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.
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!
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.