200+ rejected queries from agents
Signed with my agent - 2020
Book Deal - 2020
I signed with my agent in early 2020 (one the absolute best moments of my life!). By the end of February, we were ready to submit my book to editors. I was fully of hope (and dread) as I stepped into the world of Going on Submission (that is, my book was sent to a handful of editors who work for book publishers).
And then, two weeks later, the world shut down.
With COVID-19 officially reaching the United States, it felt as if everyone's world collectively turned upside-down. Needless to say, my submission--along with the rest of the publishing industry--was put on hold. While we did hear back from a few editors over the next few months, it was mostly radio silence. (To pass the time, I wrote my next book!)
In the summer of 2020, my agent and I decided to rework my manuscript based on editorial feedback. I worked with the fabulous Kate Sullivan (New Leaf Literary & Media's in-house editor) through revisions then we sent my book back out on submissions in the fall.
And that's when the Fates came together and birthed a miracle.
I fully believe that finding success as a writer comes down to 3 things:
1. hard work
And after 10 years of pursuing a career as a writer, luck was finally in my corner.
It just so happened that in the fall of 2020 editor extraordinaire, Liesa Abrams, was making a career change. After maintaining an immensely successful book list at Simon & Schuster, Liesa started a new journey at Random House--specifically to launch a new imprint: Labyrinth Road. During this transition, my agent decided to send Liesa my book to see if it was a good fit for the new imprint.
I've been a fan of Liesa's from afar for years. I knew she was the editor for the Keeper of the Lost Cities series (my favorite book series EVER!) and she has a reputation in the publishing world as a phenomenal editor.
So I could not believe when I got the call from my agent that Liesa LIKED MY BOOK! The next day, I was on the phone with Liesa to talk about the book and I instantly connected to her ideas/thoughts. Then came the OFFER OF PUBLICATION. I couldn't believe it--I was getting emails from Random House!
Fast forward to today. Liesa and I have worked through several rounds of revisions on my manuscript and I am still in complete awe that I get to work with her. She is kind and brilliant and my characters are so much better off because of her suggestions and feedback.
So... what's next?
My book will be published next year (date TBD) and I could not be more excited!
Stay tuned for more details :)
It's been a few months since I've posted. A lot has happened since then--mainly a global pandemic.
I think we've all been trying to keep busy while stuck at home indefinitely. Aside from trying to keep my four sons entertained 24/7, I've also tried to carve out time for self-care/ self-sanity.
For me, that's meant:
* Writing my sixth book.
* Taking up watercoloring.
* Planting a garden with lots of dragon statues to guard it (like seriously... way too many dragon statues. I'm fortunate my husband supports this addiction).
* Binge-watching The Office, Brooklyn 99, and Community. (By the way, did you know about The Office Ladies podcast with Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey? It's a ton of fun for The Office Fans!)
* Re-reading my favorite series, Keeper of the Lost Cities while waiting impatiently for the next book to come out (not until November!!! Waaaaah!!!!)
* I also enjoyed some new reads: The Night Gardener, The Spirit of Cattail County, The Wolf of Cape Fen, and the entire The Ever Afters series.
I HIGHLY recommending all of these to you TBR pile.
Other than that, I've been working on a few new story projects. Sometimes that means writing words, and other times it means outlining.
Lately, I've spent a lot of time doodling.
I've always loved drawing. I remember drawing little story comics during class in elementary school (somehow I never got caught?) which fostered my love for doodling all the way through college--a good portion of my class notes were doodles. ;)
Nowadays, I like drawing my characters. I
've recently discovered Procreate which is an amazing drawing app. It's allowed me to do all kinds of fun things with my art. I'm still a super beginner, but it's been fun to learn and grow.
As silly as it might sound, drawing my characters helps me feel more connected to them. So even if I don't have the energy to write, I can at least keep my head in the story through doodling.
Just for fun, here are a few sketches from some of my stories-in-progress.
What about you?
How have you been keeping busy during the pandemic? Also, how do you like to connect to your story and characters when you aren't writing?
I thought it might be fun to kick off my new blog with this particular post. The truth is, this website has been sitting and collecting dust for awhile (not as much dust as my old blog but still). I wanted to launch it once I felt like my writing career was actually "going somewhere," which for me, meant getting a literary agent.
For the record, I can't believe l get to write this post.
I can't believe that it's actually my story.
While I've loved creating stories my whole life, I've been writing seriously for ten years now. During that time, I've written five books. I've had hopes of getting an agent all that time. I've always wanted to pursue the traditional publishing route, which means capturing the heart of the ever-elusive literary agent. But no matter which new book I queried, the rejections kept coming. Even when I got requests from agents to read my manuscript, they always came back with the same response "I like it, but I don't love it."
For those who don't know, wading through the Query Trenches is pure brutality. The statistics on getting an agent are pretty dismal. You really do have to go in with the "Onward and Upward" kind of mentality. Shake off the rejections. Believe in yourself and your characters. Get your booty in the chair and just keep writing.
It's easier said than done.
Some of my writing buddies.
The turning point for me was my fifth book, Dragonboy Blue.
I sent out my first round of queries in the fall of 2019. I got a handful of requests and the usual abundance of rejections. Then something different happened. An agent wanted to contact me to talk about possibly revising my book. We chatted on the phone, and while this wasn't an offer of representation, it was encouraging to know she saw potential.
Then, the very next day, on January 15th, I got the email that changed my life (and no, I'm not just being dramatic, I promise). I got an email from Jordan Hill, assistant to the oober-fabulous literary agent, Joanna Volpe. She said Joanna wanted to set up a call to discuss my book and wondered what my availability was for the following Tuesday.
I nearly lost my ever-loving mind.
FIRST of all, Joanna is what writers call a "Dream Agent". She's brilliant, successful, and an incredibly wonderful human being. Go ahead, Google her. You will quickly discover a list of her awesome clients. The thought that she would like my book was unreal.
SECOND of all, usually when an agent says they want to call you to talk about your book, they're about to offer representation. It's what writers lovingly refer to as The Call.
But you GUYS.
Even though I knew what that email probably meant, I couldn't believe that it was about to happen to me. I guess it was ten years of writerly rejection that made it hard to fathom the Amazing Joanna would actually like my little book.
In preparation of The Call.
So the call was set. I spent the next 6 days in total turmoil. I--with the help of my fantastically creative husband and friends--came up with all kinds of scenarios where the Joanna call was not going to be The Call, but something else entirely.
Maybe she wants to just talk about a revision.
Maybe she wants to set you up with a different agent in her agency.
Maybe your book is SO BAD she wants to tell you directly, that you need to give up on writing altogether.
That last one is my favorite. ;)
So by the time Tuesday arrived, I was a nervous wreck. I'd spent the last week preparing different packets of notes/questions. One packet for if Joanna did in fact offer of representation, and the other packets were for other possible scenarios. I hadn't slept hardly at all the night before because I was so anxious. I'd been sick all weekend. But I figured, even in the worst case scenarios came true, then at least I was getting a chance to talk to an amazing agent about my book.
And then it happened.
My phone rang at 11:01 on January 21st. The call signature read New Leaf Literary.
What I WANTED to say to Jo during the entire phone call.... that wouldn't have been too creepy, right?
And you guys... Joanna was SO lovely to talk to. Very down to earth. And the most amazing thing was she started the conversation by telling me how much she LOVED MY BOOK. She had so many wonderful things to say, that I almost broke down crying. I might have, except I was in total shock.
A few minutes into the call--which was, in fact, The Call--she offered representation!!!!
And through my utter disbelief, we chatted for well over an hour about all of my books, my career goals, and just general getting-to-know-you stuff.
I wanted to accept her offer then and there, but because there were other agents with my book still, I knew it was a professional courtesy to notify them first. So we got off the phone, and I emailed all the other agents, giving them until Friday to read the book and get back to me.
^ Actual footage of me during my phone call with Joanna
By Friday evening I'd heard back from all other agents, so I was finally at liberty to officially accept Joanna's offer!
It was an amazing feeling.
* * Edited to add:
For anyone looking to query literary agents, Query Tracker is a great place to search for agents based on what age category and genre you write.
Also, Manuscript Wish List gives an even more detailed look at what agents are currently looking for.
For tips on writing query letters, go here and here.