So. I officially have an agent! The contract has been signed!
No, seriously! WOOOOOOOO FREAKING HOOOOOOOOO!!!
Her name is Bethany Buck, and she's with Sanford J. Greenburger Associates in New York. She seems awesome and I can't wait to work with her!
So, yeah. I'm super excited, but I know this is only the very beginning of the process. There will be manuscript revisions, submissions to publishers, rejections, things that get my hopes up, things that shoot them back down. Hopefully not too terribly far down the road there will be an offer from a publisher. Hopefully we'll get a book deal and go from there.
But ... now what?
Now there are doubts. Now there are fears. What if no one is interested? What if I miss the window, the market is oversaturated with my type of book? What if it doesn't happen and I have to start all over? AGAIN.
So ... now is the time to start writing. I need a distraction. Something new to focus on. Plus, I can feel the desire growing. I miss the words flowing and the story building in my head. I miss the pieces of the puzzle coming together almost magically. It's time to write!
But what do I write? Unlike most other areas of my life, with writing I tend to tackle one project at a time until it is done. (Too bad I can't do that with cleaning out the basement!) I don't usually have multiple in-progress manuscripts on my computer. So now it's time to think about the next project. Problem is, I haven't had that "ah ha" kind of story idea yet. I've had some little thoughts, some inklings, but nothing that's made me go "YES! THAT'S IT!" I can tell it's coming, though. It's out there ... or maybe rather IN there (my brain). I just have to nurture it and coax it out.
Sometimes people ask where I get my ideas, and usually I can pinpoint something that triggered the story. I'll give you a few examples (descriptions of these projects are to the left -- click on the links).
THE SOLDIER'S WIFE: This is a story that came from my family history. My mom was born in 1945, while my grandpa was serving in the air force during WWII. She was 9 months old before he finally got to see her in person. He saw pictures, got letters from his wife, but there was no Skype. No email. Things were so different back then. I thought of all those war brides -- those young women who got married so quickly before their guys shipped off -- and I wondered how well they really knew each other. I thought about the idea of trying to get your new spouse solely through letters. But ... what if the letters weren't actually written by your spouse?
THE SWAILING: I remember the exact moment the seed for this story was planted. It was July 18, 2011, and I was waiting for my car to be serviced. I was writing in my journal and listening to some morning "news"/entertainment program. They were talking about a proposal to remove obese children from their homes and place them in temporary foster care as a way to remedy their obesity. The very next story was about Jennifer Hudson and how she had lost weight since her days on American Idol, and they were discussing whether she was now TOO thin. I remember thinking, "What the hell? We can't be fat, but we can't be too skinny, either!" At the time, I was very involved with health insurance decisions at my work, and companies were moving towards "consumer-driven health care" and I wondered ... what kind of society would take overweight kids from their parents? As the parent of one very slim child and one huskier child, would a society like that let me keep the thin one, but take the other one? This was before FitBits were even on the market, but I thought about how a very healthy society might want to monitor our activity and diet to make sure we were making good decisions. Could things ever get to that point? At that time, like today, the government could not seem to reach ANY compromises, and the country was becoming more and more partisan. I thought, what if the government just fell apart and states or regions could do their own thing? What would that look like, eventually? What would the different regions become? That chain of thoughts grew into The Swailing.
PREGNANT PAUSES: In 1998 I was vacationing in Michigan and I went into a shop where a young guy -- probably 18-20 or so -- rang me up. I was 29 at the time, not OLD by any means, but I was SUPER pregnant. He was polite, but did not give me a second glance. I felt invisible. At around that same time, the show Dawson's Creek was popular. I never watched the show much, but I do remember seeing an episode where Pacey (Joshua Jackson's character) got involved with one of his teachers. I thought ... Hmmm. What kind of kid would find an older woman attractive? Or an older PREGNANT woman, for that matter? What kind of older pregnant woman would get involved with a much younger man?
I'm not sure if this is how every writer's mind works, but that's how mine works. I get an inkling -- something that triggers a chain of thoughts. I hear about related things repeatedly, and the idea sort of blossoms in my head.
I am currently reading a book called LANDLINE by Rainbow Rowell. I'm not very far into it, but I think the landline phone at her mom's house is going to serve as some sort of time machine for her to mend her broken marriage. I've also been reading about technology's effect on the current generation of teens: from the proliferation and access to pornography warping their views of sex, to their disconnect from nature. As an adult who grew up without computers and cell phones, I often forget what that was like, and I know my kids have NO idea. What would things be like if all the technology we use every day was no longer available? Not because of any kind of dystopia, but maybe a long-term massive network disruption? How would kids function? How would WE function? How would it change us and our relationships? This is where my mind is wandering today. We'll see if anything comes of it.
Feel free to comment below with your ideas! I promise I won't steal them ... unless you want me to!
Man, when it rains, it does tend to pour.
What a whirlwind two months of querying and sending out partials and fulls and getting rejections and actually making progress! Such a different experience than the last time I went through this process!
Yesterday I got my third (and probably final) offer. Now comes decision time.
I've spoken to all three agents on the phone and got a different vibe from each of them.
Agent A: a more experienced (but part-time) agent who is not located in New York. These days, with technology, that might not matter, but there is something to be said for agents rubbing elbows and networking with publishers in the publishing capital of the world. This agent was kind and encouraging, but her editorial feedback was a little underwhelming and focused on minutiae. She was nice enough, but I'm not sure we clicked.
Agent B: a newer agent, but with many years of editorial experience, in New York, who gave me glowing reviews and we really clicked nicely. Her feedback was helpful and we seem to be on the same wavelength.
Agent C: also a new agent, but younger with fewer years of experience in the industry. But she works at an established agency with a well known agent who would be working with her. Also in New York.
To save you all the suspense, I went with agent #2. She is awesome and I am so excited to start the next step of this journey! Once we get things finalized, I will introduce her to all of you!
Thanks for following along on my quest!
My intention of starting this blog was to do a real-time, blow-by-blow narrative of my path to publication, but I'm failing rather miserably. The good news is, I'm failing because things are moving fast, at least as far as finding an agent is concerned.
So in my last post I mentioned that I received an offer of representation on 6/19 (via email). On 6/21 I sent out 32 emails letting other agents (who I had queried already) know that I have received an offer. Almost immediately I started getting responses. It's funny ... agents tend to move at a snail's pace and most of the time you don't hear anything back from them at all. EVER. Until you get an offer. Then they put their foot on the gas and respond lickity split! Knowing that someone else wants you makes them think they might want you, too. It's all very much like some twisted high school relationship drama: you suddenly become more attractive to others when someone new finds you attractive.
So, back to the emails...
Last week I spoke with the first offering agent, and today I spoke with the second and let me say this: it is so nice to be able to interview them and actually choose vs. just having to jump on the first or only offer. Interviewing these two agents was like night and day, and it's easy to see how important it is to find one who is a good fit and who is excited about your novel.
At this point I am still waiting to hear back from five other agents who have fulls. I assume that they will have to really like the manuscript to offer representation, since they will be competing with other agents for it. Can I say that it is SUCH a nice feeling being the one with some leverage for a change, to be the one courted vs. the one courting?!
So, I have a few more days to wait before I make a decision. Will I accept one of the offers I have? Will I get any new offers? Or will I decide to make revisions and resubmit? Stay tuned to find out!