Monday, June 25, 2012


I've known for a long time that I'm a pretty lucky person. I have great friends, a wonderful husband and two beautiful, smart boys to call my own. But I've also been lucky in the way that I have amazing parents who have always supported me and encouraged me to believe in myself, even without always having to say it.

When I was in third grade I wrote a (very) short story about my great aunt. The story was entirely fiction, except for her name. It somehow won an award that offered me enough money to feed my family of four that night for (a cheap) dinner. It was exhilarating and I felt something inside me come alive. I was lucky. My memories of writing things (songs, poems, short stories) go back as far as I can remember. I received good grades in school and yet, still spent a good portion of my time in class writing poems. And every time I completed one, I felt compelled to write more.

That compulsion to write followed me into adulthood, and it wasn't until college and marriage and children that writing started to slow down. Working full time as paralegal, I still spent much of my day writing, but the words that were clicked out on my keyboard were usually legal jargon and letters to the all important people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I loved my job and my bosses and the last thing I wanted was to leave that job. My bosses were so amazing that after the birth of my first child, they allowed me to work from home three days a week and in the office only twice a week, so I could be with my son without giving up my job. I was lucky.

But when I was pregnant with my second son, my husband and I knew that I would need to be home full time. We couldn't afford full time daycare and being home ended up being cheaper than me working. I was very sad to leave the legal world. After all, I'd spent a great deal of time and money earning my degree and I loved going to work each morning. Leaving that position felt like I'd be losing a little bit of myself along with it.

What I didn't realize, though, was that not having that job to fulfill my need for an intellectual challenge would leave me hungry for some other outlet. The very outlet that I'd stopped using a few years before. And like any flame that you never entirely extinguish, that fire for writing came back full force, catching on the tiniest embers and sparking back to life. The joy of putting words on paper suddenly took over again, and now that I have it back, I know that I'll never be able to let it go.

As much as I didn't want to admit it at the time, leaving my job was the best thing I could do. Not only did I get to spend time with my small children, watching them grow and change and learn, but it also brought my love of writing back to me. It reminded me that I once had a dream, and even though I was scared, I didn't have to give up on that dream. Again, I was lucky.

And in the years that have passed since I've rekindled that flame, I've continued to be lucky. I've met and bonded with my critique partners in the most unpredictable ways. I know I've said it before, but I'm probably never going to stop saying it: I don't know what I'd do without them. They are invaluable. I'm lucky to have them.

This writing journey has been an incredible one, and yes, one I feel so lucky to have had. I am lucky not only because of the support I've had, but also because I have the strength to believe in my dreams. Maybe I'll never sell millions of books and get rich from it, but that doesn't matter. That's not my dream, because I'm already living mine. I'm writing and loving it, even when I'm exhausted by it. I'm writing, and I'm so, so grateful that I can.

I am lucky. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Query Stats

Every querying process is different. Some people send out fifty queries on the first round. Others only send one at a time. No matter the process, the results are almost always the same. The author is fretting, sweating and obsessively checking their email in the hopes of that one email that would change their future.

When I shared the good news that I now have an agent, I didn't even think about sharing my stats with you, but I've since been asked to share my story in more detail, so here is how it all went down.

The first query was sent on January 19, 2012. I waited four full days before sending a few more. My first partial request came on February 8th. That same agent then requested the full on March 8th. Everything was quiet (read: full of rejections) until April 9th when I received another full request. I received a very prompt rejection three days later from the second agent. On April 20th I had another full request.

Then, on April 30th I received three full requests. This is where the tide started to turn from rejectionville to OMGville. Later in the day on the 30th, one of the agents who'd just requested the manuscript that morning emailed me again to ask for a time to speak on the phone that next Wednesday, May 2nd.

I might have died a little. It was surreal and awesome and crazy good. That phone conversation went really, really well and I loved the agent. She offered representation during that call and I'm pretty sure my heart stopped beating for a few seconds. I informed her that other agents were still reading the MS, so she gave me her blessing to take my time in considering my options, should I have other offers. I notified the other agents that afternoon and the next week was insanity.

Later that day on the 2nd I received a partial request from another agent. I let her know that I'd just received an offer of representation and wasn't sure I'd hear back from her, but sent her the partial. 

I received what I thought was my last offer from Marcy Posner on May 7th and had set up the phone call with her the next day. About thirty minutes before I was to receive that phone call, I received an extremely unexpected phone call from the agent that had come in at the last minute requesting the partial. She had loved what she'd read and wanted the rest of the manuscript and asked me to please not make my decision yet.

I was floored because I was pretty sure the phone call I'd been expecting from Marcy was going to be the last one and that I was going to accept her offer. So to say I was in shock is a major understatement. I spent the next ten minutes before the original call came in trying to calm myself down. And when Marcy did call, I really, really, really enjoyed the conversation. I connected with her and she connected with my story and it just felt right. But I had promised the other agent I'd give her time to finish the book.

I did eventually end up getting an offer from the second agent, but there was no shaking the connection I'd felt with Marcy. It just felt like the best fit. So I'd decided to go with Marcy's offer and I'm so very happy I did.

But I will say this: Every single one of the agents who'd offered were incredible and I would have been honored to work with any of them. I feel so blessed to have had this experience of the rejections and the waiting and eventual offers.

So.....the final stats of my querying process are:

54 queries sent
48 rejections (20 no responses/28 rejections/1 request to query again in the future)
3 partial requests (2 turned into fulls, 1 requested after offer of representation accepted)
7 full requests
5 offers of representation

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Happiest Kind of Post (Hint: Agent!)

In April of 2010, as I was washing dishes (i.e. bored out of my mind), a vivid scene hit me. Within 48 hours I'd written over 10K about the scene and who the characters in that scene were. Over the next few months I wrote and wrote and wrote that story. I had become obsessed with it. In October 2010, the first draft was complete and it was a MESS.

I took a few months away from the manuscript and in January 2011 began revisions. After several rounds of revisions, and many chats with my amazing critique partners, I decided to make serious changes that basically meant rewriting the story completely. It was terrifying and exciting and all kinds of fun to see how the new plot would unfold. An incredible thing happened: the story actually started to work. It was exhilarating!

So I spent a few more months revising, and finally decided the manuscript was ready for querying in January of 2012. I'd done my research and knew who I wanted to query first. And so it began. The rejections rolled in. I was prepared for that. It wasn't fun, but again, I have the worlds best critique partners ever. They listened to me and encouraged me and I kept at it.

And then the best things began to occur. I received an offer of representation. And another. And then a few more. My head was swimming (still is!) and suddenly I found myself in the position of making one of the best decisions of my life. It was a moment that I'd only dreamed of, but it happened.

It REALLY HAPPENED! So....I'm beyond thrilled to announce that:

I have accepted representation from the fabulous Marcy Posner of Folio Literary Management!

I HAVE AN AGENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

  (excuse me while I flail) 

I'm on top of the world! And I know without a doubt I wouldn't be able to celebrate this moment today without certain people in my life. You know who you are. I am blessed beyond words. Seriously, with all my heart, THANK YOU!!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why I Don't Tell People I Write: A Sample Conversation

Every time I tell someone I'm a writer--you know, in person, not online--I get looks from the very impressed to the very disinterested. I generally don't tell many people I'm a writer because sometimes it's still hard for me to believe myself. There's this level of self confidence that I just don't have yet when it comes to announcing to people that I spend all of my free time writing books that may or may not see the light of day.

Just as I never know how the publishing industry worked before I began writing, most non-writer people don't know either. So I thought it would be fun to show you a sample conversation I have when I actually do tell someone I write.

Let's call the person I'm speaking to "Jane" and I'll just be me.


Jane: "Wow! You wrote a book? What's it about?"

Me:  *blushes furiously and stares at foot, cursing self for even mentioning it* This is where I fumble for at least fifteen minutes to describe my novel, trying very hard to make it sound interesting, but all the while sure I'm failing miserably.

Jane: *lots of nodding and smiling--or is that grimacing?* "Where can I get a copy?"

Me: "Umm...You can't get it anywhere at this moment. It's not published yet."

Jane: "Oh. When will it be coming out?"

Me: *more internal cursing* "First an agent has to agree to represent it. And after that happens, I'll probably have to work on revisions and then hopefully a publisher will want to buy it. And, well, if that happens, it will probably still be over a year before the book is available."

Jane: "Oh, huh." *levels of interest are seriously waning here* "That sounds like a lot of work, but it will all be worth it when you're rich and famous and have movie deals from it."

Me: *nervous laughter* "The whole rich and famous and movie thing almost never happens, but that would be nice."

Jane: *insert looks of confusion here* "I thought authors got paid a lot of money for their books?"

Me: *internal cursing turns into internal kicking of the arse* "Some authors do, but most don't. It's highly unlikely I'll make very much at first."

Jane: "Wow." *spots someone else in the crowd and grabs his attention* "Hey, Mark! Did you know that Cindy wrote a book?" *makes excuse to leave conversation as soon as Mark begins talking*

Of course, not every conversation goes this way. Some people get really, really interested and want to talk about it for hours. Either way, there are always looks of confusion and my guaranteed fifteen minutes of stumbling over my words trying to describe my book, but wishing I could just pull up the synopsis and read it out loud instead.

What about you? Do you tell people you write or do you mostly keep it to yourself as well? How do you handle it when you do tell people?