- Knew she wanted to write from age 11
- Took writing seriously in her early twenties, wrote a novel.
- Had zero connections in the publishing industry. She bought a book outlining agents and what they're looking for, then queried.
- Landed an agent, but was unable to sell that novel to a publishing house.
- Wrote a novel every year, and every year got rejected by publishers.
- Sold her first book at age 27. They gave her a year to work on it and the editor told her it had no plot.
- They gave her six months to fix it, helping her outline and work on character development.
- She studied plots and learned to take them very very seriously. Years later, someone said, "Oh you're Melissa De La Cruz! I hear you're awesome at plots!"
- Her editor wanted her to write a young adult, dark fantasy, and the idea for Blue Bloods was born--at the time, no one was writing about vampires.
- As soon as she submitted her manuscript for Blue Bloods, she saw Twilight was released already. At first she was nervous about it, but the Twilight mania helped her success with Blue Bloods.
- At a TLA event, she sat on a panel with Stephenie Meyer and they exchanged books (she is giddy about having signed copies!), agreeing that they would read them when finished with their own vampire series. When the Twilight movie came out, Melissa went to see it and was relieved at how different her story was from Stephenie's. She then read the books, and joined Team Edward. ;)
- Melissa outlined her latest book five years ago, and warns writers to write EVERYTHING down. If you're writing a series, keep notes even about the little things, because you never know what you're going to forget, such as the little things she hinted at in the first books that need to play out later. She doesn't retain information as well as she used to.
- Television: For six months, she worked with producers at CW to develop Blue Bloods into a television show, and she had no reason to believe it wasn't going to happen. Everyone told her it was on. (Her husband later said she was unbearable during this time--really big head!)
- A week after the big meeting/presentation with executives at CW, the network passed on Blue Bloods. Two weeks later, it was announced that the CW bought The Vampire Diaries. Melissa joked that show is "dead to her" and she still hasn't seen one episode.
- Since then, she's had several movie offers and turned them all down.
- Cover story: Melissa actually has cover approval. For Blue Bloods, they showed her a rough idea pieced together with stock photos. She liked the idea but thought it was cheesy and asked for a photo shoot. They said, "Oh sure sure!" then went around their offices saying, "Who has a pretty neck?!" The girl that landed on the cover is actually Melissa's editor who was a ballerina. Her mom still calls her and says, "Hey, I just saw your neck in Target!" Book two is also someone from the publishing office. After book three they started having real photo shoots.
Melissa was fun and entertaining, and it was great to meet her and get my copies signed. I look forward to starting this series when I get back in the vampire mood. :)
As usual, I'm inspired to write. If only I could find where I hid all my spare time....