Seems a bit of an odd time to be reflecting on a year, three weeks into 2014. But today’s a rather special day because today is one year from when my agent Jessica Negrón offered representation.
Oops. I lied. It was the 23rd. Which was, incidentally, the day after I first spoke on the phone with my new editor.
Well, we’re off to a great start with this blog post.
Let’s try that again, shall we?
In my first year of having an agent, I did a LOT of revising and erm…not so much writing. I started writing a new novel in January 2013 and almost finished it that month, too. To this day, I think it’s the most novel words I’ve written in a month at around 85,000. When I got my offer of representation from Jes, all the fluttery ERMAHGERDs sort of distracted me from finishing, and by the time the flutters abated a bit, it was Revision Time. We did a LOT of work on SHRIKE. A lot. Jes always saw what I was trying to get across and helped me bring it to the surface. By the time we were done, I felt like I was covered in sweat, grime, and possibly some vomit. But it was done and ready to submit.
By that point, I also had another completed manuscript stewing away on my hard drive, so I started revising that. I probably spent six months of 2013 just revising all the things and stomping around like a crazed dinosaur spewing roars about plot points.
Once everything settled a little and the rain tamped down the swirling dust from our whirlwind blast of submissions, I had some ideas floating around and started solidifying those. By year’s end as we neared finalization of the deal for SHRIKE (it happened — it really happened!!!), I finished the manuscript I’d set out with in January.
The past two years have brought so much change to my writing career. Two years ago, I was just setting out for (or returning from, possibly) the Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC, at which a prominent agent bluntly told me, “If you’d brought me this vampire book four years ago, I could have sold it in a hot second. Now not so much.” Two months later, a kindly author friend (less bluntly) told me that this book (my first completed novel, and thus the second as well, which was a sequel) wasn’t submission ready. I put them aside and wrote SHRIKE two months after that.
When I look back two years to see where I was, what I was thinking, and where my writing was, I could say I was filled with optimism. I remember my friend glowing with ten different full requests after the Pitch Slam, and I was just as ecstatic about my three partials because I’d done it. I’d sat in front of real live literary agents and pitched my work to them. Any more requests that day might have killed me. I literally stopped after three because I was floating and didn’t want to come down.
A year ago I was fresh off the high of an offer of rep. It was followed by an offer from a small press, which I turned down because I knew as soon as I talked to her that Jes was the agent for me. Since then she’s been a partner, an occasionally ruthless darling slaughterer, an advocate, and a friend. To this day one of the best things she’s ever said to me was about the second manuscript I ever sent her: “Wow. This book is great. More than that, it’s fucking CLEAN.”
There was still work to be done. I think that’s the lesson here, is that there’s always work to be done. I have never heard of any author sending a book to an agent, selling it, and then it getting printed as is with no changes. There’s always work. And now that SHRIKE is moving onto the next stage, there will be more work to be done. Which is why, one year later, embarking on this entirely new quest with my editor, that I’m very thankful for my agent. She gets my work. She loves it as much as I do, and because of that she always seems to know how to make it pop just this much more. I don’t know that I’d be stepping into this new arena if it hadn’t been for Jes.
Speaking of popping, I’d like to bust open a bottle of bubbly cream soda (cos that’s how we roll) and toast to the first of what I hope will be many successful years with Jes as my partner in crime. (Not actual crime. We don’t do actual crime. If we do, we’ll call you and let you come along, because clearly any crime we did would be awesome, like breaking into the pyramids to hunt for legends and ghosts.)
So cheers to this last trip around the sun. May the coming journey be fruitful, full of fruit, and tootie-fruity.