Super cool news to report! Many of you know that in addition to writing non-fiction books and magazines, I write novels in my free time (insert maniacal laugh here). I started writing novels in (gulp) 1994. Loooong time ago. Since then I have written five novels, one chapter book, and a picture book. I had several near misses with all of my projects but I never quite made it all the way. Now, when I started this novel writing lark I promised myself that I would not give up, no matter what. And that with each rejection I would strive to become a better writer. To me rejection is protection, and every one I received meant I wasn’t ready for publication yet or that I hadn’t found the right agent or editor. So years rolled by, rejections piled up, conferences were attended, amazing writer friends were made, boundaries were stretched, and skills were honed. And then one day in April, I read a tweet from the most amazing John M. Cusick, agent-about-town and writer extraordinaire, saying he was looking for young adult historicals similar to Downton Abbey. Now, I have to preface this in saying I nearly missed this tweet. I had had a long day and it was midnight and I was scrolling through my timeline at a rapid clip. But the tweet caught my eye, and I sat up. My current novel is called A Mad, Wicked Folly, and it’s about a teen who becomes a suffragette, set in the Edwardian era, which is when Downton Abbey is set. I had shopped MWF around for nearly three years, all getting nice comments back but lots of rejections namely because historicals were out, vampire, werewolf and dystopian stories were in. So with trembling fingers I tweeted to John, could I send mine? He said yes and sent the agency link.
Here is how it went: I filled in the online form on Friday, John asked for a full Monday morning, and signed me Tuesday afternoon. Three months later he sold my novel to Leila Sales at Viking/Penguin. Viking. Home of Stephen King, John Steinbeck, Helen Fielding, Salman Rushdie, Laurie Halse Anderson. Children’s books such as Pippi Longstocking, Llama Llama, and the Madeline books came from Viking.
It’s been an amazing journey and I’ve enjoyed every step of it. And I’m so, so glad I did not give up. I have a wonderful agent in John and an amazing editor in Leila (who is also a writer, score!). A Mad, Wicked Folly will be out winter of 2014. In the meantime I’ve joined a blog of other published writers of historical young adult/middle grade novels called Corsets, Cutlasses, and Candlesticks. It launched today with an amazing giveaway of fabulous swag. My offering includes a suffragette gift bag and an art gift bag. Have a look! http://t.co/zwN1cOxS
And here is a photo of me, circa 1994, writing my first novel. On a word processor.