Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Winners!! And Thoughts....

Thank you ALL for helping me celebrate my agent news! Kristi and I had fun with the giveaway, and WE HAVE WINNERS!! Head over to her blog for the announcement!

My thoughts and prayers are with those of you affected by Sandy Franksenstorm. We're no stranger to hurricanes (and other weather disasters) here in Houston, so I know how it can throw your world upside down. I wish all of you a quick and safe recovery!

And I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween! Have anything exciting planned? We'll be doing a mini hayride with some friends for their kids, then come home early to watch Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas!




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's That Time of Year, When the World Falls in

Love? Nah. For me, it's the time of year when I fall into a pit and can't claw my way out until January. The life of a portrait photographer. October through December are insane. Everyone wants pictures for their Christmas cards, which gives me a strict deadline to get all my edits done. Which also means I don't get a whole lot of reading or writing done.

When I get home from my day job (which is part-time, and I basically make my own schedule, so I'm not complaining), I sometimes try to squeeze in a workout, make dinner, jump on the computer to edit some pictures, but since I've already been on the computer all day, I can't handle it for long. By this point my brain is so fried, I'm not creative at all, so writing is out of the question. And if I sit down to read, I feel guilty. So back to the computer I go.

I've tried to schedule fewer photo sessions this year, since last year I didn't enjoy the holidays at all. Halloween through NYE is my favorite time of year, and I don't want to be so stressed I can't appreciate the weather, the lights, the hot chocolate, the gift giving! I think what it all comes down to is time management. Which leads me to (again) consider the idea of devising a schedule.

Do you make a schedule for your day? An hour for this, and hour for that? It's tempting... I just don't know if I'd stick to it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Good News Giveaway! It's EPIC!



My critique buddy (and friend), Kristi Chestnutt had the brilly idea to have an EPIC giveaway to celebrate my agent news! If you missed it, you can check out the announcement HERE, and if you're looking to be inspired never to give up on your dream, you can read my "How I Got My Agent" story HERE.

Get excited because there will be FIVE winners!

That's right, party people. FIVE!!!

The goodies up for grabs:

*Halloween Prize Pack - (Signed copy of The Diviners by Libba Bray and Signed copy of The Dark Divine by Bree Despain)
*Middle Grade Pack (Signed ARC of Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale and Signed ARC of Whatever After: Fairest of All by Sarah Mlynowski)
*Elana Johnson Pack (ARC of Possession and ARC of Surrender)
*Kody Keplinger Pack (Paperback of The DUFF, ARC of Shut Out, ARC of A Midsummer's Nightmare)
                                                       *Writer's Pack: Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

We're a fan of easy giveaways, so all you need to do to enter is leave you name and email address (in case you win) in the form below. Please Note: the same form is on both of our blogs, so you only need to enter once-either here or there-all entries will go to one form.

There are, of course, lots of extra ways to get points for you overachievers! See the form below for details.

The contest will run from October 17-29, with the winners being announced on Halloween!

Enter using the form below, and GOOD LUCK!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED

Monday, October 8, 2012

How I Got My Agent

*I'm sorry this is a long post! But let's be real, you're going to skim it anyway ;)

Recently I signed with the amazing Marietta Zacker of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency, a pairing that was actually rather close to not happening at all. I'm fascinated with "how I got my agent" stories, so for those of you who are curious, here's mine. Parts of it are ridiculously unbelievable, even to me, but I hope it will inspire you not to give up on your own dream!

So I wrote this book... that was step one. Drafting and a few rounds of revisions took about a year. Then came the time to actually send out queries. At first I targeted agents that had success representing books similar to mine. This isn't exactly the best idea, since they already have a client like me. I got great feedback from several agents, two of which took the time to send extensive revision suggestions, and I reworked where I saw fit. The changes made the story stronger, but mid-end of summer was maddeningly quiet on the query response/request front. I was losing hope. Maybe this story wasn't the one. So I worked to emotionally let it go, and dove into my next story.

And I went query-rabid.

Now, Marietta was closed some of the time I queried, but I had a watch set on her agent profile on Query Tracker to be notified when she reopened. To me, her and her agency felt extremely unattainable. One of those dream agencies you query and try to forget you queried because you don't want to think about the rejection that's coming. One of my critique partners queried Nancy Gallt, and for a second I was tempted to fill out that form on the website too, but something held me back. Inside, I knew I needed to wait to query that agency until Marietta was open again.

I spent the first half of September sending queries to the rest of the agents on my list (the peak of my query-rabid stage, expecting nothing, happy with how my new story was shaping up). On a whim, I participated in a Twitter pitch event (#pitmad) on a Thursday (that I only knew about because my critique partner happened to mention it on gchat that morning), which led to a request, which led to my first offer by an unscheduled phone call the following Monday, September 17th, which happened to be the same day Marietta reopened. I had queried her as soon as I woke up that morning, and the offer that stemmed from #pitmad came just a few hours later. I notified a couple agents with my material of the offer, as well as some agents I'd queried that I was especially interested in hearing back from. Suddenly there were a handful of agents interested, all promising to get back to me as soon as possible. But being me, I didn't expect any more offers.

After that first phone call, I got an email from Marietta, asking to read the entire manuscript! A same-day response from an agent that JUST reopened, on the same day I got an offer. This was just too unreal. I sent her the full, and notified her of the offer.

I got a second offer on Tuesday, and my head was spinning. I now had a decision to make. I was going to have to tell someone no, and someone yes. I could hardly eat or sleep.

Thursday, on my way home from work, I got another unscheduled phone call. It was offer number three. I had to pull over to a parking lot to talk to her so I wouldn't wreck.

Friday, an email from another agent to set up a phone call. Offer number four.

What. The. Bleep. Do. I. Do. Now?

I spent the weekend in shock. Tossing and turning. Not eating. Anxious. Confused. Thrilled.

Monday I checked in with the agents still considering, letting them know I now had four offers, and that I was preparing to make my decision. Marietta responded, and we set up a phone call for that afternoon. Offer number five. I felt so good after speaking with her. Not only did she get my story the way I wanted readers to get it, but she was incredibly kind, experienced, and just... right.

But I still had time to think, and Tuesday I got another offer. Number six (I told you this story got completely unbelievable. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it).

Wednesday morning I woke up with the clarity that Marietta was my agent. I still had one more agent with the full, but she was pretty much unresponsive by this point. Convinced I was done, and confident in my decision, I emailed Marietta, set up a phone call, and accepted her offer on the phone. Much squealing of delight followed after I hung up.

I HAVE AN AGENT! OMG! WHAT? IS THIS REAL LIFE? AHHHHHH!!

Later that afternoon, of course, I finally got an email from the last agent I was convinced I would never hear from. She wanted to set up a phone call to make an offer. Number seven. You've got to be kidding. I wrote her back and thanked her, but had to decline the phone call.

I know what you're thinking. This story is bogus. Trust me, I was saying this to myself and my family the entire time. With each phone call, I just felt like I was falling farther and farther down some rabbit hole of a dream. It sounds exciting--the problem you want to have, they say. But it was, at times, heartbreaking. There were tears involved. There was much stress. I felt sick all the time because I wasn't eating or sleeping well. I had to choose between amazing agents who all loved my story. Who wanted to take a chance on me and my little YA contemporary story that I had just started to believe would never make it anywhere. Thankfully, once I talked to Marietta, the agent that almost wasn't an option, my choice was clear.

So I don't have one of those stories where I queried 10 people and got an offer right away. I queried wide, and for months. I got a lot of nos. I just about gave up, but decided to go ahead and send queries to the rest of the agents on my list. To jump into a Twitter pitch event, of all things. To go ahead and query that unattainable agent as soon as she reopened to queries. And suddenly it was all worth it. Every little thing during my query experience happened because Marietta and I were always supposed to work together. Let this encourage you not to take rejections so hard. They're going to happen. Keep in mind, that one "no" might be making way for that one "yes" you're meant for later.

And because it inspired me to see the numbers on these types of posts:

Total time querying: 5 months
Total queries sent: 121
Query rejections: 59
Partial requests: 13
Full requests: 13 
(Those numbers are the same, but not all partials were upgraded to fulls. Some agents ask for fulls right off the bat)
Offers of representation: 7
The rest are no-responders, or have yet to respond (as of the time of this post, I'm still getting rejections!)

"Your time will come, if you wait for it, if you wait for it. It's hard, believe me, I've tried..." 
- Imagine Dragons

Don't give up on your dreams. They're worth the effort it takes to get there. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Have an AGENT!!!

The past couple of weeks have been an absolute whirlwind, but I can now officially say, I HAVE AN AGENT!!! It's happened! And I might still be in shock. I mean, how long have I dreamed of this day? I found someone who loves my story just as much as I do. Who GETS it. Who is sweet, and funny, honest, professional, and just so wonderful I want to lace up my skates, hop onto the ice, and fling myself into a flying camel spin. (Considering I haven't been on the ice in years, probably not the best idea, but right now I feel like I could do it!) EEEEP!!

I've signed with Marietta Zacker of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency! I'm agent-buddies with the fabulous Hilary Wagner! And I'm agency-mates with Rick Riordan! Y'all.... I just... I can't even....

Marietta and Nancy represent so many great authors, I look forward to familiarizing myself with them, and I feel so honored and blessed to be added to their client list! Could I possibly add any more exclamation points to this post?! Just a few more!! And I'll post the whole story soon, for those of you who are curious!

A big THANK YOU to all of my followers, blogging buddies, and my amazing critique partners and betas (KM, Kristi, Kim, Amy and Cari). Your comments, encouragement and critiques have kept me going. Much love!

Never give up on your goals. Ever.