Book 2 and Giveaway 2

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen that yesterday I finished writing Book 2. To say I’m excited is an understatement.

Here’s a visualization of what happened after I finished typing the last line:

There were also tears and high fives and whatnot.

I’m really excited because, unlike TNWSY, I did not write this manuscript in a month. It took a bit longer, and I was really worried that it would be a million times harder, scarier. I finished one book, what if I wouldn’t be able to finish another?

But the thing is, I needed to write it. It was never a choice. I needed, wanted, loved to do it.

So, yes, it’s done. It’s a first draft, so it’s clearly a mess. I changed an ethnicity of a character halfway through. Two minor characters have the same name. One part actually says “WRITE ABOVE CHAPTER BETTER BECAUSE, COME ON, THAT WASN’T GOOD.” There are also hundreds of grammatical errors, probably, and many cliche moments. So, a lot of editing will be needed. But writing, getting out, the first draft is always the hardest part for me. The hardest part is now done!

TO CELEBRATE…I’m hosting another giveaway! As you may recall, I like buying books from my library to give away on this blog. This way I’m supporting my library while celebrating my readers.

This time I’m giving away The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney! Daisy is a beautiful writer, and all around lovely person. I’m thrilled to be giving away her debut book. (The sequel, The Rivals, came out earlier this year, so if interested, pick it up!)

A bit about the book:

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way–the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds–a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl’s struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone–especially yourself–you fight for it.

It really is as great as it sounds. Here’s the copy up for grabs:

It’s the original hardback cover. With the exception of a few bent pages, it’s practically as good as new.

TO ENTER! As you know, I like to refer to my manuscripts my their initials. Book 2 finally has a title and it’s abbreviation is: TSWB. To win, guess what the title is! The best, craziest, funniest, favorite answer (as judged by my husband, not me) will win. The deadline is Friday, May 18th at midnight.

Okay? Okay. Good luck!

Editing Agents

I did a ton of research before querying agents and learned something interesting. There are, apparently, two types of agents: ones who offer editorial suggestions/revisions and ones who don’t. What I wanted most was for my MS to be good, so I decided to only query agents who mentioned that they would work with me to perfect my MS, and offer editorial suggestions prior to submission.

Let’s just say that it was the best decision I could ever make.

My agent is amazing. After agreeing to work with her, within a week she sent me a document that basically outlined a few areas I could beef up and/or improve. I loved reading her advice, and loved applying it to TNWSY. Because everything she suggested was spot on. They made my book so much better, deeper, more complex. It’s like she opened up my idea and fluffed it up a bit.

Now i’m onto line edits and while opening my track changed document was a bit jarring at first (what? so much is bad?) I saw quickly that her changes were all for the better, and, honestly, there weren’t that many big ones. (It’s like seeing the red pen on an essay. You just assume everything written is bad, and don’t look for the compliments buried within.) She had grammatical suggestions, places to emphasize, places to stretch out. And as I accepted the changes, I saw how it all worked really well. And how she’s totally right about nearly everything. And I know it’s not required to accept every suggestion, every edit an agent offers, but I actually love everything she’s done. Truly.

So! My advice is this – when looking for agents, decide which kind you want to work with. If you’d rather just go straight to submissions, that’s fine! But if you’d rather get down to the nitty gritty and uncover diamonds in the rough, perhaps go with an editing agent. I adore mine, and I hope you’ll like yours, too.

All Together Now

After I started sending TNWSY out to agents, I immediately started Book 2. I was told it was the smart thing to do – concentrate on on my second attempt to distract me from rejections. And it worked! Here’s the thing, though – aside from writing and editing my query letter, I didn’t do any additional work on TNWSY. It’s been a while since I’ve been in that story.

So I was a bit worried when I had to jump into TNWSY edits for my agent. What if I couldn’t find the voice again? What if I didn’t like something? What if she didn’t like something?

But a funny thing happened when I opened the Word file – I felt at home. I felt like I was revisiting old friends, ones who never really left me. While I was still worried that my edits weren’t perfect enough, I gave myself into them and had fun. It was really quite cool. The edits let me explore my characters more, and discover new aspects of them. And I loved that. Each edit in the past added in that way, too, but for some reason this one felt different. Perhaps absence does make the heart grow fonder.

It’s really weird now going back and forth between stories, between characters and voices, but I like it. Because I love TNWSY, and I don’t mind saying hi to it again every once in a while. See how its been doing. Ask if it has any advice for Book 2. You know, I think they’d get along  quite well.

Have you ever worked on two stories at once? How did you deal with it? 

A Contest!

I have survived my first week at the library. And you know what? I love it! I’ve had some ridiculously awesome reference questions (“Can you help me find a book about the Holocaust and puppets?”), and seen some ridiculously adorable children talking about dinosaurs (we have a dino display). I’m so happy with the job, it’s almost frightening.

And because of that, I want to celebrate by giving stuff away! Like most libraries, we have a mini store that sells donated books. I’ve decided that periodically, whenever a book I love is dropped off, I’m going to purchase it and give it away on my blog. Because I love you all. And I love supporting libraries. And I love books. So here’s my first giveaway!

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

adore Dessen’s books. They’re so rich and beautiful and engaging. This is one of my favorites. So when I saw it on the shelf, I had to adopt it. Like I said, it’s a used book so it has some wear (bent pages), but otherwise it’s perfectly fine.

Want the Dessen book? Comment below! Tell me your favorite dinosaur, and you’ll be entered to win it. Deadline March 22nd. Good luck!

I Have An Agent, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Querying

As announced yesterday, I have a literary agent. A real live literary agent. I can’t even explain how excited I am about this. But I can explain how it happened!

After deciding my book was edited to perfection, I started querying. As it turns out, writing a query letter is much harder than I had imagined. I can write a cover letter in a few minutes, but a query? Yeessh. I made a few mock ones, but hated them. I read all the books, went to all the websites, but still, it wasn’t happening. It didn’t feel like my book. Thankfully, I have a friend who’s a published romance author. She showed me her queries, and gave me the one piece of advice that truly stuck – write it in your writing voice. Make it sound like the book. Okay.

So after a few more takes, I was finally happy with my query. I liked it quite a bit, and thought it not only summed up my manuscript nicely, but read like something you’d find on the back of a book. So from there, I started researching agents that I liked, and that represented books similar to mine. I made a very large Excel spreadsheet with all of their information (Name, agency, query specifics…), and did a ton of research, finding out what each agent liked, what they looked for, and the best way to format the query to fit their interest. And then I started querying.

At first, since I was still new, I only sent out five letters. I expected a) rejections and b) long dry spells. The former came true first. Within about four days I received my first rejection. I was actually more excited about it than upset. Agents are actually reading my emails! MY EMAILS! The next day I received my second rejection. Every time I received one, I sent a new query out to another agent so I always had five out.

At this time, I entered the two Cupid contests, which were exciting and fun. I met a lot of other writers, and learned more about what agents were looking for. Both times I made it to the second round (Yay!) so I figured my query was at least decent. (In the second contest, I got a partial request, too!) I upped my queries to having 10 out. Exciting!

The night of Grammys was the first Big. Moment. During the red carpet I received my first full request. I’m pretty sure I cried with joy, and then ran around the apartment screaming. Incidentally, by the end of the Grammys I received my second full request. More screaming. A few days later I received a third full request while I was at the reference desk. I tried not to get too teary eyed because apparently college students don’t like it when you do that.

Last Thursday was when my friend was in labor. I checked my phone every five minutes to see if there was any news. After work, I went to Publix with S and our friend Shannon. While there, I picked up my phone again and noticed I had an email.

It was The Email.

Short, friendly, it was from one of my top agents (!!!), saying that she loved my writing, and my book.

And then I cried in Publix because, really, what else is there to do.

We scheduled The Call for the following day. I kept telling myself that it might be nothing, that she might just be asking for it to be revised. That was possible. Anything was possible.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, I met the nicest agent in the world, who had the nicest compliments about my manuscript. She offered suggestions on what to improve, and referenced Jordan Catalano, which made me want to be best friends with her. (Let’s be honest – if she referenced Daniel Desario, I probably would have proposed marriage.) She was perfect for both me and my book; I was so happy to put TNWSY in her hands. And then she offered to represent me. And then I ran around my office, flailing my arms in the air like Kermit the frog.

I couldn’t say yes right away, though. I emailed all of the agents who asked for either a partial or full manuscript earlier (including one who requested it only that morning. Sorry!) They all got back to me within a handful of hours, either saying they’ll pass or they’ll read it quickly and get back to me soon. So I waited. And waited. And then finally yesterday I got my final response.

So I called Michelle – my agent – and let her know that I’d love to work with her.  There were exclamation marks in both of our voices. And then I cheered. And cried (because apparently I do that a lot). And then I ran around like a Muppet again.

Because what else are you going to do when something like this happens?!

The funny thing is, I started out writing TNWSY simply because I wanted to tell a story. Sure I wanted to have a book published one day, but it wasn’t for that. I just wanted to write a story that was constantly in my mind. I wanted to finish it, and have it out there. And then it turned into something so much more.

I’m so thankful for Michelle, and for all of my friends (including you blog readers!) who’ve been with me throughout the process. I’m so happy it’s all coming together. Who knows what’ll happen next, but I’m ready to see.

Oh, and since I’ve never really mentioned it, here’s the title of my book: THE NIGHT WE SAID YES.

I’m saying yes to whatever happens next. Because I know, no matter what, it’ll be new and exciting and different. And I think my characters would be proud.