Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sunny Sweet Is So NOT Sorry Releases Today!

“Sunny Sweet Is So NOT Sorry” pubs today. That means that today I am officially a published author. If I had to name the single most important thing that got me here, it would be “other writers.”

When I started out many moons ago, I was asked to join a critique group. I turned them down. My reason was that between a full-time job and small children, I needed all my time to write, not meet with people. 

So I wrote alone…and wrote, and wrote, and got nowhere.

A friend mentioned a conference being given by Highlights for Children. My first reaction was the same as when I had been asked to join the critique group. I needed my time to write. But then I decided to give up two days because maybe I’d learn something.

Okay, WOW! It might be too much to say it changed my life, but it certainly changed my mind about the way I had been spending my time. Writers need community. We need it for inspiration, for education, and for motivation. Everything in my writing life changed after that conference. So let me introduce you to the people that got me to today.

SCBWI – SCBWI was the first step I took to writing for children. I remember thinking, “Do they just let anybody in?” And then I was like, “Thank goodness they just let anybody in, because who the heck am I?” Not only did they let me in, they were the first people to call me a writer.

Highlights for Children Conferences – The learning I did. The connections I made. The fun I had. These conferences were my first peek into the world of Children’s Publishing. They allowed me to walk among those at different stages in their careers and learn from them. I built my very first author friendships here…or in other words, my very first shoulders to cry on when rejection after rejection flowed into my inbox.

My Critique Group – The stamina…oh, the stamina! These guys are incredible. They read my work over and over and over again. Their critiques and comments and camaraderie have carried me through some of the most difficult editing of my life.

My Online Community (a.k.a. The Luckies) - OMG where would I be without the Luckies? From the moment I signed my contracts and received my pub date, all the way to this very moment, the Luckies have been there to support me. One stupid thing I loved to say when I hadn’t sold a book was, “Who cares what happens after you get a contract because, duh, you have a contract.” All I have to say to this now is DUH!

I sometimes wonder what my path to publication would have looked like if I hadn’t turned down that first critique group offer. But then I stop myself. I can’t change what’s happened. But I can tell every single aspiring writer I know to BUILD YOUR COMMUNITY. If you do, you too will one day be saying: Today I am officially a published author.

Jennifer Ann Mann grew up in New Jersey, the second of four sisters. Her short stories have been published by Highlights for Children, where she won the 2007 Fiction Contest. She lives in Boston in a giant house filled with kids and cats. This coming fall, Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books will publish Jennifer’s debut novel, Sunny Sweet is So Not Sorry, the first book in the Sunny Sweet Series.


  1. Congrats and Happy Release Day! What I learned from my first writing conference was also similar, not only did I learn a ton about writing, but it was through that first conference that I found the critique group I have now. We may write alone, but we do need to support and be supported by others.

  2. Woohoo! Happy release day! I have been DYING for this book to come out ever since I read the ARC. My 11 y.o. daughter is going to go nuts over it!

    1. Thanks, Peggy! Your review on Goodreads makes my heart sing every time I see it!

  3. The sweetest of congratulations to you, my friend! It's been a long road for Sunny to hit the shelves. I know she'll be a big hit!!

    1. Thanks Claire! My children will tell you that I annoyingly repeat each new school year that they should sit in the front row of their classes. When I left for my first SCBWI event, they laughed as they told me to do the same. That first day at SCBWI, with much trepidation, I took a seat in the front row...next to YOU! What good fortune I had that day. Or maybe...I just give great stinkin' advice! :)

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