Blogging A-Z: A is for…AGENT

April is the A-Z Blogging Challenge, and we all know I love a good challenge (I’m also doing Camp NaNoWriMo this month, because CHALLENGE). So. I’ll be blogging all through April, except Sundays, with each post going along with the order of the Alphabet. A TON of bloggers are playing along (I’m #1,774 to sign up!). It should be a fun month!

Today is April 1st, so today…A IS FOR AGENT

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you saw yesterday when I announced that I signed with Liza Fleissig at Liza Royce Agency. And I’m thrilled! But as thrilled as I am, I have been hesitant to tell the story of how it came to be. Because it is SO NOT TYPICAL, and I don’t want aspiring authors looking for advice coming across this story and thinking it’s how it’ll happen for them, or that it’s a normal thing, or whatever.

But, I’ve had a lot of people ask, and I’ve had some great friends convince me that I should share the story anyway, so here it goes.

I wrote Someone Else’s Summer for NaNoWriMo 2014. It was a mad rush of words, and all told (because I’m a nerd and track stuff like this so I know) I spent 44 hours on the first draft. Obviously, it took edits after that fast draft, but all in all, it was the cleanest first draft I’d ever written. The edits were fairly minimal. (Not trying to downplay…there was definitely WORK involved. But after the edits I had on 99 Days of Laney McGuire this really didn’t seem like much.)

typing

So I edited. And then I…did nothing. I figured I’d get around to querying some day, even wrote a couple query letters to try to nail down my pitch. I thought about enrolling in Swoon Reads, just for the fun of it. I thought about self-publishing, not because I didn’t think the book could go the traditional route, but because I have fun self-pubbing. But, ultimately, I just let the book sit for a long while. I was still madly in love with it, but I was also super busy with other stuff, so it was easy to leave it alone.

I knew Pitch Madness was coming up sometime in the near future, but didn’t think much of it. I like watching the game and seeing the writers get their requests and sitting on the sidelines of the excitement, but I’ve never seriously considered entering in past years. But when the submissions window happened this time, I thought, Why not? and decided to throw my hat into the ring. I ran over to Brenda’s site, took about five minutes to craft my 35-word pitch, and put my first 250 words in. Then I pushed it to the back of my mind because I knew the chances of getting in were such a long shot that I didn’t worry about it.

(There’s something to be said here about not giving time to second guess myself. That little baby pitch I threw together in five minutes was pretty darn good, if I do say so myself!)

Draft day came and…I didn’t realize it was draft day. It wasn’t until the next day that I saw someone talking on Twitter that I realized teams had been picked. And I made it!

(Someone Else’s Summer was the 11th round addition – the draft was done, then Brenda gave the go ahead for each blog to pick ONE MORE and I was that one more. It’s super subjective, y’all.)

Anyway. You know how Pitch Madness went. (hint: awesome) So now (FINALLY) the rest of the story that you don’t know:

Since Liza won, she got a 48-hour lead on reading my book. I was crazy busy that weekend, so I sent it to her LATE Saturday night. Like LATE. I had an email when I woke up Sunday morning saying thanks for sending, that she’d get back to me.

Monday came. I got another email. “I’ve started reading and I have a question. Can you talk?” Well OF COURSE I CAN. So she called me. We talked about our kids and general life and stuff, and then she brought up Someone Else’s Summer. Told me that she’d opened my manuscript to make sure it was properly formatted so she could send it off to one of her readers, but she got sucked in. She was on page 70 before she even realized what was going on, and was on 180 when she called.

And she loved it!

excited

I was elated, y’all! I wanted to jump and scream and laugh and cry and tell her YES PLEASE BE MY AGENT RIGHT NOW! But we are freaking professionals, you guys. So instead, she told me she was sending it to her readers because she very much values their opinion, and they could say, “Look, Liza, I know you like this, but it’ll never sell.” It was still an option that she wouldn’t officially offer representation. And I had a bunch of other requests from Pitch Madness I still needed to send out. So we hung up with mutual excitement but nothing decided.

Then I woke up the next morning.

Liza’s name was in my inbox, and just seeing it made me do a little happy dance. (But only in my head. I was still in bed, and I was not ready to dance yet!) She said:

Love Love Love

I laughed and cried and just OMG. It would be an honor to rep this incredible book…I didn’t hear back yet but don’t care. I will. And I know they will love it too!

(I trimmed that a little bit, but a VERY little bit. That was pretty much everything.)

And I died.

Not really. Really, I let the other agents know I had an offer and that they had two weeks to weigh in. Four of them came back right away asking for the full, so I sent it then buckled in for the ride.

Those two weeks almost killed me. I was so impatient, and poor Liza thought I was impatient because I was really wanting to get an offer from a different agent, but that wasn’t it at all…I just wanted to have a solid answer!

I did my research like a good girl. I talked to some of Liza’s other clients and some people in the know in the industry. I chatted on the phone with Liza again. (And you guys, I’ve found the only person on the planet who talks faster than I do!) I talked with Ashley, my fantastic critique partner, and I talked with Geek Husband. And halfway through the second week, both Ashley and Geek Husband told me, “I think you already made up your mind, that you picked Liza on day one and have just been waiting because it’s what you’re supposed to do.”

(Really, it should have been super obvious when the second agent to get back to me – someone I really admire and have thought for years that I would like to work with – and she passed because my book was too similar to another in her line. And instead of being disappointed I was relieved. How’s that for your gut telling you what you want?)

They were totally right. So I send a big excited YES to Liza and told all the other agents thanks for their time. And then SQUEEEEE! We had a little virtual party. 😀

hug

I’m impressed if you stuck around this long, really. This is all so very bizarre to me. Because I’ve been around long enough* to know how this story is supposed to go: you write for years and query and query and query and get a stack of rejections to show for your work. But it’s okay because it only takes one agent to say yes, and eventually you find that one agent and it’s beautiful. That’s the story. Not: you’ve never queried a project in your life, you enter a contest on a whim, and the first agent to ever see your book offers representation two days later. That’s not the story. It’s so far from typical that I’m still trying to catch up to it.

But I’m thrilled. Liza is so fantastic and SO enthusiastic about my book. She’s already doing great things for me and Someone Else’s Summer and the ink on our contract has barely had time to dry. I can’t imagine finding someone else as enthusiastic about this book as she is. Sometimes I think she likes it better than even I do. For real.

So that’s it, my very atypical story. I don’t know how much help it’ll be to anyone, but that’s okay. People asked, and now you know. 🙂

*I may only have a couple posts and a brand-new site, but that’s due to an unfortunate hacking incident and me being too busy/lazy to restore all my previous posts, but I’ve been active in this online writing world since 2009.

Sometimes

Sometimes writing takes you on a path you never intended to take. It sweeps you away on a journey that is both exhilarating and terrifying. It consumes you, morning, noon, and night; it woos you away from your other obligations and tasks.

Kilgore Rangerettes

The Stars at Night is set in the world of competitive Texas Drill Teams. These are the Kilgore Rangerettes…being a ‘rette is my main character’s biggest dream. Source.

It is the most amazing feeling.

That’s what’s happened with  Someone Else’s Summer. And it’s what’s happening now with a new project I’m calling The Stars at Night. It’s all I can think about. I eat, breathe, and dream it. I’ve not even started writing – I’m still in the process of plotting and outlining – but it’s already completely taken over my life.

Here’s the thing: I spent the last month plotting out a different book. I even made a mock-up cover of it, as I tend to do. It’s something different for me – a mystery – and I’m super excited about it. But….it’s not The Stars at Night. It’s not the one that is demanding to be written next, the one that sneaks its way into all my thoughts and makes me feel all exhilarated, the way I’ve only felt before with Someone Else’s Summer.

So I’m gonna chase that feeling, put the mystery on the back burner, and jump into The Stars at Night. Because sometimes you have to let go of your plans and plots and just take your writing where it wants to go.

And this seems to be exactly where it wants to go.

Pitch Madness

Can we talk a bit about writing and expectations and trusting your gut and taking chances?

A while back, I wrote this book. I was so madly in love with it. I couldn’t get enough. For some reason, it took me forever to do anything with it after I finished. But, even so, I still thought I had something special on my hands.

Pitch Madness sign-ups were last month, and on a whim, I entered. I honestly didn’t think I’d even get in – the competition is fierce, and there are SO MANY great authors trying to get in. All told, there were 811 entries. I was sure mine wouldn’t be a finalist, so I didn’t worry about it.

And you know what? I almost didn’t get in. Each host blog got 16 entries. I didn’t get in those 16. Then, Brenda Drake (the Pitch Madness Maven) decided to give each blog one more bonus entry. SOMEONE ELSE’S SUMMER was that 11th-hour bonus entry for Team Rainbow Road.

This week has been a bundle of excitement and nerves and “I’M GONNA ROCK THIS” and “I’M GONNA BE ONE OF THE ONES WITH NO REQUESTS.” Also, a bundle of ice cream making and eating and painting the house. As one does.

Well. What happened? In the end, that little book I loved but didn’t think would even make it in? The one I only entered on a whim? It had SIX agent requests, the most of any of the entries on my team.

The point here–other than to share my excitement–is this: If you think you have something special, you probably do. Self-doubt will creep in and try to convince you otherwise, but don’t let it. Believe in yourself and your story. Take risks with it. You just may be thrilled with the results.