Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Good things come to those who NEVER GIVE UP!

For those of you who know me, and those of you that have yet to meet me, today is a happy day! Before I jump into the happy news, let me summarize my writer's journey (or at least parts of it):

*In the winter of 2004, I wrote a fabulous book. Seriously, I believed it would make me millions, and I would get to be a writer for the rest of my life. The book went on to garner several form rejections. Epiphany #1: I had no idea what I was doing. 
*In the winter of 2005, I learned about and joined a group called SCBWI: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. The learning process continued.
*In the spring of 2005, I attended my first writing conference in Michigan. I even had an editor critique! This was a major epiphany! Epiphany #2: the editor told me I had a strong voice in writing, and to keep writing no matter what. 
*In the winter of 2006: a short story of mine was published in Writer's Journal magazine for $25 whole dollars! I was now a published, paid writer! Epiphany #3: Writing doesn't always pay that well. 
*In the fall of 2007: an agent, Barbara Markowitz, took a real interest in my book (the one from 2004). It had been revised a kazillion times, but she still felt it needed a lot more work. Epiphany #4: Revisions never end!
*In the spring of 2010: three of my writer buddies (Monica Harris, Leslie Helakoski, and Rachel Anderson) threatened me within an inch of my life (no, not really) to send my revised manuscript to the agent who had expressed interest three years earlier. I followed their advice, and she remembered me! She called me and signed me on! Epiphany #5: Agents do sign new authors!
Two weeks later: a request for a full manuscript from book #2 that I had completed from a completely different agent. She went on to offer me representation. She is none other than Marissa Walsh of Fineprint Literary. In one of the toughest decisions ever, I chose Marissa because she wanted me for my entire career (but Barbara is seriously still AWESOME). Epiphany #6: sending work out to multiple agents can lead to some issues.
2011: The book has been sent to a handful of editors, so far no luck. I begin writing Falling too Deep (to keep me sane). Epiphany #7: keep writing other books; don't get hung up on just one!
2012: Marissa called me with the unfortunate news that she was, unfortunately, leaving the business. (I love you, Marissa!) She is a pretty amazing lady, and I wished her well. Boy, oh boy, was I bummed! She referred me to Rachel Coyne, also of Fineprint. Epiphany #8: Life does not happen the way you expect, but you smile and move on with grace and professionalism. :)
2012: Rachel and I work diligently on Falling too Deep. At this point I have two other novels that are sitting in a "cyber" drawer. She sends it out to a handful of editors. No luck. We hit the drawing board again. Epiphany #9: Revisions never end (oh, did I say that already?). 
2013/early 2014: Rachel emails me that she is taking a break from agenting to focus on her family. Yay, Rachel (I'm all for putting families first). I wish her well, but now I'm at square one. Epiphany #10: this writing business sucks sometimes!
Early 2014: Enter my lovely friend, Kristen Lenz, who is giddy about her newly signed agent, Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency. She mentions that we might be a good fit. I mention, "Hey, you've seen my writing, would you be willing to refer me?" To which she replies, "HECK, YEAH!" (or something like that). Epiphany #11: Nothing is better than writer friends who totally "get" you. 
Early 2014: I query the lovely Ms. Pestritto with Falling too Deep. She sends me a kind rejection with some tips on improving the manuscript. Mainly, I needed to do some major cutting, up the suspense, and make the plot move faster! Epiphany #12: Revisions never end!
May 2014: I finish revising a 379 page novel to 212 pages! I email Carrie to see if I could resubmit. Wonder of wonders, she said, "Sure, send it my way!" I sent her the first three chapters of the newly revised book. A week later, she requests the whole manuscript! Epiphany #13: Be grateful for open doors and second chances!
July 15, 2014: Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency offers me representation! Epiphany #14: Hard work pays off! 
July 28, 2014: Talked with my agent on the phone (that's so cool that I can say that), and she is all things lovely and sweet. We're on the same page with my novel, and she said she wants to be my career agent! Epiphany #15: Good things come to those who NEVER GIVE UP!

I know the journey is far from over, but I am so overwhelmed with gratitude that I had to write about my experiences. I want to encourage others that the process is truly long and arduous, but good things DO happen. Hopefully, one day soon, I will post more good news. Until then, I will continue to plug away at my books and pray that the door for publication opens big and wide. 
Here's to dreams. Now let's all do a happy dance! 


Friday, July 18, 2014

Waging War on Distractions

My husband, John, on his kayak on Silver Lake in Wolverine, Michigan

It's summer, and it's beautiful, and you can think of 101 different things to do today. Not that I'm asking you to be a hermit in the summer. Let's be real...the snow will be here soon enough. But, that novel isn't going to write itself. And revisions? Your pencil can be a bit lazy if you don't pick it up and force it to work. My remedy is a simple word: balance.
What works for me is to write and revise in the mornings. My summer internal clock is still set on my winter schedule (shh, don't tell it), so I am still getting up very early, even though I do not have to teach classes until the afternoons. I grab my coffee, laptop, notebook, and pencil, and head out to my front porch where I can enjoy God's creation...and get to work (but coffee comes before writing...priorities, people). After two hours of truly focused writing, the rest of the day is mine. Oftentimes, I might steal a few more hours to write, but mostly I spend time with my boys, teach my classes, go swimming, eat ice cream, and enjoy the lovely summer weather. 
What works for you? How do you wage war on distractions?