Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Seekerville Welcomes Cool Beans ...I mean Erynn Mangum!

“So, what do you do?”
“Uh…I’m a writer.”
“A rider? Like horses?”
“Like books.”
“Oh. So, what’s your book about?”

And here’s where I would normally stammer something very intelligent like, “Oh, it’s about this girl who like…does stuff.”

I’d like to say that over the years I’ve gotten better at elevator speeches, self-promotion and selling myself to agents and editors. I would love to tell you that now, I’m the self-marketing queen and if you want to learn more, just come check out my workshop titled How to Promote Yourself Without Sounding Like An Idiot.

But, I don’t have a workshop. I don’t have a very good elevator speech. I’m just a lowly beginning writer who would prefer to keep to the in-front-of-the-computer stuff and keep away from the go-out-there-and-promote-yourself-stuff.

Going to writing conferences taught me a lot about a good elevator speech. “Sum it up in two sentences!” one speaker ranted. “If I can’t know the entirety of your book in two sentences, then I don’t want to read your book!”

So, I practiced my two sentences.

“A twenty-four year old girl, who is a photographer and works with her best friend, absolutely loves to match make and she’s been really successful in the past with setting people up only this time she’s trying to get her pastor and her co-worker together, but meanwhile there is this thing going on with her best friend, Brandon. She meets a girl and they at first don’t like each other, but then they become good friends and then she gets the idea that maybe Brandon and the girl could be together but then she meets another guy and wonders about him and a few other things happen and then the story ends.”

Later, I discovered these sentences would never work. I only named the side character. The main character should definitely be named in your two-sentence elevator speech.

I learned how to use terms to my advantage. I write chick-lit, mostly. To us writers, this makes perfect sense. “Oh, fiction for girls,” you would say.

A layman, though, screws their face up and says, “The gum?”

I now supply every book signing with a healthy dose of Chiclets the chewing gum. It makes me giggle. It makes other people wonder if all of the people buying my book have halitosis issues.

I’ve learned how to identify my audience. I always loved to write suspense growing up. Adult suspense. Someone was forever being shot, strangled, run over or falling into a deep dark abyss that probably never ended.

When suspense proposal after thriller proposal got rejected, I sat down in frustration to rewrite Adult Suspense Novel #1 again and ended up thinking about the girls I worked with. I’ve worked with junior-high and high-school girls since I was eighteen. That age group will always have one fist on my heart. So, I started writing. From my heart. The same heart with the girls fisted to it. And came up with a chick-lit book.

It took me a long time to admit that. And I’ve already told you how the laymen reacted when I told them my new author status. But they’re happily chewing away with minty fresh breath, so they’re fine.

And wouldn’t you know it? That was the book that got published. The goofy, meaningless book that was just about a girl, her love of matchmaking, and her love for Jesus. No one got murdered, investigated or sued in it. No one was going to read this book and be glued to their seats with the lights on the whole night.

But maybe someone would laugh. Maybe it would brighten someone’s day. Maybe it would lead them towards a hug from their heavenly Dad.

The best thing I ever learned about writing was the best thing I’ve learned about life in general. Be humble and let the glory go where it belongs. God uses ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary work. The writers I respect the most are maybe not even the most talented, but they are the most humble and the most real. And God has blessed their work.

And now, I’m off to tweak my two sentences. I’m thinking they might be a bit on the short side.

About Erynn:

Erynn Mangum is twenty-four and the author of the Lauren Holbrook series and the Maya Davis series (due in stores next spring!). She is married to her best friend, Jon O’Brien, and spends most of her non-writing time hanging out with her amazing family and experimenting on new mistakes in the kitchen. Visit her website at

Erynn will be giving away one of her books to one of our Seekerville posting guests. Drawing will be at 8pm MST. So in the words of Mary Connealy, "this is not the time to lurk."


Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

Ooooh! A new series?? Excellent! I already have Erynn's first series...but...I'm ashamed to say...they're still in my TBR piles. =/ Sorry, Erynn! However, after reading this post, they're definitely getting moved a lot closer to the top!

Great post, btw! Your dog is adorable! =)

~ Lori

Tina M. Russo said...

Oh, another Seekerville guest who never sleeps. :)

Welcome to Seekerville, Erynn.

We are totally thrilled to have you with us.

Tell us a little about your writing day. Does your puppy help with plotting? My cat does.

Debra E Marvin said...

Yes, Erynn, your dog is adorable but if your DH reads this, just tell him we're trying to be polite and not embarrass him for his adorableness too.

I'm glad God switched you around to Chick Lit and that you've created series that teens, regular chicks an old hens will like too. The Christian fiction world needs to have something for everyone, especially young adults IMHO.

By the way, what's the plural for series? Serii?

(Tina I'd love to sleep in. Really. It's my dog. She has needs to be met at 5am)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, well, she's charming and young and beautiful, funny, witty, savvy and smart.

Is it okay to hate her????

I'm just asking.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Okay, that wasn't very gracious of me. Let's try this again.

Erynn! You beautiful, young, smart, savvy, marvelous thing!!!
Welcome to Seekerville!

Okay,I'm over my snip of jealousy, envy and general grumpiness. And I like your attitude, kid, and your dog, so you're in. I guess!


I brought coffee and cappuccino. Creamers. Sweet rolls. Apfelkuchen.
Dig in. Let's check this little chicky-chicky out. (cute hubby too!)


Lisa Jordan said...

Even though I'm an old lady of 40, I love chick lit!

Erynn, your books sound fantastic. I'll add them to my to-be-purchased list.

lisajordanbooks at yahoo dot com

Diane said...

Wow, what a great story! Telling it like it is.... :O)

Tina M. Russo said...

Yeah, I had a brief moment where I was stunned..and unable to move. Brain said..OMG she is young enough to be your... And she sold how many books??

Then my spirit kicked in and kicked me..

and I got to the part where she says,

"The best thing I ever learned about writing was the best thing I’ve learned about life in general. Be humble and let the glory go where it belongs. God uses ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary work. The writers I respect the most are maybe not even the most talented, but they are the most humble and the most real. And God has blessed their work."

And I was humbled beyond belief. My soul was slam dunked. Erynn you are in. You rock. Seekerville loves you.

Tina M. Russo said...

RUTHY, she likes THE JETER. OMG.

Who knew??

Debby Giusti said...

What a delight to find your post this morning, Erynn! You have that wonderful chick-lit voice that brings a smile and makes me want to buy all your books!!! God knew where you would shine!!!

BTW, I'm a Chicklet fan but can't find them in my area. So, like, where do you buy them?

I've brought fresh fruit and a pecan coffee cake. Enjoy!

Rose said...


What a great success story of stretching your writing muscles and finding success.

I'll be looking for your books next time I'm in the book store. And I really love the chicklit/chicklet humor! My kind of humor!

Wishing you much success,


RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Erynn! Huge congrats on your books! Loved your fun post. I can't do the elevator pitch to save me. I've heard it said that if you can't boil your story down into two sentences, you don't know your story. Well, I do. I can tell it from the beginning to end. LOL Guess I'm not the master of concise. Hush, Ruthy.

I love your reminder--"God uses ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary work." That's both humbling and encouraging. Thanks for a great start to my day.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Erynn loves Jeter.

She sat where he has sat.

Oh mylanta, girlfriend, we must TALK!!!!

A family full of Yankee fans.

Back at ya', sweetheart. And they gave Jeter the section of Yankee Stadium seats he face-planted into a few years ago... They presented them to him last night.

Oh my gosh and he MADE the catch. Mr. Baseball.

Okay, Erynn, I can love you because you're humble, sweet, and a Yankee/Jeter fan. The incredible good looks???

Overlooking them, little sister.



Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Erynn, I put a lot of stock in an author's 'normal' voice and I have to say I love yours. It's so ... bubbly. It reminds me of my sister. And I love the book covers. I'll keep an eye out for them in my local stores.

And Seekers... you guys rock! I love the way you admit your first reaction followed by your Christ-like one. That's precious.

Melanie Dickerson said...

I feel your pain, Erynn, about trying to tell someone what your book is about in one or two sentences. I finally came up with a two-sentence pitch for the conference this year, then I didn't use it! I would always start off with, Well, it's about this girl ...

Oh, well. There's always next year.

Congrats on your success with chick lit! It's good to find out what your niche is SO EARLY IN LIFE! And I'm going to stop there.

Jenny said...

Please enter me to win but even if I don't I have to get your book. I love your style. Love your sense of humor. Love the chiclets. Love your book description (aka run-on sentences!) ... my personal favorites! Thanks for a humorous and very informative post.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Erynn, Welcome to Seekerville and I have to admit I almost had the same reaction as Ruthy. You and your hubby are adorable (the pup too-smile) Ahhh to be young again. But no, there are some things we don't need to repeat. chuckle.

How wonderful that you found your voice. Isn't God humorous? He lets us play around with what we think is what He wants and then He gently leads us in the direction He planned all along.

Thanks Debby for the pecan goodies and Ruthy the coffee is a life saver.

robynl said...

so glad to hear about your writing Chick Lit and for God's glory.

I so remember the little boxes that contained 2 chicklets; thanks for the travel down memory lane.

JStantonChandler said...

Hi Erynn! Congrats on the success. I love the Chicklets idea :) Great sense of humor.


Project Journal said...

Hi Erynn!
Welcome to Seekerville! It's great to have you here today. I loved your post this morning : ) Just what I needed to read first! Lol...

I'm a senior in high school, so this totally sounds right up my alley. I am definitely writing down the titles and looking for them. Are they sold in Borders, does anyone know? We have really limited bookstores here : (

Anyway, great post and I look forward to seeing much more about you!

Project Journal said...

GREAT website Erynn! I love the look and feel of it. By the way, you are soo beautiful! I'm jealous! Lol....anyway, like everyone's been saying you and your husband are really cute together and the wedding pic during your first dance - awwwwww! So cute! I also wanted to tell you that you got married on my birthday, lol! Congratulations!

Really want to go look up those books now...

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Erynn! So glad to have you in Seekerville--even if I must confess to a similar reaction to Ruthy & Tina.

And I think I have to go kick Lisa Jordan in the you-know-what. If 40 is old, what does that make ME??????? I could almost be Lisa's, um, aunt.

Anyway, congratulations on your wonderful success, Erynn! And thanks for blessing Seekerville with your ageless insights!

lynnrush said...

When you say, "God uses ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary work" it's so true.

Great post. Blessings on your writing, Erynn.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

i'm stepping right in to ask to be put in for one of her books! i've read all the lauren holbrook series...LOVED them, erynn! i'm such a chick lit fan, anyway...and a chicklet fan, too. :)

Where Romance Meets Therapy

Erynn said...

Hi guys!! Thanks so much for the welcoming - you all are SO sweet! :) I'm so happy to be here! Sheesh, lots of morning people here!

(And thanks for the sweet comments about us and the pup - he's goofy, but we still spoil him. Unintentionally. I try to remind him about the poor dogs who have to exist in backyards and aren't the sole focus of two people, but he doesn't seem to get it.)

Ruthy, you make me blush. :) And I'm glad to hear that my butt being where Jeter's has is winning me points! (Awkward as that sentence is!) :)

Debby, I had to buy the Chiclets online. I don't remember the store. :( But it was one of those old-fashioned candy site thingys.

Hannah, I hope they're available at Borders! :) If they don't have them, they should be able to order them.

Tina, you're fabulous! :) Thanks for everything!

Everyone - thank you!! You Seekers are quite awesome. Thanks so much for letting me come hang out with you this morning! :)

I wish I could say I got up and made breakfast, but I only bring Raisin Bran Crunch to the table...

Julie Lessman said...

Grin ... just reading your blog makes me want to read your books, girl -- you are GOOD!! I'm not normally a chick-lit type of gal, but I have to admit, I have a feeling you could convert me. :)

Welcome to Seekerville, Erynn ... and your covers are dynamite!!!


A. A. Stone said...

Erynn, I loved your comment that your favorite authors are the ones who are the most humble and the most real. That's where I'm at too! It's so neat the Lord opened the door for you to share the fun aspects of life, even if chick lit wasn't your first interest. What a neat blessing that you're getting to write for others so young in life. I love your heart to bless others.

Project Journal said...

Hi again Erynn!
I sure hope that Borders has them!

By the way, is that you on the cover of your first book? I bet it's not, but it certainly looks like you! : )

Audra Harders said...

Wonderful journey, Erynn!! Loved the Chicklets part : )

Don't we all, at one time or another, think the story of our heart will matter zilch to world? Oh what a painful trap we fall into! Thank you for being brave and listening to your heart (and a good measure of your heavenly Dad).

I'm excited to introduce your books to my daughter. Hook her with one and she'll read them faster than you can write them.

Thanks for joining us today!!

Tina M. Russo said...

So Erynn, I was checking out your blog. Are you also a teacher? When do you write?

milissaaustinjenkins said...

Thank you Erynn for your post I have been struggling lately with what I am supposed to be doing - starting with what's truly in my heart never even occured to me. THANK YOU Milissa J


PatriciaW said...

I wasn't familiar with this author's work, so it's nice to meet you, Erynn.

Some times I find myself interested in an author's books, not because of great story blurbs or cover art or excerpts, all of which she may have, but because the author herself is interesting. This is one of those times.

Jessica said...

What a sweet post! I loved it. I've heard of many authors writing in one genre, only to find a contract in another. Thank you so much for sharing your story! And beautiful pic!

Sarah Forgrave said...

What a fun post! And I loved the Chiclets idea...too funny!

The elevator pitch is daunting to me. I always want to downplay my stories, but I don't want to do that in front of an editor or agent (shudder).

I'd love to enter the drawing!
forgravebooks at gmail dot com

bigguysmama said...

Sounds like a great read! I'd love to be entered in this contest! Getting in at the last second!

mnjesusfreak at gmail dot com

Tina M. Russo said...

Sarah Forgave, you are tonight's winner. Please email me with your snail mail addy.

Erynn, thanks so much for being with us!! Hi to the pup and the hub and we pray continued success for you and your career.

Erica Vetsch said...

I can so identify. I don't have elevator pitch skills myself. I'm always in awe of those who do.

Erynn said...

Hannah - Nope, that's not me! But you aren't the first one to ask. :)

You all were so kind - thank you so much for letting me come hang out with you today!

Sarah, congrats!! I hope you enjoy it!

Tina, thanks again for being a fabulous hostess! I'm not a teacher (I'm married to one, though!), but I do work before-school care. So, I'm home by 9 AM and free to write after that (except on Wed. when I also work after school care. So, today was my crazy day!). Hope everyone is having a great evening!


Virginia C said...

Hello, Erynn! Thank you for your funny and insightful post! Memo to self: Stock up on Chiclets! You are quite right about the ordinary becoming extraordinary and working wonders in our lives. gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Pam Hillman said...

Erynn, I'm late for the party....been working on my own two sentences! lol

If your Chick Lit is as fun to read as your post here in Seekerville, it'll be a blast.

KathyM said...

I would love to read one of your books. I have always heard you should write what you love and know and success will follow. Best of luck with your new series.

Missy Tippens said...

Erynn, I'm late and just read your post. It was wonderful!! Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us! Your books sound so fun!

BTW, I loved your 2 sentences. They looked just like something I would write! LOL

Project Journal said...

Lol! I'm not looks so much like you! : )

I checked at one of my local libraries today for your books and they don't have them unfortunately. So, the next time I go to Borders, they're on my list to check out.

Anonymous said...

I would love to read this book....sounds great! Please enter me. Thanks!

Fair Trade Coffee said...

Chick Lit sounds great. I will be on the look out for it. I'd also like to know if the plural of series is serii...

Tina M. Russo said...

WHOA good question. I vote for serii but maybe it is serials or cereal???