Saturday, December 28, 2013

It's Been A Good One, 2013

Oh what changes a year can bring.

January 2013
- At the start of the year I am an aspiring author, following some crazy idea I had to try and get published.
- Got picked (by random number generator) for Miss Snark's First Victim Secret Agent contest
- Met two incredible writers in said contest who would change my life: Ms. Tatum Flynn and Ms. Lori Goldstein. I couldn't have done this year without you, ladies.
- Was praised by peers and the Secret Agent but ultimately, no further pages requested of the YA fantasy I was querying at the time.

February 2013
- I switched projects. Had a YA cyberthriller sitting around unfinished; decided I'd better finish the thing. Polished it up. Sent it to CPs.

March 2013
- Tatum emails me at 3 AM to say she hasn't stopped reading yet, then again later that morning saying she had to wake up and finish it before she left the house. I cried reading her emails.
- Similar praise from Lori, during saner hours ;)
- I lost my grandmother. She knew I was writing a book, and my grandpa (who passed four years ago) had always wanted to be an author, but never seriously pursued it. I wish I could tell them where I am now.

April 2013
- Began querying my cyberthriller project to little success. Agents who had just the query requested pages. Agents with pages rejected the project. After the praise from my CPs, frustration sets in.
- Entered a critique contest for my 35-word pitch and first page. Judge says pitch is good, says protagonist is completely unlikable and unrelatable.
- Much chocolate binging is had as I vent about 250 words being too short to judge anything

May 2013
- Perspective change. I face the fact that it's not just a jaded, vindictive judge out to crush the dreams of every aspiring writer in existence. My first chapter isn't working.
- I rewrite it and send it to my CPs.
- CPs say, "Eh. It's okay, it's different." I rewrite it again.
- CPs say, "Better, but not sure that's the one." I rewrite it again.
- I meet an amazingly kind and giving writer, Chelsea Bobulski, on Twitter. Our mutual love of Tomb Raider, Buffy, and peanut butter fudge brings us together. I send her yet another version of my first chapter, which is then characterized as AMAZEBALLS with much other capslocked praise and again, I'm crying over my email at how mind-blowingly awesome the writing community is.

June 2013
- Not actually sure what happens this month. Summer things. Possibly a lot of rocking in corners saying I never want to write a first chapter ever again please don't make me.

July 2013
- I enter my cyberthriller's shiny new chapter into two contests: Like A Virgin and Xmas In July.
- I win finalist places in both contests.

August 2013
- I get multiple offers of rep from three excited and impressive literary agents.
- I accept Brianne Johnson's offer. I want to send her cake, but I refrain.
- Begin floating on clouds.

September 2013
- Bri sends me an editorial letter. I make the changes to my manuscript.
- Bri approves the changes.
- My little cyberthriller goes out on submission to 13 houses, including all the Big Six.
- My grandpa on my mother's side passes unexpectedly. Another person I had so hoped to share the good news with if my book sold. Will have to trust he knows anyway, even if I can't be the one to tell him.

October 2013
- Submission silence.
- I start working on a new idea for a YA horror.

November 2013
- OFFER. Oh my GOSH a real offer from an editor at a Big Six house!!!
- Realization that my little dream is going to be a reality. I will have a book. On a shelf. I will be able to hold it in my hands and smell the pages and sleep with it under my pillow.
- I decide it would be okay to write first chapters again, no matter how many tries it takes to get them right.

December 2013
- The deal is finalized. There's a PM announcement. I have a Goodreads page. I'm still not sure it's sunk in yet.
- I want to send my editor cake, but again I refrain. Next year.
- PITCH WARS. I'm on the other side of a contest. I meet hundreds of fabulous new writers, and from this choose three shiny mentees - Alison Green Myers, Julie Dao, and Jerilyn Patternson, who I'm hoping can be writing similar blog posts by this time next year.
- I think about December 2012, when I had no CPs, no agent, no editor. And yet, 2013 was about to be a very, very good year.

Thank you to everyone who took a chance on me, who believed in my work, who kept me going when I swore there was no light at the end of the tunnel. I am truly blessed.

So, 2014. Let's see what surprises you have in store.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why Pitch Wars Is Not Your Last Contest

First, I want to thank everyone so much for trusting me with their words. I received 88 submissions from 88 very brave writers, which gave me a lot of amazing options, and a lot of hours fretting that I could only pick three. As I mentioned on Twitter, it's like being handed a box of 90 chocolates.

I will be sending feedback to most everyone who subbed to me, but in the interest of taking my time and doing it right, you might not hear back until January. You will not receive a response if you were chosen as someone else's mentee or alternate - apologies for that, but please accept a huge smile and a handshake from me right now, because I'm so very glad to see you move on!

Remember that this business is highly subjective. That sucks, but it also doesn't, because some of you just need to find the right person - you're doing everything right. There were a lot of solid submissions that I could see someone falling in love with, but that weren't quite a match for me. Heck, I'll admit right now that I could never get into Hunger Games (though I do enjoy the movies). Should Ms. Collins have stopped writing because I passed on it? I think you know the answer to that.

I also want to impress on you how quickly things can change, and how this contest is a stepping stone, not a barrier. This time last year, I was sitting exactly where you were, chewing-my-sleeves-off anxious to hear back from the mentors I'd so carefully selected. I'd been polishing my manuscript for months. I had a query that was getting a thumbs up from everyone who critiqued it. A freelance editor had raved about my latest revision, and I had a few contests under my belt, so I knew how to prepare. I was so ready for it to be "my time."

I was about to find out I didn't make it. It stung, yes. Rejection always does. But I had some positive feedback from the mentors I'd subbed to and a growing feeling in my gut that this story, as much as I loved it, wasn't "the one."

I shelved the manuscript. I went back to an idea I'd played around with the year before. I finished it. I entered another contest. I ... well, I lost that contest. But I went back and ripped my first chapter to shreds, and the next contest I entered, I won not only an place among the finalists, but my amazing agent who sold me to a Big Five dream house.

This could be your story in a year.

Don't give up.
 

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