When I visit an author’s website, I always search for a post on how they got published. I’m wired that way. I want to know the how and the why.
It’s probably the sole reason I stink at mathematics. No one can tell me just why something times something else, divided by that thingy-ma-whaty, equals the area of a cone. The idea that “it just does” makes no sense to me.
But, I digress.
Given my own curiosity, I thought I’d throw my story on the stack.
My journey to publication began on a dark and stormy night (well, maybe). It was November of 2008, and my baby girl was just shy of three months old. She was a beautiful little thing, but she wasn’t nearly as good a sleeper as her big brother. At the time, I had a killer part-time job working from home for a legal consulting company, but it still wasn’t what I really, really wanted to do. I wanted to write. I wanted THAT to be my job.
So, as I wandered the house with my tiny insomniac, singing and rocking, I considered the possibility that I could write a novel. I’d started and stopped several times before, but something was different this time. Somewhere along the way, I had picked up an immeasurably valuable nugget: I was learning to be patient with myself.
Maybe it was the gauntlet of parenting, or the sheer lack of sleep, but whatever it was, I knew I had the ability to be patient through the brainstorming process.
That night, I walked and I walked, and I sang a bit, but mostly I thought and thought and thought. Before the night was over, I had a handful of characters and a fairly good idea of just what I wanted to say and where I wanted my characters to go. I had a mental outline and that was enough.
So, I sat down to write–and yes, that’s how I do it. I’m not a big plotter and sometimes that works against me, but I’m learning. Still, by February of 2009, I had a first draft. It was awful, of course, but I was proud of it.
2009 was full of tons and tons of parenting and editing whenever I could. I enlisted the services of Vinnie Kinsella and Declaration Editing, hiring him to give me his honest opinion on what he read. He was nothing but fabulous and encouraged me on my road to publication.
I found a group of writerly souls to bond with, Inspire Christian Writers, and I committed to attending Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference the following year. I even queried a few agents. I got a big round of chirping crickets though, and decided to hold off until after Mt. Hermon.
I continued editing, continued reading about the craft, keeping the conference ahead of me like a crunchy carrot. The time rolled around, and I was devastated when I had to pull out. My gorgeous cherub still wasn’t sleeping and things had actually gotten worse. Leaving her just wasn’t realistic.
So, now it’s spring, 2010. I’m several drafts into my novel and no real goal in sight, except landing an agent. But, the idea of sending out query letters and getting only silence in return was gut-wrenching.
And then Twitter! Yup, I said it. Twitter happened to me.
Agents were tweeting. Oh, yes they were. They were tweeting their likes and dislikes, their rants and raves. They were giving the world–and more specifically, writers–an idea of what they were looking for.
I started to pay attention and I got more specific about who I queried. And, I branched out a bit. I started looking for agencies that didn’t specialize in Christian Fiction. The reason for this is simple: The agents I was attracted to most on Twitter weren’t with Christian agencies. Maybe those guys aren’t tweeting? I don’t know, but after just two mainstream queries, I got a bite.
In August of 2010, Jason Pinter of The Waxman Agency in NYC (gasp!) requested my full manuscript. Of course, we had just moved and our internet wasn’t even fully operational, and I really wanted to rewrite my Afterword, but it didn’t matter. I had gotten a request! So, I scrambled and got it to him the next day. The day after that, he offered representation.
Voila! I had an agent.
We made a few tweaks to my manuscript, retitled it, and started the submission process that fall. We queried a handful of mainstream houses and one CBA house. We had some great feedback, and some interest, but it wasn’t until we submitted to Thomas Nelson that we had a hit.
And then, THEN!
I heart you Jason Pinter, but then, my agent left The Waxman Agency. So, here I am, on submission with my dream publisher and I’m left in a lurch. My agency was great and kept me on, but I was in limbo as to which agent I’d be assigned and whether or not they’d even like my manuscript. It was agonizing for a bit, but long story short, things worked out.
I was paired with the amazing Holly Root, and shortly thereafter Thomas Nelson made an offer. FOR THREE BOOKS! That’s right. My night wandering the house, babe in arms, was the start of a journey leading to the largest Christian publisher in the world acquiring a YA trilogy from ME. A mom. A wife. A youth pastor. Someone who doesn’t even know how to find the area of a cone!
One thing I think you’ll notice from my story is that there were no magic wands, no magic beans, and not a single sprinkle of fairy dust. And while those things are all very well and dandy, it’s God’s fingerprints that are all over my journey. I’m constantly overwhelmed at how faithful He is, even when–especially when–I’ve been tempted to give up hope.
So, now I continue on. I am working on my first round of revisions–on an actual deadline–and enjoying every single minute of it. I’m sure I’ll hit bumps along the way and I’m positive about those mountains (thanks, Miley!) but I’m grateful to be doing what I love, and to have the support of Thomas Nelson is truly a dream come true.
God bless, kids.
Keep dreaming. Keep hoping.
Keep putting one foot down after the other and share your story with me.
Dreamers are always welcome here.
For more info on my debut novel, visit my ANGEL EYES page. Check back for more updates on my journey.