Good things going on this direction. Busy things. And mixed with insane spring-like, beautiful weather and starting The Fault in Our Stars, I'm kind of worthless.
So I just wanted to hop in to tell you to head over to Lisa Amowitz's blog. To celebrate the release of Heidi Ayarbe's book Wanted, she's hosting a giveaway. You could win a custom-designed blog banner, or a copy of Meredith Zeitlin's upcoming book Freshman Year and Other Natural Disasters, OR a five page critique from this agent named Victoria Marini. You may have heard of her. She's kind of awesome and stuff. Just trust me. You want this crit.
Spring 2010, I wrote a story about a feisty girl with a penchant for space-time continuum shenanigans. It was the first time I hit The End and thought, "Oh, goodness. I think this might be the one." After a break from it, I revised it. And revised it. And revised it. By January 2011, I (and my love-em-so-much-I-could-puke-glitter writing friends) thought it was time to query.
It was not.
I'd done my research and sent out a small number of queries to agents who I thought would like my voice and enjoy my story. There was one in particular--Victoria Marini--who I thought would be a great match. I loved her quirky sense of humor from her blog and based on what she said she was looking for, I thought she'd lurv my story.
I was wrong.
She (and everyone else) passed. I don't blame them in the least. The query sucked.
And it was actually that rejection that made me push the pause button. I'd blown my one chance with some amazing agents. Something was wrong, but I didn't know what. I couldn't see my story anymore. In March, I was scheduled to go to a writing workshop. I decided to hold off and see what kind of editorial feedback I got there.
The editor I met with really liked it. She told me later I was a bright spot of her weekend. Which made me feel all happy-glowy inside. She also gave me feedback that blessed me down to my booty. But her suggestions required a total rewrite. Not a revision. A rewrite. Like gut that tauntaun and pull out the innards so I could stuff Luke inside. (thanks for the jawa catch, Liz!) That kind of rewrite. I called Hubbykins from a San Jose airport bathroom stall in tears when it sank in what exactly it would entail. (To my defense, I'd only had something like 4 hours sleep the whole weekend. Emotionally, I was a wispy wad of cotton candy waiting to be licked.)
I also came home with my own personal Rock Star Squad of new beta reader/writer friends.
By late October, my manuscript was ready to go back to the trenches. My query got the sparkle treatment, too. (Thanks, Kristin!) And this time? Requests! Lots of them. Yee!!!!
In November, my glitter-puke-inducing writing buds sent me a link to Miss Snark's First Victim's Baker's Dozen contest with a "Do it! Do it! Do it!" note attached. To be honest, I can't remember who was goading me the most. I'll buy them all chocolate to cover my bases.
I hemmed. I hawed. Then the last day of entries, I caved. With that many agents, I thought at least one of them would want to read a partial.
Instead, four of them asked to read the full. Squee!! Including, to my delight, Ms. Victoria Marini. A second chance!
A few weeks later, I got an R&R from a non-Baker's Dozen agent. Yippee!! Then, that very afternoon, another non-BD agent asked if we could talk on the phone. The PHONE! I knew she had to like it, but I braced myself for another R&R.
Nope. Turned out she didn't just like it. She loved it and wanted to offer rep. She was lovely. I notified all the other agents. And thus began one of the hardest weeks of my life. (And just FYI, when the Pea was born, he was a week overdue and weighed ten pounds. Just sayin'.)
I couldn't sleep. Couldn't eat. Could only eat chocolate. I hit 5 days out and...blarg. I really liked Lovely Agent. She has a great reputation. But I didn't feel at peace. Why would I be having any reservations?
And then I got another e-mail. It was from Victoria. She loved my story, wanted to talk that day, and made me an offer of representation.
I didn't even have time to be nervous.
We talked, and I walked away saying, "Wow. She gets my characters. She gets my story." Ironically, the revisions she proposed would be harder than the other agent's. They would also be deeper. Truer. They resonated down to my bones.
I was at peace.
Two more agents ended up throwing their hats in the ring, but there was zero doubt in my mind. Victoria was The One. Hitting "send" on that acceptance e-mail was one of the best writerly moments I've had so far on this journey. And then, the Pea and I had a dance party in the living room.
Hubbykins and I let the Pea pick the restaurant for our celebration dinner. Steak'n'Shake. Because we're fancy like that.
(I also need to add a side note. I am blown away that I got a second chance with Victoria. HOWEVER, I am NOT saying that you should re-query agents. I had a very unique experience. Learn from my mistakes. Get your manuscript and query sparkly enough before you start querying.)
And I would tell that story if I wasn't late delivering the Pea to preschool with a stack of peanut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free Valentines. Then a doctor's appointment. Then the carpet guys are coming. Then the wood floor repair guys. Sigh.
In the meantime, here is a picture she drew for me of a kitten riding a unicorn. Because she is awesome. (It was a Twitter thing. You'll need to go follow me for it to make sense. Or just bask in its unicorny wonderousness.)
Last weekend I attended the wonderful SCBWI National Conference in NY. Yes, apparently, New York and I are on such beffie terms now that I refer to it as "NY." Doesn't even get a C.
But I diverge.
Others have posted lovely recaps. The SCBWI Conference blog is a gold mine, I tell you. Gold mine.
Here are a few little tidbits I picked up over the weekend. (And I'm so lazy, I actually yanked these from an e-mail I sent my friend Liz this week when she asked if I'd heard any interesting industry things.):
-The buzzword right now is Discoverability. Whatever the heck that means. Go google it. Oh, wait. That's kind of Discoverability. Also, Transmedia.
are gaining popularity with boys because they can read YA books and not
worry about toting around a cover with a ballgown-clad girl on the front
-There's some trilogy fatigue. Some publishers are leaning more toward 2
book series (mostly because it's hard to predict 3 months into the future much less 3 years at this point).
-One agent (Regina Brooks) said that MG is going to be the new YA, but the other agents thought YA was going nowhere but up. So take that to mean whatever you want it to mean. (And Regina might be a good agent to query, my MG-writing friends.)
-Or Amazonis going to save the book industry. One or the other.