Monday, March 3, 2014

How I Got My Agent!

Signing my contract and celebrating with chocolate (no surprise).

(Short version)

I went to the SDSU writer’s Conference. Kevan Lyon had reviewed the first ten of Bette Noir and asked for a full when I met with her; two weeks later I got the call, and signed with her right away.

(Ridiculously long and personal version)

I’d always wanted to be a writer, but in the fall of 2010 I decided that it was time for me to actually get serious so I got a roommate to help pay the bills so I could go part-time at work for a year, finished/polished up my first book (YA about a chic secret society of wicked stepmothers and a stepdaughter battling them all to save her dad), and started learning about the publishing industry via obsessive blog reading/comparing notes with the talented Karen Clayton and attending conferences where I picked up friends and an amazingly insightful critique partner/friend in Alison Ashley Formento. I blogged about my experiences here.

I carefully researched agents and sent out queries to what I thought was a lot of agents (maybe 20?) and got half a dozen requests for fulls as well as some nice initial rejection letters. All of the agents sent back nice letters of rejection after reading my work. Many gave me tips on how to make the work better and wrote some nice things about my writing (as a teacher I am deeply touched that they took the time to invest in my writing and give me feedback that I treated like gold), but none was a taker. So I moved on.

My next work, Bette Noir, (YA) tumbled out of me in verse after the most difficult break-up of my dating life (one of the darker periods in my life). I'd become fascinated by the way confronting the darkness we all face has the power to make us strong, and tried my hand at writing my way into figuring out my answer to that philosophical question. On a whim I signed up at last minute for The Big Sur writing conference the night I finished the first draft. When there, I had the honor of working with Brandy Rivers and Sharyn November who gave me the confidence I needed to keep going, and excellent advice on how to shape/make more marketable the work so I re-wrote the ms into verse and prose. I also came to make some amazing writing friends in my thinkingtoinking blogmates. They’ve been beyond wonderful.

After revising Bette Noir, I submitted the ms to five agents (2 full requests with nice rejections), and put it in one contest, and then stopped submitting (not a move supported by many of my friends). I know it sounds cheesy, but while my first ms was a lot of fun to write, this one wasn’t much fun since I was writing a love story through a broken heart. In the midst of my devastation from the break-up, exploring the ways that love and the arts can heal was what got me through, and I didn’t want to send something so personal out unless I was absolutely certain it would be in the right hands (from my experience, all the agents I've researched and met at conferences are great, but I really wanted a great fit with me/my quirks) so I put it in a drawer and moved on to my next work.

One of my very talented best friends/partners in crime is also named Lauren (same height & same hair as well), and our mutual friends are always asking us to write up our shenanigans so I took a break from YA to write a women’s fiction book with her about said shenanigans (so what if the Gin Blossoms are missing one of their five back-up tambourines? They still invited us out on their boat). I finally agreed to write the story with her in a cafĂ© in Soho after 1. She was lamenting the burden of student loans and 2. A creepy man randomly offered me a role as Julianne Moore in a pornography film. Gross. Not the Julianne part, that’s flattering; she’s lovely, but porn??? I told the other Lauren I didn’t love her enough to do porn to help her with her student loans, but that I did love her enough to write a book with her (she is a very talented writer) to try to help pay said loans. We’re currently putting the finishing touches on The Mostly Untrue Adventures of the Laurens Monahan and Avenius.

THE Kevan Lyon--
As smart & good as she is beautiful.
And then the SDSU Writer’s Conference rolled around. It was local. I figured I’d get to hear some good speakers, and steeled myself to send in Bette Noir to Kevan Lyon because she seemed like such a sharp thinker/good person. Based on her reputation online she seemed like she cared about women and that she would be someone I could trust and whose vision was sound. During the consultation she asked for me to send her my full ms. As we kept chatting, we figured out that I had taught her daughter years ago. I can’t tell you how much I loved teaching her daughter. I knew right then that anyone who could raise a young woman like that was exactly the one I wanted guiding my career, and I hoped and prayed like crazy that she’d want to take me on. Two weeks later, on Valentine’s Day, she emailed me telling me that she loved the book that came out of both my heartbreak and hope. I signed with The Marsal Lyon Literary Agency the following Monday.

Picture I took at the beach on Valentine's Day after the call.
Reminds me that as much as life can disappoint,
it can also surprise you in the most beautiful ways.
And now...head down...back to work...the journey is long and I'm sure will be full of many more ups and definitely plenty of downs, too.

If you want to follow that little personal journey, please "like" my brand new author page on Facebook.

Much Love & Chocolate


  1. So happy for you and I am so glad that I have gotten to go on this writing adventure with you. You are more than a muse or an inspiration to me. You are my writing angel - heaven sent to guide me along through this crazy, but fun writing world Best of luck to you on your new chapter in life. I can't wait to read more. :)

  2. Wow!!! Congrats.