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Archive for March, 2013

I Have An Agent!!!

Guys. I have crazy news. I have an agent!

For those of you who are just going to scroll through the post to find who I signed with, I give you the news now.

I am represented by the fabulous Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency!

For those curious about how I signed with my agent, keep reading.

I have two contests to thank for landing me my agent: Pitch Wars and PitchMAS. I know first hand that contests can be frustrating, bring out all your insecurities about your work, and make very sane people slightly neurotic. They can also be incredibly exciting and rewarding.

I was querying my manuscript, BROKEN, when news of Pitch Wars broke. I was so strung out on contests by this point, I wasn’t sure I wanted to put myself through another one. And I certainly didn’t want to enter with BROKEN, the manuscript that had run its course in contests already. It didn’t help that one of my top mentor picks had already beta’d BROKEN for me. Granted, it had changed based off her earlier suggestions, but I knew my chances of getting picked would be slim.

Then it occurred to me that I had another shiny new manuscript that had never been in a contest and I had never queried. A contest would be a perfect way to gauge interest in my concept and the overall potential of the story before I started sending off queries. I set to work writing a query, completing edits, and polishing those first five pages. On the first day of submissions, I sent it off to my top three mentors.

More waiting. This waiting was excruciating because I stalked the Twitter feed and followed along with all the vague tweets from mentors. This was how I heard of another contest, PitchMAS, and while I had no intentions of entering because Pitch Wars fried my brain, I checked out the blog posts for entry requirements out of curiosity.

By the time PitchMAS rolled around, I was pretty sure there was no way I would get picked for Pitch Wars. I couldn’t stand to look at Twitter anymore as the mentors made their picks. I didn’t want to enter anymore contests because I didn’t think I could take it. I still had requests and queries out with BROKEN. I would just wait and see where those went and maybe query THE HIT LIST a few months later when I’d recovered from Pitch Wars. And then my friend and wise beyond her years CP, Kate, told me this: If you don’t enter PitchMAS, you won’t get any requests. If you do enter PitchMAS, the worst that can happen is you don’t get any requests. But you’ll probably get requests.

Who am I to argue with that logic?

Two hours before the contest opened to submissions, I wrote my pitch. I submitted my entry the second the contest window opened and I went to bed, knowing agents could start requesting the next morning and that I would be at work, unable to stalk. I was on pins and needles all the next day while my CPs texted me updates. When I got home from work, I saw the aftermath. I didn’t get one request. I got six.

Nicole was one of the agents who requested my partial from PitchMAS. Within a week, she had upgraded to a full and was then emailing me to ask if I would be interested in doing some edits. A freaking R&R. I was ecstatic. So was my CP, Lizzy, who happened to be at the coffee shop with me when I got the email. We both screamed. People looked at us like we were crazy. It was great.

I was already deep into edits when the Pitch Wars mentees were announced a week or so later. I was picked as an alternate by two amazing mentors: Dahlia Adler and Monica B.W. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Dahlia offered to beta THE HIT LIST and I gladly accepted. With my CP’s and Dahlia’s feedback, I finally finished my R&R and sent it off. In the meantime, my Pitch Wars entry went up on one of the alternate blogs and I got a request. I did the Pitch Wars Twitter Pitch and got a couple more requests. I sent out a handful of queries to get THE HIT LIST out into the world and landed a few requests there too.

A month of no news passed before an email landed in my inbox that ended in a small press offer.

I couldn’t believe it. Someone wanted to buy my book. It was an amazing feeling. I nudged all the agents who had requests. In the end, I accepted representation from Nicole and I couldn’t be happier.

None of this would have happened without my awesome writer friends and this amazing community. But a few deserve some extra thanks for helping me out along the way. Without Kate, Lizzy, Delia, Amanda, and Brandi, my writing wouldn’t be nearly as strong as it is. Kate and Lizzy: you’ve both kept me sane through this entire process and I love you both for it. Without contests, I might not have found the perfect agent for me. I owe a lot to Brenda Drake for organizing Pitch Wars (and countless other contests I’ve met writers through or learned from) and to Jessa Russo and Tamara Mataya for organizing PitchMAS and connecting me with Nicole. And to my awesome mentor Dahlia for picking me out of the slush pile and making THE HIT LIST better in the process. I’ve come a long way in the last year and I couldn’t be more excited to see where the next year takes me.

And for those of you who love stats, I’ve included mine below for THE HIT LIST.

Queries sent: 12

Partials: 6 (6 from contests)

Fulls: 6 (4 from contests)

R&Rs: 1

Thank you to everyone who has helped me on this journey. I hope you stick around to see what comes next. I love you all!

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Why I Outline

There is no one right way to write a novel. Some people plot every single detail. They know everything that will happen and there are no surprises. Others have a list of five or ten (or however many) plot points they want to hit and go from there. Still others have a basic concept and just go for it. Whether you’re a panster or a plotter or somewhere in between, it’s important to figure out what works best for you and your story. Your type might change from story to story, you might find the perfect method on your first attempt and stick with that for your career, or if you’re like me, you might try one way, find that you’re terrible at it, and adjust your style.

The first draft of my first ever manuscript took me around two years to complete (and another two years to edit). I went into it having a vague idea of what it would be about, but nothing concrete. Just a couple plot points I wanted to happen along the way. I didn’t write every day and I took several month long breaks at a time because I had no idea where it was going. It felt a lot like stumbling around in a dark cave trying to find that one tunnel that would lead to the exit, only to find it never existed in the first place. The story didn’t make sense and the world building was terrible. Because of that, I overhauled the thing five times and it changed completely from draft to draft. To this day, I don’t really know what’s going on with it. I trunked it about a year ago and couldn’t be happier.

Instead of forcing it and becoming more frustrated with myself, I moved on to a new manuscript. I plotted, I outlined, I wrote down everything I could before I even started the draft. There were still surprises along the way and sometimes those surprises took me in a different direction for a while, but it was easier to steer myself back on course. And it worked. I wrote the first draft in three weeks and it wasn’t a complete mess.

This experience taught me one of the most valuable lessons for my writing. I now keep a list of everything I want to happen in every chapter and those lists are copied onto the note cards in Scrivener to look at while I draft. Some points are really detailed, including character quotes, and some are just a few words. I have to leave some wiggle room for myself because I can’t predict everything my characters will do before I start a manuscript. But it’s a hell of a lot less wiggle room than just winging it.

To all of you panster writers out there, you are amazing. I don’t know how you do it, but it takes incredible talent to make everything come together in the end. And while I would love to be able to do that, I’ll stick to outlining and what works for me.

For those of you who have only tried one way, I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone, even if it’s just for a little while. You might find something useful and your writing will thank you for it.

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