Last Call: A Certain October by Angela Johnson

Words from A Certain October by Angela Johnson. Images of train tracks used under the Creative Commons License.

In A Certain October, a terrible accident leaves Scotty’s life in shambles. She can’t tell what is a dream and what is real. As she attempts to put the pieces of her life back together, it becomes clear that these moments may be defining ones in her life.

Your turn: Can you point to a time or event in your life that made you the person you are?

Like always, leave your answers below, or share longer responses in a blog post on your own blog, linking back to it via the comments.


26 Responses to Last Call: A Certain October by Angela Johnson

  1. Sooz Nov 30 2012 at 9:18 am #

    Oh my gosh, I can think of SO many turning points in my life. Once of the biggest, most important ones is from 2003, when I opted to go with fisheries science instead of an english major–that led me to a certain class with a certain professor…and that professor later invited me to Canada to do my masters. Canadas is I met my husband (whose job was, interestingly enough, transfered at the VERY last minute from South Korea to Ontario…and we met a little over a week after he moved there). I eventually moved to Germany with that same husband, and if I hadn’t moved there, I never would have written SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY…and then I wouldn’t be on Pub(lishing) Crawl or have any of you AMAZING LADIES as my best friends. I wouldn’t be a writer or a wife or a best friend if not for that one decision!

    Such a cool question, and I LOVE the image!

    • Erin Bowman Nov 30 2012 at 3:31 pm #

      And this is why that saying “everything happens for a reason” exists. <3

  2. Rachel Seigel Nov 30 2012 at 9:27 am #

    There are so many moments in my life that I think have helped to shape me, but probably the biggest turning point is when I succeeded in getting transferred to the children’s department in the bookstore where I worked. That was the first time I really had a clear feeling of being in my element, and without having done that, I have no idea what I’d be doing today.

    • Erin Bowman Nov 30 2012 at 3:31 pm #

      Ugh, that feeling that you are where you were meant to be!! It’s the best. <3

  3. JoSVolpe Nov 30 2012 at 9:38 am #

    Like Susan, I feel like there are MANY moments. But the first one that comes to mind is when I was at an all-time low on the job hunt. I felt like I’d never get into publishing, and I wanted to give up, really. My father came and picked me up, and made me hand-deliver my resume to the offices of a small publisher on Long Island. I did not want to go, and walking up to the door was one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my life.

    Needless to say, the publisher gave me a shot.

    Thank you, Francine Poppo Rich of Blue Marlin Publications!

    • Erin Bowman Nov 30 2012 at 3:32 pm #

      I feel like I need to thank Francine as well. Children’s lit wouldn’t be the same without you, Jo. <3

  4. Julie Eshbaugh Nov 30 2012 at 11:49 am #

    When I was really young I thought I would be an illustrator. My high school required that every student take an art, and my freshman year mine was painting and drawing. This was it – I was on my way to becoming an illustrator! However, for a lot of different reasons, I COULDN’T STAND that class. The next year I switched to drama which started me on a path toward theater, filmmaking and writing. Thank goodness I hated that class! 🙂

    • Erin Bowman Nov 30 2012 at 3:33 pm #

      Funny how things work out like that, huh? So glad you found your calling! 🙂

  5. Alexa (Loves Books) Nov 30 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    One big turning point in my life was discovering the existence of fan fiction, particular boy band fan fiction. Yes, that sounds terrible, but it did jumpstart my interest in writing! I have a ton of old fan fics that make me laugh when I read them 😉

    • Erin Bowman Nov 30 2012 at 3:34 pm #

      This doesn’t sound terrible at all! If it helped jump start your interest in writing, how could it be? 😀

  6. Marie Lu Nov 30 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    What a fantastic question!

    I still remember my big moment in full 1080HD detail. Last semester of senior year in college. I’d been accepted to law school and was prepared to step into it and fulfill my destiny of choosing a stable career that I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about. I was walking across campus one afternoon, feeling pretty lost and down in the dumps about my future, when I passed a kiosk in the main quad. The logo on a flyer caught my eye–I did a double-take, then walked back to have a closer look. The logo was Disney’s. The flyer said: “Do you love to draw? Do you love video games?” It was a call for portfolio submissions to Disney Interactive Studio’s 6-month Think Tank internship program, where you come up with new game ideas for Disney and then concept them out. I LOVE art. I LOVE video games. I just never thought I could make money with either. I rushed home to throw my portfolio together, and I was accepted. That moment led me to Disney, where I discovered that I could make money in a creative industry. Like Sooz, I also met my significant other through this decision (he was a fellow art intern, and went on to help me spark many ideas that went into Legend). That moment changed my life!

    • Erin Bowman Nov 30 2012 at 3:35 pm #

      AHHH I love this story so much! Hooray for stars aligning 😀 😀

  7. Lauren M. Barrett Nov 30 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    I spent a year teaching in Japan and when I came back I was in a huge slump. Quarter life crisis big time when you’re underemployed with no prospects. I pursued several avenues that didn’t pan out and I was desperately applying to publishing houses around Boston with my sad English degree and no experience.

    Feeling depressed and completely uninspired, I scraped together a little money and took a writing class at Grub Street. I met an inspiring writing professor from BU who encouraged me to join SCBWI, which helped me to learn a lot more about this community, and my classmates invited me to join their amazing critique group which I am still very involved with.

    You would think the international adventure would be the thing that changed me the most, but realizing that the writing and publishing dream can be within your grasp is what really reframed my world and my choices in life.

    • Erin Bowman Nov 30 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      Aw, this is an amazing story. Thank you for sharing!! 🙂

  8. Leigh Bardugo Nov 30 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    These replies got me all choked up.

    I do remember a phone conversation with a friend who later became one of my beta readers (she’s @thisblueangel on twitter). I had intended to pay my way through grad school as a makeup artist, but it just wasn’t working out that way. I was going through a rough time, still mourning my father’s death, feeling very lost, and she said, “You should be writing. That’s all there is to it.” And it just hit me: I don’t want to go to grad school. I want to write a book. And I’m going to do it before my next birthday. I got off the phone and outlined the story that would become Shadow and Bone.

    • Erin Bowman Nov 30 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      Okay, and now *I’m* tearing up. So happy you sat down and drafted S&B. So. Happy. <3

  9. Alyssa Nov 30 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    I don’t like to think of myself as the type of girl who would let a relationship with a guy define her life, but the truth is that the last relationship I was in was very unhealthy and kept me from pursuing many of the things that are now a part of my life. That being said, the night I ended that relationship was my defining moment. I had been unhappy for a long time, and I finally decided that instead of trying to pick up the pieces and salvage what I had, I should just start over. That led to me dating my current boyfriend, who had been a friend for a long time and who was supportive of several subsequent big decisions that led me to where I am now. My life basically went through a huge upheaval that began with putting an unhealthy relationship behind me. Now I’m in a good relationship, working at a job I love in an industry I’ve always wanted to be a part of, and most importantly, I’m writing again. And I couldn’t be happier.

    • Erin Bowman Nov 30 2012 at 3:38 pm #

      Alyssa, this story is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing. I know what it’s like to grow comfortable in a relationship–so much so that you’re afraid of leaving it even if it isn’t right for you. I’m so glad you made the right choice for yourself and are in a better place now. And writing again! YAY! <3

  10. Erin Bowman Nov 30 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    It seems like career changes and job losses have been defining moments for a lot of people, and I have to say I’m in the same boat.

    Back in 2009, exactly one month before my wedding, I got laid off a job. I spent that last month putting final details together for the wedding and in the quiet moments that everyone was at work, something amazing happened. I started writing again. Something I hadn’t done consistently in years. I drafted my first novel, and in the middle of revising it the idea for TAKEN fell into my lap. So yeah, I’m sort of happy I got laid off that job, even if originally I was having a mini panic attack.

    Life works in mysterious ways. (Also: like Leigh, this thread is making me all teary-eyed. Love these stories!!) <3

  11. Nicole McInnes Nov 30 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    The day my first child was born was definitely a “Game On” moment that absolutely changed the course and priority list of my life up to that point. From then on, it became clear what things I really *had* to continue to pursue (i.e. writing) and what things could be put on hold and/or sacrificed entirely (i.e. staying up late just for the fun of it). Motherhood, while sometimes nerve-wracking, has ultimately been both clarifying and soul-expanding.

  12. Rachel Searles Nov 30 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    I can think of several moments like these, but one that stands out is the first time I went to the SCBWI summer conference in L.A. I had my first ever finished manuscript in my hand, and I knew it was kind of crap but wasn’t sure how to proceed next. Until a few days before the conference, I’d never even heard of the SCBWI, but I had been twitter-stalking a particular Big Name agent and saw that he was coming to L.A., and I was like *Ooooh what’s happening in L.A.?* So on the spot I decided to sign up for the society and go to the conference, even though it was a lot of money for a “hobby” and I had to ditch two days of work. I never saw hide nor hair of the agent and I felt terribly, terribly awkward all weekend, but I got to listen to fantastic authors and illustrators speak, and I discovered this amazing community of people who loved to do the same thing I loved to do. And for the first time I felt like instead of a pipe dream, publishing books was something I might actually be able to achieve with enough hard work. Later I found critique partners through the SCBWI, which expanded out into meeting more people, and learning more, and working toward my goals, and these days I am happy, happy, happy…

  13. Loie Nov 30 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    This past May, I had an epiphany about my dream of being a full-time writer.

    But before I tell you about that, I’ll explain why it was such a big deal. I wrote tons of fanfiction and short stories from ages 14 – 18. I began a fantasy YA novel when I was sixteen and was halfway through writing it. But then a funny thing happened. I went to university and completely fell out of my passion. I felt insecure and thought, “Wow, my writing is total crap”. I just stopped writing. Sure a poem here and there, but I didn’t continue on with my stories.

    In early 2012, I read a lot of great YA titles that were being released, Cinder, Hush Hush series, and re-reading the Song of the Lioness quartet.

    I was struggling with what I wanted to do after my undergraduate degree (studying Psychology) and realized I didn’t want to do clinical or social work as I had once thought.

    So I went home for a break after finishing my uni semester and I thought to myself, “Hey, anything you do in life is going to take a lot of hard work and discipline. So why don’t I begin working on my craft and make a serious commitment to writing daily, taking classes, and workshops to make this dream come true?”

    So…here I am 😀 A few months later and just finished my first MS for NaNo !!! Wahoooo! So happy. I know I still have a long way to go, but hey, am enjoying the journey too!!

    Loie xo

  14. Lori T. Nov 30 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    For several years after college, I couldn’t get a job in the area I majored in (Art), so I took meaningless jobs, doing work I absolutely hated and made me completely miserable. Finally, after searching tirelessly for a job that mattered, I lucked out and got a job as a High School Assistant Librarian. It didn’t take long after I started working there, being surrounded by SO many wonderful books that I could read any time I wanted, that I came back to that childhood dream of wanting to be a writer. Walking through stack after stack of bookshelves, I often found myself daydreaming of, someday, seeing my very own book sitting up there, all shiny and begging to be read.

    So, I bucked up, researched tirelessly, outlined/typed/revised until I thought my hands would fall off, and wrote an entire novel. It may never get published, but it was something I did and absolutely loved. (And honestly, I couldn’t have done any of it without Susan’s encouragement. She’s like a super hero. I think we need to buy her a cape.) Even though it may very well never get published, it was the greatest accomplishment of my life. And I’m now working on my second novel, without letting the dream ever die again.

  15. Amie Kaufman Dec 1 2012 at 1:34 am #

    I can think of many, but I’ll pick one that’s close to my heart. July 2001, a Saturday night. I was about to cancel my plans to go out, because the people we were going with had bailed. Then my little sister pitched a fit about how I was going to ruin her night if I went too, and anyway, what was wrong with HER company, wasn’t she enough? So, with no particularly good grace, I conceded and out we went.

    I met a very handsome boy, that night.

    Reader, I married him.

  16. Meredith Rutter Dec 1 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    In the spring of 1969, the week before college graduation, I asked the placement office for a list of places I might interview as a zoology major who didn’t want to teach or work in a lab. Reading through the list of schools needing teachers and hospitals needing lab workers, I saw the name of a publishing company looking for editors. That was my aha moment and I have worked in publishing my whole adult life.

  17. JQ Trotter Dec 1 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    I spent a year in Australia and New Zealand after I graduated college, because that was where my grandmother was from (Manly, Australia, to be exact). I was always a planner and worked really hard to graduate from college a year early… but the week of my finals my grandmother passed away. It wasn’t surprising, she had been struggling for a while, and that just threw me off. It made me think about my own life and how I really had no idea what I wanted to do. Yet my graduating was coming closer and closer — then I heard about a program called BUNAC, where you can get a work and holiday visa in Australia and New Zealand. I applied, got accepted, and shipped off only a month later. I had always wanted to become a writer someday and even finished a manuscript in college, but it wasn’t until I went to Australia that I really started to look into the publishing world and got back into reading for fun instead of for school. It was a great experience, without it I don’t know where I’d be.

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