I Sparkle! (Noooo, not like that vampire guy in the sunlight)

The brilliant and awesome Jenny Ford passed on the Mrs. Sparkly award. Look–

*Pausing for OOhs & AAhs*

To accept the award, I have to answer seven questions about me and nominate 15 other bloggers. I hate to leave people out and many times I pass on these awards to people who’ve already received them so here’s the deal . . . .if you are one of the first 15 to comment and have a blog  but don’t have this award, take it! All you guys sparkle and deserve it:):) Also, the knowledgable and gracious Robin Weeks has offered to give away a query critique to a commenter on my blog after I correctly answered a question on her blog last week!  Winner can pick whether Robin tears the query apart in private or on her blog, to be seen by tens of people–who just might comment and help you even more. So if you’d like to be considered for that, please make note of it in the comments below. Thanks, Robin!!!

Ok, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Describe yourself in 7 words: weird, ambitious, fun, anal, fast (not in running *I wish* but I tend to jump into things), talkative, daydreamer

*What keeps you up at night? Writing my novels and reading!!

*Whom would you like to be? Wellllll, God made me “me” for a reason, so nobody (Ok, but it wouldn’t totally suck to be J.K. Rowling)

*What am I wearing right now? HP shirt (yep, nERd alert), Navy cotton shorts from Ann Taylor Loft . . . and I’m not describing my undergarments to you (pervs! HA! J/K)

*What scares you? Needles & anything to do w/ the Dr. in general. Still don’t know how I made it through two pregnancies, but I’m soooo glad I did b/c my daughters rock!

*What are the best and worst things about blogging? Connecting with people from all around the wORld is for sURe the best THiNG evER!!! The worst . . . it’s a major time suck and even though I love, LOVE, lOvE it, I always feel guilty b/c there are other things I should be doing (but I choose to ignore THAT voice in my head & let the others take over. Heehee)

*If I could change one thing about myself, what would it be? I drink too much coffee, CoFfEe, C*O*F*F*E*E!!! I’m addicted. Hmm, maybe you can tell that about me w/out stating it? 4 cups of Santa’s White Christmas with 2 spoonfuls of sugar, Caramel Macchiato creamer, whipped cream every day is a necessity (like food, shelter, & love in a mug!)

*Slankets, yes or no? OK, I guess I’m not cool b/c I actually had to google what Slankets are, lol. But I AM a Slankets girl, we just refer to them as snuggies in my house. I have a HP one that looks like a Hogwarts robe.

*Tell us something about the person who nominated you. Jenny Ford (known as J. Keller Ford to many of you) is a YA author inspired by fantasy and magic. I love her blog . . . she always has lotsa good stuff on there & is like, a real person. I feel like I know her even though we’ve never met. I got to know her story when she participated in the first page critique hop on my blog this past February.

Thank you, Jenny, and thanks to everyone who follows my blog and offered their congrats last week–YOU SPARKLE!!!

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I Signed a Publishing Contract!!! *Squeal*

As you can tell from my photo- I’m sooooo excited!!! I like that I’m wearing my Cheshire Cat shirt since my grin is identical to his:) I feel like I’m in Wonderland holding an actual publishing contract! But at the same time, I know there are plenty of people out there wanting to give up b/c they’ve been trying to achieve their dreams for what seems like forever & it’s not happening (yet). Believe me, I know. I’ve been trying to get published for 3 years. Please allow me to share my story with you . . . (click on the link for inspirational music while you read. Come on, you know you want to!)

In the summer of 2009 hubby started snoring & keeping me awake.  I dug up this children’s chapter book I’d started in 2005 in the wee hours of the night with the idea of finishing it, but it just didn’t call to me anymore. So I started writing the novel of my heart, yanno, that first manuscript that never sees the light of day? In 2 months time I managed to write 95,000 words, and I still wasn’t finished ya’ll! When I paused to do some research, I discovered I’d written a contemporary young adult love story (who knew?!?) and I’d gone waaaaaaaaaaayyyy over the acceptable word count. So I started querying for that novel and writing the sequel. I chose 15 publishers that were open to submissions and was rejected by all of them. I was crushed.The start of 2010 meant researching the publishing biz and studying the craft of writing. I attended RWA Nationals in the summer and learned more stuff.

NY Times Bestselling Author Kelley Armstrong with yours truly at RWA Nationals

That’s when I figured out I needed to stop writing my sequel I was already 53,000 words into. The first novel I’d written was all about a 16-yr-old girl in turmoil, cutting herself, ect . . . and in the sequel she was emotionally healed but her best friend was diagnosed with leukemia  and she came up with the idea of a bucket list to help him through it. There was  no reason for these two stories to be related. I shelved the first novel after I’d edited it as much as I thought I could and still received 3 rejections from agents after they requested the full at RWA Nationals. So I finished the second one and went through revisions. I didn’t have money to attend RWA nationals again. I connected with bloggers online instead. That’s when I participated in Deana Barnhart’s Gearin’ Up to Get An Agent blogfest last summer.

From the comments I gained (thanks everyone, especially Deana), I gathered I needed to get away from the cancer thing. Cancer and bucket lists had been done. So I changed it up a bit and queried 15 agents again. Got 3 requests for the full, but ultimately rejected. Then my local chapter for RWA, SWFRW, hosted an awesome conference this past February. I had appointments with editors from TOR, Harlequin Teen and Sourcebooks. I was pumped. Then a month before the conference, I got this comment from Leah Hultenschmidt during the discussion for Pitch-Slam Weekend on YALITCHAT.ORG:

 “The idea of completing a set amount of tasks is all over the genre right now (Little Blue Envelopes, Instructions for a Broken Heart, 13 Reasons Why to some degree), so you’ll need something extra special to make this really stand out. Maybe give more detail at what’s unexpected so that can be as much of the hook as the instructions.”

Craaaaaaaaaaaaapppp! That’s who I was pitching to for Sourcebooks! I decided then to put a paranormal twist on it since all my other story ideas were paranormal and I knew I’d need to write in the same genre for a while to build up my audience. The only problem? Many agents/editors were saying they’re done with YA paranormal love stories. *whines, why didn’t I think of this story back in 2009 when it was hot?* Still, everyone always says to not write for trends so I stuck with it. Guess what? They all requested my manuscript:) I was still revising so it took me 2 months to send it to them *oops!*

Then blogger buddy Sharon Bayliss hosted a contest during my first week of summer break. The contest was a call to submit our query + first 500 words to YA acquisitions editor Krystal Wade of Curiosity Quills, whom Sharon had just signed a contract with. I thought, what the heck? I’ll start my summer off right with a contest and hopefully gather some valuable feedback. Everyone rocked with their comments and I got a request for the first 3 chapters from Krystal. I was excited but also kinda disappointed I didn’t get a full request. *She later told me she wasn’t going to request it at all but liked the changes I’d made based on the comments. So yep, these contests really do help!* I sent Krystal the manuscript on a Saturday morning and when I checked my email on Monday, I had a message from her requesting my full manuscript!! I got one of those really good feelings but remained only cautiously optimistic until another 2 days later, I received an offer for a publishing contract for 18 Things!

Curiosity Quills super kewl logo

Curiosity Quills super kewl logo

Of course I had to let the other editors know, so I emailed them and waited. But the whole time I knew in my gut this story was meant for Curiosity Quills. Krystal was so easy to talk to during this whole process and I was really encouraged I finally found an editor that was as excited as I was about my manuscript.

The greatest thing for me is my daughters coming away from this experience knowing that hard work and perseverance really can make dreams come true. I’d like to thank them for giving up some mommy time to help me achieve my goals. I’d also like to show hubby some love for snoring (heehee) and for sticking by my side even when I was super grumpy from staying up all night writing my little heart out. The offer you made me fourteen years ago to marry you is still & always will be the best offer I ever accepted. Crazy thank yous to Sharon and Krystal for the contest . . . can’t wait to work with both A*M*A*Z*I*N*G gals as part of the Curiosity Quills team!! Gratitude for my pals at SWFRW, especially Marisa, Tina, Nicole, Linnea, Heather, Joyce, Michael, Jean, and anyone else who looked at my work (Mom, Amy, Dawn, Misty, Jennifer, Lorie, ect) and instead of telling me I sucked (and at the beginning, believe me when I assure you that I did!), encouraged me and helped show me the light. Muchos Gracias for my literal Sisterhood of the Traveling Necklace (we couldn’t all magically fit into a pair of pants, but we tried!) for covering me in prayer. Words can’t express what your Godly example, influence and friendship has meant to me through the years.  

So the moral of the story? Never give up! Trust your gut! And believe every rejection in life just means God has something better planned for you down the road:) 

How about you? What are some dreams you’ve never given up on? Are you letting past rejections stop you from moving forward? Well then, I Dare You To Move.

Never Surrender?

During the second week of June–that’s the 11-16thElana Johnson is hosting the Never Surrender blogfest to celebrate her new book release this month. All you have to do is blog about a time you didn’t surrender!

This post should be easy for me. It’s been the theme of my whole life. I’ve faced many challenges and it all started from the time when I was very young and was sexually abused. That’s just too depressing to blog about so as I searched my brain about the other things I could post . . . and realized the best moments of my life have come by not surrendering, but doing the opposite.

“WHAT?!!?”

Yep, you heard me right.

Throughout my life there were people I thought were my friends. Family I thought I could trust. There were times I felt like surrendering, even attempted suicide twice between the ages of 11-14. But I couldn’t go through with it. I knew I owed it to myself to see what all the fight was about. I figured my best days would be ahead of me because it couldn’t get much worse. Even if I didn’t understand much about God then, I sensed he had a master plan for me. When I finally surrendered my life to him when I turned 18, I knew I was right.

God says he has collected my tears in a bottle. I wonder how many bottles they filled while I was growing up? But trouble=triumph. I’ve never seen someone be triumphant without being in trouble first. Romans 8:28 says we know, not hope, not wish, not pray . . . that all things work for the good of those who love him. All those atrocities I survived I use as a catalyst to pour into my writing.

So never surrendering to me means surrendering it all to God. If I didn’t get something (during the past 3 years, that usually meant an agent or editor), it’s only because God has something better for me down the road. Going through hell and high-water is worth it if it leads me to the place God has for me. One of the hardest things to do is to believe God in transition and that’s where I am now. Transitions are difficult because you’re letting go of everything you’ve held onto. It’s a great feeling of vulnerability. Worry happens. But when it happens, I make the choice to let go and let God. I surrender.

What about you?

*This is a blog hop so be sure to make like a bunny and jump over to Elana’s page:):):) 

 

IWSG and Winners . . .

Okay, before I get to my IWSG post, I’ll go ahead and announce the winners from last week’s contest because I know ya’ll would be scrolling down anyways:) *Pause for virtual drumroll*

Robin Weeks— winner of query or 2 page synopsis critique by author Jaime Rush!

AND

Tuere Morton–winner of Jaime Rush’s new book, Darkness Becomes Her

Robin, please email me your pages as an attachment to info@jamieayres.com and I’ll forward it to the other Jaime:) Tuere, please email me your address to claim your prize. Muchos gracias to all who participated. Don’t forget to buy Jaime’s book . . .only $4.99 for the Kindle edition (I’m enjoying mine!)

Now it’s the first Wednesday of the month so you know what time it is– Alex J. Cavanaugh’s . . .

This month I’m feeling that Catch 22 scenario because I just received my 4th request for my manuscript, 18 Things. It was a partial request that quickly turned into a full request so I’m psyched about that. I also feel like since I’m finally generating some interest I should go ahead and plot out/write the sequel. Since I finished writing 18 Things in February I’ve focused on writing another novel because I figured I’d be crushed (metaphorically speaking, of course) if nobody wanted 18 Things. This way if all the editors said (the following response I cut & pasted from an actual response, but from an agent):  “I like so much about this, and I especially like your writing. But here is my main concern: what about this book makes it marketable? What makes it a bestseller? YA is so incredibly tight right now, editors keep bemoaning that anything they take on must be ‘break-out big’ and while I think this book is great, I’m not sure how to pitch it to make it compete with the bestselling books already on the shelves. Do you  have anything else to show me?”

So yeah, anyways, if I got that same reaction from an editor I could answer, “Yep! Here it is!”

But now I’m feeling 18 Things may just see the light of day (really hoping to share gOOd nEWs soon) so it’s time to write the sequel. I sat down after church on Sunday and pretty much just vomited up 15 pgs for the first chapter. Once I got the feeling for how I wanted this story to continue, I knew I had to force myself to plot, which I hate almost as much as revisions. You see, I’m a pantser (I feel like there should be a separate support group for that . . . anyone know of one?). Maybe you’re a pantser too but want to travel down that recovery road with me. Well, welcome to step 1 my friend . . . the

PLOTTING TABLE

Come on, click it. I tripe dog dare ya:):):)

Alrighty then . . .back to torture plotting for me. If you have any helpful plot tools, please share with us!

~Until next Wednesday, HaPPy*WRitiNG/rEAding!!

By jamieayres Posted in IWSG