Frequently Asked Questions
1. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No. I have always, always loved to read, but I had no idea that I wanted to write my own novels until I was in my late 30's and having a bit of a stay at home mom crisis. I'd changed one too many diapers and spent too many hours listening to Dora the Explorer tell me to "say rojo". I had been a teacher before I had children, but I realized that I had no interest in going back to the classroom. So, I asked myself a very crucial question: If I could do anything, anything at all, what would it be? Once I gave myself permission to think big, I did. I knew almost immediately that writing was that thing. Once I figured it out it was like someone lit a fire in me. I was going to get published or die trying.
2. How long did it take you to get published?
My husband and I made an agreement that I could stay home for two more years--while my youngest finished up preschool and kindergarten to write with the goal of getting published. After that I was going to have to go back to teaching. It was a crazy deadline/agreement to make, but we did and I wrote like a woman posessed. It took me just over two years, but I managed to get a book deal. I was very, very lucky to have it happen so fast and I am humbled and thankful every single day. I only queried five agents total for two different books. The first novel I wrote was rejected by all five. I decided not to query further because I knew that first book was not good enough to be published. Very soon afterwards, the idea for Gated came to me. I finished it then sent it to only one agent: Lucienne Diver. We met at a writer's group meeting and kept in touch regularly after. I queried her exclusively that second time around because I knew that even if she didn't take on my book, she'd give me some powerfully good advice on how to fix it.
3. What are the steps I need to take to get published?
Write a good book.
Revise for plot, setting, character development.
Have other writers critique it.
Read the blogs/websites/books I've suggestd on this site and educate yourself on the craft of writing and on the publishing business. There are too many websites, webinars, blog posts, etc. on writing books and publishing that there is no excuse for anyone to not know how to
Follow authors and publishing people on social media. Pay attention. There is much good advice on their feeds all the time.
Research Literary Agents that handle your genre. Make a list of the ones you'd like to query.
When your novel is completely done and polished, query 5-10 agents at a time and see if you get feedback. Tweak subsequent queries to address agent comments on your novel (if there are any).
While you're waiting, begin another novel. Publishing is wickedly slow. The only way to preserve your sanity is to accept this and move on to the next project.
4. How do you come up with your ideas?
By reading newspapers and watching documentaries. Nearly all of my stories are inspired by one or the other.
5. Can you read/critique my work?
Unfortunately, no. Like you, I wear many hats in my life and time is not something I have much of, so I have to guard what little I have. I get many requests to crit work. Even if I hand-picked just a few, between travel, writing my own stories, and personal commitments I would have a hard time getting you feedback in a timely manner. The only way I critique pieces that are not from my personal critique partners is if I'm participating in a giveaway/fundraiser/writer's workshop and offer my services and have set a certain period of time aside to do so.
6. How did you find your agent?
I met her at a writers' group meeting. We got along well. I kept in touch with her and over time, she requested to take a closer look at my work. She rejected my first novel, but offered on my second. Here is a more detailed account of how it went down from both of our perspectives.