Today’s featured writer is most likely no stranger to the regular writing crew on Twitter. Her name is Summer Heacock, but she tweets as @Fizzygrrl, and if you don’t already follow her, you should. She tweets with honesty and humor, and she’s caused me to spit out my coffee on an occasion or two with her views on writing, family and well yes, her boobs. And I have to add her blog is filled with hilarious GIFs, so if you want a good laugh, you must check that out too.
As with everything she does, Summer injects her trademark wit into her answers for her W.O.W. I’m sure you will be inspired by her writing journey, and giggle a time or two over her answers, I know I did.
Amy: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Summer: Oooh, I have a good answer for this. When I was in 4th grade, the teacher had the class write a story that she went to the trouble to bind into actual books for us. It was this month long project where we designed covers, had to present outlines, the whole nine. I wrote a story called, “The Christmas Cat” about a yellow cat that had run away from home but found his way back to his family on Christmas Eve. When I saw it all bound up, I just knew I wanted to see more books with my words written in them.
Amy: How many completed manuscripts did you query before one garnered interest?
Summer: Three. Oddly enough, the story that I was signed from is the first MS I ever queried. I un-trunked it this summer and well, I am pretty glad that I did.
Amy: If one manuscript was continuing to get rejected, how did you know it was time to move on to a new project?
Summer: I would have a small moping period and then the excitement of a new story would pull me out of it. With my second MS, I knew that I had dropped the ball halfway through it so I didn’t query as hard as I did with my first.
Amy: Did your query for WITH A SHAKE OF HER HAIR come easily or did it go through many drafts?
Summer: Oh, gosh. Well, when I first started querying, it was a hot mess. And I mean, SUPER BAD. I will pay good money to keep those queries from ever seeing the light of day.
I actually had a super nice agent take pity on me four years ago and walk me through writing my first real query. It was that bad that she stepped in to save my sorry butt.
This summer, I sat down to redo it after I had done some revisions, and this version just sort of fell into place. While I am very proud of this query, and it somehow turned out to be fabulous, please note that I am a horrendous query writer.
Amy: Did you have critique partners for WITH A SHAKE OF HER HAIR? If so, how critical were they to your writing process?
Summer: When I first wrote it, no, because I didn’t even know they existed. By the time I revised this summer, I had made lots of super awesome friends from contests and Twitter and found the sheer brilliance that is having a supportive group of CP’s. I honestly don’t think I could write another book without them.
Amy: How many agents did you query for WITH A SHAKE OF HER HAIR? Did you receive immediate responses or did you have to wait a while for replies?
Summer: Oy. Um. I am not sure on the first round. I’d say no less than half a million. Or, possibly every agent there ever was.
For this round, I sent 27 queries. Some were immediate with requests or rejections, some took time. My best luck actually came from pitching in person at the Midwest Writer’s Workshop. That was a fun day, kids.
Amy: Can you give a short summary of your “call” with agent, Sarah LaPolla?
Summer: Well, what I can remember of it. At some point I think I succumbed to an aneurysm from SQUEEEE-ing too hard.
Sarah had been slammed pretty hard in Hurricane Sandy and needed a bit more time than the other agents to be able to even get to my MS. I woke up on a Thursday morning to her email asking if we could chat about the book, and I think I wrote a slightly more professional version of, “ERMAHGERD YES PLEASE!!!”
When she called, I think we were both ridiculously nervous. We chatted about possible edits and revisions that she might suggest and her ideas of submission dates and asked if those things matched up with what I was looking for. Ten minutes in, she said the words, “I would like to officially offer you representation.” and that is when the aneurysm hit. She asked what other story ideas I was looking to work on, and I cold-pitched, gosh, I think four books to her.
If I had been a smart human I would have taken my notes out, but no, I went with a blind flail.
Amy: I know you have a huge presence on Twitter (@Fizzygrrl) and that helped with your first interaction with your agent, Sarah. How important do you think having a social media platform is to landing an agent?
Summer: Well, first, I am blushing like a mofo at the “huge Twitter presence”. That is the most flattering thing I have heard in a long time. I am not sure it’s true, but I will take the compliment!
And it can be an important tool for writers. For me, it is a place that I network with Betas and CPs and where I learned about contests and pretty much every facet of the industry. I knew less than jack-diddly when I signed up for Twitter. It served as a brilliant crash course for me.
When I am not donning my Super Mom/Wifey underoos, you will find me on Twitter. And I will most likely be talking about agents or boobs or slow-cookers or my pants falling down. Write what you know, yeah? I blog about navigating Twitterville and my many misadventures in the world. I write Women’s Fiction and dabble in YA when I’m feeling froggy for it. You will find my fluency in profanity present in ALL THESE THINGS.