Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Blog has Moved!

All future posts will be uploaded to my official author site at

Please join me over there, subscribe if you like, and we shall make merry in the comments! Or something like that. ;)



Thursday, January 8, 2015

How I Got My Literary Agent

As most of you reading this already know from the way I've appended "rep'd by Marlene Stringer" to all my social media bios, I have an agent now!!!

I know some have indicated an interest in knowing how this all came to be, so allow me to regale you with the story!

But first, backstory!

I've been writing my entire life. Literally, from the moment I understood I could put words together and make my own stories. My earliest memory of writing was using a program called Paint, Write, and Play. I'm pretty sure my mom still has some of the little stories I made through that, and if I ever manage to excavate it from the boxes of my childhood things, you bet your bottom I will post it. Pretty sure one story involved a whale. (Yep. Even from a young age, I recognized whales were cool.)

My second earliest memory is of writing Jonny Quest fan fiction.
Because heck yeah, Jonny Quest!
A lot of my adolescent writing fell under the category of fanfiction. I wasand still ama huge Legend of Zelda and Star Wars fan, so it only made sense to write in those universes. I'm a big supporter of fanfiction; I feel it's the perfect gateway for beginning writers, and a wonderful creative outlet for experienced ones, too! Writing fanfic and getting immediate feedback from readers helped me grow as a young writer, and also introduced me to communities of like-minded folk who nurtured my creative aspirations further. You know who you are. ;)

Eventually, I moved on to writing novels, primarily motivated by the month-long writing competition, NaNoWriMo. I participated successfully in NaNo for three years before actually finishing my first complete book in 2010, a YA zombie novel called DROP DEAD. I thought it was great! So great that after a brief edit all by my lonesome, I decided to query the sucker. It went about how you'd expect. Sent about ten queries out. Form rejections across the board.*

It stung, but I wouldn't be discouraged for long.

I went back to writing, determined to prove I could write novels outside of the high-octane fuel ride that was NaNoWriMo. Over the course of five and a half months (during my second year of college), I wrote the first draft of an adult sci-fi called MACHINATIONS about a clone with a faulty memory who resumes her donor's role as an icon of human resistance v. machines. I also prematurely queried this one, briefly, to about three or four agents, all of whom form rejected me, and rightly so. M could be better, much better, and I knew it.

Cue time passing, a ton more edits, lots of self-doubt, and actually letting some people read and offer feedback! (This is important, aspiring authors, take note. GET A CRITIQUE PARTNER OR TWO. They will help you make your book soooo much better.)

One of the real turning points, however, was when I entered the contest PitchWars (hosted by the lovely Brenda Drake) at the behest of my friend, Charlie N Holmberg. I say "behest" but it was a proper kick-in-the-pants, which is exactly what I needed. Regardless of whatever else I worked on, I kept coming back to MACHINATIONS. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I knew in my heart it was a story I wanted to share. My mom was also a strong proponent of me entering the competition, much as she's been a strong supporter of me being a writer my whole life. So thank you, Mom!

Although I did not get into PW initially, the feedback I received from my prospective mentors was all very positive and encouraging. I returned to revising and managed to cut M back by about 15k words. No small task, let me tell you! Then fate intervened, and I became an alternate in PW, getting to work with Eden Plantz, the executive editor of Anaiah Press. Eden was absolutely wonderful! She helped me polish my new opening chapter, and gave me great line edit advice. Not to mention her first-hand knowledge of the publishing industry, which came in very handy! Her confidence in me and my story lifted me up at just the right time. So thank you, Eden!

Also through PW, I met and became friends with lots of amazing writers, including the ever marvelous Missy Shelton Belote. Missy is a line edit wizard, and one of the best CPs I've ever had. She helped me polish M even more, trimming more of the fat off my prose. Just further proof how crucial it is to find a good CP!

When I finally felt ready to query, the very first agent on my list was Marlene Stringer. Being that she reps one of my close friends, I knew she was a great agent. Imagine then my excitement when the same day I sent her a query, she responded with a request for a full and a synopsis!

I looked a little something like this.
I quickly sent her the requested materials. Then came the waiting. Oh, the waiting.

And the paranoia.

"She said to send it with the title 'requested material' and I typed in 'requested materials'! What if the spam filter ate it?! What if she thinks I'm slacking and failed to send it? WHAT IF WHAT IF"

And the doubt. And all those nasty thoughts us writers have in between the brief flashes of hope.

Thankfully, I found ways to keep myself busy. Very busy. I started working on another novel. I was also finishing my final semester of college, researching 19th century sailing wives, and writing a 20pg paper on that in addition to other coursework. Yep. Busy busy busy. It actually prevented me from querying more widely than I'd planned, but fortunately, it didn't matter. Because while I was stressed out and fretting, my little novel that could had found its agent soulmate.

Receiving the call almost two months later was... indescribable. Surreal. Marlene not only loved MACHINATIONS, but in talking with her, I could tell she also "got" the book. Got what I was trying to achieve with it and believed in its potential. She made an offer of representation (!!!), and two days later, after careful consideration, I accepted.

Now I'm working with one of my dream agents! Marlene is everything I could ask for in an agent: prompt, intelligent, knows the biz like the back of her hand, and tolerates my poor attempts at humor. ;) I'm honestly thrilled and humbled by this opportunity, and can't wait to see what the future has in store.

* One of those queries was sent to my now-agent, Marlene.