As this is my first blog post for my writer website (!!!), I thought it fitting for it to detail the start of my writing career!
I started writing in high school and it became a dream of mine to get published. I've always loved stories and telling them. A little over two years ago, I got married and my husband and I honeymooned in the caribbean. That's where it happened. I became obsessed with pirates. At first, it was roaming wikipedia and then it became an all out ordering spree on Amazon. Two books I loved on the subject really kickstarted my imagination into dreaming about writing a pirate story.
Now, I hadn't written a word since 4 years ago when I took a stab at writing a book. It went well and I was able to go to Big Sur, a writer's conference/retreat put on by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I'll write a whole separate post about attending conferences because they are that kind of awesome.
It was there I met a few agents and there I discovered that I could at least write a book from start to finish. Mind you, this book wasn't ready to be picked up at all but it was something to at least finish it. Never mind the overload of adjectives and adverbs found therein. I might have to do a separate post about that, too.
*gets out a notepad and starts making a list of blog posts*
*briefly wonders if I could have a whole post about our puppy, piper*
Fast forward and I'm now in the throes of writing my second book ever, a pirate story set in the early 1700s during the Golden Age of Pirates. It was then that I started "hearing" a second character talking and it happened to not be human. It was, actually, a merman. So now I had a historical pirate book featuring a handsome merman. Well. What was I going to do with that?
It was around that time I entered a fantastic contest called Pitch Wars, put on by the lovely Brenda Drake (and this is where I realize I'll need a separate post for that). To my surprise, I got in and was mentored by a sweet and dedicated writer—Megan Lally. She ended up taking on two mentees and my sister in this writing adventure is Sheena Boekweg. Without the two of them at my side, I think I would have gone very nearly insane.
After the contest ended, I had two requests and one ninja request. I sent those off plus 20 queries* back in November of 2015. Immediately, I heard back from an agency who's intern really liked the story but felt it wasn't ready for representation. She, then, offered me an R+R. Industry speak for "Revise + Resubmit".
Guess what? I'll be talking about that later on. Who knew I would have so many things I'd like to share with you guys. Whoever you are, reading this. ;)
I received a detailed edit letter from the intern and it was awesome and just what my book needed at the time. I stopped querying despite getting a couple of requests in that initial round of querying.
I took three months to rework SEA OF RIVALS, my historical fantasy YA book. Once I went through several more rounds of revision and submitting it to both my CPs and Betas (adds that to my ever growing blog post list), the book was ready to see the light of the querying world again. I had complied a list of some 150 agents I wanted to query (another blog post topic there) and sent off ten at a time, every other day or so.
This querying round went entirely different than the first. Right off the bat, I started getting partial and full requests. Then, I heard about Beth Phelan's amazing #DVPit twitter extravaganza. Basically, a twitter pitch event that has you create several "pitches" of your book, confined to the character limit in a tweet. I came up with a few and a sweet friend helped with some more (I'm looking at you Kristen!).
Brief side track to explain the rules of #DVpit: Your book has to, on some level, fall under the diverse umbrella. To be brief: it can either be about a diverse character or written by a diverse author. As an American Bolivian writing about a Spanish lady pirate, my book qualified. Agents who were interested in seeing your book would favorite your tweet. Editors who wanted to see your book later on, if you ever got to the point of getting represented, would retweet your pitch.
The day of the contest arrived and I started pitching. As a side note, there are so many twitter events like this and I don't ever really fare well because there are hundreds of writers tweeting all at once, on the hour, all day. This time, since the focus was a bit narrower, SEA OF RIVALS had a much better chance of getting noticed.
One of the agents who favorited my tweet was Mary Moore. I happily queried her on April 19th. Ten days later she requested the full manuscript. Four days after that, she wanted to set up the CALL.
When I got the email, I burst into tears and my alarmed husband waited to find out if the news was good or bad. I had to reassure him it was definitely the former. :)
What followed was two weeks of letting all the other agents know that I had received an offer of representation (another blog post topic, stay tuned!). This is when other agents can also offer you rep and in that time, I received two other offers.
I had great conversations with the other two offering agents (who were both sweet and effusive about SEA OF RIVALS), and after lots of conversations with my husband, good friends, I felt that Mary was the agent for my book and my career. When I accepted her offer on the phone, at some point she switched to speaking in Spanish and that just made the call that much more special. I'm thrilled to be working with her!!
And there it is. The beginning of my long adventure of trying to get published.
Thanks for reading!
*A query letter is a one page cover letter sent to agents that details your book. You have to have a strong premise, some sort of hook in the beginning and set the stakes without giving anything away. I often found that writing the query was harder than writing the book. But that's for another day and another post. ;)