaped, but this I promise you: They are all part of Jennifer Blecher’s grand design. By the end, all the loose pieces come together beautifully, seamlessly, surprisingly, as if threaded with magic.”- Jack Cheng, author of the acclaimed See You in the Cosmos
“Blecher’s debut is a sensitive and compassionate tribute to every child who has ever felt like a misfit. . . .vibrant and memorable. Cove is an emotionally intelligent heroine who successfully names and processes her feelings. A beautiful story about learning to speak up and taking risks.”- School Library Journal
“[A] thought-provoking tale of childhood isolation and powerlessness experienced in a socially networked world . . . this recommended read should spark lively discussion; a good bet for an intergenerational book club. ”- Kirkus Reviews
“Blecher has created a sweet and realistically vulnerable character who longs to feel validated and respected. . . . This is a tender, uncomplicated coming-of-age story that illustrates how hard it can be to fit in at any age.”- Publishers Weekly