In terms of organizing my life and setting new goals for 2014, I like to review the past year to see what happened in my writing journey month by month. You can check out last year's post for 2012 here.
So, let's get started on 2013, or as I like to call it, the year in which ALL THE THINGS happened.
I worked like a mad woman on BUSGIRL BLUES to meet the deadline for February. Hair reached Mad Max proportions due to lack of time for personal grooming.
The massively revised version of NIGHT SHIFT was returned to an editor who had requested R&R back in July 2012.
Then something exciting happened. An editor who had read JUST JESSE in November 2012 loved it and was planning on taking it to acquisitions. I was super secret with this nugget of fabulous news, fearing I would hex any chance I might have, and only told my family. At this point all the other editors who read JUST JESSE last year had passed.
Although one of the editors who passed on JUST JESSE requested the newly revised NIGHT SHIFT!
So it was high kicks and jazz hands all around. Near the end of the month I found time to have a shower. My family was grateful.
BUSGIRL BLUES was featured on Wattpad! I checked my reads and votes four times a day. Oddly enough this did not increase my reads or votes, much like the watched pot of never boiling water. I was able to muster enough self control to push away from the computer. Valentine chocolate on sale helped.
In two weeks my reads reached 10, 000. It was encouraging, but the best part were the amazing comments from readers all over the world. A sixteen year old girl from India sent me a message thanking me for sharing the story because she felt I wrote the story just for her.
Me and my cheap chocolate melted into a puddle of love and gooey joy in front of the computer.
I made Pinterest boards for all my stories *cough* time suck *cough*
BUSGIRL BLUES continued to do well. This was a much needed boost as I had been on submission for a combined time of two years and the constant rejection was making me doubt why I was writing at all. The encouragement from the Wattpad community was essential.
Another story took root in the ole' noggin and I started writing a YA mystery.
My family and I went on vacation for March Break. I did a quick check of my e-mail and saw one hundred messages from Wattpad readers. O-o. By the end of the week, the story had received over 200, 000 reads.
During our vacation in Miami, I saw Lionel Richie in our hotel lobby. When he walked by I reached out and shook his hand. "It's so nice to meet you!" I gushed.
I should tell you, my confidence was running high. I was wearing a wicked awesome black dress and had just finished a meal with lots of wine. Therefore, I felt perfectly within my rights to approach the above mentioned super star.
Lionel (because friends call each other by their first names) smiled at me and said, "Well, hello sweetheart. How are you?"
My agent told me JUST JESSE was given an R&R by the acquisitions team. After reading their short note, I had the feeling this certain publishing house wasn't interested and making the minute changes would be moot. However, I worked on JUST JESSE and hoped I did enough to address their concerns. My agent sent back the revised version and the waiting started again.
The editor who requested the R&R for NIGHT SHIFT passed. My agent and I discussed taking it off submission since she had been shopping it around for over a year. I hated to do this since NIGHT SHIFT was the story I'd worked on the longest and was closest to my heart. Still, we felt it was better to concentrate on the novel we thought had the best chance at selling.
No news from editor re-reading JUST JESSE.
BUSGIRL BLUES passed one million reads and was continuing to grow like a Chia Pet on Red Bull! People were actually asking where they could buy the book. But with all the great exposure, nothing else was happening.
Near the end of April, hope was fading. I was anxious to take JUST JESSE to smaller publishing houses. Everyone on twitter was announcing major deals only days after going on submission.
What was I doing wrong?
I continued to do all the things published authors say you should do while waiting on submission.
I concentrated on finishing my YA mystery.
I wrote upbeat blog posts.
I managed my platform.
I read everyday.
I baked cookies.
I helped my kids with their homework.
I started running again.
I went to work and talked about things other than writing.
...And then I went into the local bookstore and started to cry in the YA section.
My husband told me I had to make a decision about my writing or I'd go insane. I lamented about the long process. He said, "Make up your mind, it's either a hobby or a career." Then he asked, "Isn't there anyone local?"
In fact, I had two small publishing houses on my radar, one local and one in the States. I had nothing to lose so I sent them BUSGIRL BLUES, describing the success it was enjoying on Wattpad.
The month in which all the stuff happened.
Three weeks went by with no news. I watched tumbleweeds breeze through my e-mails. I asked my agent to withdraw my submissions for JUST JESSE and NIGHT SHIFT. She promised to schedule a time to talk about it further.
On the Victoria Day holiday weekend my family and I went camping. Drinking coffee while watching sea birds dive for hot dog buns cleared my mind.
I realized writing had become a miserable habit. Trying to get published had turned a quaint love affair with creating stories into a nightmare of being trapped inside a brothel full of zombies.
I didn't want that anymore. I just wanted to write.
On my birthday (yay 42!), when I returned home from the camping trip, there was an e-mail from the publisher in the States. They really liked BUSGIRL BLUES! They'd checked my website and wondered if they could take a look at JUST JESSE as well. I sent a quick e-mail to my agent, awaiting her instruction on how to proceed.
My impatience was finally wearing down my agent. It was clear by this time we had differing views of which publishing houses we wanted for JUST JESSE. We had reached a stalemate, and she felt it was time to end my contract.
To be honest, it was for the best. And even though she never read BUSGIRL BLUES, I admit I should have told her I was planning on submitting to smaller publishers.
I will always be grateful for the work she put into helping me these last two years, especially with NIGHT SHIFT. Any success that story enjoys will be due in part to her efforts. We wished each other well and ended things amicably.
Then I received word the editor considering NIGHT SHIFT passed, but with nice compliments.
Four days later, (on my niece's fifteen birthday) I received a phone call from the local publisher. Penelope J, an editor from Nimbus Publishing, made an offer on BUSGIRL BLUES. The finer details are here. When I told her about JUST JESSE, she requested that as well. A week later she called with a two book deal!
I contacted the other small publisher. They were excited about both books, but requested an R&R for BUSGIRL BLUES before they would consider making a counter offer.
Penelope and I had already discussed the extent of the revisions that would be needed. She was enthusiastic and totally won me over with her passion for my characters.
It was an easy decision. R&R's have never really worked out for me. I accepted the offer from Nimbus.
The editor considering JUST JESSE passed. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with her. She was lovely and took the time to explain my revisions weren't up to what they were hoping to see, and that a second revision wouldn't have made a difference in their decision.
I appreciated the time she took to champion JUST JESSE. As writers, we don't realize the huge amounts of time editors put into manuscripts that may never be published.
Speaking of being published...
I signed my contract with Nimbus and the party began.
Funny thing about positive feedback, you tend to write more. That story I was tinkering with back in March had taken flight and had reached over 85, 000 words. I began posting the first few chapters of THE ASP, a YA mystery, on Wattpad.
I have three awesome friends who have been reading all my stuff from the very beginning—that's six years worth of bad spelling to slog through, folks. They threw me a party and made this frickin' awesome book cake with the last line of JUST JESSE's query.
I posted the Epilogue for THE ASP! It had reached over 250, 000 reads by this point.
I started outlining a new YA sci-fi idea that had been kicking around in my head. And yes, even that one has its own Pinterest story board.
I was lucky enough to be the beta reader for two fantastic writer friends.
Jennifer Swann Downey wrote an epic middle grade adventure with magical realism and a spirited girl who loves sword fighting and books. And you'll be able to read it soon too because it's going to be published by Sourcebooks in Spring 2014.
And the other novel was a contemporary romance with lots of um...other kinds of action. That book will soon be snagged by a publisher when it falls head over heels in love with its steamy, schmexy scenes. Ann Marie Walker is the lady behind the trilogy that's soon to set the world on fire.
NIGHT SHIFT was featured on Wattpad. This was a hard decision to make because I've been revising and working on this story for the last six years. However, I realized the characters will wither away and die if no one reads about them. So, yes, after all those sleep deprived nights, I'm offering my blood, sweat, and tears for free.
For Halloween, my thirteen-year-old daughter dressed up like DumbleDora the Explorer and my ten year old son went as a bloody surgeon with a chain saw. It was epic.
NIGHT SHIFT was getting blush-inducing, amazingballs comments! I was thrilled! I also noticed a lot more published authors were making profiles on Wattpad, posting the first few chapters of their published works for more exposure. Fantastic!
I got my editorial letter for BUSGIRL BLUES! I'd never been so happy to stay up late writing again. I finished my work by the end of the month, and when I read through it (for the millionth time) I knew I made the right decision in accepting the offer from Nimbus. The story wouldn't have evolved the way it had without Penelope's guidance.
I guess I should listen to my husband more often ;)
So that's 2013 in review. Phew! I'm exhausted.
And in a few days I'll finally be able to say, "I'm getting published THIS year."
What are your writing goals for 2014?