January 19, 2012

Made It Moment: Jimmy Petrosino

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 10:16 pm

The Dean's List

Boy, could I relate to different aspects of this Moment. Like me, Jimmy Petrosino seems to have experienced the inimical fall from grace that arrives when we realize that if we’d realized what our early drafts were really like…then we might not be in this game at all. But we keep at it, some of us, the crazy ones, and that’s lucky. Because 10 or 20 or 100 (yes, 100, keep reading) drafts later we just might find…we’ve made it.

Jimmy Petrosino

Saying “I made it,” may be the overstatement of the year. I feel I have such a long way to go but I can say, “I made it off the bench hahaha.” I began writing in my teens, it was more therapeutic than anything, keeping a journal of poetry. I would jot down my feelings which usually dealt with depression, OCD, anxiety, dying and all kinds of problems I made myself believe I had.

Over time, long poems would become short stories and short stories would become screenplays. I threw my hat into that arena and had tiny successes. I was able to option out a screenplay that I co-wrote to Hollywood producers, but that script has been sitting in developmental hell for years now.

I always wanted to write a novel but didn’t think I had it in me. But once I bit the bullet and went for it I didn’t stop. It was a nonstop barrage of writing, mostly through the night. The original version of “The Dean’s List” was so bad that when I revisit it makes me wonder what the heck made me think I could write. But that draft does show me how much better a writer I have become since then, thanks to the 100 revisions, another book, another 100 revisions, another book, and so on and so on.

After being through two agents and enough rejection slips to wallpaper my bedroom I am happy to find people in the industry who liked my book enough to take it on. A mafia thriller that takes place in college isn’t necessarily the greatest sell to an agent or editor. I heard “it’s too male-oriented,” a lot, or “tough sell because it falls in-between YA and adult.” Still, I never gave up. Persistence and perseverance are two qualities I have and one needs in this business. Now it’s up to me to build on what I’ve started. One thing I learned from all this, you got to treat yourself like a brand and sell yourself. Those who don’t get left behind.

Jimmy Petrosino is the youngest of five brothers in an Italian American family. Jimmy grew up listening to stories at the dinner table about family members who worked as detectives, and their battles with some of the city’s most notorious criminals. He was inspired to write The Dean’s List by his father, who comes from a long line of New York City Police Detectives. His great uncle was Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino, with a park in Little Italy named after him. Jimmy currently works for his family’s business, Mountain Spring Waters of America, and just finished writing a young adult thriller about a teenage boy who suffers a near death experience.


  1. THank, Jenny for another great blog.

    Comment by Lisa Zhang Wharton — January 19, 2012 @ 11:13 pm

  2. Maybe because of my training, and my advanced age, I loved the first draft of my first novel, and was still quite happy to produce the following ten drafts.

    Maybe there’s something to being older and sicker.
    You lose your expectation of instant gratification–BIG TIME.

    Comment by Rosemarie Benintend — January 19, 2012 @ 11:42 pm

  3. What an interesting young man! And a unique story for his book – it’s on my TBR list. I’m so glad his persistence paid off. Just shows that when you think you know it all, that’s when you’ve got the most to learn.

    Big thanks to Jenny for another inspiring moment.

    Comment by mountainmama — January 20, 2012 @ 6:07 am

  4. Sounds like there are going to be lots of good novels written by this author.

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — January 20, 2012 @ 7:10 am

  5. How I wish I’d started writing as young as you did, Jimmy. Best wishes for continued success.

    As for rewrites, if I’m writing a book, every time I work on it, I reread the previous chapter and always find something to change. That qualifies as a rewrite, right? Then when it’s finished, there are those huge chores of going through it line by line, searching for words that don’t belong, those that do but aren’t there, and those blasted typos. Overall, I’d say a hundred rewrites is not unusual for me. Then I cross my fingers and hope I finally got it right.

    Comment by Earl Staggs — January 20, 2012 @ 8:03 am

  6. Wonderful success story – and a lesson to all of us that persistence pays. Congratulations to you, Jimmy – and my hopes for continued successes.
    And thanks to you, Jenny, for sharing these Made It Moments as inspiration for us all.

    Comment by P.L. Blair — January 20, 2012 @ 9:39 am

  7. Good going, Jimmy. People really don’t realize that it’s not easy to be a good writer. It does take guts, perseverance and willingness to learn. I’m glad you’re on the right track.

    By the way, I still have the typed pages of my first manuscript hidden away, never to leave my house, except for a few snippets I borrowed to slip into later books. It took me 10 years to get my first book published by a small publisher. Now I’ve tackled the self-publishing business.

    Much success to you!

    Morgan Mandel

    Comment by Morgan Mandel — January 20, 2012 @ 11:11 am

  8. You know, it’s funny, when I started ‘fessing up to the fact that it took me 11 years to break in, and that was with 8 novels written, I felt like I was admitting to something shameful. I mean, I was really red-faced and felt very alone. But then great writers like you all here started sharing your truths–and I guess now I realize that maybe the trajectory just takes 100 draft (yes, Earl, there’s always something to change, I agree :) or 10 years or 10 novels…Boy, Morgan, I’d love to see that early ms of yours! Thanks, everybody, for sharing Jimmy’s story–and also mine–and yours.

    Comment by jenny — January 20, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  9. Wishing you all the best success. Reading Jenny’s blog makes me realize that most of us writers have two things in common. 1. We perservere and 2. None of us have a fixed Made it Moment. It’s just a collection of little moments that will eventually add up to something big (we hope, fingers crossed).

    Comment by Johanna — January 20, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

  10. Jenny Thanks for another great moment! Jimmy, thanks for sharing your imspiring story. It is on my tbr list and I am glad that you never gave up. It truly shows that never giving up has its rewards.

    Comment by Kellie — January 20, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

  11. Hey everyone, thanks for the cool comments and thanks to Jenny for posting this. It’s awesome to share my experiences and also to read about how others navigate through the publishing process.

    Comment by Jimmy — January 20, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

  12. Nice interview, Jenny and Jimmy. I’m glad you persisted–the mafia in a college setting certainly sounds interesting. Good luck with your writing!

    Comment by Ellis Vidler — January 21, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  13. I’m greatly looking forward to reading this. Thanks for sharing the story!

    Comment by Brenda — January 23, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

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