Yesterday, during question time, Marsha told me she's not a cold person. Sing out, sister. I could quite happily live in a tropical climate. In fact, I had this tiny one room apartment when I was a grad student, and the heat was included in my rent. That meant it was okay to keep the heat at 82 degrees all winter, so I'd come home from work, take off my snow boots, and put on shorts. It was great, except for the year that Slayer and I made jack-o-lanterns, and they actually BAKED.
Anyway, Marsha asked how long I queried and how many novels I've written. And I haven't really talked about it much. It seems like it's time.
The short version? I've been writing for 15 years. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to write. I tried poetry. Plays. Screenplays. Short stories. Freelance nonfiction. Finally I decided to try my hand on a book, and it was DEPRESSING and CRAPPY. That's right. I wrote a really CRAPPRESSING book.
So after my daughters were born, I decided to try my hand at something funny. I always liked YA, even if I didn't know it was called YA, and I wanted to write about superheros fighting regular old crime instead of maniacal supervillains that stand around and dry wash their hands. Because really--WHO DOES THAT IN REAL LIFE? Of course, you could argue that superheroes don't exist either, but then I'd say that they totally do, and then you'd think I was nuts. Or nutsier. Maybe even the nutsiest.
Anyway, I wrote and wrote, and I found myself a critique group, and they thought it was pretty good. The book ended up being SUPERBLY USELESS, and it cracked me up. I started querying. I belong to the query widely school of thought, although I did make sure to research EVERY agent I queried after a close call with an agent who requested the full, and then I found her listed in Preditors and Editors. I don't have the numbers anymore, but I sent a lot of queries. I got like 30 full requests. And then one of my crit group members recommended that I read Maureen Johnson's DEVILISH.
I devoured it in one weekend and immediately found her agent and queried her. HERE was someone who might get my sense of humor. And she did. A few months later, she picked me out of the slush and offered representation. I still had a few other queries out with some FABULOUS agents that I would have also been thrilled to sign with, and I got a few more offers AFTER ALL THAT WAITING. Color me astounded.
So I signed with Kate. SUPERBLY USELESS went through some minor edits before we sent it out, and it had a lot of close editorial calls, but ultimately it wasn't the right first project for me. But it's still in the back of my mind there, and I hope to revisit it someday.
And the moral of this story is: DON'T WRITE CRAPPRESSING NOVELS. Or maybe: DON'T GIVE UP, BECAUSE THE ONLY WAY IT WILL HAPPEN IS IF YOU DON'T GIVE UP.