Today’s featured author in the W.O.W. is Mindy McGinnis. Mindy is a stunning writer whose debut novel, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, will be released on September 24, 2013. One of the things I enjoy most about Mindy is her willingness to mentor aspiring authors. She does this through her work as a moderator on AgentQuery Connect, but also through a feature on her blog called, “The Saturday Slash”. This weekly series allows writers to provide their queries to Mindy who reviews them, and then gives thoughtful, yet constructive feedback. I’ve been following this feature for a while and can tell you that many of the featured writers’ queries have improved immensely due to Mindy’s help.
I think anyone struggling with the writing process will take Mindy’s odyssey to heart. She is the perfect example of someone who commits themself to the craft, and through hard work and dedication, gets a publishing deal. I also love the fact that she is a YA librarian!
So, without further ado, here is my conversation with Mindy about her writing journey.
Amy: When did you first begin seriously writing with the intent of wanting to be published?
Mindy: By the time I landed an agent I’d been querying on and off for about ten years. I would get frustrated and quit for long periods of time, and to be fair, my first two manuscripts were horrible and I didn’t have the brain to go find a decent crit partner, so I sunk myself. I decided to get serious about writing and querying about four years ago.
Amy: When did you complete your first manuscript?
Mindy: In college. It sucked.
Amy: How many completed manuscripts did you query before one garnered agent interest?
Mindy: Depends on what you mean by “interest.” The YA ms I wrote before NOT A DROP TO DRINK had quite a few nibbles, but no offers of representation. By the time I landed Adriann with DRINK I had four finished ms’s under my belt.
Amy: How laborious/frustrating was the query process for you?
Mindy: Oh, pretty horrific. I was at it for ten years, so that definitely makes you sit down and take a hard look at your goals and your accomplishments. I would stop for long periods of time (years), but never really with the intention of quitting. I knew publication and a writing career were the end goal, I just needed to make it happen.
Amy: If one manuscript was continuing to get rejected, how did you know it was time to move on to a new project?
Mindy: Good question. I’m kind of a dumbass, so I had over 130 rejections on the YA urban fantasy I wrote before I decided maybe it was time to drop that particular dumbbell and move on to writing NOT A DROP TO DRINK.
Amy: If you had bites on previous manuscripts, and then was ultimately turned down by agents, what kept you pressing forward?
Mindy: Honestly, a rejection. I was at a very low point in my life all around when I got my first full rejection. But it was the kindest, most complimentary rejection a writer could possibly receive, from a well-known agent at an established agency. In so many words, she told me I was going to make it, but not with her, and not with that ms.
Amy: How many agents did you query for NOT A DROP TO DRINK?
Mindy: I think only about ten. I sent out the first round of queries and started getting full requests right away.
Amy: Did you receive instantaneous response or did you have to wait for the requests/rejections?
Mindy: Things moved really fast with DRINK. I had eight fulls out at one point, and whenever an agent requested I let them know there were other fulls out, and lots of interest, which inspired them to read a little faster :)
Amy: Can you give us a short summary of your call with your agent, Adriann Ranta?
Mindy: Adriann and I talked for about an hour, and totally clicked. We had the same vision for DRINK. She didn’t want me to lighten the tone or take away any of the harsher aspects. She *liked* the darkness of it, and that worked for me. I also ran a basic synopsis of my other finished projects past her to see if they sounded interesting to her as well, especially because the voice in one of them is so drastically different from DRINK. She seemed like a good fit all around for me, not just for this book.
Amy: What parting advice can you give other aspiring writers who may be on the cusp of giving up on their writing dream?
Mindy: Be absolutely sure this is what you want, and accept the very real possibility that it may not happen for you from the beginning. I was starry-eyed and convinced I was a genius ten years ago, but I was an idiot sending out badly written queries for a horrific ms. Do your homework, get good crit partners, learn how to take criticism. Develop very thick skin. It is not an easy undertaking, but sometimes it’s the unexpected things (like a kind rejection) that will make you keep going to that end goal.
My sincere thanks to Mindy for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. You can find more on Mindy at her blog http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com. She also contributes to the group blogs From the Write Angle, Friday the Thirteeners, and Book Pregnant. She is also a moderator for the writing community at AgentQueryConnect under the screenname bigblackcat97.
Mindy’s story has inspired me to keep writing and I hope it will do the same for you.
Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.
Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.
But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….
With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.