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How I Got My Agent

It feels like I’ve been waiting forever to write this post.

I could tell the version where I write a manuscript, polish it up, and send 30 query letters. The one where 15 full requests flood my inbox. In that version, I sign with an agent in less than six weeks. That story is true, and it’s not.

I think I wrote my first novel to prove to myself that I could do it. I had no idea how long the journey would be or where it would take me. I sent that manuscript to friends to read, because I didn’t know any writers. I revised. I went to a conference. I learned about the industry and sent a few queries. One agent requested, but it was a quick pass.

Fast-forward a few years, through an unfinished second manuscript. By the time I wrote my third, a YA fantasy, I had a better handle on things. I researched. I went to another conference and met my first real critique partners. I joined the SCBWI and found my tribe. I started querying and had a respectable number of requests, but no offers.

Then I found the contest circuit. I was so fortunate to be chosen as a Pitch Wars mentee, not because of the exposure to agents, but because of the community. I really connected with other writers and got meaningful critiques. I ended up with R&Rs from two small press editors, but I wanted an agent. So I started a local critique group through SCBWI and moved on to a new story.

When this manuscript was ready, I started with contests. This story was a finalist in The Writer’s Voice, PitchMas, An Agent’s Inbox, Pitch Plus Five, and possibly some I don’t remember. I sent queries, too. I was sure this was the one. I had an even more respectable number of requests, tons of positive feedback, and one R&R that led to scrapping more than half of the book. I was willing to put in the work. Six months later, the agent still passed.

How much longer would I keep pouring my time and energy into this writing thing? My freelance work had led to a job offer that meant going back into an office, doing the perfect combination of media, branding, editing, design, and web coordination. But I couldn’t stop writing. On my lunch breaks. At night after my kids were in bed. I decided that even if I never landed an agent or a book deal, I loved writing, I loved books, and I loved the amazing community that had become so important to me.

I could not give up.

I moved across the state, readjusted to working from home again, and kept writing. When my fifth manuscript was finished and in the hands of my amazing CPs, I entered a contest. To my surprise, it won the 2017 SCBWI Rising Kite Award for the state of Florida. After a few more months of polish and revision, I dove back into the query trenches.

Which finally brings me back to thirty queries. Fifteen requests. More than one offer. A difficult decision. And finally a signed contract.

I am absolutely thrilled to say that I am now repped by Danielle Burby of Nelson Literary Agency.



“It’s okay to take a break.”

My husband said this to me yesterday. It’s one of those things I know to be true, but it helps to hear someone else reaffirm it. In the ever-shifting balance of life, family time and writing time keep up their antagonistic struggle. The blog usually gets the shortest stick in that draw, but I wanted to stop in with a run-down on my time away.

In Reading:

Used book store finds have been filling my reading list, so instead of long reviews, I thought I’d give a shout-out to two oldies that really stuck with me.

Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves blew my mind. Imagine a world of infinite dimensions, with an incarnation of the boy who can save the universe in each one. Now imagine they all get together, form an army, and fight the magic and science extremists who want to take over.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson made me think of what would happen if Chuck Palahniuk wrote for teen girls.  Anderson’s chilling voice explores anorexia with depth, intrigue, and complex characters.


In Writing:

Revisions on my WIP are trudging along. I’m over half way through, but the further I get down the line, the more early changes start affecting later events. Also, shiny new ideas keep popping up and begging to be explored. I’ve been debating taking them on in short story form, even though I don’t have enough time in the day for all my other obligations.

In Music:

The Muse concert in Ft. Lauderdale was phenomenal, as expected. On the horizon, we’re taking Son 1 and Son 2 to their first rock concert to see Imagine Dragons in May.  Happy Mother’s Day to me!

And happy reading and writing to all of you! Until next time…

Today begins the meet-and-greet for Gearing Up to Get an Agent (GUTGAA), a blogfest hosted by Deana Barnhart. Thanks for organizing all of this, Deana!
If this is your first visit, welcome to Unavoidable Awkwardness! I fell hard for middle grades and young adult lit when my sixth-grade students started recommending books to me over ten years ago. I blog about books and writing.  Here are the answers to Deana’s meet-and-greet questions:
-Where do you write?
I have a writing desk in my bedroom, but sometimes I take field trips to Panera or Starbucks.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?
I have a printed copy of chapters on top of a piece of cardboard wrapped in aluminum foil and covered in clear tape. (A trial run for my son’s school book covers.)

-Favorite time to write?
When the creative juices hit me. Usually I write in the morning, though.

-Drink of choice while writing?

Coffee. Or Tea. Or anything with caffeine.

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

I need music! Sometimes I’ll be writing, and I’ll just stop without realizing why. It will take me a few minutes to realize that Pandora wants to know if I’m still listening. I’m an alt rock fan, and my Muse, Death Cab, and White Stripes stations are all sound the same these days.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

It always starts with the characters for me. But this concept came from me thinking about alternative histories, and how people are basically the same, despite how different their cultural influences are.

-What’s your most valuable writing tip?
Don’t give up! Keep Writing!

Thank you so much for stopping by! I can’t wait to meet you.

Music for today: I Can Tell That We Are Going to be Friends by The White Stripes

Becky at Once Upon a Time was sweet enough to award Unavoidable Awkwardness a Sunshine Award and a Kreativ Blogger Award! Thanks so much, Becky! For the Sunshine Award, you link back to the gracious giver, answer a few questions about yourself, and pass the award on to other bloggers.

I was also tagged by Cynthia at Read is the New Black. Since I’ve already answered a few 11 question tags, I thought I’d pick a few questions Cynthia and a few from Becky.

1. If you could talk to a dead person about writing, who would it be?

I would probably pick Emily Bronte. Every few years I read Wuthering Heights again, and I am always in awe. I have so many questions I’d love to ask. How did it feel to be a female writer at that time and to publish under a man’s name? Did you constantly compare yourself to your sisters? What were you working on after Wuthering Heights? Plotter or pantser?

2. If you were the main character in a book, what genre would it be?

I’d pick historical fiction.

3. How do you get names for your characters?

For my main characters, I don’t feel like I really know them until I know their names. Once I know a name, I can find out more about them. Those have to just come to me in time. For supporting characters, I sometimes use baby name books.

4. Favorite color – Blue

5. Favorite number – 3

6. Favorite non-alcoholic drink – Coffee

7. Facebook or Twitter – One of the best quotes I’ve heard lately: Facebook is where you lie to your friends, and Twitter is where you’re honest with strangers. I think that’s almost too true!

I’m going to pass the Sunshine Award on to a few bloggers who make me smile. Grab the button for your blogs!

Jennifer Fischetto

Eve at Functioning Insanity

Gina at This is Not Your Blog

Kip at Meditate on This I Will

C.M. Brown

Here is Becky’s full list of questions that you can answer on your blogs!

Favorite color

Favorite animal

Favorite number

Favorite non-alcoholic drink

Facebook or Twitter

My passion

Getting or giving presents?

Favorite pattern

Favorite day of the week

Favorite flower

11 More Questions…

Jenna Cooper at Finding the Write Way and Amber Clites at amberafterglow also tagged me in 11 questions. Thanks, girls! It’s been so much fun getting to know everyone! Here are the answers to some of their questions.

1. Pantser or Planner?
Pantser. I tried planning my current WIP, and it just doesn’t work for me.
2. Would you rather have free Starbucks for five years or free iTunes for life?
iTunes for life.
3. The question for the ages, Edward or Jacob?
4. Would you rather be able to talk to animals or to be able to speak and understand any language?
I would love to speak other languages.
5. Would you rather be kidnapped by terrorists or abducted by aliens?
Aliens, for sure.
6. What is the genre(s) that you write for?
My current MS is YA fantasy.
7. Did you cry in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part two? Was one of the times when Dumbledore asked Severus, “After all this time?” and Severus responded, “Always.” And if not, are you sure you have a soul?
I refused to watch part 1 until part 2 was showing, and not only did I sit sobbing on my couch at the end of part 1, I also cried several times during part 2.
8. With your iPod/MP3 on shuffle, what’s the first song that comes up?
Hysteria by Muse.
9. You’re the producer for turning any one book into a movie, which do you choose to do?
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
10. What’s your least favorite book you ever had to read for school?
Gargantua and Pantagruel
11. What’s one thing you believe in with all your heart?
It doesn’t matter what you feel, it matters what you do.

Music for today: Friend Crush by Friends

11 Questions

Thanks to Daisy Carter at Fresh as a Daisy for tagging me in 11 Questions! I have to answer Daisy’s 11 questions, come up with my own list, and then tag 11 more bloggers.

First, my answers:

1. Favorite villain and why?

The Lannisters from Game of Thrones. Tyrion is really my favorite, but I’m not sure if he counts as a villain. The whole family is twisted and nasty and complex, not unlike an episode of Hoarders. You just can’t fight the fascination.

2. What’s the last book you read?

I just finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene yesterday. *still wiping tears away*

3. If you could tra

vel back in time, where would you go and why?

I’m cheating on this one. For sheer fantasy fulfillment, I would go to England in the early 1900s. For personal, selfish reasons, I would go back and have a chat with my middle school self, though I doubt tween me would listen. (Be bold! Be brave! Buy stock in Apple!)

4. Would you rather have an unlimited gift card to your favorite bookstore OR a publishing contract but never be allowed to read any other books?

No question, I would take the unlimited gift card. I would go crazy if I couldn’t read another book.

5. If you were an animal, what would you be?

I would be a cat.

6. What’s your very first memory?

My parents had one of those toddler seats on the back of a bike. It was bright yellow. I remember riding down a hill on the back of that bike on a trip to the store; I was around two years old.

7. Suzanne Collins, JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Neil Gaiman, Judy Blume and John Green call. They all want you to come to their house for dinner, but all on the same night. Whose dinner invitation do you accept?

Tough one! I’d love to meet all of them, but I’d have to pick JK Rowling. The ‘at her house’ part seals that deal.

8. You discover a planet. What do you name it?

Oren. I have no idea where that came from.

9. What world/nation/city/place from a book would you most like to visit?

I would have to go to Hogwarts. There are tons of amazing fictional worlds, but most of them are too dangerous for my blood.

10. Here’s a million dollars. How would you spend it? *note, I said spend. It’s a fantasy! No saving!*

After paying off my house and splurging on an Aston Martin, I would travel around the world. The itinerary would bounce all over Europe, Africa, Australia, China, and Japan.

11. On which reality TV contest or gameshow would you be a contestant?

I may be dating myself with this one, but I would be on The Mole. This was a reality show hosted by the silver fox Anderson Cooper, in which the contestants traveled around the world and completed tasks to add money to the collective pot. One of the players was really a ‘mole,’ who was trying to sabotage the missions. To win the game, you had to figure out who the saboteur was. It was the only purely awesome reality show, and I have no idea why it was canceled.

Now it’s my turn! Here are my questions.

1. What kind of music (if any) do you listen to while writing?

2. Do you rush right out to see the movies adapted from books you love, or do you avoid them?

3. Pick five fictional characters you’d love to have over to your house for dinner.

4. Do you have any pets?

5. What foods would you pick for your last meal?

6. Name the number one person who would make you faint if he/she commented on your blog or tweeted you on Twitter. (Can be a celebrity, author, or anyone else, but it has to be a real, living person.)

7. What’s the last song you listened to?

8. If you could pick one book that all teenagers would have to read in high school, what would it be?

9. Which fictional character is most like ‘real-life’ you?

10. Do you believe in love at first sight?

11. You can only pick one book to read over and over for the rest of your life. What would it be?

I tag:

The Golden Eagle at The Eagle’s Aerial Perspective

The Literary Mom at http://theliterarymom.wordpress.com/

Traci Kenworth at http://tracikenworth.wordpress.com/

Carolin Seidenkranz at http://carolinseidenkranz.blogspot.com/

Erin at Seventh Story Studio

Journey in Writing

Elizabeth at Elizabeth Creith’s Scriptorium

Rhiannon Morgan at http://rhiannonmorganya.blogspot.com/

Anstice Potts at Creative Therapy

Regina at Unsettled

Callie Kingston at http://calliekingston.blogspot.com/

If you decide to participate, please leave a comment so I can check out your answers! And don’t forget to pass on your own questions to fellow bloggers!

Music for today: Where is My Mind by the Pixies

Ah, serendipity.

In all the time I’ve been blogging, I’ve never posted a bio page. I wanted to welcome my new followers (Hello!) and help you to know me better, so this morning I wrote a little about myself. While writing, I received a message from the thoughtful and talented Colin Smith, awarding me the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thank you so much, Colin!

As a Kreativ Blogger, I need to link back to the award giver, share ten random facts about me, then pass on the award to six people.

Colin is truly a Kreativ Blogger. His posts are filled with insight and humor, and he has excellent taste in books. You can find Colin’s blog at: http://www.colindsmith.com/blog/

And now for a few things about me.

I’m a Florida girl.

You will find me somewhere by the sea, either cozy at home, or in a French café or coffee shop, or cheering for the Gators, or at the midnight showing of a YA book-turned-movie, a habit begun before Twi-moms were a thing.

I’ll likely be wearing these, my favorite pair of sparkly shoes.

Wherever you find me, I will be reading, or writing, or looking after my husband, or shouting after Son 1 and Son 2. Alternative music will be playing in the background. I will not be talking on the phone, exercising, or eating any meat of the red variety.

I’m passing this award on to some bloggers I’ve followed for a while, and some who I’ve just recently met through the Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign. All are delightful and well worth following.

Kate Coursey at http://katecoursey.blogspot.com/

Juliana Haygert at http://www.julianahaygert.com/blognews/

Kate Scott at http://www.katescottwrites.com/

Jillian at Writing on a Limb http://writingonalimb.blogspot.com/

Anna Weggener at http://www.annawaggener.com/

Jenna Cooper at http://findingthewriteway.blogspot.com/

Music for today: Trojans by Atlas Genius