Friday, June 3, 2016

Never Give Up: Author Christi Whitney Shares Her Inspiring Path to Pub Story

We're excited to bring you another successful author story, this time from author Christi J. Whitney whose second book from the The Romany Outcasts series, SHADOW, released from Harper Voyager this week. Make sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a copy of SHADOW!

Without further ado, please welcome Christi J. Whitney to Thinking to Inking!

Christi J. Whitney Shares her Unique path to Publication

My path to publication really has been a rollercoaster.

I came up with the idea for The Romany Outcasts Series at the end of 2008. I was working as a high school theatre teacher at the time, and I ended up sharing the idea – along with a couple of initial chapters – to a few of my students. They encouraged me to write the story. And I did.

I finished Grey in 2009 and began querying, first to publishers, and then to agents. Looking back, I know I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even know how to write a proper query letter. But, beyond that, I also didn’t know how to craft a YA novel. I’d come from a literary background, and I was way too wordy. As I began to rack up rejections, I also began seriously revising Grey. I learned how to trim the story down, to move the plot along, and to tighten up my dialogue. I joined SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators), and found a critique group. My story grew stronger, and I began new rounds of queries.

This time, I began to get requests for partials and fulls. Ultimately, agents would pass. I continued to work on my craft, growing as a writer as I continued my quest for publication. At this stage, I’d accumulated more than 120 rejections. It was disheartening and frustrating, but I kept going. I’d had enough positive responses to know that Grey had potential. Finally at the end of 2010, I received what I’d been dreaming of: a request for a full from an agency I really liked. They asked if I’d be willing to do a revision for them. In 2011, I accepted representation, and six months later, we began submitting to the big publishing houses. I was convinced that I’d finally arrived.

But after two full rounds of submissions, taking almost a year, my agent admitted they just didn’t know how to sell my manuscript, and we parted ways. I’d come so close. Several publishing houses loved Grey, but ended up having to pass. I’d had phone conversations with several producers in L.A. who also loved my story and thought it had film potential, but without a book deal, they couldn’t take it on. Suddenly, after so many close calls at the top of the ladder, I found myself all the way back down at the bottom.

I wanted to give up on the series. I’d already written another project and was beginning to submit it. I was outlining ideas for other books. But in my heart, I felt God wasn’t finished with me as an author and Grey was meant to have a home. So I started the process again. More rejections. I stopped counting.

Then in October of 2012, I stumbled upon an open submissions call from HarperVoyager, the global science fiction and fantasy imprint of HarperCollins. They were opening their doors to un-agented manuscripts for two weeks. Winners would be given a digital-first book contract, with the possibility of a print run to follow. I submitted Grey and continued to write other things. The three month wait turned into six, and then into twelve. They’d received 5,000 submissions and it was taking them longer than they thought to go through them. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but as the time went on and I didn’t receive a rejection, I got little flutters in my chest. And then, it happened. On February 25, 2014 I got the phone call I’d been praying for: The editor of the UK branch of HarperVoyager, offering me a three book deal for my series.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Being published as a debut, digital-first author has been a huge challenge, especially in the realm of YA. Marketing and publicity are my responsibility. My publisher is in a different country, but the majority of my influence is in the US. Yes, the cards are stacked against me – as they are most debut authors. But I continue to press on, because being an author will always be hard. You never “arrive”. For each step in the journey you take, a new set of roadblocks and challenges arise. But when you’re passionate about what you do, you don’t give up. You keep working, whether it’s writing, editing, revising, querying, marketing, working publicity, or trying to sell yourself and your brand. It’s all worth it when someone posts a lovely review or contacts you to tell you how much they loved your story.

So don’t give up. Keep writing. Keep working. And remember your passion.

About Shadow
Shadow (The Romany Outcasts #2) by Christi J. Whitney
Release Date: June 2, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager

The second volume in this incredible YA trilogy.

Sebastian Grey used to be a normal teenager.

Now he’s become a creature whose sole purpose is to act as guardian for secretive gypsy clans.

When the Romany gypsies claim Sebastian as their guardian, he is given a second chance to protect Josephine Romany, the girl he thought he might never see again.

But Sebastian is having his own problems. His transformation is still ongoing, and not everyone trusts the new gargoyle within their clan.

Then a tragedy pushes him to make choices to fulfil his duty, choices that might cost him everything.

About Grey
Grey (The Romany Outcasts #1) by Christi J. Whitney 

Can you still love with a heart of stone?

Sebastian Grey always thought he was a fairly normal teenager – good friends, decent grades and a pretty sweet job in his foster brother’s tattoo shop.
But when Romany gypsies arrive in town, Sebastian discovers that his world is not what it seems. There is an age-old feud between his family and the gypsies – and this isn’t the only secret his brother has been keeping from him. His life is not his own. The girl he’s been dreaming about has just turned up at school, and he feels compelled to protect her at all costs.

Even if that means life might never be normal again.

About Christi J. Whitney
Christi J. Whitney is the author of The Romany Outcasts Series (HarperCollins/HarperVoyagerUK).

She's a former high school theatre director with a love for the dramatic. Christi lives just outside of Atlanta with her husband and two sons.

When not spending time with them or taking a ridiculous number of trips to Disney World, she is usually directing plays, geeking out over Doctor Who, making costumes for sci-fi/fantasy conventions, watching superhero movies, or pretending she's a tad bit British.

Connect with her on Twitter @ChristiWhitney

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  1. I love finding exciting series to read! Thanks for introducing me to these books and this author.

    1. So glad you liked it! I'm excited to check this one out too. :-)

  2. Thank you so very much for participating in my tour!

    1. You are very welcome! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story with us!

  3. Thanks everyone for your interest in The Romany Outcasts!