What Happens to a Dream Deferred? (Guest Post by #MURDERTRENDING Author Gretchen McNeil)

POSTED ON June 25, 2018 BY Austine IN Guest Post

Happy Monday, Knights! Today I have Gretchen McNeil on the blog sharing her Quest to Authordom story! Her new book, #MURDERTRENDING, will be out August 7th but you can pre-order your copy now!

(And make sure to hold on to those receipts because there might just be a pre-order incentive in the works) 😉

Without further ado. . . Gretchen McNeil!

What Happens to a Dream Deferred?


The first thing I do at every school visit is to ask the following question: How many of you are writers?  

I further define “writer” as being anyone who creates journals, poems, scripts, plays, video games, and stories of any length. Inevitably, about one-third of the audience raises their hands. Which is amazing.  

The next thing I say usually confuses the room: I was never one of you.

It’s the truth. Unlike so many of my amazing author colleagues, I never wrote when I was young. Never kept a journal. Never even considered writing stories.

Instead, I was on a stage somewhere in front of an audience. Stages and audiences have been pretty commonplace for me since I was a young child. By the time I was in high school, I’d been a professional performer for years. A dancer first, then a singer.  Musical theater, then opera. After high school, I went to UCLA where I majored in Vocal Performance. After that I went to grad school on the east coast and got a Masters in Opera Performance. I sang in French, Italian, German, occasionally Russian. I’ve literally danced and sung my way across stages all over the country.

But writing? No. I never wrote a word.

Writing was…foreign. More so than the romance languages I performed in. Singing felt expository: I was interpreting someone else’s words, someone else’s music, someone else’s creation. Not that opera doesn’t take talent and hard work—trust me, it does—but I never felt alone in the process. Some dead European dude had written some words which some other dead European dude had set to music. Not only that, but centuries of performers had already interpreted those dead men’s creations. Not only that, but when you were on stage, attempting your own interpretation of said dead men’s creations, it was a collaborative process: orchestra or pianist, conductor, the other actors on stage with you. Even the back and forth between the singer and the audience. The entire performance was like a living, breathing entity in which hundreds of people participated simultaneously.

Not only did writing mean that I’d actually have to DO the creating, but I’d have to do it alone.

For those of you who don’t know it, the performing arts are hard. REALLY hard. Not that anyone could have dissuaded 18-year-old me from following my dreams, but 28-year-old me realized that singing wasn’t paying the rent. And so I moved on. Not to writing, of course, but to television production. I was in LA at the time and married to a guy who created and wrote his own TV shows, and so I started producing them. Comedy Central, Adult Swim, G4. Mostly cartoons and I became an expert in animation production. I even did a few voiceover roles. It was fun. I was living the LA dream. And I was still performing, sort of, just on a different type of stage.  

But it didn’t last—my marriage or my career—and one day I found myself alone, unemployed, and broke. I was completely lost. All of the things I’d used to define myself in life were gone. I hadn’t sung professionally in years. I couldn’t continue in television. The stages on which I’d performed were closed to me.

Then I woke up one day and said, “I’m going to write a novel.”

My first manuscript definitely was not a case of instant genius. There was no muse on my shoulder, no innate talent pool I was tapping into. No, it was a complete and total mess. I went forward on blind, bullheaded stubbornness. I’d decided I was going to do this thing, write this book, and dammit I was going to finish it.  

Let me be frank: that book sucked. It’s never going to be published. It’s never going to be resurrected. It. Sucked. But something happened while I was writing that god-awful manuscript—I fell in love with writing.

It took me another manuscript to land an agent, and another manuscript after that to get my first publishing contract. I tried, failed, learned, and preserved. And trust me, if I can do it, so can you.

About Gretchen McNeil

Gretchen McNeil is the author of the YA horror/suspense novels POSSESS, 3:59, RELIC, GET EVEN, GET DIRTY, and TEN (a YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and a Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth) all with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins. Gretchen’s first YA contemporary I’M NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL, also with Balzer + Bray, hit shelves in 2016, and her next novel will be the horror-comedy #MURDERTRENDING for Disney/Freeform in 2018.

Gretchen’s novels have been published internationally in Chinese, Spanish, Turkish, and Czech. The film adaptation of TEN starring China Anne McClain (Descendants 2Black Lightning), Rome Flynn (The Bold and the Beautiful), and Callan McAuliffe (Flipped, I Am Number Four), directed by Chris Robert for Rain Maker Films, premieres on Lifetime on September 16, 2017.

Gretchen is repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.


Now, I bet you want to hear more about #Murdertrending too, right?

. . . right?

I mean, I HOPE so because it sounds pretty awesome and all.

What Happens to a Dream Deferred? (Guest Post by #MURDERTRENDING Author Gretchen McNeil)
by Gretchen McNeil
Published on August 7, 2018 by Freeform
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 352
Genres: Mystery, Suspense/Thriller, Young Adult

WELCOME TO THE NEAR FUTURE, where good and honest 8/18 citizens can enjoy watching the executions of society’s most infamous convicted felons, streaming live on The Postman app from the suburbanized prison island Alcatraz 2.0.

When eighteen-year-old Dee Guerrera wakes up in a haze, lying on the ground of a dimly lit warehouse, she realizes she’s about to be the next victim of the app. Knowing hardened criminals are getting a taste of their own medicine in this place is one thing, but Dee refuses to roll over and die for a heinous crime she didn’t commit. Can Dee and her newly formed posse, the Death Row Breakfast Club, prove she’s innocent before she ends up wrongfully murdered for the world to see? Or will The Postman’s cast of executioners kill them off one by one?

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One response to “What Happens to a Dream Deferred? (Guest Post by #MURDERTRENDING Author Gretchen McNeil)

  1. Wow!! I loved this guest post!! I always wonder HOW these authors do it because when I try to write anything I HATE what I end up with. But it’s good to know that writers like Gretchen struggled and had to push through to get to the good place. Gives me hope!!