Look who got book contract number two.
Yup, that’s me using my daughter’s never-used, $10, fancy Disney World pen – $10, really? – on “Book Signing Day.” My daughter’s dragon logo-ish backdrop is as symbolic as her fuzzy pen. Because the story I’m signing the contract for in the picture is for kids, middle graders ages 8 to 12.
So why did I nearly pass out? Let’s go back to the beginning, well, 2009 at least. That’s when a fishing story that had been rolling around in my head for years came to fruition. In 2009, an advertising agency colleague had won an online writing contest where one had to submit a minimum of 10,000 words to participate.
Ta-dah, an idea was born!
The rebel in me decided I’d write a 10,000 word life-changing essay – and not one word longer – about a kid’s fishing trip with grampa loosely titled, “The Greatest Fishing Story Ever Told.” HINT: you can find the initial idea somewhere on this blog.
Then, my daughter was born a month later : )))
Fast forward three years later, that’s 2012, and lots of dad-daughter duties, I realized I had only written four chapters and about 1,000 words.
Inspired by my three-year-old’s curiosity of me “writing letters” on my computer for work, I quickly jumped back in the waters (pun intended) and finished my 10,000 word essay – only 600 words over, too.
Then, I quickly joined a regular writer’s group (SCBWI/Louisiana/Mississippi), attended SCBWI Conferences, submitted it to publishers and was even brave enough to contact #kidlit agents. Smallies and some biggies.
Two weeks after sending the first 10 pages to a notable publisher in NY, and the editor said “This is funny, entertaining and could sell. Please send me the rest.”
I quickly came down with a case of D.O.G. (a.k.a., delusions of grandeur).
Meanwhile, those agents were kind enough to give me some real and solid advice, feedback and words of encouragement, “This is great. But it’s not for me – keep at it.” The best part though was that most agent advice came within one week of them receiving submissions. Here’s a plug all at once, “Thank you, agents. Most of you know who you are.” Holiday cards never hurt either.
I was floating more than a mile high. THEN IT HAPPENED. I received feedback that I guess every writer dreads: the one that makes you question why you ever started writing the story in the first place.
The note read: “This is juvenile! This concept has been done plenty of times – and MUCH BETTER!! Throw away your first 2 chapters and start from there!!! But your voice is worth 5 stars.” Ironically enough, I had only submitted 2 chapters, too.
Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.
That the agent (who shall not be named) penned “your voice is worth 5 stars” – that was enough inspiration for me to do just as he/she suggested.
In 2013, I finished a whole new draft with a whole new concept and whole new title (to be released at a later date). The editor liked the new angle and liked that her publisher wouldn’t have an issue with the short 10,000 word count (most Middle Grade stories are 20,000 and more). Check out Jennifer Laughran’s blog on childrens’ book word counts, Wordcount Dracula if you’re interested in writing for kids yourself.
Tick tock. Tick tock. 2014.
Another regional publisher requested the book and responded within a month of receiving the whole manuscript: “This rings true to fishing life in Louisiana. Here are some suggested revisions if you’d like to make them and resubmit. Thank you.”
Tick tock. Tick tock. 2015.
Same regional publisher again requested some more revisions.
Tick tock. Tick tock. 2016.
Same regional publisher again requested even more, tiny detailed revisions.
And today, July 15, 2016, I’m very, super excited, stoked beyond words in the english language to say that I’ve signed on for my second book (FIRST BOOK under my own name) with Pelican Publishing Company.
But feel free to check out “The Bayou Bogeyman Presents: Hoodoo and Voodoo” with two shorties penned by me about spooky life in Louisiana – “The Doll in the Wall” and “Déjà’s View: a Zombie Tale.” Be warned: you may need to sleep with one eye open.
What about NY? Well, the editor finally passed earlier this year, apologizing that it took her so long to get back with me – in a two-page handwritten letter with lots of words of encouragement and thinking that it had been picked up elsewhere anyway : )
So back to the question: why did I nearly pass out? Last week, I was sort of down on writing, my career and general writer thoughts so I went out for a run at night in the cooler 90°, and yes, also 100% humidity. Three miles later and I had to sit down – which gets us back on point – because I nearly passed out.
Sweating profusely, my cell phone practically dead, I noticed my email notifications were over 100. That alone could make someone pass out.
But my personal email is usually at 0, and oddly it had 1, so I guess I had missed it.
The subject line read: Contract for the Craziest Fishing Tale on Bayou Vivré
And that’s how I landed this book contract number two (pun intended, yet again) with Pelican Publishing. A crazy, Louisiana fishing tall-tale with a publisher named pelican, I guess some things are so meant to be.
So what did I learn in all of this?
In the words of a super sweet agent I met at one of those SCBWI Conferences:
“Be patient. Be patient. Then be even more patient.”