Friday, June 26, 2015

Big news!

To those of you who have stood beside me and believed in me and cheered me on in my writing journey, today I have some exciting news. I am thrilled to announce that I've signed a contract with Evernight Teen to publish my book, Emerald Bound!

The book will be released as an ebook and print on demand this fall. I am so excited to be joining the Evernight Teen family. They have been very easy to work with and respond quickly whenever I have questions. Evernight Teen will be the perfect home for my book.

I'd like to share a little bit about my journey and how I got to this point, because I always enjoy reading this information from other authors.

Emerald Bound is the second book I queried. My first was an upmarket women's fiction. It had a lot of heart and I loved writing it, but it was my first attempt and the writing just wasn't strong enough.

But I didn't know that. I thought my book was the best thing ever and believed everyone else would agree. (Ha!)

After a few months of querying and entering contests with no interest at all, I found and joined a local writing critique group--The Fairfield Scribes. Though joining was a major step out of my comfort zone, it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. The Scribes did not shy away from telling me exactly why my first book was not good enough. The Scribes also got me hooked on Diet Coke. (Hey, I needed something to keep me going during our weekly meetings, which often went late into the night).

I soaked up their advice, learned from it, and got to work on Emerald Bound, which is a YA fairytale retelling of The Princess and the Pea.

I began querying Emerald Bound in March of 2014, almost a year and a half ago. Right at the beginning, I entered Brenda Drake's Pitch Madness contest and was accepted onto Summer and Dee's Team Fizzee. I received several requests for partials and fulls from the contest, and so much wonderful feedback, but ultimately all of the agents passed. The feedback I received, however, was positive, and encouraging enough to keep me querying.

And querying.

And waiting.

And querying some more.   

Writers, you know how it is.

I received several requests for full and partial manuscripts. Summer happened and I spent a lot of time playing with my kids and trying not to focus on the manuscripts I had out to agents. Once the kids went back to school in the fall, I started working on another, unrelated manuscript. Every other weekend or so, I'd send out a couple of queries for Emerald Bound.

I heard about Evernight Teen in an interview I read by one of their authors and I decided I wanted to query them. They have a 'No Simultaneous Submissions' policy so I had to wait long enough to hear back on all the manuscripts and queries I had out before submitting to them. I queried them on May 22, 2015. Twenty-six days later, I had a letter in my inbox stating that they would be happy to publish my story!

For those who are interested, here are my query stats on Emerald Bound:

Number of queries: 73
Partial requests: 9
Full requests: 6
No response: 24

So the moral of this story, I guess, is to learn how to take feedback.

And to drink more Diet Coke.

Thank you to everyone who believed in me and kept me going. Thanks to my husband, who takes care of our kids for hours and hours every single Thursday night so I can go to Scribes. And thanks to the Scribes, who all hold very big pieces of my heart. I can't wait to see where our journeys take us.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Dream Squasher

I'm a pessimist by nature. I think a lot of people are. I prefer to call it being practical, but let's face it, the end result is the same. I am a dream squasher.

Most of the dreams I squash are my own. I've been doing it to myself my whole life without even realizing it. It was all in the name of practicality. No, I won't major in music even though I'm really good at it and I enjoy doing it. There's no career there unless you're freakishly good. And of course I can't pursue writing either because, well, what are the odds of ever getting anything published? 

So I majored in Speech Pathology. And I loved it, I really did. I loved it because it was interesting. And also because it was practical. And safe. I knew that if I got a degree in Speech Pathology, I'd be able to get a good, well-paying job pretty much anywhere I'd want. And when I was in college, getting a well-paying job was all I considered. Because my inner pessimist had been busy squashing my dreams, all in the name of practicality.

Luckily, the one dream I didn't squash for myself was that of becoming a mother. I now have five kids, and watching my children dream has taught me one very important lesson: Dreams are good. Dreams are essential, even.

And dreams are worth fighting for. 

Watching my kids dream big is hard for me. My first impulse is to always be the voice of reason, the person saying  

No, I really don't think you can build a ten-story clubhouse-slash-ninja training center with an underground tunnel to our neighbors house in our backyard.


No, I really don't think you're going to make a gajillion dollars selling magic potions you brewed in our kitchen.

And, okay, maybe those things needed to be said.

But now that my kids are getting older, they have different dreams. Dreams that they actually have a shot at reaching, even if the odds are stacked against them. My natural impulse when they share these dreams is to be the voice of reason. The person saying That's a beautiful dream, but don't be disappointed if it doesn't come true. My only aim in saying something like that is to soften the blow if whatever they're dreaming of doesn't happen.

But to them, it must sound as if I don't believe in them. When you look at it in that light, trying to soften the blow for my kids by telling them they might not succeed is unforgivable. How dare I come along, with my dream squashing tendencies, and tell them to not even try?

I can't do that. It's my job, as a mother, to give life to my kids' dreams. To be the one telling them they can do it.

And maybe, since I'm learning how to do that for them, I can learn how to do it for myself as well. So here's to dreams. And to going after them no matter how far out of reach they might seem. Thank you to my kids for teaching me that it's never too late to dream.