I’ve always been a writer of words of some form. When I was little, I used to make up stories out loud in the shower and my mom would eavesdrop and write them down. She still has those stashed away somewhere. I wrote some short stories in grade school, horrible angsty poetry in high school, and then nothing that wasn’t assigned to me (aka lots of research papers and essays) until 2012. I basically took a 16 year hiatus on creative writing.
My day job requires me to write a LOT of college recommendation letters, which is pretty much how I spend a lot of my summer and all my time in September and October each year. In the fall of 2012, I was feeling pretty drained, obviously, itchy to create something and decided to finally commit to NaNoWriMo. And lo and behold, I won. I finished that monster of a book in January 2013, put it away and immediately started another one. I started following Susan Dennard and her awesome #BAMFWordBattle sprints, found my AMAZING critique partners (whom without I would be a puddle of paranoia and still using way too many adverbs and dialogue tags), and queried that book in the fall. I got a good amount attention from agents, but ultimately no offers. I still love that book, but it was done.
So I wrote another book, put it away, and started writing one that was inspired by my walk into work one morning. On the side of the road, next to a mountain of renovation dirt and a giant yellow digger, I saw a girl’s dress shoe just laying there, abandoned, seemingly from the previous weekend’s Homecoming dance. An idea about a modern Cinderella-type story started swirling and turned into VALEDICTIONS, which I wrote in January and February 2014, thanks to Snowmageddon and a million snow days that gave me lots of time to write. I revised, my CPs and beta readers approved, and I sent off my first batch of queries at the end of March.
I got a handful of requests right away, but nothing panned out. Six weeks later, all of a sudden, I had not one but two epiphanies about my manuscript that resulted in a frenzy of emails to my CP’s, conversations with my trusted advisers, and ultimately a stronger, more universal story. Even though I was convinced I’d shot myself in the foot by changing the game mid-stream, I adjusted my query letter and synopsis and sent out what I knew would be the last batch of emails. That letter got me another handful of requests, one of which was from the assistant of an agent who had been top of my list way back since the first book. I’d been nervous to query her with my original letter, but the new version gave me more confidence, thankfully. The assistant told me she and the agent would both read and get back to me within 8 weeks.
Less than a month later, I checked my email in the evening and there it was – an email from that amazing agent OFFERING ME REPRESENTATION! I was standing in the kitchen with my husband and 4yo daughter at the time and screamed so loud my daughter started crying.
I told her Mommy was fine, it was a good scream, I flailed a lot, cried, flailed some more, and emailed her back to set up a time for THE CALL. I didn’t sleep a wink that night, totally convinced she’d gotten it wrong and was mistaking my book for someone else’s.
We set a time for the next day and I decided to take the call at work, despite it being summer break, because we have crap cell phone reception in our house. Because the renovations that inspired my story, sort of, are still going on, I was sitting in a completely empty temporary trailer while my boss paced between my trailer and his, looking at me like I was nuts for being nervous. When the call came in, I relaxed immediately. She told me right away how much she loved the book, told me my writing was delightful and how it was just what she was looking for. She said so many lovely things and I just kept saying thank you over and over. We chatted for almost an hour and afterwards I knew signing with her might very well be the smartest choice I could make for my career. Not only was she incredibly nice and clearly enthusiastic about my book, but she was everything I knew I wanted professionally.
So I sent out my nudge emails, waited my ten days, and now I can finally announce that I HAVE AN AGENT! I’ve signed with Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency! I am so incredibly thankful that Kevan sees something in me and that I’ve got the very best champion on my side.
I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason. That this book was written because I needed to write it. That the revisions I made, despite the terrible timing, were necessary. That I waited to query Kevan because I was supposed to. I may not be the poster child for “don’t query until it’s done” but my best story ended up in the hands of the best agent for it, so in my book, pun totally intended, everything worked out the way it was supposed to.
Me signing the agency agreement
I feel completely blessed and ready for whatever comes next. A gigantic thank you to anyone who has read for me, chatted about writing, supported an online pitch, encouraged me even in a very small way – you’re my favorite.