Huzzah! It’s happened! Now I’m just like those other lucky writers who get to write their pot of gold post at the end of the rainbow. “The Glass Ceiling,” my YA speculative fiction/dystopian has found a home with Midnight Frost Books. It’s been eleven years since I grew serious about my writing. Here is my journey:
2004 – 2005 – I took one of those writing tests you see in magazines and was accepted into the Institute for Children’s Literature, an online writing program. After passing with high scores, I submitted some of my class assignments to children’s magazines with no bites (this was back in the day when submissions were still sent snail mail!)
2006 – 2007 – I shifted my focus from children’s books to adult, specifically a paranormal romance, and joined Absolute Write. I learned a lot, and I mean A LOT about the craft of writing, querying, agents/publishing, and even blogging tips. I found a circle of writers and we beta’d for each other.
2008 – 2009 – I started querying my paranormal romance and got a revise and resubmit with a small press. They didn’t really give me any specific guidance with regard to changes, just said it wasn’t quite there yet. Left with a shelved book, I got back on Absolute Write and decided to beta a few projects. Beta reading is really the best way to improve your own writing! It was here I met my writing partner. We clicked, our writing meshed, and we decided to branch out into the YA world of writing together. We created a fun series that ended up being more tween than teen, but it was good stuff, and commercial, as well. After querying the first book (and in the middle of writing the second), things changed in our partnership, and we split. That series became shelved as well, which is a shame because months later, I found a revise and resubmit in our shared inbox – this time with guidance.
2010 – 2011 – Absolute Write became my best friend again as I licked my wounds. Twice now I’d been close to publication and thought the world was out to get me. A little dramatic, but writers usually are. I was now on the rebound, and in search of another writing partner. I’m going to tell you now, it is FUN writing with someone else. To blend ideas, negotiate scenes, and share responsibility, gives a writer motivation to keep going. After all, your partner has as much invested in the book as you do. In my first partnership it worked out great. I’m a huge plotter, and she gave me free reign to do whatever I liked with the story. Her job was to make it sound pretty on paper. But that was a unique situation I’ve never been able to find again. But what I did find that year was an awesome critter partner. A woman was reaching out on Absolute Write, asking for an honest opinion about her writing. If I’m anything it’s honest…to a fault. So I read it, and it was good. And we’ve been critter partners ever since. It’s a little odd at times because she writes adult Urban Fantasy and I’m YA, but the craft of writing is the same no matter what genre. (Shout out to Carmen Fox.)
2012 – I got back on the writing horse and took another look at my adult paranormal romance. I decided to rewrite it cover to cover. But about halfway through, my life shattered into a million pieces. I quickly found myself divorced, a single mom to three boys, and trying to sell my house via short sale. Of the three, I honestly can’t say which was worse (short sales are brutal). I pulled away from writing and didn’t talk to my critter partner for months. Things finally settled down and I met my now fiancée, a man who supports my writing a way my ex-husband never did.
2013 – 2014 – I turned my focus back to YA again. I have a young voice and mindset that just seem best matched for that genre. I came up with the story line for “The Glass Ceiling” on my commute home from work one day and started writing it. In 2014 my critter partner secretly submitted my work into contests on my behalf. So you can believe my surprise when I got a phone call from YARWA (what was a YARWA?) when my first three chapters finaled in their annual contest. I thought she was trying to sell me a timeshare! My family insisted I fly to San Antonio in July for their conference, which the travel was an adventure in itself since my aunt didn’t make any reservations. But I got to hear Ally Carter and Jay Asher speak in person and actually sit with Agent Kevan Lyon. It was a pretty exciting experience.
In August, I began querying the book to three tiers of agents. I had a whole system worked out and a spreadsheet for tracking. Unfortunately, since Hunger Games and Divergent came out dystopian is to agents like garlic is to vampires. So much so, that I rebranded my genre as speculative fiction, hoping I could sneak it in that way. Still no bites but a lot of personalized rejections, which as writers know are valuable for the sheer reason agents thought your work good enough to spend their valuable time writing you. And every response was pretty much the same. It’s not a fit for me at this time.
After three months of querying agents, I started querying small presses. One of these presses had an active call. Can you guess what it was for? Dystopians! I couldn’t believe my luck. Instead of trying to shove my square manuscript into round holes I decided to try a square hole this time. And it worked! After a month, I heard back from Midnight Frost Books with a contract offer. Wowsers! Of course, I did my research and decided they would be a great match for me. I emailed them back and said I was interested. Then waited. And waited. Two weeks and no contract. Did it usually take that long? By this point, I’d friended the president on Facebook and decided to reach out to her. After a couple messages back and forth I discovered the contract had been attached to the original email! It had been labeled “The Glass Ceiling” which I had assumed was a copy of my MS. When will I ever learn my lesson? As my fiancee so wisely says, “To assume means to make an a** out of you and me.” Two weeks I wasted. Argh! But all is well now and I’m a happy writer on her way to being a published author!
I always enjoy hearing how authors got their first break. I hope my story has given you hope that your break could be just around the corner, too!