Chronicle - Part Two



Today I'm continuing my writing tale, culminating with the signing of my literary agent, Sarah Negovetich.  If you missed part one and wish to get caught up, that's located HERE. Today I'm resuming at the beginning of 2013, which I deemed as the Year of SUCK!

During the span of twelve months there were multiple surgeries, hair-pulling disappointments, exhausting chemo treatments, daily fistful of pills, stomach shots, mental fatigue, seemingly endless pain, long nights where worry kept sleep from taking hold, unfathomable ineptitude of the medical system and its sensual dance with insurance companies, and employees in a profession of caring who clearly didn’t care about people. All of that by itself would be enough to ruin anyone’s year, but piling on top was the fact my father was put in the hospital several times (on a respirator at one point), one of our family dogs had to be put to sleep, and a friend/mentor/boss at my job who I’ve worked with for 22 years announced his retirement.

As you might imagine, writing pretty much ground to a halt. So did querying, and the writers conferences came and went with at least one empty seat. Basically most of my forward momentum turned into suspended animation. I kept myself semi-distracted here on the blog, taking part in the A-Z Challenge…a couple blogfests…WRiTE CLUB, but even here I was just treading water. The one bright spot I was clinging to was the fact that I’d soon see a piece of my writing, a short story, in actual print.

That was until the proverbial rug was pulled out from under me when I learned that An Honest Lie, the magazine that was supposed to be publishing my story, had gone belly up! I never knew that ground zero could feel so cold. Maybe that’s because I didn’t just end up there, I felt like I was buried six feet under it.

But it was no time to boo-hoo. I used this blog for what it was originally created to do…chronicle my writing journey…good, bad, or indifferent. Everything I was going through was simply another chapter in my story. The sun had to peek out from behind these dark clouds sometime...right? 


Sure enough...it finally did. A little more than a year after our initial diagnosis, my wife was officially declared a cancer survivor!  All of the medical issues were mostly behind us and I was poised to take up my writing pursuit again. Though I couldn’t write during that awful year, I read...A LOT... and did what I could to prepare for the time when my mind was at ease and I’d be able to focus on the dream. It was now 2014 and I felt like I was finally getting in the starting blocks to pursue publication in earnest.

Then my father passed away suddenly, and I became an orphan.

Believe it or not, as heartbreaking as my dad's death was, there was a silver lining. While my dad was alive he constantly inquired about my quest for publication, and although he read my first two books ("you wrote this?"), he hadn't seen my latest. Though he was gone and I'd no longer have to think of ways to duck his questions...I was now more determined than ever to answer them.  It was as if not hearing him ask anymore...made the questions more relevant than ever.



That year the Dallas DFW Writers Conference was in May and I was determined to go…intending to pitch my YA novel.  The problem was, it really wasn’t ready yet. But there was an agent attending the conference that I sort of knew, and she was taking pitches. I was aware of Sarah Negovetich because she was a fellow blogger and a member of my BLOG BLITZ team, but we actually hadn’t met (virtually or otherwise). I researched Sarah and her agency, and was delighted to discover she focused primarily on YA. I figured I could overcome my extreme introversion/shyness because our blogs would serve as a common denominator, so I signed up for her as my 1st choice.

Sarah was nicer than I could have hoped for and I thought the pitch went well. She was interested, even though she hadn't represented YA Horror before, and she requested 100 pages. Boo Yah! What’s more, lunch was being served immediately following my pitch, so I got to sit next to (stalk) her as we ate and talk more about blogging and publishing in general.

When I returned home I worked furiously on my first 100 pages in order to get them in shape to email to Sarah – which I did in mid-May.

Even after that, the book was still a work in progress. I know…I know…shame on me for pitching an incomplete manuscript. Cardinal rule #1. But there was no way I could finish it before the conference and I REALLY wanted to pitch it to Sarah. I next sent the book to my most trusted CP’s and started revising it as the feedback started rolling in.

By August the book was pretty much finished, and I still hadn’t heard anything from Sarah, so I started querying other agents. Over the course of six months I sent out 35 letters, garnering six full requests and an offer of publication from a small publisher who specifically targeted series books. Though my novel was written as a standalone, it could easily expand into a series, but I wanted to hold off and see if I could interest an agent. My instinct proved correct.

On January 31st I received an email from Sarah…and frankly…I was shocked because I had written her off as a NO. She was totally hooked by my pages and requested the full manuscript. Of course I sent it to her immediately, but in the back of my mind I was wondering if it was going to be another six months before I heard anything. Two days later she responded. She thought the book was fantastic, though she had a few lingering concerns, and she sent along the manuscript with some of her notes. At the end of her email she asked if we might talk that night.

SHE ASKED IF WE MIGHT TALK THAT NIGHT!

I’m almost eight years into this fairy tale I call a writing career…and believe me when I say that I know what that phrase could lead to!

I quickly looked at the notes she sent with her email, desperately wishing she wasn’t asking for a major re-write, but there was nothing I had problems with. I blew out the breath I’d been holding and emailed her back, setting a time to talk later that night. As it happened I was traveling on business, so I spoke to her from my hotel room. After a bit of friendly banter, she told me how much she enjoyed the book and how it constantly surprised her with twists and turns – which was unusual for a YA Horror. When she suggested categorizing it instead as a Paranormal/Mystery, that’s when I knew she was going to be my agent. I had armed myself with questions collected from the blog posts of numerous authors who had undergone the same process, and we both fired them back and forth at each other, but I had already made up my mind. When she finally made the official offer…it was all I could do not to blurt out YES!

Sarah instructed me to take my time and make sure I contacted anyone who was currently reading my book – which I immediately did. There was one other agent who had a full at that time and after hearing about my offer they responded back within a week to say she was interested, but would I consider changing the sex of the main character? I wasn’t.

Sarah and I made it official on February 10th, ending one leg of a very long journey. Where before it was me (and a slew of uber-supportive folk and writer friends)…now it is us (and a slew of uber-supportive folk and writer friends).


There you have it. That’s my story so far. I’m just finishing with the requested changes Sarah asked for, and Sarah is working on my publisher pitch. Needless to say, I’m anxious to make this story a little bit longer and add a part three, but getting to this point feels pretty special.

Thank you for caring enough to read this.  :)

50 comments

  1. Wow, amazing end, or should I say beginning, of a whirlwind story. Congrats again friend!

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    1. It really is the beginning...and I'm okay with that! :)

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  2. This post makes me smile :) I'm glad it all worked out!

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    1. YAY....I made a smile! That makes me smile. :)

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  3. It was darkest right before the dawn - and then the son exploded into view! All that work paid off, DL. Awesome your wife is cancer-free and you finally have a contract with an agent. And how cool you knew of her through the Blog Blitz?

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    1. It's true...what goes around, comes around! :)

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  4. wowowow...I'm so glad your wife is well, but isn't it insane how the bad stuff always comes pouring in at once? I had it kind of similar. I got my agent offer when my dad was in the hospital after a critically bad reaction to chemo and a stem cell transplant for Amyloidosis (extremely rare blood cancer)...I was in a daze when she offered b.c it was nothing how I pictured it...he survived though! and just had his two yr checkup and is perfectly healthy! *fist bump for our awesome cancer survivors* and my cat of 21 yrs passed soon after and I had never been more miserable in my life...nothing can ever go completely smoothly! but when times are good we sure do appreciate them more!

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  5. Wow, you've had quite a journey, but you ended up where you were supposed to. :)

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    1. Not as much as others...but more than some. I'd like to think so. :)

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  6. This post makes me happy happy happy! :D :D You have been through so much pain and heartache, and you deserve all the joy that's coming for you! Congratulations!

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    1. I'm all about the HAPPY! Thank you! :)

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  7. I'm so sorry that you went through all of that, but I'm happy your wife is cancer-free and that you got an agent.

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    1. Like the saying goes...it makes you stronger...right? :)

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  8. Love it! So nice for you to take that next gigantic step - and I don't think it'll be long before you're making the next step too.
    (still get chills reading Cancer Survivor!!!)

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  9. It is awesome when they change your status from cancer patient to cancer survivor. Believe me when I say I know the feeling. I can only imagine that going through this with someone you love increases the feelings of helplessness. So, glad for the outcome.

    I'm inspired by your persistence and willingness to hold out for the agent you felt was right for you and your work. I can only imagine how scary that must have been to back away from that publisher.

    I am trying very hard this year to concentrate on my writing, therefore blogging has had to take a backseat, along with a lot of other things, but I really believe (as you seem to also) that I have to give this my undivided attention, and give it a real 'shot' to know for sure, if my work is good enough for publication.

    Thanks for sharing this story. It gives me hope.

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    1. It was tempting...but I really hadn't been querying all that long yet and I figured I could wait. :)

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  10. Great story, DL! I'm so happy for you

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  11. Life hurls a lot of things at us, but then it often gives us rewards along the rough road--sort of small pats on our backs to keep us going. In 2013 I discovered you're never too old to be orphaned.

    So glad you've got your agent and that the road has smoothed out for you.

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    1. I'm still really cautious of those bends in the road I can't see yet. :)

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  12. It's been a long, tough road, but you made it to the first plateau. Now you'll have to do the waiting game again while your book is on sub!

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    1. Yep...more waiting! But this time its a happier wait. :)

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  13. Your journey has been long and hard, but the horizon is so bright right now, I hope you're wearing shades. You rock, DL! I'm so glad and excited for you and your book!

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    1. No shades...but I do have my hat pulled down low! :)

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  14. Some tough times in there but you made it through and never gave up - I'm so happy for you and look forward to your book!!

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  15. Great story of overcoming and succeeding. There are some years that seem so bleak, but fortunately it all usually passes. Hope this trend keeps up for you with many successful books with you name on them to come and to hit the bestseller lists--or at least to sell decently.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Selling decently would be success enough for me. :)

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  16. I really can't be more happy for you! When I read the first part of this story I already thought it was an awesome journey. Now I know that it is, and it isn't done! I'm SO very happy for you and your wife and her status now. I wish you both the very best. Whenever the novel comes out, please let me know and I'll "guest" you on my blog if you'd like...

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    1. I'll definitely take you up on that offer Lisa! :)

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  17. Hope springs eternal. I'm so glad you made it through those very hard days and things are turning your way.

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  18. So pleased for your DL. I hope the publisher is soon to follow.

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  19. I know some of this already, but it was fun reading the whole story! I read your last three posts, though I'm not adding a comment to each. I remember that letter to your future agent - awesome that it came true pretty much as you wrote it!

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    1. If you write it...they will come! :)

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  20. This is so awesome. I'm so happy for you :)

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  21. I'm glad you've moved on from dealing with "employees in a profession of caring who clearly didn’t care about people" to dealing with people who do care about the work they do!

    ..And again, I'm so relieved to hear the good news about your wife.

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    1. Yes...there were major eye openers along the way (good and bad), but we have moved on. :)

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  22. Congratulations on all your success so far!

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  23. I love hearing/reading about how authors get their agents. I truly enjoyed the story, and a somewhat happy ending, well not quite. Like you said, it's really the beginning....Wishing you luck and success!!!

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    1. I like reading them as well...but I gotta admit...writing one was even better! :)

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  24. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, DL!!!! I LOVED reading each and every word, even the parts about the year of SUCK, which, dude....totally the year of suck! ((hugs))

    Can NOT wait to hear about the rest of your journey and where this leads....it's such a well deserved and hard-earned fairytale!

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    1. You'll be one of the first to know when it happens! :)

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  25. Thank you for sharing this. This post gives me courage, and I need courage right now.

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    1. Oh dear...I really hope the courage you need involves writing challenges -- and not health or personal ones. Either way, positive thoughts for you! :)

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