Wednesday, April 6, 2011
My Journey To "The Call"
From 2005-2007, I had a couple of extremely rough years. Among other things, I'd gotten divorced and was now a single mom of two little boys. I'd been married since I'd turned 20 and I didn't know what to do with myself. The only thing that kept me sane some nights was my imagination. I would just sit and let it run wild. Thinking of anything and everything but my life.
It started with imagining what the next episode in a tv show or the next book in a series might be about, and it turned into creating my own ideas and characters. At some point, I created an entire world and started writing it down. It saved me. It was never something I wanted to publish, it was an escape. It wasn't until I'd finished the first book and started telling my oldest son about the story that I realized what it could be. He was enthralled. The writing sucked rocks, I couldn't figure out where the commas went to save my life, and head-hopping was my favorite past-time--but he loved the idea and the characters more than I'd ever thought possible.
Most importantly... I learned to love writing. I loved the feel of creating those worlds and filling them with characters I loved. I was hooked.
So, I revised the book once or twice and started querying. As I've said before, the art of query writing came so much easier to me than the art of book-writing. I queried. Then revised some more. Then queried, then rewrote completely, and revised a ton. And queried. In the end, KINETIC's stats were: 134 agents queried, received 43 requests and had 0 offers. I made the most common mistake for new writers--I queried too early.
While I was querying, I wrote another book, INSOMNIA. It was so much darker, had a male protagonist, and was in 1st person POV. It was quite an adjustment. There were some scenes that were so difficult and dark that I had to walk away from the book for a few days afterward. But I finished it, polished it, and got it ready.
Toward the end of drafting INSOMNIA, I had a friend recommend my first book to a small publishing house. I submitted it to the house and they offered me a contract. It was wonderful, exciting and terrifying. I'd always wanted to get an agent first and they could help me with all the decisions that come with a publishing contract. I thought about it and talked to some more experienced authors... I ended up deciding that it wasn't the best fit for me. Now, after watching issues with that publishing house over the past year, I know it was the right decision. But at the time, it felt like the hardest thing I'd ever considered. You dream constantly about getting that contract... that contract that says you are going to be able to hold your book in your hands. And to not sign it seems inconceivable--devastating.
But I moved on and finished INSOMNIA... sent it to betas, revised, sent to writing groups, revised and finally started querying in the middle of January. I found Kathleen Rushall on Twitter on March 20th and she seemed like a perfect fit for my MS. She was new, she wanted edgy/darker YA, and she seemed to know her stuff. I queried her the same day with the first 56 pages. On the 25th around noon, she e-mailed and requested the full, but I was at my son's school so I didn't send it until about 4:30pm. She e-mailed back immediately and asked for a synopsis, and while I was digging through my laptop folders to find the right one, she called me.
I. Was. Stunned.
I had agents out there who'd had fulls since late January. She hadn't even read the full yet--and she wanted to represent it. Kathleen was so excited, she loved my book, my characters--everything. She said she had to have it. I think my response was something extremely eloquent like:
We agreed to talk after the weekend and I hung up. I walked down the hallway to where my husband, kids, and parents were waiting for me to go out to dinner. I literally couldn't breathe or even tell them about the phone call. I finally said, "I think I'm going to get an agent," then started laughing/crying. My family has been with me every step of this process. They understood. My kids started jumping around me in a circle and my husband and parents hugged me and asked me a million questions. I couldn't have imagined a more perfect response to my news.
Kathleen read my full over the weekend and when we talked on March 28th, she said she was even more in love with it than before. I gave other agents a week to respond, but once she told me the reasons she wanted to represent my book, I was sold. She loved all the things that were most important to me. She had great ideas for how to make it better and I knew she was a perfect fit. We clicked right off the bat. I sent 63 queries, had 21 requests and she was the one.
After all the queries, revisions, rejections and the steepest learning curve of any industry I've ever seen. Now, I have an agent. We get to move on--move forward. Now things will be... pretty much the same. ;-D There will be more revisions, submissions, and I'm sure more rejections--and I hope to keep learning every step of the way.
I'm sure you all want to know more about my awesome agent, and so she has graciously agreed to do an interview right here, on my blog in the next week or two. Yay!
Also, some of you might remember a certain *ahem* deal I made with the Universe. It would appear that the Universe paid out... and I now owe a debt. Rest assured that I'm working up the nerve and I'll be posting something ridiculous and hopefully more than a little entertaining in the coming weeks. Stay tuned...
P.S. Since this post wasn't Freaking Long Enough... go check out Shannon's blog post to win an ARC of Elana Johnson's Possession!