It’s been a dream of mine to write one of these blog posts! I can’t believe I’m actually really getting to do this.
I entered the trenches in July 2014 with a YA fantasy that was so brilliant I was sure I’d have an agent in a week. Now, I look at that manuscript and my eyes burn. However, before I did that, I ended up on QueryShark! It took a looooooong time until I figured out how to write the best query I could, and now I consider myself pretty good at them, but it definitely was not easy.
Anyways, the fantasy garnered a tiny amount of requests until I eventually shelved the ms. In January 2015 I began querying a YA contemporary and immediately saw an improvement, but that still wasn’t the right manuscript.
In the summer I started work on a new story. I fell in love with this story and my characters. It started to feel like The One.
I wrote the first draft in a mad dash of three weeks, and at 4:29am on July 8, 2015, I had 65,751 words and a completed first draft.
I set it aside for a bit so I could approach revisions objectively, but then got to work because Pitch Wars was coming up! Pitch Wars was like this dreamy amazing contest of wonders to me, and I really wanted to be a part of it. I relished the chance to work with a mentor, learn more about writing and revising, and perhaps gain a whole new community of writers.
stalked researched all the mentors thoroughly. I read their wish lists; if they had been mentors in 2014 I read their mentee’s entries; I followed and interacted with them on Twitter. I made lists and then made more lists. Picking 5 people to submit to was hard, but I eventually did and sent my entry off! Even if I didn’t get picked, I was hopeful I’d at least get some feedback on the opening pages I could use.
The revision period of Pitch Wars consisted of 3 rounds of edits, a lot of Friday Night Lights fangirling, and Austin Powers gifs. Kes and Jen were fantastic mentors. They didn’t look over my shoulder, but I knew I could reach out to them whenever I needed them. I had an 8 page edit letter that never felt overwhelming. And I just worked, cutting and adding to the manuscript, delving deeper into my main character and her anxiety, learning new parts of her.
The other important thing I gained from Pitch Wars was the mentee group!! I don’t know how I would have made it through the Agent Round and all its horror/anxiety/excitement if I didn’t have that safe corner of the internet. I still love that corner of the internet.
All I have to say about Pitch Wars is you should definitely take a chance and submit your manuscript, because you never know. It could change your life. 🙂
In between PW revising and revising on my own/with CPs, I also found some beta readers, who offered invaluable feedback on my manuscript. So definitely get beta readers!!
The Pitch Wars Agent Round happened and I almost had a breakdown, but then I got a bunch of requests and I was happy and excited and like “I’m gonna have an agent by Christmas!! BEST CHRISTMAS EVER.”
ha ha. No. It took longer than I thought, but then finally, one day in March I got The Email of My Life.
It just so happened I was leaving for Toronto the following day. I nudged the other agents, packed my bags, and fluctuated between BEST DAY EVER and OMG ANXIETY STRESS BALL (so just like that scene in TANGLED).
It was a crazy hectic time full of all the emotions. I went on my trip, hung out with my friend and CP Alwyn Hamilton (#PenguinTeenOnTour), and refreshed my inbox constantly.
I got another life changing email in the airport on my way home Monday evening, and the joy of it carried me through the 2 extra hours I spent on Toronto’s runway (scary winds back home delayed take off D:).
On Wednesday morning, I was on the subway heading to class when I got an email from DREAM AGENT. It was short and said she wanted to talk.
I immediately called my mom, as one does.
We went back and forth before we could arrange a time. Dream Agent had to push some stuff around to make my deadline, but when she got back to me she gave me plenty of availability to choose from on Friday. I chose 5pm figuring I might need some extra time between another appointment. But on Friday I ended up being free around 3 (much earlier than expected) so I sent Dream Agent an email telling her we could have our call at 4 if she was still free then.
The waiting was hard. I didn’t know how I’d pass an hour if I didn’t have anything to do.
I promptly got an email back with “I can call you now!” (cue: more flails)
So she called me. We talked for nearly an hour and it was lovely and I knew she was perfect for me. She was interested in my voice and my writing and just me. We had some laughs, talked books, and the future, and a part of me kept saying this is good, this is so good, this is everything. Now I know why it’s THE Call. This was the call.
I signed with Heather Flaherty (aka Dream Agent) at The Bent Agency, and I’m so excited to continue my writing journey with an amazing agent at my side.