I'm so excited! Jessica Watterson from Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency is now representing ME! I have reached one of those crazy milestones on the path to traditional publishing that has me pinching myself just to make sure I'm not dreaming. I have a black and blue mark to prove I'm not. For those of you who aren't familiar with literary agents (or why an author would want one), here's a short explanation: an agent helps connect writers to publishing houses, negotiates contracts, and helps guide an author's career.
That said, I hardly know where to start, but the beginning seems as good a place as any, so here goes.
I've always been a writer: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose. Writing fiction has always been a creative outlet for me and I've filled countless notebooks with scrawled poems and stories in my horrible penmanship. But as much as I love to write, I hadn't considered 'going big' with it, even with my husband encouraging me to write a book for the longest time.
The Duomo, Pisa, Italy Summer 2010
My husband and I were visiting my Aunt Pat and Uncle Ed (who live in Italy), and after being drenched by the most ridiculous rainstorm I've ever experienced, we make our way to Pisa. While wandering through the Duomo at The Piazza dei Miracoli (next to the famous leaning tower), Aunt Pat pointed to what looked to be a symbol carved into a stone on the floor and said, "Hey, look at this. You should write a book and put this in it."
I should write a book.
I couldn't get the idea out of my head. Maybe I could write a book. I could, at least, try.
So, I started writing a book. It even featured that symbol from the Duomo. It wasn't very good, but it was a start. Then, I wrote a few more. I learned a lot about the traditional publishing process. I set goals. I decided that being a traditionally published author (as opposed to self-publishing) was something I wanted - badly. I read books, entered writing contests, took classes, and wrote some more.
I found some wonderful people to read and critique my work (Thank you: Samantha, Patrick, Theresa, Maureen, Mom!).
I found an amazing critique partner and cheerleader (Hi, Heather Van Fleet, I'm looking at you!) who tore my stuff apart and pushed me to make it better. She was enthusiastic about my writing and challenged me to get out of my comfort zone. She pointed out my bad writing habits and still let me read her manuscripts.
And then things started to happen.
I entered PitchWars, a Twitter-based writing contest run by the amazing Brenda Drake, that gives writers a chance to work with a mentor to make their manuscript shine before it's pitched to an agent in a special showcase. This past PitchWars round, 75 mentors volunteered to take on a writer and an alternate. With the number of applicants, the competition was stiff! I almost fell out of my chair when I received an e-mail that Diana Gallagher picked me as her alternate. Diana was an incredible mentor, helping me shine my words up, and she's become a great friend and soundboard. I'm also pretty sure she's Wonder Woman.
After PitchWars was over, I sent out a handful of queries to agents I really wanted to work with, and I tried not to get my hopes up when Jessica requested a partial. A little while later she requested a full. And then she wanted to chat ON THE PHONE!!!! From the moment we started talking, I knew she was THE AGENT. She was energetic (even at 6:30 am her time), enthusiastic, and had a great vision for my manuscript. And then she offered to represent me!!!
Long story short, I accepted her offer and I'm so excited to be working with her. There are still a lot of hurdles to get over on my path to publication, but I'm so excited and blessed to have Jessica along for the journey