It's been over a year, my friends, since my last blog post (I'll let you read it here). In March of last year, I was in a tough spot, creatively. My family life was in a wonderful flurry. Everything was right in every way, except for my writing, which for some reason I could not nail. I was getting up almost every morning, and owned the process as part of hacking through this path called publishing and I felt like I was failing miserably. And I needed a break from blogging. Instead, I funneled all my writerly efforts into the next manuscript, which I named TRUE NORTH.
Before that blog post, I had completed my sixth manuscript. Complete, meaning from Chapter 1 to The End, because I've had several stop and starts mid-manuscript, only to ditch the whole thing altogether. I'd only queried two manuscripts before TRUE NORTH, and with STITCHES OF TRUTH and ONE ON ONE, I amassed enough agent and editor rejection letters to carpet my house, but I wore them proudly. They proved my work.
Before then, I made the decision to pursue traditional publishing. I wrote with a purpose, with guidance from books and other writers. I made plans, and set goals. I met my critique partners. I learned to take rejection. I learned to call myself a writer.
TRUE NORTH is my seventh completed manuscript, though only my third polished work. It took three times to get TRUE NORTH right, enough for me to revise. I couldn't put my finger on the problem. But the best thing happened to me in the middle of draft #3--I went to the National Romance Writer's of America Conference in New York City. There, I took every class I could fit in my schedule and I just listened. Watched. Absorbed. Took notes. I pitched for the first time. I met other people who were once in my shoes.
In New York City, I realized I was exactly where I should be. I was with my people. And what came with realizing this was finding my voice.
TRUE NORTH has my voice. My own voice. This book has Filipino characters. It has food. It has family. And lots of kissing (and more!). I owned up to a lot of fears drafting this book. While revising, I finished a Master's Degree but admitted to everyone my passion and drive would be focused on growing as an author. I resolved to fight tooth and nail to write better.
I was ready for the rejections. Bolstered my self-confidence. But the responses I received when I began querying TRUE NORTH were surprising, astounding. My family was getting ready to go on a fabulous RV vacation; we were preparing for our 9th move. Knowing that querying took months, I hunkered down and prayed and kept busy and started writing my next book.
But instead of the form rejection letters, I began receiving requests. Feeling confident that my story had legs, I entered a contest called #pitmad run by Brenda Drake, where I pitched my book on Twitter. Yes, a whole book in 140 characters. From this contest, I received 2 agent requests. After letting those fly, we went on vacation to the Acadia National Park, where I entered another contest called Writers of Color and Native Voices (all from spotty wifi!), of which I was chosen as a finalist. I was so overwhelmed and happy in the middle of that beautiful forest, that I cried. I'd saved a copy of my manuscript on an old laptop and let those requests go in between s'mores and prayers.
No rest for the blissfully weary, we came back home and two days later we had movers at our door. Life became a whirlwind of putting out fires, sleeping on air mattresses and eating fast food. Moving isn't pretty. While I wondered about the status of my manuscript, then in the hands of many, I redirected my energy in settling my family.
I was having a particularly tough day our fourth day in our new home. Our movers didn't show for delivery (ack) and I was at the orthodontist office with son #2 (double ack). I received an email from one of the #pitmad agents, and she requested that we speak to discuss my manuscript. I tell you, my friends, I about fell out of my chair. I decided that it would be a revision request, so not to get my hopes up. But that afternoon, after I begged my babies to pleasebequietwhilemommyisonthephone, I was offered representation. And I, in my glorious awkwardness, giggled and stumbled through words, and somehow managed to ask all my questions. After thanking her, I notified all the other agents of my offer. I received a second offer of representation. And in the last week I have been graced by the encouragement from even those agents who stepped aside.
General stats! Because I obsess on them too!
2010 - Misadventures of College Dating - Drafted
2011 - The Long Road Home - Drafted and revised once
2012 - Stitches of Truth - Queried. Received over 100 rejections from queries & contests, and a combined 7 partial and full submissions.
2014 - One On One - Queried. Received over 100 rejections from queries & contests, and a combined 21 partial and full submissions.
2015 - draft #1 - changed up plot
late 2015 - draft #2 - changed up plot and characters (gah! You know that's serious!)
May 2016 - Began querying TRUE NORTH, for a combined 20 partial and full submissions from: Queries, PitMad and WCNV. Actual queries sent 18.
June 2016 - 2 agent offers
July 2016 - accepted representation
What happens now? MORE WORK! MORE BOOKS! But partnered with and powered by an agent who believes in me and my work! I'm thrilled to be at this turn in the road. While I know there will be more rejection, more challenges, more learning (YES, the realist inside of me can't stop nagging), today I celebrate this milestone and thank some wonderful people!
Shout outs: Meredith Ireland , 5amwritersclub, girlswritenight, WCNV, pitmad, OwnVoices
My village, my husband, my children. my mama and daddy! God.
Thank you for hanging with me through this long post! If you are reading this because you are a querying writer too...KEEP GOING! We will get to our dreams together!