When Michelle Hauck first approached me to put together a writing contest I was hesitant. I was in the middle of editing a new manuscript and wasn’t sure how I could fit it in with all my other responsibilities. But if you know Michelle, you know she’s got great ideas and can be pretty persuasive. Once I decided I was in, I embraced the process full force, hoping all the time and energy put into the contest would render at least a few successes. Well today, Sun vs. Snow has it’s first positive story to share in the form of Team Snow’s Amy DeLuca.
Here, in her own words, Amy shares her story…
Thank you, Michelle for inviting me to tell my story, and thank you for so much more than that! Without you and Amy and your Sun vs. Snow contest, I might never have met my wonderful agent.
My agent story is sort of a “when it rains it pours” tale. But before there was a drop, there was a drought. I’d been seeking publication for about two years, starting with my first ms, HIDDEN DEEP, a YA paranormal romance. It got some good feedback, earned some RWA chapter contest finals, one win, and even a 2013 Golden Heart final. But no agent. I did get full requests but was told repeatedly that, while the writing was good and the premise was original, the market was saturated with YA paranormals– they weren’t convinced they could sell it. I also suspect now that because it was my first ms, the story could have been stronger. I still love that book and have hope of it selling someday (after revisions of course), but taking the advice of wise writers who’d gone before me, I moved on. Everything you’ve heard about how important it is to write the next thing is absolutely true.
I completed FOUR BULLETS, a YA romantic mystery inspired by a murder trial I covered years ago as a news anchor/reporter in Mississippi. After running it by my critique partner and a couple of beta readers, I sent out a few queries to agents who’d encouraged me in their rejections of my first book to send them my next project. At about the same time, I found Michelle’s blog and learned of the Sun Vs. Snow contest via Twitter. There was so much excitement surrounding it! It was thrilling to learn my ms had been selected for the agent round, and I had a ball reading the other entries and meeting the other finalists on Twitter.
When the day came for the agent round—I won’t lie—I started checking the blog at about 8 a.m. and kept checking back in all day. It was so exciting to see the agent requests for partials accumulate. In the end, I had nine requests. Nine chances to find the agent who might be the one for me! I sent the requested material right away, and over the next few weeks (and even months), some of the partials led to full requests. One of those was from Talcott Notch Literary.
As I waited for responses from the contest requests and the queries I’d sent, I kept writing. A lot, in fact. I’d gotten really fired up about writing a contemporary New Adult series set in the world I used to inhabit before I became a full-time writer—television news. I had completed two novels in that series by the end of March this year when the 2014 Golden Heart finalists were announced. I was absolutely thrilled on announcement day to learn FOUR BULLETS was a finalist in the YA category!
About five minutes after learning of my final, I got an email from an assistant at Talcott Notch, who congratulated me and told me FOUR BULLETS was moving to the top of their TBR pile. I also had new requests from a couple of other agents that day. It was a fun day! After all the waiting, I had a feeling the time might be right for me.
A week or two later, I got an awesome email from Rachael Dugas at Talcott Notch. I have many agented writer friends, but I never realized that an agent would tell you flat out in an email that they were offering rep—BUT SHE DID! She said she’d like to talk to me the next day to answer my questions and share her thoughts on my story. When we spoke, it was everything you always hope THE CALL will be—she told me how much she loved my story and why, what her plans were for submission (squee!), and her ideas on how to strengthen the story. I loved her personality and especially the things she’d noticed about the story that could use more development—it really rang true to me. Of course I really loved that she loves my book!
At that time, I still had six fulls out with agents, some of whom had specifically asked me to notify them if I received an offer. I did that, celebrated on the down-low with some close friends, and waited the week out to give them a chance to read the full. In the end it was Rachael’s connection to and understanding of my story, as well as her attitude toward my writing career as a whole that convinced me she was the right agent for me. I’m looking forward to her revision notes on FOUR BULLETS and to going out on submission with that book soon.
In the meantime, I have no time at all to be nervous. I’m writing every day and working hard toward reaching another exciting goal – self-publishing (under a different pen name, AMY PATRICK) my New Adult romance series CHANNEL TWENTYSOMETHING. The books are scheduled for a Summer 2014 release!
Some things I’ve learned so far on my journey:
-It happens when the time is right. If I’d gotten THE CALL when I started querying my first book, and the agent asked very normal questions like “how many books do you think you can write a year?” or “how long does it take you to complete a book?” my answer would have been, “I don’t know.” YIKES! I didn’t know until I wrote FOUR BULLETS if I could even write another book—maybe the first time had been a fluke? Now I know myself much better as a writer, and I know what I can expect from myself and what I want out of a career.
-I learned just how valuable pitch and query contests (like the ones you’ll find on michelle4laughs.blogspot.com) can be for writers. I got helpful query feedback, I’ve remained in touch with quite a few writers I met through Sun Vs. Snow—and I’m thrilled to see how many of them now have agents and even publication dates!
-Writers are the nicest people on earth. I would be exactly nowhere without the friends I’ve made through conferences, contests, and social media. I’ve gained amazing critique partners (one of mine is also a Golden Heart finalist this year!), a matchless support system, and lifelong friends over the past few years. I wouldn’t want to do it alone. I’m thankful I don’t have to, and I’m extremely thankful for generous people like Michelle and Amy, who give of their time and talents to help other writers like me. Thank you again!
Amy grew up in Mississippi, but now lives in Rhode Island with her husband and two sons. She spent twelve years working as a news anchor and reporter in four different states: Mississippi, Tennessee, California, and Rhode Island. After years of writing true stories, she retired from the news business to focus on making some up. She writes YA romantic fiction as Amy DeLuca and New Adult romance as Amy Patrick. For more on Amy check out her website or follow her on Twitter.