Thursday, August 5, 2010

Part B...Here I Come


I am overwhelmed by everyone's kind words - those are some mighty fine comments you left me! I've never had 42 comments on this blog since it started! And I got 20 new followers in two days (Hi new followers!).

Bewildered. And lost. I feel like a lost puppy now. See, nearly every day for two years I've sat in this chair and either researched agents, worked on one of my three previously active query letters, or sent queries. All Part "A" stuff. And I'm in Part "B" as of Monday, August 2nd at 5:07 p.m.

Let me back up a bit and share the very end of my Part A. Actually, I think I'll back up a bit more and take you through a time line of events leading up to the culmination of Part A...here is my journey...

March 24, 2008: I completed my first novel and I swear my brain was altered during the writing. I know it sounds hokey but I'm dead serious. My brain (and body) experienced physical phenomena as I wrote. Very hard to put into words -- the closest I can come is that I had a new, heightened awareness.

April 7, 2008: I mailed my TWO page query letter to my very first agent. Notice the mere two week turnaround time. But mind you, the book was read by my family and got rave reviews.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

July 17, 2008: Very first agent calls me on the phone. We talk for 20 minutes. She says insanely positive things about this book. I almost pass out as we're talking. She tells me "her readers" gave the book "rave reviews" and she can't wait to read it herself. Give her three weeks, she said, and she would contact me then.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

October 17, 2008: After a few back and forth emails between agent and myself I ask her permission to query other agents since no decision had been made by her. A bold move on my part...a risky move...but a move I made nonetheless. Secretly I wanted her to say, "NO! Don't you dare query anyone else. I must have your book!" Agent kindly wrote back, apologized for "holding me up" and encouraged me to query other agents as she made her decision on me.

I died a little bit inside.

October 18, 2008: Emailed six new queries out with hope and belief. I was never so sure about anything. I mean, my book got a full request from a HUGE agent on it's first time out in the big bad world. It would be a quick turnaround from here. Another agent would snap this book up and I would be on my way. Luckily my soul didn't know of my journey to come...or it may have never sent those six queries out.

October 30, 2008: Had racked up 18 rejections. It was only the beginning. Que self-doubt.

June 30, 2008: Racked up 51 more rejections. That's 69 total if you're counting; I know I was. And there were 11 more that never even got a response. A whopping 80 queries sent. However, I had also racked up 4 requests. Even with my crappy query. I had yet to read Elana Johnson's book.

July 1, 2008: Started book II for my planned three book series and finished draft 1 on August 20, 2008. Got hideous reviews from family readers. Self-Doubt laughs at me and says, "See, I knew you could only write one good book!"

January 28, 2009: Attended my first SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC. Met the cool, Ron Smith and his lovely wife and got incredible table reviews of the first 500 words of Book I...and the idea for the book that landed me Sarah LaPolla as my agent took shape in my hotel room. I scribbled down four pages of ideas and notes and put it away for a while.

More querying. More rejections. More waiting.

February 10, 2009: Started writing my third novel. A conspiracy thriller with two eighth grade boy MC's. The words flew out of me like released birds. And then I couldn't pull it all together for an ending. I got it up to page 142 and abandoned it. Poor thing.

June 19, 2009: Quit my teaching job after twelve years in the classroom teaching middle school students Language Arts. I wanted more time to write so I took a coaching job where I worked far less days...coaching teachers on how to become highly effective in their teaching practice.

July 3, 2009: Started writing my fourth novel...EVERYTHING'S NOT LOST...the one I cooked up in NYC. Finished writing draft one on August 17, 2009.

September 8, 2009: Sent my first query for EVERYTHING'S NOT LOST. It was only one page and it was tight. Thank you Elana!!

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

September 30, 2009: Received a form rejection...from her assistant. I'm sure you've forgotten by now, but remember back in the spring of 2008? First book? First query? First request? Blah, blah, blah? Well, on Sep 30th I received a letter in the mail from that agency...and it was a form letter rejection. Icky times infinity. What a blow. I swear I cried a bucket. I nearly threw in the towel.

January 28, 2010: Sat in the audience at my second SCBWI Winter Conference and listened to Libba Bray share words of wisdom. One nugget stuck with me, "Ask yourself, 'Is it real?' And if it isn't real, go make it real." That forced me to do a re-write of three of my novels, revising out the hollow writing and realing them all up.

April 10, 2010: By this time I've pulled up the weeds of doubt and started my fifth novel. A contemporary YA with a sixteen year old girl MC. She ends up having the best/worst summer of her life. I finish the first draft by June 18, 2010

June 3, 2010: I quit. I swear. I did. Don't believe me? Click HERE. I was done with this whole damn thing.

June 10, 2010: I un-quit. I swear. I did. Don't believe me? Click HERE. The Universe had spoken. One of those full requests I refer to is Sarah LaPolla's. How cool is that?

Now we get to the good stuff. The stuff dreams are made of.

July 28, 2010: I get an email from Sarah in which she says...and I quote..." I fell in love with both characters and think you did a great job with their voices. I think the contrasts between Bull and Victor were really beautiful and well done. They were realistic and funny and heartbreaking all at once. Excellent writing! You also did a good job with the pacing of the story, building both the characters and their circumstances at an equal pace before finally bringing them together at the hospital." And she asked me to do an exclusive revision of my opening chapter and add a scene between one of the characters and his mother...before making an offer. I think I read that one line 784 times!!!

July 29, 2010: Stayed up till 1:15 a.m. doing revision and spent the morning re-reading for clarity. Sent Sarah the revised draft at 11:12 a.m. She said she would need the weekend to re-read and she would get back to me on Monday.

Cue LONGEST WEEKEND OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. Couldn't sleep. Brain wouldn't shut up.

August 2, 1010 - 9:34 a.m. - checked email for the first time.
August 2, 2010 - 2:41 - checked email for 397th time.
August 2, 2010 - 2: 54 - decided to check the Absolute Write message boards for what the troops were saying about Sarah. Saw that at 10:00 a.m. Sarah had offered representation to a YA romantic comedy writer (Hey Feliza!!) and I puked in my trash can. Sorry, but I did. I thought, there is no way I'm getting an offer. I sat at my desk and boo hoo'ed, called my husband and then went to get lost in a movie.
August 2, 2010 - 3:39 - Sarah's reply email comes in...but I don't know it because I'm lost in a movie.
August 2, 2010 - 4: 53 - Movie over. I slump into my desk chair and bammo, there it is. I stare at the email for 10 or 15 seconds before I click it open...certain it's going to be a, "While I liked your book...I just don't feel strongly enough about it to offer representation" email. I mean, rejections always came in email form. Agents only called to offer representation. And this was an email. I seriously had another wave of nausea wash over me. I clicked it open. IT WAS AN OFFICIAL OFFER.
August 2, 2010 - 4:54 - Went screaming through my house trying to find my kids. They barreled up the basement stairs and we stood hugging and crying. It was a real offer. From an agent who loved my book. And it was real.
August 2, 2010 - 4:55 - Called my husband and we freaked out together on the phone. Then I called my mother (my most incredible supporter -- I'll blog about supporting people soon).
August 2, 2010 - 5:01 - I forgot an important part. Four other agents had three of my books. One agent requested the full for my first book back on the same day Sarah requested ENL. In her offer email, Sarah expressed her concern about my books being out with four other agents - one of which I had emailed to alert her to Sarah's upcoming decision on Monday. The other agent asked me for a decision no later than close of day on Monday. And it was 5:01. I had to call Sarah to make sure this was all real and it was really happening.
August 2, 2010 - 5:02 - I fret and think, I don't want to start this relationship with my agent thinking I'm a PIA. My husband reassures me and says, "You have to call her, hon, that other agent wants an answer. Just do it."
August 2, 2010 - 5:07 - I dial her number. It rings and I press in her extension and she answers. And I proceeded to bumble through our conversation like a nut. She on the other hand was lovely and gracious and kind. Me = A-duh. So embarrassing.
August 2, 2010 - 5:17 - It is officially official. I have a literary agent. And not just any old agent mind you. Oh no. She's the real deal. One that is a match for me and my writing. One that I can't wait to start Part B with...

And that, my fine blog friends old and new, is my story.