Monthly Archives: October 2013

Michelle Johnson (@MJsRetweet): So good, she gets her own blog post

A few months ago I posted about how I was able to land an internship with a literary agent. That agent is Michelle Johnson, of Inklings Literary Agency.

I’m still pinching myself as to how I got so lucky to work with Michelle. Reading some of the manuscripts she has requested and reporting my impressions has been an incredible education for me. Like you’ve heard everywhere, critiquing others’ work really does make you a better writer.

But more importantly, Michelle has been generous with her advice to me. When I could have gone wrong with some less-appealing offers and requests, Michelle shared her knowledge of the industry. When I got my contract from Astraea Press, she reviewed it and put her final stamp of approval before I signed. I got to talk to her and email back and forth, and realized that an agent like Michelle is what every writer needs. So when I thanked my critique partners, beta readers, publisher, etc. earlier this week, I could have put Michelle at the top of that list–but I saved her for her own post.

I’m so glad I’ve gotten to intern for her. Thanks, Michelle! And now I have to finish my latest report for her.

Oh, FYI, she’s closed to submissions right now (collective groan, I know, I know) but when she opens up, GO FOR IT!

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. . . And That’s How I Found My Publisher

So many authors don’t get their first manuscripts published. This time last year I had a dream and a finished-but-unpolished book that I called THREE WISHES. No knowledge of the publishing world–but no expectations, either.

I buckled down and got most of the heavy editing done on my first manuscript before starting my second (last November’s NaNoWriMo, still in rough format, BTW). I got some more beta-reader feedback on THREE WISHES and did some more polishing. Then, in early January, I called it DONE.*

I was ready to start to query agents. I had done Research.** Miraculously, the very first agent I queried requested a full manuscript. (That doesn’t usually happen.)

I queried more. I got rejected a lot. I got some requests for a partial or a full manuscript, won a few contests, felt pretty good about it all. I acquired two amazing critique partners along the way who encouraged me and told me how much they loved what I had written.

But I didn’t have any agents saying the same!

Now, I’m a practical person. I don’t enjoy rejection, but I roll with it pretty well. And when the agent route didn’t seem to be working out, I started looking at alternatives.

And I was delighted to learn all about the world of small presses.

The negative is that there are a lot of less-than-good (I won’t say bad) small presses out there. Some have a reputation for not paying their authors, or putting out lousy books, etc. etc.

And, um, a lot of the “good” ones publish erotica. Now, I’m no prude, and I think erotica has its place (far away from my home), but I wanted to be able to have my mother-in-law look for my book online and not have to worry about her stumbling upon something shocking.

When I discovered Astraea Press, and, better yet, saw that they were taking pitches as part of the Savvy Authors Summer Symposium, I jumped right in. Astraea is all about publishing “clean” fiction that is appropriate for your Grandma Betty. Their covers are beautiful, their books are interesting, and they have a great reputation all over the internet.

When Stephanie Taylor, Astraea’s owner, requested my full manuscript, I was thrilled.

When she emailed shortly afterward to say that she LOVED (yes! in caps!) my book and wanted to publish it, I jumped around the room like a kangaroo on caffeine.

Now it’s official. The contract’s signed and I’m on board to be published by Astraea Press! Stay tuned to learn my publishing date. I’m so proud to be a part of such an amazing group, and I’m so thankful to Stephanie and to Savvy Authors, as well as my wonderfully patient and supportive beta readers and critique partners.

*I don’t mean I changed the name of the book. C’mon.

**Looking back now, there’s no such thing as too much research.

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Prepping for #NaNoWriMo

This November will mark my third straight year doing National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It’s cool–a noun (NaNo), verb (NaNoing, to NaNo), and may I humbly suggest, an adjective (that book premise is so NaNo!).*

My husband doesn’t yet know I’m planning on doing it again. And of course we’re hosting Thanksgiving this year for 11 people. And we’ll have my daughter’s birthday. and . . . And . . . AND.

But I’ve found that for just one month, I can squeeze it all in. Thirty days of REALLY TOO MUCH TO DO. Going crazy, late nights, early mornings, scribbling (well, typing) in the five minutes between snack and going to pick up child from school, general chaos.

Is this a pace I can maintain all year long? Not I. In fact, I’m starting to think** that writing a book each year during NaNo, and taking the rest of the year to edit and query it, might be a realistic model for me. I think that’s why I’m still struggling just to finish the first draft of my current WIP, The Evergreen. I started it in the spring, while querying my very first MS, Three Wishes.

Yes, I know I will eventually finish the draft (trying to do so before the end of this month, FYI, dear CPs), but there isn’t that same sense of urgency to get the words down as when I’m doing NaNo.

Plus, I’m super-excited about my planned NaNo book. I’m not going to give it all away yet, but suffice it to say that it will have something to do with Romeo and Juliet. And re-reading R&J, for the first time since college, has been a real treat.

Things are good in the world of Noveland. I hope to say the same as of November 30. Wish me luck!***

*Cool people don’t talk like this. At least the last part.

**Unless I become a full-time writer, or get some mongo book contract that requires a quicker writing pace.

***For anyone interested in trying NaNoWriMo, check out nanowrimo.org. It’s fun! No pressure! Super-supportive! I’ll be your NaNo buddy!

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