Jay also wrote middle grade, and, like the picture books manuscripts, he felt like what he was writing were the types of books he would have liked to read as a young reader. (He told us that's not the case with Thirteen Reasons Why.
Jay continues his timeline: In 1996, he got a bite from an editor, which gave him a lot of encouragement. In 1998 he was working at a shoe store in a mall. He wrote a story about a kid who works in the mall and has to dress like a cow. In 1999 he joined a critique group and started taking writing classes and started looking into going to conferences. He attened the first New York SCBWI conference and joined SCBWI. He attended and was determined to let the editors know he was there, handing editors laminated bookmarks he'd made for a book he hadn't finished writing (not a practice he recommends).