Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated to do a Very Inspiring Blogger Award post by the awesome Emily Skrutskie, former literary team member and the Captain America to my Iron Man, whose debut novel THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US will be out in 2016! For the post, I’m supposed to list seven things about myself and then nominate others to take part. So let’s go!

1. I’m mixed-race, but don’t look it. My mother is Indian and immigrated to America when she was young, and met my American father in San Francisco. I’m the confusing result. TA-DA.

2. Actually, related to #1, I don’t look like either of my parents–I look the most like my late aunt on my father’s side. At a family reunion a few years ago, everyone told me how much I look exactly like her. Which is awesome, because I bonded with her a lot when I was little.

3. Before writing, singing was my first love. I dreamed of being a professional singer or going on Broadway all the time, but I am very bad at auditioning due to stage fright, which meant I never got good roles in high school. Strangely, I never got stage fright when I was actually performing. Just during auditions. But in college I had a lot of solos, got a scholarship for being accepted into a special choir, and even sang opera.

4. Between 2012 and 2013, I wrote 1,000,000 words. I’m not sure how that happened.

5. I got a tattoo on my back senior year of college with my writing symbol. It was the same day the seniors were going to the movies. I sat through Jane Eyre perched on the edge of my seat so that I didn’t disturb the new tattoo. Very uncomfortable. I also plan to get more tattoos of different book projects if I get them published (and not before going to the movies).

6. I have a sweet tooth with cravings that border on worrisome. Seriously, all I want right now is a big chocolate cake.

7. I always loved fantasy growing up, but it was reading The Lord of the Rings when I was twelve that changed my life forever. The books moved me in a way that was scary and euphoric and sad all at once. After I finished the trilogy I was in a depressed funk for about a month afterwards, and I refused to read anything for a long time. But then I started writing more. And more. And more. (See #4)

Now to nominate some awesome people! And they are:

Olivia Berrier – Bestie, critique partner, Hollins alum.

K Kazul Wolf – Online pal, fantasy writer, Pitch Wars alum.

Tabitha Martin – Twitter friend, Sims aficionado, literary agency alum.

Advertisements

How I Got My Literary Agent (A Tale of Heartbreak and Stubbornness)

I just have to lead into this by saying: I NOW HAVE A LITERARY AGENT! And wow, that feels great to say. The path that led to this was not easy. It is one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but I am so glad I pushed myself to get to this point.

I’ve known that this is what I wanted ever since I wrote my first book at 15. The book that got me this agent is my 10th. Some of these books are unfit to see the light of day, and I only tried querying a couple of times before I got too intimidated and just focused on writing new things instead. This eventually led me to my latest project, a YA trilogy. And I knew this would be the one.

I wrote the first book late 2013, taking a grand total of two weeks. Yeah. The first draft wasn’t great. I didn’t touch it again until 2014, when I went to the San Francisco Writer’s Conference in February. THAT was an eye-opener. I was one of the youngest writers there (“You’re how old?!” was something I heard a lot) and I certainly felt like it. YA is a new category for me writing-wise, so I spent all my time at the conference learning, taking notes, talking to writers experienced in the category. I was once again intimidated, but energized.

I slunk back into the writing cave and took a grindstone to the book. I felt curiously confident and not-confident at the same time. After a while, I decided to finally send out the dreaded queries.

“It’ll be fine,” I thought. “I’ve gotten rejections before.”

It was not fine.

When I first started writing at 14/15, I had an ego. The first short story I ever submitted got accepted, people praised me all the time in high school, etc. Over the years, however, this ego steadily deflated, until I started to quake behind my manuscripts. As the agent rejections kept rolling in, the more and more my book, my shield, kept shredding in my hands.

I changed my query multiple times. I kept tinkering with the book. I didn’t know what else to do. But then I heard about this awesome thing called Pitch Wars. I entered and was chosen by an amazing mentor, Liz Briggs, who helped me patch the book up. It was that book that I sent to my now-agent, who had initially read the partial and told me, “This isn’t enough. I need more.”

Then followed one of the most stressful months of my life.

stress

I felt like everything around me was being sucked into a vacuum. I suffered panic attacks and days where I didn’t want to do anything but stay in bed. I even wondered what would happen if I just deleted the book completely. It was extreme thinking, but I was in an extreme place, and while I got used to agent rejection, every single one of them still hurt like a dagger between my ribs.

One night, I noticed an agent who had my book had followed me on Twitter.

“That can’t be right,” I said. I tried not to get my hopes up. But in the weeks that followed I noticed a steady interest in my social media presence, and I couldn’t help but get my hopes up.

It got to the point where I actually had a dream about this agent accepting me (on the condition I brought a pot roast to the office. I don’t know, it was a dream, okay?) Little did I know that same day, my literal and figurative dream was about to come true, sans pot roast.

I had always fantasized about getting “The Call,” but when it actually happened, I just couldn’t process it. I was at my day job, stepped away from my phone to get lunch, and came back to the voicemail I had been pining for. I couldn’t eat. I just sat there staring at food that was getting cold.

I mean, I eventually called her back and everything, but those few minutes were totally surreal. I thought, “This can’t be happening to me, the book is horrible, I’m horrible, did she even read it?!”

Yeah, it was happening. To me.

No pot roast required.

You bet your ass I celebrated.

I contacted all the other agents to get their verdict, waited some more, and finally made my decision—which I’d known all along from the gut feeling I had since that first phone call. I am happy to say that I am now represented by Laura Crockett and Uwe Stender at TriadaUS Literary Agency, who have shown me nothing but excitement and kindness so far in this crazy turn of events.

While it’s not the last step in the journey, it’s still a big one, and I’m thrilled to have advocates at my side to help me the rest of the way.

Somewhere in the mess of time, 15-year-old me is throwing 25-year-old me a smirk and saying, “See? I told you.”

 

Stats:

Querying time: 11 months

Total queries sent: 44

# of partials requested: 7

# of fulls requested: 12

Offers: 2