About Me

Finding An Agent: My Road Less Traveled

Oh what a year this has been.

2013 started off with so many unfortunate events. At first it was one thing, then another, and then another -- so many craptastic things just in the month of January, I actually had to laugh. And then after all of that, I parted ways with Mr. Agent Man in February after working with him exclusively for almost two years.

Oh, but it gets better. Because in March, I was laid off from my job after six years of service (along with 150 others). Seriously. What a grand year, right? I was afraid to even ask what more could happen.

It took months for me to realize that getting laid off was a huge blessing in disguise. I was so unhappy with some of the turns I'd taken in my career and even more saddened by a job that slowly stopped being the amazing creative adventure it once was. But when I sat back and looked at it for all it was worth, I realized I finally had the time to write. Hours every day, be it two in the afternoon or two in the morning...my time was finally mine

So I wrote. I picked back up on WHERE THE WATER FALLS after putting it on the back burner in 2010, when I started working with Mr. Agent Man on THE LUCKY FEW. It only had four chapters under it's belt, but it kept pecking at the back of my mind to get in there and finish it. And so I did.

It took a couple of months to complete, revise, and send out to all of my wonderful CP's -- only to start the revision process all over again, once I'd received their feedback. When I finally felt it was in a good place, I took a break away from it all around the beginning of August...and then I started to query -- the first one went out on August 29th and I heard back within a few hours, with a request for the full.

I was beyond ecstatic. Beyond

Because my journey - while not nearly finished - has been an incredibly long road. After all, I sent out my very first query on September 27, 2009 -- yep, that's over four years ago. And since then, I've wrote three more novels and started in on sequels for a few of them. But it was WTWF that snagged Super Agent Lisa, thanks to something on Twitter called #MSWL.

But let's back up to September: After the first request, I received three more for full's right off the bat, which was AWESOME. But then I received three rejections in one day, from big agents I'd queried and had my fingers crossed on. Then a fourth one came in. And then a fifth. And then I started to think maybe this pattern was indicative of what was to come.

I even emailed a few of my CP's letting them know I was considering throwing in the towel -- you can bet all of them told me I was nuts and most of them threatened me with the dull end of a spoon if I ever thought that way again. But it was all so exhausting, like querying usually is...and the sudden slew of negative responses was getting the better of me. Especially after four years of it.

I decided instead to take another query class from Writers Digest with agents Kate McKean and Jim McCarthy. I rewrote my query based on their feedback -- and sent it out. And then I jumped on Twitter and realized it was #MSWL day. For those not in the know, #MSWL stands for manuscript wish list: a day when literary agents Tweet their wish lists for manuscripts they hope will find a way into their slush pile. It happens only a few times a year and was started by Agent Jessica Sinsheimer and on 9/24 it was lighting up the Twitter feeds. 

A few agents were looking for YA Contemporary, so I queried them. And received four new requests within a day -- one of them was from Lisa. Then another request came in based off my new query letter prior to #MSWL. Then another. And soon I had submissions out with FIFTEEN agents and TWO smaller publishers.

Holy shit. Best querying EV-VER.

And then I leave for Mazatlan, Mexico on 10/3, to celebrate my 8th anniversary with my husband. No phone reception, no internet connectivity, no nothing but sunshine, pool time, the beach, and plenty of mai tais. Of course being the person I am, I have the hardest time unplugging...so when we were walking by the small deli on our hotel grounds - the only place with free wi-fi - I connected my phone for a few minutes, just to see.

And low and behold not only was there a letter of intent from one agent, but I also received an email from another agent a few hours later, with AN OFFER OF REPRESENATION!

Me. An offer. !#$%!#!!#%@#$!

But of course I'm in Mexico...and the connection is reminescant of the old AOL dial-up days, if that. And my internet goes down. And then I get it back up again, but for some reason I can't reply to any emails. And the deli is getting ready to close for the night. OMG, by this point, I'm just slightly freaking out. I have 1.5 agents interested and I can't respond to ANYONE. How is this happening? 

It's too late to go in to town and find an internet cafe, so we go back to our room and I literally cannot contain myself. I spend the rest of the night sending I-don't-even-want-to-know-how-expensive text messages to my CP's (because for some reason I can text, but can't call or email...WTF??!?!) and writing out in my notebook what I'll email back to both of these agents, should I ever gain access to the internet again. Okay, a little overly dramatic, but seriously: NO INTERNET + AGENT OFFERS = NOT GOOD.

Around 7am the next morning as soon as the little deli opened, I was waiting at the door like that woman in the old Mervyn's commercial saying "open, open, open!" with my iPad in hand and $250 in pesos, just in case I needed to buy my way to a computer. And I finally connect. It was like the clouds had parted. OMFG, I love internet connectivity. LOVE.

I replied to the offering agent letting her know I was thrilled to get her offer, that I was down in Mexico for the week, and that I'd love to chat when I returned. Then I promptly emailed the other agent and let her know I'd received an offer. 

I spent an hour that day, emailing all of the agents that currently had my MS to let them know I'd received an offer - but they would have plenty of time to read / make their decision, since I was out of the country. I also emailed all of the agents I'd queried in the last two weeks. In the end, I heard back from all agents with my MS, letting me know they'd read and get back to me -- along with two new requests from those I'd queried the week before.

Over the next week another agent offered - Lisa, actually!!! - then an editor...and several politely declined. But let me tell you that while there were many great agents in that mix of R's, I now had TWO offers of rep from TWO outstanding agents and one from an editor -- and I just couldn't find it in me to feel bad about those R's!

In the end, after speaking with Lisa on the phone, I knew she was the one. She loved my story and my characters. She had notes - a couple of pages worth - that could make WTWF even stronger. And I loved every edit we talked about. It didn't feel like she was ripping apart my story. Instead it felt like she had this great vision of where she could see it going...and I was so there with her. And when I spoke to two of her current clients and they RAVED about her, it became clear. While one of the hardest decisions I've ever made, it was also one of the easiest.

I couldn't be more happy with where I've landed. And even through all the chaos of crappy internet connections, all the YEARS of querying, and everything else it's taken to get to this point, right here, I'm thrilled Lisa will champion my work. And I'm grateful for things like #MSWL that brought us together.

Final stats for WTWF:

First query sent: 8.29.13
Total queries sent: 25
Total rejections received: 6
Total requests received: 19 (16 fulls and 3 partials)
Total offers received: 4 
Lisa's offer accepted: 10.23.13 

I can't believe I finally get to say, I have an agent. 

I have an agent.

Wow, it doesn't get any less exciting the more I say it.

My 3 Year Blog-o-versary: WINNERS!!!

And the winners are:

Sara Biren

- and - 

Kris F. Oliver

Congratulations, ladies! Head on over to TheBookDepository.com and pick out a book (let me know a couple of your preferred options, as they aren't always in stock)!

Also, Sara, please email me your mailing address - thanks!

Thanks to everyone for stopping by and helping celebrate my 3 years! 

My 3 Year Blog-o-versary!

I totally wanna hold up 3 fingers, when I see that image there to the left. 

Because today, I am 3 years old. 

Well, okay, my blog is three.

But I can't believe it. 3 years - which first started out on Blogger, then somewhere down the road, transitioned into this beautiful website via my great friend and CP partner, Bridgid Gallagher. But 3 years? Where has the time gone?

I remember my very first post like it was yesterday - it was simply just a link to "Guide to Literary Agents" with the caption of: "Great blog that I follow - always an interesting read!" Wow, now that there is Pulitzer prize winning content, for sure! Why, oh why, don't I have an agent? :)

And for someone that usually has no issue talking to anyone, at the time of my first post, I was at a loss for words...but more importantly, was worried no one would even read what I was writing.

But I tried it again and the very next day, I posted a link on how to write a great hook / logline - and I can't believe it actually still gets hits, 3 years later.

Many things changed over the years and as I grew into my writer's skin, I definitely learned to become more vocal - and my posts grew substantially in length. Having my own blog also gave me the opportunity to meet so, so, so, many wonderful writers and authors, allowed me to share my thoughts through book reviews, host giveaways, compete in contests (including one for my first ever flash-fiction piece you can read here, which I won 2nd place in!), pimp the amazing YA critique and support group I started - YAwesome Writers - and promote book blog tours (which may include a great video or two).

My blog has also been a place where I've shared my own personal struggles as a writer - and human being - and in turn, I've received overwhelming support from so many of you. I've been lucky to meet some of you in person - and others I've shared so many emails with, it has made it feel like I've known you my entire life.

And because of this, I'd like to thank all of you. Every single one of you that's taken the time to read my posts, leave a comment, share a link, reach out via email - all of you. Thank you for trudging through 3 great years as I've worked towards quitting my day job, to become a full-time writer. Maybe one day it will happen. And when it does, believe me, you'll be the first to know.

So to put a little something tangible behind my gratitude, I'd like to giveaway a book of the winners choice, to 2 of my fabulous blogging friends (retail value $20 USD maximum, each) via The Book Depository. This giveaway will be open internationally, so all my friends in the great country to the North of me - as well as all around the world - can enter! As long as The Book Depository ships to your address, you're eligible. All you need to do is fill out the rafflecopter form below - no tricks, no fancy requirements...but if you leave a comment or follow me on Twitter, it's worth more entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'll draw names one week from today, Wednesday, March 6, 2013 and announce the winners here on my blog - so make sure to check back. 

Thank you for all of your support over the past 3 years! And here's to many more!

Two Roads Diverged...

So many of you know I've been in an exclusive R&R with an amazing agent - and for those of you who don't know, the story goes a little something like this:

I started querying THE LUCKY FEW back in late April of 2011 and decided to do things a little differently than I'd done in the past. My first batch was a smattering of queries - unlike the deluge I'd sent out for my prior two books - and I had an amazing response. Out of the 8 I sent, I received 5 fulls, 1 partial, 1 decline, and 1 no response. I was off to a great start. 

When 2 declines came in on fulls, I decided to query Mr. Agent Man on July 11, 2011. This agent has been in my top 3, of all-time agents, since I started querying over five years ago for other books - and I'd been holding off on sending to him, to see what kind of responses I'd recieve from my first round.

He replied six minutes later, requesting the full.

I was ecstatic and of course, immediately sent it - and the very next day, he'd called. He, along with his assistant, had read my MS over-night - and he'd also sent it along to some of his colleagues in their NYC office. He wasn't quite prepared to sign me, but he definitely wanted an exclusive R&R together. And so, after asking for a few days to settle with the other agents that already had my fulls and partials, I let him know I was ready to go. 

Over the next 7 months, I'd completed 2 separate revisions with responses from him in the form of editorial letters, emails, and conference calls. By February of 2012, we agreed there were just so many great directions I could take my story...and deciding on one path, seemed more difficult than any of us thought. Ultimately, we decided a complete shift needed to happen - which required me to scrap more than 60,000 of the then 89,000 words, and rewrite them completely.

After running the gammut of emotions on what this actually would mean, I finally settled in and tackled the beast. It took almost five months to complete - but I finished, had all of my CP's read and critique at break-neck speed, and had it back to him by July of last year. By September, he'd emailed that he was 100% on board with the direction I'd taken and was more than happy with my rewrite - however, he needed more time to final scrub and get back to me. 

Between then and now, his amazing assistant left the agenting business and he became inundated with not only his own clients, but her's as well - and the communication between us became less frequent. By January of this year, I emailed with a timeline, needing some type of response, before I felt it was fair I move on. 

In the end, I did hear back from him - we chatted on the phone and ultimately decided, his plate had become too full and he just couldn't give me the time I was going to need. So as it goes, our journey - after over 20 months working together - had come to an end.

He did ask to pass my manuscript along to few other agents in his office, feeling if he couldn't take on my MS, the next best thing would be to keep it in house. As well, he also recommended the names of a handful of agents outside the agency that he felt would be a great fit.

And now that brings us to last week. 

Honestly, while I am disappointed things didn't work out - especially after so much hard work and time - I couldn't be more happy with the change my story took on, and am so thankful to have had the opportunity of working exclusively with an agent of his caliber. I do believe everything happens for a reason and I'm very much looking forward to finding an amazing agent that loves THE LUCKY FEW as much as I do! 

So now I'm back out on the hunt. And yes, it sucks to be back at square one...but as one of my fabulous CP's said, maybe I am back at square one - but if I am, I'm there with a jet pack on, while most everyone else is on foot. Huh. What a great way to look at it, right? I'm so grateful for ALL of my CP's, as they've helped so much through this entire process - and honestly, if it weren't for them, I really think I may have shelved my writing for awhile.

But agents beware, I'm not letting you off the hook that easily. In fact, if anything, I'm pushing forward with a fury. I'm tackling this one, head on. And who knows how it will all turn out, but for now, bring. it. on. 

And like my all-time favorite poem by Robert Frost, I'll head once again, down the road less traveled - and I know it will make ALL the difference.

What about any of you - have you experienced anything similar? And if so, how did you deal with it?

BLOG ME MAYBE: LA / Disneyland Week in Review

It's Tuesday and today's Blog Me MAYbe topic is sharing something about myself. 

So most of you know I spent all of last week, down in LA - and what a week it was! 

First off, my husband and I went to Osteria Mozza last Monday night for dinner - and you'll never guess who sat down next to me...as in, not even two feet away...as in, I seriously could've leaned over and touched his beautiful arm.

Holy bejeezus it was none other than Lenny Kravitz, aka Cinna from THE HUNGER GAMES!!!

Now normally I think I do pretty well when faced with those of celebrity status - after all, they're only human, too, right?

But...I am a huge Lenny Kravitz fan - and well, we don't need to delve into how much I love THE HUNGER GAMES. So needless to say, I was a little, uh, star struck, when he sat down. And a little embarrassed to say, when he turned and smiled at me, I sheepishly giggled and looked at my toes, and I possibly may have even blushed.

And then awhile later, I sneezed - and he turned and said, "Bless you"...and I could barely muster a mumbled, "thank you" in response. 

Um, what????

No idea what was wrong with me. But at least by the time we left, I managed to say something somewhat intelligent about hoping he enjoys his dinner. Even though I really wanted to gush all over him and tell him how much of a fan I am. 

And while that may have been the highlight of my week, we still did a ton of other things - like Disneyland on my birthday.

I even got me a pair of Mickey ears, with my name and birthday embroidered on the back. Didn't even blink that for 2 pairs of ears (my husband wanted a pair, too), it ran me $60, cause it was all about the experience!

And dinner at Yamashiro's was amazing - no celebrity spottings there, but I did manage to drag my husband to the mall down the street afterwards, and buy my copy of INSURGENT!!! Which, holy bajolly, I loved and devoured in 3 days. I would've read it faster, had I been allowed to hole up in my hotel room and plow through it...but my husband had other plans, such as:

Six Flags Magic Mountain.

And let me tell you, all the anti-nausea meds in the world, didn't have a chance against the thrill rides of this park.

But mostly because, I've come to learn that my husband is crazy.

There wasn't a kid in that entire park, that had the energy my husband had. Seriously, he ran from getting off the ride, back around to getting back in line for it again. And it wasn't like we just sat in any ole' seat. 


We always had to sit either in the front or the back.

And while I may have felt like crap, my husband was having the time of his life...and considering he let me oogle like a school girl over Cinna, I at least had to give him this. And I'll admit, I was having a great time, as well. 

But while the weather was poop - cloudy, overcast, and mid-sixties the entire week - I will say that it was so much better than having to be in the office!!

And at least we finished off the week with one of my favorite all-time eateries:

In-n-Out Burgers

All I can say is, yum - and I wish we had one up in Seattle!

Net / net: LA was a blast. And I'm sad to have to trudge back to work. But I can't believe Lenny Kravitz spoke to me! Holy squeeeeeee!

Which leaves me to ask:

What famous celebrity have you met, and were you able to say anything intelligent? 

Blog Me MAYbe: A Little Something About Me!

Today is the first day of the Blog me MAYbe blogfest, hosted by the fabulous Sara McClung - a little something she pulled together, to keep all of us participating, motivated to blog on a weekly schedule.

And since it's Tuesday, that means the topic is: May I tell you something about myself?

I snagged the cool alphabet survey Katy Upperman posted on her blog last week, as I thought this would be a great way to share a few things about me. 

Day one in the Blog Me MAYbe blogfest - and here goes:

A is for age: Today is my birthday - I am now...36.

B is for breakfast today: Haven't had anything yet - but I'm hoping for some pancakes!

C is for currently craving: Not gonna lie, would love a ball park hot dog and garlic fries right now...we may catch an Angels game this week, so I might just get my wish!

D is for dinner tonight: Since my husband I are in LA right now, we're having dinner at one of my favorite sushi restaurants: Yamashiro's. Love, love, love, this place!

E is for favorite type of exercise: Running, for sure. It's been awhile, but I also love CrossFit. Skiing and golf are favorites, as well!

F is for an irrational fear: Needles. *shudder*

G is for gross food: Not a huge fan of liver or any other entrails. 

H is for hometown: I was born and raised in Renton, Wa. (about 20 minutes SE from Seattle). 

I is for something important: My family. And my writing.

J is for current favorite jam: Yikes, not a huge jam fan - but if I had to pick, it would be my Aunt's homemade Guava jam from Hawaii!

K is for kids: Sadly, we only have the 4-legged kind, but not for lack of wanting the human kind. Never thought it would be this hard...but hopefully someday!

L is for current location: LA, California, in my hotel room!

M is for the most recent way you spent money: We went to Disneyland yesterday - it's been 28 years since I've been, and it was absolutely one of the best days I've ever had!

N is for something you need: A way to bring money in without having to go back to my day job!

O is for occupation: Creative development manager in the marketing department at T-Mobile. Aspiring author.

P is for pet peeve: Angry drivers. People who cut in line. Unruly children.

Q is for a quote: “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

R is for random fact about you: I constantly leave various lights on around the house for no real apparent reason, which drives my husband batty - he's always following behind me, and turning them off. 

S is for favorite healthy snack: My morning smoothies made of: Kale, mango, banana, almonds, protein powder, coconut oil, and coconut water = YUM!!

T is for favorite treat:  Haagen Dazs Chocolate Chocolate-Chip ice cream, and Haribo gummi bears (but only the red and the green ones).

U is for something that makes you unique: I am a handful of scuba dives short of my Dive Masters certification. I played the violin for 12 years. And was a gymnast for 14. 

V is for favorite vegetable: Squash, peppers, and broccoli.

W is for today’s workout: Walking the infinite expanse of Disneyland!

X is for X-rays you’ve had: My heel (nasty heel spur from running!) and my teeth.

Y is for yesterday’s highlight: Amazing dinner with my husband at Osteria Mozza, in LA!

Z is for your time zone: Pacific.

That's me in a nut shell - so tell me, what is one random fact about you?