Thanks to all of you who have been dedicated in reading each part of my journey. I don’t normally post so much in a week, so if you’re as exhausted as I am, I understand! Because of the big Alexfest (I mean Cheers, Cavanaugh Blogfest) on Monday (If you haven’t signed up, click here), I wanted to finish my story this weekend. I originally had this planned in two more posts, but wanted to finish up today. So, please forgive me with the extended length—but I figured if you were interested, you’d read it. And if you weren’t, you’d leave a generic comment anyway. ;-)
I had hope again. And I had a sparkly new idea for another manuscript. I was okay shelving my first novel, because this next one was going to be it.
I threw myself into NaNoWriMo 2011 and vomited my MS out in 30 days. Then I took until March 2012 to polish it up and MAKE SURE I was ready to query this time. I was NOT going to go through the same query experience again. If I did, I was convinced I would die. But I knew this manuscript was stronger, and had complete faith in it. Or complete faith that Karen was going to love this manuscript.
Yes, I was still hung up on the fact that we were supposed to work together. The feeling wouldn’t go away. My whole writing journey seemed to be centered around her. The way her rejection had thrown me into the darkest part of my journey and the way meeting her had pulled me out of it.
Karen was closed to unsolicited queries at this point, save for those she met at conferences, so the fact that I had met and spoken with her in LA was another sign we were meant to be. So I emailed off a query and she immediately responded, remembering who I was and told me to mail my full.
I DIDN’T EVEN QUERY ANYONE ELSE I was convinced Karen was the one. I practically skipped to the mailbox and whistled a tune as the postman took my package away. This was it. I had fought through hardship and I was going to rise above the ashes and finally succeed. Karen was going to want my manuscript.
Holy. Crap. Shock. The most depressed pic I could find of myself-------->
I think I stared at the rejection on my computer screen for two days. I couldn’t believe it. My gut had failed me. AGAIN. With two manuscripts. (Do you have any idea how much work 2 novels are?!) With tears streaming down my cheeks, I typed out a response, thanking her for taking the time to have a look, etc, etc. Of course, with her being so kind, she wrote back and asked if I was going to the SCBWI conference in LA again that year. And if I was, it’d be great if we could connect and have coffee. I showed the email to my mom and mother-in-law, and they both told me I HAD to go—that they would help sponsor and help with kids. (To which my mom also told me I better start drinking coffee, because I don’t, lol)
So I continued to query, and continued to get great response from my manuscript. Partials were upgraded, fulls were requested, but I didn’t care about that. I was focused on pounding out a new project, and the looming coffee date I had with Karen.
In May 2012, I sat down to write my third book. And honestly, it was like all the stars aligned for me. This story flooded out of me in 6 weeks, and it became the essence of who I am. It was like I had to write those two books before SO I could write this book. I couldn’t believe I had the capacity to write anything else. This story was me.
July 2012, I started querying. I sent out 10 test queries. Seven of which requested. I didn’t want to query Karen yet, because I wanted to see if I could get helpful feedback from rejections before going there. I had already made that mistake before. Plus, I was going to meet her in August, and I’d much rather query her after.
Within the month, I received two R & R’s (revise and resubmit), which told me I was close. I was really close with this one.
August came and I flew to LA with my dear friend, Cortney, who I had invited to come have “coffee” with Karen and me. It ended up being breakfast. For two hours. And I swear it was the two most magical hours of my life. The energy and passion around this woman was undeniable. My soul just connected with hers, and it was so comfortable and easy and natural. And there’s nothing better than talking the publishing business with someone who knows their stuff. Karen also invited me to send her any future work. (Because she was still closed to queries) She even mentioned me in her blog after the conference, which made my month!
September came. I was working on my R & R’s, when an unexpected email came. Phew. I GOT AN OFFER OF REPRESENTATION. It was the most… unexpected, crazy moment ever. It was the moment I had been waiting for FOREVER, but I wasn’t ready yet! I had just started my revisions, and I hadn’t even queried Karen yet! (Not officially) This wasn’t the way this was supposed to happen.
But of course I was delighted. And I would’ve been beyond pleased to work with this person. So I threw myself into finishing the requested revisions, and sent my updated manuscript to all the other agents who requested. I also had 2 other requests that were thrown into the mix—one AMAZING agent who contacted me, and another who wanted to see the story whose client had referred me.
Thus began 2 of the craziest weeks of my life. Note to everyone: When offered rep, don’t ask for 2 weeks to consider the offer, just ask for ONE. No need to torture yourself more than needed.
I informed the other agents who had requested about the offer and waited.
And then I wrote Karen. I told her about the offer and how I wouldn’t feel comfortable accepting rep from anyone else without at least having her look at it. (I of course wanted to scream, “WE’RE MEANT TO WORK TOGETHER, AND THIS IS OUR LAST CHANCE! PLEASE WANT ME!”) She responded quickly and very graciously said I could mail her the full.
And the waiting began.
Except, I didn’t have to wait too long. It took two days for the MS to mail out. Karen emailed me that Friday afternoon when she received the MS, and I NEVER EXPECTED to hear from her the NEXT DAY. Saturday night, I received the longest email of my life, with Karen saying she’d love to represent me with this series, and gave me a whole slew of notes. I’ll NEVER forget running upstairs and shoving my phone in my hubby’s face and telling him to READ. My gut feeling was right.
But I couldn’t accept right away, because I had given the other agents 2 WEEKS to get back to me. What was I thinking???
Not two days later, I received my THIRD offer. From an AMAZING agent. I loved speaking with her on the phone, and on paper, it made total sense that I go with her! Then I received a FOURTH. And a FIFTH. And a SIXTH. I spoke with each of these agents on the phone and (don’t hate me) but I began to doubt the gut feeling I had had all along. The story ideas these other agents were throwing at me sounded SO appealing, and their passion for my story really shone through and I sorta fell in love with them.
Karen called me on a layover on her way to a SCBWI conference at which she was speaking. The conversation was amazing. The minute I hung up, I felt better, not whole, but better. I knew the connection was there, but I was still conflicted. It wasn’t 30 minutes later that Karen called back. It was after that second conversation that it was sealed. I KNEW Karen would fight for me no matter what and I suddenly felt stupid for EVER doubting my gut. I had NO DOUBT in my decision.
Writing rejection letters to the other amazing agents TRULY was so difficult. I felt attached to some of them and not to be dramatic, but it really was like cutting out a chunk of my heart. But it made the moment when I could finally say, “YES!” to Karen so worth it.
I’m grateful for my journey so far. I’m glad it hasn't been easy. I've learned how to face rejection and now I’m not afraid anymore. I've learned how to persevere even when I didn’t know if the work would be worth it. I've learned to trust my gut, even though "reality" said my gut was nothing. I've learned that good does happen to people who duck their heads and focus on the work. It doesn’t matter what others are doing around you, all that matters is that we are each doing our best, pushing ourselves to see how far we can stretch ourselves. And the coolest part? Is that it isn’t about the writing. It’s about the journey, and the change that takes place inside of us.
Thanks for reading.