Behave Yourself

So, I’m going to pretend that I’m like Dear Abby or something and offer advice (cause I’m credible, you know.) So since I’m already pretending, let’s pretend that I got a letter that says something like this:

Dear T.J.,

I am attending The UVU Book Academy next week and was wondering if you could offer advice on how to behave appropriately so I don’t make a fool out of myself.


First-time Writer

P.S. You’re blog is awesome! I really love Timothy Types TMI!

So with that wonderful question in mind, I’ll go ahead and answer it.

Dear First-time Writer,

Of course my blog is awesome. I write it. Duh!

But with that aside, let’s talk about some behavior tips. First, Brandon Mull is going to be the keynote speaker this year. Please do not go up to him and ask “What’s your secret?” Um…he writes! Seriously, I’m going to go up to this person and say “What makes you you? What’s your secret? I must know it!” Argh! There are no ‘secrets’ to being a New York Times Bestselling Author. There are, however, tips and tools to use to get there. Guess what, he took them. So did Brandon Sanderson, John Grisham, Dan Brown, and Stephen King. (Someone else’s name that starts with ‘Stephen’ is omitted for obvious reasons.) Honestly, I want to yell and scream if I hear someone say “What’s your secret?” Anyway, enough rant there.

So, let’s say you’re going up to an awesome and want to ask them a question. Be patient, but be nice. Now, if you want to talk to someone like Annette Lyon, please dangle chocolate in front of your face. Perhaps if Elana Johnson or Dan Wells were to be in attendance (which they’re not, unless something’s changed) you should cook bacon. Honestly, though, don’t interrupt the person they’re talking to. If you stand there long enough, they get the hint. (If the person your author of choice is speaking to just asked “What’s your secret?” then by all means, punch them out and introduce yourself to the author.) DISCLAIMER: If you actually do this, “Timothy Types TMI” and its author are not legally responsible or accountable if anyone does this. But if you do, you’ll get a blog post from me, as long as I witness it.

Here’s another random thought: all these authors that are published, were where you are at one point in time. But, at the same time, all published authors are people. I look at them as my peers. I’m on a first-name and familiarity basis with some authors. I’ve actually been bold enough to invite some to lunch and had one author and family over for dinner with my family. I also write praising words for some authors like subliminal messages. (Rob Wells is an awesome person to follow on Twitter. Sarah Eden’s blog is hilarious to read. Annette Lyon’s cookbook “Chocolate Never Faileth” is on the top of my to buy list. Josi Kilpack is simply wonderful. Marion Jensen has me in stitches with his split-personality. David West and Daron Fraley are awesome newcomer authors and I consider both good mentors. Stephanie Black’s latest book is actually really good.)

So, really, these are people. I’ve tried to make friends with some of them. And feel like I have. Also, don’t think that any of them can really do you favors. Honestly, if someone goes up to Rob Wells and say “Please read my YA novel” or Josi Kilpack and says “Please read my murder mystery” or Sarah Eden and says “Please read my regency romance” they may or may not be able to. (Now, if you say to Annette Lyon, “Please try this chocolate recipe” you may have a decent shot at it working.) Rob has a full-time job outside of writing and full-time job trying to drink as much Diet Coke to keep himself alive long enough to edit. Josi and Sarah (and Annette) work full-time too as moms. I’m sure they’re all wonderful moms (I just know them to be wonderful people.) These people are busy.

Shoot, I would’ve loved an opportunity to read someone’s work. But then I realized that lately, I haven’t had the time to write my own stuff. So I can understand how one of these authors can be too busy to read something of yours. If you want a free 10-page critique, I suggest you go to Precision Editing group. Also, I hear that Tristi Pinkston and Danyelle Ferguson are good editing options as well and come highly recommended.

One last thing, be happy. Especially if you’re attending for your first-time. Authors are happy to see one another succeed. Jealous? Yeah. But everyone learns how to be happy for one another because they know that when that agent and publisher comes back with a “YES!” that their world was just made.

In summary: don’t think there are secrets, don’t think you’re going to be published after attending, and don’t think these people are going to do favors for strangers. They don’t even do favors for one of their biggest fans! (That’s me, by the way.)

With much wisdom,


P.S. Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.


4 Responses

  1. TJ,

    Thanks for the props! I do what I can, but like you, with a full time job, my contributions are somewhat hit and miss. I had not really considered myself a mentor yet, but thanks. In my opinion, most of the other folks you list here are mentors of mentors. I am thrilled to know many of them, and just sit back in awe of their awesomeness, or in the case of several, their aweALLness.

    May we all be so awe-some.

  2. One thing to help get onto the Times list (at least in Mull’s case): see that your publisher has that as a goal for your book. DB marketed the heck out of him, aiming for the Times. Great writing alone can’t do that, alas.

    You’re absolutely right that no one can have success if they don’t work toward it. Sitting around staring at a blank screen and being jealous will get you nowhere fast.

  3. You should write more posts like this. Highly entertaining. 🙂

  4. […] we’re going to continue the fake tradition here of Dear T.J. because, well, it’s funny to me. And if it’s not to you, well, you’ll enjoy […]

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