Sunday, June 23, 2013
Agent news and an ARC giveaway
You know what friends say when they're trying to encourage you, whether it's about love, or job hunting, or the often long and frustrating path to publication.
When one door closes, another opens.
When you least expect it, good news will surprise you.
Cliches yes, but they persist because they're so often true, and it recently happened to me. For lack of a better transition, I'll just blurt out my news:
I have an agent!
Carrie Pestritto from The Prospect Agency is bursting with energy, shares my vision, and I'm excited and honored to be working with her.
For those of you in the midst of the challenging process of querying, I hope my story encourages you to keep plugging away. I had a very good agent many years ago, but she was unable to sell my first novel. After much debating and agonizing, I made the decision to look for a new agent who would be a better fit for me. But first, I needed to dive back into my craft and simply focus on writing without worrying about publication. I attended the Whole Novel workshop through the Highlights Foundation. I won and finaled in some contests which validated my hard work. And finally, I began querying a new novel.
I revised with an agent, but she was concerned that my novel was too similar to others on her list. The good news: she sent my manuscript to one of her colleagues. That agent also asked me to revise, but she too ultimately passed on my manuscript. She left with me with more feedback, and I revised again. I knew the story was as strong as ever, but I'd lost confidence in it. Instead of querying more agents, I set the manuscript aside and focused on another new novel. I started an online writing class. Then just by chance, I stumbled upon an agent pitch contest at the Love YA blog. (Monica B. often hosts contests like this - you should definitely follow her blog!)
Carrie Pestritto selected my pitch, requested 50 pages, then the whole manuscript. We had a wonderful phone call, and she asked me to revise. Here we go again, that negative voice piped up inside me. But I agreed with her suggestions, her enthusiasm encouraged me, and I knew I had to take this chance. She loved my revisions, loved my story on the second read, and offered me representation.
I've still got more revising to do, but having an agent's support has re-energized me, and of course I want this manuscript to be as strong as possible before it sees editors' eyes.
To celebrate accomplishing this step toward my goals, I have a great book to share. In May, I attended a regional SCBWI conference. Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and both Ohio chapters joined together to host the Wild, Wild, Midwest conference. I attended several workshops with editor Kendra Levin from Viking, and won an ARC of a YA novel she edited, All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry.
Coming September, 2013: All the Truth That’s In Me, a YA novel from Viking (Penguin Books). “Haunting and unforgettable.” – Ruta Sepetys, bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy. “Riveting.” – Judy Blundell, National Book Award-winning author of What I Saw and How I Lied. “Powerful.” – Rita Williams-Garcia, Newbery Honor author of One Crazy Summer. Read about it in Publisher’s Weekly.
Despite the wonderful reviews, I was hesitant to read this story due to its description as an empowering tale of recovery from trauma. I had recently finished If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch which was gorgeous, but intense and heartbreaking. I'm a social worker, and I can only handle so many stories of trauma every year. But, after attending Kendra Levin's workshops, I respected her judgment, and I saw that the author had an MFA from Vermont College in writing for children and adults - I've been impressed by every book I've read from their graduates.
I tentatively began to read and discovered that the story was much different than I expected and not at all what I feared. The cover looks modern to me, but the story is historical, set in an unknown year, in a Puritan-like settlement. The narrative style is unusual with very short chapters/scenes and a four part structure. Other reviews have compared it to Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, but it reminded me of Chime by Frannie Billingsly.
All the Truth That's in Me won't be released until late September, but I'd love to give my ARC to one of our YA Fusion followers. The giveaway ends on Friday, July 5th. To enter, please leave a comment and include your email address.
Happy summer reading!