Hello my darlings! I’ve dreamt for years about writing this post. Or at the least, having the opportunity to write it. A few years back, the big thrill was writing my “ZOMG I HAVE AN AGENT!” post. I didn’t write one when I signed with my second set of agents. I super wanted to, it’s a great story, but also, I felt weird about it. Like I was demanding a second baby shower or something. Which is stupid, honestly. I love, LOVE reading posts about people signing with new agents, no matter how many they’ve had before. Please never stop posting about your wins, folks. They give me life. Hell, I love going to second/third/infinity baby showers, as well. But I’m super weird about feeling like I’m flailing my arms begging for some level of attention. Despite that absurdity, I’m going to share a little of my tale today. I went to my first writer’s conference when I was 12. It was an RWA con in Indianapolis at a big hotel. My mom drove me and a friend and dropped us off for the day. It was apparently so odd for someone so young to be there, a freaking news crew came. Seriously. I was on the Channel 8 news and an agent was all, I AM HERE FOR THIS KID AND HER BOOK. It was very bizarre. My mom still has a VHS recording of this somewhere. At the time, I also had an offer from an acting agent, and I figured I could always come back to writing, but acting was more time sensitive, so I went with that. Cut to my long and tortuous path to finding an agent as an adult. 12yo me didn’t realize how swell she’d had it. I had two books on sub with my first agent. I had some trips to acquisitions, but neither sold for various reasons. And then all manner of lunacy happened. Had a heart attack, left my first agent, dealt with some mild brain damage that made writing quite difficult, husband was...
Hello, my darlings! Today, I am very excited to bring you a chat with literary agent, and all around badass, Jim McCarthy of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency. Jim is a faboo agent who has had a hand in escorting some genuinely amazing books down the publishing path. Let’s dive right in, shall we? 1. First off, how long have you been an agent? What made you want to dive into this wacky business in the first place? I landed at Dystel & Goderich as an intern 17 years ago, the summer after my first year of college. When I graduated, a full time job had just opened up. And I signed my first client way back in 2003. I’d love to say that I chose to work in publishing for noble reasons, but when I started part time, the main reason was that of the 50 resumes I had sent out, the first call, interview, and offer was here. I fell in love with the job, but those early days, I did wonder if I should have held out longer because other people started calling. “I could have been a ticket taker at Radio City,” I complained. But let’s just say it all worked out. And I’m here 17 years later for a host of reasons. 2. What genres do you represent? How important is the genre, or will you take on something different just because it gives you the feelings? I’m willing to represent just about anything (other than poetry where I’m at a loss. That said, I’m best known for doing YA, fantasy, romance, and mystery. Because those have been my most successful areas, they’re where I’m most comfortable and where I see the most submissions. But I’m always looking to push myself. 3. Tell us a little bit about how writers go about snagging a magnificent agent such as yourself? Aside from slush, you’ve had some amazing success with online contests as well! I have done well with pitch contests! In the most recent Pitch Wars, I signed Laura Creedle...
Hello, my darlings! Do you ever have those nights where you can’t sleep and you start to get a little loopy? The other night, it was around 3am, and I was lying in bed unable to get to a snoozy place. Everyone in the house was asleep, all was quiet, and I’d been tossing and turning for two hours. Hell, even the Puggle was at the foot of the bed, snoring. As I flopped about the bed trying to get comfortable, I thought I felt something odd. The place of this odd is a place generally only seen by my husband and gynecologist. Now, see, here’s the thing: After the skin cancer scare from two years ago, and the luck we’ve been having lately, feeling anything odd on my skin really super freaks me out. My brain spiraled into a worry hole of all the things that could possibly be killing me and how I was definitely going to die because that’s the one thing that’s been missing from the last few months. I flew out of bed and went to inspect to make damn diggity sure there was nothing wrong. And. Okay. I was tired. Like, super tired. But it was 3am and maybe I wasn’t on top of my game. Because when I realized there was some visual impairment in the form of, uh, shrubbery, my idea was to grab an electric razor to get a clearer view of the area. Basically I panicked. Mistakes were made. I quickly realized all was well, there was nothing to be concerned about, I didn’t see a damn thing out of place. Except that now my *ahem* area was looking a little lopsided. And so, even though I haven’t done such a thing in like, fifteen years, there I stood, at 3 in the goddamn morning, leg balanced on the sink, trying to even things out. I’d like to think I did pretty good work, considering the exhaustive circumstances. But then I remembered why I stopped doing the thing. This was not a situation in...
Hello you magical, glorious, unparalleled loves of mine, I’ve been trying to write this post for a week. I sit down and no words come out because no words seem adequate enough. But if I don’t write this out, I may quite literally explode, so forgive me if I stumble. Not quite two weeks ago, I posted a blog updating on how life was going. It was a hard post to write, letting myself and our family be vulnerable in the digital age by letting others in on a deeply personal struggle. I posted that entry because it’d been a tough few weeks, and at that moment, a particularly tough few days. I needed an outlet to purge some of the thoughts I was having. I needed to share what our lives were like because I didn’t want to feel alone. Once I hit “Publish” it was this weight off my shoulders. Like, the reality of life was still happening, but it wasn’t a silent struggle I was carrying away from everyone I know. It never stops astounding me that people read this blog. It never stops confusing me that anyone would ever be interested in what I have to say. Within minutes of publishing, friends and readers were calling to start GoFundMe’s for our family. As notifications buzzed on my phone, my eyes got wider and wider, and my jaw got lower and lower. I looked like a mix between a very alarmed fish and Arnold Schwarzenegger at the end of Total Recall by the end of the night. Less than an hour later, two incredible women, Jessa Russo and Tamara Mataya, had set up an online auction to benefit our family, and another glorious gal, Alina Klein, had set up a GoFundMe. People started messaging me, sharing stories of their own suicidal battles, their own brushes with potentially losing everything when someone is unable to work, telling tales of the Christmases they’d lived through with nothing as kids. These messages were everything to me. I cried for the pain people had felt,...
Hello my darlings!
I’ve dreamt for years about writing this post. Or at the least, having the opportunity to write it.
A few years back, the big thrill was writing my “ZOMG I HAVE AN AGENT!” post.
I didn’t write one when I signed with my second set of agents. I super wanted to, it’s a great story, but also, I felt weird about it. Like I was demanding a second baby shower or something.
Which is stupid, honestly. I love, LOVE reading posts about people signing with new agents, no matter how many they’ve had before. Please never stop posting about your wins, folks. They give me life.
Hell, I love going to second/third/infinity baby showers, as well.
But I’m super weird about feeling like I’m flailing my arms begging for some level of attention.
Despite that absurdity, I’m going to share a little of my tale today.
I went to my first writer’s conference when I was 12. It was an RWA con in Indianapolis at a big hotel. My mom drove me and a friend and dropped us off for the day.
It was apparently so odd for someone so young to be there, a freaking news crew came.
Seriously. I was on the Channel 8 news and an agent was all, I AM HERE FOR THIS KID AND HER BOOK. It was very bizarre. My mom still has a VHS recording of this somewhere.
At the time, I also had an offer from an acting agent, and I figured I could always come back to writing, but acting was more time sensitive, so I went with that.
Cut to my long and tortuous path to finding an agent as an adult.
12yo me didn’t realize how swell she’d had it.
I had two books on sub with my first agent. I had some trips to acquisitions, but neither sold for various reasons.
And then all manner of lunacy happened. Had a heart attack, left my first agent, dealt with some mild brain damage that made writing quite difficult, husband was hospitalized, etc, etc, etc.
The second book I had subbed was about a woman with OCD. Which is obvs super important to me with my own OCD. But I got a lot of publisher passes with what I find to be a ridiculous sentence, “We really loved this, but we already have an OCD book on our list.”
Because apparently there is only need for one story on a mental illness. Two would be crazypants.
So I sat down and thought I’d write something that they sure as shit didn’t already have.
The Vagina Book.
I’ll actually go into greater detail about the origin of the story in another blog coming soon!
As I wrote this junk-focused tome, I kept shaking my head thinking this was either going to be the book that gets me there, or it’s going to be a huge ass mistake.
At the same time, I was secretly (and maybe a little bitterly, if I’m being honest) thinking, “Okay, I *dare* you to tell me you already have a broken vagina book.”
It went both ways, not gonna lie. Two or three agents/editors were legit horrified by the premise and made very sure to tell me so.
Another issue is the reality that my genre has essentially been dead for a decade. No one in publishing takes on a lot of funny Women’s Fiction. It sadly went the way of the Dodo after a surge of Devil Wears Prada knock-offs oversaturated the market back in the day.
There’d been an editor that was interested in buying my OCD book but couldn’t for a few reasons. She’d asked to see whatever manuscript came next.
So, when it was time to send this out, she was one of the first my agents prepped for.
Except she was on maternity leave.
So we decided to hold off on sending so she could see it when she came back.
Canadian maternity leave is a full year.
Yay, Canada! (Seriously, YAY for their maternity leave, that’s awesome.)
Wahhh for submission.
The lovely editor then suggested we send to a different editor at her house who she had prepped for the arrival.
And right as the agents were about to send? That editor also went on maternity leave.
It was right about this time I developed a persistent twitch in my eye. And the arch of my right foot.
I’m totally serious. I still take medication for these twitches.
A new editor was suggested, and off we went!
With the genre being as DOA as it is, our first stab at acquisitions didn’t take as well as we’d hoped, and so a revision was in order to make the book as shiny as possible.
I can’t emphasize enough how glorious it was to work with the editor on this revision. It was like I’d met my better half. My literary soulmate. The Yin to my Yang. The gin to my tonic.
I’ve honestly never riffed ideas with someone so well, EVER.
I remember having a conversation with one of my agent fellas and saying I would be bummed if the deal didn’t work out, sure, but I would be *devastated* to lose the opportunity to work with this editor. I was a better writer with her and I couldn’t imagine losing that magical connection.
That’s how I knew this was The Place. The idea of getting a book deal was suddenly a secondary dream to getting to work with the editor I had meshed so impossibly well with. I’ve been at this a very long time, and I never honestly thought that feeling would become paramount, tbh.
At the time, I was trying to play it super cool and totes profesh.
The timing was very odd. I turned in my revision the day before our family left on our second vacation ever, off to Disney World/Wizarding World, and I knew what day the acquisitions meeting was going to be.
I was a nervous wreck on that two day drive, folks.
My husband and I had the conversation many times; if this worked out, it would be the best story ever. I’d have my dream of 22 years realized while I was literally at the “happiest place on Earth” or I would that dream, and a few new ones crushed and have to ugly cry on Chewbacca’s shoulder.
I told *no one* this meeting was happening. Like, my agents, husband, and mom knew. I’ve been at this long enough to know how bad it feels to get friends’ hopes up, and then have that awkward convo of, “Welp. Didn’t happen.”
The day of the acquisitions meeting, we were bouncing around Universal Studios and our poor daughter wasn’t feeling well, so we headed back to our rental condo thingy.
That’s where the call came.
My agents phoned and said an offer had been made.
They wanted to buy my book.
THEY WANTED TO BUY MY BOOK.
Look, I can’t even sort of tell you what was said on that call. I was ugly sobbing like I have never ugly sobbed in my entire life. I didn’t realize it, but my hubs had videoed it for posterity’s sake.
No, I will not post it. It was not a flattering look. But I’ll share a pic of the actual sobbing moment.
But that’s not the end of the process, as publishing goes.
There were negotiations, chats, all sorts of things to be done over the next few days.
None of that mattered to me, because THEY WANTED TO BUY MY BOOK. I WOULD GET TO WORK WITH THE MACARONI TO MY CHEESE.
So, here’s the thing: Harry Potter World is my favorite place in the universe. I have never been happier anywhere than I am flitting around the Hogwarts castle and slurping a frozen Butterbeer.
I also cry every single time I walk past the Jurassic Park sign because that movie is one of the reasons I became a writer in the first place.
When the call came in that our counteroffer had been accepted, I was standing in the visitor’s center of Jurassic Park, right beside a giant triceratops. Screaming happened. So much screaming.
I floated through more of the day, riding rides with my kiddos and hubs, my feet never touching the ground, just…wow.
But my absolute favorite thing, the thing that makes me happier than anyone has the right to be, was the moment I heard it had all been made official.
We’d stopped for a late lunch at The Three Broomsticks at Harry Potter World. My daughter was gnawing her way through a giant turkey leg. My son was on his third ear of corn. Hubs was snarfing fish and chips. I was eating these little meat pasties things and sipping pumpkin juice and we were all sharing Gilly waters and Butterbeer ice cream when the message came.
That was my daughter and I, literally two minutes before the message came.
The offer had been accepted. The deal was done. My book was sold. I was an author.
The thing I had worked for over 22 years of my life had happened while I was sitting under levitating broomsticks and carrying an interactive magic wand.
I…can’t. I just cannot.
If you’d asked me to design the most perfect scenario to receive the news of a book deal, even in my wildest dreams I couldn’t have come up with that.
Like, literally the only thing that could have improved upon that moment would have been Benedict Cumberbatch feeding me the Butterbeer ice cream.
Not quite understanding the super secret nature of the events, my daughter ran up to a shop clerk in the Wizarding World animal menagerie shop and squealed her mommy had sold a book. The shop gal gave me this to wear around the park.
I cried a little, not gonna lie.
I’ve been both numb and tingly ever since that day. Life goes on, and things have been a typical level of chaotic as is our standard. My dad was in ICU during our vacation. He landed in the ER the day after we left, natch. The trip was peppered with constant calls and messages from both literary agents and doctors and nurses. It was a hell of a trip.
Since we got home, it’s been constant doctor visits for my mom for her health issues, my dad as we try to get him past the clusterfuck of illness that hit him all at once, and my own set of billions of docs and shiny new autoimmune disease. (Holla at me, chemo.)
And the kids are finishing school so holy gods there have been field trips and school picnics and award ceremonies and GAH.
Through all the madness of reality, there are moments when my brain flashes back to that moment of Zen, when I had a pasty in one hand and a pumpkin juice in the other, and it’s like a punch in the face in the VERY BEST POSSIBLE WAY.
My book, my crazy, absurd book about a woman with a broken vagina, is going to see the light of day. There will be pages, actual paper pages, with words printed on them that I wrote.
Oh my good gosh darn, you guys.
Super huge snergles and love to Uwe and Brent for everything they’ve done. All the hand holding and chin-chucking and support and hard work. It will never stop thrilling me that the Vagina Book was sold by two dudes. Bless.
All the love to my new and magnificent editor, Lauren. You, madam, are the tits. The buttercream to my cupcake.
Very special shout-out to T.S. Ferguson for being absolutely friggin’ amazing in every possible way.
Thank you to absolutely everyone one of you who has stuck around the last four years of this blog, reading and commenting and pushing me to be better and cheering me on when I needed it most. You are truly the most glorious set of readers anyone could possibly wish for.
The Vagina Book, properly known as A PERFECT FIT, will be out around July 2017 with Mira at Harlequin. If you’re so inclined to read it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy every single one of you.
Until next time,
Peace, Love, and A PERFECT FIT ZOMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGRead More