Monday, November 18, 2019

My agent journey

source: Giphy

As John Cleese of Monty Python used to say, "And now for something completely different..."

I have an agent.

Bear with me while I repeat that. I have an agent! How did this happen after all these years of writing?

Starting with my second novel, written in 2010/2011, I've queried a few agents at a time. Perhaps 25 total for that second novel, and around 35 for my third novel, written in 2012/2013. Despite a few encouraging rejections, the reaction was mostly silence. I know, I know, you're supposed to query at least one hundred agents, but I felt in my heart if 25 or 30 rejected me, there had to be a reason!

So I stopped even trying to query agents with my fourth (admittedly wretched) novel.

My fifth novel (i.e. my current one), a middle grade novel in verse, felt different to me when I first starting writing it in late 2015. And not only because it's a novel in verse, a form I feel I'm meant to write. The story fell into place in a way that hadn't happened to me before. For the first time, I didn't get stuck in the middle. I'm a pantser, but the plot spontaneously appeared as I was writing. (Note: I don't recommend writing this way. I'd much prefer to be a plotter!)

In 2016, I attended a Highlights Foundation Workshop on Novels in Verse. With the inspiring leadership of authors Kathryn Erskine and Alma Fullerton, I managed to write a new draft that seemed to work.

A second Highlights workshop, in 2017, with the same mentors, but mostly different attendees, helped me bring my novel in verse up to a higher level with, by then, the fourth or fifth draft. Only three of us, Barbara Krasner, Leah Rosti, and I, attended both workshops. Filled with inspiration again, I continued to revise.

Then, that September, I got sick.

Most of you know my survivor story by now. If not, suffice it to say I lost more than a year of my life due to a ruptured brain aneurysm (my second!) and a Grade 4 bleed.

Writing, and even reading, went by the wayside.

After recuperating, I went back to my novel in verse and revised it yet again. I had feedback from some writer friends and even some friends who are not writers! Then I learned that Barbara Krasner, my fellow workshop attendee and the author of several published books, had become a literary agent with Olswanger Literary. Leah Rosti had signed with her, so I decided to submit my novel in verse to Barbara, not really expecting much of a reaction.

She loved it!

But she gave me eight suggestions for revising it (again), most of which were small changes. When I completed this newest revision, I sent it to her...

and kept my fingers crossed. A few weeks later, she offered representation!

Yes, I'm still pinching myself.