Monday, January 14, 2013


That's my dorky way of saying it's been a year since I became an agented author.

January 11, 2012, I received the most amazing e-mail. Ever. The agent I had an e-mail conversation with the day before wanted to call me. As in, dial my number, speak with me on the phone and talk about the manuscript (MS) I had sent her the day before. I had to breathe. Deep, slow, deliberate breaths. Otherwise I was going to bounce my butt right off my bed in my giddy, happy shuffle (that's what happens when you check your e-mail while you're still in your pj's, tucked under the covers). The hubs didn't understand what I could possibly be so excited about. Duh, hello! If she wants to actually talk to me it has to be good! And it was!

Right after I submitted my full MS the night before, and she asked for exclusivity on my submission for 72 hours, I read back through my completed 84k document. And found errors. And more errors. And a major potential plot point that would move the story forward faster. And she was reading this imperfect bunch of crap I had the audacity to think was ready for submission.

So in my most professional, yet not ridiculously formal, words I e-mailed her back. Of course, I'd love to talk to her. These are the times I'm good (all day, I'll sit with my phone in my hand and stare at it until it rings). Then she called. I squealed before I answered the phone, jumped up and down in place, then took several more deep, slow, deliberate breaths so I didn't sound like a complete moron when I answered the phone.

She loved me. Er, it. Well, I guess me, too. And she asked if I'd have any problems changing things and I told her the brain storm I'd had the night before. And she loved it, too. We were both very excited.

The super-official, you know it's really, really, real part happened--I signed a contract, she signed a contract. Then we got to the fun stuff. Revisions.

Re-writing the first time was more about adding. Adding this new plot point and changing the little, minor details to reflect it. I also added 12k words. That made a whopping 96k word MS.

Then came the time to trim the fat. Tighten it up. Make the major plot point I added occur sooner in the story. I condensed the beginning from about 105-120 pages down to 50 or so. Then there was more fat trimming throughout the rest of the book. The liposuction dropped the MS down to 73k words.

All this happened by about May/June. The literary agency conned students into being interns for them and my agent got a very smart, very into-my-genre intern who was allowed to attack my MS. And, being the very intelligent Yale student she is, she helped me see that my MS needs mini-peaks to help keep the tension levels up as it built to the climax, keeping the reader interested and engaged. I even outlined. *gasp* It didn't kill me. It's, not surprisingly, helped keep me focused on how this new version's getting from beginning to end with all the meaty, juicy, good stuff in the middle.

Now, we're on round 4 (this is just with my agent, this doesn't count all the times I re-worked my MS before I started submissions 18 months ago). It's  like renovating an old house without indoor plumbing or electricity--the shell and foundation remain the same, but the details change. Which I'm great with--I wouldn't do anything I wasn't comfortable with. I'm all about maintaining my story and not folding into what's popular or guaranteed to get me pub'd, but I do want a book that will sell. I do want a book people will read and enjoy. So I needed to make changes. And I am.

Out of the roughly 75-80k words I'd like to have at the end, I'm at 35k. I've been re-writing almost the entire thing, copying and pasting from the previous edition as applicable. And I'm freaking falling back in love with this story all over again.

In my crazy, nerdy, dorky mind, I've labeled the previous edition of my MS as this Universe and the one I'm working as the other Universe. Like in Fringe, where the characters and everything's exactly the same, but their lives are different because they've made different choices and decisions than their alternate selves in the other Universe.

So that's the abbreviated version of how this last year's gone with me and my agent and my MS. I receive lots and lots of love and encouragement from my agent and I couldn't be happier with me choosing her and her choosing me.

Now, I've gotta finish the other Universe so I have something to sell to publishers in this Universe and I can start working on the next book in my planned series--I don't know which Universe that one'll take place in, yet!